Tolkien Gateway


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Revision as of 03:19, 7 August 2018

"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
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"The wise will stay here and hope to rebuild our town..." — Master of Lake-town
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This article is about the elf of the Fellowship of the Ring. For the the elf in The Fall of Gondolin, see Legolas (elf of Gondolin).
Līga Kļaviņa - Legolas.jpg
"Legolas" by Līga Kļaviņa
Biographical Information
Other namesGreenleaf
TitlesPrince of Woodland Realm
LocationWoodland Realm
AffiliationFellowship of the Ring
LanguageSindarin and Westron
Sailed westFo.A. 120
HouseSilvan Elves[note 1]
Physical Description
ClothingGreen and brown garb[1]
WeaponryBow and "long white knife"
GalleryImages of Legolas
Legolas was an elf of the Woodland Realm of Mirkwood. He was of Sindarin heritage, being the only recorded son of King Thranduil. The most important events of his life are surrounded by the War of the Ring, during which he was the Elven representative in the Fellowship of the Ring; his Elven characteristics, such as superior sight and hearing, lightness of foot, and skilled archery, were valuable assets.

Legolas was also famous for his strong friendship with Gimli the Dwarf. Not only was such a friendship among the two races rare throughout history, but it also contrasted the harsh way his own father behaved to Glóin, Gimli's father, and his companions.



As the son of the Elvenking Thranduil, Legolas was a prince of the Woodland Realm. Little is known about most of his life before or during the Third Age.

During the War of the Ring, the Elves of Mirkwood kept Gollum captive after his capture by Aragorn. However, he soon managed to escape. Legolas was sent to Rivendell with a message to Gandalf about this event.[2]

Legolas was present at the Council of Elrond and related the news, being quick to state to Aragorn that it was not through lack of watchfulness--if anything, from over-kindliness--and related the details to the council.[2] He spoke little for the rest of the council, if at all, but later was to participate in the Quest of the Ring as the elven representative of the Fellowship of the Ring. His capabilities were welcomed.

The Fellowship of the Ring

For the early part of the quest they walked in single file, with Legolas often at the back due to his keen eyesight. Later, he was at the head of the company as they entered Hollin. Though all in the Company could feel the wholesomeness of the country, only Legolas could hear the stones lament the lost presence of the Elves, and his words were poignant.

Ted Nasmith - The Anger of the Mountain
As they ascended Caradhras, Legolas could walk on top of the snow, whereas the others were forced to trudge. He also unsuccessfully attempted to light a fire. When they decided to retreat due to the snowy conditions, Boromir and Aragorn tried to push a path through the snow to get out, but Legolas danced lightly on top, passing them easily.[3]

Perhaps a bit grumpy with the irrepressibility of the elf, Boromir during the vote as to whether or not they should pass through Moria, asked, “What do Legolas and the little folk say?” Legolas voted against the passage with Boromir, but was overruled, especially when Warg voices were heard. During their defence against these beasts, Legolas did more than perhaps all the rest of the company except Gandalf, shooting numerous Wargs. After the fight, he retrieved all of his arrows except one.[4]

The Fellowship entered Moria and Legolas, despite his ability to see well in the dark, could not in the caves. Due to his Morgul-wound, Frodo Baggins could see better than any of the company in the dark, except perhaps Gandalf. Legolas had to drag Gimli from the Chamber of Mazarbul when the dwarf refused to leave Balin's Tomb. He was also the first of the Company to recognise Durin's Bane as a Balrog, or at least the first to express his dismay at the fact.[5]

Legolas was most enthusiastic about coming to Lothlórien, describing it to the rest of the Company, and mourning the fact that it was winter and they could not witness it in the pinnacle of its glory. As they rested by the Nimrodel, Legolas told the company tales of Lothlórien, and sang the Song of Nimrodel to them. Upon hearing the Elves of Lórien speaking in the trees, Legolas responded in their own tongue, and when Samwise queried as to what they were saying, Legolas slyly responded that they said he breathed so loudly that the elves claimed they could shoot him in the dark. Samwise was horrified until Legolas added that they need not fear the elves.

Legolas was called up to meet with the Galadhrim, with Frodo only, thought Sam followed, as always. The Galadhrim had heard him singing and knew he came from Mirkwood. They would readily accept all of the fellowship, save Gimli, because of his race. Legolas was forced to answer for the company, with the reminder to keep an eye on "that dwarf". Eventually the Elves asked to blindfold him, but Gimli was outraged. When Aragorn offered for all of the Company to wear blindfolds, Gimli said Legolas alone needed to. Legolas was outraged in turn, but Aragorn settled the dispute by asking to blindfold the whole of the Company. In the end, Legolas had no choice but to submit.

Michael Kaluta - Legolas Draws the Bow of Galadriel
In Lothlórien, many Elves sang of Gandalf, and their language was such that only Legolas could understand. Legolas would not translate the lamentations, saying that he had neither the skill nor the heart. During their time in Lórien, however, with the influence of the Lady Galadriel working her magic on the dwarf, he became fast friends with Gimli, a friendship that would never be broken. He was one of the Company that could handle boats, and so was assigned to one with the dwarf. He received a bow and quiver such as the Galadhrim used.

After ambushed by orc-archers on the Anduin, Legolas quickly leaped out onto dry ground and searched for a mark to shoot at. As a dread fell on the Company, Legolas invoked the name of Elbereth Gilthoniel, and shot the descending Fell beast from the sky, a masterful shot in the dark. He was praised by the rest of the Company for this, especially Gimli.

The Three Hunters

Ted Nasmith - Pursuit in Rohan
When the company was ambushed on Amon Hen, Legolas shot many Orcs until his arrows ran out, and then used his knife. Upon the breaking of the Fellowship, when he learned that Boromir had fallen, he sang with Aragorn a lament, taking the part of the South Wind, which came from the Sea. Legolas was of great aid to Aragorn in the days following, as he helped to track the Uruk-hai across Rohan. His eyes could see many leagues, and for a while he could see their quarry far ahead of them.

Legolas stood by his friend Gimli when confronted by the haughty Éomer, threatening him with death if he attempted to harm the dwarf. He let Gimli ride behind him on the way to Fangorn Forest. Under its eaves, Legolas noticed how the tree beneath which they sat seemed glad of the fire. He was reluctant to enter Fangorn, having no knowledge about it save for stories of the Ents, and that it was very old. Though the night was very dark, he was also the first to notice the absence of the horses. Later he asserted to Aragorn that the beasts sounded joyful, confirming Aragorn’s own guess.

Upon entering Fangorn, Legolas declared that he almost felt young again beside those trees. He commented that in earlier days he could have been happy there. Gimli snorted, saying, “I dare say you could. You are a Wood-elf, anyway, though Elves of any kind are strange folk.” Legolas would later reverse this declaration at the Hornburg. When the Three Hunters met with the apparition of an old man, whom they believed to be Saruman, despite Gimli’s encouragement Legolas did not shoot him, feeling moral objections to this. The old man declared, "Put away that bow, Master Elf." Legolas dropped his bow, but later picked it up again, and was about to shoot when it was seen that beneath the old man’s robes there was white. Yet he recognised that it was Gandalf just in time, and shot his arrow high in the air to be consumed by fire. Gandalf coolly added, "Well met, I say to you again, Legolas!"

With the Rohirrim

Legolas was the first to ask Gandalf about Merry and Pippin, and Gandalf’s apparently miraculous escape. After the story, Gandalf delivered Galadriel’s messages to each of them, Legolas' being:

Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.

Later, Legolas again used his eyes for the help of the company, as he spied both the of Isengard and Edoras from afar. At the gates of Meduseld, Legolas was the only one to lay down his weapons without hesitation. He played only a passive role in the healing of Théoden King, and later was arrayed in shining mail beside Aragorn. Gimli would not ride on Éomer's horse unless Legolas rode beside them, which he did gladly. Éomer declared, "Legolas upon my left, and Aragorn upon my right, and none will dare to stand before us!"

John Howe - Legolas and Gimli at Helm's Deep
As Legolas stood at the Hornburg at the eve of battle, he said that though he did not like the place. Gimli comforted him, and he was glad that the dwarf stood by his side. He also wished that a hundred archers of Mirkwood were there, noting the small number of bowmen among the Rohirrim. At the opening of the battle, Legolas shot twenty at least, this figure being taken as precise by Gimli. When Gimli returned to the elf for the second time to declare that he slew twenty-one, Legolas counted his kills as twenty-four. By the time the Fire of Orthanc blew out a piece of the wall, his quiver was nearly empty. With the last arrow the elf saved Aragorn’s life when he stumbled while pursued. At the end of the battle, Legolas had shot a total of forty-one, though Gimli surpassed his count by one.

Legolas showed great interest in the Huorns on the way to Isengard, discussing them with Gandalf and a less willing Gimli. Legolas promised Gimli that he would go to Aglarond after the war upon hearing the dwarf’s eloquence, if only Gimli would accompany him on a return to Fangorn. At Isengard he enjoyed a meal in the company of Gimli, Aragorn, and the Hobbits, Merry and Pippin.

The Return of the King

When Aragorn made clear his purpose as to the taking of the Paths of the Dead, Legolas and Gimli willingly volunteered to go with him. Legolas predicted, when Gimli suggested that Galadriel might have sent them soldiers from their own lands, that they need not ride away to find war.

Amidst the Paths of the Dead, riding with the Grey Company, Legolas alone, save for Elladan and Elrohir, Elrond's sons, felt no fear of the Oathbreakers, and it may be remembered that the High Elves had power both in the worlds of the seen and unseen. Yet his turn came to be struck to the heart in the opposite sense – when he heard the gulls at Pelargir, fulfilling Galadriel’s prediction and warning. While telling this story later, he stopped there, while Gimli promptly said, "For my part I heeded them not". Legolas saw as Aragorn led the Dead Men what a mighty lord he might have been if he had taken the One Ring.

Legolas came with Aragorn from the ships during the Battle of Pelennor Fields, and fought there beside his comrades. He survived the battle, and several times afterward commented on the longevity and eventual domination of Men to the dubious Gimli.

Battle of the Morannon and Aftermath

Legolas rode for the last time into battle beside his friends to the Battle of the Morannon. He witnessed the Fall of the Dark Tower, and after the battle attended the ceremonies of the Field of Cormallen in the honour of Frodo and Samwise and their victory. That night Legolas would not go to bed, but instead went away to walk in the woods, singing of the Sea.

At the urging of Aragorn, Legolas remained in Minas Tirith for a time, after attending the coronation of Elessar. During the parting of the Fellowship, Legolas went with Gimli to Aglarond. After that, he rode off with Gimli to return Fangorn Forest.

After the War of the Ring

Lorraine Brevig - Legolas and the Sea
Legolas returned to Minas Tirith with a company of Wood-elves, and they made Ithilien a green and fair land once more. After King Aragorn died, Legolas sailed West, reportedly taking Gimli with him.[6]


Legolas showed almost irrepressible cheerfulness throughout the journey, passing through Caradhras and even the Paths of the Dead without hesitation or complaint. His youthful nature can be seen from the mocking way he treated the "strong men" on Caradhras, whom Boromir (excluding Legolas) had said could forge a way out through the snow. He is perhaps most remembered for his friendship with Gimli the Dwarf, and it was during this friendship that we see his faithfulness, and also his love of beauty. Gimli's words moved him when the dwarf spoke of the Glittering Caves.

Description and Equipment

At Rivendell, Legolas was dressed in green and brown garb, and he was probably dressed similarly for the duration of the quest.

He bore a bow from Mirkwood, and later a bow of the Galadhrim. He also had a long white knife.


d. S.A. 3434
Sailed West Fo.A. 120


The name Legolas is a Silvan dialect form of pure Sindarin Laegolas, which means "Greenleaf". At one point he is called "Legolas Greenleaf" by Gandalf, coupling his name and its translation like an epithet.[note 2]

Legolas consists of the Sindarin words laeg, a very rare, archaic word for "green" (cf. Laegrim, Laegel(d)rim, the Green Elves), which is normally replaced by calen (cf. Calenhad, Parth Galen and Pinnath Gelin); and golas, a collection of leaves, foliage (being a prefixed collective form of las(s), "leaf").[7][8] The Quenya cognate of Laegolas is said to be Laicolasse.[9][10]

Other versions of the Legendarium

A character "Legolas Greenleaf" appears firstly in The Fall of Gondolin in The Book of Lost Tales (in the context of another unrelated character) who guided some survivors of the sack of the city to safety. His Qenya name is Laiqalassë.[11]

Tolkien considered Glorfindel to be the Elven character of the Fellowship, however he dropped the idea, and Legolas was created to replace him. Perhaps this is the reason why Legolas is considered the most underdeveloped character of the Fellowship, playing only a minor role in The Lord of the Rings.[12]

Portrayal in adaptations

1955: The Lord of the Rings (1955 radio series):

Frank Duncan was the voice of Legolas.

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

Legolas was voiced by Anthony Daniels. In the film, he takes Glorfindel's place in the Flight to the Ford sequence; he meets Strider and the hobbits on their way to Rivendell, and sets Frodo on his horse before he is chased by the Nazgûl to the ford of Bruinen. Here, he is apparently from Rivendell, because he answers to Elrond; he is not identified as a Wood-elf.

1979: The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series):

John Vickery provided the voice of Legolas.

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

Neither Legolas nor Gimli appeared in this film, as they were essentially followers irrelevant to the plot.

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

David Collings provided the voice of Legolas.

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

Michael Reisz provided the voice of Legolas.

