10 ‘Lord of the Rings’ Lines (And Line Deliveries) That Live Rent-free in My Head

December 19, 2021, marked the 20th anniversary of the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the first of Peter Jackson's adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved trilogy. With the highly anticipated Prime Video adaptation on the horizon, we're commemorating the anniversary with a series of essays and lists devoted to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

10 Lord of the Rings Lines (and Line Deliveries) That Live Rent-Free In My Head

Lord of the Rings

It’s hard to believe, but this December marks 20 years since The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring premiered in theatres. Over the next three Decembers and beyond, the world of Middle Earth captured the imaginations of devoted readers and those just discovering it for the first time. The films were a beautiful work of artistry at every level, and even now, two decades later, so much of it sticks with me, particularly the dialogue.

Below I’ve listed the top ten lines whose deliveries still live rent-free in my head. They aren’t the “best” lines, or necessarily the most meaningful, or inspiring. Some are well-known, while some are interesting to me specifically, but when it comes to picking out lines, The Lord of the Rings is an embarrassment of riches.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

10. “The Closer We Are to Danger, the Further We Are From Harm. It’s the Last Thing He’ll Expect.”

Merry and Pippin

So the logic of this sentiment doesn’t especially track, given the nature of the threats Merry and Pippin are facing, but nevertheless, the intention behind it is quite endearing. After spending the bulk of The Two Towers hiding from the war in the forest, alongside the Ents who give new meaning to the terms indecisive and slow, the two Hobbits are ready for a change.

Gradually, as the Ents refusal to move things along in a timely fashion  – by mortal standards, anyway – begins to wear on them, Pippin takes matters into his own hands, finessing a way for Treebeard, their Ent friend, to convey them towards Saruman’s lair so they can eventually reunite with the others and fight. Of the fellowship, Merry and Pippin have the least reason to be on the adventure. They made no vow to Gandalf, they aren’t defending their homeland from a threat they are familiar with. They simply elected to go because they wanted to help their friend. This moment is Pippin, and by extension Merry, finally seizing their hero moment.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

9. “I Would Rather Share One Lifetime With You Than Face All the Ages of This World Alone.”

ArwenAragorn

This beautiful, sentimental line is spoken by Arwen in The Fellowship of the Ring to her true love Aragorn when they meet again at Rivendell to help decide the fate of the One Ring. It’s no surprise to anyone to say that Arwen’s entire storyline revolves around her romance with Aragorn. The Lord of the Rings is a male-centric story, and of the only three female characters rising to prominence in the film adaptations, Arwen is the one seen the most.

Though she doesn’t contribute anything to the mission overall – except, arguably saving Frodo from the Nazgul, thereby allowing the plot to happen in the first place – Arwen’s role as romantic lead doesn’t diminish her as a character. She isn’t the object too often seen in male-centric media, merely waiting for her man to come home. She is an immortal Elf lady. She has a place in the Gray Havens. In short, she has choices. And with this line, she makes it clear that staying behind in Middle Earth for love is her choice.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

8. “Never Thought I’d Die Fighting Side by Side With an Elf”/”What About Side by Side With a Friend.”

Legolas and Gimli scaled

Another one of the sweeter, sentimental, borderline cheesy exchanges in The Lord of the Rings comes from this Return of the King back-and-forth between Legolas and Gimli.

After spending Fellowship of the Ring with a tense, prejudice fuelled relationship, the two of them come to a kind of amicable understanding in The Two Towers when they are united in their search for Merry and Pippin, and then later when they fight at Helm’s Deep together. What starts as a good-natured competition over who can take out more Orcs turns into a genuine friendship, and the best slow-burn in the whole series.

Both of the first two films build to a final fight, but with the third in the trilogy, it seems the whole thing is taken up by fighting. Which makes sense as all of Middle Earth is on the line. That cannot be resolved by a single fight in a single afternoon. Which is why little moments like this, which offer levity that is also a sincere emotional payoff, are so keenly appreciated.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

7. “I Wish the Ring Had Never Come To Me. I Wish None of This Had Happened.”

Frodo

Frodo Baggins has many moments where he questions the mission he’s been given, and this one – from Fellowship of the Ring – is the most wistful of them all. He is not yet beaten down by the task, so mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted that the idea of putting one foot in front of the other seems impossible. In short, the line is still full of the child-like innocence that informs his and the other Hobbit characters at the start of the story. It reads all the more naive through the eyes of a viewer who has already seen the films, and who knows it’s about to get significantly more difficult.

Equally meaningful and worth mentioning is the rest of the exchange with Gandalf, where the latter replies “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” It is a hopeful call to action, and one that is often repeated in times of real-world struggle where everything around us seems hopeless.

Credit must also be given to Elijah Wood for his performance throughout the films. He was only 20 when the first film came out, meaning at the time of filming he was a teenager holding his own in a company of much older actors and doing so phenomenally.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

6. “You Don’t Have Any Friends. No One Likes You.”

Smeagol

Ah, the motto of overly anxious children (and adults) everywhere.

In a well-known scene in The Two Towers, the tragic and pitiable Gollum has a late-night argument with himself, or rather his kinder former self, “Smeagol,” which is the face he shows the world when he doesn’t feel the harmful withdrawal effects of the ring.

But this is more than just the most easily-repeatable line in a very chaotic exchange. Gollum and Smeagol, particularly in this scene, are painted at extremes. Smeagol is sweet, child-like, and naive. Gollum is angry, aggressive, and feral. But things take a turn at this line, when it becomes clear that Gollum is also capable of being cuttingly cruel to himself. His tone becomes higher, more like Smeagol's voice and less like his own rasp, as if the words will ring truer when spoken in a familiar voice. The poison of the Ring is working overtime to isolate him.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

5. “He Has Just as Much Cause To Go to War as You Do. Why Can He Not Fight for Those He Loves?”

