Top 10 Lord of the Rings Characters

While Peter Jackson is busy beavering away on his Hobbit films, Top 10 Films’ resident Lord of the Rings expert and self-confessed fan girl Claire Packer takes a look at her favourite characters.

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When Dan asked me to write my debut Top 10 I was left thinking: “What do I know enough about to write a Top 10?” After preparing a post on my 10 year relationship with The Lord of the Rings for my own blog, the answer was, quite literally, in front of me: The Lord of the Rings.

Top 10 lists are, by their very nature, subjective, so here is my personal Top 10 list of characters from Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Whittling the characters down to just 10 was very, very hard – there is the ents, the hobbits of Hobbiton and Bree, the elves of Rivendell and Lothlórien, the men of Rohan and Gondor… the list is endless!

Leave a comment if different characters would have made your list; I’d love to hear what you think.

10. Legolas – portrayed by Orlando Bloom

legolas, top 10 lord of the rings characters,
I admit it; I did have a big crush on Mr Bloom after seeing his portrayal of Legolas. There are myriad wonderful creatures in the Middle-earth universe but I have always had a soft spot for the elves, and an even bigger soft spot for Legolas.

The elves are graceful, beautiful beings with keen eyes and ears. In the novel Tolkien wrote that the elves ride without saddles and walk – barefoot – on the snow. When the Fellowship ascends Caradhras in Jackson’s adaptation we see Legolas stride ahead, as though the wind and snow isn’t affecting him at all. Legolas is also a highly skilled fighter, and an unrivalled archer.

9. Gimli – portrayed by John Rhys-Davies

gimli, great lord of the rings characters,
“Nobody tosses a dwarf! – That has got to be one of my favourite lines from Fellowship, if not from the whole trilogy.

A proud and loyal dwarf, Gimli is a strong warrior and is a very useful addition to the Fellowship. John Rhys-Davies’ portrayal of Gimli was near enough exactly what I expected the character to be like after reading the novels. Kudos to the excellent costume and make-up departments for doing such a good job, and to the camera crew for turning a 6ft man into a 4ft dwarf!

8. Eowyn – portrayed by Miranda Otto

eowyn, lord of the rings top 10 characters,
Eowyn is one fierce lady and I love her even more because of that oh-so-cliché line, “I am no man”, when fighting the Witch-king.

I have always felt myself more suited to the elvish race but I would quite happily move to Rohan and hang out with Eowyn – she is certainly a woman after my own heart. She is highly skilled with a sword, is a keen horsewoman and can certainly hold her own against the opposite sex. The lucky thing marries Faramir in the novels, too, thus uniting the kingdoms of Gondor and Rohan even more.

7. Boromir – portrayed by Sean Bean

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Now this choice may slightly be due to the fact that I’ve had a crush on Sean Bean since his Sharpe days… Speaking of which, apparently the line “still sharp”, which he says when he holds the shattered pieces of Isildur’s blade, was written especially for him as he would be the actor saying it!

Moving on, Boromir is a strong leader and is extremely fierce and courageous. While he is seduced by the ring, he asks for forgiveness and gives his life trying to defend the hobbits. Though I, of course, can’t be sure, I’m sure that Frodo held no malicious feelings towards Boromir, as wouldn’t the rest of the fellowship.

6. Frodo – portrayed by Elijah Wood

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A hobbit had to make the list and while I love Sam, Merry and Pippin, it had to be Frodo, who is arguably the most famous hobbit in Middle-earth’s history.

One of the seven One Ring bearers, Frodo was the son of Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck. He came to live in Bag End after Bilbo Baggins adopted him when his parents died in a boating accident. When Frodo came to live with Bilbo, Bilbo was already in possession of the One Ring.

A typical Hobbit, his quest to destroy the One Ring was an adventure that he never would have imagined, and one that would keep him away from his home for many months. During the quest Frodo received many injuries, including being stabbed by the Witch-king of Angmar, a wound that would never fully heal.

5. Galadriel – portrayed by Cate Blanchett

galadriel, lord of the rings top 10 characters,
My highest rated elf, Galadriel is the co-ruler of Lothlórien alongside her husband, Celeborn. She was known by many names, including The Lady of Lórien, Lady of Light, White Lady and The Lady of the Wood, and was the keeper of one of the three elven rings, Nenya. The final keepers of the other two rings, Narya and Vilya, were Gandalf and Elrond.

A particularly memorable scene in Jackson’s adaptation is when Galadriel ‘passes the test’. After the Fellowship had escaped from Moria and travelled to Lórien, Frodo offered Galadriel the One Ring. A corrupted version of Galadriel takes over and explains that in place of a Dark Lord there would be a Queen, beautiful and terrible as the morning and the night. Resuming to her normal state, she refuses the ring and says that she has passed the test and that she will diminish and return to the West.

