ranking every member of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to make a quick announcement. I’ve launched my freelance editing website, Edits by Eva, and I’d love for you to go check it out! I explain more about my passion for editing fiction (especially for those looking to self-publish their books), and offer a FREE sample edit to anyone interested in hiring me. (Fun fact: this is the first time I’ve owned my own domain, and it’s a cool feeling.) Thanks for bearing with me…now on to the ranking!

When I get interested in a new fandom, it doesn’t take me long to become obsessed. And that’s what’s happened with Lord of the Rings. I’m not feeling well, so I’m staying home from work for the time being, and that gives me plenty of time to dig into the books. I’m not even halfway through Fellowship yet, but it’s really good, y’all. (Though the prologue tried my patience.) With all that being said, this ranking of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring will be based on their movie portrayals (and, at times, snippets I’ve learned about them from the books/what people have said about the books).

Wow, maybe Tolkien is rubbing off on me with all this wordy preamble. So without further ado, here are my rankings!

GIMLI

Just because Gimli is ranked last doesn’t mean that I don’t like or appreciate him. I really, really do! He’s a great character and shines in several parts of the story, particularly as regards his loyalty and his relationship with Legolas. However, in the films at least, Gimli is something of a comic relief character. This isn’t a bad thing, but the more comical characters aren’t usually my favorites. So despite my admiration for Gimli, I can’t place him any higher.

LEGOLAS

My older brothers think that the elves in LOTR (and elves in general) are cringy…but I really like Legolas. For starters, he’s super handsome. 😉 But more than that, he’s an excellent fighter, a steadfast member of the Fellowship, and isn’t above putting aside prejudice for the sake of the greater good. (Though I don’t know if his friendship with Gimli has made him that much more favorable toward dwarves in general.) Legolas doesn’t get a lot of character development (at least not as much as other characters get), so that’s why he isn’t higher up on my list.

BOROMIR

This is where is starts to get hard, people. Reeeeally hard. For me, personally, Boromir isn’t the most likable character for much of Fellowship. He proves extremely susceptible to the Ring’s power (though I don’t really blame him for that so much) and, because of the temptation, he does/says several unlikable things throughout the course of the film.

AND YET. Boromir has a swift character arc, but an incredibly powerful one. After trying to steal the Ring from Frodo, he comes to his senses, weeping over what he has done: driving Frodo away and endangering the whole quest. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, Boromir heroically defends Merry and Pippin from numerous Orcs and ends up sacrificing his life for them. Boromir’s part in the LOTR trilogy might have been a relatively small one, but he’s an incredible character–and a tragic one.

ARAGORN

It’s hard to know what to say about Aragorn. I find it difficult to relate to him, and so I also struggle with understanding his character. Aragorn is afraid that he will turn out to be just as easily corrupted as his ancestor Iseldur. Because of that fear, he becomes a Ranger instead of the great ruler that he is meant to be. It takes three films for there to truly be a ‘return of the king’, but Aragorn exhibits kingly qualities throughout each cinematic chapter in the trilogy. He’s a complex, noble character who remains something of a mystery even to those closest to him (Arwen excepted).

MERRY

Of Pippin and Merry, Merry is the more level-head of the two. I love love LOVE his friendship with Éowyn and how brave he proves himself to be. My favorite Merry moment is the speech he gives to all the Ents, as well as how he encourages Pippin to keep trying to defeat the Forces of Evil (instead of simply returning home). It might seem weird to rank him above Aragorn, but what can I say? I love hobbits.

PIPPIN

I know I said that comic relief characters aren’t usually my favorites, but Pippin (though certainly very funny at times) is there for more than just general hilarity. His character arc throughout the three films is one of my absolute favorites: from a foolish hobbit only concerned with ‘second breakfast’ to a more mature, steady individual…it’s awesome to watch. But the core of Pippin’s character doesn’t change, and that’s his love and loyalty for his friends (particularly Merry, but also definitely Sam and Frodo). For more Pippin awesomeness, I highly recommend this blog post that explores his relationship with Gandalf.

GANDALF

“Gandalf? Hatred? Impossible.”

So says a Redditor’s comment, and so say I. Gandalf is Legendary. Though I’m still confused by his powers and what exactly he can and can’t do with them, I’m not here for the magical staff so much as Gandalf himself. He is kindly and encouraging, but has a will of steel and an unwavering commitment to doing what’s right. Even if it means sacrificing his life for the Fellowship, rallying the troops to a dying cause, or leaving Middle Earth when his purpose has been fulfilled. Gandalf is certainly capable of anger and may even seem paranoid at times, but it’s all because he cares so deeply–for the Light, for his friends, and for all of Middle Earth.

SAM

These last two characters are practically impossible to praise too highly. I can’t find the words to accurately describe all that Sam undertook throughout his journey with Frodo. All that he sacrificed, all that he heroically and unselfishly did to keep Frodo alive and heartened–all so that Frodo could destroy the Ring. Sam had to know that, if their quest was successful, it would be Frodo who received all (or most) of the credit. Did he care? HE DID NOT. Sam is such an inspiration to me of what kind of a friend I should be. I’m so glad he got his happy ending. He deserved it a thousand times over.

FRODO

Nope. I can’t. I can’t make you understand how much I love Frodo. He volunteered for the greatest, most terrible, and most dangerous mission in (perhaps) all of fiction. In the book, Frodo is pretty sure (and quite early on) that he’s never going to return from his journey, but he still accepts the responsibility of the Ring. The fact that he can never truly return to the Shire and his old life, and instead has to go away to the Undying Lands…IT’S TOO MUCH. One of these days, I’m going to write a blog post defending Frodo (mainly against all the people who say that he’s weak and that Sam is far superior), and that will hopefully explain all my feels a lot better. But until then, I’ll leave you with a couple quotes from Tolkien himself.

Frodo deserved all honour because he spent every drop of his power of will and body, and that was just sufficient to bring him to the destined point, and no further. Few others, possibly no others of his time, would have got so far.

from Letter #192

and

Frodo undertook his quest out of love – to save the world he knew from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the task. His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that. I do not myself see that the breaking of his mind and will under demonic pressure after torment was any more a moral failure than the breaking of his body would have been – say, by being strangled by Gollum, or crushed by a falling rock.

from Letter #246

FRODO IS AMAZING, OKAY?

And that concludes my ranking of the Fellowship members! What do you think of it? How would you rank the characters? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Eva-Joy

11 thoughts on “ranking every member of the Fellowship of the Ring.

  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the books, but I do remember Gilmi being much less of a comic relief character. That’s actually one aspect of the movies that don’t work well. He’s relatively dignified in the first movie, but as they went on, he becomes more and more of a comic relief character.

    Legolas is easily the least developed of the fellowship members in the books, so it’s no surprise that he’s also one of the less developed characters in the movies.

    I also remember Aragorn being different in the books, mostly in that he’s less hesitant to take up the throne. But that could just be me remembering it wrong.

    I would personally flip Gimli and Legolas around, but otherwise I’d probably go with the same order as you. It’s hard to sort through everyone between Boromir and Pippin because they’re all valuable characters in their own right, and they all add something to the trilogy on a character and thematic level. But Gandalf, Sam and Frodo are all on another level, and in each of their unique and important ways.

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    1. Yeah, I feel like having Gimli be more of a comic relief character gave some variety to the fellowship, at the very least.

      You’re not wrong about Aragorn. I feel like in the book he’s more concerned about the *timing* of coming to the throne, not whether or not he actually will. He’s definitely not as in-focus in the books as he is in the movies. The books focus a lot on the hobbits and their POV. (Not really more than the movies do, per se, but since the books don’t have all the Aragorn-focused scenes, it feels like there’s more emphasis on the hobbits.)

