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Gollum's Entire Backstory Explained

Gollum has to be one of the most compelling characters in all of J.R.R. Tolkien's works. The warped and twisted hobbit-like enigma is an incredible depiction of the internal struggle between good and evil. The bipolar extremities of the Gollum/Sméagol character perfectly walk the line between pitiably good and horribly wicked.

When you run into a character with this much depth and inner conflict, one of the most natural questions that arises is how they got to be that way in the first place. What past trials and tribulations drove Sméagol into a life steeped in such vice and devilry? What was he even doing before he was caught — hook, line, and sinker — by the alluring power of the One Ring? And then there are always follow-up questions. Where was he born? How old is he? Who are his relatives?

Like any good biography, Gollum's backstory is a fascinating one filled with interesting relationships, mysterious intrigue, violent murders, desperate betrayals, and a hefty dose of disgusting, slimy subterranean activity. Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

Separating facts from fiction

Right out of the gate, it's important to point out that a good portion of Gollum's story is largely speculative, even when you take the facts right out of the original source material. This is because a lot of Gollum's backstory comes from a series of patchwork guesses that are made by none other than Gandalf the Grey. To muddle things up even further, much of Gandalf's information is based on conversations that he had with Gollum himself.

This means the bulk of Gollum's history is dependent on facts that he, himself, reported and then Gandalf assembled into something like a recognizable narrative. Of course, when Gandalf speculates about something, you can bet your bottom dollar that it's pretty darn near the truth, but still, it's important to remember that a good portion of the following information is technically never directly confirmed in a greater, narrative sense. With that said, something is better than nothing, so let's dive in.

Gollum's hobbit roots

The Grey Wizard has some pretty detailed hypotheses when it comes to figuring out Gollum's heritage. In the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf explains to Frodo that he guesses Gollum's people were "of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors."

Who are the Stoors? Good question. Hobbit lore traditionally breaks down the original branches of the tiny race into three breeds: the Harfoots, the Fallohides, and the Stoors. The Stoors are heavier and broader than most hobbits, can grow facial hair, and they like boats — a distinctly unique feature compared to the other hobbit branches. So, while it's hard to know for sure, Gollum appears to be from a proto-hobbit race that lived near the Great River, likely five to six centuries before the events of The Lord of the Rings take place.

While connecting Gollum to hobbits is fairly obvious on the surface — after all, he pretty clearly isn't a dwarf, an elf, or a man — a more surprising piece of information is the fact that, per Gandalf's beliefs, Gollum is also likely descended from royalty within the hobbit ranks, or at least the closest thing to royalty within hobbit culture.

Gollum, the hobbit aristocrat

While talking with Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf explains, "There was among [Gollum's people] a family of high repute ... ruled by a grandmother of the folk," adding that, "The most inquisitive and curious-minded of that family was called Sméagol."

In other words, going off of the speculation of Gandalf, Gollum — or really, Sméagol at this point — comes from what basically equates to hobbit aristocracy. Not only is his family rich and powerful, but his grandmother is literally referred to at one point as a matriarch.

For most people, growing up with wealth and power leads to an arrogant, "nose held high" kind of attitude — but not for Sméagol. In fact, he's specifically described, even at this early stage in life, as always looking downward. Sméagol's curious mind, combined with his gravitationally directed interests, lead him to obsess over things like diving into deep pools and tunneling and burrowing into the earth.

Sméagol's violent birthday

At one point, Sméagol and his friend Déagol go on a fishing expedition far away from home. During their angling activities, Déagol is pulled into the water by a giant fish. While underwater, he discovers the One Ring lying at the bottom of the riverbed, grabs it, and then splashes back up to the surface. Sméagol is seized with desire for the powerful piece of jewelry and, claiming that he deserves it since it's his birthday, he kills his friend and claims the Ring. Talk about an overreaction.

Showing some of his devilish cunning, Sméagol carefully hides the body and successfully covers up the murder before he returns home alone. There, he slowly begins to realize that his newfound prize has more power than he realized. Little does he know that he's in the earliest stages of the metamorphosis that will transform him from the unappealing yet not all that bad Sméagol into the sniveling, gurgling, villainous Gollum.

Becoming Gollum

It doesn't take long for Sméagol to realize that his new ring makes him invisible. He keeps it secret and quickly decides to use his new ability for some not-so-savory activities. Over time, this turns into an addiction to hurting other people in one way or another. He discovers secrets about them and then uses his stolen knowledge to cause all sorts of crooked and evil mischief. He also takes to a life of thievery.

Naturally, this evil growth in his behavior has negative side effects on his relatives. They become increasingly annoyed and bitter towards their petty, mean-spirited family member. In fact, Gandalf recounts that they literally kick him in their frustration ... and he bites their feet in response. Talk about petty.

Throughout this time of increasing isolation, Sméagol begins talking more and more to himself. He also begins to adopt what can be boiled down to a glorified nervous tick: He gurgles in his throat. Hearing the strange sound, his relations begin to call him Gollum.

The story of Sméagol's exile

Eventually, his relatives become fed up with the pesky, troublemaker. Sick and tired of his villainous antics, people begin telling Sméagol — who we'll now officially start calling Gollum — that he should just up and leave. The dissension becomes so great that his grandmother, looking for any way to calm the chaos, finally exiles him in an effort to keep to the peace. Weeping, Gollum leaves his childhood home and heads off into the wild.

As Gollum adjusts to his new life in exile, he follows the Great River northward. During this time, he begins to adopt the habit of wearing the One Ring to invisibly catch fish and then eat them raw. Eventually, he branches off, following a tributary of the river that trickles down from the distant Misty Mountains. Hoping to escape the bright, burning power of the sun, he worms his way into the underground mountain passages in search of a new home.

Gollum's life 'underhill'

Interestingly, part of Gollum's initial motivation in heading "underhill" isn't simply to escape the light or find a new home. He also hopes to discover new, interesting things at the roots of the great mountain range. However, his adventurous spirit is quickly dashed as he realizes that there's nothing worth discovering in the damp, dark caves.

There, deep underground, Gollum remains for hundreds of years. He spends his time fishing, eating, and resenting everything about his past life. He also indulges in a good deal of self-loathing. He even hates the Ring that has led him to such a miserable existence, regardless of the fact that, due to its enchanting power, he could never part with it even if he wanted to. In fact, he begins to call it his "precious" and his "birthday present," and he assuages his murderous guilt by convincing himself over and over again that Déagol should have given the Ring to him when he found it.

Over the years the Ring extends Gollum's life, keeping him alive but not well. His mind and body are steadily corrupted by its power, and he becomes warped and twisted as he spends year after year in his deep, dank underground lair.

Riddles in the dark

After roughly half a millennium spent in dark isolation, Gollum's straight-up awful life is suddenly flipped on its head one day when he runs into a little hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo, himself lost and looking for his companions, wanders down to the subterranean lake that happens to be the same place where Gollum has taken up his residence on a little island out in the water.

At this point, Gollum's primary diet has consisted of fish and the occasional goblin for longer than he can remember, so he paddles over to the shore where he confronts the scrumptiously crunchable hobbit to see if he can nab a quick snack. During the famous "riddle-game" that follows, Gollum is stumped by Bilbo when he can't guess what's in the hobbit's pocket, and he's forced to show him the way out of the mountains.

However, the conniving creature decides to use his precious ring to kill Bilbo and eat him anyway. In the ensuing events, he quickly discovers that the One Ring slipped off of his finger the last time he went up the mountain tunnels ... and Bilbo has found it. While he attempts to chase Bilbo down and regain his most prized possession, the hobbit manages to escape, leaving Gollum in what can truly be described as the depths of despair. Ringless, friendless, and abandoned, Gollum is left to lick his wounds at the roots of the Misty Mountains.

A journey of vengeance

Gollum spends the next year or two nursing a massive grudge against "Baggins," as he refers to Bilbo. However, initially, he's too afraid to leave his lake in pursuit. After a while, though, the incapacitating power of the now-gone Ring begins to weaken, and he begins to feel some inner strength again. Before long, he leaves the Misty Mountains once and for all in a desperate pursuit of his "precious."

Out and about again, Gollum finds that access to fresh air and better food helps his physical body grow stronger. By this time, though, Bilbo's trail has gone quite cold, and Gollum begins to wander eastward across Middle-earth into the dark forest of Mirkwood, in a vague pursuit of his prey. There, he establishes a reputation among the locals as a blood-drinking ghost and a monster that steals their young out of nests and cradles. Whether these rumors are true or not, eventually he makes his way all the way to the region of the Lonely Mountain, where he learns how Bilbo's adventures ended.

