Thranduil, son of Oropher, was an Elven king who ruled over the Woodland Realm in the Third Age. Though inherently cautious, his army was key to victory in the Battle of Five Armies and he defended his realm against the forces of Sauron in the War of the Ring. He was the father of the Elven prince of Mirkwood, Legolas, who was a member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
In The Hobbit, Thranduil is referred to only as the Elvenking.
First and Second Ages
Thranduil was the only son of Oropher, King of the Woodland Realm. He was born during the First Age, and lived in Doriath at some point prior to the Second Kinslaying. At the beginning of the Second Age, some Sindar traveled east and Oropher eventually founded the Elven realm in Greenwood the Great.
In SA 3434, Thranduil and his father fought in the Battle of Dagorlad. Oropher was slain and Thranduil returned to Greenwood with roughly a third of the army that had marched to war. He claimed his inheritance and became King of the Woodland Realm, reigning over the whole of Greenwood the Great.
As the Third Age progressed, however, a sorcerer known as the Necromancer (later revealed to be Sauron returned) took over the abandoned Elven fortress of Amon Lanc and turned it into Dol Guldur. Under his malign influence the Greenwood grew dark, becoming known as Mirkwood, and infested with Orcs and giant spiders. The Wood-elves of Mirkwood were reduced in number and retreated to lands in the north of Mirkwood. By the time of the events of The Lord of the Rings, Thranduil's title was King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood.
The Quest of Erebor
When Thorin II Oakenshield and company entered northern Mirkwood, the party encountered visions of a feast in the woods, which unknown to them was Thranduil's court  Different members of the party tried to enter the clearing where the feast was being held, but each time darkness would fall and the interrupter fell into a deep sleep. In this manner was Thorin separated from the company, and captured by Thranduil. He provided no information when interrogated, and Thranduil, in turn, sent him to the dungeon cave "not too gently, for they did not love Dwarves and thought he was an enemy". The rest of the party was captured shortly after and brought before Thranduil. When the party proved uncooperative with Thranduil's questioning, he accused them of wandering in his kingdom without leave, interrupting their feast, and stirring up trouble with spiders. They were sent to the dungeon as well, in separate cells and unaware that Thorin was captured.
- Thranduil: "What were you doing in the forest?"
Thorin: "Looking for food and drink, because we were starving."
Thranduil: "Take him away and keep him safe, until he feels inclined to tell the truth, even if he waits a hundred years."
- —The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
After the death of the dragon Smaug, Thranduil supported Bard the Bowman's claim of a share of the treasure the Dwarves recovered from the Lonely Mountain, since Bard was a descendant of Lord Girion of Dale, and the treasure of that town had been taken by Smaug to the Lonely Mountain.
After the battle and Thorin's death, Thranduil took Orcrist, which was previously confiscated in Mirkwood, and laid it upon Thorin's tomb. The treasure was divided among Elves and Men, and Thranduil received the Emeralds of Girion. Bilbo, Gandalf and Beorn traveled with the Elf-host back to Mirkwood but would not stay in the woods, even when Thranduil asked them to.
When Bilbo and Gandalf bade farewell, Bilbo gave Thranduil a necklace of silver and pearls. The king gave Bilbo the title of "elf-friend" and returned with his host to their halls.
War of the Ring
During the War of the Ring, he sent his son Legolas to Rivendell, along with other Elves, to report Gollum's escape from Mirkwood. The gradually-established friendship between the Dwarf Gimli and Legolas later helped to reconcile Thranduil's people with the Dwarves.
When the forces from Dol Guldur later attacked Mirkwood, Thranduil repulsed the attack and had the victory. He came into an agreement with Celeborn that the southern part of Mirkwood would be counted as East Lórien. Thranduil took the northern region as far as the Mountains of Mirkwood; the wide forest between Mirkwood and East Lórien was given to the Beornings and Woodmen. At this time also, Thranduil renamed Mirkwood Eryn Lasgalen, the Wood of Greenleaves.
After the fall of Sauron, Thranduil fixed the southern boundary of his realm as the Mountains of Mirkwood, and his realm flourished well into the Fourth Age. He may have stayed on as the king of the Great Forest or left Middle-earth and departed to the Undying Lands.
Thranduil is a Sindarin word for "Vigorous spring", from tharan ("vigorous") and ethuil ("spring"). It was said that the name "Thranduil" was of Lemberin language (later Avarin or Telerian), along with other Sindarin names such as Legolas, Nimrodel, and Amroth among others.
Thranduil first appears as a character in The Hobbit, where he is not named. J.R.R. Tolkien refers to him as the elf-king or the king,, and also by the titles Elvenking and King of the Elves of the Wood. The name Thranduil first appears in The Lord of the Rings, in which his title was given as the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood. Elsewhere in Tolkien's writings, he was also referred to as King of the Woodland Realm, a title he inherited from his father.
Portrayal in adaptations
- "Such is the nature of evil. In time all foul things come forth."
