The major characters of a book are often more interesting than the minor characters, although, of course, there are exceptions. This makes complete sense, at first thought. You see, the hero and/or heroine is usually extensively developed, given a background and a future and a full description, while we are only given a glimpse of secondary characters. Words here, a glance there, are all we get of their character in most cases, leaving them free to our own imaginations and interpretations.
However, this is not so with Tolkien. While he doesn’t often describe his characters’ physiques, he does give us an unusually extensive look at their personalities, and thanks to the handy Appendices of The Lord of the Rings (not to mention the many other books he wrote about Middle-earth), we know a lot about their pasts and what happens to them as well. Minor characters in The Lord of the Rings are well-developed flourishes that add depth and context to the story, and this is one of the reasons why The Lord of the Rings is such a good book.
One of the most popular minor characters is, of course, Legolas the Elf. This may be mostly due to Orlando Bloom’s portrayal of the character in the film version (which, while not exactly canon in some places, was still admirable no matter whether or not you like Legolas), but Miss Jane likes Legolas’s character in the book as well. (Eowyn does not agree. ;)) Being an Elf, Legolas is otherworldly, seemingly impervious to cold, hunger and wounds. In the movie, he is represented as being an unstoppable fighter, although Tolkien actually doesn’t say anything about Legolas’s prowess in battle. Although Legolas is an Old Solemn Elf (he’s far older than Aragorn, who is eighty-seven!), he has quick wit and a sense of humor, as well as being extremely loyal to his friends.
Gimli is also another one of the popular minor characters, although not as well known as Legolas or Boromir. Gimli is a Dwarf, and highly proud of it. He boasts about what his cousin, Balin, can do for the Fellowship in the Mines of Moria, however, he’s the most reluctant one to go into The Paths of the Dead. Throughout the book, Gimli is a fighter, unable to stop until justice is done. He is, for some reason unbeknownst to the less-enlightened movie-watchers-only, at odds with Legolas for most of the trilogy. (For the Less Enlightened – see The Hobbit. The movie or book will do.) By the end of Return, Legolas and Gimli have struck up an unlikely friendship that carries on until they die. This friendship is greatly expounded on in the film, but we love it nevertheless. Gimli has quite a few memorable lines in the movie, too, the most-quoted being, “But it only counts as one!”
Boromir is quite a character. While not nearly as awesome as his younger brother (Miss Jane says, “But then, who is?” To which Eowyn replies with a hearty and resounding, “AMEN!”), he has many fine qualities, including honor, loyalty, courage, and caution. But he is also stubborn, headstrong, prideful, somewhat spoiled, and endowed of a hasty temper. These flaws all cause him to nearly destroy the quest to destroy the Ring. He is angry that he doesn’t get to have command of the Ring, and wants it taken to Minas Tirith to be used instead of being thrown into Mount Doom. When neither of these wishes are gratified, he keeps working for them, trying first persuasion, then force against Frodo to get the Ring. Frodo flees from Boromir, and Merry and Pippin immediately run off to find him when they discover that he is gone. Aragorn commands Boromir to follow Merry and Pippin and protect them. Boromir obeys, and redeems himself for his past actions by sacrificing himself in battle when Orcs attack Merry and Pippin.
Theoden, the King of Rohan, is the “good King” of sorts, compared to Denethor. In his prime, he was vigorous and healthy, respected and loved by everyone. However, when he gets a new advisor, Grima Wormtongue, he gradually comes under the power of Wormtongue (who secretly works for Saruman), and falls into depression and decay. When Gandalf and Co. come to ask for help in The Two Towers, he initially refuses them. Finally, Gandalf reveals what Wormtongue really is and Theoden banishes him from Rohan, after which he leads his country into battle against Saruman, proving his valor several times. He challenges the Witch-king to battle, but is killed when his horse, Snowmane, falls on top of him.
Note: this Theoden is book-Theoden. The Theoden of the movie is quite different in several ways (he is actually possessed by Saruman, he is aware of Eowyn’s presence at his death, and he has to be convinced to lead Rohan into battle by Eomer, to name three), and while still an interesting character, we don’t find him to be quite as heroic or admirable as he is in the book.
Eomer is next on the list of minor characters. (Eowyn has recently fallen in love with him, but this is partially due to her love for Star Trek and finding out that he and Bones are both played by the same actor, Karl Urban.) He wasn’t fleshed-out as much in the movie as he is in the book, which makes his character still likeable, but less awesome. Eomer is the nephew of Theoden and the brother of Eowyn. Eomer is known for his passion of the fight and his willingness to do anything to see justice served. He is banished from Rohan by Theoden, yet still comes to fight after Theoden is back in his right mind. The scene in Return when Eomer found his father and Eowyn on the battlefield, dead and dying, and starts sobbing is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the entire trilogy, in Eowyn’s opinion. Not much more about his character is shown after Aragorn is crowned king, but he is once again made the head of the Riders of Rohan and, we assume, lived a happy life.
Beregond is one of Miss Jane’s favorite characters, despite the scarcity of scenes with him in them (this may or may not have to do with the fact that he saved Faramir’s life at the risk of his own…*cough* He is highly valued in Eowyn’s eyes.). He’s a valiant, brave warrior who forms a deep friendship with Pippin, and he’s a good, affectionate father. He’s loyal to his leader (Faramir), and would be willing to follow him into death. He fights alongside Pippin in the final battle and, although he ends up severely injured, wreaks a fair amount of havoc in the enemy lines. Sadly, both he and his elder son, Bergil, were left out of the movie, but he’s a pretty amazing guy in the book.
And, of course, there’s Figwit. Who is Figwit, you ask? See below. (He shows up at around 1:40.)
Figwit (which stands for Frodo Is Great, Who Is That?) was played by Bret McKenzie and, apparently, got sooo much of a fandom that he was brought back for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We don’t really know why he’s so awesome, but we’ll join in the fandom anyway, because, hey, it’s Lord of the Rings!
Paragraph from Eowyn’s sister, Bea: