| | | | |
Fellowship of Fans > Books  > The Trolls of Middle-earth

The Trolls of Middle-earth

Recently, we got our first look at a Hill-troll named Damrod in promotional material for season 2 of The Rings of Power. This rather awesome news got me thinking: Just how many types of Trolls are there in Middle-earth? There have to be quite a few, I suppose, considering how well-represented they are in both film and television. The Lord of the Rings movies alone showcase a great variety of these disgusting yet surprisingly charismatic creatures. So today I wanted to take the time to go over all of the unique Trolls Tolkien wrote about, and how they appear in film and television adaptations.

One of the more prevalent varieties of Trolls in Middle-earth are the Mountain Trolls. Mountain Trolls were first manipulated and bred by Morgoth (some theories suggest that they were once Ents before being captured and tortured by the original Dark Lord) in the First Age. They later joined Sauron in the Second and Third Ages as they sought out a new leader. They were best known for helping to carry the battering ram Grond during the Siege of Minas Tirith during the War of the Ring. In Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Return of the King, they can be seen everywhere on the battlefield as the forces of Mordor attack the White City. They also appear far larger than any other type of Troll in any adaptation of Tolkien’s work thus far.

Now we have the not-so-prominent Snow Trolls of the North. Unlike the Mountain Troll, the Snow Troll does not appear in Tolkien’s Legendarium. Instead, it is an original creation made by the creators of The Rings of Power (the distinct race of Trolls can also be seen in video games as well, like The War in the North and The Battle for Middle-earth II). In the show, the Troll lives in Durnost, a deserted fortress within the Northern Waste of Middle-earth. He attacks Galadriel’s company but is quickly slain after nearly killing most of the Elves. The Snow Troll rocks a unique design that is different from many of the Trolls that appear on this list. Unlike the Trolls seen in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies, this troll is equipped with tusks, hair on his back as well as a beard that would make even Gimli, Son of Gloin jealous, and icicles attached to his body. The design of the Snow Troll came straight from the imagination of John Howe.

One of the more popular Trolls in Tolkien’s Legendarium are the Stone Trolls. Not only do they have unique characteristics (they speak Westron when most Trolls either speak only Black Speech or are mute altogether), but they also play a decent part in one of Tolkien’s greatest stories: The Hobbit. Everyone knows the story, so I won’t bore you with another retelling, but I do have to highlight the importance of Tom, Bert, and William. While they might play smaller, antagonistic roles as compared to the likes of the Goblin-King, Gollum, and Smaug, the trio of Stone Trolls are memorable regardless, thanks to their quirky yet brutal personalities. They appear no different in adaptation. The film version of the characters retains the same unique qualities that we expect to see from the trio, as well as a distinct design that separates them from the more popular Cave Troll (more on him in a bit) from the Fellowship of the Ring.

Hill Trolls are another Troll species that have little known about them but have a distinct look that separates them from other types of Trolls. According to lore, the Hill Trolls were more man-like than many of the other Trolls and were distinguished by the scales that covered their body. They were known to use great hammers when in the field of combat, as well as use war chants to discourage their enemies. Hill Trolls have not been adapted to any visual media yet, that is until August 29th comes around, when we’ll get our first proper look at a Hill Troll in a Lord of the Rings adaptation. As seen in a piece of promotional material, a Hill Troll by the name of Damrod (meaning Metal Hammer in Elvish) will seemingly be drafted into the services of Adar, and by proxy, Sauron, just in time for the Sack of Eregion which will be adapted for the first time ever this season.

“They have a Cave Troll!” Cave Trolls are quite possibly THE most popular species of Troll in Middle-earth, thanks in no small part to the role one plays when the company enters Moria during the Fellowship of the Ring. The infamous line uttered by Boromir has become synonymous with Trolls of any type in many different stories over the years. If there is a Troll on screen, there’s a good chance someone is going to yell out those mere five words in jest as they’re just so iconic to so many people.

Olog-hai are a very interesting breed of Troll, as they were bred in the late Third Age by Sauron himself in an attempt to bolster his already strong and gigantic army. The Olog-hai are unique in the sense they are much like the Uruk-hai version of the Orcs. They are stronger, faster, and smarter than your usual Middle-earth Troll. I like to think of them as hybrids: a creation solely born out of the need for power. Unlike other types of Trolls, the Olog-hai are invulnerable to sunlight and carry a variety of different weapons, including swords, maces, and even tusks. In adaptation, we see one fight Aragorn at the end of the Return of the King during the Battle of the Black Gate. It actually does a pretty good job of getting Aragorn to the ground, but before the beast can deal the final blow, the Ring gets destroyed and all hell breaks loose on the side of Evil.

Interesting factoid: This particular Olog-hai was actually a digital insert. What was originally fighting Aragorn was none other than the Dark Lord himself, Sauron. After going through the editing process though, Peter Jackson found it wise to replace the Dark Lord as he found it too distracting from Frodo’s journey to destroy the Ring. That is when they called upon the Olog-hai to attempt to take down the future king of Gondor instead.

Half Trolls are another species of trolls that we see during the War of the Ring. The difference with Half Trolls is, as their name suggests, they aren’t wholly Troll. Instead, they are a crossbreed between Man and Troll. Best not to linger on the thought of how they came to be… if you know what I mean.

Lastly, we come to the Two-headed Trolls. While they haven’t appeared in any adaptations so far, Tolkien does mention them rather briefly in The Hobbit. In another otherwise unremarkable verse after we’re introduced to Tom, Bert, and William, Tolkien states, “Yes, I am afraid trolls do behave like that, even those with only one head each.” This could be taken as nothing more than a remark made in jest, or it could be hinting at the existence of Two-headed Trolls. In my opinion, I think it was originally conceived to be a hint towards a far more monstrous variety of Trolls as compared to the ones we meet in The Hobbit but was ultimately dropped by Tolkien as he found the idea of a two-headed race of Trolls to be too outlandish for the world that had evolved past the publication of the Hobbit.

But that’s just my opinion. Let us know what you think about the Two-headed Trolls and if they ever existed in Tolkien’s Legendarium!

Avatar photo
Christopher Thompson

Ever since I was a kid, The Lord of the Rings, and the rest of Tolkien’s legendarium for that matter, has played a significant role in my life. The tales, characters, and mythos that Tolkien crafted, inspired me to create my own stories of friendship, hope, and loss. It is because of Tolkien, that we can enjoy one of the greatest literary works of all time—and for that, I am immensely grateful.

No Comments

Add Comment