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"Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert."
Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit

Were-worms were creatures told of in the stories of hobbits. Though possibly mythical, were-worms were thought to be terrible monsters that made their home in the Last Desert, said to be located far to the east of the Shire.

For a hobbit to declare himself prepared to fight were-worms was a sort of proverbial way of saying that he was ready to do anything.[1]

Portrayal in adaptations

Video games

Were-worms were monsters appearing in the 2003 The Hobbit game.

These large, fearsome worms live in underground dens. and are first seen after the Troll Hole boss fight. They look like caterpillars and when Bilbo kills one, another comes forward to take its place. They are blind and can be snuck up upon. They make a fearsome snarling noise that sounds similar to dogs.

The Hobbit film trilogy


In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the Were-worms make a brief appearance before and during the Battle of Five Armies.

A tunnel made by Were-worms

Tunnels dug by the creatures first appear as Azog and Ragash inspect the path their armies will travel. After Thorin and Thranduil hear a rumbling noise below the battlefield, several Were-worms suddenly burst through the ground near the hills surrounding Erebor, only to disappear again soon after. As they appear, Gandalf in horror identifies the creatures as Were-worms. Here, they dig tunnels for reinforcements of the Dol Guldur Orc army. In the film, they look somewhat like colossal rainworms with rock-like skin and massive jaws. They don’t appear to be used for combat, and they don’t take part in the actual battle. Despite a short appearance, the worms remain among the largest creatures in the live-action films along with Smaug, who was said to be over 140 to 152 meters (462 to 498 feet) in length.[2]

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Uruks facing a were-wyrm in The Desolation of Mordor

Were-worms, referred to as were-wyrms, appear as native to the plain of Lithlad in The Desolation of Mordor, an expansion to the game Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Their appearance is similar to that from The Hobbit films, though the creatures vary greatly in size.


  • The worms that appeared in The Battle of the Five Armies film resemble Carnictis from King Kong (2005); the worm-like creatures which devoured Lumpy, portrayed by Andy Serkis. For Peter Jackson's self-homage to his King Kong, there were more scenes of similarity in the franchise; during the battle under the Lonely Mountain, Thorin landing on Smaug's nostril resembled Ann Darrow falling on the tip of Vastatosaurus Rex's jaws during the battle between Kong and the dinosaurs, and the facial structure of a War Troll in the extended edition of the third film strongly resembles that of Kong.
  • In The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, Robert Foster suggests that Were-worms may have been misremembered dragons among Hobbits. Foster notes that "worm" is often used as another name for dragons and "Werewolves" refer to intelligent wolves capable of speech, traits which dragons share.
  • In the early version of The Hobbit, Bilbo mentioned that he might head to the "Great Desert of Gobi" or the" Last Desert of East" and fight a worm of China there. Interestingly, the Gobi Desert is also known for the legend of Mongolian death worms.
  • It should be noted that this name is somewhat inaccurate given the origin of the prefix "were" from the Old English word "wer" for "man" and the seeming lack of any connection between men and Were-worms.
  • The were-worms shown in Peter Jackson's film resemble the Nydus worm's[3] of the Starcraft series.

See also


Foreign Language Translated name
Chinese (Hong Kong) 噬地獸
Czech Zeměžrouti
Danish Kæmpeorme ("Spøgelsesdrager")
German Werwürmer
Norwegian Vârorm
Polish Robołaki
Portuguese (Brazil) Homens-dragões (book)
Vermes-gigantes (film)
Russian Червеоборотни
Races of the Creatures of Arda
Free Folks:

Ainur | Dwarves | Elves | Ents | Great Eagles | Hobbits | Huorns | Men | Petty-dwarves | Skin-changers (Beornings)

Servants of the Shadow:

Barrow-wights | Demons | Dragons (Fire-drakes) | Giants | Goblins | Ogres | Orcs | Spiders | Trolls | Úvanimor | Vampires | Wargs | Werewolves | Were-worms


  1. The Hobbit, Chapter I: "An Unexpected Party"
  2. Ian Failes. 2014. Behind the scenes of Weta Digital’s Smaug. the fxguide. Retrieved on December 22. 2014