Every Fellowship Of The Ring Member From Lord Of The Rings Ranked

With "The Hobbit" first published nearly a century ago, J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth is one of fantasy's most enduring worlds. Inspired by the rise of fascism and the horrors of war, Tolkien's fantasy culminates in a battle for good and evil over the Ring of Power, an ancient tool of evil made by Lord Sauron to control and wield power over Middle Earth. When Bilbo Baggins regrettably passes the Ring onto his nephew Frodo, the young hobbit is sent on a quest to destroy the Ring to save Middle Earth. 

Thankfully, he's not alone, as a disparate group of heroes comes together to form the Fellowship of the Ring. Best known to audiences in Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Tolkien's characters are complex, dynamic, and, regardless of their species, remarkably human. Though it's a task almost as difficult as bearing the Ring itself, below we've ranked every Fellowship of the Ring member from worst to best.

9. Boromir

Portrayed with mercurial menace by Sean Bean, Boromir arrives for the Council of Elrond as the representative of his father, the steward of Gondor. Almost immediately, he seizes upon the One Ring as an opportunity to restore power to his home, the first of many temptations for the weak-hearted but physically strong human. After agreeing to serve in the Fellowship, he clashes with Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the rightful heir to Gondor, clearly threatened by him before forming a real friendship with him based on their shared ideals. 

Meant to represent the weakness of men within Middle Earth (and perhaps beyond) Boromir is easily swayed by the evil of the Ring and largely unaware of the effects it has on him. While he swears on his life to protect the hobbits, this tension comes to a head when he tries to take the Ring from Frodo (Elijah Wood), forcing him to run away and break the Fellowship. As soon as the Ring is out of reach, a heartbroken Boromir comes to his senses and tries to find Frodo to apologize — but the damage is done. 

Orcs and Uruk-hai descend on Amon-Hen, and Boromir does his best to defend the Fellowship alone before dying valiantly in battle. Boromir's final moments are redemptive, fulfilling his promise to protect Frodo with his last breath while letting go of the last of his resentment and jealousy toward Aragorn. However, it's not quite enough to erase his many moments of selfishness.

8. Pippin

Peregrin Took (Billy Boyd) has a similar journey to the other hobbits on the surface, leaving home, going to war, and returning. As the most naive of the bunch, Pippin's early life is a series of goofy pranks like stealing Gandalf's (Ian McKellen) fireworks with his best friend, Merry (Dominic Monaghan). Not wanting to be left behind, they join the Fellowship less out of a sense of duty than a fear of missing out on fun with their friends. Of course, the fun doesn't last long as the danger becomes deadly, and they soon lose two members of the Fellowship — Gandalf and Boromir — in acts of self-sacrifice. 

While Frodo and Sam (Sean Astin) have some sense of the danger they're in early on, Pippin remains hopeful long after the Fellowship comes together and breaks apart that everything can go back to normal and resists the call to arms. It's not until Merry, whose fear sinks in sooner, points out to him that there may not be a Shire to go home to, that Pippin realizes he has to grow up. 

Oddly enough, it's being mistaken as Frodo that starts Pippin on his own hero's journey. When Gandalf brings him to Gondor for safety, Pippin swears his allegiance to Boromir's father, Denethor (John Noble), and becomes a Guard of the Citadel, which thrusts him directly into battle at Gandalf's side. While Pippin makes a lot of frustrating mistakes, he has the heart of a hero throughout.

7. Merry

A little smarter and a bit more cunning than Pippin, Meriadoc Brandybuck is mostly interested in downing a pint with his friends before joining the Fellowship. However, unlike Pippin, he catches on faster to the terrifying reality of their situation, realizing first that Frodo intends to leave and that they need to act as bait for the Orcs and Uru-khai to buy him time. Merry also uses trickery to manipulate Treebeard (John Rhys-Davies) and the Ents into action against Isengard, doing the most with what little power and agency he has while separated from the rest of the Fellowship. 

After Pippin flees to Gondor, Merry stays with the Riders of Rohan and swears allegiance to King Theoden (Bernard Hill). While he wants to fight in battle, they belittle him and tell him to stay behind, much like Eowyn (Miranda Otto), who brings Merry with her to the Fields of Pelennor. Together, they slay the unkillable Witch King, proving what can be done when men step aside. Though Merry is injured in battle, he never gives up fighting for Frodo and the Shire, a testament to the courage found in the least expected of places.

6. Legolas

With an ethereal beauty and catlike athleticism, Legolas Greenleaf (Orlando Bloom) joins the Fellowship as a graceful archer at odds with the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) due to the history between their families and races — a backstory that is somewhat queasy in a modern context. While Aragorn, Boromir, and Gimli are all strong hand-to-hand fighters, Legolas offers a unique skillset with his sharp hearing, keen eyesight, and incredible skills with a bow and arrow. The elf doesn't have much of a dynamic journey outside of his eventual friendship with Gimli, largely resisting the lure of the Ring and remaining aligned with Aragorn and Gandalf throughout the war. 

We gain further insight into Legolas' character when he leads the Fellowship to Lothlorien, the beautiful elven realm where Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) lives. Under her protection, the Fellowship is able rest, and Gimli learns to appreciate elves. His rapport with Gilmi also further motivates him on the battlefield, with the two of them regularly engaging in contests to see who can get a higher kill count. Additionally, Legolas' balletic fighting prowess (like single-handedly taking down an Oliphaunt) makes him an invaluable and highly capable member of the Fellowship.

5. Gimli

Aside from Gandalf, Gimli has the most direct connection to the One Ring as the son of Glóin, one of the dwarves who accompanied Bilbo on his journey through the Misty Mountains when he first came into possession of the object. A proud and boastful dwarf, Gimli, with his axe at the ready, never fears a good fight. Like many of the members of the Fellowship, Gimli is introduced at the Council of Elrond where he makes the bold and decisive move to try to destroy the Ring then and there before understanding it can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. 

Gimli's arc is largely tied to Legolas, the elf who he initially regards as an enemy. Gimli also serves as the Fellowship's comic relief and a foil to the rest of the group's stoicism. Behind Gimli's tough exterior, though, is an equally soft heart, portrayed with warmth and humor by the excellent John Rhys Davies. While Gimli's thirst for a fight, evidenced by his competition with Legolas, may be what he's best known for, it's his softer side that makes him a worthy member of the Fellowship.

4. Gandalf

Due to his long history with the Baggins family and his roots in the Shire, Gandalf is instrumental in bringing the Fellowship together. After visiting for Bilbo's birthday and seeing the effects the Ring has had on him, Gandalf takes it upon himself to convince Bilbo to give up the Ring, setting everything in motion. Beyond his initial plan, Gandalf is also an incredibly powerful wizard who uses magic to save the Fellowship at dire moments, most notably in the Mines of Moria where he faces the Balrog and falls. 

The first of the Fellowship to die, his resurrection as Gandalf the White is all the more powerful. As Gandalf the White, his confidence is solidified, and he leads the remaining members of the Fellowship with renewed vigor and focus on helping Frodo destroy the ring. While Gandalf is always strategic, he evolves into a masterful and terrifying warrior who also offers the most heartfelt and sage wisdom of the Fellowship. Many of the most memorable moments and lines in the trilogy come from Gandalf with good reason. Ian McKellen's performance is transcendent, transforming Gandalf from a funny, old wizard to a mystical, ethereal being.

3. Aragorn

Aside from Frodo and Sam, Aragorn may be the most crucial member of the Fellowship in saving Middle Earth. The prodigal king first crosses paths with the hobbits in Bree, presenting himself as a ranger named Strider, who offers to help protect them on their journey. His true identity as the lost heir to the throne of Gondor is revealed during the Council of Elrond, immediately boosting his credibility and explaining his quiet confidence. While Aragorn never hesitates to help Frodo and the Fellowship, he is reluctant to step up as king, his self-doubt and fear holding him back due to initial mistakes in his journey with the Fellowship. 

Yet, when the moment arises and extra forces are needed to face Sauron's army, Aragorn lets go, commanding the Army of the Dead with unflinching strength. Additionally, without his strategic leadership in battle, Frodo and Sam may not have had the extra time they needed to reach Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. Though his confidence wavers at times, Aragorn is undoubtedly the most skilled warrior of the Fellowship and the leader that Middle Earth has waited for.

2. Frodo

Frodo is a tragic and heartbreaking hero who starts as a young, innocent hobbit in search of an adventure like his uncle Bilbo (Ian Holm) once had. Of course, the adventure Gandalf drops into his lap is far more than he ever could have anticipated. Frodo initially agrees to carry the Ring as far as Bree, awaiting further help from the wizard and having no idea what danger lies ahead. When the Council of Elrond convenes, directing the group that someone must take the Ring to Mordor, everyone bickers and fights about who should do it until Frodo volunteers. His self-sacrifice and purity of heart make him mostly immune to the dark powers of the Ring, though, he becomes more corrupted the longer he wears it. 

Grounded by Elijah Wood's wrenching performance, Frodo is fully rounded and complex. He's driven to destroy the Ring, even as he becomes more attached to it. The addiction to the Ring can make Frodo a bit frustrating, particularly when it causes him to make dangerous decisions, but it's an understandable flaw. Though he may not be perfect, Frodo's journey is remarkable because of his persistence, selflessness, and redemption. As a result, it's safe to say that Frodo's final moments are some of the most beautiful and well-earned in all of Tolkien's work.

1. Sam

Although Frodo is the hero of the story, he wouldn't have made it without his best friend and gardener, Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin). While initially caught up in Frodo's quest as a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Sam takes Gandalf's order to accompany Frodo seriously, keeping his promise and never leaving Frodo's side. As a result, Sam's loyalty is the moral centerpiece of "The Lord of the Rings." Sam is one of the few characters who is never tempted or corrupted by the Ring and whose purity stands as a direct foil to Frodo's declining humanity. 

This same strength of character translates to bravery in defending Frodo physically. While Sam is small and can't fight with the grace of Legolas or the brawn of Aragorn, he is driven by his love for his friend and has the strength to fight orcs and carry Frodo on his back. Above all, Sam is the only one who Frodo trusts enough to accompany him to the end. His friendship and loyalty are the ultimate saving grace for Middle Earth. Sam's character powerfully underscores Tolkien's greatest lesson that no one is too small or weak to fight against evil in whatever way they can. This makes him the best and most meaningful member of the Fellowship.