The master calls

Once Gollum discovers news regarding Bilbo's home country, he begins to travel back west in search of "Baggins" in the "Shire." However, halfway through the journey westward, he suddenly turns south and inexplicably begins heading for Mordor. More than likely, the lure of Sauron, the Ring's maker, begins calling him even more than the Ring itself, and eventually, he's captured and brought to Sauron's Dark Tower to be interrogated. There, he spills the beans, revealing to the Dark Lord that the One Ring has been found. He also informs him that it currently resides in a place called "Shire" and is owned by a creature named "Baggins."

After being held as a prisoner in Mordor for who knows how long, Gollum finally escapes his captivity (although it's later assumed that he was allowed to do so). By this point, he's been thoroughly cowed by Sauron and fears him more than anyone else in the world — a fear that he can't entirely shake even as he leaves the Black Land in the rearview mirror.

Gollum's encounter with Aragorn

While he does get to breathe the free air outside of Mordor for a little bit, Gollum's freedom is only short-lived. He hardly makes it to the Dead Marshes — the ghost-ridden swamp that he, Frodo, and Sam cross in The Two Towers — before he's found and caught by Aragorn the Ranger. By this time, Aragorn has been hunting Gollum as a favor for his friend Gandalf for quite a while, and he'd actually given up the search and was heading back home when he accidentally stumbled on the slimy creature's trail. He manages to capture his prey — although only after Gollum bites him in self-defense — and then Aragorn roughly leads the miserable wretch back to Mirkwood.

The Ranger of the North stays awake day and night to watch his captive, and he even has to resort to using a halter and a gag to make sure he doesn't lose his treacherous captive. He deprives Gollum of food and water until the creature is broken by hunger and thirst. Not surprisingly, after this point, Aragorn remains one of Gollum's most hated enemies. When Frodo brings up the Ranger during a conversation in The Two Towers, it says that "an evil light came into [Gollum's] eyes at the naming of Aragorn." When the reluctant pair arrive back in Mirkwood, Aragorn is happy to leave his quarry with the wood-elves.

Jail time for Gollum

It's fairly obvious to most Middle-earth residents that jail time and endless interrogations are infinitely worse if they're taking place in Mordor. However, Gollum hardly sees his new captivity in the elven halls of Mirkwood as much of an improvement. To add insult to injury, Gandalf eventually shows up on the scene and begins to grill Gollum with his own set of questions.

The wizard desperately wants to know what Gollum has been up to. He also uses the opportunity to attempt to confirm some of his own suspicions regarding the One Ring. While Gollum remains fairly reticent throughout the interrogation process, he breaks when Gandalf threatens him with fire. Insulted and scared, he finally begins to share some of his activities. However, when Gandalf pushes him to explain what he's been up to ever since his riddle-game with Bilbo, the interrogation hits a wall. Gollum, feeling torn between the immediate fiery fear before him and the much bigger fear of distant Sauron, flat-out refuses to share any more information.

Gollum makes a break for it

After this second round of interrogations by Gandalf, Gollum finds himself back in long-term captivity. However, his elvish guards take pity on the poor soul, partly thanks to a suggestion by Gandalf himself that Gollum still might be cured of his evil ways. So they allow him to spend time outdoors under a watchful guard. During this time, he becomes a master tree climber, learning to grab and swing from the branches with both his hands and his feet. He also finds a large, isolated tree that he particularly loves to climb.

One day, Gollum clambers up into this tree and then refuses to come down. Rather than climb up and try to dislodge the master arboreal acrobat, the guards remain at the foot of the tree and wait. Then, completely out of the blue (as far as they can tell), a group of orcs shows up out of nowhere and attacks the guards, freeing Gollum in the process and leaving the surviving elves convinced that it was a planned jailbreak.

It's thanks to these events that Legolas is sent to Rivendell to report on the escape of their prisoner. In fact, his presence at the Council of Elrond and his further involvement in the Fellowship of the Ring would've been very unlikely if he hadn't already been there reporting about Gollum's escape in the first place. So, yeah, thanks for that, Gollum.

His path collides with the Fellowship of the Ring

After his escape from Mirkwood, Gollum falls off of the map for a bit. The elves initially follow his trail south through Mirkwood, but eventually, they give up. Chances are good that Gollum sets out in search of the Ring once again, although he initially has no success. A creature of habit, it doesn't take long until he finds his way back into the underbelly of the Misty Mountains, this time via the abandoned dwarvish city of Moria.

And it's there, in the deep pits of Moria, that Gollum finally finds what he's been hunting for decades at this point. He crosses paths with the Fellowship of the Ring as they attempt to get to the other side of the mountains through the dark caverns of Moria. Gollum follows the company of adventurers out of the mountains and on into Lothlorien and beyond. While several members of the Fellowship — including Aragorn, Sam, and Frodo — become aware of him, they're unable to shake him as they travel down the Great River in the closing act of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Breaking down the book and movie versions of Gollum

Alright, we've covered Gollum's origin story from its encouraging start to his ultimate demise. One question that still lingers, though, is how this story varies between the books and the movies. We'll keep the comparison to Tolkien's original material and Peter Jackson's iconic films. However, there are several other versions of the character that have been adapted for both film and radio. These all have their changes, too.

Naturally, the first thing to point out is that the written version of the character is much more complex than what we get on the silver screen. There, we get a rapid-fire rundown of Sméagol's transformation into Gollum at the beginning of Jackson's "The Return of the King" film. This gives us a snapshot idea of the evolution, but most of the information about his unsavory beginnings lie in long conversations found in the original text.

So, where do these two accounts differ? In a few different areas, actually. First off, Gollum never gains Frodo's trust in the books in the same way that he does in the films. As evidence, we point to the scene in "The Return of the King" when Gollum casually frames Sam for wasting food. The scene ends with Frodo literally sending Sam home and continuing on with Gollum — which is complete rubbish. The two Hobbits never part ways, and while Frodo pities Gollum, he never ever would choose the gangly villain over his trusty gardener.

Differences in Gollum's appearance

Another area that is quite different between the books and the films is Gollum's physical appearance. In the movies, we get a pale, emaciated creature with a giant head, bulbous eyes, huge hands and feet, and a few strands of hair. In the books, some of this is still true, but some of the details are quite different.

For instance, while book Gollum is thin and gangly, he's also described in "The Hobbit" as "a small slimy creature." He has big eyes and minimal hair, but his dental work is different. In "The Hobbit" movie, he distinctly says that he has nine teeth, while in the book he says he has six. Why the change? We have no idea. Maybe Serkis was reading the script upside down?

Some fans also think Gollum's skin should have been much darker. This comes from multiple lines in the books. In "The Two Towers," he's described in the moonlight as "a small black shape." A little while later, an Orc refers to him as a "little thin black fellow; like a spider himself, or perhaps more like a starved frog." Of course, both of those occasions take place in dark settings, which could be the main reason for the use of the adjective.

Perhaps the biggest change with Gollum, though, is his signature sound. In the movies, the character says "Gollum" with a dry, cough-like delivery. In "The Hobbit," the sound is described as "a horrible swallowing noise in his throat." This sounds much more guttural and less like a sneezy cough.

Gollum even changed within the books

Another change that we have to point out about Gollum's evolution has to do with how Tolkien adjusted the character right in the books themselves. Before Andy Serkis ever donned his motion-sensing garb, Tolkien was busy rewriting his slimy creation to better fit his growing tale.

In the original version of "The Hobbit," Gollum was little more than a nasty creature who lived in the subterranean darkness. He was hungry and still liked to eat people, but he wasn't much worse than anything else that Bilbo faces on his epic adventure. In fact, in the original version, Gollum proposes a Riddle Game where he eats Bilbo if he wins, but — get this — he gives Bilbo a magic ring that he has if the Hobbit wins.

However, when Tolkien was asked to write a sequel to the book, he chose the One Ring as the connection point between "The Hobbit" and the then-unwritten "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. This development of Bilbo's magic ring into the Ring of Power made it much more nefarious — and once that was decided, it only made sense that Gollum's long-term possession of the bauble should have more of a negative impact on the character. Tolkien rewrote Gollum's actions and words to reflect a more sinister tone, which set up the evil Gollum that we all know and love.

Gollum and Samwise Gamgee

Sam and Gollum — or, Sméagol for much of the time — are both in the similar position of helping the Ring Bearer get to Mordor. However, rather than unifying them with a common cause, their varying motivations put them at odds with each other early and often.

In the movies, this antipathy is shown in a fairly straightforward manner. Sam straight-up hates Gollum. He doesn't want the creature around, and he's really tough on the villain. Things even get so bad that, right before Gollum betrays his master, he goes out of his way to get Sam out of the picture.

In the books, this relationship is similar, but it plays out a little less obviously. Much of Sam's distrust of Gollum takes place through internal dialogue. For instance, he clearly dislikes Gollum and makes up names for the bipolar creature, calling him "Slinker" and "Stinker." There are even a few moments where Gollum and Sam butt heads. But they tend to keep things civil most of the time.

