[[quoteright:236:[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Mithril-vest_7324.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:236:"As light as a feather, yet as hard as dragon scales."]]

->''"Mithril! All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and polished like glass; and the Dwarves could make of it a metal, light and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of common silver, but the beauty of ''mithril'' did not tarnish or grow dim."''
-->-- '''Gandalf''', ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', Book II, Chapter 4 "A Journey in the Dark".

Mithril is a fictional metal from Creator/JRRTolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. It is silvery and stronger than steel but much lighter in weight. The author first wrote of it in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', and it was [[OrwellianRetcon Retconed]] into the second, revised edition of ''Literature/TheHobbit'' in 1966. In the first 1937 edition, the mail shirt given to Bilbo was described as being made of "silvered steel". This metal was the reason for the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm's wealth and power. Greed for this metal eventually led to the downfall of the dwarves when they [[DugTooDeep found a vein of mithril that led to]] a [[SealedEvilInACan sleeping Balrog.]]

The name "mithril"[[note]]For the curious, ''mithril'' in Sindarin (Elvish) means "grey glitter", the ''-ril'' part being the same as in ''Silmaril''. In Quenya (the classical language of the Elves) it was '' mistarillë''.[[/note]] or similarly spelled variations ([[BreadEggsBreadedEggs mithral, mythril, mythral]], and others) is present in other fictional contexts like role-playing games, since the Tolkien Estate did not trademark the term, unlike "[[Literature/TheHobbit Hobbit]]" or "Balrog". One early example is ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' and its derivatives (e.g. ForgottenRealms). It appears in many computer and video games such as ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'' (it also appeared in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall'', although there it was a ''mid-weight'' material), ''VideoGame/EverQuest'', ''VideoGame/RuneScape'', ''VideoGame/{{Tales|Series}}'' series, ''VideoGame/DarkAgeOfCamelot'', ''VideoGame/DungeonsAndDragonsOnline'', ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}}'', ''VideoGame/{{Terraria}}'', ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'',[[note]]''Final Fantasy'' curiously makes mythril a very low-grade metal obtained in the early-game, as opposed to the stuff of legend it typically is.[[/note]] ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' and ''VideoGame/NetHack''. The name is usually used for a special type of metal (often used as armor), or as a denomination of currency, or as a name for a project or device. It's very useful to have an exotic trope metal that is more rare and valuable than mundane metals like steel or gold. Citadel Miniatures even produced a color of (metallic) paint named Mithril Silver.

As to whether Mithril was ever based on a real metal, Tolkien never said. Guesses for this metal have been aluminum, titanium, naturally occurring titanium-molybdenum alloy and platinum (and yttrium silver [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermetallics if you want to get technical]]). Titanium comes closest in lightness, hardness, toughness and resistance to tarnishing, yet it is not found whole in nature, it has to be extracted from minerals via a complex process which could not be discovered and put in practice by a non-industrial civilization. Unless they had magic....

Subtrope of FantasyMetals. Compare with ThunderboltIron, {{Orichalcum}}, {{Unobtainium}}, SilverHasMysticPowers. Contrast with ColdIron.

Not to be confused with HeavyMithril, or the [[Lightnovel/FullMetalPanic fictional mercenary organization of the same name]].