Now widely remembered as one of the most stellar film series in cinematic history, it’s no wonder that the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, on top of its remarkable scale and production values, is also highly quotable. After all, it’s based on the writings of JRR Tolkien, a man whose rich use of the English language essentially helped create an entire literary genre.
Below, we’ve listed twenty of our favorite quotes from Peter Jackson’s unforgettable epic trilogy.
“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the Earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. It began with the forging of the Great Rings. Three were given to the Elves, immortal, wisest, and fairest of all beings. Seven to the Dwarf lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of Men, who, above all else, desire power. But they were, all of them, deceived, for another ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a Master Ring, to control all others. And into this Ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One Ring to rule them all!” – Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Ring
This iconic opening narration introduces viewers to Tolkien’s world and to the iconic Rings at the center of the plot. Cate Blanchett’s somber delivery, and the striking visuals that accompany her words, make it clear from the beginning that we are about to be drawn into an entirely different world and told a truly stirring tale.
“A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” – Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
Gandalf’s first line in the film does a stellar job at establishing his character. It evokes his jovial, merry nature while at the same time giving the viewer a hint at his deeper wisdom and at how a wise wizard-like himself does everything very deliberately.
“If you’re referring to the incident with the Dragon, I was barely involved. All I did was give your uncle a little nudge out of the door.” – Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
This line from Gandalf is a brief nod to The Hobbit‘s premise, the prequel book to Lord of the Rings that details the adventure that Gandalf leads Bilbo on. Along with a brief sequence in the film’s opening, it’s a delightful little titbit for readers of Tolkien’s original material and a tantalizing glimpse at the film adaptation of The Hobbit that would only come many years later.
“If I take one more step, it’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.” – Samwise Gamgee, the Fellowship of the Ring
Sam makes this remark as he and the other hobbits leave the Shire and head out on their adventure. It really underlines what unusual heroes these are – they’re homebodies who have never before considered leaving the comforts of their fireside behind.
“If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. You have my sword.” – Aragorn, The Fellowship of the Ring
This line by Aragorn inspires Gimli and Legolas to likewise pledge themselves to Frodo’s cause. It’s at this moment that the Fellowship of the title is formed. That, and it’s a very nice evocation of the “party of adventurers” system that defines so many fantasy role-playing games. It’s one of those many fantasy tropes that can be largely traced back to Tolkien’s classic.
“One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its Black Gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep, and the Great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly.” – Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring
You might remember this one from when it was a meme back in the day. Memes, after all, are how the internet shows its appreciation for iconic quotes. Memeability aside, though, it’s easy to see why this quote is so memorable. It offers a grim description of the great dangers facing the protagonists and the uncertainty of their success in making it across Mordor alive.
“Fly, you fools!” – Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
This is one of those quotes that you’ve probably heard even if you haven’t seen the films, but which you can only truly appreciate in context. Hearing Gandalf tensely murmur this line before throwing himself into the chasm beyond is a truly gutting experience, especially when we’ve spent so much of the film growing as attached to this character as Frodo clearly is.
“Don’t… tempt me Frodo! I dare not take it. Not even to keep it safe. Understand, Frodo. I would use this Ring from a desire to do good… But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.” – Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
Gandalf utters these words to Frodo when the latter fearfully attempt to convince him to take charge of it instead of him. It’s one of our earliest hints at the dark power that the Ring wields and, perhaps more importantly, the temptation that it represents. Temptation, it seems, that even a man as wise as Gandalf is vulnerable to.
“My dear Frodo. Hobbits really are amazing creatures. You can learn all there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you.” – Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
Of the many fantastical creatures that Tolkien crafted for his fantasy world, hobbits might be the most memorable. They’re simple creatures who prize the comforts of home above all, yet they’re at the forefront of the epic tale of the One Ring throughout. Their simple nature contrasts strikingly with their bravery and fortitude, and Gandalf sums that up wonderfully with this quote.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” – Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring
Gandalf says these words to Frodo in response to his wishing that he had never had to take on the burden of destroying the Ring. Wishing that things might have been different, he makes clear, is something all of us indulge in at some time or other. However, idle wishing is little time when one has been tasked with duty as great as this one. Whatever fate may have decided, it was Bilbo’s role, and then of Frodo, to take on the burden of the Ring.
“Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.” – Samwise Gamgee, The Fellowship of the Ring
Sam utters this line to Frodo at the conclusion of the first film, as Frodo tells him that he is going to Mordor alone. It’s a moment that truly cements how deep the friendship between two characters is, and, perhaps just as importantly, how damn lovable Sam is as a character.
“Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys!” – Ugluk, The Two Towers
The orcs spend most of the films as arrow fodder and don’t get a lot of characterization or even much in lines. Nonetheless, this line from orc leader Ugluk, spoken after he beheads an insubordinate orc, has resonated greatly with fans. It evokes the brutality of the orcs, and, well, it’s also just so quotable.
“Together, my Lord Sauron, we shall rule this Middle-earth. The old world will burn in the fires of industry. Forests will fall. A new order will rise. We will drive the machine of war with the sword and the spear and the iron fist of the orc.” – Saruman, The Two Towers
These grim words from Saruman summarise the ambitions of the series’ villains. They intend it is clear, to rend apart the enchanting world that the films have shown us in such great detail and to remake it in their own grim image. And naturally, this threat is all the more poignant when you hear someone as sonorous and talented as Christopher Lee deliver it.
“The fires of Isengard will spread, and the forests of Tuckborough and Buckland will burn. And all that was once great and good in this world will be gone. There won’t *be* a Shire, Pippin.” – Merry Brandybuck, The Two Towers
Merry’s words here serve to help Pippin (and the audience) remember that, no matter how much he might want to return home to the Shire, they must continue on their quest to stop Sauron. Should they fail to do so, after all, their beloved Shire, and all that they hope to return to, will be gone forever.
“From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth… Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side… Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time… The stars wheeled overhead, and every day was as long as a life age of the Earth… But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I’ve been sent back until my task is done.” – Gandalf, The Two Towers
Even though Gandalf’s clash with the Balrog takes place largely offscreen, his stirring recount of it has made it one of the most iconic battles of the entire trilogy.
“I wonder if people will ever say, ‘Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring.’ And they’ll say ‘Yes, that’s one of my favorite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn’t he, Dad?’ ‘Yes, my boy, the most famousest of hobbits. And that’s saying a lot.’” – Samwise Gamgee, The Two Towers
Besides being a very touching reminder of how much Sam admires his friend, this little quote also has a nifty meta element to it. After all, Sam and Frodo’s adventures are indeed the stuff of stirring stories – specifically, the sort of stories that would come to define the entire fantasy genre.
“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.” – Samwise Gamgee, The Two Towers
Sam’s speech to a dispirited Frodo is his reminder to his friend that, as impossible as it may seem that they could even be the heroes of such a tale like this one, they simply must keep going. Theirs is a noble cause, and they simply cannot afford to give up on the one thing they are holding on to: that there is some good in the world.
“Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!” – Aragorn, The Return of the King
Aragorn’s rousing speech to Rohan’s soldiers to hold onto their courage in the face of the advancing orc hordes ranks as one of the most emotionally stirring moments of the series. For a moment, we really feel like we’re standing on the battlements with him, sword in hand.
“They cursed us. Murderer they called us. They cursed us, and drove us away. And we wept, Precious, we wept to be so alone. And we only wish to catch fish so juicy sweet. And we forgot the taste of bread…the sound of trees…the softness of the wind. We even forgot our own name. My Precious.” – Gollum, The Return of the King
Gollum utters these chilling words in the opening sequence of the third film, in which we watch as the Ring’s influence transforms him into the Gollum. Despite the fact that Gollum carries out some of his most despicable actions in the entire series during this film, this sequence leaves us with some sympathy for this wretched creature.
“Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?” – Samwise Gamgee, The Return of the King
In the final film’s stirring climax, Samwise speaks these words to Frodo as they attempt to scale Mount Doom. These words recall how far he and Frodo have come and how different they are from the simple, comfort-loving Shire-folk that they were at the beginning of the series.
You might also be interested in: