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Lore Details About Balrogs That The 'Lord of the Rings' Don't Tell You

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Vote up the most impressive facts that made you say, 'Whoa.'

In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the world (those who hadn't read the books, anyway) was introduced to the Balrogs. These giant beasts terrified the Orcs and divided the Fellowship, making them incredibly appealing - if somewhat enigmatic - creatures in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Like that of any film franchise, the movies barely delve into the details of who or what Balrogs are, so most fans are left wondering.

Should they sit down to read the books, they would learn quite a lot of information about Balrogs, but Tolkien didn't publish everything he scribbled down over the years about them. His notebooks contained a plethora of lore details about Balrogs that the Lord of the Rings books and movies don't tell you. The most interesting of those details are listed here, so dig deep - but not too deep - and learn all there is to know about Balrogs!

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    There Are Only Two Named Balrogs

    There Are Only Two Named Balrogs
    Photo: The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar / Daybreak Game Company

    Being a philologist, J.R.R. Tolkien never shied away from naming his many creations, but even he couldn't come up with unique names for absolutely everything in his expansive Middle-earth. Most side characters never received a name, and that includes the Balrogs. Only two of the great Maiar beasts were given a name by the author, despite the presence of many more during the First Age.

    Durin's Bane received his name after the War of Wrath came to an end. With most of his kin slain in the conflict, he dug himself deep within Moria, where he remained undisturbed for a long time. The Dwarves who mined Moria dug too deep, and in their greed, they awoke the great Balrog. He felled many Dwarves, and ultimately, he finished off King Durin VI, earning him the moniker, "Durin's Bane."

    The other named Balrog was called Gothmog, the Lord of the Balrogs during the First Age. He was the most powerful Balrog to walk Middle-earth. Under Morgoth, he was only equaled in rank by Sauron, and he raised a Balrog army against the Elves and Men. He personally slew two of the High Kings of the Ñoldor, and while he carried a fiery whip like other Balrogs, he was known to carry a great black ax, which was feared by everyone who saw it.

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    Balrogs Were Incredibly Powerful Beings

    Being Maiar, Balrogs are already powerful beings, but that doesn't go far in saying just how strong they were. A single Balrog managed to drive the Dwarves from the mines of Moria. This was an ancient and expertly fortified nation, which stood as the greatest kingdom of Dwarves that ever existed. That same Balrog, which earned the name "Durin's Bane," stood toe-to-hoof against Gandalf the Grey, who was one of the most powerful members of the Istari.

    When their fight on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm saw them fall into the abyss, it continued for some time. They eventually made their way to the peak of Zirakzigil, and it was there they slew each other. Both Durin's Bane and Gandalf the Grey perished, but only Gandalf was chosen by the Valar to be resurrected and returned to Middle-earth as Gandalf the White.

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    The Balrogs Rescued The Dark Lord From Ungoliant

    The Balrogs Rescued The Dark Lord From Ungoliant
    Photo: Middle-earth: Shadow of War / Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

    Long before the First Age began, Ungoliant stood as one of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth. Ungoliant was a primordial being who took the shape of a gigantic spider and joined up with Melkor, the Dark Lord. The two traveled to Valinor to destroy the Two Trees, and during this time, the Balrogs were all asleep in the pits of Angband.

    When the Two Trees were brought down, Melkor wanted to renew his control of Middle-earth, but an argument broke out between him and Ungoliant, and Ungoliant went after him. This caused Melkor to cry out, and the Balrogs heard him. They rose and came to his aid, driving Ungoliant away. The Balrogs prepared to pursue her, but Melkor stayed their hand, returning to Angband instead, and rebuilt it.

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    When They Ride, They Ride Dragons

    By the closing of the Third Age, the dragons and Balrogs had all but gone extinct on Middle-earth, but it wasn't always like that. During the First Age, both races were widespread, and they fought for Melkor, who was best known as Morgoth at the time. Dragons are powerful on their own, as are Balrogs, but they became a force of unequaled power when they joined forces.

    In the year 510 of the First Age, during the Fall of Gondolin, Balrogs rode upon the backs of dragons to reach the hidden city. During the skirmish, Gothmog, the Lord of the Balrogs, was slain at the cost of Ecthelion, the Lord of the House of the Fountain's life. A remaining Balrog managed to slay Glorfindel at the cost of his own life, and the Balrogs that remained fought for Morgoth in the War of Wrath.

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    Balrogs Are Maiar - As Are The Wizards Of Middle-Earth

    Balrogs, also known as Valaraukar, were Maiar who were seduced and corrupted by Melkor (also known as Morgoth, the first Dark Lord). They first dwelled in Utumno, but when Melkor was defeated, they escaped to Angband. They were prevalent during the First Age, but during the War of Wrath that brought that age to an end, most were slain. The ones who remained managed to escape deep into the earth. 

    A Balrog was awakened in 1980 of the Third Age when the Dwarves mined too deeply in Moria. It managed to drive them from their land, slaying King Durin VI, earning the name Durin's Bane. When the Fellowship of the Ring passed through Moria, they encountered Durin's Bane as it pursued them to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. It was there Gandalf the Grey fought the Balrog as they fell into the abyss. When the conflict ended, both were slain, and Gandalf was reborn as Gandalf the White.

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    Most Balrogs Carried Two Weapons

    When Durin's Bane stormed onto the screen in The Fellowship of the Ring, he carried a fiery whip. That whip was used to snap at his enemies, engulfing them with flame and utterly destroying them where they stood. Every Balrog carried such a whip since the beginning of time, long before the First Age, but it wasn't their only weapon, and while it isn't easily seen in the movie, Durin's Bane wielded it.

    Balrogs also carried a great flaming sword, which they used to fight against larger enemies. These weapons were incredibly powerful when wielded by a Balrog, and they devastated the armies of anyone who opposed their Dark Lord. The only other weapon known to be carried by a Balrog was the great black ax wielded by Gothmog, the Lord of the Balrogs.