See here, here, and here for awesome moments related to the Peter Jackson films (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, respectively).
- When the trolls capture the dwarves, Thorin is the last to come, and puts up quite a decent fight for being outnumbered three to one by massive trolls, getting a few good hits in with only an improvised fire-log as a weapon.
- The way Gandalf sorted out those three trolls.
- In Chapter Five, “Riddles In the Dark,” the true Moment of Awesome does not come from Bilbo’s victory in the riddle game. It does not come from his daring escape from Gollum. It does not even come from taking charge of his adventure after four chapters of bumbling and being dragged around. No, it comes from the moment he spares Gollum, an act that will set off a chain of events that will save all of Middle-Earth.
- Bilbo is well, well within his rights to kill Gollum. Not only did he back out of his deal with Bilbo, he’s actively trying to kill Bilbo. Not only that, but Gollum is such a miserable creature that killing him would almost be a kindness. And yet, Bilbo stays his hand because it’s simply not in his nature to cause such harm to a pitiable figure like Gollum.
- Bilbo, alone and armed with an Elvish dagger and a magic ring, versus a cluster of giant spiders in the darkest part of Mirkwood Forest ... and the spiders never stood a chance! They even become terrified of the newly christened Sting! (Plays out similarly in the animated movie.)
- Bilbo managing to evade the notice of the Mirkwood elves for weeks while successfully finding a way for him and his companions to escape.
- Bilbo walks alone into a dragon's lair. A dragon, mind you, that managed to destroy two great kingdoms and their armies in a single day. Alone and with only a magic ring, Bilbo goes into Smaug's lair not just once, but twice and manages to hold his own in speaking with the beast who turns out to be cunning as well as powerful!Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.
- Before that, Bilbo cuts off a pompous speech Thorin was about to launch into by telling him that, considering he's saved their hides twice already, he'll decide whether he actually goes into the dragon's lair, thank you very much.
- Later, when the Dwarves are blaming him for stealing the cup and waking up Smaug he responds by angrily pointing out a). that's exactly what they hired him to do, and b). their whole plan was absurdly impractical from the start. They quickly apologize.
- The Battle of the Five Armies, with the Humans, the Elves, and the Dwarves in a hastily forged alliance against the Orcs and the Wargs. And just when everything seems lost, Bilbo sees something on the horizon. What he says next serves as a very short Rousing Speech and a Battle Cry for the gathered forces.Bilbo: The Eagles are coming!
- Before that there's another one. The Goblins are so numerous that they flank the defenders by the simple expedient of surrounding the mountain. Their king and his bodyguards are cutting a swath through the allied ranks, with none able to stand against them. And that's when Thorin and Company, kitted out with some of the best armor and weapons ever to exist, enter the fray...
- Bard is this personified:
Bard: Arrow! Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and I have always recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!
- First he raises the alarm when he realises that Smaug is coming, so that Laketown has time to prepare itself, then keeps encouraging the soldiers and archers not to lose hope as they try to bring Smaug down.
- And then, when everyone else is fleeing, he's still firing arrow after arrow as the flames draw nearer, refusing to give up. When he learns the secret about Smaug's weakness he makes the million-in-one shot that finally kills Smaug, quite likely knowing that he'll probably die as well when the dragon collapses on the town; he was fully ready and willing to give his own life to save his people. Originally he was meant to die, but Tolkien himself recognized how awesome Bard is and kept him alive for the finale.
- And he ends the dragon with one of the best speeches in the book:
- Smaug's assault on Erebor and Dale is every bit as glorious as it is horrifying. He singlehandedly razed not one, but TWO of the most powerful kingdoms in Middle Earth within an afternoon. Sauron himself needed a huge army and years of planning to attempt to overthrow Gondor... but who needs countless minions and intricate plans when you are Smaug the Magnificent?
Smaug: I kill where I wish and none dare resist. I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today. Then I was but young and tender. Now I am old and strong, strong, strong!
- If you know his backstory, it becomes a very dark sort of awesome. He was one of Morgoth's Fire Drakes, creatures who fought alongside Balrogs as shock troops for Sauron's boss - "I laid low the warriors of old..." Destroying whole kingdoms was his job, and he was happy to keep doing it long after Morgoth had left the picture.
- Furthermore, it's implied that he only assaulted Erebor because King Thrór amassed an obscene amount of wealth; the only reason he didn't do so sooner was because he didn't deign it to be worth his time. He literally destroyed the greatest dwarven nation in the world on a whim.
- But Smaug's true danger lies not in just his power. Up until this point, readers have been led to believe that Smaug is just a beast running on instinct, but his conversation with Bilbo reveals just how cunning he is. First, even though the Ring has made Bilbo invisible, Smaug can still tell he's around simply by scent and hearing his breath. Second, when Bilbo tries to confuse Smaug with a bunch of silly titles, two of them, "The Lucky Number" and "The Barrel Rider" tell Smaug just how many are in Bilbo's party and that they came from, or passed through, Laketown.
- When Bombur falls into the enchanted stream, it's important to note that when they pull him out, his grip on the rope is so hard, nobody can get it out of his hand. That includes Dori and Thorin.
The animated movie
- As noted in the entry for the book, Bilbo becoming a One-Man Army against the spiders of Mirkwood:Spider: Blast! What is it? What is it called?!
Bilbo: Sting! Sting! STING!
Spider: Away! Retreat! We are no match for Sting!
- The Company's arrival in Laketown, when Thorin's barrel is split open;Thorin: I...am Thorin, grandson of King Under The Mountain. I...have...returned! (collapses)The stream shall run in gladness
The lake shall shine and burn
All sorrow, fail, and sadness
At the Mountain King's return!
- Smaug's Badass Boast, as delivered by voice-actor Richard Boone, shortly followed by the battle against him at Laketown. The reason you don't see so many evil dragon rampages in cartoons anymore is because they're scared to compete with these scenes.Smaug: Be done with your riddles! What else brought you, Lake-man?
Bilbo: Surely you realize that your success has made you some bitter enemies.
Smaug: (Starts to chuckle evilly) Revenge? You!? HAH! I am SMAUG! I kill where I wish. I am strong. Strong! STROOONG! My armor is like tenfold shields. My teeth are like swords. My claws; spears! The shock of my tail; a thunderbolt! My wings; a hurricane! And my breath... DEATH. Well? WELL!? Where are your riddles now?