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Five Up, Five Down: Down the Drive’s Definitive Lord of the Rings Character Rankings

We did Star Wars last week so let’s hang out in the SUPERIOR fictional universe. Do not at me.

Lord Of The Rings Film Props Up For Auction Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

While it has fallen a bit into the background of the fantasy/sci-fi entertainment world to a degree thanks to things like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings is still a megalodon in the cultural zeitgeist. Aside from what is the greatest literary trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, there’s Peter Jackson’s highly successful movie series (non-Hobbit division), a litany of video games (including the excellent Shadow of Mordor series), stage plays and more. Now that the Tolkien universe has conquered those mediums, its taking aim at the small screen, with an Amazon series that may focus on Aragorn. Aragorn is a great character and an obvious one to base a prequel series on. But there are a lot of great characters in the lore of Middle-Earth. Here are the best and worst, with an assist from Jeopardy champion Johnny Trutor once again.

Clayton’s Five Up

1. Samwise Gamgee

Very effective on Notre Dame’s scout team. Despite his lack of playing time, Samwise proved a disruptive pass rusher when he got on the field.

2. Gimli

Portly Egyptian man and faithful friend to Indiana Jones.

3. Peregrin Took

This guy is a shoplifting machine!

4. Elrond

Sits next to Tom Brady at the Church of Scientology.

5. Gollum

Rides the 538 all day back and forth between Southdale and the Mall of America.

Clayton’s Five Down

1. Aragorn

A bottom-feeding, wishy-washy bimbo whose predilection for mendacity is matched only by his cowardice.

2. Gandalf

Just cause he got a rollerbag down at the Goodwill don’t make him a VIP when he sits next to me on the 61 bus. Roller bag or not, you’re getting off at Hennepin and Stinson, big shot. I’m the one getting off at Larpenteur and Snelling, eating Dino’s noon and night like my life depends on it, homie.

3. Frodo Baggins

There is no beginning to his talents.

4. Legolas

A typical bottle blonde.

5. Bilbo Baggins

To paraphrase James Reston, Bilbo Baggins inherited some good instincts from his ancestors, but through hard work, he overcame them.

Johnny’s Five Up

1. Saruman the Wise

Jobs creator. He even makes the people who fill the jobs, which is mostly attacking Helm’s Deep. Saruman realizes that having a bunch of hobbits and rangers and Spocks around is going to make it tough to industrialize. Not only does he have the Wizard powers, but his are actually cool like shouting at mountains or beating up Gandalf. Gandalf has the power to smoke weed and blow cool smoke-ships. Advantage: Saruman.

2. Gandalf

Not that I have anything against a guy who can blow smoke-ships. Gandalf (particularly the Grey) is a great little exposition machine that gives hobbits impossible tasks like murdering dragons or destroying evil empires. I think that Gandalf mostly does this because he thinks it’s hilarious. (See above.) When Gandalf gets all religious after he comes back from a mild case of being dead, he takes a precipitous drop in effectiveness. He’s always being cryptic and junk, and he copped Saruman’s style.

3. Treebeard

Also, a great Rush song. Treebeard doesn’t play by your rules, and he’s a giant, sentient tree. Impatient hobbits try to get him to hurry up, but trees do things in their own time.

4. Eowyn:

Rohan seems like a great place to live. It’s got hills. And horses. And Eowyn has the mark of every fine young woman: an insatiable bloodlust and desire for combat. As a Viking-American, I find this incredibly charming. She loses a few points for being nice to one of the hobbits in battle, but hopefully she brought him as a reserve snack in case she got hungry or bored.

5. The Spock Lady

I don’t wanna miss a thing. ‘Cause even when I dream of youuuuuuuu. The sweetest dreams will never do, ‘cause I miss you baby, and I don’t wanna miss a thing. Much better than the Alicia Silverstone Cryin’/Crazy look. It’s in the books, but she burns down three hobbit villages and laughs at the flames. I wish they had put that in the movies.

Johnny’s Five Down

1. Merry

2. Pippin

3. Frodo

4. Sam

5. Bilbo

I’m not a fan of hobbits, generally speaking. I’ve never seen Willow all the way through, and I think it’s mostly because it’s about discount hobbits.

Phil’s Five Up

1. Legolas

When I first read LOTR, despite Tolkien’s description, I pictured Legolas as a Keebler elf flipping around like Yoda and shooting arrows off. That’s the only way the guy with the dopest kills in the movies could be any cooler.

2. Gandalf (The Grey)

Spoilers for a book series that’s been out since the 1950s. Gandalf is the wise wizard who leads the fellowship and orchestrates the entire plan to destroy the one ring. While his return as Gandalf the White is welcome, the OG Gandalf is still the best Gandalf. Shout out to Shadowfax who is best horse.

3. Eowyn


4. Samwise Gamgee

Loyal to no end, Sam is the heart and soul of these books and without him, Frodo wouldn’t have accomplished his mission or had delicious and well-seasoned snacks along the way.

5. Treebeard

He might speak slowly, but he was a fast favorite. The Ent (tree-man) wrecks Isengard and helps turn the tide in The Two Towers. Shout out to Quickbeam.

Phil’s Five Down

In descending order as always.

5. Saruman

One of the great things about LOTR is that so many characters have multiple layers. Saruman is mainly evil, but the fact that he was once good speaks to the evil that Sauron wields. While a well-crafted character, nobody tries to take shots at Gandalf and gets my blessing.

4. Isildur

You had one job, bro.

3. The Sackville-Baggins

These silverware swipers don’t care about anything but taking Bag End from Bilbo and Frodo. When Frodo heads out to save the world, these jerks overthrow the rightful government in The Shire and are a reason Isengard’s reach extends to the region when Frodo comes back in Return of the King.

2. Wormtongue

A creepy stalker with Eowyn and a traitorous loaf who helps Saruman mentally imprison Theoden, this sniveling boot-kisser is just the worst.

1. Denethor

He’s no king and tries to burn himself and his son Faramir — to whom he is a complete a-hole — alive when Gondor is fighting for its survival. Plus he eats cherry tomatoes like a psychopath.

Disagree with us? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter or via a FanPost. Also, if you want us to rank something specific next week, let us know.