Into the West: ‘The Lord of the Rings’ After The Fellowship

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J.R.R Tolkien created a vast and rich universe with Middle Earth. One that is full of history, lore, and legend. This universe was so detailed, that it would be impossible to have included everything in all of the films and TV shows that now exist.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power takes us deep into the Second Age of Middle Earth, and brings some of this history to the screen. But what about the events after The Lord of the Rings? Although we get a glimpse into this at the end of Return of the King, there was so much more that happened.

The Lord of the Rings: after the fellowship – brave little Hobbits

As the central characters of the story, it only seems right that we start by looking into what happened to the Hobbits after the War of the Ring. We do get a little bit of an idea from the films, but the full story had so much more.

But to look into the fates of the Hobbits, we need to backtrack a little. In the books, they return to find the Shire in a very different state. A mysterious figure known as Sharkey had taken over the Shire and was turning the once green and idyllic land into an industrial mess.

After rousing their Hobbit kin, Merry and Pippin led the charge in the Battle of Bywater, which is considered the last battle in the War of the Ring. The Hobbits were able to reclaim their lands from the men and orcs who had taken their homes.

The Hobbits arrive at Bag End to confront the mysterious Sharkey and discover it is, in fact, Saruman, who is accompanied by Wormtongue. As Frodo allows them to leave unharmed, this mercy infuriates Saruman, who lashes out at Frodo to no avail. A dispute breaks out between Saruman and Wormtongue, in which Wormtongue slits Saruman’s throat, and he is then shot down by arrows.

This is a very condensed version of the “Scouring of the Shire”, but it’s important to know, as our four brave Hobbits would go on to ensure the rebuilding of the shire, and bring it back to its former beauty.

Lord of the Rings Hobbits
Merry Brandybuck (Dominic Monaghan), Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), and Pippin Took (Billy Boyd)  in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (New Line Cinema)

Frodo Baggins – the Ring-Bearer

While we know that Frodo eventually sails into the West, he did his part in the rebuilding of the Shire before he left. The Scouring of the Shire took place in the Third Age (T.A.) 3019, and Frodo took on the role of Deputy Mayor of the Shire. During his time in this role, he helped to rebuild the Shire, but he was still troubled by the wounds he had sustained in his quest.

In the T.A 3020, Frodo stepped down from his post as Deputy Mayor and tried to live his life as peacefully and comfortably as possible. At this time, Sam and Rosie had moved into Bag End with Frodo, and they would live with and care for him until he left.

Frodo suffered from his wounds every year on the anniversary of them happening; both his stab wound from Weathertop and the stinger wound from Shelob. Frodo spent his days writing down the story of The Lord of the Rings in the Red Book of Westmarch.

On September 29th, T.A 3021, Frodo and Bilbo were given passage to Valinor, the Undying Lands, as they had both been Ring-Bearers. They set sail along with Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond, who were the bearers of the Three Elven Rings. It’s unknown how long after this they lived, but it is assumed they lived a long and happy life in Valinor.

Bilbo Martin Freeman
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit (New Line Cinema)

Samwise Gamgee – Samwise the Brave

Sam is definitely a fan favorite for his bravery, loyalty, and his sheer will to help his friends. Because of his genuinely good nature, he was rewarded with a truly beautiful ending.

After the Scouring of the Shire, Sam helped to rebuild their home as did the others. He took it upon himself to plant saplings in all of the places where “specially beautiful and beloved trees had been destroyed”. And in the soil of each tree, he placed a single grain of dust that had been given to him by Galadriel from her own orchard.

In the year T.A. 3020, Sam married Rosie Cotton and they moved to Bag End to live with Frodo. For his role in restoring the shire, Sam was gifted the surname Gardner. Sam and Rosie would go on to have thirteen children, and they all lived at Bag End, which Sam inherited after Frodo’s departure.

In Fourth Age (Fo.A.) 6, Sam was elected Mayor of the Shire, and he served in this role for 49 years. He was also gifted the Red Book of Westmarch, to maintain the story of the Hobbits.

During his time as Mayor, Sam was also appointed Counsellor of the North Kingdom by King Elessar (or Aragorn, to you and me). He was also awarded the Star of the Dúnedain, a badge of honor among rangers, by King Elessar in Fo.A. 15. A few years later, in Fo.A. 21, Sam traveled to Gondor along with Rosie and their eldest daughter Elanor, and the three spent a year in the company of the King.