4. Saruman – portrayed by Christopher Lee

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The only word to describe Saruman is badass, and Christopher Lee was an inspired casting. One of five wizards sent to Middle-earth to investigate Sauron’s growing power, in Jackson’s films we were only introduced to Saruman and Gandalf – Radagast the Brown will appear in the upcoming The Hobbit two-parter, portrayed by Sylvester McCoy, however.

A powerful wizard, Saruman was seduced by power. He attempted to recruit Gandalf so that they could unite with Sauron before seizing control over him and Middle-earth.

3. Gollum portrayed by Andy Serkis

gollum, lord of the rings,
Gollum is a pivotal character in the trilogy, though I must admit that I didn’t particularly take to him in the books. However, the way he was portrayed in Jackson’s adaptation was, quite simply, astounding. Andy Serkis was the perfect man for the job and he really brought life to a very complex character.

A deformed, twisted creature, Gollum acquired the ring from his cousin, Déagol, back when he was known as Sméagol. After Déagol found a golden ring lying in the mud of the lake while they were out fishing, Sméagol demanded the ring as his birthday present. When Déagol refused, Sméagol strangled him to death and took the ring, thus began the start of his corruption…

2. Aragorn – portrayed by Viggo Mortensen

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The man formally known as Strider is an unassuming, kind and highly dependable man – if I had Aragorn on my team I’d be very happy. After many years spent as a ranger, he can certainly handle himself with a variety of weapons and is also a skilled healer.

Aragorn is, undoubtedly, a strong leader but he is also very much ‘one of the gang’. He understands the power in uniting against the forces of evil and, as the heir of Isildur, dreams of creating a reunited kingdom.
Viggo Mortensen embodied Aragorn perfectly, and I still can’t believe that Stuart Townsend was the original casting…

1. Gandalf – portrayed by Ian McKellen

lord of the rings best characters top ten,
When preparing my Top 10 this was the only character that I was certain of: Gandalf had to be my No 1. There is something very warm and welcoming about Gandalf. A source of knowledge, wisdom and strength, he also has a wicked sense of humour, as the hobbits found out when he came to Bilbo’s birthday party armed with a fabulous collection of fireworks.

Let’s not forget that he’s a wizard, too – did you see how he tackled that Balrog?

If I could meet any of the characters, I’d choose Gandalf every time. I’d love to have a conversation with Gandalf – I’m sure we’d talk about everything and anything.

Your turn – What are your favourite Lord of the Rings characters?

Written and compiled by Claire Packer.

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About the Author
As well as writing and designing, Claire loves going to the cinema, seeing live music, travelling and driving.

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  1. Avatar
    DEZMOND Reply

    I’m sad that my absolute favourite Eomer, the commander of Rohirims isn’t in this list 🙁 I adore Karl Urban in that role. Galadriel is, off course, my most beloved LOTR character ever, and I also adored Craig Parker as the Elven general who dies in the battle in RETURN OF THE KING. Saruman was nothing special for me, not even scary. Ian McKellen totally outshines Christopher Lee in every respect.

  2. Avatar
    Russ Reply

    I agree with Dezmond, Eomer was always my favourite too; also disappointed that Theoden didn’t make your list. However, I’m very happy that neither Elrond or Arwen made your list. Glad to see Eowyn there, though I might have put her a bit higher.

    This is all making me think that it’s time to read the books again!

  3. Avatar
    Claire Reply

    Good point, Dezmond, Eomer is a fantastic character. If I was making my list from the books then he would have made the list but, for me, he wasn’t that present in the films. Same goes for Faramir, too.

  4. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    It is interesting how the list would differ it was made based entirely on the books. For me, Gollum stands out from the films for being genuinely sinister, for the way in which the character was realised, and Andy Serkis’ marvelous performance.

    …as a fan of the little guy rising up I would have also found a place for Sam…perhaps ahead of Frodo actually.

    But I can’t argue with Gandalf as the leader of the pack. Ian McKellen, as Dezzy says, totally outshone Christopher Lee.

  5. Avatar
    Matt Ward Reply

    Ooh, Denethor. He’s wicked & Under a spell

  6. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Russ: Yes, I don’t think Arwen deserves top 10 status – certainly her role in the films at least.

    @Matt: Denethor was one of the creepier human characters but Grima Wombtongue played by Brad Dourif was even better I thought.

  7. Avatar
    Ronan Reply

    Couldn’t really be anyone else could it? Gandalf is great but my favourite character would have to be Bilbo. I got into the series through an audiobook version of The Hobbit and Bilbo is such a likeable and nuanced character. If I was basing it on the films I would choose Gandalf, Ian McKellen’s performance could well have won an Oscar. Nice list Dan!

