Wargs were a breed of wolves who lived in the Misty Mountains. Some were captured and used by Orcs of Isengard and Mordor in the Third Age, and others had an allegiance with the northern goblins. They appear first in The Hobbit, attacking Thorin and Company as they traveled east from the Misty Mountains.
In TA 2941, a pack of Wargs planned to meet the goblins of the Misty Mountains and organize a raid on several nearby villages, to expel the Woodmen and capture some slaves. As the pack approached the meeting-place east of the mountains, they happened upon Thorin's Company along with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins, who had just escaped from the same goblins. Gandalf had anticipated this, suggesting the Company climb up a nearby stand of trees. This was done, and Dori helped Bilbo out of the Wargs' reach just in time.
Thinking the Dwarves allies of the Woodmen, the Wargs surrounded the glade and prevented them from descending. Gandalf lit up pine-cones and hurled them against the Wargs, until they were driven out. The wolves that had caught fire fled into the forest and had set it alight in several places, as it was high summer, and on this eastern side of the mountains there had been little rain for some time. Goblins soon appeared, and set the trees on fire. Not long after the Great Eagles arrived and rescued the Company.
Not long after the news of Smaug’s death spread throughout Middle-earth, Wargs and goblins united to claim the Lonely Mountain as their own, but were defeated by an alliance of Dwarves, Elves, Lake-men, and Great Eagles in the Battle of Five Armies.
Decades later, on January 13 of TA 3019, the Fellowship of the Ring was attacked by a group of Wargs, presumably sent by Saruman to waylay them after the failed attempt to cross the Redhorn Pass. The Wargs fled after their first assault, but returned with reinforcements. Eventually, this second assault also failed, and by morning the Fellowship noticed that the carcasses of the slain had vanished. Aragorn knew them to be from "the mountains".
Wargs are described as being giant, intelligent, and malevolent wolves.
Portrayals in adaptations
The Hobbit (1977 animated film)
In the 1977 animated adaptation of The Hobbit, Gandalf, Bilbo, and the Dwarves are being chased by Wolves (Wargs) and like the book, are chased up a tree. Gandalf defends the group from the wolfs, using magic infused pinecones, until Goblins riding the wolves begin to burn the tree. However, they are soon rescued by Gwaihir and his Eagles.
Peter Jackson's films
The Hobbit film trilogy
The Wargs of Gundabad are wolf-like with grey fur, and are bred by the Orcs of Mount Gundabad. Throughout the events of The Hobbit film trilogy, a pack of Wargs are in the service of Azog, who had survived the battle at Moria. Among these Wargs is a larger one with a white pelt that Azog rides, revealed in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles: Creatures & Characters guide book to be the Warg Matriarch of the Gunbabad Wargs. Gandalf states in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey that the Gundabad Wargs are faster than any other breed.
In the events of An Unexpected Journey, a pack of Warg-riders led by Yazneg and Fimbul stalk the company of Thorin II Oakenshield before making their presence known in the Trollshaws. Though Radagast offers to distract their pursuers by riding on his sled pulled by Rhosgobel Rabbits, the Warg-riders see the Company and chase after them before finding themselves ambushed by the Elves of Rivendell after the Company flees into the Hidden Pass. Azog later feeds Yazneg to the Wargs at the Orc camp at Weathertop. Azog later rides the Warg Matriarch to personally hunt Thorin, who manages to elude him with the aid of both the Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains and Beorn. The Gundabad Wargs make fewer appearances in the The Desolation of Smaug, when Bolg and a small force of Warg-riders trail the company to Dale. In The Battle of the Five Armies, Azog rides the Warg Matriarch on the march to the Lonely Mountain before instructing Bolg to retrieve their reinforcements at Gundabad. In the extended edition of The Battle of the Five Armies, a company of forty Gundabad Wargs, including between fifteen and twenty Warg riders, are part of Azog's massive army and also participate in the final battle outside the city of Dale and the Dwarven Kingdom of Erebor.
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The eastern Wargs seen in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy are noticeably hyena-like in appearance. An eastern Warg measures about five feet at the shoulder, and could be up to eight in length from snout to hindquarters. The head has a short muzzle full of huge fangs, small eyes set on the sides of the head and ears at the back of the skull.
In The Two Towers film, Saruman sends the Orc Sharku with a company of Warg-riders to attack the people of Rohan as they make their way to Helm's Deep. Sharku battles Aragorn, and his Warg falls with Aragorn off of a cliff into a river. The Wargs and Orcs lose the battle, and the survivors flee.
In The Return of the King film, a Warg serves as the mount for Gothmog during the Siege of Gondor, and several other Wargs can be seen storming the city with their Orc riders. In the commentary in the Special Extended Edition of the film, Jackson said that the scene was chaotic to shoot, and that the Wargs were the only computer-generated creatures he felt could have looked more convincing. He also thought the scene itself could have turned out better if his team had a more organized storyboard layout for the battle.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, there is a small colony of wild Wargs living in a hollow rock formation in northeast Rohan, one of which is particularly large and used as a mini-boss for a side quest.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II video games, the Isengard faction can train and use Warg-riders as a mounted unit.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online, Wargs can be found throughout the world. A Warg-stalker is also a playable class in Monster Play.
- In the Medieval 2: Total War: Kingdoms mod, Third Age: Total War, Warg Riders are used by the factions of Isengard, Orcs of the Misty Mountains, and Orcs of Gundabad as a light cavalry unit.
- In LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, Wargs appear as enemies and can be ridden in the level "Warg Attack."
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Races of Arda
Servants of the Shadow: