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This article is about the dwarf in The Lord of the Rings. For the elf in The Tale of Tinúviel, see Gimli (elf).
Matt Stewart - Forty-Two.jpg
"Forty-Two" by Matt Stewart
Biographical Information
Other namesElf-friend, Lockbearer
TitlesLord of the Glittering Caves
LocationThorin's Halls
Lonely Mountain
Glittering Caves
AffiliationFellowship of the Ring
LanguageKhuzdul and Westron
BirthT.A. 2879
Thorin's Halls
RuleEarly Fourth Age - Fo.A. 120
Sailed westFo.A. 120 (aged 262)
HouseHouse of Durin
Physical Description
Eye colorDark[1]
ClothingShort shirt of steel rings[2]
cap of iron and leather[3]
belt,[2] hood, boots,[4] shield[3]
WeaponryBroad-bladed axe[2]
GalleryImages of Gimli
"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens."
― Gimli in The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"

Gimli was a dwarf of the House of Durin who became famous as the only Dwarven member of the Fellowship of the Ring.

History[edit | edit source]

Gimli was born in the Blue Mountains during a time of exile for the Durin's Folk, about a century after the tragic destruction of Dale and the Sacking of Erebor by Smaug the Golden. His father was Glóin, a direct descendant of King Náin II and, through him, of Durin the Deathless. His father joined Thorin and Company in their quest to reclaim the Kingdom under the Mountain, but Gimli was forbidden because he was too young: only 62 at the time.[5]

The Dwarves were successful in their Quest and Gimli and his father were among the Dwarves who returned to Erebor. Years later, in T.A. 3017, Gimli witnessed the arrival of a messenger of Sauron (possibly a Nazgûl) inquiring about Bilbo Baggins, old acquaintance of his father, and the Ring of Power, promising tempting offers. Gimli accompanied his troubled father to Rivendell for the dual purpose of warning Bilbo and seeking the counsel of Elrond on such weighty matters. He attended the Council of Elrond as a representative of the Dwarves of Erebor.

The Fellowship of the Ring[edit | edit source]

Gimli, as the only young dwarf seen at the council of Elrond, was appointed as a member of the Fellowship of the Ring. He alone of the company wore a mail-shirt, and carried a broad-bladed axe.[2] He quickly distinguished himself in the company by declaring that he "needed no map" and naming the Misty Mountains individually by their Khuzdul names, inspiring the comment from Sam: "A fair jaw-cracker dwarf-language must be!"

Balin's Tomb by Anke Eißmann

Gimli stood more than all the others with Gandalf on the matter of passing through Moria.[4] This may be influenced by his curiosity about the fate of his cousin Balin, who went thither to refound the ancient kingdom of the Longbeards, and also his vengeful nature. His first clash with Legolas occurred before the Doors of Durin, in a brief dispute over whose fault it was (the Elves’ or the Dwarves’) that the friendship between the two races waned. Gandalf quickly intervened, though it was not until Lothlórien that they would truly become friends.

He was quite helpful to Gandalf in explaining the Doors to the other curious members of the fellowship. Gandalf showed his appreciation of Gimli’s skills by letting him walk up front through the dark tunnels beside himself, and taking brief counsels with him when the way is unsure. It is probable that here Gandalf was tapping into Dwarven inborn or developed skills rather than actual knowledge of Moria itself, as Gimli had never personally been there.

Gimli reacted most indignantly to Sam’s suggestion that Moria was but "holes", going so far as to chant for him the ancient Song of Durin. Gimli continued to be helpful to Gandalf on the rest of the dark passage, and boldly aided in the Battle of the Chamber of Mazarbul, protecting Balin’s tomb. After Gandalf remained behind to halt the Balrog, Gimli led the others across the Bridge of Khazad-dûm.

He again showed great emotion when they neared Kheled-zâram, taking Frodo alone out of all the company with him to see it (though Sam followed as well).[6] This hinted at a degree of affection for Frodo, though it may merely have been because he was the most important of the company. Despite his helpfulness, at Lothlórien he became the greatest hindrance to the Company, when he alone was required to be blindfolded and of all of them liked the idea the least (save for perhaps Legolas). The compromise was made that the entire company would go through the Golden Wood in this manner, that Gimli would not suffer alone.[6]

Despite this early struggle, it was Gimli of all the company that was most remembered for his deeds in Lothlórien. For his heart softened towards Galadriel and as a result toward Elves in general when that great lady sympathised with his sorrows, using the traditional Khuzdul names.[7] In return he attempted to compliment her, as he saw her love and understanding. Though slightly clumsy in his first attempt, he distinguished himself when, as Galadriel gave the Company gifts, he asked only for a single strand of her hair. Galadriel gave him three hairs with a blessing, probably remembering when Fëanor had requested a similar gift several millennia ago. She later referred to him as "Lockbearer". Gimli wept openly at the departure from Lothlórien, calling the light more dangerous than the darkness he had feared.[8]

By the time the Fellowship departed from Lothlórien, Gimli had become fast friends with Legolas the Elf, a result of Galadriel’s kindness. This, too, made him famous among all the Dwarves of the Third Age.

The Three Hunters[edit | edit source]

Main article: Three Hunters
Pursuit in Rohan by Ted Nasmith

After the Breaking of the Fellowship, during which he and Legolas slew many orcs, Gimli listened in silence as his only remaining comrades, Aragorn and Legolas, sang a lament for Boromir in the character of three of the Winds. Only the East Wind was left, and Gimli would not sing it, which Aragorn declared to be appropriate.

For most of the chase he served as a commentator, usually leaving the decisions to Aragorn. His reaction was quite hostile to the suspicious Rohirrim, especially after Éomer's rash comments about Galadriel. Little did either know that they would become close friends in the times to come as fiery words passed between them. After the Three Hunters were lent horses, Gimli and Éomer parted in peace, with promises to one another of reconciliation.

Of the Three Hunters, Gimli seemed the most shaken by Fangorn Forest while they searched for traces of Merry and Pippin. Gimli felt no reluctance to shoot the “unarmed” old man whom they thought was Saruman, unlike Aragorn and Legolas. After Gandalf was revealed to them, Gimli fell to his knees. Gandalf put his hand on Gimli’s head, and the dwarf laughed for the first time recorded during the Quest of the Ring.

Gimli’s ire was raised again in King Théoden's courts against Wormtongue, who spoke slanderously of the Lady of the Golden Wood. Gandalf quickly calmed him. Gimli was delighted by the White Mountains and Helm's Deep, declaring "This country has tough bones". He declared that if he had a hundred of his kin he could make the fortress invincible.

War of the Ring[edit | edit source]

The Glittering Caves of Aglarond by Ted Nasmith

During the Battle of the Hornburg, Gimli saved Éomer’s life outside the gates. He came in, boasting of his first two orc-kills to his friend Legolas. Legolas estimated his slaughter to amount to twenty, starting the good-hearted orc-killing game that continued through the rest of the battle. Gimli was the first to the culvert when the orcs crept through, leaping heroically into their midst from the walls. He then proceeded to lead the blocking up of the culvert. During the course of the battle Gimli was one of those forced into the Glittering Caves. He was astonished to see the magnificence of these caverns, moving even Legolas with his glowing description of them. This one sight would change his life.

His final kill score number was forty-two in that battle, surpassing his friend the elf by one. Gimli shows a hint of humour and affection when he greets the two Hobbits Merry and Pippin comfortably situated among flotsam and jetsam in the ruin of Isengard. He declared himself deep in Pippin’s debt when the hobbit lent him his spare pipe.

Gimli shows some of the stone hardness of Dwarves when they meet Saruman at Orthanc. Saruman uses the power in his voice to sway Théoden to forgive him and make peace, and many of the Rohirrim are moved by his magic and are spell-bound. Unmoved, Gimli comments that Saruman's words cannot be trusted and that from Orthanc, help would mean ruin. Saruman is angered enough by Gimli that for a moment he loses his charm.

As the fellowship of friends again began to break up – Gandalf and Pippin heading for Minas Tirith, Théoden and his riders for Dunharrow – Gimli out of love and respect for Aragorn went with him, Legolas, the sons of Elrond, and the Dúnedain Rangers on the Paths of the Dead. He showed great reluctance before the Dark Door, the final thought that drove him downward was the thought of being bested by an Elf underground.

He participated in the epic Battle of the Pelennor Fields, returning with Aragorn and his other companions on the Black Ships, and later recounted their journey to the fascinated Hobbits. He began to fear for Legolas, who seemed entranced by the Sea. His position on Elves completely changed, he remarked "If all the fair folk take to the Havens, it will be a duller world for those who are doomed to stay". He was much more skeptical as to the overall end of Men than his comrade.

Gimli fought in the Battle of the Morannon, passing through unscathed, and finding the alive but bruised Pippin among the dead lying on the hill. He returned to the Field of Cormallen to be reunited to his friends, and there displayed open affection for all of them, even his frequent rival Pippin ("If only because of the pains you have cost me, which I shall never forget").

After the War of the Ring[edit | edit source]

Gimli and Legolas reach the shores of Valinor by Ted Nasmith

After the coronation of Aragorn, Gimli said farewell to his old friend Éomer, who begged for pardon as to his words on Galadriel, though he added that he still didn’t think she was the fairest in the world. When he added that he considered Arwen the fairest instead, Gimli was content with this.[9]

During the return journey he visited many places with Legolas, including Fangorn Forest and Aglarond. Eventually he returned to Erebor, to find it nearly devastated by war. Dáin II Ironfoot had died, and Thorin III Stonehelm was now King. Eventually, though, he returned to the Glittering Caves with a contingent of dwarves, becoming the "Lord of the Glittering Caves". He rebuilt the gates of Minas Tirith with mithril and steel, and in both Gondor and Rohan accomplished great works. There he met his friends Merry and Pippin and the history of his people made its way to the Red Book;[10] he also set out the genealogical tree of the Dwarves of Erebor for King Elessar.[11]

In Aglarond, it is assumed, he lived on until he was old, and in Fo.A. 120 he sailed with Legolas his friend across Belegaer to Valinor, becoming the first and only Dwarf to do so.[12]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

In 1978, Jim Allan noted that the name Gimli appears once in the Völuspá and three times in the Prose Edda. Allan suggested that Gimli means "One-of-Gimlé/Gimill", where Gimlé/Gimill in the Eddas is a hall of the after-life "inhabited solely by Light-elves" (evoking Gimli's leaving for Aman).[13]

However, with the publication of The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien in 1981, Tolkien wrote in a draft letter that Gimli's name comes from a poetic Old Norse word, gimm, presumably meaning "fire".[14]

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

Náin II
2338 - 2585
Dáin I
2440 - 2589
2450 - 2711
2542 - 2790
2560 - 2803
Thráin II
2644 - 2850
2662 - 2799
2671 - 2923
2746 - 2941
2763 - 2994
2772 - Fo.A. 91
2774 - 2994
2783 - Fo.A. 15
2879 - Fo.A. 120+

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

The name "Gimli" was first used by Tolkien for the name of a Gnome in the Tale of Tinúviel, written in mid-1910s.

In the Adûnaic language described in The Notion Club Papers (1945), gimli (pl. gimil) is the word for "star", derived from a root G-M-L and having the Characteristic Vowel I. From these derive others words such as igmil "a star-shaped formation"; and Gimilnitîr "Star-kindler" (Gilthoniel), a name for Varda.[15]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

Pictures of adaptations of Gimli
Lego mini figure  

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

The part of Gimli was read by Eric Lugg.

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

Gimli is portrayed as almost as tall as Aragorn and Legolas. He has a brown beard and wears a hood. David Buck provided Gimli's voice.

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

The voice of Gimli is provided by Gail Chugg.

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

Both Gimli and Legolas are omitted from this adaptation, as it centers on Aragorn.

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

Gimli is played by Douglas Livingstone, who uses a heavily articulated accent.

2001-2003: Pán prsteňov (2001-2003 Slovak radio series):

The voice of Gimli is provided by Vladimír "Ady" Hajdu. Hajdu portrays Gimli's voice as less gruff than most other adaptations, and though he is a fierce warrior, he is sensitive and insightful and often fairly cheerful. At one point in the series, when his companions in the Fellowship ask him if he heard a suspicious noise, he exclaims "I only hear the whisper of stones and mosses" (a possible reference to Tolkien's Dwarves being attuned to stone and the mountains as much as Elves are to the woods and sea).

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

John Rhys-Davies portrayed Gimli in voice and close-ups; Brett Beattie was his size-double. Jackson used the antagonism between Legolas and Gimli, although he placed most of it on Gimli's plate.

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

Gimli is portrayed as a burly lumberjack, slightly smaller than Legolas, but the same size as Boromir. His moment of glory is in Moria, where he aids the player (at this point, Frodo) with trying to find the Bridge. He is voiced by James Horan.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

Now that Merry and Pippin were no longer around to provide comic relief, Gimli was chosen to fill the spot. This has led to much criticism.

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

Gimli is one of the three playable characters.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

As in the second film Gimli's character was somewhat controversially used to insert comic relief into the scenes he appeared in.

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

Gimli is a playable character, with an aggressive fighting style. He and Legolas accompany Aragorn through Paths of the Dead, later he fights on Pelennor fields and at the Black Gate.

2003: Sierra's War of the Ring:

Bob Papenbrook provided the voice of Gimli, who is a Hero Unit for the Free People side. His first appearance is near the Lonely Mountain, where he and other dwarves fight orcs and later activate a giant catapult.

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

Gimil is a Hero Unit for the Rohan faction in skirmishes, though he accompanies the Fellowship in the storyline mode.

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

Gimli is now the Hero for the Dwarven faction.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Gimli is first met by Dwarven characters in the intro taking place in T.A. 2941, shortly before the Quest for Erebor. Later, all characters meet him in Rivendell where Gimli accompanies them on a mission to the Misty Mountains. The player catches up with Gimli at several points during the Fellowship's journey and also fights alongside Gimli in the Glittering Caves during the Battle of Helm's Deep, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and in Northern Ithilien during the Army of the West's march towards the Black Gate. After the downfall of Sauron, Gimli and Legolas join the Gondorian army in exploring and securing the Land of Shadow. There, Gimli finds a dwarven clan from the East who have been used as skilled slaves by the Dark Lord for centuries. He leads the survivors to Erebor and secures King Thorin Stonehelm's permission for them to reside in his halls, before returning south to Minas Tirith for the wedding of Aragorn and Arwen.

2009: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest:

Gimli is a playable hero available in several missions.

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

Gimli 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.

2013: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:

When Thorin's Company are arrested in Mirkwood, Legolas searches Glóin's possessions and finds a picture wallet. Legolas comments how ugly the portraits are and Glóin points out that it's his son's portrait, parodying the future friendship of the two.


House of Durin
Born: T.A. 2879 Died: after Fo.A. 120
Position created
Lord of the Glittering Caves
unknown – Fo.A. 120

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
Route of the Fellowship of the Ring
Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Rohan · Edoras · Hornburg · Isengard · Dunharrow · Paths of the Dead · Gondor · Hill of Erech · Lamedon · Linhir · Lebennin · Pelargir · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen
Frodo and Sam
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Emyn Muil · Dead Marshes · Black Gate · Ithilien · Henneth Annûn · Cross-roads · Morgul Vale · Stairs of Cirith Ungol · Cirith Ungol · Shelob's Lair · Tower of Cirith Ungol · Mordor · Morgai · Plateau of Gorgoroth · Mount Doom · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Celebdil† · Lothlórien · Fangorn Forest · Edoras · Hornburg · Isengard · Rohan · Anórien · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Emyn Muil · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Wellinghall · Derndingle · Isengard · Hornburg · Dunharrow · Drúadan Forest · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Amon Hen · Parth Galen · Emyn Muil · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Wellinghall · Derndingle · Isengard · Rohan · Anórien · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Gondor · Cair Andros · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
The Lord of the Rings film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films The Fellowship of the Ring (extended editionThe Two Towers (extended edition) · The Return of the King (extended edition)
Music The Fellowship of the Ring (The Complete Recordings) · The Two Towers (The Complete Recordings) · The Return of the King (The Complete Recordings) · "May It Be" · "Gollum's Song" · "Into the West"
Tie-in books Official Movie Guide · The Making of the Movie Trilogy · Complete Visual Companion · Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic · There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale · Weapons and Warfare · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Sketchbook
The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion · The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers Visual Companion · Photo Guide · The Art of The Two Towers
The Return of the King Visual Companion · The Art of The Return of the King
Video games The Two Towers · The Return of the King · The Third Age · Tactics · Conquest · Aragorn's Quest · Lego The Lord of the Rings
Characters Frodo · Bilbo · Gandalf · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Boromir · Legolas · Gimli · Elrond · Galadriel · Théoden · Éomer · Éowyn · Saruman · Sauron · Witch-king · Denethor · Faramir · Gollum · Gríma · Treebeard · Celeborn · Haldir · Lurtz · Sharku · Grishnákh