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Tolkien Himself Confirmed What We All Suspected About Samwise's Role In The Lord Of The Rings

"The Lord of the Rings" is one of the most important works of fantasy ever written. Created by J. R. R. Tolkien, the novels introduced many readers to the land of Middle-earth for the first time, even though they were preceded by "The Hobbit," another novel written by Tolkien, and are perhaps the touchstone upon which most of today's fantasy worlds and creatures all use as a reference. 

The characters and world of Middle-earth gained even more cachet when Peter Jackson adapted "The Lord of the Rings" into a film series that managed to capture its unique appeal in a beloved live-action trilogy. And the settings and characters that Tolkien created have continued finding new fans to this day.

Sam undergoes an unforgettable character arc

Fever for "Lord of the Rings" has only grown bigger and bigger over time. Even today, Amazon Prime is telling more stories in the same universe, and it's betting on Tolkien's world in a very big way (via Forbes), showing how if anything is a sure bet in today's marketplace, it's Tolkien's works.

Of course, much of the appeal of "The Lord of the Rings" comes from the impressive cast of characters that Tolkien conjured up for his timeless fantasy saga. Among the most memorable of these is Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin), Frodo Baggins' (Elijah Wood) steadfast and loyal friend. Though Sam begins the story as a risk-averse gardener, by the end of the tale, he has been transformed into a legendary warrior on the same level as any of the best fighters of the Fellowship of the Ring.

Tolkien thought of Sam as the true hero of the story

It is perhaps for this reason that even J.R.R. Tolkien himself considered Samwise Gamgee to be the true hero of "The Lord of the Rings" (via The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien). Though Frodo Baggins selflessly takes on the task of bearing the One Ring to Mount Doom, he begins to falter over the course of his long journey, even deciding to take the ring for himself when it finally comes time to destroy it. Meanwhile, Sam's time with the ring sees him single-mindedly devoted to saving Frodo, and he never even considers keeping the accursed object for himself.

Furthermore, Sam overcomes his humble beginnings to face off against a gigantic spider and defeat it single-handedly. He also slays a tower full of Orcs to rescue Frodo and is so formidable an opponent that the Orcs believe him to be a legendary Elven warrior. Finally, when Frodo can no longer even walk, it is Sam who carries him up Mount Doom so that he can complete his task once and for all. Still, there's even more to Sam than this.

Samwise Gamgee was inspired by real-life heroes

J.R.R. Tolkien had some real-life heroes in mind when he created the character of Samwise Gamgee (via John Garth). Notably, Tolkien served in the British military during World War I and as such, witnessed great acts of heroism firsthand. He said in a letter that Sam was based on his batmen. Though it might sound like he's talking about a certain caped hero, Tolkien is actually referring to a very personal aide to a soldier, akin to an orderly.

The author admired these soldiers so deeply that he once wrote that they were "so far superior to [him]." Furthermore, when a man with the same name as Tolkien's heroic Hobbit from "The Lord of the Rings" wrote to him, Tolkien said that it was an honor to have that name, writing back, "The 'Sam Gamgee' of my story is a most heroic character ... even though his origins are rustic" (via The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien). With these words in mind, it's clear that Tolkien admired Sam just as much as readers and viewers have come to for generations since.