It isn't until Gollum betrays Frodo to the clutches of Shelob that they finally come to blows. Remember, in the book Sam hasn't been sent away at this point. Instead, Frodo runs ahead and is ambushed by Shelob. At the same time, Gollum jumps Sam and tries to strangle him. But Sam turns out to be too feisty, and he sends Gollum packing — right before he takes on Shelob, too. It doesn't matter if you're talking about the books or the movies, though, no character gets in Gollum's way more than Samwise Gamgee.

Gollum's relationship with Shelob

Gollum is a loner. He spends most of his time hiding underneath a mountain or wandering by himself. When he runs into someone else, his first thought is usually whether or not he can eat them. The guy just isn't good at building long-term relationships.

And, of course, the one time he does forge a connection that lasts, it's just about as messed up as it gets. We're talking about Gollum's servile connection with Shelob. That's right. The devious creature doesn't just take Frodo and Sam up through the mountains because he knows there's a monster up there. He's closely connected to Shelob.

In fact, at one point in "The Two Towers," an Orc that patrols that region refers to Gollum as Shelob's "Sneak" and adds that they've seen him visit Shelob multiple times and that he "seems to have some understanding with Her Ladyship." Earlier in the book, Tolkien himself explains that Gollum "had bowed and worshipped her," adding that "the darkness of her evil will walked through all the ways of his weariness beside him, cutting him off from light and from regret." It also says that Gollum "had promised to bring her food."

The kicker to it all? Even though Gollum gets caught in this twisted relationship with a more powerful being, he still hopes to get his revenge. As he dreams of delivering the Hobbits to Shelob, he hopes that when she's done eating, he'll get the Ring ... and then he'll be able to pay her back, along with everyone else who had ruined his pathetic existence.

Andy Serkis brings Gollum to life

There's no doubt that "The Lord of the Rings" has plenty of offbeat characters. Ents, Hobbits, Dwarves, and Orcs all required a unique infusion of acting to bring them to life on the screen. However, there's also no doubt that the biggest challenge was adapting this outlandish "Gollum" fellow into something that would look good next to real-life actors.

In the process of bringing the character to life, Peter Jackson and company turned to the one man in the world who could do so with confidence: Andy Serkis. Serkis reported much later that when he was approached to play the voice for a digital character, his agent warned him not to go anywhere near the gig. However, he chose to dive into the novel experience anyway — to the immense gratitude of Tolkien fans everywhere.

Serkis immersed himself in the Gollum/Sméagol split personality. He developed his own take on the voice and mannerisms. He wore motion-capture technology to mirror his movements. He even spent hours at a time walking on all fours off of the set to prepare and get into character.

For all of the major adjustments and changes that happened to Gollum as he was adapted to a movie format, the truth is, Serkis hit a home run with his portrayal of the oddball character. His ability to seamlessly flip between evil villain and pitiable wretch, while ridiculously shambling around on all fours, no less, brought Gollum to life for an entire generation of Middle-earth fans.

Gollum's love/hate relationship with the Ring

For anyone who watches "The Lord of the Rings," it's easy to come away with the idea that Gollum loves the One Ring. The poor wretch is enchanted by the shiny bauble from the instant his friend comes up spluttering out of a river with it in his hand. Gollum is so excited about the trinket that he chooses it over everything else.

All things considered, it seems like one could say with confidence that Gollum loves the Ring. But it turns out that those words are only half correct. The self-loathing creature both loves and hates the Ring. And that isn't just us playing armchair psychologist. Gandalf comes to the same conclusion in "The Fellowship of the Ring." When the wizard explains Gollum's situation to Frodo, he says, "He was altogether wretched. He hated the dark, and he hated light more: he hated everything, and the Ring most of all." When Frodo challenges this notion, Gandalf clarifies that, "He hated it and loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter."

The wizard's explanation reveals a critical part of the Gollum/Ring relationship. Gollum isn't the driving force in possessing the Ring. On the contrary, he had no choice in the decision. The Ring chose him as a "holding cell" as it waited for its master and then abandoned him when the time came. The worst part of it all? Gollum knew it.

Gollum's strange diet

Gollum eats fish. Everyone knows that. He hunts them in his subterranean pool in "The Hobbit." He finds them in the Forbidden Pool near Faramir's hideout. He makes jokes and riddles about them. He's constantly thinking about his next dose of seafood. But there are plenty of times when Gollum doesn't have a nice juicy fish nearby to gorge on — and when that happens, his diet can get really ... weird.

In "The Two Towers," Sam and Frodo offer Gollum some of their Lembas bread. This, Gollum flatly refuses to eat. He recognizes it as Elf food, and we all know how much he dislikes things made by Elves. Later on, Gollum does capture a brace of conies, but he's uninterested in the idea of Sam cooking the rabbits up into a stew.

But wait, there's more than just raw fish and rabbits in store for Sméagol's belly. Here's where it starts to get uncomfortable, too. He eats a goblin in "The Hobbit," and is all-too-ready to snack on Bilbo, too, although he doesn't get the chance. Later on, as he wanders in search of the Ring, rumors pop up about a creature that drinks blood and raids nests, holes, and cradles for food.

Perhaps his grossest exhibition of hunger, though, comes in "The Two Towers," when he ditches the Lembas and goes off in search of a verminous snack. While we don't officially hear what it is, Sam guesses that it's "Worms or beetles or something slimy out of holes." Looks like centuries spent in isolation can mess with your taste buds.

Why is Gollum still visible?

One question that just kind of hangs out there, unanswered, is why Gollum is still visible after owning the One Ring for so long. After all, the Black Riders wore their Rings of Power for centuries and they turned permanently invisible. And this jives with a line that Gandalf says in "The Fellowship of the Ring," when he tells Frodo that if a ring bearer "often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the dark power that rules the Rings."

If this is the case, the natural follow-up is why Gollum is still visible five centuries after finding the One Ring. However, the key phrase here is "often uses." Gollum loves the Ring. He can't bear to be parted from it. When he loses it, he chases it down half a world away. And yet, the truth is, he doesn't always wear it.

On the contrary, in "The Hobbit," we see that he doesn't even realize that it's missing until he goes back to his little island to get it and discovers that it's lost. Rather than wearing it all the time, he keeps it close but unworn for most of his days. This doesn't appear to impact the anti-aging effects of the Ring, either. When Bilbo and Frodo possess the Ring, it extends their lives, whether they use it or not. This means the Ring is still able to consume Gollum and take control of his destiny without physically making him fade over time.

Why is Gollum's evil evolution so much worse than Bilbo's?

There's no doubt that Gollum is a villain. Sure, he's sympathetic, and the Ring irresistibly controls him, but as the story plays out, the hopeful Sméagol half of the character fades and the evil Gollum half takes over. The question is, why is Gollum so corrupted by the Ring when someone like Frodo or Bilbo isn't? (Hint: the answer isn't just that he has it longer.)

It turns out that the way each Ring Bearer gets their prized possession massively impacts how it affects them. In "The Fellowship of the Ring," Gandalf explains that Bilbo "took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the ring so. With Pity." In other words, Bilbo's charitable first deed while using the Ring tempered the decay that it creates in its owners. It slowed that process down — even if, in the end, the results would be the same. The fact that Bilbo is able to give the Ring away so soon after getting it means the Hobbit was even able to escape the ultimate, corrupting process entirely.

Gollum, on the other hand, started his possession of the Ring with the polar opposite of pity. He literally killed his good friend at the drop of a hat to own it. This accelerates its effects and quickly drags him into the depths of evil and corruption, a place from which he is never able to escape, even to the bitter end.

A tragic finale for poor Gollum

At this point, we're bleeding into the most well-known parts of Gollum's story. The creature is ultimately caught by Frodo and Sam as they attempt to travel to Mordor on their own. Frodo tames Gollum, bringing a hint of the old Sméagol out of him for a time. However, it doesn't take long before the evil side regains control again. When that happens, Gollum treacherously leads his two hobbit companions into a trap within Shelob's lair in the mountains surrounding Mordor.

While his plan backfires spectacularly thanks to the heroics of Sam, Gollum continues to follow the hobbits as they work their way through Mordor and inch closer to Mount Doom. Ultimately, the creature attacks his former master right at the Cracks of Doom, biting off his finger and reclaiming the One Ring, just in time to slip, fall to a long overdue death, and inadvertently destroy the Ring in the fiery depths below.

While Gollum generally plays the part of a villain throughout The Lord of the Rings, there's no doubt that his waffling personalities, not to mention his final actions, have an enormous effect on the way that the story plays out. In fact, without his involvement, a very good argument could be made that the protagonists of the story would've never been able to achieve a final and complete victory over Sauron.