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The Free Peoples
HobbitsHobbits are the main focus of the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring and supply the primary characters of the rest of the story. They're merely an offshoot of Men, but they and everybody else (except Elves) view them as a separate people. They're most notable for their small size, about three or four feet tall; Hobbits usually have curly brown hair (on their heads and the tops of their feet) and a light tan complexion, looking very much like small, plump Men. They live primarily in the Shire, where they blissfully ignore the rest of Middle-earth aside from the occasional traveling Dwarves, living lives of leisure, gossip, feasting, and frequent parties. Despite their softness, Hobbits have good common sense and sober up quickly when trouble comes calling, taking up arms to protect their communities.A few Hobbits also live in the town of Bree, east of the Shire, where they mingle freely with the local "Big People" and are on the whole a little more worldly.Like all Mortals, Hobbits have the "Gift of Men" (see below).
- Arcadia: Subverted. Though Tolkien's love of the English countryside are part and parcel of the Shire's conception, effort is made to show that it is no more a utopian paradise than any other nice place to live. While the Shire does have the idyllic, rural and unspoiled look of the typical Arcadia, Tolkien portrays the Hobbits as very parochial, somewhat small-minded, and generally uncaring of what goes on outside the Shire.
- Audience Surrogate: The Shire is the rural hinterland of nowhere as far as most big, important historical events of Middle-earth are concerned, and the Hobbits are largely ignorant of what's been going on outside their borders. They are thus used (and intended) to receive some of the exposition the audience needs. (Of course, lots of other exposition had to go into the Appendices.)
- Author Avatar: Or Author's Neighbors' Avatars. Hobbits are, in speech, culture, and manner, more-or-less rural Englishmen.
- Badass Normal/ Badass Adorable: The Shire has only ever been invaded twice, three times if you count the wolves during the Long Winter. All three times, it ended very badly for the invaders.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Saruman found out the hard way that when backed into a corner, hobbits fight back.
- Big Eater: Hobbits are really, really into food. Maybe it's their small size giving them a hyperactive metabolism, but they eat more than full-sized Men. Legolas at one point comments, while Aragorn tracks Merry and Pippin, that the mere fact that they sat down to eat immediately after escaping from Orcs proves the tracks were left by Hobbits.
- Binding Ancient Treaty: The Shire is theoretically a protectorate of the King of Arnor and while Arnor no longer exists, the Rangers do, and protect the Shire from nasty artifacts of the ancient wars. Hobbit laws are based on the laws of Arnor.
- The Clan: Prefer to live in large family groups almost like Scottish clans, although usually not for self-defense reasons.
- Close-Knit Community: Gandalf's appreciation for Hobbit-kind began when, in the brutal Long Winter of 2758-2759, he saw neighbors who had little enough for themselves taking pity on their neighbors and sharing. It was through this community spirit that the Shire survived.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Hobbits don't usually wear shoes since the tops of their feet grow curly hair and the soles are thick as well. When they do wear shoes, Dwarf boots are good enough.
- The Everyman: Specifically created, more or less, to be an Audience Surrogate, splicing modern Englishmen into sprawling fantasy epics without overly straining the elaborate fantasy mythology that supported them.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The culture of the Shire is based on Tolkien's idealized view of the English countryside... though they're also not without rural England's perceived faults as well, such as small-mindedness and an overly provincial worldview.
- Hobbits: Trope Namer, Trope Codifier, and quite likely the Ur-Example.
- Home Guard: Their primary defense is from a militia called the Shire-muster. Only a few times in the Shire's history has the Muster ever been called to military duty. The last time before the story opens was hundreds of years ago.
- Jerkass: Only a couple, like the Sackville-Bagginses and Déagol. Sméagol rather transcends Jerkass.
- Long Lived: Longer lived than Men, but not nearly as much as Dwarves or Elves. They are considered adults at 33, enter middle age around 50, and can expect to live to 100, with the longest-lived hobbits reaching about 130.
- Made of Iron: They are adapted to volcanic regions, and so the fumes in the Sammath Naur did not kill Frodo, Sam, or Gollum.
- Must Have Nicotine: Tolkien liked his pipe, so he decided to make smoking A Thing for Hobbits, with the Shire a major producer of excellent pipeweed.
- Quintessential British Gentleman: The upper-class hobbits, like the Baggins and Brandybuck families.
