It’s been 15 years since director Peter Jackson introduced us to his live-action adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In December 2001, we found ourselves immersed in the world of Middle-earth as never before when The Fellowship of the Ring arrived in theaters. The movie was the first in a trilogy that would leave a lasting impact on pop culture and how we think of fantasy films. As the first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring set the standard for the rest, and like its sequels, the movie would be a memorable one not soon forgotten even all these years later.
One of the ways it's been remembered has been through its unforgettable dialogue. Influenced by and sometimes directly quoting the source material written by Tolkien, there are a number of quotes and conversations that have become classics and are now common to our pop culture. They are quoted by fans, quoted by other franchises, and have even become viral memes. Because one does not simply watch The Fellowship of the Ring and forget its lines!
Now that the 15th anniversary of the film has arrived, here's a look at 15 lines and conversations that I think stand out as the most iconic from the film.
“A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” - Gandalf
These are Gandalf’s first words to Frodo in the movie. The whole scene sets up the type of relationship that exists between the two and this line is just perfect for the wizard. It sounds wise, but really can just be used by anyone who’s never on time for things whether it’s because they arrive too early or too late. It’s never a mistake; it’s something they meant to do obviously! It’s all part of the plan. The words end up holding quite true for Gandalf throughout the trilogy. He might not always be there when the others are expecting him, but shows up when they need him, usually at the right moment!
“One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” – Gandalf
Who can forget the words inscribed on the ring? The inscription is revealed when Gandalf returns to the Shire, realizing Bilbo might have had the powerful ring all this time. He doesn’t repeat what it says in the dreaded language of Mordor, but translates it for Frodo as the moment grows more ominous with each of his words. Ian McKellan brilliantly delivers this memorable saying from the book, making it even more unforgettable!
“What about second breakfast?” - Pippin
Poor Pippin! The youngest hobbit had a hard time adjusting to life on the road. Hobbits are used to eating well, but there’s just no time for that when your friend is carrying the One Ring around and being chased by Nazgûl. I love this quote for how innocent it shows Pippin is at the beginning. He asks the question like Strider should of course know about second breakfast! Then the horror sinks in and he eventually gets hit with an apple. It’s a funny, sweet, and short quote that really fits with who the hobbits are. Pippin was always my favorite character in the books and dialogue like this in the first film happily confirmed for me that the hobbit would remain so in the movies!
“I do not fear them.” - Arwen
Frodo isn’t looking good at this point and he needs to get to Elrond as quickly as possible. Arwen is clearly the woman for the job, but Aragorn doesn’t want her to get hurt. Despite his misgivings and the danger though, she doesn’t back down. She knows what he’s worried about and tells him straightaway she’s not afraid. She doesn’t angrily argue with Aragorn about it, but easily and matter-of-factly says this line. Arwen is going to do whatever she can to help and no one is going to stand in her way. It’s even better than when she taunts the Nazgûl at the river!
“I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone.” – Arwen
The first time I heard this line I thought it was rather cheesy, but thinking about what it means for Arwen I’ve found it to be quite romantic and showing a lot of strength in the character. Arwen has the chance to be immortal with her people. She can see so much, do so much, and live for so long. Yet she’s willing to give all that up and accept death in a mortal life in order to be with Aragorn. It takes a lot of love and strength of character to make such a decision. This one line encapsulates all of that.
“One does not simply walk into Mordor.” - Boromir
Boromir lays down the harsh truth during the Council of Elrond as they discuss destroying the ring. Sean Bean’s delivery of this line is amazing. He’s just fed up with all of this talk when it’s clearly not that easy. This line has gone down as one of the most repeated from the film and has become a popular meme that can be used in so many different situations. Whether it’s not simply doing something else in Mordor or replacing the Mordor part altogether, it can be made to work for every occasion! Even Bean has acknowledged how the line has become part of his legacy.
The fellowship lists its weaponry
The fellowship coming together during the Council of Elrond is an important moment. However as the individual members step up to commit themselves to helping Frodo, they do so in quite an interesting manner. Why bother just saying “count me in” when you can much more dramatically proclaim that he has your sword or bow or ax? Aragorn starts it off and is quickly followed by Legolas, and Gimli just brings it all together with a very strong “and my ax!” It’s a sequence of lines that have become one of those often-quoted moments from the film. You’ve probably had someone agree with you or join in something by interjecting with a hardy “and my ax” or replacing ax with something else at some point over the years!
Elrond proclaiming the nine as the Fellowship of the Ring
This is one of those kind of cheesy moments where the name of the property is obviously stated within the property. Still it’s a dramatic scene as it becomes official, the music swells and Elrond states that they “shall be the Fellowship of the Ring.” It’s fun to see the fellowship finally come together and proclaimed as such, but what makes it even better is Pippin’s response: “Great. Where are we going?” Oh, Pippin. Clearly they knew they had to do something after all that lead up and who better to provide the comic relief than him? It’s a great way to end the Council.
“It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing.” – Boromir
Here we see how the ring is corrupting the character as he stares at it while saying these words. I love this line because he’s not really wrong. It is quite strange that something so small can inspire such fear, but the fact is it can do a lot of harm and that fear is justified. Part of the ring’s power is how it can not look the part. By looking so innocent it makes corrupting all the easier, because what harm could really happen if it’s such a small object? Looks can be deceiving, Boromir!
“It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.” - Gandalf
In the dark of Moria, Gandalf and Frodo have quite a deep conversation. The first part deals with Gollum following them. Frodo states that it’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill Gollum when he had the chance and Gandalf has a rather interesting reply. His next words are certainly ones to think about not just in the context of The Lord of the Rings story, really. Pity kept Bilbo from killing Gollum and that decision might have far-reaching consequences—which it does—that Frodo cannot see. Who can really make the decision about life and death wisely in the end?
“So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.” - Gandalf
Following their words about Gollum and perhaps because of the heavy thoughts those words inspire, their conversation next turns to Frodo admitting he wishes the ring never came to him and none of this had happened. It leads to more wise words from Gandalf that I think deserve to be highlighted separately from the above despite being in the same conversation. How many people in stories and even in real life feel this way when bad things happen and things are difficult? Gandalf is right though. Many feel that way, but you can’t change that you do live in such a time. So all you can do is decide what to do while living in it. That might lead to some tough decisions about making the right choices and it’s why these are words Frodo remembers at the very end when he decides to leave the fellowship behind to continue his quest alone.
“You shall not pass!” - Gandalf
Gandalf proved way before this moment that you don’t want to mess with the wizard, but there’s nothing like hearing him yell these words at the monstrous Balrog while slamming his staff onto the bridge. Sure he yells at the Balrog before these words, but when the Balrog doesn’t get the point it’s time for Gandalf to get intense. Once you hear this you know there’s no way the Balrog is going anywhere near the rest of the fellowship. It’s a short but classic line that has also probably been used by quite a few of you in real life as well. Admit it.
“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” - Galadriel
Galadriel is pretty intense during her entire talk with Frodo and says some incredible things, but I think this is perhaps her best line. Even if it can seem a bit cheesy, expressing sentiments we’ve heard before, here it’s just what Frodo needs at that moment. He might feel alone and afraid, and thinking he’s just a small hobbit compared to everyone else. However this line kind of covers one of the best things about The Lord of the Rings story. That it is the small hobbits and the ones who you think maybe can’t do it that end up changing the world. Despite how we might have heard this sentiment expressed in many other stories too, I don’t think that takes away how it’s such a classic and powerful line here, and still impacts people even beyond the story. It’s an idea that isn’t restricted to Middle-earth at all.
Aragorn and Boromir’s final words
As if by this point we hadn’t cried enough as Boromir was being shot by arrows making his last stand to protect the hobbits, this final talk between him and Aragorn definitely brought on the tears. This heart-to-heart has it all. Boromir admits his weakness, Aragorn lets him know he’s kept his honor, and while Boromir dies, he thinks the world will all fall into darkness. Just as all seems terrible though, Aragorn swears that he won’t let the White City fall and won’t let their people fail. Boromir then calls him a brother, captain, and king, and says that he would have followed him right before dying. It’s just such a sad yet somehow hopeful conversation between the two after all their time together.
Sam and Frodo at the end
While Sam has stood by Frodo already a number of times in The Fellowship of the Ring, this exchange between them really shows how far his devotion goes. From responding to Frodo’s “I’m going to Mordor alone” with “of course you are and I’m coming with you” to his explanation about his promise not to leave him. It’s a sweet and touching moment for the two hobbits. It really gets across how powerful their friendship is and solidifies how it’s going to be the two of them doing together until the end.
What’s your favorite quote or conversation from The Fellowship of the Ring? Tell us in the comments!