The Ultimate Hero: A Debate About ‘Lord of the Rings’

**SPOILER ALERT**

… For anyone who hasn’t watched it… Seriously though, it’s been like 18 years…

I had just finished my 100th marathon of Lord of the Rings, and as per usual, I was frustrated that Frodo caved in at the last second and decided not to throw the ring into the fire.

So, I took to Twitter (as you do) to ask the opinion of my fellow tweeters, who they thought the real hero of the story was. I gave two options on the poll; Frodo or Sam. The comments section was used for any other choice of character/s or opinions.

First, I just want to say that I did not think this would get as many interactions as it did, but I am so pleased that so many people shared their thoughts because… Well, because I was curious.

Anyway, at the start of the poll (with my fresh irritation at Frodo), I commented that I believed Sam was the hero, 100%. My reason is below ↓

This seemed to have opened up a whole can of worms and my irritation quickly died down as I read some very reasonable points as to why Frodo was the hero, or why they were both the heroes; if not two of many within the entire story. (Scroll to the bottom for poll results.)

I’ll start with a few quotes from Team Sam:

Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee, in Peter Jackson’s motion picture,
Lord of the Rings
  • “Sam saves Frodo from the spider and carries him up the mountain when he falls over. And that’s after he sent him away.”
  • “Everyone is giving Frodo a pass because he endured the ring for so long, but Bilbo had it far longer, and didn’t give half as much of a stuff about giving it up as Frodo did.”
  • “Frodo was just the ring box Sam carried.”

These opinions are pretty much reflective of what my own opinions were. Sam stuck by Frodo through it all, he stopped him (numerous times) from giving into the will of the ring, warned him about Gollum and even went back to save Frodo after he was told to leave. And not only that; when Sam believed Frodo was dead from Shelob’s sting, he took the ring but then gave it back as soon as he found Frodo alive. That’s something many of the other characters might have really struggled with.

Now, a few snippets from Team Frodo:

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, in Peter Jackson’s motion picture, Lord of the Rings
  • “Frodo had to endure carrying the ring and had to keep choosing to carry it and choosing to leave people who could help him so it wouldn’t corrupt them.”
  • “Sam yes, helps Frodo, but he goes home. Frodo sacrifices everything. His home, almost his life, his very soul, to destroy the Ring. I got go with Frodo.”
  • “I see Frodo as the hero for he bore the burden of the corruption of his soul and the loss of his innocence.”

These reasons definitely swayed my initial 100% for Sam. The fact that Frodo decided to sacrifice his mind and body to the corruption of the ring so that nobody else had to, deserves respect. He was the first to offer to take the ring to Mt Doom during the meeting at Rivendell, which lead to the fellowship, and opened the way for all the other characters to begin their own heroic quests.

Team Aragorn:

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, in Peter Jackson’s motion picture,
Lord of the Rings
  • “Aragorn. Because he turned down the ring where so many others failed, fought off 5 wraiths alone, and marched to certain death trying to draw the eye away from Frodo and Sam.”
  • Aragorn. He was the symbol that kept everyone believing and who actually had the power to win in battle.”

Don’t hate me for not putting this as an option in the poll, I swear I was going to (along with Gandalf). I changed my mind at the last moment. I don’t think anyone can deny the importance of Aragorn’s role within the story. He saved the hobbits many times, he lead the way in battle and was victorious. And at the end, when he was willing to sacrifice himself to create a diversion for Sam and Frodo so they could destroy the ring, it was the epitome of heroism.

However, I was a bit annoyed when he yelled, “For Frodo!” before charging towards the Orcs. What about Sam, Aragorn? What about Sam?

And for TeamWork:

The Fellowship of the Ring,
in Peter Jackson’s motion picture,
Lord of the Rings
  • “Frodo carried the ring. But Sam carried Frodo. Without either one of them Middle Earth would have fallen to the darkness.”
  • “I don’t think Frodo or Sam either one would have succeeded on their own. LOTR is full of heroes, all fulfilling their roles in the bigger plan. Eowyn, Aragorn, Gandalf, and all the rest were integral parts of the salvation of Middle Earth.”

The Lord of the Rings is unique in the sense that it has so many strong, capable, and brave characters all doing their part to ensure the safety of their loved ones, homes and pretty much their entire world. First of all, Gandalf is just super cool. I wish he was my granddad. But all jokes aside, he was the first to sacrifice himself to save the others from the Balrog. That honestly could have just been the end of them.

Then Eowyn goes and kills the Witch-King of Angmar, saving thousands of lives on the battlefield (can’t forget her awesome line, “I am no man!”). And Legolas and Gimli are just always up for the fight, doing what they can to make a difference and supporting Aragorn throughout. Even Merry and Pippin contribute greatly by persuading the Ents to take down Saruman’s base, Isengard (and many more deeds follow).

Even Gollum scored some hero points:

Gollum, in Peter Jackson’s motion picture,
Lord of the Rings
  • “Neither would have made to that volcano w/o Gollum’s guidance. Plus, Gollum’s the one who took the ring to it’s doom, granted, it was unintentional.”

Yeah, I don’t like him. He was a villain from the moment he laid eyes on the ring, killing his own brother for it. He tried to be good for a little while but he was too selfish and gave in to the will of the ring. You need good intention to be considered a hero, and his intention was always to keep the ring for himself.

The results of the poll

Results: Sam was victorious by a long shot.

Out of 1,041 votes over a 24 hour period, 86% voted for Sam as the “real hero”.

And even though that was the idea I started this poll with, by the time of the verdict, my opinion had changed. Whether it was my annoyance at Frodo dying down or realizing a new side to the burden he carried, I can see now that all his whining, his inability to protect himself, and failing at the end, was all due to the power of the ring.

I also want to add that there is no one true hero in this story. It’s a weaving of heroic acts from many different characters that ultimately saves Middle Earth from the forces of Sauron’s army and the rule of the ring.

This poll made me realize that there doesn’t necessarily have to be one ultimate hero when writing a story. Every character can attempt their own small heroic deeds, which might eventually lead to a victory; whether it’s a side victory, personal victory or one for the quest of the antagonist or protagonist. It’s okay to share out the ‘hero’ title amongst your characters. If anything, it makes for a stronger story.

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “The Ultimate Hero: A Debate About ‘Lord of the Rings’

    1. Yes! Honestly, it was one of my favourites. I didn’t know if anyone would want me to mention their names in my blog so I left them out. Is that okay? Or would you like me to add it in?

      Like

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