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  2. Ahh, I love your thoughts here!!!

    I love it when characters are not just comic relief–they have depth and a compelling character arc. Pippin is that, especially in the book, and I love seeing him grow into a mature hero–while remaining himself, as you said. I like that in the books, Gimli also has more depth and more of a character arc. I love to pay attention and notice all the points when he made a step of change in his views. And Legolas…he has less depth than the others in the book, too, but I do love his lively, joyful, determined spirit! (With occasionally a temper at certain stiff-necked dwarves.)

    And I agree with you that Frodo, Sam, and Gandalf can’t be beat. I love how Gandalf has so many sides, including a dry, biting wit and snark that makes me laugh out loud. And I am SO glad for all you said about Sam and Frodo. I couldn’t agree more!!! They are amazing. So strong, noble, and heroic–both of them.

    No one else could have done what Frodo did. He sacrificed his life for the people of Middle-earth. “The Shire has been saved, but not for me.” That makes me emotional, like you! I think the reason he was able to do it, without being corrupted, was because he was humble and down to earth, as well as strong and resilient. It broke him, but he made it to the mountain…and he’s the only one who could get that far without falling and failing long before. (Just look at Boromir.)

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    1. Yeah, I feel like Pippin has more growth than Merry in the books (and films!) because Merry starts out as being pretty level-headed and take-charge and all that. But Pippin, as the youngest hobbit there/member of the Fellowship, goes from being a goofball to such a heroic guy. ❤ It's lovely.

      The more I read of the books, the more I admire/love Gandalf. I'm deep into Return of the King right now, and he's just the BEST. I have to say that I prefer the White, but both sides of the character are amazing.

      Your thoughts on Frodo… *cries*

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      1. Very true!!! He is definitely level-headed. There’s not as much room for growth when you start with that powerful speech about sticking by him through thick and thin, no matter the cost or danger. In the books, Pippin didn’t know what he was getting into, even if he wasn’t quite as naive as in the movie. But Merry knew it would be bad, even if he couldn’t know just how much.

        I LOVE seeing that gradual, steady change in Pippin. He’s still his sweet self, but he becomes so brave, and much wiser. Even noble. And…his impulsiveness is actually an asset in a crisis! Except that he’s doing what’s right instead of just getting into trouble.

        GANDALFFFF!!!! :’) I love himmmmmmmmmm. Same here. I just appreciate him more as time goes on. He has such compassion and kindness, and wisdom and foresight, and a delightful humor and biting wit. And much more. He has so many different sides, and they all fit together and are wonderful.

        It’s funny. The movies made me dislike Gandalf the White, and miss Gandalf the Grey terribly. But I think that’s cause the movie couldn’t capture all sides of him like the book can. I was thinking when I first read this post how in the book, Gandalf the White is just MORE and better, of the same Gandalf. Infinitely more HIMSELF. So I do love him in the books, and I don’t dislike the White version. I think he was too serious in the movie, as Gandalf the White. It doesn’t help that I like the Grey costume design better, but it’s really about the personality.

        You might say, “I liked white better.” XD What a zinger. I love that exchange. Gandalf knows how to shut someone down with cold truth.

        Wahhh, yes. Glad you liked it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great ranking! That’s a tough challenge, because they’re all so good (Merry and Pippin are my #1 & #2, but I don’t know if I could rank anyone deeper than that)! I’m glad you defended poor Frodo. I love Sam as much as anyone, but I wish people wouldn’t call him the true hero of the series at the expense of everyone else. Of course they would have failed without him! They would have failed if they lacked anyone from the group!

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    1. Oh my word, you commented! May I just say that I LOVED your post about Pippin and Gandalf? *heart eyes*

      I think that Tolkien himself said that Sam was the true hero, which doesn’t help all the putting down of Frodo.
      😛 Oh well. And that’s so true what you said about how the quest would have failed if any single member had been removed!

      Liked by 1 person

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