Follow TV Tropes


Trivia / Tolkien's Legendarium

Go To

  • Attention Deficit Creator Disorder: Not so much because there were too many projects, but because Tolkien was a perfectionist and had a day job as a university professor. Christopher Tolkien also kept publishing the works never released in his father's lifetime until his own death in 2020.
  • Cash-Cow Franchise: With all of the books about Middle-earth out, along with several movies, several games, and tons of merchandise based on films and books, quite a bit of money has been made on Tolkien's world. Most of it not by his family.
  • Dear Negative Reader: In his introduction to the second edition of The Lord of the Rings:
    "Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer."
  • Flip-Flop of God: Because he was continually revising the setting throughout his life, Tolkien sometimes had several explanations for elements of character and setting. The activities of Radagast and the Blue Wizards are one notable example, since they were beings on the same order of power as Gandalf and Saruman yet have a far diminished role in the narrative. Another is his treatment of Orcs. As a devout Catholic, Tolkien had a lot of trouble reconciling the notion of an irredeemable, Always Chaotic Evil people with an invented mythology of Earth where Eru is the same God as the one in the Bible. The "born of elves broken by Morgoth's tortures" that was published in The Silmarillion was only one of his ideas for their origins. In his personal writings, Tolkien would refer to Orcishness not as a set of physical characteristics, but as a state of mind that people fell into.
  • Franchise Zombie: The Lord of the Rings came into existence only because the publishers wanted a sequel for the immensely popular Hobbit while Tolkien was more interested in working on his legendarium. Tolkien avoided the negative effects of this trope by incorporating both LOTR and The Hobbit into his mythos that was part of the (then unpublished) Silmarillion.
  • God Never Said That: A common myth is that, as a toddler, Tolkien was bitten by a poisonous spider in South Africa, causing him to develop a phobia for them. Therefore many of his works feature giant, malevolent arachnids, including the spiders of Mirkwood, Shelob, and Ungoliant. However, this article proves the incident was no inspiration whatsoever to the spiders. In fact, Tolkien admitted to having no dislike for spiders at all, even rescuing them if they fell into the bath.
  • Referenced by...:
    • In the Emberverse novel series, Tolkien's legendarium is mistaken for a Holy Book, with some characters using "By the Valar!" in the same way we'd say "Oh my God!" The tribe who worships the Valar also calls themselves the "Dunedain Rangers."
    • The Elw from Wild ARMs are the Elves with bunny ears, and the Elw Dimension is a blatant expy of the Undying Lands.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Tolkien wrote the first sketches of the mythology, as well as the earliest versions of The Fall of Gondolin and Beren and Lúthien, when he was on sick-leave after surviving the Battle of Somme.
  • What Could Have Been: Lots and lots of unpublished or alternative material, nearly all of it incomplete. It's hard to keep from feeling wistful when reading the many fragments of unfinished stories and poems collected by his son Christopher in The History of Middle-earth and Unfinished Tales. More conventionally, there are previous incarnations of tales that would be worked around before the "final" version we know today.
    • For example, the character who would become Sauron started out as a giant cat named Tevildo before becoming a werewolf named Thû and finally becoming the character we see in Lord of the Rings.
    • Early drafts include a pair of Valar, a brother-sister pair named Makar and Meássë, associated with war and bloodshed. They would have been characterized as amoral warhawks who opposed Melkor's judgement due to being displeased at the prospect of peace, and whom the other Valar didn't much like. Tolkien eventually wrote them out due to not matching the tone he wanted for the Valar.
    • Older versions of the Silmarillion describe the Ainur as being able to reproduce, and a number of lesser Maiar were the children of the Valar that they served — the Balrog Gothmog, for instance, would have been Morgoth's son by an ogress. This was eventually changed so to depict the Ainur as neither feeling carnal desires nor reproducing. Nonetheless, the Ainur still can reproduce, but the act of conception and childbirth would bind them to their physical body.