Ranking the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring

As is our family tradition, my folks and I have been rewatching The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, starting, of course, with the two-part extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring. The titular Fellowship is a merry band of folks from all over middle earth, all tasked with the common purpose of guiding and protecting Frodo on his journey to destroy the one ring. Each member of the fellowship brings something different to the table and they all have their part to play, but some contribute more than others. Today, I’ll be ranking the members of the Fellowship, based on the film adaptations and my own personal opinions. This is so subjective so I’m sure some readers will have beef with this take, but here’s my ranking: 

 

9. Legolas

Bear with me. I feel like Legolas is slightly overrated. He’s not bad. I just don’t think that he’s as interesting as everyone else. He did give us “THEY’RE TAKING THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD,” and that’s not nothing, and he’s got his flashy shield-skateboarding and chain-sliding moments. He’s really useful to everyone because he’s good at fighting and he has a lot of connections but he’s kind of boring compared to other characters. Like when he’s not fighting or bringing up information, he’s just sort of...there?

All of his best scenes are when he’s interacting with Gimli. He’s strongest as a character when he is defending others in conversation but those moments are really short and are quickly overshadowed by the “look at the elf fighting; he’s so skilled and so much better than everyone else at this” moments. I think putting him in The Hobbit with that boring love triangle overexposed his character and made him less compelling. Maybe I’m just tired of elves. 

8. Boromir

I feel guilty about this one because he died, but he did totally try to kill Frodo. He also picked a bunch of fights with other members of the party and was super insecure about having Aragorn around. He’s only higher on this list than Legolas because at least I got a rounder sense of his personality than “good at fighting, sometimes gets mad.” We see Boromir at his worst and his best, and his sacrifice plays a major role in Aragorn finally accepting his duty to unite all men. He’s complicated, and he has to choose for himself to be good in the face of temptation -- a trait we see more thoroughly explored later on through Boromir’s brother, Faramir. 

7. Frodo Baggins 

I get it. He’s the main character, he’s dealing with a lot, he’s pure of heart. But unfortunately, as the main character, he is almost always The Problem. How many times does this man almost die? I can count four or five times off the top of my head where Frodo would have literally died had it not been for the friends around him. He’s a great character, and his journey from being the optimistic and somewhat naive heart of the fellowship to an isolated and hardened person bent by the burden he carries, and then finally to someone who has no place in the world that he saved, is fascinating. However, that doesn’t change the fact that he's the Turkey and everyone else is the sides. And everyone knows that the sides are always better than the Turkey.

6. Pippin 

He’s one of my favorite characters, but his ranking takes a major hit from how many problems he caused. He got drunk and outed Frodo as a Baggins at the Prancing Pony, he knocked over the helmet in Moria and started off the chain of events that eventually led to Gandalf’s death, and he looked at the seeing stone even after Gandalf told him not to, which also caused a ton of extra problems for everyone. His saving graces are that most of his mistakes eventually right themselves (Gandalf comes back more powerful, Pippin’s able to save Faramir from being killed), and because he actually has a streak of intelligence that often goes overlooked. For example, he was the one who thought to take Treebeard past Isengard, which was what led to the Last March of the Ents. He’s also really funny. 

5. Gandalf

The man, the myth, the legend. I didn’t appreciate Gandalf as much when I was younger, because he was the old man in the Fellowship and I didn’t really understand the whole “coming back as Gandalf the White” thing. Once I was old enough to get how that worked and to understand what a big deal it was for Gandalf to have defeated the Balrog, I definitely started to like his character more.

He’s the original plot driver, which means he’s really important, and seeing all of the research that went into his discovery that Frodo had the one ring really helped establish early on the vastness of this conflict and the implications of it on the entirety of Middle Earth. Like Legolas, he has a lot of cool connections, but you get the sense that he’s earned them overtime as a result of effort, not just proximity. Unlike Legolas, his presence in The Hobbit made me like him more (except for the weird subtext with Galadriel; what was that). All around, pretty cool guy. 

4. Merry 

Merry is interesting because he doesn’t have a party trick like the other hobbits. Like, Sam is the sweet one, Frodo is the Ring Bearer, Pippin is the funny one, etc. Merry is ranked here because of his passion for direct action. He doesn’t accept decisions when he thinks that they are unfair or unnecessary, and he isn’t afraid to directly undermine or challenge these decisions, either.

One of my favorite moments with Merry is when Treebeard tells him that the Ents have decided to remain uninvolved in the war with Sauron. Merry reminds Treebeard in no uncertain terms that the Ents are a part of the world and that it isn’t right to ignore violence and war just because you think that it doesn’t affect you. When even Pippin suggests that maybe they should just return to the Shire, Merry bluntly tells him that if they don’t stand against Sauron, even their own home will be destroyed eventually. Another great example of this determination is when he and Eowyn, after they’ve both been told not to fight, ride into battle together in disguise. He doesn’t just wait around for someone else to take action, and I think that this was a really cool choice for a character who could have easily just been the “other” hobbit. 

3. Gimli

I love Gimli. As I said in Legolas’s ranking, Gimli played a major role in making their rapport shine. His character often provides comic relief, but never does so in a way that disrupts the tone of the films. He’s got all the best one-liners. As a short person who also cannot run for very long, I personally love the “we dwarves are natural sprinters” line and quote it frequently. His confidence, courage, and pride are such positive forces in the Fellowship, and he’s good at lifting spirits in dark moments. However, we also get to see a more emotional side of him. For example, we see this gruff, super masculine character smile fondly at the memory of Galadriel, and we hear him speak honestly about how meeting her affected him and his worldview. We also see him grieve when he discovers the death of Balin in the mines of Moria, and how he uses that grief as a source of determination when he goes on later in the scene to help defend his friends. He’s so compelling, so well rounded, and is one of my absolute favorite characters in the series. 

2. Aragorn

This man won my heart when he turned away the ring, assured Frodo that he would have walked to Mount Doom to see it destroyed, and then immediately turned around with a sword in slow motion to fight orcs so that Frodo could escape, all in the span of, like, two minutes. He is selfless, brave, and has a compelling backstory. He is an example of how people who deserve power are often the ones the least interested in having it. He doesn’t back down from fights and is fiercely loyal to his friends. Even when he becomes king, he retains his humility and bows to Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin because he knows that they were the true heroes of Middle Earth.

He’s a good example of how you can make a really detailed and complicated character without having that character overpower everyone else in the party, for all you funky D&D players. His best moment has got to be when he’s leading the army to the gates of Mordor and says “for Frodo.” It’s so simple but so powerful; it exemplifies all of the things I love about Aragorn’s character. 

1. Samwise “And I’m Coming With You” Gamgee

No one is surprised. He is the only man. The blueprint. He’s sweet, he’s funny, he’s kind, he doesn’t turn back even when he’s scared, and he is absolutely ride-or-die for Frodo. Frodo says it himself at the end of The Two Towers: “Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam,” and he is 100% right. He reminds Frodo that there’s hope and good in the world and that even though things are dark right now, as long as people keep fighting, there will be light again. Even though he changes throughout the course of the series, he retains his strength of character and loyalty. There is an idea that hardship hardens people so that they are no longer able to see the beauty in the world, but Sam never loses his appreciation for nature or the small things in life.

Tell me you don’t cry at the riverboat scene. Tell me you don’t lose it when Sam carries Frodo up the mountain. He’s awesome and he is the backbone of the Fellowship.