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The Return of the King (1980 film)

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File:RankinBass' The Return of the King.png
The cover of the DVD release.

The Return of the King is an animated adaptation of the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien which was released by Rankin/Bass as a TV special in 1980. It has since been released on VHS and DVD.

The film was created by the same team which had worked on the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit.



Role Actor
Frodo Baggins Orson Bean
Bilbo Baggins Orson Bean
Gandalf the Grey John Huston
Aragorn Theodore Bikel
Denethor William Conrad
Samwise Gamgee Roddy McDowall
Gollum Brother Theodore
Elrond Paul Frees
Meriadoc Brandybuck Casey Kasem
Peregrin Took Sonny Melendrez
Éowyn Nellie Bellflower
Minstrel of Gondor Glenn Yarbrough


Rather than picking up where Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings had left off in 1978, Rankin-Bass present The Return of the King as a sequel to their 1977 adaptation of The Hobbit — giving the audience a brief recap of the events, and adapting a few story events from The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, while leaving out some major details. The visual style of The Return of the King is largely shared with the 1977 Hobbit.


Reception for the animated TV special is varied. Some commentators view it affectionately as an adaptation which children and parents can enjoy together [1]. However, others regard it with disdain, comparing it unfavorably to Ralph Bakshi's earlier animated film and Peter Jackson's later live-action film [2], [3]. Glenn Yarborough's songs are widely derided, although some admit to a campy affection for the surprisingly tuneful Orc marching song "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" or the ballad "Frodo of the Nine Fingers" [4].

The animated Return of the King is available on DVD from Warner Bros., both individually and as a "boxed trilogy" with the Rankin/Bass Hobbit and Bakshi's Lord of the Rings.

External link

Licensed film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's works
The Hobbit (1966) · The Hobbit (1977) · The Lord of the Rings (1978) · The Return of the King (1980) · The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) · The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) · The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) · The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) · The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) · The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)