Despite containing numerous ancient characters, it is still possible to trace how old each member of the Fellowship is in The Lord of the Rings. Although J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is full of fascinating entities throughout its long fictional history, the main focus naturally falls upon the nine members of the Fellowship who are tasked with carrying the One Ring from Rivendell to the fiery Mount Doom in Mordor. The Fellowship of the Ring separated shortly after its formation, however, breaking up before the end of the first book, due to ideological differences and the death of Boromir. Nevertheless, each character makes a strong impression that not only continues throughout the trilogy itself but also etches into the history of Middle-earth, ushering in the dawn of a new age.
In Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, the portrayals of most characters match the actors’ real-life ages by necessity. Apart from Gandalf and Legolas who are known to be extremely old, Aragorn, Gimli, and Boromir all feel like gruff, middle-aged adults compared to the fresh-faced youthfulness of the Hobbits. Unfortunately, the true ages of the Fellowship members are diluted in the transition from page to screen. The Lord of the Rings is but the tip of J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy iceberg, and his wider writings reveal the lore and history of the Fellowship and the races represented within it. As such, these are the ages of the Fellowship members when the group is first formed at Rivendell.
Frodo Baggins – 50
Helpfully, The Fellowship of the Ring begins with a huge birthday party celebrating the “eleventy-first” birthday of Bilbo Baggins and the 33rd birthday of his nephew Frodo, but immediately Tolkien’s book and Jackson’s movie diverge from this point. In the original story, Frodo waits for a full 17 years in Bag End between Bilbo’s departure and the beginning of his own adventure with the One Ring, putting him at a respectable 50 years of age. On the big screen, the length of time between those events is never specified but certainly doesn’t feel like 17 years, meaning Elijah Wood’s Frodo Baggins is likely younger than his book counterpart.
Indeed, Wood was only 18 when filming began on The Lord of the Rings. Hobbits consider 33 their “coming of age,” so 18 is perhaps the human equivalent of this Hobbit milestone. Frodo feels noticeably younger in Jackson’s movies, and that was surely an intentional move to attract a younger audience.
Samwise Gamgee – 38
In the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, Frodo and Sam are portrayed as two best friends of similar ages, and Sam’s habit of referring to his companion as “Mister Frodo” merely feels like a quirk of the character’s humble personality. In Tolkien’s original story, however, the title actually comes from the deference Sam consistently shows to Frodo. Although the pair are undoubtedly friends, there’s a clear difference in status between Frodo and Sam due to their families’ respective standings within Hobbit culture and society. Adding to that sense of seniority is the fact that Frodo is some years older than Sam in the books, who is only 38 when the Fellowship is formed.
Curiously, Sean Astin is a full decade older than Elijah Wood despite the pair’s on-screen parity. Although make-up and performance cover the difference quite nicely, the casting suggests Sam was meant to feel a little older than Frodo in the movies, altering their dynamic as Tolkien originally wrote it.
Gandalf – Approx. 2000 Years
The question of Gandalf’s age is unique in that sense that there are two equally legitimate answers. Gandalf’s story truly begins at the dawn of time itself when he was brought into being as the Maia Olórin. He dwelt in the Undying Lands for several ages among fellow immortals before being convinced to head to Middle-earth and help deal with the growing issue of Sauron. For this purpose, Olórin became the wizard Gandalf the Grey, arriving in the physical form that would later be well-liked by Hobbits, men, and many others alike. The appearance of Gandalf came shortly after the first millennium of the Third Age, and the formation of the Fellowship took place in 3018. Gandalf’s physical body is, therefore, around 2000 years old, although his true form is decidedly more ancient.
Aragorn – 87
Not many 87-year-old men could clash swords with Ringwraiths and Orcs, but Aragorn is certainly no ordinary human. It’s well documented that men are the “mortals” of Lord of the Rings‘ Middle-earth, cursed with feeble, fleeting lifespans. But there are certain lines of men in Tolkien’s world who, while still undoubtedly mortal, possess more longevity than the average human. Aragorn is a descendant of the Dúnedain, a race of men who once helped defeat the evil Valar Morgoth. As a reward for their aid, the Dúnedain were gifted lifespans of up to several hundred years. Historically, however, Sauron corrupted Númenor (the original home of the Dúnedain) and these gifts soon began fading away gradually, a gift further hampered by continually diluting bloodlines. While Aragorn may not live as long as his ancestors once did, he’s still part of that lineage, with his age directly referenced in The Two Towers.
