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"But still, she was there, who was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr; and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts, weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness."
The Two Towers, "Shelob's Lair"

Shelob was a great Spider and the greatest offspring of Ungoliant, the primordial spider. In the Third Age she lived on the borders of Mordor and was known to feed indiscriminately, preying on the inhabitants. She was encountered by Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in their quest to destroy the One Ring.



Shelob's early history is completely unknown, save for the assumption that she was born in the Ered Gorgoroth and that she was the "last child" of Ungoliant. By the Second Age, she often feasted on her own children, and that at some point after fleeing from Beleriand, yet long before Sauron took the land of Mordor for himself she spun a dark lair in the Ephel Dúath (Mountains of Shadow) in Cirith Ungol. For thousands of years she resided there, making a labyrinth of webs within a network of caves to better trap her prey, which included all creatures great and small. She feasted primarily on those who wandered into her webs, though if a particularly juicy morsel was available, she would silently pursue and kill it.

Shelob Roger Garland

Shelob and Frodo, by Roger Garland

Third Age[]

Sauron was aware of Shelob's presence in the mountains and allowed her to dwell there, for she made an excellent, if incidental, guard for the pass of Cirith Ungol. Sauron was known to be somewhat fond of her, and in a rare show of humor, was even known to refer to her as his cat. Sauron would sometimes give her food in the form of prisoners for which he had no more use, or servants who had displeased him. Reports of the massacre made by Shelob would be carried back to Barad-dûr to further please the Dark Lord's humor. She would also sometimes eat Orcs that manned the Tower of Cirith Ungol. However, as she was a more effective guard for the pass than they, and as orcs were extremely plentiful and expendable, Sauron never made any serious attempt to stop her (though Orcs would occasionally try to barricade her lair with stones).

Shelob and Frodo, X C

Shelob finding Frodo, by Xavier Collette

At one point after being set free from Mordor, Gollum stumbled into her lair while attempting to escape the barren country. She caught him, but he survived the encounter by promising to bring her tastier meats than he.[3] Orcs of Cirith Ungol had seen him on several occasions and believed that he was too thin and wiry for Shelob to bother eating.[4]

Gollum would attempt later to fulfil this promise by leading Frodo and Sam into her lair and abandoning them. His hope was that once Shelob finished eating the two hobbits, she would throw away the One Ring with the other parts of the hobbits that she could not eat, allowing Gollum to retrieve it. While being pursued, the two hobbits eventually stumbled upon a passageway that was too choked with Shelob's dark cobwebs to proceed. But, fortunately, Frodo's sword Sting, being of Elvish make, was able to slice through them. Using the Phial of Galadriel, they managed to at first fend her off. The light of Gil-Orestel, the Star of Eärendil, shone from the Phial, causing unbearable stabbing pain to Shelob's darkened senses, but she then returned to attack Frodo, poisoning him with her stinger in a surprise attack just as they reached the exit of the cave on the Mordor side. Her venom paralyzed Frodo, and she then wrapped him in her web. Sam assumed Frodo to be dead.

Sam then assaulted the creature using Sting and the Phial of Galadriel in order to rescue his master. In a pitched battle, Sam managed to stab one of her eyes and injure her leg, but she held the upper hand. However, when she tried to use her stinger to inject Sam with venom, he dodged at the last moment and was able to stab her in the abdomen with Sting. This wounded her enough that Sam forced her to retreat using the Phial of Galadriel. None had ever wounded her so badly before.[5]

It is not known if Shelob recovered from the battle or succumbed to her wounds, as it was said her fate would remain unknown to the people of Middle-earth. She is last mentioned, in The Lord of the Rings, when Sam put on the One Ring, and heard Shelob "bubbling" in her misery far away, as his sense of hearing was vastly improved by wearing the Ring.

Shelob by Matěj Čadil

Shelob, by Matěj Čadil


As a spawn of Ungoliant, Shelob would accurately be classified as part spider, part demon (to an unknown extent), though of a spider form. Like most spiders, Shelob had spindly legs, multiple eyes, and venomous chelicerae. She usually immobilized her prey with her paralyzing sting that enabled her to feed on her victims at her leisure, but could also crush her prey to death by swiftly dropping on them. Her head was crisscrossed with scars and she had a number of missing eyes. The Orcs comment she usually would paralyze her victims and trap them in webs, keeping them alive for some time before killing them. It is said that her desire was to gorge herself on her prey, and swell until the mountains themselves could no longer hold her, and emerge from her rocky abode, and make her way to the sea.

In adaptations[]


The Lord of the Rings (1978)[]

Gollum indirectly mentions Shelob near the end of Ralph Bakshi's 1978 film, saying that "she might help us...", but she does not appear.

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy[]

Unlike in the books, Shelob makes her first appearance in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, rather than The Two Towers, because (as explained) if she had appeared in The Two Towers, there would be very little for Frodo and Sam to encounter in the final film. In this adaptation, Shelob appears as a CGI animated creature, roughly eight feet in length and seventeen feet across.

The Lord of the Rings Online - Shelob

Shelob in The Lord of the Rings Online

Video games[]

The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest[]

Shelob is an optional boss in the Wii and PS3 versions of The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest, but only fought as an imaginary enemy in the Shire overworld's Mushroom Woods. This optional boss fight is the end of a side quest available in the afternoon where Frodo Gamgee re-enacts Frodo's perilous journey to her lair.

The Lord of the Rings Online[]

In The Lord of the Rings Online, Shelob is known to Elves as "Ungwetári" and Lord Celeborn had hunted her down in the early years of the Third Age, to no avail. Shelob has a mental link to her children and after being stabbed by Sam she summons all of her children to her side for nourishment and protection. Places formerly infested with spiders such as Mirkwood become empty as whole nests of them travel south to the call of their mother. Shelob herself is depicted as much larger than in the movie or other giant spiders, which are encountered in the game on numerous occasions. Shelob herself is the last boss in the main raid of the Minas Morgul expansion.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War[]

Shelob in Shadow of War

Shelob as she appears in Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Shelob, in Middle-earth: Shadow of War, is visible in human form in the wraith-world. In the game, she has Celebrimbor's ring for quite some time while giving Talion visions about the fate of Minas Ithil (Minas Morgul) and the Ringwraiths. It is also seen in the game that Shelob was working with Sauron during the period he was posing as Annatar, and was implied to be his lover before he betrayed her. The mobile version of Shadow of War classifies Shelob as a Maia, though J.R.R. Tolkien never specified her exact nature.   


Shelob following Frodo
Shelob fighting Sam
Shelob fighting
Shelob battling Sam in the films
Shelob 3
Shelob's portrait in The Battle for Middle-earth II
Shelob 4
Shelob's game model in The Battle for Middle-earth II
Lego lotr evil characters final
Shelob (in the background) in LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game
Shelob in spider form in Shadow of War
Shelob in human form in Shadow of War
Shelob's human form in Shadow of War, with Celebrimbor's ring
Shelob - LOTR The Card Game
Shelob in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, The Land of Shadow Expansion


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ጽሀሎብ
Arabic صهيلوب
Armenian Շելոբ
Belarusian Cyrillic Шелоб
Bosnian Šeloba
Bulgarian Cyrillic Корубана
Catalan Aranyerra
Chinese (Hong Kong) 屍羅
Croatian Sheloba
Czech Odula
Finnish Lukitar
French Arachne (First translation)

Araigne (Second translation)

Georgian შელობი
German Kankra
Greek Σέλομπ
Gujarati ષ્હેલોબ
Hebrew שילוב
Hindi शेलोब
Hungarian Banyapók
Icelandic Skella
Japanese シェロブ
Kannada ಷೆಲೊಬ್
Kazakh Шелоб (Cyrillic) Şelob (Latin)
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Сhэлоб
Lithuanian Šeloba
Macedonian Cyrillic Шелоб
Marathi षेलोब
Mongolian Cyrillic Шелоб
Nepalese ष्हेलोब
Norwegian Hutula
Pashto صهېلوب
Persian شیلاب
Polish Szeloba
Portuguese (Brazil) Laracna
Portuguese (Portugal) Shelob
Punjabi ਸ਼ਏਲੋਬ ?
Russian Шелоб
Sanskrit ष्हेलोब्
Serbian Шелоба (Cyrillic) Šeloba (Latin)
Sinhalese ෂ්හෙලොබ්
Slovak Opucha
Spanish (Spain) Ella-Laraña
Swedish Honmonstret (first translation)

Lockan (second translation)

Tajik Cyrillic Сҳелоб
Tamil ஷ்ஹெலொப்
Telugu ష్హెలొబ
Thai ชีล็อบ
Ukrainian Cyrillic Шелоб
Urdu شالوب
Uzbek Челоб (Cyrillic) Chelob (Latin)
Yiddish שעלאָב