Black Arrow

From Tolkien Gateway
The Black Arrow
"Bard the Bowman" by Anke Eißmann
LocationLonely Mountain, Lake-town
OwnerGirion, Bard
CreatorDwarves of Erebor
Lonely Mountain
Notable forkilling Smaug
GalleryImages of the Black Arrow

Arrow!" said the bowman. "Black arrow! I have saved you to the last. You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!

According to Bard the Bowman, the Black Arrow had originated in the Lonely Mountain and had been passed down to him from his father and grandfather of the line of Girion. It was magical for him and whenever he shot it, he always recovered it.

When in T.A. 2941[1] the dragon Smaug attacked Lake-town, after being disturbed by Thorin and Company in the Lonely Mountain, the Black Arrow was the last arrow left in Bard's quiver.

Bard fired the arrow through a bare patch in the armour on Smaug's underbelly, described to him by the Thrush. The arrow penetrated Smaug's heart, killing the dragon immediately.[2]


J.R.R. Tolkien may have found inspiration for the weapon that achieves its goal and then perishes in Beowulf. In that story Beowulf's sword cannot kill Grendel's mother but another sword, an ancient blade found in her lair, can destroy her and slice off Grendel's head. However, the sword then melted down to the hilt.[3]

Portrayal in adaptations

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film) :

The Black Arrow plays a very similar role to that in the book. Bard uses the arrow to kill Smaug after the thrush informs him of Smaug's weak point.

2012-2014: The Hobbit (film series):

Unlike the book, there are multiple black arrows. They first appear in a flashback showing Girion trying to shoot down Smaug during his attack on Dale. The next appearance is in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, in the house of Bard, where he has one of these arrows hidden away. The final appearance is in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies where Bard uses it to kill Smaug.
In a further departure from the book, the arrows are designed to be used with a crossbow like device instead of a simple bow. This device is broken during Smaug's final attack, forcing Bard to use his bow instead.

2018: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The Black Arrows are said to have been a gift to each Lord of Dale from King Thrór in gratitude for saving the first dwarf king's life. The eighth Lord of Dale, later known as Girion, wasted all the arrows while attempting to kill Smaug, except for the one which his son "Brandjarn" rescued and was passed down to Bard.
After the restoration of the Kingdom under the Mountain, Dáin Ironfoot gifted the Kings of Dale with newly-forged Black Arrows. Shortly after the Battle of Dale, young King Bard II wounded the great Cold-drake "Vethúg Wintermind" with a Black Arrow, thwarting the drake's attack on Erebor.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, The Second Phase, "The Death of Smaug", (ii) The Black Arrow, p. 558
Weapons in Tolkien's legendarium
 Arrows:  Black Arrow · Dailir · Red Arrow
Axes:  Dramborleg · Durin's Axe
Bows:  Belthronding · Bow of Bregor · Bow of the Galadhrim
Knives:  Angrist · Barrow-blades · Morgul-knife · Sting
Maces:  Grond
Spears:  Aeglos
Swords:  Anglachel/Gurthang · Anguirel · Aranrúth · Dagmor · Glamdring · Glend · Gúthwinë · Herugrim · Narsil/Andúril ·  Orcrist · Ringil · Sword of Manwë