Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / The Hobbit

Go To

See here for YMMV tropes related to the Peter Jackson films.

The Hobbit (book)

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: To some degree, supported by the author's "The Quest of Erebor" in Unfinished Tales, which presents the story in a different light.
    • Thorin Oakenshield: stalwart, honorable leader of a mighty company of Dwarves, out to reclaim his ancestral homeland? Or an avaricious, stubborn fool in way over his head, who leads an inexperienced, underequipped group of bumbling idiots on a suicide mission for the sake of honor? Note that in the original story, the dwarves did not quite have any plans beyond getting to the mountain.
    • Advertisement:
    • Gandalf: Many readers assume Gandalf's involvement with the quest is down to his noble character and sympathy for the Dwarves, but can be alternatively seen as a pre-emptive strike, essentially manipulating the characters into forming a hit-squad to keep Smaug from joining Sauron's army. This was suggested by Tolkien in Unfinished Tales and in the live-action movie it's explicitly both.
    • And of course Gandalf wants to establish a Dwarvish Kingdom at Erebor, hoping it will oppose Sauron's troops if they use that route (which is what happens).
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Bilbo only shares two brief interactions with Smaug before the dragon flies off and disappears. The dwarves continue their journey, and it's then told through flashback how Smaug attacked Laketown for the span of three pages before being defeated by Bard's arrow.
  • Advertisement:
  • Awesome Ego: Smaug. He's completely and utterly full of himself, but his bragging and elegant dialogue is such a blast to read.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Because of Early Installment Weirdness.
    • From the book, when Bilbo tries to pickpocket a troll, the money purse suddenly says: "Ere, 'oo are you?", leading to him getting caught. It's never explained how the bag can talk, and it never does so again, nor does it get any comment from any of the charactes. And the narrator just states that "Trolls' purses are the mischief". In the movie this was thankfully removed, instead the troll confuses Bilbo with a piece of cloth. However in contrast to The Lord of the Rings movies, seeing trolls talk and being somewhat intelligent might count as BLAM (Emphasis on 'somewhat'.)
    • The first edition of The Hobbit, before Tolkien got the idea of integrating it into his wider legendarium, mentions lamp-posts and policemen. These were removed in subsequent editions.
  • Advertisement:
  • Evil Is Cool: Smaug. There's a reason he's seen as a highlight of the book.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • People who complain about the hedgehog Sebastian's name being out of place in the setting are apparently forgetting the fact that Tolkien himself named the three trolls Tom, Bert, and William Huggins.
    • The Hobbit trilogy was criticized for not focusing on the dwarves other than Thorin and Balin enough, but the book is even worse at it. At least the films gave them all discernible personalities, whereas in the book some dwarves were lucky to be mentioned outside of the moments where all dwarves are named.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Gandalf imitates the voice of the trolls to make them argue with each other. He trolled the trolls.
  • Narm Charm: To some, the beginning of the story can feel a bit...narmy, as it was written for children, and not as exciting as the darker sequel. Tolkien himself was disappointed with how this part was written. However, the story gets increasingly better as it goes on, culminating in the wonderful encounter with Smaug and the devastating battle.
    • After the success of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien considered re-writing The Hobbit to match the more serious tone of its sequel, along with fixing a few of the inconsistencies between the two. After completing a few chapters he asked a friend (we don't know who) to read it. Her response was "this is wonderful, but it's not The Hobbit". Tolkien decided to leave the Narm Charm intact and never completed the revision. The re-written chapters and notes can be read in The History of the Hobbit.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Smaug. Not the most ambitious, but so manipulative, so dangerous, and so charismatic.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Given how well-known a character he's become, it can be easy to forget that Smaug isn't actually in that much of the story, comparatively speaking. But he's easily the most memorable part of it.
    • Gollum is also only in one chapter, but it is a very memorable one, a turning point in Bilbo's career, and ended up becoming one of the most important characters in the whole franchise.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The dwarves' names come from old Norse mythology.
    • Gandalf's name is taken almost wholesale from a character in the Voluspa known as Gandalfr, a Dwarf who wields a staff and is king of the elves. Other aspects of his personality are taken from The Kalevala.
  • Signature Scene:
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Tolkien's message about greed sometimes comes across as this, such as the comment that Smaug's rage is the sort "that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted". Considering that it's a comparison to something that just happened, it's quite redundant, and only seems to be there to prove a point. But it's a good point.

