Great Goblin

From Tolkien Gateway
Great Goblin
"The Great Goblin" by John Howe
Biographical Information
LocationGoblin-town, Misty Mountains
AffiliationOrcs of the Misty Mountains
DeathT.A. 2941
Notable forCapturing Thorin and Company
Physical Description
GalleryImages of the Great Goblin

The Great Goblin was the chief of the Orcs who dwelt in Goblin-town beneath the High Pass, and presumably was the leader of all the Orcs of the Misty Mountains.[2] He was described as "tremendous" and had a huge head.[1]


In T.A. 2941,[3] Thorin and Company were captured by the Great Goblin's people after taking refuge in a cave while crossing the Misty Mountains. When the Dwarves and Bilbo were hauled before the Great Goblin he questioned them regarding their intentions, while accusing them of being spies, thieves, murderers, and friends of Elves. When one of his guards showed the Great Goblin Thorin's sword, Orcrist, he howled with rage and rushed at Thorin with open mouth. At that moment all of the lights in the cave were extinguished and a flashing sword stabbed the Great Goblin fatally. The company soon realized that it was Gandalf who had killed the Great Goblin with his blade Glamdring.[1]


The death of the Great Goblin - along with Gandalf's ploy of introducing Thorin's company only a few at a time - tickled Beorn's fancy enough to gain the Company access to his hall and hospitality. Once Beorn confirmed their tale he warmed up to true friendship and provided the party with aid, advice, and mounts to ride to the border of Mirkwood.[4]

A further consequence of the Great Goblin's demise was a rekindling of the Orcs' hatred towards Dwarves, which led to preparations for war to secure domination of the North. The Orcs assembled at Mount Gundabad and were about to sweep southward when they learned of the death of Smaug. Altering their plans, the Orcs marched by night through the mountains and appeared unexpectedly at Erebor, almost immediately after the arrival of Dáin Ironfoot, and participated in the Battle of Five Armies.[5]

Portrayal in adaptations

Great Goblin in adaptations
The Great Goblin in The Hobbit (1977 film)
The Great Goblin in The Hobbit (1977 film)  
The "Goblin King" in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The "Goblin King" in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

In the animated version of The Hobbit, the Great Goblin was voiced by John Stephenson.

1980: Der Hobbit (1980 German radio series):

The Great Goblin is portrayed by Heinz Theo Branding.

1989: Hobit (1989 Slovak radio series):

The actor providing the voice of the Great Goblin is uncredited, though it is likely Karol Čálik.

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

In the console versions, the Great Goblin is mentioned but never seen, since Bilbo is separated from the Dwarves before they meet the Great Goblin. However, he's seen in the GBA version, his appearance closely matching his description in the novel. In the latter version, he immediately orders the execution of Thorin and the others after Thorin pleads his case, instead of after the revelation that he has Orcrist in his possession, before being killed by Gandalf.

2008: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Multiple other goblins claim the mantle of the Great Goblin during the War of the Ring. A running joke in the game is that none of the claimants can stand up to the original Great Goblin; all end up swiftly defeated and as the next goblin rises up to claim the title, the cycle continues.

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

The Great Goblin, also referred to as the Goblin King, recognizes Thorin immediately, and is greatly interested in him because of the bounty put on him by Azog. He is temporarily incapacitated by Gandalf, when he arrives. He emerges again after a chase, and is killed by Gandalf shortly before their escape from Goblin-town. The character was portrayed by Barry Humphries through voice acting and motion capture.[6] In the behind the scenes of the film, According to members of the film crew, the Great Goblin has an offspring credited as the Goblin Scribe, but does not give him any proper recognition because his mother was forgotten about by the Great Goblin.[7]


The Hobbit film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films An Unexpected Journey (extended editionThe Desolation of Smaug (extended edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (extended edition)
Music An Unexpected Journey (Special Edition) · The Desolation of Smaug (Special Edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (Special Edition) · "Song of the Lonely Mountain" · "I See Fire" · "The Last Goodbye"
Tie-in books An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2013 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Creatures & Characters · The World of Hobbits
The Desolation of Smaug Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2014 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers · Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon · Activity Book · Sticker Book · Ultimate Sticker Collection
The Battle of the Five Armies Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2015 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: The Art of War · Activity Book
Video games Kingdoms of Middle-earth · Armies of The Third Age · Lego The Hobbit
Characters Bilbo · Thorin · Gandalf · Balin · Fíli · Kíli · Dwalin · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Smaug · Radagast · Elrond · Galadriel · Saruman · Azog · Bolg · Thranduil · Legolas · Tauriel · Bard · Bain · Tilda · Sigrid · Master of Lake-town · Alfrid · Dáin Ironfoot · Necromancer · Bert · William · Tom · Beorn · Thráin · Thrór · Goblin King · Gollum · Frodo