The Lord of the Rings: the 10 saddest things about Sméagol


Despite being one of the most recognized fantasy characters of all time, Sméagol is still subject to constant misinterpretation. In the events of the books and movies, he is seen closer to a villain than a hero, yet his story is arguably more tragic than any other Tolkien character.

RELATED: Lord of the Rings: 5 Ways Gollum is a Villain (& 5 Ways He’s Not So Bad)

Once a common Hobbit like Frodo and Sam, Sméagol assumed the embodiment of selfishness and greed when he was transformed by the One Ring. To the impartial eye, Gollum was nothing more than a victim of the evil power of the Ring. And no matter how hard he tried to fight the Ring’s influence clouding his mind, it is a battle he never intended to win.

10 Murdered his cousin

LotR Sméagol and Déagol Fishing

What could have been one of the best birthday fishing trips in Sméagol’s life turned out to be the beginning of his 478-year-old nightmare when Déagol, his cousin and a dear friend, ended up at the bottom of the Great River. No, he didn’t die (yet!), But the real tragedy lies in Déagol’s find of the One Ring, which was hidden in the riverbed for over two millennia.

This golden jewel immediately corrupted Sméagol’s mind and as it was the time of Gollum’s birth, he strangled Déagol to death so that he could have the Ring all to himself. It all went downhill from there …

9 His grandmother banished him

LotR Smeagol Banished

After Sméagol obtained the One Ring, it didn’t take long for his Hobbit community to discover what kind of monster he was becoming. In other words, after murdering Déagol, Sméagol discovered that the Ring had granted him powers of invisibility, which he used to steal and spy on his people, as well as for other malicious actions.

Eventually, he even started to make a strange gurgling, which is why they started calling him “Gollum”. Longing for peace in his society, his grandmother kicked him out of the family, so Sméagol had to say goodbye forever to Grandma’s delicious second breakfasts.

8 The unique ring transformed him into a monster

LotR-Smeagol-Become-Gollum

After his grandmother kicked him out of his hole, Sméagol found a new home in the Misty Mountains, where he lived as a monster of nature far from both the sun and the moon. Having ugly goblins as neighbors (and sometimes even on the menu as a garnish for raw fish) was neither pleasant nor easy; however, it was much more difficult to share the same cave and body with a sneaky roommate, Gollum, for centuries.

RELATED: LOTR: Frodo Baggins & The Other 8 Ring Bearers Of The One Ring

Specifically, the Ring gave Sméagol longevity, but it came at a price; As the lonely years passed, he looked less like a cute hobbit and more like a deformed creature, thin as bone, with large pale eyes, and an equally ugly personality.

7 His constant internal conflict

LotR-Smeagol-y-Gollum-Talking

As a result of the Ring’s evil influence, Sméagol eventually becomes an overly confrontational creature with two distinct personalities. Gollum represents the violent side that would make him kill anyone who comes close to his “Precious”. On the other hand, Sméagol often shows signs of his “old Hobbit self”, which is especially evident when he is around Frodo through his helpful acts and even kindness.

Hence, he always had to struggle with his duality and sadly, this never-ending mental torture led to Sméagol’s self-destructive behavior, reflecting Gollum’s obsession with the Ring and his hatred of himself.

6 Sauron tortured him

LotR-Sauron

As if being under the One Ring’s spell wasn’t agonizing enough, Sméagol had to face another trauma while searching for Bilbo, who took away his “Precious”.

Tolkien had never explained it in detail, but it is known (from both books and movies) that Sméagol was captured and taken to the dungeons of Barad-dur, where Sauron himself tortured him physically and mentally until he revealed information about the location of the Ring. Fortunately for this poor creature, Sauron decided to let him go without knowing that his act of mercy would ultimately be his undoing.

5 Sam treated him badly

LotR-Smeagol-and-Sam

Samwise Gamgee had every right not to trust Sméagol; after all, he has a “criminal record” thanks to Gollum. However, instead of insulting and abusing him, she might as well have treated him better considering that somewhere deep in his tormented mind Sméagol was still a Hobbit, just like him.

That said, there were always hopes for Sméagol’s redemption that hardly anyone, including Sam, saw due to their lack of empathy for this pitiful creature.

4 Only Frodo showed any sympathy towards him

Lotr-Smeagol-y-Frodo

It’s beautiful and sad that Frodo was the closest Sméagol has had to a friend since he killed Déagol. While everyone else was beating him, this “Master of the Precious” (as Gollum called him) was the only one who showed any kindness and compassion towards him.

RELATED: Lord of the Rings: 5 Times Frodo Acted Like a Hero (& 5 Times He Looked More Like a Villain)

The reason for this is that Frodo, as the bearer of the Ring, could easily see himself sharing Sméagol’s tragic fate if he succumbs to the destructive power of the Ring that broke its former holder. So, understanding the circumstances of his transformation into Gollum, Frodo made an effort to treat Sméagol with a certain dignity, which actually rehabilitated Sméagol to some degree.

3 He felt betrayed by Frodo

LotR-Frodo-Betray-Gollum

On his journey to Mordor, Sméagol begins to trust Frodo, whose kind company reminds him of who he was before the creation of Gollum. So it’s not surprising how hurt he felt when Faramir’s guard took him prisoner for trespassing after “Master” persuaded him to leave.

But, little did he know that Frodo’s intentions were only to help him and that Boromir’s younger brother deceived them both. Once again, Sméagol was damaged, both physically and emotionally, which only gave Gollum more control over him.

two Almost regretted

LotR-Gollum

Climbing the stairs of Cirith Ungol, “the passage of the spider”, was a turning point for Sméagol, who almost regretted it while Frodo and Sam slept. He has just returned from Shelob, because he was plotting to betray these young Hobbits, but something in his heart changed when he saw them dream peacefully.

In one of his letters, Tolkien himself commented about this sad moment of Sméagol, calling it “the tragedy of Gollum, who at that moment was about to regret it, but because of a harsh word from Sam.” Now fans can only guess if Sméagol would really change for the better if Sam didn’t wake up and insult him for being a scoundrel.

1 His death

LotR-The-Death-of-Smeagol

Falling into the boiling lava of Mount Doom might seem like the worst death Sméagol could ever experience. Sure, it’s definitely a tragic and painful way to kick the bucket; however, it was also the only way Sméagol could find his eternal peace from a horrible life brought to him by the One Ring.

Throughout the books, Sméagol’s terrible existence served as a constant reminder of the dangers of Sauron’s magic. And with their history so deeply intertwined with that of the One Ring, it is reasonable that they have finally met their end together.

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