2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

Legolas was portrayed by Orlando Bloom.
In the "official movie guide" for The Lord of the Rings, a birthdate for Legolas is set to 87 of the Third Age. This would make him 2931 years old at the time of the War of the Ring. This date for Legolas' birth was made up by the movie writers. Curiously, the year 2931 was the year Aragorn was born; the writers may have picked the number at random from the Tale of Years in the Appendices.
He is presented as an unstoppable fighter, arguably to the point of stealing the show; he performs show-stopping yet implausible stunts in battle scenes. For example, in the Battle of the Hornburg, he slides down a staircase using a shield, shooting arrows all the while, and in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, he takes down an Oliphaunt all by himself. However, in the books, Legolas's exploits in battle are not presented in great detail. Aside from shooting the fell beast, he undertakes no major actions other than to make peace with Gimli, overcoming their longstanding mutual racial animosity — he and Gimli are followers, rather than leaders. The film-makers later stated that the entire scene of Legolas killing the Oliphaunt and its entire crew was filmed during pick-ups (months after original filming) to insert a major action scene showcasing him, because at that point they realized that he simply doesn't get to do much in the third part of the trilogy.
Legolas bears two long knives, while in the book he bears only one. Another, more trivial change, was the number of Orcs he and Gimli kill at Helm's Deep: 42 and 43, respectively. It is not clear whether this was an intentional change on the part of the filmmakers, though it seems likely that it was, since the original numbers were so clear in Tolkien's own text.
Playing Legolas in the trilogy was Orlando Bloom's breakout route to superstardom. His handsome features and Legolas' "coolness", so to speak, as depicted in the film, have led to the character becoming an unprecedented fan favourite with both fangirls and fanboys, not to mention other Tolkien fans. Although the disproportionate popular reaction to Legolas met with mixed reactions from fans, many debaters on the Internet during earlier stages of production were worried that a film portrayal of Legolas might render him as far too effeminate for popular consumption. Later, many felt that Bloom was able to avoid this entirely. Christopher Tolkien recounts that his father wrote the following "wrathful" comment protesting against a "pretty" or "ladylike" depiction of Legolas:
"He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship."
The Book of Lost Tales Part Two

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

Legolas is a non-playable character, accompanying the Ring-bearer since Rivendell.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (video game):

Legolas is one of the three playable characters.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game):

Legolas is a playable character, skilled in both ranged and melee. He and Gimli accompany Aragorn through Paths of the Dead, later he fights on Pelennor fields and at the Black Gate.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring:

Grant George provides the voice of Legolas.[13] The game depicts Legolas's hunt for Gollum in northern Mirkwood, which is interrupted by the orcs.

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

Legolas is a Hero Unit for the Rohan faction in skirmishes, and accompanies the Fellowship in the storyline mode. He specializes in powerful ranged attacks.

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

Legolas is now the Hero for the Elven faction.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Legolas can be found in Rivendell, where before the Fellowship's departure he accompanies the player on a mission to find the missing Nazgul (as only eight horses were found in the book). Later, he can be found in Lothlorien, displaying Gimli the beauty of Cerin Amroth.

2009: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest:

Crispin Freeman plays Legolas, who is available as a Hero in several missions.[14]

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North:

Legolas can be found and talked to in Rivendell, he retains the appearance from the movies. While he provides insight into many events, interactions with him do not affect the main plot.

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

Orlando Bloom reprised his role as Legolas in Peter Jackson's adaptation of the Hobbit.[15] In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, he joins Tauriel in pursuit of the pack of Orcs (led by Bolg) who are after Thorin and Company and also takes part in the Battle of Five Armies, where he ultimately kills Bolg.

See also


  1. Legolas seems to refer to himself as a Silvan Elf: in Eregion, he says '...the Elves of this land were of a race strange to us of the silvan folk...' (The Fellowship of the Ring II 3, The Ring Goes South).
  2. Greenleaf is not his surname, as is sometimes erroneously believed; nor is it an epithet (like Oakenshield).


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 211, (dated 14 October 1958)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 84, 153
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 56
  10. Helge Fauskanger, Quettaparma Quenyallo. Entry for laica. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin": "Notes and Commentary", §2 Entries in the Name-list to The Fall of Gondolin
  12. "Why is Legolas so underdeveloped?", Ask About Middle-Earth (accessed 15 May 2021)
  15. Peter Jackson, "Ten years ago,..." dated 27 May 2011, Facebook (accessed 23 December 2011)
Attendees of the Council of Elrond
Aragorn · Bilbo Baggins · Frodo Baggins · Boromir · Elrond · Erestor · Galdor · (Samwise Gamgee) · Gandalf · Gimli · Glóin · Glorfindel · Legolas
Members of the Fellowship of the Ring
Frodo · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Legolas · Gimli · Boromir