  8. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    Gandalf – one of the iconic figures of fantasy, right up alongside… well, alongside…. well, the rest of the cast of Lord of The Rings. I’d have had Frodo up a bit higher, myself, but as you said Claire, it’s a subjective list.

    And no room for Elrond or Arwen? Well, it’s a top 10 I guess, not a top 20!

    great list Claire – look forward to seeing your Top 10 LOTR moments… (hint hint)!

  9. Avatar
    Andina Reply

    Seeing this list made me remember how great LOTR is. I love Gandalf and Aragorn, but as a girl I couldn’t help but admire Eowyn. She’s independent and courageous!

  10. Avatar
    Claire Reply

    @Dezmond, Dan: Ian McKellen did outshine Christopher Lee but poor Chris did have his scenes cut out from Return of the King. I was very, very annoyed by this – it made it seem like Saruman was just a naughty boy who had been locked in his room!

    @Ronan: I thought McKellen’s performance was Oscar worthy, too! Viggo Mortensen would have been my second choice for an Oscar.

    @Matt, Dan: I loved that scene when Gandalf breaks Grima Wormtongue’s hold on Theoden and Saruman starts speaking through him – it looked great!

    @Rodney: Haha, thanks for the hint Rodney 😛 I’ll get my thinking cap on! If it was a Top 20 then yes, there would have been room for Elrond and Arwen, too. Eomer, Sam and Theoden would have made an appearance as well.

    @Andina: I agree, Eowyn is independent and courageous. For me, she just had to make an appearance!

  11. Avatar
    Dan Heaton Reply

    Claire, I was ready to talk about how Ian Holm’s fine role as Bilbo Baggins should be on your list, but I’m not sure who I’d actually remove to add him. There are too many good options! I’m also join the chorus who find Denethor interesting, but it might be John Noble more than the character itself that makes him worthwhile too. Nice list!

  12. Avatar
    Andrew Robinson Reply

    How dare Sam Wise Gamgee (the best character) not be on this list.

    SHAME!!

  13. Avatar
    Castor Reply

    I would probably have Boromir higher on my list but overall, nice list Claire. I like what you did with the pictures!

  14. Avatar
    Scott Reply

    HAHAHA I saw the title and KNEW it would be yours Claire.

    I am not THAT up on who would be the best characters but I will take your word for it matey

  15. Avatar
    Novroz Reply

    Lovely list Claire. Hmm I will make something like this too one day as LOTR is one of my all time fav books.

    My favorite character is Pippin, ever since I first read it till the 3rd (or is it 4th, can’t remember) time I read it. Boyd also did great job as Pippin

  16. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Andrew: As another who would have listed Sam…I wonder if his appeal leans more to the male side of the audience (the unassuming hero that rises up despite his limitations) rather than the rugged, powerful and masculine hero-type (Boromir, Aragorn) or the boyishly good-looking (Frodo).

    @Castor: …Thanks Castor, the pics I can take credit for! I did something for the Composer’s list too. 🙂

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    Emmabelle Reply

    I think (esp in regards to the films) it has to be Frodo at no. 1, I love watching the first film and the pure innocence of his character (that poster of him looking down at the ring in his hand), the ways in which he changes and all the experiences to that (near) end moment when he stands on the edge and declairs ‘the ring is mine’.

  18. Avatar
    Claire Reply

    @Dan H: Thanks for stopping by. Bilbo will be top on my Top 10 The Hobbit Characters I’m sure 😉

    @Castor: Thanks a lot, Castor. As he said, credit for the pictures must go to Dan – great pics, Dan! I approve very much.

    @Novroz: I’m glad you liked the list 🙂 You should definitely have a go, though writing it was more difficult than I originally thought! I love to see who would make your Top 10.

    @Emmabelle: When you put it like that, perhaps Frodo should have been higher up! Elijah Wood really did do a terrific job.

  19. Avatar
    Anna Reply

    Boromir has always been my favourite character, and the one that I relate to the most.

    I saw LOTR as a theatre production when I was 5, then they made it into a TV series (which was quality btw) and I would watch it every single day. It had the best music, and this song when Boromir dies haunts me to this day.

  20. Avatar
    Andrew Reply

    I would actually rank Boromir and Gimli higher just based on how dynamic they are as characters, but other than that this seems pretty solid to me!

  21. Avatar
    TheScarletSp1der Reply

    I don’t have anything to add to this debate other than the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the comments and debates back and forth! Gotta love how much LOTR brings people together!

  22. Avatar
    qwerty Reply

    and no one cares about tom bombadil. *sighs* the best character in the book and the only reason they have weapons to begin with.

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