10 Saddest Deaths In Lord Of The Rings, Ranked

The the Lord of the Rings franchise is one of the most successful fantasy tales in modern history, from the original JRR Tolkien novels to a host of film and stage adaptations. Peter Jackson’s work on the film trilogy is best known – the films have broken multiple records and won countless awards for their authentic portrayals of the author’s highly descriptive prose.


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Middle-earth thrives on life, and there is no Dark Lord capable of dominating his people for long periods of time. LOTR the characters, from elves and humans to dwarves and hobbits, are as iconic as the encyclopedic world they inhabit. Whether or not they survived the story, their legacy has earned these characters a prominent place on the pedestal of popular culture.

Updated on October 29, 2022 by Ajay Aravind: During the First Age, Middle-earth was a nightmarish war zone filled with untold pain and suffering. Countless people were killed in action, while others perished from wounds or disease. Fortunately, the next six thousand years were much less disastrous than the first six hundred. That said, several major deaths occurred during the Second and Third Ages of Middle-earth, some of which will eventually be depicted in Amazon’s The Rings of Power.

10/10 Denethor is the only one to pay the price for his mistakes

Denethor is arguably the least relatable villain in the the Lord of the Rings – a list that includes the likes of Sauron and Saruman. He flatters his eldest son but treats his youngest as a useless pawn. Denethor’s already frayed mind crosses the point of no return after Boromir’s death, and he begins to shirk his administrative responsibilities.

The would-be Steward of Gondor ruthlessly orders Faramir to embark on an extremely risky mission, but then has the nerve to be devastated when the latter is seriously injured. The story explains that Denethor’s fall from grace is a direct result of messing with the Palantír, which exposes him to Sauron’s manipulation. However, that still doesn’t justify his attempts to set Faramir on fire in a gruesome double suicide. Fortunately, only Denethor bears the brunt of his carelessness.

9/10 Gollum would rather die than be separated from his precious

Gandalf insists that Gollum is a victim of unavoidable circumstances, adding that the One Ring’s hypnotic power is able to captivate souls with much greater willpower. The same magicianhope[s] that Gollum can be healed before he dies“, which is a powerful statement that suggests the possibility of redemption.

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As the oldest Ring-bearer, Gollum can’t break free from his evil grip, but it’s his love for the One Ring that ultimately saves the world. When Frodo reneges on his mission and claims the power for himself, Gollum takes the opportunity to retake the ring. He succeeds but quickly falls into the magma after a brief moment of celebration. Gollum dies as he lives – clutching his precious close to his heart as he fades into nothingness.

8/10 Deagol is yet another victim of Sauron’s boundless malevolence.

Gollum was once a Stoorish Hobbit who lived a relatively carefree life in the valleys of Anduin. On his last birthday as Sméagol, he goes fishing with his cousin. Déagol discovers the One Ring hidden in the murky riverbed and is instantly captivated by his new discovery. As a result, he categorically refuses Sméagol’s request for the ring (as a birthday present).

Their disagreement turns into a physical fight, which inevitably leads to the murder of Déagol and the birth of Gollum. This character doesn’t get enough screen time to endear himself to audiences, so his death doesn’t have a serious emotional impact. Yet it is sad to see another innocent life falling prey to Sauron’s boundless wickedness.

7/10 Ontamo’s sad death comes as a complete surprise

Ontamo does not appear anywhere in Tolkien’s writings. Created for power rings, this character provides an emotional setting for the majority of Isildur in Númenor. Ontamo, Valandil, and Isildur enthusiastically offer their maritime services on Míriel’s expedition to Middle-earth, where they hope to protect the Southlands from an unprecedented Orcish invasion.

Adar successfully triggers the eruption of Mount Doom, a cataclysmic event that effectively vaporizes much of Southland’s territory. Galadriel, Míriel, and Elendil barely survive the explosion, but poor Ontamo is killed by a volcanic rain of superheated ash and falling debris. Although Isildur apparently suffers the same unfortunate fate as his best friend, he is far too important to die at this point.

6/10 Hama falls in battle like a true hero of Rohan

Háma has two main tasks: guarding the entrance to Meduseld (the golden hall of Rohan) and serving as captain of the king’s guard. He is a staunch conformist, refusing Aragon entry to Edoras until the latter agrees to keep Andúril in custody. However, Háma allows Gandalf to take his wizard’s staff into the courtroom, perhaps consciously, given Théoden’s sad state.

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After Rohan’s balance is restored and Théoden swears allegiance to the future King of Gondor, Háma travels to Horburg with a platoon of Rohirrim. Unfortunately, Háma does not survive Helm’s Deep – he falls in battle as a true hero of Rohan. Théoden is particularly saddened to learn of the death of his doorward.

5/10 Elendil’s death helps pave the way for Isildur’s eventual victory

Sauron made many offers of power during the First, Second, and Third Ages of Middle-earth. His greatest success came at the end of the Second Age, when he acquired vast armies of Orcs and other fallen beasts and established a stronghold in Mordor. The last alliance of elves and men manages to win a narrow victory.

Isildur defeats Sauron by cutting the One Ring from the Dark Lord’s scorched hand. This triumph might as well have been a disaster had it not been for Isildur’s brother, Anárion, his father, Elendil, and the High Elven King Gil-galad, all of whom crumble before the might of Sauron. Elendil’s death is especially sad given that Isildur essentially spits on his father’s grave refusing to destroy the One Ring.

4/10 Théoden leaves an entire kingdom in mourning

Théoden is 71 during the War of the Ring, and he definitely looks it. Unlike the 87-year-old Aragorn, the King of Rohan isn’t blessed with an extended lifespan and youthful appearance. Age has not been kind to Théoden, although it has given him the experience and emotional capacity to be a good leader. He marches proudly through the Pelennor Fields, waving his dynastic banners and brimming with optimistic vigour.

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Théoden is perfectly aware of his many weaknesses: he enters his final fight without hoping to come back alive. The once decrepit puppet of Saruman radiates such inspirational power that it terrifies the enemy, all but the Witch-King of Angmar. Théoden is then crushed under the weight of his fallen horse, Snowmane, leaving behind his niece, nephew and the entire kingdom of Rohan to mourn his death.

3/10 Boromir’s death shatters the Fellowship of the Ring

Heir to the stewardship of Gondor, Boromir has nothing to do with his selfish father. While Denethor displays an excessive level of affection for his firstborn, Boromir spends his time caring for Faramir after the death of their mother, Finduilas. This otherwise heroic character’s only flaw is his militaristic outlook – Boromir believes that any weapon that can be used against Sauron should not be wasted.

As such, he attacks Frodo Baggins in a misguided attempt to obtain and master the One Ring, hoping to use its inconceivable power against its creator. Boromir instantly comes to his senses and later sacrifices his life to save Frodo from a gang of Uruk-hai. It wouldn’t be actor Sean Bean’s only untimely death on screen, however.

2/10 Sadoc Burrow is sadly killed while trying to save the stranger

Sadoc Burrows is the Chief of the Harfoot Tribe in power rings, a seemingly grumpy individual who cares deeply for the well-being of his nomadic society. As the clan’s de facto Trailfinder, Sadoc carefully calculates the safest travel route by observing the stars in the sky.

Sadoc reluctantly tolerates the stranger’s presence among the Harfoots, but his skepticism turns to delight when the wizard reveals himself to be a benevolent entity. Although Sadoc, Marigold, Poppy and Elanor manage to locate the stranger, Sadoc is seriously injured by the nomad’s attack. He accepts the finality of death with a smile before passing away. Fans were especially sad to see Sadoc go.

1/10 Gandalf dies a heartbreaking death, but later returns stronger than ever

Durin’s Bane attacks before the Fellowship can get out of the Mines of Moria, forcing Gandalf to take matters into his own hands. The Gray Wizard orders the Balrog to back off saying “return to the shadows! You can’t pass!” Gandalf and Durin’s Bane engage in an epic battle on the bridge of Khazad-dûm, which ends when both combatants fall into the abyss below.

Gandalf begs his friends to escape and disappears into the darkness. This scene is extremely heartbreaking because the Fellowship loses its most important member: the one whose death would have spelled the end of the resistance against Sauron. Fortunately, Gandalf reincarnates as a white magician and returns to complete the job given to him, so all is well that ends well.

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