The Silmarillion

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Rise & shine, Elves, you've got a long journey ahead.


The tales of the First Age when Morgoth dwelt in Middle-earth and the Elves made war upon him for the recovery of the Silmarils, to which are appended the downfall of Númenórë and the history of the Rings of Power and the Third Age in which these tales come to their end.
The Silmarillion, title page inscription

The Silmarillion is J. R. R. Tolkien's book of the history of Middle-Earth, from the creation of the universe to the end of the Third Age. It was posthumously edited by his son Christopher and published in 1977, though Tolkien had been working on it for most of his life. Originally, The Silmarillion was Tolkien's attempt to make a purely "English" mythology based on Welsh, Saxon, Finnish, and Norse sources. What it eventually became was a "Pan-European" constructed world, growing ever more intricate and detailed through the decades Tolkien worked on it.

The book is subdivided into:

  • Ainulindalë (the Music of the Ainur): Eru Ilúvatar, the omnipotent and omniscient (i.e. biblical) God, inspires and directs the Ainur (angels) to sing a "Great Music", through which the universe is created, and history itself playing out as a manifestation of its meanings.
  • Valaquenta (the Account of the Valar): a description of each of the Valar (Ainur who have chosen to enter the physical universe and serve as Eru's regents therein) and some of the Maiar, their servants.
  • Quenta Silmarillion (the History of the Silmarilli): recounts the creation of Middle-earth by the Valar; the creation of the Elves, Dwarves, and Men; the first war between the Valar and Melkor; and the six-hundred year long war between the Elves and Melkor (with Men and Dwarves caught squarely in the middle) over the eponymous Silmarils.
  • Akallabêth (The Downfall of Númenórë): the isle of Númenórë is given to Men who fought in the war against Melkor as a reward by the Valar. Over the centuries, the Númenórëans grow proud. All culminates in the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, who, driven by his fear of death and the lies of Sauron, dares to invade the land of the Valar. As a punishment, Númenórë is destroyed and sinks into the Sea.
  • Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age: Details the backstory to The Lord of the Rings; fleshes out the Gambit Pileup of Sauron and Gandalf.

Note: The terms "Quenta Silmarillion" or just "Silmarillion" are used (in-story and in the real world) for the whole body of stories from the First Age, regardless of their inclusion in the 1977 book The Silmarillion.

Earlier forms of the stories in The Silmarillion, and insights into their evolution over a period of more than 50 years, can be found in The History of Middle Earth.

Tropes used in The Silmarillion include:

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  • Absurdly Sharp Blade
    • Angrist
    • Every sword forged by elves can probably count.
  • Action Girl
    • Haleth. Holding out against a massive onslaught of Orcs, her father, the leader of their band of Men is killed and her twin brother dies trying to retrieve that body, so with a combination of physical prowess and pure willpower manages to keep a fair amount of her people alive until help arrives at the last minute.
    • Galadriel was said to have wielded a sword at the Kinslaying at Alqualondë on the part of the Teleri, her mother's people (according to supplementary canon). Contrast with her tomboyish but comparatively wimpier cousin Aredhel, who, despite her affinity for hanging out with her male cousins and hunting ends up a hapless Love Martyr married to an absolute Jerkass because of not-exactly-rape.
    • Lúthien probably counts as well, considering the lengths she went to helping Beren in his quest. While she never personally engaged in battle, she did contest with the will of Sauron, and was instrumental in sneaking into Angband. There's also the little bit about putting Morgoth under her spell...
    • Idril Celebrindal, who fought in the Lost Tales account of Gondolin's fall.
  • A God Am I: In the Second and Third Ages, it is Sauron's goal to become god-king of Middle-Earth. He succeeded partially, as the populations of the East and South worshipped him as a god of fire. Though in a partial subversion, he was already an angelic spirit (Maiar), while his former master Morgoth was a god (Valar) with a lower-case g. He (and Morgoth before him) just wanted to graduate to big-G God. For obvious reasons, the guy who already has that job isn't very happy about that. To clarify: Morgoth was a Valar, one of the gods created by the God Eru-Ilúvatar. Lesser than the Valar were the Maiar, essentially demi-gods or Angelic-spirits. Power exponentially increases as you go up this chain, and within each group there are varying degrees. For example, the Maiar includes Sauron, Balrogs, and the Istari (Gandalf being the most famous one).
  • The Ageless: The elves.
  • The Alliance: Maedhros sought to create this after the Dagor Bragollach, combining the forces of the Noldor, the Edain, the Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost, and Easterlings, into what was called the Union of Maedhros. He planned to bring all of their forces together to besiege Angband, and destroy it. The sons of the Easterling chieftain Ulfang brought the plan crashing down when their forces betrayed the others during the joint assault against Morgoth's armies, resulting in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.
  • All There in the Manual: Tolkien's The History of Middle Earth. Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth can be helpful for names and places as well, with regard to the major battles.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Carcharoth the psychotic fire-breathing werewolf who was fed on the flesh of man from his puppy years and Huan the wolfhound who occasionally talks. They kill each other.
  • Anyone Can Die: And they do. Oh, do they ever die. Sometimes even twice.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: Mostly played straight with Elves except when Fëanor and his sons are around. Fëanor is the Cain figure in the story. He was the first Elf ever to draw a blade in anger towards another, who also happened to be his half-brother. Due to appropriately dramatic timing, this directly resulted in his getting banned from Tirion, the Noldorin settlement. His father followed him in exile, staying in their citadel until it was attacked by Morgoth coming to steal the Silmarils and killing him. Then later, after Fëanor defied the will of the Valar by coming back while still banned and then swearing the Oath of Fëanor: "Be he friend or foe, or seed defiled of Morgoth Bauglir, or mortal child that in after days on earth shall dwell, no law, nor love, nor league of hell, not might of Gods, not moveless fate shall him defend from wrath and hate of Fëanor's sons, who takes or steals or finding keeps the Silmarils, the thrice-enchanted globes of light that shine until the final night." This oath was sworn just before he led the Noldor to the Telerin (another kindred of Elves) city, a marine haven. At the Telerin city, he demanded their boats, and slaughtered them when they refused. Then he took the boats and passed the sea with his followers—and burned all the ships, leaving the other Noldor behind in Valinor. Some of them went back, most tried to pass the Grinding Ice—including Galadriel, by the way—and many of those drowned or froze to death on the way to Middle-earth. These evil deeds naturally don't stop him from being an awesome Badass for some readers. His spirit was so intense that when he died, his body literally combusted. In this story, Fëanor is almost the patron saint of self-righteous anger. Also note that Telerin and Tirion are in/on the Middle-Earth equivalent of Heaven (Valinor), so these highly egregious acts were done right in front of the gods and actually defiled their personal domain. Rather than strike him down, they end up coming to the aid of Fëanor's sons in the final battle against Morgoth. Admitteldy, this is only after his death and the death of all but two of his sons, and only at the pleading of Eärendil who, because of his "interesting" blood-line, was the only one who could speak for Man, Eldar and Maia.
  • Atlantis: The island empire of Númenor. It's essentially an Expy of Atlantis. The link is reinforced somewhat blatantly in-story: the Quenya name for the downfall of Númenor is Atalantë. Tolkien was very fascinated by the Atlantis myth, so this is a direct homage to it. Although according to Word of God the title was a shocking coincidence when he worked out what the Quenya for "Downfall" would be. This is supported by the fact that much earlier writings contain the verb root "lant-" for fall.
  • Author Avatar: Beren (Tolkien) and Lúthien (his wife Edith). These names are even on their tombstones.
  • Backstory: Sometimes confused to be this to The Lord of the Rings, but are actually the original main stories he created much earlier. He just never got to publish them, and so they are often viewed as supplementary to LotR, rather than equal tales who just happen to predate (both in in-universe and real-world chronology) the book that got the hype started.
  • Badass: Loads of them.
    • Húrin, when he was captured by Morgoth's forces, killed seventy trolls and chopped the hand off every Orc that tried to grab him. He was only captured after he got pinned down by the weight of his maimed enemies. When you're so much of a nuisance that the equivalent of Satan curses your family to go through horrible hardships and forces you to watch the whole thing, you know you're badass. In-universe, Húrin is considered the most powerful mortal warrior in all of Arda's history. Indeed, depending which version of the legendarium you favor, it's possible that his son Túrin is destined to actually kill Morgoth in the Last Battle.
    • Ungoliant the giant spider, who drank the life out of the sacred Two Trees, nearly ate Satan himself and was the mother of the other bane of arachnaphobe's lives when reading (and, especially, watching) LotR, Shelob.
    • Fëanor. He engaged how many Balrogs during a single battle?? And never mind his crafting the Silmarils...so valuable that Morgoth (the equivalent of Satan) wanted to steal them. He made the Silmarils basically out of pure willpower alone, after which not even he was sure how he did it. He engaged as many Balrogs as he could, including their lord. And he did it alone because he literally ran ahead of his army, due to being enraged. And this was right after Morgoth's forces had attacked the Noldor in the night, almost immediately upon their arrival.
    • Don't forget Finrod Felagund, who killed a werewolf with his teeth.
    • Fingolfin, who challenged Morgoth himself to single combat and wounded him seriously before being killed, even stabbing him square in the foot so he always had a limp afterward. To put this in perspective, this is the same god of all evil, who is described as driving powerful spirits insane just by looking at his eyes. He also rode hundreds of miles into a land full of powerful enemies alone, and they all ran in fear because they mistook him for a god. He arrives at Angband, and challenges Morgoth, and Morgoth hesitates. Fingolfin literally faced the Satan of this world in single combat and Satan was actually afraid of losing.
    • And just after this Thorondor, Lord Of Eagles, swooped down, raked Morgoth across the eyes and then stole Fingolfin's body before Morgoth could defile it. Blind Guardian's Heavy Mithril song "Time Stands Still" is devoted to that fight.
    • Húrin's son, Túrin, takes after his father in this regard. He kills the father of all dragons (Glaurung), becomes a living legend amongst Elves and Men, and handles one of the most powerful blades of Middle-earth. Unfortunately, he has been Blessed with Suck by Morgoth himself.
    • Glaurung is a bit of a badass in his own right: aside from apparently spawning every dragon after him, he sacks a town before he's supposed to, sacks at least one other along with a troup of Orcs from whom he then denies any pickings in gold or jewellery, plays hypnotic mindgames with Túrin and Nienor, causing (further) madness in the former and amnesia in the latter, poisons at least two rivers, kills Túrin's friend Hunthor without even meaning to, nearly, in dying, kills Túrin himself with his toxic blood and then is arguably instrumental in causing the man's suicide having unmistakably caused the suicide of his lover Nienor. Pure Evil Badassery!
    • Beren and Lúthien. They set out to steal Morgoth's most treasured possession, which he keeps on his person, from the middle of his fortress of doom and succeed. All over what amounts to a bet.