Eowyn1

For Eowyn, this is a loaded statement. When the Riders of Rohan mock Merry for wanting to ride into battle with them, Eowyn challenges their preconceived notions, rightly pointing out that Merry also has something to fight for. Though she couches her statement in just enough vague language to pretend it’s about Merry, her brother Eomer sees it for what it is, and stresses that war is for men. Read: not Hobbits. And not women.

Eowyn often gets painted as the warrior-maiden among the female main characters, and that’s not entirely incorrect. But her drive to fight is twofold, which makes her so interesting. Naturally, she likes the idea of the glory that comes with victory, as would anyone who has been pushed aside their whole life. But for Eowyn, it’s more driven by necessity.

As she says in The Two Towers, those who do not wield swords can still die upon them. She wants to fight for those she loves, and for the home she loves. When conflict is the name of the game, holding down the fort at home makes a spirit like Eowyn’s restless, which is why she relates so much to Merry, who also chooses to fight for what he believes in spite of the world telling him he can’t.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

4. “I Come On Behalf of One Whom I Love.”

Aragorn1

In a rare display of desperate emotion from the normally restrained Elrond, this moment appears early in Return of the King. It comes just as he brings Aragorn Isildur’s reforged sword, in a bid to get him to “become who he was born to be.” It is effective in setting up the personal stakes for Elrond, Arwen, and Aragorn because it isn’t about the fate of the world, or kingdoms, or any race of people. It boils down to love.

If Aragorn loses the war, and Arwen loses her light, then anything and everything Elrond ever held dear vanishes and it was all for nothing. As removed as he’d like to believe himself to be, the events of the world do have an impact on him. He had to put every hope for the future of the person he loves most in the world on someone else, and that terrifies him. It is naturally delivered with Hugo Weaving’s signature intensity, but that doesn’t make it any less vulnerable

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

3. “You Bow to No One.”

The Hobbits

Another one of those oft-quoted lines is spoken by Aragorn at the end of Return of the King, after he has been crowned king of Gondor. As the assembled company bow to the new king, he stops the four Hobbits from following suit, before bowing to them in turn.

On paper, perhaps the line doesn’t resonate as much. But in the film, paired with the swelling music and the visuals in particular, the real weight of the sentiment hits hard. For the first time in around 14 hours of screentime, the Hobbits tower above everyone else, who are kneeling before them.

In that moment, the audience feels everything the Hobbits do, relief and exhaustion, because it is with them that we first started on the adventure, and so them we feel closest to. The weight of the lives that everyone will now get to live sits on the shoulders of the four Hobbits, and none of them look entirely sure how to deal with that. Pride? Fear? Concern? How do you contend with the fact that you just saved the world?

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

2. “For Frodo.”

Aragorn2

Two quick words spoken by Aragorn in Return of the King before their assembled company charges on the Black Gate. Spoken so quietly there’s no way most of the fighters heard him. But that’s not what matters. What matters is that those who have been there since the beginning – the fellowship, and the audience as well – catch his meaning. Everything that has happened over the course of these films has been for Frodo.

Because it is very easy to forget, between the romance and the angst, the politics and the endless war, the talking trees and the grumpy ghosts, that everything the fellowship has done has been in service of keeping the world going long enough for Frodo to succeed in his mission.

Aragorn states as much at the end of Fellowship of the Ring but there is so much story between this moment and that one, that the audience could be forgiven for forgetting. Which is why it is so emotionally resonant for Aragorn to remind everyone that at this point, every loss and pain they have suffered and are about to suffer has all been for Frodo’s sake, putting things in a heartwarming, heartbreaking perspective.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

1. “There’s Some Good in This World, Mr. Frodo. And It’s Worth Fighting For.”

Samwise

This quote, from the climax of The Two Towers, is the best one there is. The whole exchange between Frodo and Sam is so top tier, I very nearly isolated three separate snippets from it to list as its own entry on this list. It is just that powerful. From Frodo’s utterly defeated “I can’t do this, Sam,” to Sam’s own earnest assertion that every great, meaningful story is darkest just before the dawn.

This is the lowest point Frodo hits before the power of the Ring all but takes him in Return of the King. It’s the last moment with a ray of light before it goes out in the final chapter. The final chance for actually earnest hope before things truly do get so dark you don’t see how it will ever be alright again, even if this isn’t the first time you’re watching the movie.

Really, a lot of the credit for this goes to Sean Astin, who plays Samwise Gamgee absolutely phenomenally. He is loyal without being sycophantic, and unfailingly kind and patient. This is the man who as everything is burning around them literally lifts Frodo and carries him the last few steps into Mount Doom. Everyone needs a Sam in their life.

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

The Lord of the Rings is available to stream on HBO Max

More Articles by Wealth of Geeks

Wheel of Time Dragon Reborn

Review: ‘The Wheel of Time’ is The Epic Sprawling

Arwen’s Best Looks in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy

The 10 Best The Lord of the Rings Video Games

Gollum Is the Shylock of ‘The Lord of the Rings

Image Credit: Amazon Studios. 

This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: New Line Cinema. 


Arezou Amin is a freelance writer with a lifelong love of Star Wars, romance, fantasy, and all things pop culture. She is the host of Space Waffles, a Star Wars-focused podcast on the Geeky Waffle network, where she also co-hosts the flagship show and writes reviews and recaps for the site.