MenHumans* . Men are the last of the Free Peoples to come into existence (aside from Hobbits, who are really an offshoot of Men) and are the most easily swayed to darkness. They possess "the Gift of Men" — mortality and freedom from fate — and unlike the Elves, they depart the material world after death.The greatest civilization in history was Númenor, home of the Dúnedain, or Men of the West. Númenor fell to hubris and its successor states were destroyed or weakened by Sauron, leaving only the crumbling kingdom of Gondor and the scattered Rangers of the North as heirs to Númenor's glory.See also Gondor, Rohan, and the Men of Darkness below.
- Humans Are Average: Unlike the fairly uniform cultures of the other races, human cultures are exceptionally diverse. There are peaceful nations and warlike ones, noble ones and wicked, sailors and horsemen.
- Humans Are Flawed: Men seem to achieve a wide variety of both good and evil. This is a possible side effect of their "gift".
- Humans Are Special: Unlike Elves, they have the "Gift of Men", that is, death and the freedom to do what they like with what life they have.
- Humans Are Warriors: Except for the Bree-men, who have the remains of Arnor to look after them, most Men in Middle-earth seem to be quite skilled at fighting, mostly out of necessity.
- Humans Through Alien Eyes: In The Hobbit and the first third of The Lord of the Rings, Men are seen exclusively through the eyes of Hobbits, who view the "Big Folk" as exotic, dour, and just a little scary.
ElvesImmortal beings of unearthly beauty. Elves were "the Firstborn" — an older race than Men, more powerful, more learned, more beautiful, and (from a mortal point of view) more "magical." They are not The Fair Folk, though, for they are no more ethereal or amoral then Men. Elves are nearly immortal — they live forever without aging, and while their bodies can be killed, their spirits can never leave the world until the end of time.The Elves in The Lord of the Rings are broadly split into two groups: the Wood-elves of Middle-earth, beautiful but earthy people who inhabit secluded valleys and woodlands (Legolas for instance); and the High Elves, great kings and warriors who came across the sea from the West in ages long past and fought many wars against the Enemy (such as Galadriel and Elrond). The Elves are a people in decline, their realms shrinking and their numbers dwindling as more and more forsake Middle-earth to sail across the sea.The Silmarillion is in large part a history of the [High] Elves, and goes into much greater detail on their origins and divisions.
- The Beautiful People: With a few exceptions, elves are good-looking and looked up to by most of the more artistically-inclined peoples of Middle Earth.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Averted. Some characters see it this way, like Samwise and Gimli, and all of the elves encountered on the journey are good... because all the Jerkasses or otherwise foolish ones got themselves killed off thousands of years ago (check out the Silmarillion link above to learn how).
- Can't Argue with Elves: "And it is also said," answered Frodo: "'Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.'"
- Dying Race: Most Elves are heading for Valinor or about to. The rest are fading in power and importance. Tolkien implies that Elves are still around in modern times, but have irreversibly faded into invisible, intangible creatures.
- Proud Scholar Race / Proud Warrior Race: Both, though more the former as they fade into their twilight.
- Really 700 Years Old: They don't even reach adulthood until age 50 at minimum, and continue to be gloriously beautiful and youthful for their whole lives. Only their eyes show their full age.
DwarvesGreat craftsmen who live in mines and palaces under the Earth. Small like Hobbits but physically much tougher than nearly any other Free Peoples, except maybe Ents.
- Dying Race: Dwarves have an abysmally low birth rate due to men outnumbering women three to one, and the women's frequent unwillingness to take a husband. The constant warfare after the fall of Khazad-dûm didn't help. It's implied that they become extinct some time in the Fourth Age.
- Fighting for a Homeland: Erebor in The Hobbit, Khazad-dûm in the Backstory to The Lord of the Rings.
- Heroic Willpower: Race-wide (and justified in the story of their creation). To cite the most evident example, Sauron's One Ring utterly enslaved the wearers of the Nine (and supposedly would have done so for the Three as well): the seven dwarf-kings wearing the Rings of the Dwarves were pulled toward The Dark Side to some extent, but retained their own wills. Even their aging wasn't affected.
- National Weapon: Axes. Even mentioned in their Battle Cry. Averted in The Hobbit, where other weapons are just as prominent.
- One-Gender Race: Subverted. They all look male to non-Dwarves, because the women are just as flat-chested and beard-y as the men, and they all sound male too, leading some Men to think they're all guys. But Dwarves themselves can tell the difference, somehow. This is subverted in the first part of the film adaptation of The Hobbit, where in the prologue, the dwarven women of Erebor are depicted as noticeably more feminine.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: ...Kind of. Obviously, these dwarves are the template from which the modern fantasy dwarf was built, but there are notable deviations. For just one example, these dwarves love music and song more than strong drink. Every dwarf in The Hobbit is an adept musician, and the melancholy poem of Durin in The Lord of the Rings devotes an entire verse to the instruments that played in Khazad-dûm when the people relaxed after the day's work was done.
- Seriously averted for the Dwarven language and conceptual background—in contrast to the stereotypical Norse or pseudo-Scottish dwarves of virtually all later fantasy works, Tolkien's Dwarves are actually a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Jews. Their language, Khuzdul, was actually developed by Tolkien (through nowhere near as extensively as the Elvish languages) and was explicitly based on Semitic languages, with the intended direct comparison explicitly stated by the author himself. The backstory of the Dwarves losing their ancestral home and being forced to live in a diaspora among other cultures, with partial assimilation occuring over the centuries despite strong attempts to keep their culture, also fits the bill. The Norse-derived names of all Dwarves are mentioned to be "outer names", pseudonyms for interaction with their host societies and likely taken from these cultures (hence the similarity between the Norse-sounding names of e.g. the men of Dale to the Dwarven names) - the true Khuzdul names are never revealed to outsiders and only used in secrecy among themselves, just like the language. Think of, for example, the Spanish "marranos", ostensibly converts to Christianity, many of whom remained "crypto-Jews"...see the pattern? So, Tolkien's Dwarves are essentially fantasy Jews masquerading as fantasy Vikings, in a way.
- Proud Warrior Race: By the time of The Lord of the Rings, the Dwarven people have been warring with the orcs for a long, long time.
- Really 700 Years Old: Although not as long-lived as the Elves, they still live for hundreds of years.
- Ultimate Blacksmith: In their backstory, they were designed by the Vala of earth, metal, and crafts, because he wanted students who loved craft-work just as much as he did. Even the typical Dwarf is good with stonework and metal-shaping, and their real craftsmen exceed the skills of Men and all but the greatest, most experienced Elf-smiths.
EntsThe "Shepherds of the Trees". The most physically impressive of the Free Peoples, but also the fewest in number. Ents are giants with vast physical strength who closely resemble the trees they protect. By the end of the Third Age, there are only few left, which isn't helped by the fact that the females (known as Entwives) have apparently disappeared, thus no Entings (Ent children) can be born. Relegated to the ancient Forest of Fangorn, they have grown world-weary and sleepy. Treebeard is the oldest remaining Ent and their leader.
- The Ageless: As Treebeard explains, Ents don't die "from inside" (from old age). Treebeard himself is one of the oldest living beings in Middle-earth, and still strong. However, they get "sleepy" and one by one they eventually stop moving and become like the trees they protect. This is the eventual fate of the whole race.
- Dying Race: Without Entwives, there haven't been any Entings since the end of the Second Age. They don't age, but they are getting killed or turning "tree-ish" one by one.
- Gaia's Revenge: They were created specifically to protect trees and forests from overexploitation, violently if necessary. They are very well equipped to rip armies and castles to pieces with their bare hands.
- Green Thumb: Both Ents and Entwives had control over plants. While the Ents watched over the great trees and the forests, the Entwives watched over fruit-trees and smaller plants. They were obsessed with gardening and apparently taught Men the arts of agriculture.
- Made of Iron: When they are enraged, there's not much that members of any other race can do - unless they Kill It with Fire.Merry: ...They cannot be poisoned, for one thing; and their skin seems to be very thick, and tougher than bark. It takes a very heavy axe-stroke to wound them seriously[...] But there would have to be a great many axe-men to one Ent: a man that hacks once at an Ent never gets a chance of a second blow. A punch from an Ent-fist crumples up iron like thin tin.
- One-Gender Race: There used to be Entwives, but they grew apart and later, they disappeared.
- Our Giants Are Bigger: And certainly more botanical.
- Plant People: It isn't clear to what extent they are literally plants — for example, they drink and speak through their mouths, and don't seem to have roots — but they seem much more like trees than humans and can become practically indistinguishable from trees if they let themselves go.
- Plant Hair: Depicted with this in both the book and the movie. Treebeard himself has this in Weird Beard form.
- Starfish Language: Just like the Ents themselves, Entish is not a hasty language. It is a tonal language filled with subtle vowels and is extremely long-winded. It is unlikely that any other race could speak Old Entish, for example the word "A-lalla-lalla-rumba-kamanda-lindor-burúme" is part of their "word" for "hill" (or even a part of one specific hill in Fangorn Forest).Treebeard: You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.
- When Trees Attack: They do so in armies led by Ents, thronging out of The Lost Woods to destroy those who threaten their existence. The trees that are led are known as 'Huorns' and are either Ents that have become more tree-like or trees that have become more Ent like. Some are even capable of speech. Old Man Willow (who is also a Huorn) is another example who traps and attempts to kill anyone who enters the Old Forest.
IstariUsually called "wizards." Not really a race, but certainly not part of any other race mentioned on this page. Unbeknownst to nearly everybody in Middle-earth, Istari are spirits sent in the form of old men to counsel the resistance to Sauron. Gandalf is the most prominent, being a major character in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Saruman appears extensively in the latter, and Radagast is mentioned in the former and shows up in a flashback in the latter.
- The Chessmaster: With the exception of Radagast, every Istar in the stories has played a very long game at least once.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: They each wear different-colored robes, and are called by those colors (Gandalf the Grey, Saruman the White, Radagast the Brown, and the Blue Wizards).
- Friend to All Living Things: Radagast the Brown especially, but Gandalf also has the ability to befriend animals, such as his horse Shadowfax.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Gandalf takes up smoking a pipe while thinking, something Saruman ridicules him for. Later Saruman hypocritically takes up smoking himself and conceals it from Gandalf, being rather vain.
- I Have Many Names: Cue Gandalf:Gandalf: Many are my names in many countries: Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Dwarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.
- Magic Wand: They each carry staves which they use both as a walking stick and a weapon. After Saruman turns to evil and is defeated, Gandalf breaks his staff and expels him from the order.
- Old Master: According to the Appendices, the Istari had the appearance of men, but were never young and grew older very slowly.
- Our Angels Are Different: Despite their appearance as bent old men with long beards, the Appendices hint and Word of God explicitly states that Istari are Maiar sent from Valinor to assist the Free Peoples in resisting Sauron. Maiar are the rough equivalents of Christian angels in Arda.
- Power Corrupts: Out of the five, Gandalf is the only one who we know saw through his mission to the end, and he has a decisive role in the winning of the War of the Ring. Saruman, the most powerful wizard and their leader, ends up turning to evil. Radagast the Brown appears to have gotten lost just tending to animals, and we don't hear much about the two Blue Wizards (although supplemental materials by Tolkien suggest that they stirred up some rebellions in the Eastern lands Sauron ruled).
- Really 700 Years Old: They do seem to age a little over time, but none of them looks his actual age. Even if you only count from the time they were incarnated in physical bodies, they're around 2000 years old by the end of the Third Age.
- Token Good Teammate: Gandalf, although Radagast remains on the side of good but doesn't help much with the war against Sauron.
- Token Evil Teammate: Saruman.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The two blue wizards are unnamed in the book and go into the east and south of Middle-Earth. What they do there, and their ultimate fate, is unknown, and Tolkien's ideas of what they did there changed throughout his life.
- Wizard Classic: Trope Codifier in the fantasy genre.
EaglesThe personal servants of Manwë (see The Silmarillion, character sheet). Sent to intervene in the gravest circumstances.
Nations of Men
RohirrimA heroic, martially inclined people, allied to the Men of Gondor, and famed for their love of horses. Originally from the valleys of the northlands, the Rohirrim rode south to aid Gondor during an invasion of the Easterlings. The Steward of Gondor entrusted them with Gondor's sparsely-populated northern province, now renamed Rohan (displacing the native Dunlendings in the process, who became the sworn enemies of the Rohirrim), and in return the king of Rohan promised to aid Gondor in any time of need. Before settling in Rohan, the Rohirrim lived near the ancient Hobbits and dimly remember them as fairy tales.
- Binding Ancient Treaty: To Gondor, since the country was founded by Eorl hundreds of years ago after he and his warriors saved Gondor from ruin.
- Blood Knight: And they sang as they slew for the joy of battle was upon them...
- Born in the Saddle: Their culture seems to resolve around horses, which they love as much as their own children. It's hard to imagine even a single one of them not knowing how to ride.
- The Cavalry: They have this down to an art.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Though the Rohirrim don't perfectly align to any real-world people, Tolkien used them to express his love of ancient Germanic culture, and their language is rendered as Old English. Going to the appendices and further back to the Unfinished Tales, the Northmen and Éothéod, the Rohirrim's predecessors, have names derived from Gothic. Also, Rohan is a real place, in Brittany, now part of France, giving them a possible dash of Celtic.
- Horseback Heroism: The Cavalry both figuratively and literally.
- Proud Warrior Race: Their culture is quite martial and they see glory in warfare as something to attain for its own sake.
GondorThe sole surviving Númenórean Realm in Exile following the fall of Arnor and Arthedain and the corruption of Umbar. An exceedingly ancient civilization of learning and tradition, now a Vestigial Empire fighting continuously to survive. For all of its history Gondor has fought territorial wars against the Southrons of Harad and the Easterlings of Rhûn, and now contends with the threat of Mordor rebuilt. Hundreds of years ago the last king of Gondor was killed by the Lord of the Nazgûl, leaving no heir, and the nation is ruled by the line of the Ruling Stewards — currently Denethor — until the day a rightful heir — i.e., Aragorn — returns. See The Silmarillion character sheet for its founding rulers, Elendil and his son Isildur.
- Binding Ancient Treaty: With Rohan, going back to the time of Steward Cirion, who granted Eorl the land in gratitude for saving Gondor's bacon.
- Badass Bookworm: Something of a Badass Bookworm civilization. Tends records of ancient lore, and keeps alive the memory of past civilization. But they are also formidable in war.
- Break the Haughty: The combination of several plagues, a civil war, repeated political upheaval, and the steady encroachment of Sauron with all the suffering and misery that entails have brought Gondor a lot of hardship, but brought them a little humility in the process.
- Cincinnatus: Their effective ruling line, the Stewards, actually boasted that they have never declared themselves king, though it must be noted that this has less savory parallels. After all the emperors of Rome (imperator is simply a military term, like "commander") never declared themselves king either.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Byzantine Empire, in its geopolitical role. Culturally, they somewhat resemble Ancient Egypt, specifically in their attitudes towards death.
- Geo Effects: Gondor owes its continued existence to the Anduin. The river defines their current bordor, and is incredibly difficult for Mordor's armies to cross, making an outright invasion impossible until late in the story, when both crossings over the river are finally captured.
- Long Lived: The average Númenóreans live for 250 years in average, however during the Third Age this average lifespan slowly shortens to the point that by the timeframe of the story the Gondorians are only slightly longer-lived than normal Men.
- Noble Bigot: Though now they are generally more willing to intermarry with other people than their northern counterpart, the Dúnedain elite are, in general, not humble about the fact that they, unlike other men, trace their ancestry to Númenor. In the past, this feeling of superiority has led to the Kin Strife, a terrible civil war, after a King of Gondor married one of the "lesser people".
- Proud Scholar Race: As part of their obsession with the lost glory of their dead fatherland, although in the present day they're turning towards Proud Warrior Race Guy out of necessity.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: Those of Númenórean lineage, at least, are described that way.
- Vestigial Empire: Their territory was formerly much larger, and at one time they even garrisoned Mordor itself in order to keep the servants of Sauron from occupying it after his defeat at the end of the Second Age. Osgilliath, their once-capital, is now a giant ruin, and their territory is limited to the western banks of Anduin. Despite this, Mordor is unable to mount an attack on Anorien and the area around Minas Tirith until the very end because of the actions of the Rangers of Ithilien and the garrison at Cair Andros.
- You Shall Not Pass: Stands for thousands of years between Mordor and the other Free Peoples. Boromir emphasizes Gondor's importance in this role at the Council of Elrond, and he's right: the crossings at Cair Andros and Osgiliath are the only ways across the river for many miles and both are held by Gondor.
Dúnedain of the NorthThe Kingdom of Arnor was once the sister realm of Gondor, one of two Númenórean kingdoms in exile after Númenór's destruction. Located in and encompassing most of Eriador, civil war, plague, and a Forever War against Angmar reduced Arnor in territory and population until it was finally destroyed when the Witch-King sacked Fornost. Descendants of the extinct kingdom now wander about the region of Eriador, acting as wardens, spies, and warriors guarding such settlements as remain in the North against "dark things". Led at this time by Aragorn (see Fellowship of the Ring above).
- Badass Army: Though they don't assemble until the War of the Ring. The army of Arnor in its prime was mighty, as well, directly challenging Sauron and taking part in the siege of Mordor.
- The Chew Toy: The first two thousand years of the Third Age was basically one long period of unmitigated suffering for the people of Arnor.
- Civil War: The splitting of Arnor was done to prevent one after the death of Eärendur, leaving Amlaith of Fornost with just Arthedain. Later, the eastern state, Rhudaur, would become a vassal of Angmar, and repeatedly attack the other two Arnorian petty-kingdoms of Arthedain and Cardolan.
- The Determinator: The Chieftains of the Dúnedain kept the legacy of Arnor alive for near a thousand years, in the hope that one day their kingdom would be restored. They got their wish in King Elessar.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The Third Age for them consisted of the untimely death of Isildur, a civil war, the fragmentation of their realm, a terrible plague, more civil war, a war against Angmar, extensive depopulation, the decline of the Dúnedain, the sacking of Fornost, the drowning of Arvedui, the loss of two of the Palantiri, one thousand years of living as nomads, the War of the Ring... and then the restoration of the king and their realm.
- Face–Heel Turn: Cardolan and Rhudaur were rebellious states formed by the younger sons of King Eärendur and brought war to Arthedain repeatedly.
- Fighting for a Homeland: Averted for a long time, as they protected the former lands of Arnor in secret, but played straight during the War of the Ring.
- For Great Justice:Aragorn: "Strider" I am to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so.
- Heel–Face Turn: Cardolan eventually reconciled with Arthedain and recognized their king as being king of all Arnor, owing to repeated attacks by Rhudaur and Angmar, and the failing of Isildur's line in Cardolan.
- Knight Errant: Though much less obvious than the archetype suggests, the Rangers spend their time Walking the Earth and righting wrongs.
- Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!: Ruined cities, like Annuminas, Fornost Erain, Tyrn Gorthad, Eryn Vorn, and Tharbad, all stand as a testament to the once-mighty Kingdom.
- More Than Meets the Eye: Only a few know what they really are. On the whole they prefer it that way and can be expected to generally play up their appearance as raggedy, seedy, homeless wanderers.
- Shining City: Once upon a time, Annuminas and Fornost were the equals of Minas Tirth and Osgiliath.
- The Stoic: At least the few we meet seem to be. Fighting monsters for thousands of years kind of gets you that way.
- The Remnant: The Rangers and some ruins are all that remain of the lost northern kingdom of Arnor. The only bits of Arnor that are really inhabited are the Shire, Bree, and the Angle south of Rivendell, so that's what they protect.
- Vestigial Empire: It spent its entire history in a state of decline. By the time Arvedui became king, Arthedain, a rump state with shrinking territory and a declining population, was the only part of the former Arnor that had any people.
OrcsThe foot soldiers of evil. In The Silmarillion, the Orcs (also known as goblins) were bred by Morgoth from captive Elves, twisting them into ruined creatures that know only cruelty and hate; after Morgoth's defeat, his lieutenant Sauron continued to use Orcs as the greater part of his legions, as did Saruman later. Many independent Orcs also live in the Misty Mountains, especially in Moria, which they conquered from the Dwarves.
- Always Chaotic Evil: All the orcs we see, although Word of God is that they cannot be inherently evil. In any event, Tolkien was good enough to give all named orcs distinctive (though still evil) personalities. (Incidentally, Orcs are technically lawful evil. They serve a being who wants to bring his own version of order to the world).
Orc-hood is almost as much a state of mind as it is genetic (cf. Tolkien's statement that "We were all orcs in the Great War." re: World War One). Some fans speculate that if an orc stopped being evil, it would no longer be an orc, and become an elf.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Orcish way of leadership.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Orcish view on leadership.
- Bad Boss: Any given orc in a position of power will probably be one of these.
- Black Blood: That apparently smells awful too.
- Blood Knight: All the Uruk-hai, but Uglúk stands out in particular.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Orcs in general are really into this. It seems to be what they do in their spare time for fun.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: The Uruk-hai in particular suffer from this, with small parties performing exceptionally well and large armies getting worsted (by a walking forest).
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Every orc officer.
- Dirty Coward: "Standard" orcs, which is why whip-wielding superiors and/or Nazgûl stand behind them...
- Elite Mooks: The Uruk-hai ("Orc-people" in Black Speech, the language of Mordor), a stronger and tougher type of orc. It appears there were two distinct kinds called "Uruk", both superior to the average orc - the Black Uruks of Mordor and the Fighting Uruk-hai of Isengard - though the latter group uses the full name much more often despite appropriating it. The Uruks of Mordor were broader and were more ape-like, while Saruman's Uruks were brand-new, taller and more humanoid - and could function in sunlight. At least one Uruk of Mordor was a captain among the Moria orcs, who struck Frodo and was killed by Aragorn.
- Enemy Civil War: The only thing keeping the orcs held together is the will of the Dark Lord, whoever that may be at the time. Whenver that slackens for whatever reason, they remember that they hate each other almost as much as they hate non-orcs and almost immediately go for each other's throats. Unless there are people of other races nearby, in which case different tribes of orcs will band together to kill them, then turn on each other.
- Even Evil Has Standards: They regard accusations of cannibalism (that is, eating other Orcs — eating other races is fine) as a grave insult. (Though whether or not they do it anyway is an open question...)
- They regard leaving their wounded comrades behind as disgraceful: "A regular Elvish trick". On the other hand, when they find an old comrade trussed up to be eaten alive by Shelob at her leisure, they leave him to his fate... after having a good laugh at the expression on his face.
- Evil Minions: Of Sauron, Saruman, and anyone else who can dominate or threaten them enough to control them. Considering that every Dark Lord is horrifically cruel and treats them as canon fodder, this makes their lives literally a living Hell.
- Fantastic Racism: Against Elves, Dwarves, Men, and even other Orcs (there's a rivalry between the Orcs of Mordor, the 'Northerners' from the Misty Mountains who are used to running their own affairs, and Saruman's Uruk-hai, who are proud of their unusual abilities).
- Half-Human Hybrid: The most likely origin of the Uruk-hai, especially given their large size and total nonchalance about running and fighting in daylight.
- Hates Everyone Equally: Tolkien mentions that Orcs are fully aware of their freakish, unnatural existence, and hate everyone and everything for it, including themselves. Only fear of Sauron's punishment keeps them from turning on each other, and this not infrequently fails to keep them in line when no enemies are on offer.
- I'm a Humanitarian: They're not very... selective in their diet, though unlike in the movies they generally don't eat each other if they can get anything else. Shagrat does threaten to eat Snaga, though.
- Large and in Charge: Uruk-hai, especially Saruman's.
- Mook Lieutenant: Uglúk, Grishnakh, Shagrat, and Gorbag.
- Mooks: The Mookiest of mooks, as they are disposable, cowardly, and almost entirely combat-ineffective except when in vast numbers or pursuing already beaten enemies. Their incompetence forced Morgoth, and later Sauron, to only engage when the odds are overwhelmingly stacked in their favor and to introduce Elite Mooks to stiffen the line.
- No Cure for Evil: Averted. Orcish medicine is pretty good, though it tends to be somewhat painful and causes scarring. It's designed to get you back into the fight as quickly as possible, and if you're not tough enough to take it you don't deserve it.
- Our Orcs Are Different: To a degree they are, despite being the Trope Namer. Tolkien's actual orcs are much more advanced and intelligent, and not as physically powerful, than the crude barbarians Always Chaotic Evil orcs are generally portrayed as. And there are umpteen breeds of orcs, both because Morgoth and Sauron bred them for different uses and because they absolutely refuse to mate outside their own tribe.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Uruk-hai only. Most other orcs are sneaks and cowards.
- Punch Clock Villain: Subverted. They usually don't sound any different then a sterotyped grousing British soldier with a Cockney accent right out of Kipling; that is until they say they want some "sport" and you realize they mean torturing captives.
- Torture Technician: Just about any orc with brains (and there are more than you think) will be one of these, though a bit more... enthusiastic about it than the norm.
- Worthy Opponent: Ugluk the Uruk-hai captain in particular shows this, as Eomer dismounted to duel him.
TrollsCreated by Morgoth in mockery of the Ents, Trolls are hulking, brutish giants with rocky skin who turn to stone when exposed to the light of the sun. Most Trolls are barely more intelligent than wild beasts and live in small groups in the hills, mountains, and caves of Middle-Earth. Shortly before the War of the Ring, Sauron bred the Olog-hai, a more intelligent breed of Trolls that were extremely resistant (or even immune) to the debilitating effects of sunlight and may have been totally unrelated to the Stone-Trolls.
- All Trolls Are Different: Tolkien's trolls are giant-like monsters with rocky hides and beast-like intelligence.note (The talking trolls in The Hobbit may or may not have been artistic license on Bilbo's part.) They permanently turn to stone when exposed to sunlight. The exceptions are Sauron's Olog-hai, more intelligent trolls that are resistant to the effects of sunlight.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Though the standard Trolls (barring the trio from The Hobbit) are barely above animals in intelligence, it seems. The trio from The Hobbit are mentioned having been geniuses among trolls in the Appendix of LotR.
- Dumb Muscle: Aforementioned trolls were also stupid enough to be easily tricked by a wizard mimicking their voices until the sun came up and they literally argued themselves to death.
- Elite Mook: The Attack Trolls, followed by the Olog-hai.
- Evil Counterpart: Apparently intended as Morgoth's answer to the Ents, but nowhere near as strong or wise.
- Made of Iron: They die hard.
- Smash Mook: Big, beefy, and generally designed to break things.
- Taken for Granite: Sunlight permanently turns them into stone, although the Olog-hai, a variant bred by Sauron, are immune to this.
- To Serve Man: Trolls have absolutely no problem with killing and eating other intelligent beings.
Men of DarknessA general term for human cultures not related to the Dúnedain, referring to the assumption that they were worshippers of Morgoth; essentially "barbarians." It's quite a derogotory term, as the Dúnedain look down on anyone who isn't related to the Númenóreans, and plenty of "Men of Darkness" weren't allied to the forces of evil at all.In the Third Age, many Men living near Gondor have been seduced and/or enslaved by Sauron, whom they worship as a god-king. Unlike the Orcs, enemy Men are not evil by nature; they evoke sympathy from their enemies (but still die in droves) and are treated fairly in defeat. The Men of Darkness fall into various cultural groups:
- The Dunlendings (Men of Dunland), wild hill-people who were forced off their ancestral homelands by the Númenóreans and Rohirrim and squeezed into a little corner of land that the Númenóreans had turned into a desert. Understandably, they hold a massive grudge. Saruman tricked them into fighting for him by spreading lies about Rohirric war-crimes against them.
- The Easterlings, a vast but loose collection of nomadic tribes from the plains of Rhûn with a history of territorial conflict with Gondor. Known for their use of wagons and chariots.
- The Haradrim or Southrons, warriors from the plains and deserts of Near Harad who also clashed with Gondor over territory. They sometimes fielded mûmakil (huge elephants) as living siege engines.
- The Corsairs of Umbar, rebels who broke off from Gondor and merged with the coastal Haradrim. Vicious pirates whose black ships were feared throughout the southern seas.
- The Variags of Khand, fierce warriors from south of Mordor.
- "Troll-men" or "black men like half-trolls," black-skinned people from Far Harad. (Whether they're just ordinary Men with black skin that the westerners are unfamiliar enough with to find strange or actual men altered with magic to resemble trolls is unclear and varies with the source. In the original text, whether the two are even supposed to refer to the same race is unknown.)
- Barbarian Tribe: The Dunlendings.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Dunlendings seem vaguely Celtic, at least in their language and their relationship with the pseudo-Germanic Rohirrim. The Corsairs are also vaguely Carthaginian or Barbary Corsairs. The Easterlings of the Third Age are presumably Eastern Europeans and/or Central Asians, judging by their physical description and the location of their homeland, Rhûn, which is located in to the east of Rhovanion. The brown-skinned Haradrim/Southrons native to Near Harad are reminiscent of Muslim/Arabic peoples, while the black-skinned people of Far Harad may be Africans.
- Heel–Face Turn: After the War of the Ring, they're implied to mostly live in peace with Gondor and Rohan. (Though in the Appendices both Aragorn and Éomer waged war in the East and South in the early Fourth Age because of Sauron's still potent legacy of hatred, but even here the wars are noted to be not clashes between good and evil but simple disputes between ordinary men.)
- The Horde: The war-carts give the Easterlings a distinctly Magyar-ish flavor.
- Hordes from the East: The Easterlings and Variags.
- Human Sacrifice: Victims of this when Sauron corrupted the Númenoreans who sacrificed their subjects in the worship of Morgoth.
- Made a Slave: In Númenor's decadent colonialist period, it expanded its dominion into the south and east beyond the later borders of Gondor, and its colonies engaged in slavery, among other exploitative practices. The men of Gondor don't like to remember it, but their neighbors dislike them for very historically justified reasons.
- Master Race: The Corsairs are descended from those Numenoreans who gave themselves over to Sauron, and as a result believe that they are superior to all other Men. Of course, Sauron is just using them, but of all the evil Men, they are the least repentant.
- Mooks: Generally regarded as more disciplined and regimented than orcs.
- One Steve Limit: Broken — there was another group of Men called Easterlings in The Silmarillion. There's no indication they were related; it was probably just a generic term for "barbarians" from the east.
- Pirate: The Corsairs of Umbar.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Haradrim in particular wear this hat.
- Punch Clock Villain: Most of them fought for Sauron because he'd deceived and/or threatened them into joining him, and many more had legitimate grudges against the Númenóreans in general and Gondor in particular.
- Sinister Scimitar: Used by the Haradrim and Easterlings.
- Villainous Valor: The Haradrim keep fighting after Sauron's defeat, which earns them Gondor's respect.
- War Elephants: The mûmakil or oliphaunts. They're much larger and tougher than today's elephants.
- What a Senseless Waste of Human Life: What Sam thinks upon seeing the Haradrim killed by the soldiers of Gondor.
- Worthy Opponent: The Easterlings and Haradrim were seen this way by the Gondorians after the War of the Ring. Some Dunlendings apparently also end up seeing the Rohirrim this way after their fair treatment in defeat.