The Fellowship of the Ring Summary
Our story begins in the Second Age of Middle-earth. Sauron has created the Rings of Power and the One Ring, which he's using to assault the Free People with his army of Orcs. Men and elves join together to defeat him…but the Ring is lost and Sauron is never wholly gone.
Oh, did we mention this is fantasy? K, just checking.
Fifteen hundred years pass (tired yet?), and the Ring is picked up by Gollum. He hides under the Misty Mountains for another five hundred years (are we there yet?) as the Ring corrupts him.
Bilbo, traveling during his adventures in The Hobbit, finds the Ring and carries it with him to the Shire.
Bilbo turns 111 and, like all 111-year-olds, decides to go on a grand adventure. He leaves the Ring to Frodo. Gandalf, who showed up for the birthday bash, goes on a frenzy of research to determine whether this magic Ring is the One Ring of Sauron.
Surprise, surprise: it is.
So Frodo takes off with his buddy/gardener Sam and is joined by hobbit rascals Merry and Pippin as they head out to meet Gandalf at Bree…hopefully before they're killed by the Nazgûl that's hunting them down through the woods.
Gandalf doesn't make it to Bree because he loses track of time while having tea with his old wizard pal Saruman. (Translation: Saruman turned evil and holds him captive.) But the rest of 'em meet Aragorn, known then as Strider, who leads them out of town toward Rivendell.
Not quick enough, though: the Nazgûl track them down and stab Frodo with a Morgul blade.
Arwen, daughter of elf lord Elrond and lover of Aragorn, is there to save the day. She outrides the Nazgûl to Rivendell and crashes a river of horses upon them when they come after Frodo. But even Rivendell isn't a safe haven for the Ring; Elrond can't defend both Sauron's army of Mordor and Saruman's army of Isengard. Their only option is to end the war by destroying the Ring. So they gather a council of dwarves and men and elves (oh my!) to decide who will take the Ring into the heart of Mordor and cast it into the fires in which it was forged.
Guess who steps up?
Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas (an elf ranger), Gimli (a dwarf warrior), Boromir (son of the Steward of Gondor), and of course Frodo's his three hobbit-bros all team up to go with him. Together they form—drumroll, please—the Fellowship of the Ring.
And so they're off. But this is a Hollywood movie, so they obviously run into some problems pretty quickly. The south pass is being watched by Saruman's spies, and going over the Misty Mountains is hard when Saruman is raining down thunder and lightning. So it's off to the dwarven Mines of Moria, where orcs await. They kill boatloads of orcs, and, just when it seems there are simply too many to dispatch, they run off in terror of the approaching demon Balrog. They flee the mines, but Gandalf doesn't make it.
He turns to fight the Balrog...and both of them fall into the shadow of the mountain.
The fellowship is distraught but must keep moving toward the woods of Lothlórien and to the wonderful but fearsome Lady Galadriel. Lady Galadriel shows Frodo awful visions of the future and refuses Frodo's offer of the Ring. After checking her list twice, she gives them gifts and sends them off down the river toward Mordor.
But the company is being chased by a band of Uruk-hai (a.k.a. orcs on steroids) led by a dude named Lurtz. They attack them at a moment of weakness—just after Boromir himself attacks Frodo in an attempt to take the Ring in a fit of madness. Frodo runs, Merry and Pippin are captured, and Boromir dies trying to protect them.
Noooo. We really liked Boromir.
Frodo has decided to go Mordor alone, but like a good bestie should, Sam follows him and manages to secure himself a spot of Frodo's boat to destiny. Aragorn tells Legolas and Gimli that Frodo is on his own now, so they take off after Merry and Pippin, ready to slay some orcs and rescue their friends.
Seem like an unfinished story? Yeah, there's a second and third one.
- The screen remains black as Galadriel tells of a changing time and a forgotten history.
- Then we see the history unfold before us and learn of the rings that Sauron forged: three for elves, seven for dwarves, and nine for men.
- She tells us that these rings were a deception and we see Sauron in Mount Doom forging a final ring of power to control them all.
- Townspeople run from the orc hordes of Mordor as Sauron begins to take over Middle-earth.