The Hobbit (animated)

  • Awesome Music: So much of the soundtrack, with "Misty Mountains Cold" and "Rollin' Down the Hole" being standouts.
  • Cant Un Hear It:
    • Orson Bean's Bilbo more or less set in stone how the Hobbits talk and sound for an entire generation of fantasy-lovers. It's very clear that later castings for both Bilbo and Frodo have been influenced by trying to achieve a similar tone.
    • John Huston as Gandalf for many, especially for those who grew up with the cartoon. His rich yet comforting voice work creates a very memorable performance.
    • Gollum's voice, provided by "Brother" Theodore Gottlieb, including his self-naming Verbal Tic, was considered a Tough Act to Follow by a great many and has generally informed virtually every performance of the character that has followed.
  • Cult Classic: The cartoon is somewhat obscure in the new millenium (though in the 1970s and 80s saw wider circulation and significant airtime on television, especially on children's networks like Nickelodeon), but has its solid fan-base, some who even consider it far superior to the later film trilogy by Peter Jackson. It also helps that it was the first publicly released visual adaptation of Tolkien's work.
  • Ear Worm: "The greatest adventure..."
  • Fridge Brilliance: "Your story has the ring of truth. Yes, it rings true."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Bilbo exclaiming "This Is Madness", to which Thorin responds to "This is WAR!" recalls a memetic scene from a much later movie.
  • Narm:
    • The appearance of some characters, such as Smaug and the Mirkwood elves. Smaug looks rather cat-like, a trait more typical of Chinese dragons, and also looks far too fat to fly. The elves have blue skin and a much less appealing look than expected. At least Elrond looks closer to how elves are described in the source.
    • The voice acting is mostly good, but some of the characters have very strange inflections (the wood elf king) and/or have a strange stiltedness to their speech (Bard).
  • Narm Charm: Sure, the character designs are silly and the songs are cheesy, but it still manages to capture the spirit of Tolkien's book and tell a solid story in only 77 minutes.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The animation was sneered at the time as "Japanimation". This was before Studio Ghibli (which was, incidentally, formed by several Studio Topcraft alumni)...
  • So Okay, It's Average: Common among those who didn't grow up with the film or who watched Peter Jackson's trilogy first. Not many fans are going to argue against it being a good adaptation, but are often still put off by the cheesiness, odd character designs (especially Smaug), and completely skipping Beorn.
  • Ugly Cute: Bilbo. He looks much younger and more jolly than most everyone else.
  • What an Idiot!: Bilbo's Do Not Taunt Cthulhu moment is elevated into this. After his conversation with Smaug (in this depiction he only sneaks in once, and Smaug wakes up then) he snatches up a small cup, and then proceeds to outright tell him that he stole it, and doesn't expect any consequences despite already having heard about how many people Smaug has killed and that the mere attempt to steal from him will send him into a homicidal rage.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • The very Teutonic Otto Preminger (primarily known as a director, though he played one of the versions of Mr. Freeze from the Adam West Batman) as Thranduil.
    • Similarly, "Brother" Theodore Gottlieb - whose primary occupation was as a comedian - being cast as Gollum. This one at least made some sense, because Brother Theodore's style of humor was that of long, stream-of-consciousness rambles that often dipped into absurdism for humor. Gollum doesn't really dip into humor, per se, but once you think about it, it's at least possible to see the logic. Eventually. (That it also worked amazingly well does wonders.)
    • Also, Orson Bean - mainly known as a longtime panelist of To Tell the Truth and the host of the 1985 pilots of Concentration (with the bizarrely-altered main game) - as Bilbo. With this one, though, the thing is, it works (despite looking insane on the face of it), and for a long time the Bean Bilbo was very much the definitive Bilbo in much of the zeitgeist. One of the reasons Martin Freeman's casting was so hailed was because he was definitely one of the only people who could for-sure deliver an equal or better Bilbo than Bean had.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: