- "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."
- —Thorin, to (and about) Bilbo
Gandalf suggested to Thorin and Company that they hire Bilbo Baggins to be their burglar in the Quest of Erebor, and later fought in the Battle of Five Armies. Bilbo was also one of the bearers of the One Ring, and the first to voluntarily give it up, although with some difficulty. He wrote many of his adventures in a book he called There and Back Again. Bilbo adopted his second-cousin-once-removed Frodo Baggins to be his heir after his parents, Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck, drowned in the Brandywine River.
Bilbo was the first hobbit to become famous in the world at large, and one of the few to set foot in the Undying Lands.
As a young Hobbit, Bilbo was curious and eager for news of the outside world. The Istar wizard, Gandalf, took interest in this unusual quality in Bilbo during his visits to the Shire. Bilbo would later remember Gandalf's Firework displays in the dwelling of his mother's family at Great Smials. Bilbo apparently practiced his rock-throwing skills in his youth so much, that birds and squirrels fled the area whenever he bent down to pick up a rock.
When Bilbo's father and mother died in TA 2926 and TA 2934 respectively, Bilbo became his own master and spent the next seven years living alone in Bag End. During this time, Bilbo grew fond of his life as a wealthy bachelor and acquired a reputation for respectability that the neighbors admired.
Quest of Erebor
- Main article: Quest of Erebor
An Unexpected Journey
In the year TA 2941, Bilbo, at the age of 50, was visited by Gandalf, whom he had not seen for quite some time, outside his home at Bag End. Gandalf invited Bilbo on an unspecified adventure, which was flatly refused by the hobbit, who bade the wizard a "Good morning", and went inside.
Undeterred, Gandalf continued in his plan, sending thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, to Bag End the very day. These Dwarves, needing an additional member for their company, initially came by pairs, and lastly with Gandalf, who had himself selected Bilbo as the best person for the Dwarves' job. The Dwarves explained to Bilbo their background and purpose; that they were among the Dwarves of Erebor who had been forced from the Lonely Mountain when the dragon Smaug attacked and taken up residence there. They now had determined to reclaim the mountain and needed a "burglar" to help them in situations requiring stealth. Bilbo reluctantly agreed to go, and the next morning they set off from The Green Dragon Inn.
Thorin and company traveled through the Lone-lands along high hills and beside castles. After approximately one month since their outset, Gandalf disappeared. Óin and Glóin failed to make a fire during a rainy night, and Balin spotted a fire in the distance, which was rare in those regions, and sent Bilbo to investigate. At the fire were three Stone-trolls, Tom, Bert, and William. Bilbo attempted to snatch something from the trolls to bring back to the Dwarves, to show that he was a first-class burglar. However, he was caught by William, but he escaped and was helpless to prevent all the Dwarves from being captured when they came looking for him. Fortunately for the Dwarves, Gandalf returned and saved them all by imitating the trolls' voices and tricking the trolls into arguing with one another until daybreak, which turned them all to stone. After rescuing the party, the wizard led Bilbo and the party to the trolls' cave, which the trolls had used to hide their treasure and shield themselves from the sun during the daylight hours. In the cave, a number of weapons were found, Glamdring (Beater) and Orcrist (Biter) among them. Bilbo took an Elvish dagger from the trolls' collection, no longer than a small knife in size, which he would later name Sting. He kept it with him for the rest of his adventure, wearing it inside his breeches.
In June the company came to Rivendell. During their visit, Bilbo met Lord Elrond, and became enchanted with the Elves. On midsummer eve Elrond inspected the swords of Thorin and Gandalf and looked at Thrór's Map, which Gandalf had previously given to Thorin at the behest of Thorin's father Thráin II. Elrond explained that the swords were forged in Gondolin and were named Orcrist and Glamdring. When inspecting the map Elrond found Moon letters that spoke of the side-door of Erebor, which read: Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole.
Discovery of the One Ring
Bilbo and his companions then traveled from Rivendell and made their way to the High Pass of the Misty Mountains, where they witnessed the distant thunder-battle of giants. It was here the company, after taking shelter in what they took to be a simple cave, were captured by goblins and taken to Goblin-town. With Gandalf's help, they escaped from the Great Goblin and his servants. Dori, however, who was carrying Bilbo, was grabbed from behind by a goblin, and in the ensuing struggle Bilbo lost consciousness and was inadvertently left by his companions.
Coming to and finding himself alone, Bilbo crawled his way through the pitch-black tunnel, using his hobbit nose to gain a sense of direction. He eventually stumbled upon a small ring, but thought nothing of it, and put it in his back pocket. Although he did not know it, this lost trinket was the One Ring, forged by the Dark Lord Sauron thousands of years ago. Bilbo soon encountered Gollum, who had been in possession of the Ring for over five hundred years. The two challenged each other to a game of riddles with the condition that Gollum would show the way out if Bilbo won. However, Gollum was not satisfied with Bilbo's final riddle, and while mourning his loss, found that his Ring was gone. Gollum then realized the answer to Bilbo's riddle, "What have I got in my pocket?" and paddled back on his boat towards Bilbo, who he then accused of stealing his precious, but Bilbo had vanished.
Gollum, thinking Bilbo had known the way out and was leaving, headed to the exit and was followed by Bilbo. Bilbo was soon reunited with his companions. Bilbo and the travelers had stopped for the night when goblins and a pack of Wargs found them near a patch of pine trees. The Dwarves, Bilbo, and Gandalf climbed up the trees to escape, but the goblins were not going to leave without killing them. They started to burn the trees down. The warg chieftain was ordering the other wargs around when Gandalf picked up a pinecone, and with his magic set it ablaze in a green fire. He threw it down hitting the chieftain. It rolled around on the ground burning while Gandalf threw more and more pinecones down. The goblins and wargs fled and the group was rescued by eagles. When an eagle grabbed Dori, Bilbo had to jump and grab Dori's legs before he was forgotten. This prompted Bilbo to groan "My arms! My poor arms," and Dori to cry, "My legs! My poor legs!" The eagles eventually took them to their eyrie where they rested and continued their journey.
The group traveled to Beorn's house where they rested, after being gruffly taken in by Beorn and his animal servants. Beorn learned their story and gave a large number of provisions to help their quest. Beorn also lent several ponies to be used until the group reached Mirkwood. However, Beorn did not fully trust the Dwarves, so Bilbo saw Beorn giving careful watch to see that his ponies were unharmed. When the company arrived at the Forest Gate the ponies were let go (to several of the Dwarves discontent) and Gandalf left the group as well, warning them, "Do not stray off the path."
The Company began to follow the path through the treacherous forest. Eventually the provisions ran low and the Company was forced to send Bilbo up a tree to see where the forest ended. Bilbo climbed up a tree, where a rewarding breeze of cool air and butterflies met him. Bilbo only saw more forest, so when he reluctantly climbed back down, he did not see that the forest ended. He reported his findings to the Dwarves, where they met the news with ill comfort, angry that they were fatter than Bilbo and so could not climb the trees to feel cool air or see the butterflies. Eventually the last provisions were eaten. The Company then came upon the Enchanted stream, of which they had been warned not to drink by Beorn. Bilbo saw a boat on the other side, leading the Dwarves to retrieve it. A deer came out of nowhere when all the Dwarves were on the other side. A Dwarf shot it where it died, on the other side. The Dwarves hoped for venison for dinner, when Bilbo realized that Bombur was drowning. The Dwarves fished him out to find he had been put to sleep by the stream's magic, but the boat was knocked away, ending the hope for venison.
While wandering down the path, the Dwarves saw lights in the forest. Deciding that they would rather leave the path than starve to death they headed after the lights. As soon as they got to the lights, they went out and one of their party fell asleep. This happened twice. On the third time all of them fell asleep.
When Bilbo awoke in the night, he was alone. He cursed the Dwarves for leaving the path and discovered that great spiders had captured his companions. Bilbo was forced to find his lost companions and cut through the cocoons the spiders had formed around his companions. He distracted the spiders by improvising several insulting songs to irritate them, and succeeded when the creatures left their domain to find the intruder and eat him. Bilbo killed a few by throwing stones at them and by stabbing them with Sting. The spiders never found him, since during this time Bilbo made use of the Ring to remain invisible. After freeing the Dwarves, he led them into a charge against the spiders, where the company killed dozens of the arachnids.
After traveling through Mirkwood the Dwarves were taken prisoner by Wood-elves, who believed that the company had "assaulted" the Elves while they were partying (the bright lights the company had seen in the forest). Bilbo avoided being caught by using the ring to stay invisible, and followed them into the Halls of Thranduil, the elven-king, where they were held captive. Eventually Bilbo was able to rescue the Dwarves by stealing the butler Galion's keys, and found a way for the company to escape the Woodland Realm by stowing away in a number of empty barrels, which periodically were taken by the Elves down the Forest River to Lake-town for trading purposes. The plan worked, and soon they all arrived at Lake-town, which they found to be a small town occupied by Men that Smaug would sometimes attack, though he had not been seen in many years.
The men of Lake-town took Bilbo and the Dwarves to the Great Hall to present the company to the Master and his councilors, and though the Master initially thought to imprison them in order to keep good relations with the wood-elves, he decided against it when the populace proved to be strongly in support of Thorin's company. Thus, Bilbo and the Dwarves spent several weeks in Lake-town as guests of honor, though Bilbo eventually caught a cold.
The Lonely Mountain
Before long Thorin's company departed Lake-town, and crossing the river, followed Thrór's Map to the location of the Side-door before the end of Durin's Day. Upon discovering the keyhole, the door was opened and Bilbo was sent in alone in order to scout ahead and perhaps to steal some treasure from Smaug. When he arrived in the treasure chamber, however, Smaug was awake and sensed his presence, and so Bilbo put on the ring to avoid being seen.
Smaug, though unable to see the hobbit, tried to figure out who or what the intruder was, but Bilbo refused to tell the dragon his true identity, answering Smaug's questions only in riddles. While invisible, Bilbo noticed that Smaug had a bare spot on his jewel-encrusted underbelly. Finally, Bilbo removed the ring and Smaug saw that he had stolen a cup, causing him to go into a terrible rage. After Bilbo made it out of Smaug's lair safely, he convinced Thorin and the other Dwarves to enter the side-door and close it behind them, which saved their lives when Smaug left the mountain, and flying to the side-door, scorched the surrounding area. Foiled, the dragon flew off to Lake-town with the intent to destroy it once and for all. Bilbo afterwards relayed to the Dwarves what he had learned, but a thrush, hearing the information, flew to Lake-town and told Bard, a descendant of the Men of Dale, of Smaug's weakness. On Smaug's arrival, Bard shot the Black Arrow at the bare spot, killing Smaug and sending him to rot at the bottom of the lake, but destroying most of Lake-town.
The Battle of Five Armies and aftermath
- "There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and a song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."
- —The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
In the meantime, Thorin and company had reclaimed the Lonely Mountain, though Bilbo, having found the Arkenstone that Thorin greatly desired, kept it secret from the Dwarf. They were informed by Roäc, an old raven of the mountain, of Smaug's death in Lake-town, but quickly the Dwarves' mirth was dampened by the news that the surviving Men of Lake-town and the Elven-king's army were marching to the mountain to reclaim their wealth. Thorin, suspicious of the armies, refused to make any deal, with them at their arrival, and barricaded the mountain, thus beginning a siege. Bilbo, hoping to avoid conflict, took the Arkenstone to Bard and Thranduil, in order for them to barter their share of the treasure with. Despite Bard and the Elvenking's offers for the hobbit to stay with them for the time being, Bilbo decided to return to the mountain. To his surprise on leaving to return to Thorin's company, he found that Gandalf had returned, and found the wizard supported his decision. Bilbo then slipped back to the mountain unnoticed by the Dwarves.
Thorin, on soon afterwards discovering Bilbo's perceived treachery, was furious and banished the hobbit from the mountain. Bilbo stayed with Gandalf and Bard for a short time, until Dwarves from the Iron Hills, led by Dáin Ironfoot, arrived to aid Thorin's cause. However, shortly following this, a great army of goblins, led by Bolg, attacked, forcing the Dwarves, Elves, and Men to fight together to both defend the mountain and survive. This became known as the Battle of Five Armies, and though the goblins were defeated, Thorin and his nephews Fíli and Kíli were mortally wounded. Bilbo only witnessed part of the battle, as he was rendered unconscious early on, and wearing the ring, lay undiscovered until he came to following the battle's conclusion. Beorn, the Beorning chieftain, who had joined the fight, slew Bolg along with his bodyguard and carried Thorin to safety. Bilbo, making his way to the tents of the wounded, found Thorin lying on a bed, in his last minutes of life. Thorin praised Bilbo and apologized to him for cursing him earlier, and thereafter passed away.
After Thorin's funeral, the new king Dáin II offered him his one-fourteenth share of the treasure, but Bilbo declined, receiving only two small chests, one with gold, and the other laden with silver. Bilbo traveled back with the wood-elf host that participated in the Battle of Five Armies. Bilbo traveled with the wood-elves down to Mirkwood, and then went to Beorn's house with Gandalf. Then Bilbo set out with Gandalf to where Bert, Tom, and William had turned to stone. They dug up some of the buried treasure the Dwarves had buried earlier, most of which Bilbo offered to Gandalf to use to aid the peoples of Middle-earth. When they at last came to the borders of the Shire, the two parted, with Gandalf going his own way.
Return to the Shire
Bilbo eventually made it back to Hobbiton, where he found an auction taking place at which his relatives, the Sackville-Bagginses, believing him dead, were selling most of his possessions to the other hobbits. The Sackville-Bagginses were vexed to see Bilbo alive, since they wanted to live in Bag End themselves. Bilbo had to buy back his sold possessions in order to avoid quarreling with the purchasers. After some years, Balin and Gandalf visited him, where they reported the current news of Middle-earth.
Returning to Shire-life
Although Bilbo returned safely to Bag End with his reward and lived in relative comfort, Bilbo’s life was not quite the same as it had once been. His sudden return after having been thought dead lost him some of the neighbors’ respect and he was later thought of as an oddity, and there were many talks and false rumors circulated about his affairs and doings. The worst of these problems came from the Sackville-Bagginses, who were angry that they were not able to possess Bag End when he was thought to be dead. This jealousy and anger increased when Bilbo adopted his second-cousin-once-removed Frodo (a Brandybuck on his mother's side) as his heir presumptive.
Bilbo ignored these things said about him and avoided the Sackville-Bagginses as much as he could, even using the Ring once to hide from them. Bilbo was very generous with his money and most people were willing to forgive him for his oddities. He had many friends especially amongst the Gamgees whom he consulted frequently on landscaping and on the growing of vegetables. His good friend The Gaffer even allowed him to tutor his son Samwise Gamgee. Bilbo taught him to read and write, and at some point taught him various bits of poetry and told him tales of the elder days. Yet, he slowly began to become weary of his settled and sheltered life at Bag End.
Bilbo was the bearer of the One Ring for six decades, ignorant of its significance. However, by TA 3001, the Ring had begun to affect him. He did not appear to have aged at all, although he felt older and thin inside. He decided that he wanted to partake in one more adventure before he found a place to settle down and finish his account of the Quest for the Lonely Mountain.
On September 22, a farewell Birthday Party was held in his honor, where he announced his intention to leave the Shire, to the shock of his family and friends. Immediately afterward, he put on his Ring and disappeared, as a joke on his neighbors. He returned to his house where he was confronted by his friend Gandalf, who tried to persuade him to leave the Ring for Frodo. Bilbo initially agreed, but then became hostile and accused Gandalf of trying to steal the ring for his own benefit, which he referred to as his "precious."
- "Well, if you want my ring yourself, say so! But you won't get it. I won't give my Precious away, I tell you."
- —Bilbo Baggins
Horrified by Bilbo's outburst, Gandalf stood to his full height and ordered Bilbo to leave it behind. Immediately Bilbo returned to his senses, apologizing and admitting that the Ring had been troubling him lately. After a moment of inner struggle, Bilbo finally dropped the ring to the ground, becoming the first ring-bearer to give up the ring of his own will. Bilbo and Gandalf bade each other goodbye, and Bilbo left the Shire for his journey.
On the same day, Bilbo left the One Ring and his home of Bag End in the possession of his relative, Frodo Baggins, who was eager to be his own master despite the loss of Bilbo, for he was not yet ready to leave the Shire. After his departure, Bilbo wandered to Rivendell and then, after a rest, accompanied some Dwarves to Dale and the Lonely Mountain, before returning to Rivendell.
Life in Rivendell
Between TA 3003 and TA 3018, Bilbo worked on the written account of his adventures, in a book that would later be known as the Red Book of Westmarch. He also studied the Elvish language and compiled a three-volume history of the Elder Days, which he called Translations from the Elvish. He composed the poem All that is Gold Does Not Glitter for Aragorn as well as a much longer poem about Eärendil during his stay at Rivendell.
In October 3018, Frodo arrived at Rivendell. Bilbo learned that his nephew was on a quest to destroy the One Ring and offered to take the Ring to Mordor himself at the Council of Elrond. His offer was politely declined due to his age, so Bilbo gave Frodo the sword Sting and for protection his mithril shirt. However, he remained in Rivendell while Frodo traveled south. After Frodo returned, Bilbo had noticeably aged, partially freed from the Ring's effects, although he continued to desire it.
Since Bilbo had been a ring-bearer, he was allowed to accompany Frodo to the Undying Lands. On September 22, 3021, Bilbo turned 131 and became the oldest hobbit ever to have lived. On September 29, he, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, and Frodo boarded a ship docked at the Grey Havens and sailed away from Middle-earth. His fate afterward is not known but as he too was a mortal being, he most likely died in the light of the Blessed Realm of Valinor.
Bilbo was a very friendly and well-mannered hobbit fond of food, drink, a full pipe, his friends and good cheer, and was known for greeting strangers and friends with hospitality saying; "At your service and your family's." Being related to both the Tooks and the Baggins, two kins of fundamentally opposite mentalities, with the Tooks being more fond of adventures and wandering, and the Baggins not at all, Bilbo at times recognized two sides within himself, his "Took side" and "Baggins side". He secretly relished having adventures, but still wanted to remain settled and would afraid in face of a real prospect of adventure.
Bilbo seemed to be happy with his life at Bag End, and would have been content to remain a child of his father, had adventure not come upon him. Still very afraid and wishing he had never left his hobbit-hole, the Took side eventually won out, even after he returned home to his old life. Thus, his desire for another adventure never truly departed from him in his heart even into his old age. This he demonstrated in his sudden departure from Bag End in TA 3001.
- There and Back Again
- The Road Goes Ever On
- All that is Gold Does Not Glitter
- Song of Eärendil
- The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late
- A Walking Song (Wrote the lyrics)
- Warning of Winter
- Bilbo's Last Song
- Burr-a-hobbit or Burrahobbit
- Thief in the Shadows
- Child of the kindly West
- Guest of Eagles
- The Lucky Number
- Old Mad Baggins
- Spider Stinger
- Stinging Fly
- He that walks unseen
- Mr. Boggins
- Web Cutter
- He that buries his friends alive
- Friend of bears
- Bilba Labingi, the original hobbit name for Bilbo
Portrayal in adaptations
The Hobbit (1977 animated film)
The Lord of the Rings (1978 animated film)
In The Lord of the Rings (1978 film), Bilbo Baggins is voiced by Norman Bird.
The Return of the King(1980 animated film)
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Hobbit film trilogy
Voice dubbing actors
|Foreign Language||Voice dubbing artist|
|Spanish (Latin America)||Óscar Flores (young) / Francisco Colmenero (old)|
|Spanish (Spain)||Juan Antonio Soler (young) / Joaquín Díaz Muntané (old)|
|Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD)||Alexandre Moreno (young)|
Isaac Bardavid (old) / Walter Breda (old) (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
|German||Manuel Straube (young) / Mogens von Gadow (old)|
|Italian||Fabrizio Vidale (young) / Vittorio Congia (old)|
|French (France)||Julien Sibre (young) / Marc Cassot (old)|
|Czech||Jan Dolanský (young) / Vladimír Brabec (old)|
|Slovak||Juraj Kemka (young) / Marián Geišberg (old)|
|Hungarian||László Görög (young)|
Tamás Fodor (old) (The Hobbit trilogy) / Sándor Makay (old) (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
|Polish||Waldemar Barwiński (young) / Kazimierz Kaczor (old) (The Hobbit trilogy)|
|Turkish||Erol Günaydın (old) (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)|
- Felix Felton voiced the character in the 1955 BBC Radio radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
- Paul Daneman voiced the character in the 1968 BBC Radio radio adaptation of The Hobbit.
- Bernard Mayes voiced the character in the 1979 The Mind's Eye radio adaptations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
- Horst Bollmann voiced the character in the 1980 German radio serial adaptation of The Hobbit.
- John Le Mesurier played him in the (1981) BBC Radio radio serial of the The Lord of the Rings .
- Peter Bzdúch voiced the character in the 1989 Slovak two-episode radio miniseries adaptation of The Hobbit. 
- Klaus Herm voiced the character in the 1991-1992 German radio serial adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. 
- Marián Labuda voiced the character in the 2001-2003 three-season Slovak radio serial adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. 
Bilbo Baggins appears in the game The Hobbit (2003), as the only playable character. His weapons include Sting, a walking/fighting stick, and collectible rocks. Bilbo's stick can be quite powerful against enemies that cannot block - it is most effective against agile spiders that inflict significant damage yet do not have much health of their own. It can also be used to pole-vault across wide expanses. Throughout the game, Bilbo collects scrolls that give him new or improved attacks.
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of the Rings
- Unfinished Tales
- The History of Middle-earth
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Білбо Баггінс|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Билво Баггинс|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||比爾博·巴金斯|
|French||Bilbon Sacquet (first translation)
Bilbo Bessac (second translation)
|Irish Gaelic||Biolbó Baigíns|
|Kazakh||Бильбо Бэггинс (Cyrillic) Bilbo Beggins (Latin)|
|Kurdish||Bîlbo Torbikan (Kurmanji)|
|Kyrgyz Cyrillic||Билбо Бэггинстин|
|Macedonian Cyrillic||Билбо Баггинс|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Билбо Баггинс|
|Norwegian||Bilbo Lommelun / Bilbo Skrepping|
|Portuguese||Bilbo Bolseiro (Brazil)|
|Polish||Bilbo Baggins (Skibniewska tr.)
Bilbo Bagosz (Łoziński tr.)
Бильбо Торбинс (Muravyov tr.) Бульба Сумкин (parodic translation of Dmitri "Goblin" Puchkov)
|Serbian||Билбо Баггинс (Cyrillic) Bilbo Baggins (Latin)|
|Slovak||Bilbo Lazník (The Hobbit, Krupa tr.)
Bilbo Bublík (The Lord of the Rings, Kořínek tr.)
|Spanish (Spain and Latin America)||Bilbo Bolsón|
|Tajik Cyrillic||Билбо Баггинс|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Більбо Торбин|
|Uzbek||Билбо Баггинс (Cyrillic) Bilbo Baggins (Latin)|
|Bearers of the One Ring|