- A last alliance of men and elves marches on Mordor to stop him. They are almost successful but when Sauron himself joins the fray he cannot be stopped.
- The king of Gondor, Elendil, is killed by Sauron and his son, Isildur, rushes to his body.
- Sauron crushes Elendil's sword, breaking it in half, but as he reaches for Isildur, Isildur grabs the broken blade and cuts of his fingers, severing Sauron from his ring.
- As large shockwaves rip through the battle, Sauron is no more: the free people have won.
- Isildur does not destroy the ring by casting it into the fires of Mount Doom. Instead, he keeps it for himself.
- But Isildur and his party are ambushed by remaining orcs. Isildur puts on the ring, which makes him invisible, and tries to escape but doesn't make it. Isildur is killed and the ring slips off his neck.
- The ring lies at the bottom of some random lake for two and a half thousand years until it becomes merely a legend and is forgotten.
- Then the ring is picked up by "the creature Gollum" who takes it deep into the Misty Mountains, where the ring consumes him.
- It corrupted him for five hundred years until it heard "whispers of a nameless fear" and so it abandoned him.
- But it did not intend to be picked up by a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, who happens to stumble across it.
- Now we take a turn for the merrier and find ourselves with Bilbo in the Shire.
- Bilbo is starting to write his tale, There and Back Again (which you may know as The Hobbit ) and narrates to us some of the nuances of the hobbit race.
- They like food and ale and smoking pipes and growing things; they don't like interacting with the outside world and the outside world doesn't pay them much attention (basically they're a race of college students, hairy feet and all).
- Mostly, they are a people of peace and we can see it clearly as everyone hustles about the green village preparing for Bilbo's birthday bash.
- We see Frodo. He runs to greet Gandalf, who is riding a little buggy into town for Bilbo's birthday.
- They talk about Gandalf being a disturber of the peace and wonder what old Bilbo is up to.
- Then Gandalf makes it to Bag End (Bilbo's home) and is greeted warmly.
- Bilbo talks about his plans to go away and never return (fun stuff).
- He says that although he doesn't look old, he feels old. He wants to have a final adventure and settle down away from the shire.
- Gandalf is obviously suspicious.
- It's party time! Everyone in the shire is having a merry time dancing and eating and drinking… as hobbits do.
- Gandalf is setting off fireworks and two trouble making hobbits, Merry and Pippin, get into trouble for setting off a giant dragon firecracker inside a tent.
- Then it's time for Bilbo's speech. He pays homage to all his friends and family in the Shire and then—he's gone.
- Bilbo has said an odd goodbye and slipped away into his home. But Gandalf meets him and confronts him about the ring.
- Bilbo says he will leave it to Frodo, but some things are easier said than done.
- Gandalf becomes stricter as Bilbo becomes increasingly angry and obsessive over the ring. We can see that the ring has warped him.
- Finally, he lets it fall heavily to the ground and departs in good spirits, hoping to live happily ever after.
- Gandalf walks back inside. He barely touches the ring, but there is a flash of a giant orange eye of fire which never bodes well.
- When Frodo arrives he finds Gandalf muttering to himself. Gandalf tells Frodo that the ring (and all of Bilbo's other property) is now his and he must keep it safe and secret. Gandalf is going to go looking for answers.
- We're in Mordor and can hear the screams of Gollum as he's being tortured. He says "Shire" and "Baggins." Dark cloaked horsemen ride forth from the gates.
- Gandalf approaches Mordor and sees the fires stirring within.
- He rides to an old library of sorts in the city of Minas Tirath (foreshadowing for the third movie) where he searches for information on the ring. He comes across a manuscript written by Isildur himself, describing markings appearing on the ring when it is heated.
- Mary, Pippin, Frodo, and Sam are having a wonderful time drinking and singing in a pub. Sam is smitten by Rosie, but too shy to make a move.
- But when Frodo gets home, he finds Bag End completely torn apart.
- Luckily it was just Gandalf searching for the ring.
- Frodo shows it to him and Gandalf casts it into the fire. The ring remains cool and now bears the words, in the Black Speech of Mordor: "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, / One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."
- Gandalf confirms this is the One Ring. He tells Frodo of its power, and that the dark army knows through Gollum where the ring is.
- Sam also knows this because he was totally eavesdropping (sorry, he was pruning the hedges and just happened to hear).
- Gandalf has Sam accompany Frodo on his journey away from the Shire and toward the town of Bree, where Gandalf will meet them at the Prancing Pony.
- They begin making their journey through the woods and, during the evening, happen across a company of wood elves glowing faintly and singing somberly as they make their way to the harbor to leave Middle-earth. It makes Sam sad.
- In the meantime, Gandalf rides to Isengard to seek the counsel of Saruman.
- Saruman knows many things about the Dark Lord, like that he is preparing an army large enough to soon war against the free people again and conquer all of Middle-earth.
- How does he know this? He has a Palantír (that seeing orb thing that was the Middle-earth equivalent of Facetime and Google) that allows him to communicate with and—oops—be corrupted by Sauron.
- He tells Gandalf they have run out of time and their only choice is to join forces with Sauron, who is sure to be victorious once he possesses the ring.
- Sam is traveling through a cornfield when he suddenly doesn't see Frodo anymore and freaks out.
- It's okay: Frodo was right there. Sam is just extra worried because Gandalf told him not to lose Frodo.
- Then Merry and Pippin come bursting through the corn, on the run from farmer Maggot because they've stolen some of his crops.
- After tumbling down a hill Frodo senses something bad coming and makes everyone hide.
- It's a dark rider on the hunt for the ring. He gets off his steed, and is almost on top of them as he smells for the ring's scent.
- Frodo goes into a weird state: his eyes roll back and he compulsively goes to put on the ring, but Sam stops him.
- After that close call they tread more carefully. Merry leads them to a nearby ferry, which will take them to Bree.
- But the rider finds them again and almost chases down Frodo. Luckily he jumps on the ferry at the last minute and the rider comes to a halt before riding away with two of his pals.
- The company of hobbits manages to make it into Bree and the Prancing Pony without catching sight of the riders, which is good because Bree, with all its big men, is scary enough.
- At Pony they find Gandalf has yet to arrive. So they eat and drink and talk about the Baggins, which is bad because that's the name the riders know.
- Frodo tries to intervene but slips and falls, releasing the ring. It lands directly on his finger. What are the chances?
- He enters a strange other realm of blurry darkness where the enormous eye of Sauron talks to him until he finally has the wits the pull the ring off (making himself visible in the real world).
- The man named Strider, who they noticed staring at them earlier, comes and takes Frodo into a room upstairs.
- He says that they have drawn too much attention to themselves and can no longer wait for Gandalf—apparently he knows quite a lot about why they're there.
- We see the riders break into Bree and head for the Pony (which they located when Frodo put the ring on).
- Then enter the inn and… stab everyone, and the movie ends.
- Okay, actually they just stabbed a bunch of pillows. Strider and the hobbits are hiding out in a different inn nearby.
- Strider explains that the riders were the nine kings of men who took the rings from Sauron. They are known as the Ring Wraiths, or the Nazgûl.
- Then they take off, following Strider through the wilderness.
- Sam questions the trust they're placing in him but Frodo argues that they don't really have a choice.
- They cross a swamp (and skip a few meals) and finally camp out. They're getting closer to Rivendell, home of the elves.
- At night, Strider sings lines from "The Lay of Leithian".
- Saruman consults his Palantír, and Sauron commands him to build an army.
- Orcs walk in and he sets them to work, chopping down the trees of a nearby forest.
- Strider and the hobbits set up camp on the remains of an ancient watchtower.
- Strider takes off for the night and, while Frodo is asleep, the other hobbits make a cooking fire and give away their position.
- Soon the Nazgûl converge and surround them at the tower's top.
- Frodo puts in the ring in an attempt to escape but the Nazgûl seem to also be in this other ring-world. One of them stabs Frodo with a Morgul blade.
- Just then Strider shows up and fights them off, using a torch to light their cloaks on fire.
- He says that Frodo's wound is beyond his healing; they need elvish medicine.
- Gandalf is held prisoner at the top of the tower of Isengard. He is visited by a friendly moth, who he whispers to.
- Below, we see Saruman and his orcs preparing an army.
- They're burning the wood of the trees and forging steel armor and weapons.
- Saruman has also created a new breed of Orc by crossbreeding them with goblins (like a labradoodle but infinitely more terrifying). This new breed seems larger and stronger and will be later known as Uruk Hai.
- Frodo isn't doing so hot… but luckily Arwen, an elf, comes to the rescue.
- Strider worries about her riding alone with the Nazgûl afoot, but she insists she take Frodo to Rivendell as she is the faster rider.
- She takes off but it's not long before the Nazgûl are hot on her trail. She outruns and outmaneuvers them until she reaches a river, before which they halt.
- After some deliberation they draw their swords and try to cross it (it's not very deep).
- But just as they do, Arwen calls forth a raging torrent of water horses, which sweep down the river and drown the Nazgûl.
- Frodo isn't getting any better. Arwen holds him as the screen fades to white and Elrond's face briefly appears, saying something in Elvish.
- Frodo wakes up in a comfy bed, alive and almost well apart from the whole "carrying a wound with him for the rest of his life" part.
- He greets Gandalf (who tells us of his escape on the back of a giant eagle), Elrond, and his hobbit pals.
- He sees Sam packing and they decide that, as much as they wanted to see the elves, they both miss the Shire and are ready to go home.
- Bilbo is there too (and looking rather old). Frodo says that his adventure didn't turn out like Bilbo's, and that he's not like him.
- Then Elrond and Gandalf discuss all the evil brewing. Elrond says that Rivendell cannot defend against both Mordor and Isengard. The Ring cannot stay.
- Elrond tells us that the age of the elves is over; they are leaving Middle-earth.
- Gandalf says they will turn to men but Elrond thinks men are weak. He was there when Isildur failed to destroy the Ring and kept it for himself.
- Gandalf suggests there is one man who could reclaim the throne of Gondor and reunite men…who could it be?
- At night we see Boromir (son of the steward of Gondor) mesmerized by a mural of Isildur's defeat of Sauron.
- He turns to see Strider reading silently and they greet each other.
- Boromir finds the broken blade of Isildur and cuts himself on its sharp edge (which means someone has been maintaining it; who could that be?). He drops it to the floor and leaves hastily, creeped out by Strider's stare.
- Strider picks up the blade and puts it back as Arwen walks up to him.
- She says he is not bound to the past but Strider is afraid of the blood of Isildur that runs through his veins. Ahh, so that's who the heir of Gondor is.
- Outside, we see Arwen and Strider in love. They met a long time ago and Arwen has chosen to bind herself to him, forsaking the immortal life of the elves.
- Elrond has called a council of important men, elves, and dwarves.
- Boromir is there and tries to touch the ring but Gandalf stops him.
- Boromir wants to use it against the enemy, but Strider tells him that is impossible: the Ring only has one master.
- We officially learn that Strider is, in fact, Aragorn: heir to the throne of Gondor. With Boromir being the son of the steward, we sense a little bit of tension.
- Then Gimli, a dwarf, tries to break the ring with his axe, but it's his axe that breaks. The only way the Ring can be destroyed is by casting it back into the fires of Mount Doom in which it was forged.
- Someone needs to take the Ring to Mordor but, as Boromir famously claims, "one does not simply walk into Mordor."
- The company begins to argue amongst themselves about who should take the Ring (dwarves and elves don't really get along). During the argument we see Frodo, who is greatly affected by the Ring. It's almost like it's calling to him.
- Finally Frodo offers himself as the Ring bearer and everyone is silenced.
- Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli, Boromir, and an elf named Legolas pledge their allegiance to Frodo on his quest.
- Also, Sam, Merry, and Pippin show up and say they're going too.
- So it's settled. This company of nine will be the fellowship of the Ring.
- Aragorn is uncovering an old statue of his mother as Elrond speaks to him.
- He tells Aragorn that the elves have the power to re-forge Narsil, but only he has the power to wield it.
- Aragorn doesn't want that power.
- Then we see Bilbo giving Frodo his old elven sword, Sting. He also gives him Mithril armor but when Frodo goes to put it on Bilbo spots the Ring.
- When Frodo won't let him hold it, he becomes momentarily possessed, reaching for the Ring as his face contorts into a dark, hollowed version of itself.
- Then it fades and he apologizes for making Frodo bear this burden.
- Finally it's time for the company to set out. They're on their way to Mordor.
- Yay: another traveling montage. This one is less marshes and more mountains.
- The fellowship stops to take a rest. Boromir is teaching Merry and Pippin how to sword fight.
- A large flock (or should we say murder) of crows starts flying their way and everyone quickly dips out of sight.
- They are spies of Saruman, and Gandalf knows the passage south is being watched.
- They must instead take a treacherous pass through the Misty Mountains (because Gandalf would not dare go through them, using the Mines of Moria, despite Gimli's suggestion).
- Frodo trips in the snow and loses the Ring, which Boromir picks up. He hands it back to Frodo who snatches it, but not before he stares at it, mesmerized that something so small could cause so much trouble.
- In Isengard, Saruman is aware of their passage and is using his magic to make the mountains more difficult.
- The fellowship is almost crushed by snow and the weather is worsening.
- Saruman knows Gandalf fears the mines but Frodo gets to decide and, unaware of the danger, chooses to go through Moria.
- The fellowship walks toward the mines. Gandalf warns Frodo of the Rings growing power and the threats of the outside world… and those within the fellowship.
- When they reach the entrance to Moria Gandalf can't remember the password.
- But Frodo discovers it's a riddle, and the doors open just in time for them to escape whatever was stirring in the water.
- Oh, never mind. Just as they realize Moria is a graveyard of dwarves killed by goblins, the thing in the water snags Frodo and tries to eat him as the rest of the company pull out swords and go to work on its tentacles.
- They rescue Frodo and head for the safety of the mines.
- They travel through the cavernous mines, with Gandalf's lighted staff leading the way.
- As they pause to let Gandalf remember the correct direction, Frodo notices someone following them.
- Gandalf tells him it is Gollum, who was released and is still being called to the Ring.
- Then they enter the great dwarven city of Dwarrowdelf, and Gimli runs to the room where his kin and the king of Moria, Balin, is buried.
- As Gandalf reads from a log-book of the battle with the goblins, Pippin knocks a skeleton down a shaft and wakes up the entire orc establishment.
- The fellowship stands their ground and fights off the orcs, even though a cave troll provides a bit of a problem.
- It stabs Frodo with a spear but, thanks to Bilbo's mithril armor, he remains unharmed.
- But the orcs are rallying more warriors… so the party flees to the bridge of Khazad-dum
- Before they reach the bridge, they are surrounded in the great hall of Dwarrowdelf by an entire horde of orcs.
- But behind them they hear a roar and see a glowing light. The orcs become frightened and scatter.
- Gandalf says that the creature approaching them is a Balrog, an ancient demon that is too great for them.
- They continue running for the bridge and, after some close calls with crumbling stairways and orc arrows, they make it to the bridge of Khazad-dum with the Balrog hot (very hot) in pursuit.
- Gandalf is the last to cross the bridge and pauses at its center to confront the Balrog. They clash in a struggle of magic and fire until the bridge crumbles under the Balrog's weight.
- But as it falls, its whip catches Gandalf and pulls him down into the depths with him.
- Gandalf's last words are, "Fly, you fools."
- The fellowship—particularly the hobbits—are distraught by Gandalf's death, but Aragorn says they must keep moving and make it to the woods before the hills are filled with orcs.
- In the woods they meet the elves of Lothlórien lead by Haldir. He knows of the evil Frodo carries and refuses to let them continue on until Aragorn persuades him.
- So they travel to the great elven city of Caras Galadhon, where they meet the lady of the woods, elven queen Galadriel and her husband Celeborn.
- Celeborn asks of Gandalf's death and Galadriel tells him he has fallen into shadow.
- The fellowship is sad so Galadriel tries to cheer them up because there is hope… and also because the world is filled with grief.
- They rest in the woods and Sam tries to write his own lament for Gandalf as the elves sing.
- Boromir reminisces about the beauty of his home, Gondor. He is troubled by the failing rule of his father.
- As everyone else sleeps, Frodo follows Galadriel down to the mirror which can show "things that were, things that are, and things that have not yet come to pass."
- Frodo looks into the mirror, which is a silver basin, and sees the destruction of the Shire and the enslavement of the hobbits. Then he sees the Eye of Sauron. It calls to the Ring and Frodo grasps at it, falling backward.
- Galadriel says this is what will happen if Frodo fails.
- Then she warns him that the "he" will try to take the Ring, and one by one it will destroy the fellowship.
- Frodo offers Galadriel the Ring and she becomes frightening in a dark, glowing, deep-voiced sort of way.
- She desires the Ring for its power, but the moment passes. She becomes herself again and says she has passed the test and will head west, out of Middle-earth.
- Frodo doesn't want to be alone although he knows what he must do.
- Galadriel says that to be a ring bearer is to be alone. She is the keeper of the elven ring, Nenya.
- In Isengard, Saruman is talking to his chief Uruk-hai. We see he now has a battalion of them.
- He tells him that orc were originally elves that were warped and corrupted.
- He sends this Uruk-hai and his Uruk-hai brethren on a quest to find and kill the fellowship… except for the hobbits, who he wants brought to him alive.
- As they depart from Lothlórien, Galadriel gives them gifts.
- To Merry and Pippin she gives elven daggers.
- To Legolas a Galadhrim bow.
- To Sam some elven rope.
- To Gimli, three strands of her hair.
- To Frodo a phial containing the light of Eärendil, the brightest star.
- To Aragorn she gave nothing because she could give him no more than Arwen already has. She tells him they will not meet again.
- They boat down the river, past two giant statues of ancient kings of men.
- They rest on the bank but Legolas is worried— he senses darkness, which we know is the horde of Uruk-hai tracking them.
- Frodo wanders off, seeking solitude, but is followed by Boromir.
- Boromir first tries to convince Frodo to take the Ring to Gondor to use against the enemy but Frodo will have none of it.
- Then Boromir becomes possessed with his desire for the ring, and he tries to take it from Frodo… who puts on the Ring in self-defense.
- Boromir comes out of his state, and he is almost in tears over what he's almost done.
- Frodo, in the realm of the Ring, is taken once again to the Eye of Sauron until he frantically pulls it off.
- Aragorn has found him and Frodo tells him about Boromir. But when Aragorn asks where the Ring is Frodo grows defensive.
- He asks if Aragorn could destroy it and Aragorn reaches for the Ring but closes Frodo's hand around it, saying he would have gone to the end with him.
- Frodo tells Aragorn to look after everyone, especially Sam.
- But just then Sting begins glowing blue. The Uruk-hai have arrived and Frodo runs as Aragorn turns to face them and buy him time.
- Gimli and Legolas join Aragorn as Merry and Pippin, realizing Frodo's intention to leave, distract the orcs.
- When their distracting catches up to them, Boromir comes to their rescue. But after fending off so many orcs he takes an arrow to the chest from the Uruk-hai leader, whose official name is Lurtz. Then another… and then another.
- The Uruk-hai leader poses to make a killing blow but Aragorn tackles him like a star linebacker, squaring off with the mightiest Uruk.
- They fight and eventually Aragorn makes the Uruk leader a full head shorter.
- Boromir dies in Aragorn's arms but not before apologizing for trying to take the ring and telling Aragorn he would have followed him as the king of Gondor.
- Mary and Pippin are captured by the orcs, who start heading back to Saruman with their prize.
- Frodo makes it back to the boats and launches into the river.
- But Sam rushes to him, not wanting him to go alone.
- As Frodo keeps paddling away Sam (who can't swim) begins to drown… so Frodo has no choice but to pull him into the boat.
- Sam says he made a promise to Gandalf that he intends to keep. The two head out for Mordor together.
- Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn meet at the bank.
- Legolas wants to head after Frodo and Sam but Aragorn tells him they're on their own.
- Gimli says that the fellowship has failed, but Aragorn is more optimistic. It's time to head after Mary and Pippin and kill some orcs.
- Sam and Frodo look over the rocky crags of Emyn Muil.
- Frodo is daunted by the task ahead but glad that Sam is there with him. Aww.