And Thingol answered: "What of your quest, and of your vow?"
But Beren said: "It is fulfilled. Even now a Silmaril is in my hand."

    • And, after mentioning Beren and Lúthien, we've gotta mention Thingol himself. While he's not seen doing much, he led the hunt for Carcharoth (the greatest wolf that ever lived, as said below) and led the First Battle of Beleriand. Tolkien said of Thingol: "mightiest of the Eldar save Fëanor only." You see Fingolfin up there? Thingol could kick his ASS. Oh, and he spent his free time boinking an angel. Not to mention that without Thingol, Beren & Lúthien's quest would never have begun.
    • The House of Finwë in general (sans Finarfin).
    • The Battle of Nirnaeth Arnoediad, "Unnumbered Tears", the scene of many acts of badassery as Maedhros' alliance fight Morgoth's forces. Húrin's fight with the trolls (mentioned above) was the last part of this. Also noteworthy is the Dwarf lord Azghal's going one-on-one with Glaurung.
    • Nerdanel, for accomplishing the impossible: for a time, Fëanor listened to her. She also bore him seven sons; this is a very big deal if you're an elf—few have more than four, as it is so draining for them. Actually, having seven children can be exhausting in Real Life. And these are Fëanor's kids we're talking about.
    • Eärendil. Part Human and part Elf, he is the ancestor of Elrond, Elros, Elladan, Elrohir and Aragorn, all serious Badasses. That and the fact that in least one version of the Silmarillion, he finds and casually slaughters Ungoliant, a creature which nearly ate Morgoth. He turns up in the final battle of the War of Wrath in a flying ship, killing the greatest of the Dragons, Ancalagon the Black. He also wears on his brow a Silmaril which is the morning/evening star. The guy is a walking Crowning Moment of Awesome!
    • Ar-Pharazôn the Golden. The last king of Númenor, who wanted no less than the overlordship of the whole world, who vanguished Sauron the Dark Lord, and who then declared war on Valar - the gods themselves. Well, he found out he chewed a too big chunk.
    • Maedhros, who recovered from years of torment by Morgoth to "wield his sword with his left hand more deadly than his right had been." During battle, the orcs fled from him in terror. He also managed to survive to the end of the First Age, which is pretty much a feat in itself.
  • Badass Boast: Túrin chooses the title "Turambar," which means "the Conqueror of Fate." Alas, Fate conquers him

Niniel(Nienor): Master of Doom, by Doom mastered!

