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Minor 'Lord of the Rings' And 'Hobbit' Characters With Major Backstories

Updated July 24, 2021 1.6k votes 322 voters 72k views12 items

List RulesVote up the minor characters with a major impact on Middle-earth in the books.

Everyone is familiar with the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, but way more characters exist in J.R.R. Tolkien's work than the hobbits and Gandalf. Numerous adaptations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have been made, but whenever the stories make their way to the big screen, the obscure Tolkien characters draw the short stick.

Minor LotR characters like Éomer are incredibly powerful and important to the series, but audiences who've only seen the films wouldn't know that. Then characters from The Hobbit like Radagast have completely different stories in the adaptations than they do in Tolkien's work. When you add that to the additional stories written in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, it's impossible to get the full stories of these minor Lord of the Rings characters. 

  • 5

    The Witch-King Of Angmar Terrorized Middle-earth For Years Before Tracking Down The Fellowship

    Photo: The Return of the King / New Line Cinema

    Who Is He In The Lord of the Rings: The Witch-King is all over Peter Jackson's adaptations, but he's not named until The Return of the King. This is also the film where he gets to wear his boss-level helmet and armor. He even pops up in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey where he goes toe-to-toe with Radagast of all people. At the end of the Hobbit trilogy, he and the rest of the Ringwraiths are driven to Mordor.

    What Does He Do In The Books: Most of the heavy lifting for the Witch-King and the rest of the Nazgûl come from The Silmarillion and the appendix of The Return of the King, but it's all really interesting stuff that would have been cool to see on screen. After being corrupted by one of the nine Rings of Power, this unnamed man was transformed into one of the most fearsome wraiths to serve Sauron. After Sauron was defeated in the War of the Last Alliance, the Witch-King laid low until he showed up to take over Minas Ithil. The Witch-King spent years terrorizing Middle-earth and building up his armies of Nazgûl and Uruks until Sauron revealed himself and the hunt for the One Ring was on.

    Bigger deal in the books?
  • Photo: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    Who Is He In The Lord of the Rings: Celeborn is more or less absent in Peter Jackson's adaptation. He pops up when his Elven buddies take off for Grey Havens, but that's about it.

    What Does He Do In The Books: Celeborn is busy in J.R.R. Tolkien's work. He and his wife, Galadriel, act as dual rulers of Lothlórien where they led their people through the Second and Third Ages. He gifts the Fellowship with a set of Elven boats, and after the defeat of Sauron, he stays behind to lead the Elves who stay in Middle-earth.

    Bigger deal in the books?
  • Photo: The Return of the King / New Line Cinema

    Who Is He In The Lord of the Rings: The King of the Dead briefly appears in Return of the King's extended edition when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli seek him out to break Isildur's curse and bring the aid of Gondor. After getting into a tussle with Aragorn, he agrees to join the one true king, and his curse gets lifted.

    What Does He Do In The Books: The King of the Dead gets a bit more time in the books than he does on the big screen. In the Second Age, he was originally known as the king of the Mountains, but after welching on his deal to fight with Isildur (the king of Gondor), he's cursed to never rest until he and his men fulfill their oath to the king of Gondor. After giving his word to Aragorn, he and his men take part in the fight against Sauron's forces, disappear into the winds afterwards, and are finally able to rest.

    Bigger deal in the books?
  • 8

    Lobelia Sackville-Baggins Robbed Bilbo And Became A Local Hero During The Scouring Of The Shire

    Photo: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Who Is She In The Lord of the Rings: Audiences don't get a lot of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in the Peter Jackson adaptations. She pops up in The Fellowship of the Ring, and she's discussed in An Unexpected Journey, but she's not seen again until The Battle of the Five Armies when Bilbo buys a set of spoons at an auction that she snatched from him.

    What Does She Do In The Books: Much of Lobelia's conniving subplot is cut out of the adaptations. It may not be action-packed to watch her attempt to take leadership of the Shire away from Bilbo, but it's a lot of fun. While Frodo is away attempting to destroy the One Ring, Lobelia is imprisoned in the Lockholes, but she's released following the scouring of the Shire. Once she's out, the community puts their faith in her after seeing her stand up to Sauron's men. 

    Bigger deal in the books?