Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!
The Fellowship of the Ring came together 20 years ago this week when the first installment of Peter Jackson’s legendary Lord of the Rings trilogy opened in theaters. Everybody who has seen the movies has a favorite member of the fellowship, those nine souls who banded together to save Middle-earth. Do you prefer Aragorn or Legolas’ brand of coolness? Is Gimli’s comic relief your speed? Are you taken in by the tragedy of Boromir or Gandalf’s dutiful aloofness? Perhaps it’s Merry or Pippin’s character growth that speaks to you, or an appreciation of Sam, the clear beating heart of the franchise.
One character who is typically not mentioned as anybody’s favorite is the ringbearer himself, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood). Far from being a favorite, he’s more often called “annoying” or “lame” or even “a whiny bitch.”
However, this is misguided. Frodo Baggins rules, actually.
Admittedly, Frodo is not the flashiest member of the Fellowship. He doesn’t surf down a shield while peppering Uruk-hai with arrows. He’s not cracking a ton of jokes, either, although the opening moments of fellowship make it clear he’s got a sense of humor. (Just look at the sh**-eating grin on his face when he informs Gandalf that the wizard has “officially been declared a disturber of the peace.")
Have these Frodo haters stopped to consider that the reason why Frodo’s not jumping onto a horse via somewhat dodgy CGI, or out-quipping Gimli, is because he’s carrying the embodiment of all evil around his neck and is constantly besieged by an increasingly dark and powerful desire to give in to its siren song and in doing so doom all of Middle-earth to darkness? HAVE THEY CONSIDERED THAT? HAVE THEY???
The people who complain that Frodo sucks are overlooking the magnitude of his struggle and his sacrifice. The One Ring is a physical embodiment of Sauron, and as Galadriel says in Fellowship’s opening narration, “into this Ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life.” This ring is perhaps the most powerful artifact on Middle-earth, and it drives those who wear it — or are even near it — mad. Consider that Smeagol went full Gollum and killed his best friend within minutes of seeing the Ring for the first time, that Isildur balked at the chance to destroy evil forever, or that Boromir so easily and tragically fell because he wanted to take it for himself. Gandalf knew the Ring would easily corrupt even a being as powerful as him, as did Galadriel. Bilbo managed to keep the Ring for a long time without falling prey to it, but that was at a time when Sauron was not especially looking for it.
Frodo carried the Ring when it was screaming out to its master louder than it ever had, and with each step closer to Mordor he took, the Ring grew heavier on his neck. AND YET, Frodo did not put the Ring on once they set out from Rivendell. He made it across the continent, into the very bowels of Mount Doom itself, before finally caving. That he did this is a feat of physical, mental, and spiritual strength. No other accomplishment, struggle, or battle from any other member of the Fellowship can really compare.
The people who complain about Frodo probably also kvetch when they have to make a short walk to the store while hungover. Frodo hiked across all of Middle-earth while carrying something that was eating away at his body and soul.
Also, Frodo has legitimately cool and brave moments of his own. Frodo’s declaration that he will take the Ring to Mordor is quite possibly the bravest thing that anybody does in the entire trilogy. Frodo was thrust into his first encounter with the Ring. He picked it up not knowing what it was, and Gandalf tasked him with taking it to Rivendell — a journey that was not supposed to be as dangerous as it ended up being. But, once there, after being stabbed by a Nazgul and getting a taste of just how awful and powerful the Ring was, Frodo stepped up. Seeing how it was already causing strife amongst the gathered men, dwarves, and elves, this brave Hobbit offered to finish the journey.
It was a singular moment of courage coming from a pure place. Nobody else at the council could match it.
Frodo doesn’t do much fighting, but when he pulls Sting out and holds it at Gollum's throat, he looks pretty badass. That’s kind of a minor point compared to the whole “he carried the embodiment of all evil into the maw of hell without giving up” thing but it’s still worth mentioning.
Frodo deserves respect for saving Middle-earth, especially because the experience ruined him. There’s a bittersweet nature to the endings for all of the members of the Fellowship (the Hobbits general inability to fully fit into the quiet life of the Shire again, Sam excluded, and the eventuality of Aragorn’s widowing of Arwen, for example), but Frodo was truly never the same after his journey. He had PTSD. He had his ability to exist in the world and be happy fully almost sucked out of him thanks to his months wearing the Ring and the trauma he endured, and it was only when he boarded the ship to sail into the West that he really smiled again.
And for this, you people mock him? I’m sorry Frodo is “kind of mopey the whole time.” It’s because he — and I feel I need to repeat this again — carried the Ring of Power, the worst object in all of Middle-earth, a circle of metal that wanted only to undo him and everything he held dear. A piece of jewelry that canonically would have ruined any other single person who would have attempted to wield it*, and took it to the most dangerous place in the world and ultimately destroyed it. I would be kind of bummed too, except no, I wouldn’t, because I would have fallen prey to the Ring’s influence and doomed everybody who I’ve ever known or loved to darkness.
Frodo may not be your favorite member of the Fellowship, but he is its best member. Frodo’s a gosh-darn hero. It’s all, as Aragorn himself says, “For Frodo.”
*Yes, I know about Tom Bombadil, nerds, but he’s not in the movies. Go touch grass.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.