Rosie died in Fo.A. 61. After his wife’s passing, Sam entrusted the Red Book of Westmarch to Elanor. According to Elanor, Same went to the Grey Havens and sailed to the Undying lands to be reunited with Frodo. As Sam was also a Ring-bearer (although only for a brief time) he was granted passage to sail into the West.

Meriadoc Brandybuck – Merry the Magnificent

Merry went on to live a simple life. After helping to return the Shire to its former glory, he married and had at least one son. He eventually became Master of Buckland.

Merry also contributed to the Red Book of Westmarch himself and wrote several scholarly works. He visited Rivendell several times to speak with the Elves that remained and collected historical information. Merry was also appointed as a Counsellor of the North Kingdom alongside Sam.

At the age of 102, in Fo.A. 63, Merry was sent an invitation from King Éomer of Rohan. He traveled there with Pippin, and the two remained in Edoras until Éomer died in the autumn of the same year. The pair then traveled to Gondor. Merry died sometime after their arrival and was buried in Gondor. After King Elessar died in Fo.A. 120, Merry was entombed next to the King.

Lord of the Rings Hobbits
Merry Brandybuck (Dominic Monaghan), Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood), Pippin Took (Billy Boyd), and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (New Line Cinema)

Peregrin Took – Guard of the Citadel

Pippin’s part in the Battle of Bayswater was that he rallied the Tooks of Tookland, and brought 100 Hobbits to the battle. He led the charge alongside Merry, and the two were considered heroes. Pippin would often wear his armor as a Knight of Gondor as he went out, and people thought he was a lordly Hobbit.

In Fo.A. 6, Pippin married Diamond of Long Cleve, and they had one child together, who they named Faramir. Faramir then went on to marry Goldilocks Gardner, the daughter of Sam and Rosie.

Pippin became Thain of the Shire in Fo.A. 13 and was also made a Counsellor of the North Kingdom alongside Merry and Sam. During his time as Thain, Pippin collected a great library of historical information at his ancestral home, the Great Smials. Along with Merry, it is said that Pippin put together The Tale of Years, a timeline of all the ages of Middle-Earth.

He traveled to Rohan with Merry in Fo.A. 63 and remained there until the death of King Éomer. Like Merry, Pippin traveled to Gondor after this, where he lived out the rest of his days, and was buried alongside his friend, before being laid to rest beside King Elessar after his passing.

The Lord of the Rings: after the fellowship – the ultimate bromance

While the Hobbits may be the true heroes of the story, they had a lot of help along the way. Two of those who helped were Legolas and Gimli. Though they shared a dislike typical of their people at the beginning, the two became fast friends and were fiercely loyal to each other.

Lord of the Rings Legolas and Gimli
Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) in Lord of the Rings (New Line Cinema)

After the War of the Ring, Gimli and Legolas visited many places together, including Fangorn Forest and the Glittering Caves behind Helm’s Deep. Eventually, the two parted ways. But not forever.

Around Fo.A. 20, Legolas led Elves out of Mirkwood and to Ithilien. This once again became the fairest country, after being destroyed during the long War with Sauron. He also brought Elves to help Gimli and the Dwarves with the restoration and improvement of Minas Tirith. When Aragorn died, Legolas built himself a boat in Ithilien and sailed west to the Undying Lands. However, he didn’t travel alone.

Gimli also spent some time rebuilding the lands that had been war-torn. He returned to Erebor for a time but finally settled in the Glittering Caves. He became the first Lord of the Glittering Caves and had a hand in rebuilding much of Gondor and Rohan. He even rebuilt the gates of Minas Tirith with mithril and steel.

After Aragorn died, is it said that Gimli received an invitation to sail to the west with his best buddy Legolas, and he became the first and only Dwarf to sail to Valinor.

The Lord of the Rings: after the fellowship – long live the king

At the end of Return of the King, Aragorn is crowned King Elessar, a title given to him by Galadriel. He was the first High King of the Reunited Kindom, but it took him several years for his authority to be established. He married Arwen on Midsummer’s day in T.A. 3019, and the two had a son and several daughters.

Lord of the Rings
Aragorn (now King Elessar) and Arwen (Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler) in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (New Line Cinema)

During his reign, he reordered the realm and helped in the restoration of the Kingdom. This included the rebuilding of Orthanc, the tower in Isengard, in which the Orthanc-Stone (the Palantir) was kept.

He renewed vows with Elves and Dwarves, and renewed the alliance between Gondor and Rohan, bringing a peaceful and harmonious time to Middle-Earth. He also declared the Shire a Free Land, in which Men were forbidden to enter. He appointed Sam, Merry, and Pippin as the Councillors of the Northern Kingdom to protect the lands.

In order to bring peace to Middle-Earth, King Elessar led military campaigns against the remaining Easterlings and Haradrim and reclaimed his rule over those lands that had once belonged to Gondor. Aragorn ruled for 122 years, and his son Eldarion took over this reign from his father. After his death, Aragorn was laid to rest alongside Merry and Pippin. A year after his death, Arwen- who was now mortal- traveled to a now deserted Lothlórien, and died there.

Mithrandir

Gandalf’s final days in Middle-Earth were peaceful and somewhat mysterious. After Aragorn’s coronation, he left with the remaining members of the Fellowship and traveled back to the Shire. He said his goodbyes to each member, eventually leaving the Hobbits at the border of the Shire, as the evil still left in this world was no longer his concern.

Lord of the Rings Gandalf
Ian McKellan as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings (New Line Cinema)

He left to speak with Tom Bombadil, another mysterious character who is believed to be older than the rivers and the trees, but nothing else is known about what Gandalf did in those remaining years.

On September 29th, T.A. 3021, Gandalf traveled to the Grey Havens, ready to sail to Valinor. He said his goodbyes to Merry, Pippin, and Sam, and set sail into the West with Frodo, Bilbo, Elrond, and Galadriel. His mission to destroy Sauron was now over, and he returned home to Valinor as the wisest of the Maiar.

The Lord of the Rings: after the fellowship- A Few Special Mentions

The Fellowship of the Ring were the most important group in the War of the Ring, but along the way, there were others who helped them in their quest.

Faramir and Éowyn

When Aragorn took his army to march on the Black Gate, Faramir and Éowyn were gravely wounded and unable to fight alongside them. The two kept each other company as they looked out towards Mordor, and they fell in love.

Lord of the Rings
Éowyn (Miranda Otto) and Faramir (David Wenham) in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (New Line Cinema)

After Aragorn was crowned King, he made Faramir the Steward of Gondor and the Prince of Ithilien. His duty in this role was to maintain the eastern borders of Gondor, and he helped in cleansing the Morgul Vale of any enemies that remained.

Faramir and Éowyn were married in Edoras, after the funeral of Théoden. The pair settled in Ithilien, in Emyn Arnen, just south of Gondor. The two had at least one son, who they named Elboron. Elboron would take over his father’s duties in Fo.A. 82 after Faramir’s passing.

Éomer

After Théoden’s death, Éomer became King of the Mark and took up this role during the march on the Black Gate. After Sauron fell, Éomer returned to Edoras to start rebuilding his country. He returned to Gondor to bring Théoden’s body back to Edoras for his burial.

Lord of the Rings Eomer
Éomir (Karl Urban) in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (New Line Cinema)

During his reign as King of the Mark, Éomer was known as Éomer Éadig, meaning the Blessed. He earned this title due to Rohan’s recovery under his rule, and the lands of Rohan became beautiful and rich once more. He also renewed the Oath of Eorl with Aragorn, an old allegiance between the kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor.

While he was in Gondor, Éomer met Lothíriel – a princess of a southern principality of Gondor. The two were married in Gondor, and they had a son, Elfwine. Éomer continued to rule Rohan and bring peace to his lands, until his death in Fo.A. 63.

Into the West

The history and lore of Middle-Earth are boundless and give people a whole universe to read into. With great stories like this, people are always left wanting more, and Tolkien (and his family) delivered on that part. The characters Tolkien created were rich and real, and it would be impossible not to relate to them.

Tolkien gave each character the ending they deserved and one that was fitting to their personalities. It’s not often that we want a happily ever after in this way, but for The Fellowship of the Ring, there are none more deserving.

The Lord of the Rings: The Power of the Rings airs Fridays on Prime Video. Check out Brian Kitson’s review of the premiere episode!

Review: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Premiere

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