- —Thranduil in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit film trilogy
Lee Pace portrays Thranduil as a blond Elf with a crown of leaves and twigs in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy, and is a major character in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. While the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain are fleeing their home after Smaug's attack, Thranduil, riding an Elven elk, arrives with an army. Thorin sees them and asks for help, but Thranduil, realizing that he would just be leading his soldiers to their deaths, refuses, not wanting to risk the lives of his kin, causing Thorin to develop a strong dislike of the Elves. In the extended edition of An Unexpected Journey, it is revealed that King Thrór stole Thranduil's gems from him and demanded payment from the Elvenking for return of his jewels, causing goodwill between Dwarves and Elves to run thin.
In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Thranduil seems more arrogant and selfish than other Elves, affecting the esteem of the Woodland Realm. Thranduil appears on his throne after the capture of Thorin and Company, and offers to release the Dwarves from captivity and help them in their quest if Thorin will return to Thranduil the gems Thrór had stolen from him. Thorin refuses, recounting Thranduil's refusal to aid the Dwarves in the attack by Smaug on the Lonely Mountain. As Thorin continues his narrative, Thranduil looks horrified and angry. He demands that Thorin should not talk to him of dragon fire, as Thranduil himself had suffered from it before, having "faced the great serpents of the North." He briefly shows a grisly illusion of past, severe burns on the left side of his face, including a missing cheek and an apparently blind left eye, and asserts that it was Thrór's greed that incurred the dragon's wrath. He then orders his guards to take Thorin away.
Later, Thranduil confronts Tauriel, telling her that as a captain of the guard she must drive the Giant Spiders out of Mirkwood. She explains that new spiders would enter the kingdom after the previous ones were wiped out, and suggests sorties to destroy the spider's source outside the kingdom's boundaries near Dol Guldur, but Thranduil quickly dismissed this idea due to his isolationist doctrine. When she brings up that other lands would also be susceptible to spiders, Thranduil says that he doesn't care about other lands. He mentions then that Legolas, his son, has grown fond of her but that she should not give him hope, because she is a common Silvan Elf and Legolas is the son of a king. Thranduil is once again seen when Legolas and Tauriel return with an Orc hostage, Narzug. He is interrogated but refuses to answer, mocking Tauriel about the impending death of a Dwarf. Thranduil dismisses Tauriel after she threatens to kill the Orc, commenting that he doesn't care about the death of one Dwarf. However, when Narzug begins to mock Thranduil about a coming great war, saying his master Azog serves The One, the Elf-king swiftly decapitates the captive with a stroke of his sword, clearly fearful of what the Orc had revealed. When Legolas asks why he did that when the Orc could have told them more, Thranduil replies, "There was no more he could tell me." Reminded of his promise to free the Orc, Thranduil replies, "I did free him. I freed his wretched head from his miserable shoulders." He then orders that all the gates to the kingdom to be closed, now knowing that the dangers of war were upon them, stating that, "No one enters this kingdom, and no one leaves it."
In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, an armoured Thranduil arrives in Dale upon a magnificent large elk, and gave supplies to the townsfolk who had lost everything to the dragon's fire. Despite Bard's thanks, he told him that his true purpose for coming was to reclaim a jewel necklace in Thorin's possession - the White Gems of Lasgalen, which was revealed much later to be a remembrance of his late wife, who had died at the hands of the Witch-king. Bard was aghast at the prospect of fighting for jewels, but Thranduil doubted that a Dwarf could be reasoned with. Nevertheless, he agreed to give Bard a chance to convince Thorin to give in. Bard failed, and Thranduil ordered his army to march.
Elsewhere, Legolas revealed to Tauriel that his mother (Thranduil's wife) had been taken prisoner to Gundabad, where she died, and Thranduil never spoke of her, as if she had never existed to begin with. When Gandalf arrived, he urged Thranduil and Bard to call off the attack on the Lonely Mountain, and informed him about Sauron's elaborate plans of taking the Mountain, which would enable him to eventually destroy all of Middle-earth. However, Thranduil refused to believe him, and accused him of reigniting the enmity between Elves and Dwarves by urging Thorin and his Company to embark upon their quest and trying to save the Dwarves. Even after Bilbo Baggins gave them the Arkenstone so that Thranduil could exchange this for his gems with Thorin in an attempt to stop the fighting from materializing, a war nearly broke out, but Azog's arrival and Dáin's departure to deal with the army of Orcs called it off. Initially, Thranduil was intensely reluctant to participate in the fight, but after Gandalf forced him to realize that it was madness to not fight the Orcs, he relented - sending his swordsmen into the fray, instructing his archers to rain down death, and he himself wielded his broadsword skillfully against the forces of evil.
However, Azog realized that the armies could not fight on two fronts, and sent the rest of his army to Dale to cut them off. This forced Thranduil to retreat to the city with Bard, Gandalf, Bilbo, and a large portion of his army, leaving the Dwarves to fend for themselves. Upon his entry into the city, he was dismounted and surrounded, but easily killed his assailants and continually participated in the battle, but ended up being aghast at how much Elven blood was spilled in defense of a Dwarven land, and rather than warning Thorin or helping Dáin, he attempted to take advantage of the respite to pull out. It was then that he encountered Tauriel, who declared that he would not depart, for the Dwarves would die if he left, but his response was that it did not matter as the Dwarves were mortal. At this, Tauriel drew her bow and accused him of being a loveless person who viewed his life as more important than those of others. Thranduil retaliated by slicing her bow, telling her that what she felt for Kíli was not real, and asked if she was ready to die for love.
This reduces Tauriel to tears, but before Thranduil had time to strike at her, Legolas intervened by striking down Thranduil's sword, and told him flatly that he would have to kill his son if he wished to slay her. Legolas and Tauriel then departed for Ravenhill, leaving Thranduil in shock. In a deleted scene, it was at this moment that Gandalf reminded him that his wife not only left him with gems, but also a flesh-and-blood son (Legolas), and asked him which did he think she would prefer him to value more, causing Thranduil to turn to Gandalf in a state of greater shock and grief.
It was unknown if Thranduil had a change of heart, and stayed to aid the Dwarves. However, after the battle ended and regretting his mistakes, he goes to Ravenhill alone to find Legolas and Tauriel. He runs into Legolas, who confesses that he could not go back with him. Thranduil advises him to find the Dúnedain, for there was a young Ranger there whom he should meet - his father, Arathorn, was a good man, and he might become a great man himself. He went on to explain to Legolas that the Ranger's name in the wild is "Strider", but his true name (Aragorn) is something he has to learn for himself, and he also confides in Legolas that his mother loved him more than anything else in this world. At this, father and son exchange a mutual gesture of farewell and affection, and Thranduil accepts Legolas' decision to be on his own.
The events of the Battle of Five Armies made Thranduil aware of his errors and that his obsession with the White Gems of Lasgalen had blinded him, and from this moment on he became more humble. As Legolas left to go to the North, Thranduil found Tauriel weeping over Kíli's corpse, and upon seeing him, she asked him why love could hurt so much. Touched by the sight, along with the memory of his wife's death at Angmar's hands, he replies "Because it was real", and agreed with her plan to bury Kíli. Though he was not seen afterwards, it was safe to assume that after the funerals and burials, he departed for Mirkwood.
Voice dubbing actors
|Foreign Language||Voice dubbing artist|
|Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD)||Guilherme Briggs|
|French (France)||Anatole de Bodinat|
|Spanish (Latin America)||Ricardo Tejedo|
|Spanish (Spain)||Dani Albiac|
|Italian (Italy)||Marco Foschi|
Rankin/Bass's The Hobbit
In the Rankin/Bass 1977 animated version of The Hobbit, Thranduil was voiced by Otto Preminger. In this version he is a golden-haired, balding, green-skinned being whose people bear little resemblance to the more human-looking Elves led by Elrond. He captures Thorin's company after mistaking their approach for an attack, and despite their attempts to convince him otherwise he has them imprisoned. He and Bard later join forces to take the Lonely Mountain, only to quickly join forces with Thorin's army of Dwarves upon seeing the approach of the Goblin army.
In the 1968 BBC radio series, he is voiced by Leonard Fenton.
- Thranduil is also one of the playable Elven heroes in the real-time strategy game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online Thranduil's earliest appearances are during the War of the Last Alliance. He can be found during the Battle of Dagorlad and later is seen during the Siege of Barad-dûr.
- In the present time, Thranduil is first encountered fighting in Mirkwood during the last days of the War of the Ring. He joins the forces of Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel and after a brief discussion their combined host moves on Dol Guldur where Galadriel brings down the fortress. Afterwards he and Celeborn renamed the forest Eryn Lasgalen and divide it into three parts, giving the middle section to the Woodmen. Thranduil then returns to his halls in Felegoth where his son Legolas and the player join him after the One Ring is destroyed. Thranduil's people have to deal with an unexpected situation when most of spiders in Mirkwood, except for the very young or very old ones, suddenly depart the forest en masse, traveling south to answer the call of the source of the new threat and preventing it from reaching his borders.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||瑟蘭督伊|
|Kazakh||Трандуил (Cyrillic) Trandwïl (Latin)|
|Serbian||Трандуилo (Cyrillic) Tranduilo (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Тҳрандуил (Cyrillic) Thranduil (Latin)|
|King of the Woodland Realm|
Unknown; title possibly abandoned
|SA 3434 - Fourth Age|
- The Hobbit, Chapter VIII: "Flies and Spiders"
- Unfinished Tales, Part Two: The Second Age, Chapter IV: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", Appendices: Appendix B, The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter II: "The Council of Elrond"
- The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth, II: "The Appendix on Languages", Languages at the end of the Third Age
- The Hobbit, Chapter IX: "Barrels Out of Bond"
- The Hobbit, Chapter XVI: "A Thief in the Night"
- The Hobbit, Chapter XVII: "The Clouds Burst"
- The Hobbit, Chapter XVIII: "The Return Journey"
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Great Years"
- Parma Eldalamberon 17, Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Hobbit, Chapter XIV: "Fire and Water"