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How Old Is Each Member Of The Fellowship Of The Ring?

J.R.R. Tolkien's world is filled with a huge variety of different inhabitants. Ents, elves, dwarves, men, hobbits, orcs, trolls, and countless others rub shoulders over the course of tens of thousands of years of Middle-earth history. Some folk are fairly long in the tooth. Galadriel, for instance, is over 8,000 years old during the events of The Lord of the Rings. Sauron is older than time itself. In The Two Towers, Gandalf refers to Treebeard as "the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth."

In comparison, the mortal races live significantly shorter lifespans. Dwarves, while hearty, still only live for centuries at a time. Men are lucky if they hit the 100-year mark — unless they're from Aragorn's bloodline, in which case they can expect to notch a couple of centuries before they kick the bucket. Hobbits tend to live past the centennial mark but not much farther than that — Bilbo sails to the Undying Lands (and likely dies soon afterward) shortly after his 131st birthday, and he's a very old hobbit, thanks to the Ring extending his life.

With so many different creatures possessing dramatically different lifespans, we thought it would be fun to break down and compare the ages of a specific posse of individuals that manage to work very well together in spite of their age differences. We're talking, of course, about the Fellowship of the Ring.

The 411 on the Fellowship of the Ring

For those who need a refresher or — heaven forbid — haven't read the books or seen the movies yet, the Fellowship of the Ring is the group of companions who set out to destroy the One Ring. As Gandalf points out in The Return of the King, the Ring's destruction means the Dark Lord Sauron will "lose the best part of the strength that was native to him in his beginning," adding that "all that was made or begun with that power will crumble." Along with destroying his handiwork, Gandalf mentions that the elimination of the Ring also means Sauron "will be maimed forever, becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape."

In other words, if the Ring is destroyed, it will do 99% of the dirty work in a war that, otherwise, would be nearly impossible to win. Frodo the hobbit is chosen to secretly try to perform this daunting yet essential task, and a hearty group of companions is assembled to help him with his quest. This Fellowship of the Ring, also known as "The Company of the Ring" or "The Nine Walkers," consists of the wizard Gandalf the Grey (later Gandalf the White), the men Aragorn and Boromir, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf, and the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, and Meriadoc Brandybuck. Here are those famed Nine Walkers, in order from youngest to oldest.

Pippin isn't even out of his 'tweens' when he joins the Fellowship of the Ring

The stripling of the group, Peregrin Took (aka Pippin) is by far the youngest member of the Fellowship of the Ring. The fella comes in at a youthful 29 years old when the Ring is destroyed. This makes Pippin extraordinarily young, even for a hobbit. The race tends to age slowly, drawing out the "teenager concept" right through their 20s. In fact, in The Fellowship of the Ring, this extended adolescence is defined as "tweens ... the irresponsible 20s between childhood and coming of age at 33."

In other words, Pippin is so young that he still has four years to go before he even "comes of age" according to the standards of his own people. While a bit early to go traipsing around the continent on life-or-death, world-saving adventures, Pippin ultimately exonerates his youthful presence in multiple ways.

First, he indirectly helps by giving in to temptation and looking in the palantír — Saruman's glowing magic eight ball. This inadvertently prevents Gandalf from accidentally doing so himself, which would've disastrously revealed the wizard's thoughts to Sauron. On top of that, Pippin helps convince the ents to attack Isengard and ultimately saves Faramir from being burned alive by his own father, which — nice job, dude. Heck, in the books the little guy even single-handedly takes down a huge hill troll chieftain in the final battle before the Black Gate. Young or not, it's a good thing he's on the team.

Merry has barely come of age

Meriadoc Brandybuck, also known as good ol' Merry, is the second-youngest member of the Fellowship. He's 37 years old when the Ring goes into the fires of Mount Doom, making him nearly a decade older than his bestie, Pippin. While still young for a hobbit — he's just four years past coming of age, after all — Merry shows a distinct struggle with maturity that his younger compatriot lacks.

For instance, when Pippin casually shrugs off the repercussions of looking into Saruman's seeing stone, it's Merry who calls his friend out on his flippant attitude. He sees the inherent danger that they're facing and chastises Pippin for his foolishness, throwing in the jab that his friend smokes too much — even if he is enabling him by giving him tobacco while he does so. Then, as he watches Pippin race away with Gandalf on Shadowfax, he informs Aragorn that he's always been there to get his friend out of trouble.

While Merry spends most of his time waffling between adulting and rabble-rousing — he does drink a lot and even gets caught stealing fireworks — he turns out to be just as valuable an addition to the crew as Pippin. If it weren't for Merry's help, the ents likely wouldn't have attacked Isengard. Also, it's his small act of bravery that helps Éowyn take out the Witch-king, once again vindicating his small yet critical presence in such an old, venerable fellowship.

Sam is a respectable young adult

As far as hobbits go, Samwise Gamgee finally starts to feel like we're dealing with an adult or at least a young adult. Mr. Gamgee is 39 years old when he helps dispose of the Ring. Needless to say, Sam's temper, mood, and general demeanor tack toward the more mature. Merry and Pippin tend to be distracted by the slightest opportunity to eat, drink, smoke, and generally lounge around. In contrast, Sam has no problem prioritizing and tending to his responsibilities, whether they consist of caring for the Bag End garden, pursuing Rose Cotton, or helping his master travel across a continent to dispose of an over-powered trinket.

That said, Sam does still have his youthful moments. For instance, early in the book The Fellowship of the Ring, he's informed that they will be taking a shortcut across the Shire in order to avoid a run-in with the Black Riders. His predictable response is that he will faithfully follow his master wherever he goes. However, internally, he has private misgivings due to a "deep regret" at the fact that they won't be passing an inn situated along the original route that's well-known for its excellent beer.

For the most part, though, Sam regularly displays wisdom and endurance far beyond his years. He remains faithfully by his master's side, correctly identifies Gollum's treachery, fends off Shelob, keeps his master focused, and ultimately carries him halfway up a mountain — much of which can probably be directly attributed to his youthful energy, we might add.

Boromir is the middle-aged warrior in the Fellowship of the Ring

While he doesn't live to see the Ring destroyed, Boromir is 41 years old when he joins the Fellowship of the Ring, putting him just a tad older than Samwise. The son of Denethor is a man of war through and through who, in spite of his years, still possesses a decent amount of youthful vigor. Brave, strong, and daring, the heir to the steward of Gondor displays equal parts experience and energy throughout the adventures of the Fellowship.

While he's most known by fans for his betrayal and attack on Frodo, before that point, Boromir cultivates a stellar military reputation and is widely known as a fierce warrior, a cunning captain, and a brave leader of men. He's idolized by both the soldiers of Gondor and the riders of Rohan. In fact, even the recklessly brave Éomer describes him as "a worthy man; all spoke his praise," adding that he was "likely to prove a great captain of his people when his time came."

Even after he falls to the lure of the Ring, Boromir is able to rally his spirits and sacrifice himself in defense of his younger companions, Merry and Pippin. The only member of the Fellowship to perish during the War of the Ring (if you don't count Gandalf's death and resurrection), Boromir ultimately dies at a fairly young age, without even getting the chance for a good mid-life crisis beforehand.

Frodo is an old hobbit in a young body

Frodo Baggins has a full ten years on Boromir, making him 50 years old throughout his adventures. In fact, he literally kicks things off by leaving Bag End the day after his 50th birthday. While this puts him squarely in the middle of a hobbit lifespan, the truth is, the 50-year-old Ringbearer is actually sporting a 33-year-old body when he sets out on his quest.

Frodo receives the Ring from Bilbo during his 33rd birthday party — which happens to exactly coincide with Bilbo's 111st birthday. From that day forward, the hobbit doesn't age a day. The magic of the Ring prevents his body from aging, keeping him young and attracting the envy of his rapidly aging neighbors.

So, while Frodo is technically older than Merry, Sam, and Boromir, in a certain sense, he's physically younger than all of them. This ends up creating the perfect mix of youthful strength and middle-aged wisdom that makes Frodo the perfect candidate for the job of destroying the One Ring.

Aragorn is much older than he looks

Aragorn, son of Arathorn, is unique among the men of Middle-earth, particularly during the events of The Lord of the Rings. The Ranger's bloodline, which includes some elvish DNA, is well-known for creating long-lived kings. See, way back in the beginning of the Second Age, the patriarch of his family tree — Elrond's brother, Elros — chose to become a mortal man. (Compare that to Elrond's choice to become an elf. Yeah, it's complicated.) Even as a mortal, though, Elros lived to be an impressive 500 years old. 

Over time, his descendants had shorter and shorter lives, but they still add up to multiple lifespans compared to other men. So, how old does that make Aragorn, then? Well, he's 88 years old when the Ring is kaput — he tells Éowyn that he's 87 in The Two Towers film, but his birthday is the same month that the Ring is destroyed, pushing him up to the 88-year-old mark in the process.

This puts the ranger head and shoulders over the younger members of the company. He's almost twice as old as Frodo, and he's triple Pippin's age. While he remains a hearty warrior, it's Aragorn's age that makes him a particularly good candidate as a leader of men and the eventual high king of Gondor and Arnor. He's experienced (seriously, the guy fought with both Denethor and Théoden's dads) and knows how to be patient. Once he becomes king, Aragorn goes on to rule for 120 more years, dying at the ripe old age of 210.

Gimli is a very old young dwarf

Gimli provides a hefty dose of comic relief, especially throughout the movies, and this — along with his reduced, dwarvish height — can make the fellow come across as a fairly young dwarf. And, to be fair, he is a young dwarf. In fact, he's just 140 years old during the War of the Ring. For context, when Thorin Oakenshield is prematurely killed during the Battle of Five Armies, he's nearly 200 years old. When Balin falls in his attempt to retake Moria, he's 231 years old. Heck, when Dain II Ironfoot — the dwarf who becomes "king under the mountain" after Thorin — dies in battle during the War of the Ring, he's 250 years old and still swinging a battle ax.

Suffice it to say that Gimli is still in the flower of youth when he joins the Fellowship. In fact, in Tolkien's posthumously published work Unfinished Tales, Gimli points out that he was even alive during The Hobbit and wanted to join the Quest of Erebor to help take down Smaug and reclaim his people's lost home and treasure. The only reason he didn't is that, as he explains, "I was not allowed to go on the quest; too young, they said, though at 62, I thought myself fit for anything." Fortunately, by the time of The Lord of the Rings, he's more than doubled in age, making him the perfect dwarven candidate to infuse some experienced yet youthful muscle into the ranks of the Nine Walkers.

Legolas is ageless — quite literally

Legolas is an elf, and thus, he's immortal. Age means little to him ... and apparently the same goes for Tolkien. The author provides very little backstory for the elven prince, which is a bit out of character considering how important — not to mention involved — Legolas is in the larger story. With that said, we can at least figure out enough about the Mirkwood princeling to understand that he's most likely much older than everyone who's come before him on this list.

Specifically, there's a line spoken by the elven warrior in the book version of The Two Towers as he, Aragorn, Gimli, and Gandalf approach Edoras (the capital city of Rohan) and discuss the history of the equestrian kingdom of men. When they break down how old the realm is, Legolas points out that, "500 times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then ... and but a little while does that seem to us."

In other words, Legolas' life stretches way back to before Rohan was ever founded, making him definitively over 500 years old and likely much, much older than that. Since he's the only elf in the group, it makes his age ranking fairly simple, even without a specific date of birth. In fact, he's just one of two immortal beings on the team, easily making him one of the oldest members of the Fellowship. This leaves us with the final task of proving why his immortal associate is the older of the two.

All things considered, Gandalf is the oldest member of the Fellowship of the Ring

Looks aside, Gandalf is hands down the oldest member of the Fellowship of the Ring for multiple reasons — and likely by a good margin, too. For starters, the wizard arrived in Middle-earth roughly 2,000 years before the Ring was destroyed. Now, if this were his birth date, it would be difficult to tell if he or Legolas should receive the crown for being the oldest member of the company. However, Gandalf's wizarding pursuits are actually little more than the latest stage of a much longer career. 

The leader of the Fellowship is a maiar — an angelic, spiritual being that only took on the body of a grumpy old man when he was sent to be a Johnny-on-the-spot in the war against Sauron. For millennia before that, he existed as the spirit Olórin and presumably was even around before time itself began. This places him firmly beyond the age of Legolas, if only due to the simple fact that elves didn't even exist when Gandalf initially came into being.

An argument can be made for the fact that, if you're only counting the age of Gandalf, the flesh-and-blood wizard, perhaps Legolas is older, but even that can't be definitively decided. Taking his infinitely longer pre-history into account, then, we're going to give Gandalf the top spot in the Fellowship age rankings. It's an appropriate accolade considering the one-two punch that Gandalf is the company's primary leader and the strongest member of the cast by far.