From Tolkien Gateway
"I should say there were little bears, large bears, ordinary bears, and gigantic big bears, all dancing outside from dark to nearly dawn."
Gandalf in The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"

Bears were large and ferocious animals, notorious for their love of honey.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

There were black and brown bears in considerable number on the island of Númenor during the Second Age. Like all the animals on the isle, they were friendly to Men. Though they did not like to be disturbed, living far from humans within mountainous or rocky areas, with the great black bears being mostly found within the Forostar. Yet they often came to visit houses and were given honey. While sometimes on rare occurrences, a Númenorean may be killed by bears or a "bad bear" would occasionally raid domesticated beehives, neither race considered these reasons to make war on the other. The strangest occurrence between the relations of Men and bears were the "bear-dances", which were curious dances put on by the bears, often black bears, for the delight and entertainment of Men, by whose instruction these bear-dances may have been improved upon. The most famous of the bear-dances was the Great Bear-dance of Tompollë, performed annually in the Forostar during autumn.[2]

Great and ancient bears had lived within the Misty Mountains for some time. Though by the late Third Age, their number had diminished. Gandalf told Bilbo that Giants had taken up their homes in that mountain range. According to Gandalf, some believe that Beorn, a skin changer, was a black bear that was descended from them.[3]

Other names[edit | edit source]

The Sindarin word for "bear" was graw.[4] Early Noldorin had two words for bear: brôg and megli, with the variation meglivorn ("Black bear").[5]

The Quenya word is given as morco, sharing a Root with brôg.[5] In Common Eldarin is given as morokō[5] and mor(o)kē ("she-bear").[6]

Adûnaic also had its own terms, specifically urug in "common" gender singular ("bear", as a species/creature), the masculine singular urgû ("male bear") and the feminine singular urgî ("female bear", "she-bear").[7]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In the earliest outlines of The Fall of Gondolin, Tuor was clad in the skins of bears.[8] The sinews of bears were also used to make bowstring[9] and harp strings.[8]

Other fiction[edit | edit source]

Bears play a significantly bigger role in other stories, most notably Mr. Bliss and The Father Christmas Letters.

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

Beorn appears only in the shape of a black bear.[12]

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

Bears appear as wildlife on the "Mirkwood" map.[13]

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Bears are found within many places of Middle-earth and range in size between that of a large dog to a small elephant. They are typically not aggressive, but will fight if a player threatens them. Players that are lore-masters are able to use a bear as a combat pet.

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

Beorn appears in the form of a brown bear within both the second and the third films.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Treebeard"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIII. Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor", pp. 333, 334, 335
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Eldarin Hands, Fingers & Numerals and Related Writings — Part One" (edited by Patrick H. Wynne), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 47, February 2005, p. 12, note 3
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entries "MOROK", LIS-
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Qenya Noun Structure", in Parma Eldalamberon XXI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Patrick H. Wynne and Arden R. Smith), p. 82
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part Three: The Drowning of Anadûnê, with the Third Version of The Fall of Númenor, and Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language", pp. 426, 435
  8. 8.0 8.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "III. The Fall of Gondolin"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "The Lay of the Children of Húrin", line 1073 (page 47)
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Mr. Bliss, page 13
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Baillie Tolkien (ed.), Letters from Father Christmas
  12. The Hobbit (2003 video game), "The Clouds Burst"
  13. The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, "Mirkwood"