  • Bash Brothers: Túrin fights with a sword and has a cool dragon-topped helmet, and Beleg is pretty Badass with bow and arrow, hence his title "Cúthalion", meaning "Strongbow". Together they gain renown as the Two Captains and the land they hold becomes known as Dor-Cúarthol, meaning the Land of Helm and Bow.
  • Battle Couple: Beren and Lúthien.
  • Battle Cry: Usually given in Quenya. During his Last Stand, Húrin's is "Aurë Entuluva!" ("Day shall come again!").
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: Beleg finds that Túrin, his wayward friend, has become the leader of some rather unscrupulous outlaws. He proceeds to both help them and bang some morals into them.
  • Big Bad: Morgoth is the biggest bad of all. Once he's out of the picture, Sauron takes over the role.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Morgoth may be the central villain but the hosue of Feanor are responsible for a pretty large percentage of large scale and minor threats the protaginsts encounter.
  • Big Badass Wolf: Carcharoth (the greatest wolf that ever lived), Draugluin (father of werewolves), and sometimes Sauron (a shapeshifter).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Barahir, a Man and chief of the House of Bëor, rescuing Finrod Felagund in the Pass of Sirion during the Dagor Bragollach. Felagund swears an oath to come to the aid of Barahir or any of his descendants in their hour of need just as Barahir did for him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Half the endings in the book. The other half are plain depressing.
  • The Blacksmith: Fëanor, Eöl, Celebrimbor, and Aulë.
  • Blessed with Suck
    • Túrin Turambar
    • The human race as a whole qualifies. Their trait of mortality is considered the Gift of Eru (God). The Elves in their turn consider their immortality a Blessing With Suck, because they cannot leave the world even if they want to, but the audience is not likely to agree with them.
    • The Elves' particular version of immortality consists of "dwindling," or in other words of their spirits gradually burning away their flesh: they get to become ghosts if they stay in Middle-Earth. (This is why they're leaving for the West at the time of The Lord of the Rings.)
    • You also have to remember that the Valar have revealed that after the Last Battle, all human souls will take part in a second Great Music. This is more or less a guarantee of life after death. The Elves, however, are destined to live only as long as the Earth endures and don't know what fate has in store for them in Arda Envinyantar. Elves have immortality, but humans have more certainty in the long run.
  • Boisterous Bruiser
    • Tulkas Astaldo, who "laughs ever, in sport or war", is essentially a Boisterous Bruiser god.
    • It's worth noting that two Valar that were eventually removed from the story—Makar and Measse—were this taken to an even more bloodthirsty degree, as in Norse mythology.
  • Brother-Sister Incest
    • Túrin Turambar and Nienor Níniel. To their credit, unfamiliarity and amnesia were involved.
    • Maeglin gets awfully close to it.
  • Butt Monkey
    • Túrin, yet again. Yeah, his life sucked that bad. There's a reason for it, too. First the Doom of the Noldor hit his bloodline pretty hard for various reasons. And then Morgoth just went ahead and added his own curse on top of that. There was pretty much no way it was going to end well, not that Túrin knew it at the time.
    • Fëanor's sons, too. The whole quest for the Silmarilli just puts them (and hell, the rest of the Noldor) through increasingly worse disasters and failures.
  • Cain and Abel: Half-brothers Fëanor and Fingolfin. Fëanor doesn't kill Fingolfin, but he comes pretty close, twice.
  • Celestial Paragons and Archangels: The Valar, the most powerful beings in existence behind Eru. Morgoth happened to be the most powerful of them, and rebelled against his maker.
  • Chained to a Rock: Maedhros
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: The Haladin, a tribe of Men, are just about crumbling after a week holed up in a fortress resisting an Orc rout with their leader and his son dead when Caranthir, one of Fëanor's sons on whose land they've grudgingly been tolerated enough to live on, finally shows up with his followers. Haleth, who helped them pull through that long against incredible odds is grateful but not grateful enough to accept Caranthir's offer of more official residence and alliance (which, as pointed out elsewhere on this page, would basically place her people in the buffer zone between him and his enemies).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Eöl the Dark Elf, who forged two Infinity Plus One Swords, one of which became famous and even, according to the Book of Lost Tales, will become significant to the future Apocalypse of the world.
  • Co-Dragons: Gothmog and Sauron, and later Glaurung, were all Dragons to Morgoth (literally, in one case).
  • Cold-Blooded Torture
    • Morgoth is very fond of this.
    • Sauron is quite the skilled at this, too, though he tends to use minions to accomplish the actual torture while he plays mind-games with the victim on the side.
  • Compelling Voice: Morgoth; Glaurung; Sauron
  • Con Lang: Tolkien simply isn't Tolkien without Con Langs.
  • Continuity Snarl: JRR Tolkien got tangled in one of these all on his own, which is why the book had to be published posthumously. Like real-world mythologies, consistency should not be expected between different versions of the tales if one chooses to read beyond the published Silmarillion.
  • Cool Airship: Eärendil's ship Vingilot. It carries a holy jewel and appears as the brightest star in the sky.
  • Cool Sword: Several examples.
  • The Corruption: The world is depicted as perfect until Morgoth begins to ruin it.
  • Creation Myth: Arda was created as a "blank slate" for the Valar and Maiar to shape it.
  • Creative Sterility
    • Morgoth, who cannot make, only mock. Although, as Aulë finds out, even the good Valar cannot create sentient life with free will, because that needs the Secret Fire that only Ilúvatar can grant.
    • Also, aside from the ability to spin webs, Ungoliant. She seeks to destroy.
  • Cue the Sun
    • The first sunrise signals the awakening of the race of Men.
    • Not sure if this counts, but the Moon appeared as the same time the Noldor were over the Grinding Ice.
  • Curb Stomp Battle
    • For all his strength, both times Morgoth fought with Tulkas resulted in Morgoth taking a dirt nap; the fact that Tulkas was tough enough to subdue Morgoth one-on-one was the reason he came to Arda.
    • Iluvatar versus Númenor, guess who wins?
    • The Battle of Unnumbered Tears (fourth in chronology) is depicted as a noble effort by the Elves, Men and Dwarves to finish off Morgoth once and for all, but turns into a catastrophic defeat for them.
    • The Siege of Gondolin also ends in utter ruin for the Elves.
    • The fifth battle by the Valar against Morgoth ends with his being utterly destroyed, though. Technically Morgoth was pretty much exiled from reality for awhile after being thrust through the Door of Night. But it still ended pretty badly.
  • Dark Is Not Evil
    • Túrin Turambar (who was armed with a black sword and armor) and the Dark Elves (whose skin is not actually dark. They just never saw the light of the Two Trees).
    • Caranthir the Dark, Fëanor's fifth son, is a subversion. On one hand, he is only called "the Dark" because of his hair color, and is on the Noldor's side. On the other hand, he is a Jerkass who participates in the massacres of Elf by Elf, and who thinks the Sindar are inferior. He does get a Pet the Dog moment when he and his troops rescue the House of Haleth from Orcs, though even that is suspect. He conveniently shows up just after their leaders have been killed, and offers to basically let them be a buffer between his people and Morgoth, only he phrases it better. That Haleth immediately led her people away from him and to Thingol of all Elves makes you wonder.
    • Also subverted in the case of Eöl, called "the Dark Elf", and the only individual to be associated with darkness. He lives in the dark, hates and shuns sunlight, and is pretty evil at the end of the day.
    • Played straight with Mandos, which is essencially Tolkien's Hades.
  • Dead Little Sister: Túrin's younger sister Lalaith dies when she's three and he's six of a plague that Morgoth sent, instigating his dark and angsty worldview and leading to his descent into total berserk self-destruction, which ironically ended by suicide, just after the death of his other little sister.
  • The Determinator: Fëanor and his sons in their quest to recover the Silmarils. Unfortunately for them (and Middle-Earth) though, it leads to their downfall.
  • Diabolus Ex Nihilo: Ungoliant (literally) appeared out of the Void and into the story to kill the Two Trees and attempt to eat Morgoth before disappearing into the South.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?
    • Did Fingolfin just stab Morgoth?
    • Did Fëanor just slam the door in the face of the most powerful being in Arda?
    • Did Túrin Turambar just kill Glaurung? Is he prophesied to kill Morgoth?
  • Divine Delegation: Tolkien, being a devout Catholic, did not want to create a cosmology that directly contradicted his religion, but he really loved Norse mythology, so this was a compromise between those two views. Eru (the biblical monotheistic God) creates the template of the Universe and its history via the "Great Music", while the Valar and Maiar (angels) effect the physical act of creation.
  • Divine Parentage: Lúthien the half-Maia, leading to very Royal Blood in her great-grandchildren Elros and Elrond and their progeny (and eventually Aragorn and Arwen).
  • Doomed Moral Victor
    • All of the Noldor who didn't partake in the Kinslaying.
    • Húrin and his utter refusal to give in to Morgoth.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Mandos, the god of death, pronounces a doom against the Noldor. (This is using "doom" in its older sense, meaning destiny or fate, but they're all doomed anyway.)
  • Downer Ending: The rest of the endings in the book.
  • The Dragon: Several, including Sauron, Gothmog and Glaurung (literally).
  • Dressing as the Enemy
    • Beren, Finrod, and his soldiers as orcs. It doesn't turn out well.
    • Later Beren dresses in the wolf-hame of Draugluin, a werewolf, and Lúthien dresses in the form of Thuringwethil, a "vampire"—some female blood-dripping flying evil creature. This time it does work.
  • Driven to Suicide: Húrin, Túrin Turambar, Nienor Níniel, Maedhros.
  • Duel to the Death: specifically Combat by Champion. (Between the High King and the God of Evil.)
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A few characters; Beren certainly comes to mind.
  • Elaborate Underground Base
    • Everybody with means to do so builds one: Morgoth had Utumno and Angband, Thingol had Menegroth, Finrod had Nargothrond, the dwarves had Belegost and Khazad-Dûm, among others. Only humans and woodelves had the misfortune of lacking massive underground fortifications in which to flee when the enemy came calling.
    • Gondolin is a subversion: a shining city on a hill, but hidden away behind almost impenetrable mountains, so effectively underground as far as concealment and defense are concerned.
  • Eldritch Abomination
    • Ungoliant becomes this and almost eats Morgoth. He needs a bunch of Balrogs to chase her away. You get the idea. Ungoliant also eats light, making herself huge, swollen, and more powerful, and emitting an "Unlight", which is not just darkness but a void that actively consumes light. Worse yet, nobody knows where she came from or what happened to her. She is said "to have descended from the Outer Darkness, maybe, that lies in Ea beyond the walls of the World." After breeding with lesser spiders, she just... wandered off.

Some have said that she ended long ago, when in her uttermost famine she devoured herself at last.

    • Morgoth himself used to be this. He is described as "a dark creature greater than a mountain with its head above the clouds, crowned with smoke and fire, and the light of his eyes drove the lesser Ainur to madness". Not to mention, he was originally more powerful than all the other Valar combined.
  • Eldritch Location: The mountains of Ered Gorgoroth and Nan Dungortheb, the valley (of Dreadful Death) below them. Not only do the descendants of Ungoliant make this their home, but Sauron's evil magic and Melian's protective, maze-like magic get caught up in each other and combine to form Nightmare Fuel. Beren is the only one to have gone through both and (despite all the other stuff he goes through) doing so is the one thing he can't talk about, lest it all come back.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Naturally. The latest versions of the mythos have it that the Dwarves were pretty active at the time the Noldor came back from Valinor, and there were somewhat friendly relations between Dwarves and Grey/Dark Elves. The Noldor traded with them too, apparently, until the Dwarves fell in love with a necklace that they'd made for King Thingol, refused to give it up, and murdered the Elf-king. The Elves kill all the Dwarves, but then the Dwarf armies retaliate by sacking the Elven kingdom and burning the forest. And then the Ents become enraged and retaliate. And Beren and some woodland Elves finish them off, then leave with said necklace. The Silmarillion shows that the conflict between Elves and Dwarves is actually anything but natural: they do have things in common (a love of craftsmanship for instance) and, though not particularly friendly to each other, are willing to work and fight together at the beginning; it's only because of certain events that they become enemies. Also the Dwarves of Durin of Moria had nothing to do with those griefs, which makes the events of The Hobbit seem a little unfair. (For that matter, the Wood-Elves of The Hobbit don't seem to have any particular connection to the Grey Elves—unlike, say, Galadriel who was a sort of adopted daughter of their queen, or Elrond who was actually the great-grandson of their king—they probably have less of a reason to hate the Dwarves than any other Elven nation in Middle-Earth.)
  • Empathic Weapon: Anglachel, later renamed Gurthang, meaning Iron of Death, by Túrin. It blunts and "mourns" the death of its former wielder, Beleg and eventually answers Túrin's request for death by saying that it will "drink [his] blood gladly".
  • The Empire
    • Morgoth's realm, centered around Angband.
    • Númenórë becomes an extreme example during its last days. They colonized the whole of Middle-earth except the Elven kingdoms, and controlled all the oceans. They also cut down all the old forests on the continent to build fleets, and enslaved entire native populations. And it gets worse during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, who is described as the greatest tyrant in the world since Morgoth himself. They came "no more as the benevolent kings of old, not even as harsh rulers, but as fierce men of war" who sacrificed scores of people on the altars of Morgoth every day, using the Middle-earth natives. This is more or less the reason why the Gondorians, descendants of the Númenórëans, are so hated by the Easterlings. What makes this quite stupid all around is that Ar-Pharazôn did most of this at the behest of Sauron, whom the Easterlings worship. Though the Númenoreans had oppressed the peoples of Middle-Earth long before Sauron entered in the picture, and this led many of the Easterling people's turning to Sauron's aid in the first place. He isn't a Magnificent Bastard for nothing.
  • End of an Age: Several. The ruin of Almaren, the destruction of the Two Trees, the sinking of Númenórë...
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Dagor Dagorath, the "Battle of Battles" prophesised for the end of time.
  • Engagement Challenge: Thingol to Beren. Partially subverted, since Lúthien tries to dissuade Beren from going through with it, and when he is unable to complete it, she proves to be more important to the Quest than him.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas
    • Túrin in regard to his mother Morwen. Mentioning that she (or his sister) may be suffering due to his choices can easily send him over the edge. And insulting the women of Dor-Lomin, and by extension his mother and sister, is Túrin's Berserk Button.
    • "The Shibboleth of Fëanor" is from The Peoples of Middle-earth, and it describes how Fëanor came to perceive that the shift from using "þ" (in modern letters, "th") to "s" in Quenya was a conspiracy against himself and his mother. "Míriel þerindë" became "Míriel Serindë". Fëanor told his sons to ignore the use of "þ" by his half-brothers and their houses: "We speak as is right, and as King Finwë himself did before he was led astray." This further widened the division between Fëanor and his half-brothers.
  • Everyone Is Related: Most of the protagonists are from the various noble houses, whose lines are followed over several generations. Heck, Túrin and Nienor even have an incestuous relationship to take it a bit further.
  • Everything Fades: Elves.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good
    • It is played very straight with Morgoth, when one of his plans is messed up by pity. Since he himself has none, he couldn't expect anyone else to show mercy to an enemy.
    • Completely subverted with when Glaurung spares Túrin's life and he stares back at him, "being yet bemused by the eyes of the dragon, as were he treating with a foe that could know pity."
  • Evil Chancellor: Sauron to Ar-Pharazôn; to an extent Maeglin to Turgon. Melkor was one to Manwë for a time, but his goals then were less to try and usurp Valinor and more to convince everyone he was reformed so he could have free rein to subtly corrupt the Elves.
  • Evil Overlord
    • Morgoth
    • Later Sauron and Ar-Pharazôn both take over this role.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Sauron; Morgoth

F-J[edit | hide]

  • Face Heel Turn
    • Maeglin is remembered as the only Elf who (admittedly after extensive torture) actually turned traitor and served Morgoth.
    • Fëanor also perhaps. He desired to ally himself with Melkor until he realized that Melkor wanted the Silmarils whose power Fëanor thought belonged to him. Fëanor repeatedly made promises and promptly broke them when it served his purpose, and indiscriminately killed Elves who stood in his way. As the most powerful Elf (or indeed non-Ainu) who ever lived, and with his heart of only darkness (confirmed whenever Galadriel saw into his mind), the only thing preventing him from becoming a Dark Lord in his own right was being foolish enough to get himself killed early on. Fëanor never trusted Melkor. He only ever thought (perhaps foolishly) that he could use him to help the Elves escape Aman (he was convinced the Valar meant to keep them prisoner). He also never indiscriminately killed Elves, he was a bit mad and believed he was liberating the Elves from the Valar. He instigated the kinslaying at Alqualande because he honestly believed the Teleri were betraying the Noldor by not helping their flight. He was in fact quite paranoid by the end, the reason he burned the ships at Losgar was because he thought the other Elves would betray him (although they preferred Fingolfin as their leader, they were in fact perfectly loyal to Fëanor).
    • And Sauron became the second Dark Lord because he believed he could help reconstruct Middle-Earth, Morgoth became the first because he believed he could improve the original plan for the world, and so on. Tolkien deconstructed Utopia Justifies the Means pretty thoroughly.
    • Fëanor's sons also turned against good, though without considering an alliance with Melkor/Morgoth as their father had earlier on. But they still opposed the Valar, and committed some of the worst systematic genocides against groups of Elves who opposed them. This led to all their deaths except for Maglor. While no less guilty than the others, only Maglor eventually relented, and only after he realized the futility of their cause. But after something like that, You Can't Go Home Again.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Fëanor in his Rage Against the Heavens and Túrin with You Can't Fight Fate, especially the latter.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: Eru Ilúvatar, and his personified thoughts, the Valar and Maiar.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Ar-Pharazôn, the last king of Númenórë.
  • Fiery Redhead
    • Three of the Sons of Fëanor: Maedhros, Amrod, and Amras. And their mother, Nerdanel.
    • Nerdanel and Maedhros, while strong-willed, are arguably much more cool-headed than the rest of their family. And it's hard to estimate Ambarussa's fiery-ness without falling into bad jokes about their fate.
  • Fighting For a Homeland: The Edain.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Flat World: Arda was one until the Change of the World, when the world was made round, new lands (the Americas, by implication) were added to fill the new hemisphere, and Valinor (and the Lands of the Sun) were removed from the circles of the world.
  • Forest Ranger: Ents are explicitly created to fill this role.
  • Framing Device: The Red Book of Westmarch, Aelfwine of England. They didn't make into The Silmarillion as published, but were part of Tolkien's initial plan.
  • A Friend in Need: Fingon's rescue of Maedhros on Thangorodrim, after all that's come between them — and remember, when he sets out to do it Fingon thinks, with good reason that Maedhros has pulled an Et Tu, Brute? on him (which was subverted: Maedhros was in fact the only one of the Fëanorians who stood aside at the betrayal of the Fingolfinian camp at the Losgar ship-burning). Unfortunately even after that heroic rescue, Maedhros' Conflicting Loyalty issues mean that the Oath, as before, must always come before everything.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: The end of Númenor.
  • God: Eru Ilúvatar. It should be noted that despite the surface similarities, Eru is quite different from the Christian God—he mediated the creation of the Universe through demiurges/angels (the Ainur), created two sentient races (Elves and Men), and intended for the human race to be mortal (rather than giving them mortality as punishment for the Fall). This is called the Gift of Ilúvatar. Also, he generally avoids intervening in the Universe directly, allowing the Valar to run things. It can be argued that since the world of Tolkien's mythos is implied to be our world, just much earlier, this implies that Eru is God. Tolkien also mentioned somewhere about how this was all before Christ, they aren't supposed to be incompatible. Tolkien stated this pretty explicitly in several of his letters and at several points in the writings compiled in The History of Middle-Earth. In the latter, there's even a version of the Fall of Man that's distinctly different from the Biblical version.
  • God of Evil: Morgoth. Sauron and the Balrogs (and possibly Glaurung) are demigods of evil.
  • The Gods Must Be Lazy
    • Justified in that the combined might of the Valar can destroy landmasses and kill untold numbers of people in the attempt to save anyone. It should be noted that the Noldorin Elves rebelled and left paradise of their own free will.
    • This is subverted when they destroy Númenórë. Perhaps justified again, after all, they didn't act until Ar-Pharazôn launched a direct assault on Valinor itself. It's implied that the Númenórëan army, following directions of Sauron, would have massacred most Elves in Valinor if they weren't destroyed at sea.
    • Technically, the Valar didn't destroy Númenórë themselves: instead, they appealed to Eru as directly fighting the children of Iluvatar might be too morally dark for them. Limyaael's magnificent fanfic The Game of the Gods turns out to be a Batman Gambit by Fëanor to force the Valar into doing this again, just so Fëanor can ask God for a favor.
    • And sure, the Valar are very powerful—but for a long time, Morgoth was a match for all of them together. And even when the Valar finally do strike, after Morgoth is greatly weakened, the power unleashed still sinks Beleriand—a pretty huge area of land.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: It is said that the Valar don't understand Morgoth's evil, and explicitly didn't understand it was incurable.

For Manwë was free from evil and could not comprehend it, and he knew that in the beginning, in the thought of Ilúvatar, Melkor had been even as he; and he saw not the depths of Melkor's heart, and did not perceive that all love had departed from him forever.

  • Good Is Not Nice: A recurrent theme of the stories, and particularly prevalent among the Noldor and their allies. Even the Valar have these moments.
  • Grim Up North: Morgoth's fortresses, Utumno and Angband, lie in the extreme north of Arda.
  • Hair of Gold
    • Galadriel ('maiden crowned with a garland of radiance') and Glorfindel ('golden-haired) are named for this trope. Other examples include Manwë, Indis, Finrod, Idril, and Eärendil.
    • Compare Celegorm, called "the Fair", whose hair color is a matter of fandom debate: According to the view that he was literally fair-haired, he ends up an evil blond.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Dior, Elwing, Eärendil, Elros and Elrond. In the case of Lúthien, she was half Elf and half Maia.
  • Half Truth: The final chapter says, regarding the One Ring, that Frodo took it to Mt. Doom and destroyed it. This appears to be what the rest of Middle Earth believes happened, though the readers know it's not exactly the truth.
  • Handicapped Badass
    • Having been captured by Morgoth, Maedhros, the eldest son of Fëanor was rescued from his torment on Thangorodrim by having his right hand cut off. Once he got healed up, he became an even more Badass sword-fighter with his left hand such that when Orcs would face him in battle they would flee in terror (of course, this probably had to do with the fact that Maedhros was a Badass who had made it Out of the Inferno).
    • Beren (Erchamion, meaning one-hand), also lost a hand; it was bitten off by the greatest wolf in the history of the world. He does some stuff afterwards, but admittedly most of his physical Badass achievements were done before that happened.
  • Hannibal Lecture
    • Morgoth to Húrin. Húrin responds with a Shut UP, Hannibal.
    • Also Glaurung to Túrin on their first encounter about what a nasty person he has been—cleverly using a paralysing hypnotic beam from his eyes beforehand so the man can't even attempt a Shut UP, Hannibal on him.
  • Heavy Mithril
  • Heel Face Turn
    • Sauron, very briefly. At the end of the First Age, he considered supplicating himself in repentance to the Valar, but out of fear for the punishment he rightly deserved, he ultimately turned away from the light for good.
    • Celebrimbor turns against his house, disgusted by his kin's acts.
  • Heir Club for Men: Númenórë, until Queen Ancalimë.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Beren and Lúthien.
  • Heroic BSOD
  • Heroic Dog: Huan. The fact that he's the size of a small horse just helps.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Finrod Felagund protecting Beren is a good example.
  • He Who Fights Monsters / Jumping Off the Slippery Slope
    • Fëanor. Good Eru, Fëanor.
    • Húrin is also this after he is released from Angband.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Gondolin, and to a lesser extent Doriath and Nargothrond (the latter are hidden with magic, but virtually no outsiders are allowed in the former).
  • Honor Before Reason: Middle-Earth having its fair share of Proud Warrior Race Guys, honor is a big deal, and it often comes with a tragic price. The Sons of Fëanor are prime examples, as they get themselves killed off one by one and alienate every other potential ally and friend trying to honor their pointless oath to reclaim the Silmarils. It goes... badly for them in the end.
  • Hot-Blooded
    • Fëanor, to the point that when he dies his corpse spontaneously combusts from the fire of his spirit.
    • Most of his sons as well, to Knight Templar levels. Maglor is the only one who repents.
  • Human Mom, Nonhuman Dad: Inverted in all cases of mixed-race parentage: The father is always the more "mundane", the mother the more "exotic" parent (e.g. several human/elf and one elf/divine spirit couple).
  • Human Sacrifice: A major feature of the Religion of Evil that Sauron founded in Númenórë.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The Númenórëans. As their power grew, so did their corruption and vanity. Even before Sauron joined them, they had become The Empire and enslaved whole populations.
  • Humans Are Special: In the first parts. Not only are they Mortal, but they also have that special form of inherent discontent with the World-as-Is, which forces them to strive for Excellence. Elves are more concerned with preserving natural beauty. Naturally, Fëanor is an outlier in this regard.
  • Humans Are Warriors: An almost straight out version of this trope. When elves first meet humans, they are refugees from Morgoth's land where they had to fight to survive against everything in the region. Elves, on noticing how tough humans were and how quickly they breed are glad to have them as allies, and give them land in a treaty. Though a variation is that elves did not consider humans better warriors then elves or dwarves for that matter. They just considered humans tough enough and better breeders, thus increasing the depleted supply of reserves. It is possible for humans to be physically stronger than Elves, though. Túrin, when he is ambushed by Saeros, is described as "stronger than any Elf." Elves usually have the advantages of experience, endurance, and occasionally magic (in the case of Elves like Finrod Felagund or Lúthien), rather than pure strength.
  • Humiliation Conga: happens to Morgoth more often than you'd expect, especially in the Lighter and Softer original stories (The Book of Lost Tales).
  • Hypnotic Eyes: One of the things Glaurung uses to control his victims.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Maedhros, when he thinks that Fingon will be unable to rescue him. He does, however, manage it later on.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place
    • The Mountains of Terror, the Valley of Dreadful Death, the Gasping Dust. Got a real estate brochure?
    • Angband, a.k.a. "The Hells of Iron". Sounds cozy!
  • I Gave My Word
    • Finrod, the freaking king of one of the most powerful of the Elven kingdoms, abandons his throne to help Beren on his suicidal quest simply because he promised Beren's father that he will do his utmost to aid him and his descendants. Finrod died saving Beren's life.
    • He pales, though, next to the sons of Fëanor. They spend nearly 600 years chasing the Silmarils... to no avail
  • Important Haircut: Lúthien gives herself one when she needs to escape from the treehouse her father's locked her up in: She magically lets her dark hair grow impossibly long, cuts it, and makes a rope to escape the treehouse and a cloak for camouflage.
  • Incest Is Relative:
    • Maeglin lusted after his first cousin Idril. Idril, however, is squicked by this (Eldar normally don't marry kin so close), and her rejection leaves him bitter; this becomes the seed of Gondolin's downfall. Which is weird when you consider that the latest and arguably most canonically correct version of Galadriel and Celeborn had them as first, not second cousins, so maybe the Eldar not wedding with kin so near only counts if it's not mutual. Or something like that.
    • How about asking Tar-Míriel for her opinion on this? Ar-Pharazôn, you bastard.
  • Intergenerational Friendship
    • Amandil and Ar-Pharazôn, who befriended each other when Ar-Pharazôn was a boy. Also, any friendship between an Elf and a human (such as Beleg and Túrin, and Tuor and Voronwë, technically counts, as the Elf is nearly always decades or centuries older.
    • Finrod Felagund's friendships with Bëor and Barahir carry over to Beren, their descendant. He was also close friends with Andreth of the House of Bëor.
    • Túrin and Sador, a former soldier who was crippled in an accident.
    • Most any friendship between elves counts, due to their immortality. Take Galadriel and Elrond, who are kind of buddies in the third age: Galadriel is Finwë's granddaughter, whereas Elrond is his great-great-great-grandson. She is also his mother-in-law. Elrond married her daughter, Celebrian.
  • Ironic Echo: "O, Túrin Turambar! Master of doom by doom mastered!"
  • Iron Lady
    • Haleth was a human chieftainess and a very fearsome one.
    • Emeldir, Barahir's wife and the mother of Beren, was called "Man-Hearted", because she preferred to fight alongside her husband and son when Orcs came raiding. After the Dagor Bragollach, the land was being overrun by the enemy so she gathered together all the women and children that still remained and led them out of Dorthonion to Brethil. Beren, Barahir, and their ten companions stayed behind because they refused to abandon the land to Morgoth.
  • It Got Worse: The Dagor Bragollach. This is when the Noldor start to realize that they will most likely not be able to defeat Morgoth (not without help, anyway).
    • Nirnaeth Arnoediad, also known as the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, made things even worse. The Easterlings pull a Face Heel Turn on their Elven allies, the Sons of Feanor are defeated and scattered (but not killed), the Noldor and Dwarves respectively lose their High King and lord to Gothmog and Glaurung, the Edain are virtually annihilated, and their leader, Hurin is taken captive by Morgoth's servants, leading to the events of The Children of Hurin.
  • Jerkass
    • Fëanor, Celegorm, and Curufin.
    • The last Númenórëan king, Ar-Pharazôn.
    • Thingol certainly counts as a Jerkass as well, sending Beren off on an impossible quest to get him killed and trying to get Morgoth to do his dirty work. Not to mention that if Morgoth didn't do the job, he would've had Beren killed himself! At least he would have at first, if Lúthien hadn't made him promise not to. When Morgoth didn't do the job and Beren returned, Thingol was actually so moved by his determination and love for Lúthien that he promptly did a Heel Face Turn.
  • Just-So Story: There's a lot of this inserted here and there. In particular, a whole section of the text explains, gradually, how the sun and moon came to be, and a lot of other natural features in the process.

K-O[edit | hide]

  • Kill'Em All: The First Age and the destruction of Númenórë.
  • Kill It with Fire: Dagor Bragollach, the Battle of Sudden Flame, begins with Morgoth setting the entire North ablaze.
  • King in the Mountain: Turgon is considered this by non-Gondolinian elves; Finwë is a literal example after his death.
  • Knight Templar: Fëanor and most of his sons ultimately turn into this.
  • Last Stand: Acting as the rearguard for Turgon and the companies of Gondolin who are trying to escape the Nirnaeth Arnoediad both safely and secretly, Húrin and his people hold the Fens of Serech again a monstrous onslaught of enemies for days on end, killing so many that eventually the Orcs bridge the river with their own dead. The group, consisting of almost the entirety of the menfolk of the House of Hador do this knowing full well that they cannot survive but defying the heck out of Morgoth because that's just how Badass they are; for further reference on Húrin's personal Last Stand you many be directed to the entry on this page for Badass.
  • The Legions of Hell: Consisting of Orcs, werewolves, Balrogs, and dragons.
  • Life or Limb Decision: Maedhros.
  • The Lifestream: The Halls of Mandos.
  • Light Is Not Good
    • During the Second Age, Sauron's preferred form is that of a beautiful angelic being (Annatar, the "Lord of Gifts"); it is in this form that he deceives the Elves into forging the Rings of Power and later subverts Númenórë.
    • Melkor's eyes also originally "pierced with a deadly light".
  • Like Brother and Sister: Despite Finduilas' romantic feelings towards him, Túrin looks at her in a more sisterly light. The same could be said for his sister Nienor; Brandir likes her romantically, but she loves him only platonically. Ironically both Túrin and Nienor manage to hook up with people whom they feel romantically attracted to but happen to actually be their siblings. That is, each other.
  • Lineage Comes From the Father: Played straight and subverted.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Inevitable in a story that spans thousands of years. Knowing readers would have a hard time keeping them all straight, there is a helpful genealogy chart in the back.
  • Losing the Team Spirit
    • The loss of the Silmarils and the Darkening of Valinor has this quite understandable effect on the Valar. It has the opposite effect on some of the Elves though, causing them to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • After their leader is killed in battle, the Dwarves depart.
  • Lost Technology: And how!
    • The elves build a ship of "mithril and elven-glass" that can travel not just in the sky but also the Outer Void (outer space).
    • Morgoth's attack on Gondolin is made possible by giant metal machines with fire in their bellies (probably Tolkien's way of describing engines) that can travel across the mountains, serving as both APCs to transport Orcs and siege weapons that can knock down towers.
    • The Númenorean fleet that attacks Valinor was armed with "darts that could travel across an ocean." Being Middle-Earth, of course, it's hard to say where the line can be drawn between magic and technology.
    • Not to mention the Noldor having the means to create synthetic gemstones superior in quality to natural ones.
    • At some points it's mentioned that the Noldor use crystals filled with light to use as energy-efficient light bulbs when going into dark places, a tech humans haven't quite mastered.
  • The Lost Woods: Taur-Nu-Fuin (after the Dagor Bragollach).
  • Love At First Sight
    • Beren and Lúthien.
    • Also Elu Thingol and Melian the Maia, such that they spend years locked in each other's gaze as the trees grow higher around them.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Maeglin; Daeron
  • Luke Nounverber: Finrod Felagund (Cave-hewer)
  • Mad Scientist
    • Aulë, who took the idea of Elves and Humans from the Song of creation and "improved" them for the harsh conditions he expected—thereby creating the Dwarves. Though he wasn't so much "mad" as "really wanted someone to teach and talk to". That's why Eru gave souls and self-awareness to the Dwarves, which he wouldn't have done if they had been created for more selfish reasons.
    • Morgoth and Sauron are better examples of this trope. They bred Orcs and created dragons, among other things.
  • Made of Evil: According to Morgoth's Ring, Morgoth spread his evil essence into all the physical matter of Middle Earth, thus becoming a shadow of his former self.
  • Magic Music: The Ainur (and Lúthien, who is the daughter of an Ainu) use song in their "magic". This is Fridge Brilliance when you remember that this is also how the Ainur created the universe.
  • The Man in the Moon: The sun and the moon are the last fruit and flower, respectively, from the Two Trees of Valinor, and act as lanterns in the sky; Arien, a female Maia, carries the sun. Tilion, a male Maia, carries the moon, in a ship constructed by Aulë.
  • Mayfly-December Romance
    • Averted with Beren and Lúthien (and they worked hard to avert it.) Somewhat subverted with Aegnor (an elf) and Andreth (a human woman): he fears that she will grow old while he doesn't, or (quite rightly) that he will die in battle before she does. They never marry.
    • Played straight with Aldarion and Erendis on Númenor. Aldarion as a member of the royal house of Númenor lived 398 years; Erendis lived only 214 years. Making matters worse, Aldarion spent many of those years on long voyages to Middle Earth. Erendis was not happy; their daughter, the future queen Tar-Ancalimë was severely scarred.
  • Meaningful Name: This is Tolkien, so naturally almost every character and place name. For example:
  • Meaningful Rename: Túrin Turambar, Master of Doom. By doom mastered.
  • Messianic Archetype: Played with Eärendil straight and subverted with Fëanor.
  • Mind Rape
    • Glaurung to Túrin and Nienor. Twice at least.
    • Morgoth to Húrin during his long imprisonment in Angband.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The eponymous Silmarils.
  • The Mole: Ulfang and his sons. He was an Easterling chieftain who secretly allied himself with Morgoth while serving under Caranthir, and it was their treachery that allowed Morgoth to crush the Union of Maedhros in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. The other major Easterling chieftain, Bor, joined with Maedhros and was originally planning on betraying him to Morgoth, but had a Mole Face Turn...then he promptly got killed along with all his sons during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.
  • Momma's Boy: Fëanor
  • Monster Progenitor: Ungoliant
    • To a similar extent, Glaurung, who is referred to as the "Father of Dragons".
  • Moses in the Bulrushes: Averted. The young elf-princes Elured and Elurin (the sons of Dior and the brothers of Elwing) are abandoned in the wilderness... and never seen again.
  • Mystical Plague: JRR Tolkien seems to have liked this trope:
    • The Silmarillion mentions a plague apparently sent by Sauron to weaken Gondor so he could regain control of Mordor.

And in the days of Telemnar, the third and twentieth of the line of Meneldil, a plague came upon dark winds out of the east, and it smote the King and his children, and many of the people of Gondor perished. Then the forts on the borders of Mordor were deserted, and Minas Ithil was emptied of its people; and evil entered again into the Black Land secretly, and the ashes of Gorgoroth were stirred as by a cold wind, for dark shapes gathered there.

    • A mystical plague is used to account for the death of Túrin Turambar's younger sister Lalaith.
  • Named Weapons: Both Túrin and Beleg have them, and many others.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Morgoth (Dark Enemy), Angband (Hell of Iron), etcThe Valley of Dreadful Death. See Meaningful Name.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Balrogs Riding Robotic Dragon-shaped Troop Carriers, like they do to invade Gondolin according to Book of Lost Tales. Tolkien did it first.
  • Noble Savage: Edain come off as this when compared to Elves and Dwarves. They have a less sophisticated society but an admirable one.
  • No Body Left Behind: Fëanor's body disappears upon death.
  • No Man of Woman Born: Huan the wolfhound can only be killed by the mightiest werewolf to ever live. Sauron tries to kill him by shapeshifting into the most powerful werewolf alive, but this fails because the most powerful werewolf to ever live is Carcharoth, who hadn't come into his full power yet.
  • Non-Action Guy: Brandir, called "the Lame", because of a crippling childhood injury. He is shown in stark contrast to the martial and Hot-Blooded Túrin.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The particular difficulty of creating the Two Trees means that Yavanna was incapable of recreating them after they were killed by Ungoliant. The only recourse would be to take the last remnant of their Light from the Silmarils (thus destroying them) to revive them. Likewise, the creation of the Silmarils was a task so physically and spiritually demanding of Fëanor that recreating them would have been impossible.
  • Offing the Offspring: Failed with Eöl and Maeglin, accidental with Fëanor and Amras.
  • Oh Gods, What Have I Done?
    • Túrin after he accidentally stabs and kills Beleg, mistaking him for an Orc.
    • Maedhros and Maglor when they steal the Silmarils after the Final Battle; Maedhros is Driven to Suicide, while Maglor spends the rest of his life Walking the Earth.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: "Morgoth" means "The Dark Enemy of the World".
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Fëanor is a genius jeweler, metallurgist, linguist and more.
  • One-Winged Angel: Sauron on Tol Sirion. Starting off in a fair form, he attempts to defeat Huan by switching to huge scary werewolf mode, then realizes he's in trouble and does a lot of rapid shapeshifting to no avail. When he strikes a bargain with Lúthien, giving her mastery over the island in return for freedom, he shifts into a vampire shape.
  • Only the Pure of Heart: If someone who has become tainted by evil touches the Silmarils, they get burned. It happens to Morgoth when he steals them, and to Carcharoth when he bites off Beren's hand when Beren was holding a Silmaril, and to Maedhros and Maglor after the War of Wrath. When they finally recover the gems, they will no longer suffer their touch because of all the evil deeds they've committed to fulfill their oath to get them back. The third ends up with Eärendil, who ends up sailing the skies as a star.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Enforced by Morgoth's injuries and resulting Shapeshifter Mode Lock, setting things up for the Watchful Peace. This is especially notable during the periods between the third and fourth battles. There's also the fact that he has weakened himself from spreading his power out into all his Orcs and other servants, who are motivated by his will. The History of Middle Earth goes into more detail and explains that the Ainur were shocked to find Morgoth a weak shadow of his former self once they had defeated his armies.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The origins of dragons in Middle-earth is revealed as reptile-like servants of Morgoth. There were cold-drakes (wingless, no fire breath); Urulóki, fire-drakes, wingless dragons with fiery breath like Glaurung the Golden, also one of Morgoth's Dragons in the trope sense; and finally, during the final battle at Angband, winged fire-drakes surprise the Valar's host and almost overcome them until Eärendil has his Big Damn Heroes moment in his Cool Flying Ship. Two aspects of Tolkien's dragons that don't show up much in other works are their poisonous blood, and that they stink terribly.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same
  • Our Elves Are Better: Very much not, even if many people mistakenly think so. Yes, Elves are in many ways more powerful, "magical" and skilled than humans (they better be as they got long enough to practice), but they are just as capable as any human to be stupid, chauvinist, and screw up monumentally. Possibly more able than humans in fact, as more power can have bigger results. One gets the impression that elves have more control over themselves, and thus are less inclined toward more mundane sins like Lust and Gluttony and Sloth, but can be expected to be guilty of Wrath or Pride just as humans can. In other words when an elf becomes evil it is not because he lacks willpower. It is because he actually intends to do so. The implication seems to be that Tolken's Elves are more "in-tune" with the physical world than Mortal Men, since they are a permanent part of it. As such, they feel things far more intensely than Mortals, and as a consequence their errors in judgment can be far more damaging. Their peaks and valleys are more like mountains and canyons. An angry Elf is Person of Mass Destruction. A sad Elf can literally die of a broken heart.
  • Our Souls Are Different: And how. This is a pretty complex issue—the nature and fate of the soul depends on race. Ainur (Valar and Maiar) were created as disembodied spirits; they can take physical form, but for them this is more like wearing clothes than having a body. Whereas the Incarnates (Elves, Men/Hobbits, and Dwarves) are only "complete" when they are embodied. The Valar, Maiar, and Elves must remain in the world until it ends, and cannot leave it: Elves whose bodies are killed can remain as shades (though this implies they are tainted), or go to the Halls of Mandos and get a new body after a time of waiting. The souls of Men and Hobbits are designed to leave the universe after a relatively short lifespan; trying to avoid this fate leads to serious problems (Gollum and the Nazgúl are examples). The fate of Dwarves is even more obscure; Elves seem to think they have no afterlife at all, but Dwarves believe that their maker Aulë will take care of them. A still more obscure question is, what happens to dead Orcs? The Silmarillion suggests (without confirming) that Orcs were bred from Elves who were tortured and corrupted, and a throwaway line in The Lord of the Rings suggests that two of the Orc characters remember the First Age, which at that point was a good five thousand years ago: the Orcs seem to be as long-lived as the Elves. Maybe their souls go to the same place as those of Elves (where presumably they have wait a buttload longer before being reborn?) Tolkien never quite figured out the question of Orc souls: everything in the legendarium suggests that Orcs are creatures of pure evil but he was never happy with what that might imply.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They appear to be not undead humans, but rather a specific class of demonic spirits. Only one is named—Thuringwethil, Sauron's messenger.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Like vampires, they are evil spirits in wolf form, not "infected" humans. They are not shapeshifters, and always resemble huge black wolves. Sauron was their lord in the First Age.
  • Overprotective Dad: Thingol, who not only sends away Lúthien's suitor Beren on an impossible quest with the intention of getting around his promise not to kill him (which he only made, reluctantly, at his daughter's insistence), but imprisons her in a treehouse when she tries to go after him to help him. Possibly somewhat justified, considering what happened when stuff started working out in his despite.

P-T[edit | hide]

  • The Paragon Always Rebels: First Melkor, then Fëanor.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Thingol to Beren and Lúthien, leading to an Engagement Challenge.
  • Parental Substitute: Thingol to Túrin, Annael to Tuor. The strangest, if strangely heartwarming, case is of course Maglor's fostering of Elros and Elrond.
  • Physical Gods: The Valar.
  • Physical Heaven: Valinor, the Western land of the Valar.
  • Playing with Fire: The Balrogs were primordial fire spirits who allied themselves with Morgoth when he first rebelled. Arien, the Maia who pilots the Sun, is essentially a non-evil Balrog, and when she leaves Valinor to perform her new task she takes the form of a pure, naked flame. (And the Moon follows her around because he's in love with her.)
  • The Power of Love: Allows Beren and Lúthien to take on Sauron (and Morgoth) and nab a Silmaril. the Power of Love, plus Babies Ever After (half-Elf, half-demigoddess), plus Because Destiny Says So, Earn Your Happy Ending twice, and more. Tolkien also wrote the story not only in prose versions, but as a poem over six thousand lines long, in faultless octosylllabic rhyming verse, and it's So Cool Its Awesome. Even better, it's inspired by how he viewed his relationship with his wife. Think about it this way. They met when they were both still teenagers and fell in love. Tolkien talked to his priest and mentor, who forbade him from seeing her until he was 21. When he turned 21 he showed up and proposed to her — and she broke off another engagement for him!
  • Primordial Chaos: The beginning of the Ainulindalë.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Edain, prominently.
  • Psycho for Hire: Ungoliant
  • The Quisling: Maeglin, son of Eöl and Aredhel, sister of Turgon, the king of Gondolin. He is captured by Orcs and dragged to Angband, and Morgoth tortures him to try and extract the location of Gondolin from him, but to no avail. Maeglin only gives in when Morgoth agrees to make him ruler of the city after its conquest, and also to deliver his cousin Idril into his hands.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Fëanor and his followers who leave Valinor with him.
  • Rage Helm: The Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost were known for wearing hideous and frightening masks in combat. The Dragon Helm of Dor-lómin was originally a Dwarf mask worn by Azaghâl, Lord of Belegost. He gave it to Maedhros as a gift when they became allies, and Maedhros passed it on to his friend Fingon. However, the mask was simply too damn heavy for any Elf to wear it comfortably. Eventually Fingon gave it to the human chieftain Hador, when Hador became Lord of Dor-lómin, and it became an heirloom of his house.
  • Rampage From a Nail: Carcharoth eats Beren's Silmaril-holding hand and goes on a mad rampage through Doriath.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Lúthien magically grows hers to escape from her confinement in a treehouse.
  • Rash Equilibrium: Maedhros and Morgoth, immediately following the death of Fëanor.
  • Recycled in Space: Dagor Dagorath is Armageddon/Ragnarök IN MIDDLE-EARTH!
  • Religion of Evil: Sauron instituted the worship of Melkor-Morgoth in Númenórë, complete with Human Sacrifice.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves
    • After capturing Gorlim, one of Barahir's resistant outlaws, Sauron offers to reunite him with his captive wife, Eilinel, if Gorlim betrays the whereabouts of Barahir and his men. Once Sauron obtains the information, he informs Gorlim that Eilinel is dead and he had only seen a phantom, and promptly kills him.
    • Maeglin betrays Gondolin and ends up with his rival in love defeating him and throwing him off the city walls during the epic attack on the city he helped orchestrate.
    • When the Easterlings of Ulfang betray the Union of Maedhros, Morgoth "rewards" them by relocating them to Hithlum and barring them exit.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Fëanor, and later Fingolfin.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Practically every ruler of Elves and Men in Beleriand, and at least one Dwarf lord (Azaghâl), fought on the front lines against Morgoth at one point or another.
  • Satan: Morgoth
  • Scaled Up: Sauron in his battle against Lúthien and Huan.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Men arrive in Beleriand and discover the Elves' war with Morgoth, a fair few of them turn around and head right back over the Blue Mountains so they won't have to deal with it.
  • Screw You, Elves: The Númenórëans felt this way as they became more powerful and envious of the Elves' immortality.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The Silmarillion is pretty close to this, or maybe even a Shoot the Shaggy Dog. At least the protagonists were forewarned by the Valar (gods) about this fact.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock
    • Morgoth uses his form as the Dark Lord so often that he ultimately becomes trapped in it.
    • The same thing happens to Sauron after his body is destroyed by the Downfall of Númenórë, perhaps from the trauma involved (before that, Sauron seems to have been just about the most adept shapeshifter of all the Ainur).
  • Shapeshifting: The Valar and Maiar are incorporeal spirits, but can create and "wear" any form they desire. Sauron in particular uses it as his trademark.
  • Shiny Midnight Black: The poem version of the Lay of Leithian suggests that this is the way Lúthien's hair goes after her haircut episode; originally dark-haired, the poem describes that "thereafter grew they slow once more,/ yet darker than their wont before", implying impossibly dark black.
    • Again, Lúthien was inspired by Edith Tolkien, whose own hair (before it went to silver) was also jet-black.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal
    • Húrin to Morgoth.
    • There's an attempted but failed one from Túrin to Glaurung when they first meet. Glaurung releases Túrin from his spell, having given him a Hannibal Lecture with him stuck to the spot by hypnosis and then gives him another when the spell is lifted. Túrin comes forward to try to stab his eyes out with his sword, but Glaurung "towers above him", puts him back under his spell and resumes the lecture.
  • Shell Shocked Senior: Not only are their several shell shocked people here it is almost possible to get shell shock just from reading it. It was written by a veteran. Enough said.
  • Single-Minded Twins: Amrod and Amras, who are so much alike that their mother gives them the same name (Ambarussa).
  • Smug Snake: Curufin. When your evil scheme gets derailed by your brother's talking dog before it even gets off the ground, you're probably not as awesome as you think you are.
  • Soiled City on a Hill: Númenor
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Fëanor is very displeased that the dialect of Quenya spoken by his fellow Noldor is replacing their th sound with their s sound. He considers it an insult to the memory of his dead mother Míriel, then his sons gradually adopt s pronunciation as well. Note that this isn't an actually completely a spelling trope, as even though the change of pronunciation is reflected in the book's English text, the Noldor still write their Tengwar with the letter for th but pronounce it s.
  • Spring Is Late: Happens during the tale of Túrin Turambar in the form of the Fell Winter, helping make everyone in the story even more depressed.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Túrin and Finduilas (one-sided); Túrin and Nienor (unknowingly siblings). Because Túrin is just that doomed.
  • Start of Darkness
    • How Melkor became the original Dark Lord, and how Sauron followed him.
    • Both Fëanor and Maeglin too.
    • Really the Start of Darkness for all the Elves, and Arda too.
  • Surprise Incest: Happens to Túrin with his sister, although the reader knows all along.
  • Synthetic Plague: A plague from Angband, almost certainly engineered by Morgoth, strikes Hithlum at one point killing many, including Túrin Turambar's younger sister, Lalaith.
  • Take Our Word for It: Beren's journey through the Mountains of Terror, where no man had passed and lived to tell the tale. He refuses to talk about what happened there.
  • Take Up My Sword: Túrin accidentally kills Beleg and takes up Beleg's Empathic Weapon, eventually becoming known as the Mormegil, meaning Black Sword for his achievements therewith.
  • Taking You with Me: Numerous examples between the Elves and their enemies, but especially when Glorfindel fights a Balrog during the siege of Gondolin and manages to kill it, but dies himself.
  • Talking Animal
    • Huan, the Hound of Valinor. He only actually speaks three times, and Tolkien never really states if he's a Maia in animal form, or just a really big dog that the Valar gifted with the ability of speech.
    • The Eagles speak, and without them there would be no way for the news to get around Beleriand at all.
  • Talking Weapon: Gurthang, once, before Túrin's suicide.
  • Team Dad: Maedhros, the eldest son of Fëanor, fills this role among his more violent brothers—at least at first. He eventually becomes evil. He's not as evil as Celegorm and Curufin. When Beren's grandchildren were left to die he did try to find them. Also, he was willing to swallow his pride and work with the other peoples to take Morgoth down. Not an innocent by any means, but he does have a conscience. He also repents after seeing the damage the Oath has done.
  • Tender Tears: Nienna. Though with Morgoth tearing around Arda and destroying the Valar's handiwork, she's got a legitimate reason to cry (plus her tears essentially work like divine Healing Potions).
  • Terrain Sculpting: In the beginning of the world, the Valar tried to shape it according to divine plan, while Melkor came along and undid their work. The end result was that the world was very gradually formed.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Eluréd and Elurín, Elrond and Elros. Amrod and Amras (both named Ambarussa in Quenya.)
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Túrin, who finally manages to get a pretty wife and a happy life for himself. Of course, being Túrin, he chokes on said bone not too long after.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: Anglachel and Anguirel.
  • Tragic Hero: Several, though Fëanor and Túrin are perhaps the most notable.
    • Fëanor isn't the most sympathetic character anyway—he gets a definite Moral Event Horizon as listed in YMMV. It's just that he's also a walking Crowning Moment of Awesome. His two oldest sons, Maedhros and Maglor, are more sympathetic and probably more tragic, given that one is Driven to Suicide twice and the other spends the rest of his (immortal) life wandering along the seashore singing laments. Especially because after six hundred years of torment, destroying three elven societies and the deaths of their four younger brother in the attempt to fulfill their Oath, they finally steal two Simarils from the Maiar. Only to find that the Simarils burn them when touched.
    • Ar-Pharazôn is a subversion — his storyline is certainly that of classic tragedy, but the reader no sympathy at all for him, seeing as the guy was an incestuous, megalomanic Jerkass even before he met Sauron.
  • Trauma Conga Line
  • Treacherous Spirit Chase: Gorlim refuses to believe that his wife Eilinel, who went missing during Gorlim's absence in the war against Morgoth, is dead. Sauron uses this belief against Gorlim by creating a vision of Eilinel as bait inside Gorlim's house. Gorlim enters and is immediately captured by Sauron's orcs, and eventually tortured into revealing the location of Barahir.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: The Elves of Nargothrond. They employed guerilla tactics against the forces of Morgoth and preferred to use stealth and cunning over outright force. The main reason for this was that if Morgoth found out where the city was located, he would bring all his forces to bear and the city would surely be destroyed. And when Túrin Turambar convinced them to face Morgoth's armies in the open (against a god's advice, no less), that's exactly what happened. Well, it's not like anyone else (*coughTurgoncough*) ever listens to Ulmo's advice.

U-Z[edit | hide]

  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Aulë, Fëanor, Eöl (the guy with the Thunderbolt Iron), Telchar
  • Unbuilt Trope: While most contemprary Dark Fantasy has almost arisen from the Hype Backlash against Tolkien's work and critics are quick to blame him for High Fantasy's typical Black and White morality The Silmarillion shows his world in a very diffrent light. Violent, morally ambigous anti heroes? Check. Black and Grey (though still a little bit of white) morality? Check. Hypocritcal, brutal, imperialist elves who'd give the Lannisters nightmares? Check. Sexual themes like incest? Check. Dead kids? Check. Downer Ending? Oh boy, yes.
  • Unholy Holy Sword: Gurthang
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Sauron, who was a master of transformations and illusions. Really all the Ainur can do this (except for Melkor, who got stuck in his form as Morgoth). Sauron's just a particular expert at it. Or was, anyway, until he got caught in the Fall of Númenórë. That locked him into his "evil overlord" form, just like his boss. Even then, he may have still retained some of the ability—he just couldn't conceal his true nature any longer, ruining its usefulness as a disguise (reducing him from Magnificent Bastard and Mobile Menace to behind-the-scenes Chessmaster).
  • Walking the Earth: Maglor, after stealing the last Silmaril and throwing it away, is wracked by guilt and spends the rest of his days wandering around by the shores of Beleriand in regret.
  • Warrior Poet: Many Elves, including Finrod Felagund.
  • Warrior Prince: Most of the Noldorin leaders.
  • We Are as Mayflies: The longest-lived humans get a couple hundred years. Elves can go on until the end of the world, though they become increasingly "faded"/ghostlike with the passage of time, if they remain outside the Undying Realms. No mortal ever enters the Undying Realms; a few are granted a refuge on an island right outside it, but it's not entirely clear if those mortals who arrive by invitation (like Frodo) are given immortality. Eärendil's father Tuor is the only pure human implied to become immortal without being undead or in a Fate Worse Than Death, and that could be Fan Wanked as an odd sort of Balancing Death's Books from Mandos, who'd just fairly recently made an immortal elf (Lúthien) mortal. One of Tolkien's letters stated that it was impossible for any man to become truly immortal. If they ever entered the Undying Lands, they would exist forever, but life would gradually become unbearable for them, since it would just be their natural lifespan being spread out continuously (similar to what happened to Gollum and Bilbo with the One Ring). Also, it is said in the book that death is Eru's gift to men and the Valar don't have the right to take it from them.
  • The Wise Prince: Finrod Felagund
  • Woman in White: Aredhel.
  • World Building: The creation of Arda.
  • World Shapes: An early unpublished version of Arda (the world) was shaped like a boat sailing through the blackness of outer space. The later version of Arda that most readers know is a rock with a flat side where Middle-earth is, covered by a dome that represents the sky. Eventually a divine cataclysm messes it up and makes it a familiar, boring, round shape. The world is depicted as flat until the Hiding of Valinor, after which it becomes round so only the Elves can return there.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Lúthien, canonically. Her face actually shone, and she was so pretty she managed to enchant Morgoth.
  • World Sundering: This happens three times—once when Morgoth sinks Almaren, once when the Valar's war tears apart Beleriand, and once when Númenórë is flooded by the Sea.
  • World Tree: The Two Trees created by Yavanna, Laurelin and Telperion, the light from which was contained by Fëanor in the Silmarils.
  • Xanatos Gambit / Xanatos Roulette / Batman Gambit / I Surrender, Suckers: It's a long plan and so it involves a lot of different plans.
    • First the ISS; When the armies of Ar-Pharazôn lay siege on Mordor, Sauron surrenders and allows the Númenórëans to take him home as a hostage. While in Númenórë, he slowly corrupts the minds of its people, persuading them to release him (although this takes a few years).
    • Here comes the Batman Gambit: He then becomes Ar-Pharazôn's advisor, encouraging his hatred for the Valar. Finally, he convinces the Númenórëans to worship Morgoth with human sacrifices — in exchange for eternal life — and becomes High Priest of this new religion. After several decades of this, Ar-Pharazôn is growing old, so Sauron gives him the idea of invading Valinor and taking immortality from the Valar.
    • Now for the Xanatos Gambit: The whole time, Sauron's ultimate goal was to destroy Númenórë by pitting Ar-Pharazôn against the Valar—whichever one comes out on top, he's down one dangerous enemy and severely weakened the other. Everything had a purpose—the human sacrifices removed all Númenórëans faithful to the Valar, and even the huge Temple was built as a "shelter" in case the Valar attacked. This Xanatos Gambit works almost perfectly, and the "almost" is only there because Sauron had no way of forseeing that God would step in and get involved.
    • Xanatos Roulette comes in because the plan spanned decades and had numerous fault points. He could have been killed before surrendering, killed after surrendering, failure to corrupt, failure to persuade, the war ending in a truce and a alliance etc.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Even the Valar are dismayed and disoriented by the Unlight of Ungoliant.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Túrin's attempts to fight the curse of Morgoth, which only lead to failure.
  • You Shall Not Pass: The rear-guard action after the Nirnaeth.