In An Unexpected Journey, the first part of the trilogy of Hobbit films, the Company of Thorin are captured in the Misty Mountains, taken down to Goblin-town and brought before the Great Goblin, who recognises Thorin when he steps forward.

My question is, how? I seriously doubt that they'd met before, and I also doubt that the Great Goblin, or any others of his race, had spoken to any other Dwarves long enough to learn anything more than a general description before fighting would have broken out. As I recall, he also recognises him in the book. How did the Great Goblin know who Thorin was?

  • 5
    Re: the book - it gives us precious little information in this regard as well. At first, the Great Goblin just sees them as dwarves, then Thorin identifies himself as simply "Thorin the dwarf at your service" at which point the Great Goblin says to him "Thorin Oakenshield, I know too much about your folk already" - apparently the name 'Thorin' says enough as to who he is.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 15:02
  • 5
    Thorin is probably the most famous, or second most famous dwarf alive currently. So its not unreasonable to figure out who he is.
    – Himarm
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 15:10
  • No help in the director's commentary.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 20:22
  • ...insert a long rant on the origins of Orcs here... Please note that some LotR Orcs were supposed to be living witnesses of the Great Siege... Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 20:31
  • 1
    @DeerHunter Where does it say that some of the orcs are living witnesses of the Battle of Last Alliance/Siege of Barad-Dur? Surely, you aren't talking about the siege of Angband or anything that far back?
    – Hereami
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 4:07

1 Answer 1


Well, the answer depends on whether you are looking at the books/movies.

Movies: I would assume that Thorin's face would have been minted on Dwarven gold, which inevitably would have fallen into Goblin hands too. Possibly, the Great Goblin would have known of the Company's passage through the High Pass and therefore correctly assumed that these were the dwarves he was looking for.

Book: To quote the Hobbit:

"Thorin the dwarf at your service!" he replied-it was merely a polite nothing. "Of the things which you suspect and imagine we had no idea at all. We sheltered from a storm in what seemed a convenient cave and unused; nothing was further from our thoughts than inconveniencing goblins in any way whatever." That was true enough! "Urn!" said the Great Goblin. "So you say! Might I ask what you were doing up in the mountains at all, and where you were coming from, and where you were going to? In fact I should like to know all about you. Not that it will do you much good, Thorin Oakenshield, I know too much about your folk already; but let's have the truth, or I will prepare something particularly uncomfortable for you!"

Thorin identifies himself, not the other way around.

  • 2
    If Dwarves did ever put a face on any coins, it would have most recently been that of Thror, the last King under the Mountain. But the practise may well have stopped since the Dwarves were exiled after Smaug came to visit. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 10:05
  • 1
    Thorin did organize colonies in the Blue mountains, there may have been production there.
    – Hereami
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 11:39
  • Thorin may well have been known by name to goblins after the Dwarf-Goblin wars in which he earned his nickname after he lost his shield and used an oak branch as a club and shield. Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 13:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.