The Lord Of The Rings / Tropes J to L
aka: Tropes J-L

Tropes from The Lord of the Rings (the book)

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  • Jumped at the Call: Sam is even described as "springing up like a dog invited for walk" when Gandalf tells him to go with Frodo.
  • Just the First Citizen:
    • The Steward of Gondor, Denethor. This also causes conflict between him and Gandalf, who strives to bring the One True King back to the throne of Gondor, which Denethor is not particularly eager for. It also causes Boromir, son and heir to Denethor, to feel resentment over his father not being allowed to become king of Gondor despite there not having been a king for centuries now, and this frustration feeds into his temptation to wield the ring.
    • Galadriel and Celeborn who are the Lord and Lady of Lothlórien rather than the King and Queen, they decided not to take royal titles as they saw themselves as the guardians of Lothlórien rather than its rulers.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The whole War of the Ring is used to distract from the attempt to destroy the Ring.
  • Kaiju: Watcher of the Water. Also Oliphaunts could qualify.
  • Karmic Death: Although Saruman had done so much harm to the heroes and caused a lot of innocent deaths, it's one of his own evil deeds that does him in.
  • Keystone Army, in part: The destruction of the Ring kills Sauron, which confuses and thus incapacitates the parts of his armies which were more directly controlled by his will (e.g. the orcs), which makes them easy game. The generals of Sauron's human forces had various natural reactions, with some fighting on hopelessly while others surrendered or withdrew.
  • Kill It with Fire: As a general rule fire is bad for the forces of evil, especially the Ringwraiths, Shelob. Gandalf also describes himself as a Servant of the Secret Fire. Depending on how you want to look at it, the Balrog inverted the trope, since it was a corrupted fire spirit.
  • King Incognito: Aragorn for the first part of Fellowship is just Strider.
  • The Kingslayer: It takes a king, Isildur, to slay Sauron, the Sorcerous Overlord of the dark forces in the backstory of the series. However, Sauron's One Ring of Power acts as a Soul Jar, keeping him kind-of-sort-of alive until Frodo Baggins goes on a journey to Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. Ultimately, though, it's Gollum who destroys the Ring and Sauron—and he does it completely by accident.
  • Knife Nut: Legolas has a long knife in addition to his bow.

  • Lady of War: Éowyn manages to keep an air of grace and beauty while still being a very capable warrior.
  • Large and in Charge: Aragorn stood at 6'6'', which was considered very tall for Men at the end of the Third Age. His ancestor King Elendil was even taller at nearly 8'. The High King of the Sindar, Elu Thingol, was taller still!
  • Last Minute Hookup: Faramir and Éowyn get together rather abruptly at the end, having spent a week almost constantly in each other's company in the Houses of Healing. On Éowyn's side, at least, it's not entirely unexpected: she's no longer duty-bound to care for her beloved uncle, has put her infatuation with Aragorn behind her, and has even received the recognition for heroism she always yearned for: in the midst of searching for a new purpose to life, she's in prolonged proximity to an admirable man wounded in the same campaign.
  • Last Stand: Or so everyone thinks at the Battle of the Black Gate.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • The Return Of The King is the title of the third book. Tolkien initially insisted on "The War Of The Ring" as a title to avoid the table of contents spoiling the (albeit secondary) story. It was also pointed out to him that "The Return Of The King" did not necessarily imply "The Victory Of The King".
    • Frodo's title for the story was even worse: The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings. Since Frodo was writing contemporary history, however, most people reading it would already know the basics, such as that Sauron doesn't rule the world.
  • Layered Metropolis: Minas Tirith has seven levels, with a stone promontory jutting out from the topmost to overtake the rest of the city. It was built this way to be extremely defensible, with multiple lines of defense.
  • Leaf Boat: The elven boats, while not literally made of leaves, use this as a visual motif.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • The chapter "The Uruk-Hai," which focuses on Pippin, includes a line by Merry that Pippin's actions in it were so impressive that there will likely be a whole chapter about them in Bilbo's book.
    • And then by Sam and Frodo in a strangely Genre Savvy conversation during the climb to Cirith Ungol:
      Frodo: "...we are in the very darkest part of the story now, and it seems all too likely that some would say, 'Close the book, Dad. We don't want to read no more.'"
      Sam: "Some, maybe. Not me."
    • "Why Sam, to hear you makes me somehow merry, as if the tale were already written!" Frodo quips in the last chapter of the second book, during this very same discussion.
  • Least Is First: Frodo offering to take the Ring at the Council of Elrond, immediately joined by Sam.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: The Lady Galadriel looks each of the Fellowship in the eyes, and during this she tests their resolve to go forward.
    Sam: She seemed to be looking inside me and asking me what I would do if she gave me the chance of flying back home to the Shire to a nice little hole with a bit of garden of my own.
  • Legendary Weapon: Narsil is the legendary sword that was forged in the First Age by a famous dwarven smith, wielded by Elendil til it broke, and then used by Isildur to cut off Sauron's ring finger at the end of the Second Age. It lay as a historical relic in Rivendell for three thousand years, then was reforged under the name Andúril at the end of the Third Age to fulfill one of the ancient prophecies.
  • Lemony Narrator: Mostly in the early chapters in the Shire and till Bree; again in the later chapters on the way back. Denotes a shift of sorts from the semi-Shakespearean lands of High Fantasy to the more convivial, personal fairy-tale atmosphere of The Hobbit. See also the note under Literary Agent Hypothesis.
  • A Light in the Distance: The Will-o'-the-Wisps seen in the Dead Marshes.
  • Light Is Not Good: In the context of Tolkien's mythos, the Sun is not good for the elves, who see it as symbolic of the triumph of men over them (it is outright stated that the Sun symbolises the waning of the elves, and Galadriel implies that they see the dawn in the same way mankind sees the dusk - as symbolic of the end). The Elves frankly prefer the stars, which at least were already around when they were created.
  • Line in the Sand: Before the battle at the Black Gate.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The author claims that The Lord of the Rings is translated from the Red Book of Westmarch, which was written by the hobbits (mainly Bilbo, Frodo, and Samwise).

    It seems obvious in retrospect, given the changing nature of the narrator's voice from section to section. The story begins with Bilbo's homely descriptions of the hobbit characters' interaction, gradually changes to Frodo's scholarly and slightly purple narration throughout most of the rest of the book, and ending with Sam's down-to-earth, humble (but still educated) language towards the end — the second half of Book Six, detailing the Scouring and renewal of the Shire, is directly implied to have been written by Sam ("I have finished. The last few pages are for you"). As for the characters who didn't directly contribute to the writing of the Red Book, Merry has a remarkable eye for detail and consequence that strikes quickly to the heart of matters, and the narrator — probably Frodo — takes care to report his and Pippin's dialogue as faithfully as he can.

    It's entirely possible that Pippin and Merry contributed to the Prologue, "Concerning Hobbits". Both of them seem to be quite swotted up on the history of their families, which are as close to nobility as anyone in the Shire can claim; Merry's interrupted spiel to Théoden on the subject of pipeweed is almost a verbatim copy of some of the prologue's remarks on the Leaf, and he is credited with an exhaustive treatise on the herblore of the Shire.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Some of them with loads and loads of names too!
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Justified in a roundabout way. The fall of Barad-dûr coincides with Sauron's death, because it was built impossibly high by using the Ring to magically strengthen its foundations. Once the Ring was destroyed, the spells woven with it were shattered, and the Tower couldn't stand.
  • Loophole Abuse: A double example is responsible for the downfall of the Lord of the Nazgul. The elf Glorfindel restrains a hot-blooded human king from pursuing the Witch-King, counseling him "Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of Man shall he fall." Two thousand years later, the now Lord of the Nazgul is on the Pelennor battlefield, reminding a lowly warrior of Rohan of this destiny. Dernhelm then takes off "his" helmet and shakes out her hair and announces herself as female. Assisted by a (male) Hobbit who has passed under the radar, she downs the Witch-King...
  • Loser Has Your Back: Sam Gamgee is with Frodo all the way to Mount Doom, and through Character Development, ends up having the real heroic arc of the story, according to Word of God. (Frodo's journey becomes more that of a shaman than a hero.)
  • Losing the Team Spirit:
    • This happens to the fellowship when Gandalf falls in Moria. Even though he's not really dead, they have no way of knowing this — Frodo and Sam don't even find out until after the quest is over! Aragorn manages to pull them together long enough to get them to safety.
    • Once Sauron realizes that Frodo has claimed the Ring for his own, he immediately shifts his attention away from the battle he is overseeing, abandoning his troops to their own devices. This leads to a sudden increase in Orc casualties, as they no longer have the Eye coordinating and motivating them.
  • Lost in Translation: In-universe example. When reading the inscription on the doors to Moria, Gandalf translates the phrase pedo mellon a minno to "Speak, friend, and enter", and interprets it to mean "if you are a friend, say the password out loud and the door opens". He then spends hours trying every manner of password, until he realizes he's made a bad translation. The phrase is in fact "Say 'friend' and enter", and the password is the Elvish word for "friend", mellon.
  • The Lost Woods: The Old Forest, Fangorn Forest, Mirkwood (only referred to), and Lothlórien.
  • Love Epiphany: Eowyn and Faramir.
  • Love Hungry: What Galadriel would become under the influence of the One Ring.