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Durin's Bane

"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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Durin's Bane
Maia (Balrog)
Ted Nasmith - At the Bridge.jpg
"At the Bridge" by Ted Nasmith
Biographical Information
Other namesFlame of Udûn[1]
Nameless Terror
LocationMorgoth's dominions (early)
Moria (after)
BirthCreation of the Ainur
Death25 January T.A. 3019
Battle of the Peak
Notable forKilling Durin VI and ruining Khazad-dûm
Physical Description
RaceMaia (Balrog)
WeaponryWhip and a flaming sword
GalleryImages of Durin's Bane
"It came to the edge of the fire and the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it. [...] The flames roared up to greet it, and wreathed about it; and a black smoke swirled in the air. Its streaming mane kindled, and blazed behind it. In its right hand was a blade like a stabbing tongue of fire; in its left it held a whip of many thongs."
The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"

Durin's Bane refers to a specific Balrog who was not otherwise named. He survived the War of Wrath and slept deep within the Misty Mountains for thousands of years afterward. After his long hibernation, he was awoken by the Dwarves in the Third Age and encountered by the Fellowship of the Ring.


[edit] History

[edit] Early history

Durin's Bane was created as a Maia, and followed Morgoth to Arda soon after its creation, like the other Balrogs. There he most likely fought in all major battles until the end of the First Age. When the Host of the Valar defeated the hosts of Morgoth in the War of Wrath, Durin's Bane managed to flee and escaped into the east from the ruins of Angband, burying himself in the roots of the Misty Mountains beneath Khazad-dûm.

[edit] Awakening and the Third Age

The Dwarves delve too deep by Ted Nasmith

For more than five millennia, the Balrog hibernated in his deep hiding place at the roots of the mountains in Khazad-dûm. He remained undisturbed throughout the Second Age and most of the Third, before the mithril-miners of dwarf-King Durin VI awoke him in T.A. 1980. Durin was slain by the creature, at which point he became known as Durin's Bane.[2]

The Dwarves attempted to fight the Durin's Bane, but his power was far too great. Despite their efforts to hold Khazad-dûm against it, King Náin and many of the Dwarves were killed and the survivors were forced to flee. This disaster appears to have also reached the Silvan Elves of Lothlórien, many of whom also fled the "Nameless Terror" (it was not recognized as a Balrog at the time). The elves began to call the place Moria, "The Black Pit".

For five hundred years, Moria was left to the Balrog.[3]

Sauron began to put his plans for war into effect around the year 2480 of the Third Age. As part of these plans, he sent Orcs and Trolls to the Misty Mountains to bar all of the passes. Some of these creatures came to Moria. It is unclear whether the Balrog would still submit to Sauron as Melkor's chief lieutenant, but it is probable that he would have been cooperative at the very least. The Balrog did allow the Orcs and trolls to remain in Moria while he dwelt there, and although they doubtlessly feared him, some worshipped him as a spiritual being.

The Battle of Azanulbizar was the climactic battle in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. It took place before the eastern gate of Moria in 2799 and was a victory for the Dwarves. However, the victors did not conquer Moria because Dáin Ironfoot, having slain the Orc Azog, felt the terror of the Balrog at the gate. Despite a failed attempt to recolonize Moria by Balin in 2989, Durin's Bane remained a menace in the ancient kingdom of the Dwarves whose nature was hidden to the outside world.

[edit] During the War of the Ring

'I threw down my enemy' by Donato Giancola

In January of 3019, the Fellowship of the Ring travelled through Moria on the way to Mount Doom. There they encountered Durin's Bane at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. The Elf Legolas instantly recognized the Balrog, despite having never seen one before. More importantly, the Wizard Gandalf was there (perhaps for this very purpose); and knowing that it was far more powerful than even the greatest of his companions, he challenged it.[1]

Since Gandalf and the Balrog were both Maiar, they were beings of the same order. As they faced each other, Gandalf broke the Bridge in front of him, but as the Balrog fell he wrapped his whip around Gandalf's knees, which dragged him to the brink. Gandalf staggered and fell, sliding into the abyss, crying "Fly, you fools!" and was gone. Neither he nor the Balrog was killed by the fall, and Gandalf pursued the creature for eight days until they climbed to the peak of Zirakzigil. Here they fought for three days and two nights. In the end, the Balrog was cast down and his body broke the mountain-side as it fell. Gandalf himself died following this ordeal, but was later sent back to Middle-earth with even greater powers as Gandalf the White.[4]

[edit] Beyond the Third Age

Durin's Bane is the only Balrog mentioned after the War of Wrath, and the only one of two ever given a name, the other being Gothmog. It is unknown how many, if any, other Balrogs still lived on or where they dwelled, hibernating or awakened.

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

Durin's Bane in adaptations
Durin's Bane in The Lord of the Rings Online  

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

The Balrog has wings and appears capable of limited flight. The head resembles a lion but the rest of the body was rendered in matte black, a technique commonly used for shadowy surreal effect in rotoscope animation.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Durin's Bane has wings. Jackson's Demon of Might was indistinct, a real blend of shadow and fire. Only his horned head, cloven feet, and clawed hands could clearly be seen.
In the film continuity, the Orcs of Moria (here specified as "goblins") have crafted their armor and weapons to match the fiery appearance of the Balrog, apparently worshipping it as a deity.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

The Balrog is the boss of the level "Abyss Fight". He cannot be harmed except when he is stunned with Gandalf's lightning.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age:

The players assist Gandalf in his fight with the Balrog.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

Many of the Evil factions can summon a Balrog, specifically Durin's Bane, for a short period of time. He is one of the mightiest units in the game, only able to be summoned with experience points. He is similar in design to the Balrog in the movie.

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

Like in the previous installment, the Balrog can be summoned by evil factions.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Durin's Bane can be observed in two "session plays" (player character not present): one depicts the awakening of the Balrog by Dwarves under Durin VI, the other depicts dwarves of Balin's company fleeing from the ancient evil. After Gandalf defeats him, the lifeless body of Durin's Bane can be found on the slopes of Zirakzigil. Despite the players knowing that the Balrog is dead, another Servant of Sauron tests their will and fears by portraying an illusion of him. In the illusion, the fight between Gandalf and the Balrog on the Endless Stair is recreated, until it ends the opposite way of the actual event: the Balrog defeats the Wizard, throwing his lifeless body from Zirakzigil. Players have to defeat the Balrog in order to combat the illusion.

2013: Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game:

Durin's Bane is only seen as a light that chases the player(s) through Moria. When they reach the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, he appears in a cutscene where Gandalf destroys the bridge and the Balrog pulls him down. Then, the player is Gandalf and has to grab Glamdring and land on Durin's Bane, where he has to stab it while avoiding the Balrog's firey breath. When this is over, the game starts another cutscene that ends the level. Later, Gandalf appears on a snowy mountain with a tower on top. When he reaches the top of the tower, the Balrog climbs on. The Balrog repeatedly sweeps his fiery whip and strikes the ground with his sword. Then lighting begins to strike at one place and the Balrog breathes fire and is weakened. Gandalf uses his sword to direct the lightning at Durin's Bane and his health goes down. The lightning will strike at three different places, and when the Balrog loses all of his health by being hit three times, he will fall off the mountain and die.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The White Rider"