J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium of Middle-earth has had a profound and wide-ranging impact on popular culture. This is especially true for The Lord of the Rings, ever since its publication in the 1950s, but especially throughout the 1960s and 1970s, where young people embraced it as a countercultural saga, and its influence has been vastly extended in the present day, thanks to the live-action film trilogy by Peter Jackson. Many of the following references are directly inspired by the latter films rather than the book.
Movies, television, and radio
In the movie "17 Again" Ned talks to Jane (the Principal) at the restaurant table about how he bought Gandalf In an episode of the sitcom Friends, Ross and Chandler speak about a university friend, called "Gandalf (-the Party Wizard)." When Joey asks why they call him Gandalf, they reply, "Didn't you read The Lord of the Rings in high school?" to which Joey responds, "No, I had sex in high school."
In addition to spoofing elements of The Lord of the Rings, South Park has a nurse with a conjoined twin fetus on her head called Nurse Gollum.
The TV show Babylon 5 (1993–1998) includes occasional homages to The Lord of the Rings, as well as epic themes drawn from similar mythological roots. See Babylon 5 influences for a more detailed exploration.
In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy episode Here Thar Be Dwarves, Billy finds his way to the Dwarves stronghold Boringya. There Dwarves leader "Beardbottom" tells him about the on-going Dwarves' war with Elves over the monopoly on the cookie industry, and asks him for an aid in the big final assault on an Elves Cookie Factory. A flashback about the origins of the war is a nod to the Council of Elrond, where the races are shown dividing up a monopol on the fast-food industry.
In an episode of Phineas and Ferb, Agent P and Major Monogram's son Monty go on a mission in a LOVEMUFFIN building. When several goons attack them, including a bodybuilder. Monty references the famous Boromir quote "They have a cave troll".
The TV show Gilmore Girls often has references to The Lord of the Rings in various episodes.
In an episode of The Simpsons, the family goes to a dude ranch. While there they are taken on a picnic by Cookie, the ranch owner. After finishing Cookie calls "Cleany" to come clean up. Cleany's movements and mannerisms are modeled precisely after Gollum and he refers to the garbage as his "precious." Cleany was voiced by Andy Serkis.
In the third Futurama movie; Bender's Game, many locations from Middle-Earth are parodied, such as Minas Tirith, Mount Doom, and Moria. Some of the characters are also based on characters from Lord of the Rings.
In Disney's sequel to The Emperor's New Groove, Kronk's New Groove, Yzma causes people in a retirement home to become addicted to a "youth potion" that is actually green water. When Kronk buys out the retirement home, Rudy (the old man that Emperor Kuzco had thrown out the window in the first movie) comes and begs for a spot. When Kronk takes out the "potion," Rudy jumps up and takes it out of his hand and then bends his back, rubbing the potion. Imitating Gollum, he then said, "My precious...Kronk just wants it all for himself!"
In an episode of Family Guy, Stewie is at the park. When he sees another kid at the jungle gym Stewie pushes the kid on the ground and says "Cry, cry like Sauron when he lost his contacts." The scene then shifts to a cutaway showing the Eye of Sauron frantically searching for his lost contact.
On another episode of Family Guy, there is a scene that also parodies the movie Poltergeist as well as The Lord of the Rings. Chris is thrown from his bedroom window into the clutches of a living tree. The scene eventually parodies the epic confrontation between Gandalf and the Balrog as seen in The Lord of the Rings when Herbert the Creepy Old Pedophile shows up to save Chris. Herbert recites the film trilogy Gandalf's line, "You shall not pass!".
In the episode "Two Birds of a Feather" of Magnum, P.I., a scene showing Magnum and his friends during the Vietnam War, his team uses the codename "Frodo" while trying to contact "Gandalf" to get air support.
In the show Odd Job Jack, episode 2.02 (Lord of the Three Ring Binder) spoofs The Lord of the Rings, with Jack as Frodo (and Déagol, when Jack was in his College years).
The episode "D & DD" of the animated series Dexter's Laboratory spoofs Dungeons and Dragons in general (even mentioning a warrior called "Gygax"), but inserts references to Middle-earth. Dexter is forced to play as "Hodo the Furry-footed Burrower", a hobbit/halfling whose name is possibly a combination of "Hobbit" and "Frodo".
Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report has made several references to both The Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth and Dungeons and Dragons on his show.
In the movie Clerks II, Randal equates the Lord of The Rings movies as being 3 movies about walking. The first movie is demonstrated by Randal taking an exaggerated step while blank-faced; the second by tripping and looking back and down mid-walk; the third consisting of the same walk, culminating in a gesture to remove the ring from the finger and toss it downward. Before the film was made, director Kevin Smith had done exactly the same thing during an appearance on The Tonight Show.
Talk show host Rush Limbaugh once described himself as a black smoke from Mordor (as if hindering the political party considered left of center).
In the Stargate Atlantis episode "Critical Mass", Dr. Bill Lee uses the lighting of the beacons of Gondor to explain his idea of relaying a message to Atlantis.
In the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Partying is Such Sweet Soiree", when Mac goes on a sugar-high rampage, he pets sugar-related objects and says, "My precious..." immitating Gollum.
An episode of MADtv did a parody of Lord of the Rings known as "Lords of the Bling" where Bill Cosby played Gandalf and said, "We have to take the ring to Mordor, by the MotoPhoto!" Frodo was now Froho.
In the W.I.T.C.H. episode "G is for Garbage", when Irma and Blunk go to Blunk's hideout, Blunk says, "My precious..." while loving his trash, and he even sounds like Gollum.
In the flim Brick the character called The Pin extols the quality of Tolkien's writing to Brendan.
In the TV series "Bones", FBI Agent Seeley Booth countered Temperance Brennan's suspicions of voodoo: "and then we just toss the ring into the molten river, and blah blah blah" ("The Man in the Morgue").
Comedy group Whitest Kids You Know did a skit mocking Lord of the Rings. It consists of Frodo asking Gandalf why he didn't use more magic during their journey or ask the eagles to just fly them to Mount Doom.
The Lord of the Rings is mentioned in two episodes in The Big Bang Theory. In "The Middle-Earth Paradigm", Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj all have a Frodo Baggins costume in which Leonard wears. In "The Precious Fragmentation", Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj find a box of collectibles and in it, a prop of the One Ring. They all fight over who gets to keep it.
In the cartoon Regular Show, the 2012 Christmas Special serves as an homage to the Lord of the Rings books and movies. The main group goes on a long quest quest to destroy a powerful, mind corrupting presentbox in a volcano.
The scene where Muscle Man unsuccessfully tries to destroy the box with a hammer is similar to the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, where Gimli's attempt to destroy the one ring with his axe fails as well.
Later, when Benson beats the Pinball game and the long, thin bridge over the abyss appears, the scene (especially with the collapsing bridge and the almost-falling Benson) references the moment also in The Fellowship of the Ring where Gandalf fights the Balrog on a similar bridge.
In the long running Si-fi Doctor Who, in a deleted scene for the episode 'The Eleventh Hour', the Doctor refers to himself as Space Gandalf.
In the 2014 movie The Interview, Dave Skylark refers to Aaron Rapoport, his producer and friend, and himself respectively as Samwise and Frodo to emphasize the bond between them.
In the 2015 film The Martian, adapted from the novel by Andy Weir (see below), a meeting to discuss the rescue of an astronaut from Mars is described as "Project Elrond." When Annie Montrose questions the name, Mitch Henderson (played by Sean Bean, who played Boromir in the films) explains it means they are having a secret meeting, prompting the rest of the characters to fully explain it is a Lord of the Rings reference. Teddy Sanders remarks that if the meeting is called Elrond he wants his code-name to be Glorfindel.
Middle Earth was the name of a highly influential underground music club in London, UK, from the mid 1960s.
The Beatles' song "She Said, She Said" includes a passing reference to The Lord of the Rings, and writer John Lennon was known to have been a fan of them. During the song's fade-out, Lennon can be heard singing a series of seemingly nonsensical sounds; these phrases are either a Lennon pre-taped vocal played backwards, or Lennon imitating the sound of a reverse-tape voice. At the start of the fade-out Lennon can clearly be heard chanting the words "Ash Nazg", the first two words of the invocation engraved on the Ring of Power.
US pop group The Hobbits released their debut album Down to Middle Earth in 1967.
American psychedelic group Gandalf formed in 1967.
British musician Twink recorded the songs "Unexpected Party" (featuring a reading from ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’) and "Gandalf’s Garden" in 1969/1970.
Genesis' song "Stagnation" (from Trespass, 1970) was about Gollum. The most direct references being "And I will wait for ever, beside the silent mirror. And fish for bitter minnows amongst the weeds and slimy water." and "To take all the dust and the dirt from my throat, To wash out the filth that is deep in my guts."
The song "Lothlorien" was included on the 1971 album Ring of Hands by British group Argent.
British progressive rockers Mirkwood formed in 1971.
Australian jazz musician and composer John Sangster undertook an ambitious three-volume jazz interpretation of the trilogy in the late 1970s, using most of the best Australian jazz musicians of the time as session players.
The symphonic rock band Marillion was named after The Silmarillion.
The Austrian musician Gandalf (Heinz Strobl) chose his name with reference to the hobbits' wizard friend. He has composed several pieces of music which deal with themes and characters originating from The Lord of the Rings, some of which can be found on his second album, Visions (1981).
Power metal band Attacker released an album named Battle of Helm's Deep (1985) based on the Battle of the Hornburg.
Johan de Meij’s first symphony The Lord of the Rings is based on the trilogy. The symphony consists of five separate movements, each illustrating a personage or an important episode from the series. The symphony was written in the period between March 1984 and December 1987, and had its première in Brussels on 15th March 1988.
The German power metal band Blind Guardian has a song called "Lord of the Rings" on the album Tales from the Twilight World (1991). On their Somewhere far beyond (1992) there are Songs called The Bard's Song (In the Forest) and The Bard's Song (The Hobbit), which are both based on Tolkiens Works. They also released an album based on The Silmarillon called Nightfall in Middle-Earth (1998), including songs like The Curse of Fëanor, and Into The Storm, retelling the struggle Middle-earth endured when the Two Trees were destroyed. Some of their other works also contain references to Tolkien's creations.
Swedish power metal band Sabaton has a song titled "Shadows" on their album Metalizer about the Nazguls
Enya recorded the song "Lothlórien" in 1991 and also performed the songs "May It Be" and "Aníron" for the soundtrack of Peter Jackson's film of The Fellowship of the Ring.
Some songs by the celtic metal band Cruachan, such as "The Fall of Gondolin" (1992), have been inspired by The Lord of the Rings.
The progressive rock group Glass Hammer has numerous Tolkien-influenced songs, including "Nimrodel", and a CD entitled Journey of the Dúnadan (1993) which is a loose interpretation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and a CD entitled The Middle-earth Album (2001) which contains several songs recorded "live at the Prancing Pony in Bree".
The Finnish musicians Nightwish have a song called "Elvenpath" on their album Angels Fall First (1997) which features a Lord of the Rings sample. They also have references to Tolkien's works in their song Wishmaster, released on the album of the same name, in 2001, including Elbereth and Lorien. They also recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for their album Once released in 2004.
The Tolkien Ensemble composed original music to all songs and poems in The Lord of the Rings, publishing 4 CDs in total over a period of 8 years, as well as a compilation album in 2006, ordering their songs as they appear in the books. Their work is approved by the Tolkien Estate.
The 2003 CD Wizards And Demons: Music Inspired By The Writings Of J.R.R. Tolkien (Castle Music) was a compilation of songs by psychedelic, progressive and folk artists recorded between 1968 and 1978 (though not all explicitly reference Tolkien's work).
Jonathan Peters' music CD "Journey of the Ring" (2005) features an hour of music inspired by Tolkien's novel. The music follows the story chapter by chapter. Called "the unofficial sound track to the books" by fans.
Many metal bands, especially black metal bands have taken their band name from The Lord of the Rings. Typically the names of evil places and characters are taken. Examples are Burzum (formerly known as Uruk-Hai), Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, Mordor, Sauron, although not all are evil, Death metal Gandalf being one of them. There are also various metal bands owing their names to Tolkien's languages, such as Aglarond (Mexico), Akallabêth (Sweden), Amon Amarth (Sweden), Almáriel (Russia), Amon Din (Serbia), Anarion (Australia), Arda (Austria), Avatar (Belgium), Azaghal (Finland), Azrael (Spain), Cirith Gorgor (Netherlands), Cirith Ungol (US), Dol Amroth (Greece), Izengard (India), Fangorn (Germany) and many more.
British stoner rock band Orange Goblin has tracks on their album Frequencies From Planet Ten named "Lothlorien" and "Saruman's Wish", after the Elven forest and the evil wizard in The Lord of the Rings.
All songs by the Finnish metal band Battlelore are based on Middle Earth.
Funk Metal weirdos Nuclear Rabbit's track 'The Pimp the Bitch and the Magic Beans' is based around the encounter between Bilbo and Gollum in The Hobbit and contains numerous lines from the book.
Nazgûl are a Black Metal band from Italy whose members describe their music as "Orkish Black Metal". All their lyrics are exclusively written in Latin, and deal with the war waged in Middle-Earth.
The Swedish death metal band "Unleashed" have a song called "We must join with him", which uses lines from Saruman speaking with Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, and the line "smoke rising from the mountain".
American thrash metal band Megadeth released their album Endgame in 2009, which featured a song called "This Day We Fight", which is a direct quote from Aragon's speech before the final battle at the end of Return Of The King. The song is presumed to be about that battle.
S.M. Stirling's characters in Dies the Fire and its sequels include a young woman who is obsessed with the works of Tolkien, and ends up founding a military group known as the "Dunedain Rangers." The villain of the trilogy also refers to the trilogy, using Sauron's emblem of the Lidless Eye as the flag of the new nation he founds.
Terry Pratchett's novel Witches Abroad features an encounter with a Gollum-like creature, which jumps on to the main character's boat and proclaims "It'ssss my birthday." Granny Weatherwax then hits the creature with an oar, before quipping "'Orrible little bugger."
There are various references to The Lord of the Rings, e.g. to the Ents, in The Talisman (1984), a novel by Stephen King and Peter Straub. There are also references to The Lord of the Rings in several of Stephen King's other novels (e.g. Insomnia, The Stand, etc.). This is most notable in his fantasy series The Dark Tower, which is based on the Robert Browning poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, but severely influenced by Lord of the Rings.
Robert Jordan has an inn called "The Nine Rings" in The Great Hunt, and when Rand reads the sign in front of the inn, the book states, 'Rand swung down with a smile and tied Red to one of the hitching posts out front. "The Nine Rings" had been one of his favorite adventure stories when he was a boy; he supposed it still was.'
In the Harry Potter series, several people are named after places or people in The Lord of the Rings, examples are a portrait in the Headmaster's Office, called Everard Proudfoot, Lord Voldemort is also know as "The Dark Lord", a boy by the name of Neville Longbottom and an author named Bathilda Bagshot, in which Bagshot Row is the place where Bag End is located.
In a "The Simpsons Comics" series called "Bart Simpsons Treehouse of Horror", there is a segment called, "Ring Around The Simpsons" which is a parody of Lord of The Rings. It mostly shows how The Simpsons are being corrupted by the ring one by one and that all the characters of The Fellowship die by "accident" except for Frodo.
In Issue #3 of IDW's comic adaption of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Queen Chrysalis, observing Twilight Sparkle's arguments with her friends through a Palantíri-like device, proclaims "The Fillyship is broken", before sending guards to spy on them.
In the German fantasy novel Märchenmond (English title: Magic Moon) by Wolfgang Hohlbein, the wizard Themistocles initially offers the protagonist Kim the alternative name of "Gandalf" to address him.
The 2011 science fiction novel The Martian, about a mission to rescue an astronaut stranded on Mars, includes a meeting that is dubbed "Project Elrond" because the meeting is done in secret.
In the MMORPGRuneScape, there is an inn called "The Dancing Donkey", which is a spoof of the Prancing Pony. Also, Mithril is one of the armor types available; true to the LotR books, it is lighter than other armor.
In the Adventure game Dreamfall, the character of Crow mentions that he was 'sidekick of the year', he then says he lost next year to 'some fat short guy, all he did was carry someone up a mountain', alluding to Sam carrying Frodo.
In the video game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Mithril is again an armor type. However, this mithril armor is directly based off Tolkien's mithril, and gives a good picture of what a full suit of the armor would look like.
In the game The Book of Unwritten Tales the player can, when going to give the ring he has been give to the arch mage (another of the refences), state that there name is Mr. Underhill. the game has many others along with these.
In the MMORPG Realm of the Mad God Mithril is an armor types and Hobbits and Ents are monsters that can be fought.
In the video game Terraria instead of Mithril you have Mythril ore which can be crafted into weapons and armor. It's based on the metal from Tolkien's works.
Soldier from Team Fortress 2has domination lines to Sniper referencing Bilbo Baggins, about how Sniper is from New Zealand; however he is actually Australian. This refers to The Lord of the Rings trilogy being shot in New Zealand.
In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, one of the human male's jokes is a joking description of The Lord of The Rings, except the One Ring is replaced by a bracelet and instead of Hobbits the main character is a gnome.
Early iterations of the Japanese RPG series Final Fantasy are inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and thus, indirectly, by The Lord of the Rings. More directly, the games usually contain mithril armor and items (as early upgrades) that the player's party can buy or win.
MST3K's Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy also recorded an audio commentary track mocking Peter Jackson's film adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring for Nelson's RiffTrax service. Unlike the other films featured on the service, it is a film that Nelson actually considered to be good.
The first chapter of The Woad To Wuin by Peter David is entitled "Lord of the Thing".
The Lord Of The... whatever, a "transcribed electronic text version", written by the Tolkien fans of the rec.arts.books.tolkien newsgroup as a reply to those who ask where can they download an electronic copy of the book. It has lots of fan in-jokes, like whether Balrogs have wings or not, a long-standing debate in the Tolkien fandom.
Flight of the Conchords claim that their parody Frodo was rejected as a theme song for Peter Jackson's movies. Incidentally, Bret McKenzie (one half of the band) played an elf in the Fellowship, and his character (now known as Figwit) has become an unusual web celebrity, attracting fan sites and even a hate site.
The Ring Thing, a Swiss parody of Peter Jackson's films. However it has received mixed reviews.
wikipedia:MADtv spoofed the series with The Lords of the Bling, with various actors/actresses portraying characters as Gandalf, Frodo, Legolas, etc.
Kingdom O' Magic, by Fergus McNeill. He became famous during the eighties for games such as Bored of the Rings (influenced by, but not adapted from, the Harvard Lampoon book) and The Boggit.
Dead Ringers, BBC Radio/TV satirical comedy show regularly features Lord of the Rings-themed sketches, usually with the characters of Gandalf, Saruman and Frodo.
Bobo, a very popular Serbian voice-over video on scene from the first film, which features Boromir and Frodo as gay lovers. It spawned many other voice-overs.
British Comedy duo wikipedia:French & Saunders have also satired and spoofed in detail Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring in a BBC 2002 Easter Special entitled "The Egg".
A parody entitled teh l0rd of teh Ringz0r has done the rounds of bulletin boards systems. Based on the Counter-Strike indebted "1337 speak" it retells scenes, primarily from the Peter Jackson films, in the style of a '1337 hax0r' or online gamer.
A Spanish voice-over video of Gollum debating about which is the best football (soccer) video game.
In another episode of The Simpsons, Principal Skinner announced to Springfield Elementary School that they are going to have a school medieval festival. Class bully Nelson excitedly asks, "You mean like The Lord of the Rings?!", and Skinner replies, "No! Nothing like The Lord of the Rings!" Note that readers dispute whether or not Middle-earth is medieval; the medieval look of the film trilogy is due to concept designer and book illustrator John Howe.
REC Studios' Fellowship of the Ring A parody starring four people portraying multiple characters each and condensing the first third of the story to under a quarter of an hour.
A Russified version of the film trilogy exists, featuring a voice-over translation of all 3 films. The author of the opus is a lieutenant of police by the name of Dmitri Puchkov; unsurprisingly, his "translation" re-imagines the story as one of cops and robbers, oligarchs and the FSB (ex-KGB) chasing each other through the land of Honduras (the name of that particular country has in Russian peculiar connotations of being "a very silly place off the edge of the world"). The Ring's significance is now not its inherent evil but its status as stolen property sought by its rightful (and horribly demented and criminal) owner, who raises in his native Mordovia vast Nazi-like armies (complete with German accents, courtesy of the "translator") to reclaim it. The translation infuses the films with countless Russian pop culture jokes and allusions to Soviet anecdotes, movies, books and historical personages: for example, Legolas and Gimli speak in Estonian and Georgian accents respectively; Théoden becomes Boris Yeltsin and his affliction the consequence of alcoholism; and Gandalf is а Major in the Honduras police force. "Goblin" also put together a brand new parody soundtrack for the movies, featuring dozens of songs ranging from modern pop like Tatu, Leningad and Rammstein to old Soviet Communist anthems, with some songs by revered artists like Vladimir Vysotsky and Viktor Tsoj sprinkled in. There are also some video jokes, such as the practically seamless addition of sunglasses to Lord Elrond (who, in this version, was Agent Smith in disguise) and the brief pan to gigantic statues of the South Park children done in white marble in Denethor's halls. Commonly known as "Goblin's Translation", the parody established its author as a household name in Russia.
In the MMORPG Kingdom of Loathing, there is an adventure in the Itznotyerzitz Mine that has many references to the Mine from The Fellowship of the Ring, such as "Speak "Friend," and enter" changed to "Speak,Frat Boy, and enter."
The Sprite Comic Neglected Mario Characters contains an adventure entitled "The Lord of the Wings," which is loosely based on the plot of The Lord of the Rings. Here, the rings are replaced with buffalo wings.
The All Saved Freak Band has an album called "For Christians, Elves, and Lovers," memorializing Tolkien's death. They have one song called "Mordor."
On albinoblacksheep.com there is a Lord of the Rings rap title "The Towers are da Playas" including Orcs and Gollum. It is made using Flash.