Legolas – Very Old
Even more so than Gandalf, Legolas’ age is very hard to pin down, and the elf is one of the few main Lord of the Rings characters that Tolkien doesn’t date specifically. As the Elves are timeless and Legolas’ father was born in the First Age, Legolas could’ve conceivably been born as early as the Second Age, over 3000 years before The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s equally possible that Legolas was born way after the Rings of Power timeline or some time within the Third Age, which could put him at “only” a few hundred years old.
Clues within the text are conflicting. Legolas refers to his fellow Fellowship members (except Gandalf, of course) as children, suggesting he’s much older than any of them. The fact that Legolas never visited Lórien as his eleven ancestors in The Lord of the Rings often would, and isn’t mentioned to have fought in the original battle against Sauron at the end of the Second Age, hints that Legolas is one of the more junior Elves. On the other hand, Legolas also describes 500 years in fleeting, flippant terms. Considering the evidence, Legolas is most likely somewhere between 2000 and 3000 years old, although there’s plenty of leeway on either side of this estimation.
Gimli – 139
Gimli’s age in The Lord of the Rings is much clearer than that of his pointy-eared rival. Middle Earth’s Dwarves are set apart from Elves and Men in the sense that they were created by Aulë, a Valar, rather than Eru, the God. Although Eru decrees that he had already foreseen the creation of the Dwarves and therefore permitted their existence, the race would not be granted the same immortality as the Elves, but nor would they suffer the same short lives as men, as they needed to endure the dark influence of Morgoth. Dwarves typically live between two and three hundred years, which casts Gimli in a relatively young light at 139. This is counter to Gimli’s curmudgeonly and set-in-his-ways nature, although these could be considered traits of Tolkien’s Dwarves in general. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that Thorin Oakenshield is older during the events of The Hobbit than Gimli was during The Lord of the Rings. In a way, how Gimli tried to destroy the One Ring belied his youthful determination despite being over a century old.
Meridoc Brandybuck – 36
Like his fellow Hobbits, Merry is portrayed on film as more or less the same age as Frodo, helping to sustain the idea of a younger protagonist group, yet this isn’t far off Tolkien’s books in Merry’s case. Slightly younger than Sam and only a few years since his coming of age landmark, Merry is still a young Hobbit. Merry is also Frodo’s cousin, so there’s no class difference like with Sam Gamgee, but Merry still shows respect to Frodo, and their age difference might account for why.
Peregrin Took – 28
“Fool of a Took” makes a lot more sense considering Pippin was a mere 28 years old when joining Frodo’s quest to destroy the One Ring. In both iterations of The Lord of the Rings, it’s Pippin who often makes the rash comment or error, and this perhaps betrays his younger, pre-coming-of-age years. Even in Jackson’s movie trilogy, there’s a sense that Pippin is the most youthful of the group, without any discernible or overt indication to confirm this to audiences.
Boromir – 40
Boromir’s age in The Lord of the Rings is arguably the most surprising but explains more about his character than any previous example. Due to his noble bloodline, Boromir was gifted a longer life in the same manner as Aragorn. Unlike the future King of Gondor, however, Boromir is 40 years old compared to Aragorn’s 87, which provides greater context to the dynamic between the Fellowship’s two Men and how Aragorn reacted to Boromir’s death in Lord of the Rings. In both the books and films, Boromir is less wise, less strong, and of lower standing than Aragorn, and a large part of that comes down to their relationship of rightful king and steward. There is also an age difference at play, with Aragorn more than twice Boromir’s age in both mediums. This added experience undoubtedly contributes to the duo’s uneven dynamic, but with Viggo Mortensen and Sean Bean both the same age, the gulf doesn’t come across quite as starkly in the Lord of the Rings movies.
Why Gandalf Or Legolas Can’t Show Up In Rings Of Power
Neither Lord of the Rings‘ Gandalf nor Legolas can appear in the Amazon series because Rings of Power happens in the Second Age – Middle Earth’s timeline before the LOTR movies. The Maia Olórin took the form of Gandalf on Middle Earth around the year 1,000 of the Third Age, and Legolas was presumed to have been born some time during the Third Age’s first century. While thousands of years old, both Legolas and Gandalf – at least in his physical form – are much younger than any of the characters in Rings of Power. In fact, apart from Gandalf, Saruman and the other Istari can’t appear in Rings of Power as well, as they all arrived in Middle Earth during the Third Age.
Although most Lord of the Rings characters are too young to appear in Rings of Power, there is a character from The Hobbit movies who could be in the Amazon series: Thranduil, Legolas’ father. Though not as old as Rings of Power characters Galadriel and Elrond, Thranduil was born sometime in the First Age and was already King of the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood during the Second Age. Meanwhile, the Ent known as Treebeard may also appear in Rings of Power, as he was the oldest of the Ents in Lord of the Rings, and Treebeard could have been around since the First Age.
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