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I know this is something of a list question but I hope it's allowed as it should be a definitive list with references. Who in the Lord of the Rings series wore the One Ring? I know that Bilbo and Frodo did for sure but it's been a while since I've seen the book or the movies so I'm not sure who else might have worn it.

22

There were seven: Sauron, Isildur, Smeagol, Bilbo, Frodo, Tom Bombadil, and Samwise.

Though Déagol and Gandalf had handled the Ring, the only individuals ever to wear it were Sauron, Isildur, Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo, Tom Bombadil, and Samwise. None but Bilbo, Frodo, and Samwise are actually called "Ring-bearers" in any of Tolkien's works.

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    I forgot about Tom Bombadil (and he's one of my favourite characters....) – Yaztromo Mar 8 '12 at 21:35
  • Good answer! I should have known there would be a wiki page for it. I have no memory of Tom Bombadil wearing the ring though or Samwise even, yet I remember now reading about Sauron, Isildur, Deagol and Gollum. Did not remember Gollum hunting orcs though I thought he only ate fish. – Kevin Howell Mar 8 '12 at 23:03
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    Also Boromir is a handler in the films. I accept that this is not canon however. Good answer. – WOPR Mar 9 '12 at 13:15
  • Did Boromir actually touch the ring in the film? I know he handled the chain it was on, but did he touch the ring itself? – Sean McMillan Dec 4 '12 at 20:49
  • @KevinHowell: Tom Bombadil did put on the ring at one point and did not turn invisible, which is somewhat noteable. ;-) – DevSolar Jan 19 '17 at 8:02
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The Encyclopedia of Arda has a list of all ring-bearers, including those who wore it on their fingers in bold:

  • Sauron
  • Isildur
  • Déagol
  • Sméagol/Gollum
  • Bilbo Baggins
  • Frodo Baggins
  • Gandalf (more so in the book than in the movie)
  • Boromir (only in the movie)
  • Tom Bombadil (he doesn't even appear in the movies)
  • Samwise Gamgee (doesn't wear it on his finger in the movie)

Notes:

  • Samwise did not wear the ring on his finger in the movie. He just wore the necklace. But in the books of The Two Towers and Return of the King, he does spend some time (two days according to the link above) with the ring on, hiding from the Orcs who come and take Frodo's unconscious body to Cirith Ungol.
  • Gandalf holds the ring for a somewhat shorter period of time in the movie than he does in the books. And it's in an envelope when he does so, so it's arguable that he didn't really "hold" the ring at all.
  • The moment where Boromir picks up the necklace (after it somehow slips off Frodo's neck) on the slopes of Caradhras is an invention of the movie. It never appears in the book.
  • Good answer! I like the detail. If this had come in yesterday I would have awarded you the answer as you gave more details. I only read the books and saw the first movie not the other two. Personally I would not include Gandalf as a ring bearer though as I feel he was actually very careful not to touch the ring since he had an idea of what it might be and was afraid the temptation of power would corrupt him. – Kevin Howell Mar 9 '12 at 18:06
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    Gandalf definitely touched the actual ring with his actual hand in the book: "He [Frodo] unfastened it [a chain the ring was attached to] and handed it slowly to the wizard. It felt suddenly very heavy, as if either it or Frodo himself was in some way reluctant for Gandalf to touch it. Gandalf held it up. It looked to be made of pure and solid gold." (FotR, chapter 2) – Plutor Mar 9 '12 at 18:44
  • When it comes down to what's canon, I went with Tolkien over Jackson. As great as the movies are, they are Peter Jacksons adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkiens written words. Tolkien didn't leave things out of the movie, Jackson did. – Major Stackings Mar 9 '12 at 21:10
2

I think the complete list is:

  • Sauron
  • Isildur
  • Smeagol
  • Bilbo
  • Frodo
  • Tom Bombadil

The ring's history may be murky, but there are only a few other bearers (Deagol, Samwise), so there isn't much room for any other wearers.

Edit - dropped Samwise, since I don't remember him ever putting the ring on his finger, and added Bombadil.

  • Rather than post an additional answer when we can have one definitive answer, you forgot Deagol, a brief bearer but one nonetheless. – dlanod Mar 8 '12 at 21:08
  • @dlanod Did Deagol wear the ring, or just hold it? (This question is about wearers.) – Richard Mar 9 '12 at 10:19
  • I misread it as "bearers". He did not wear it, that we know of. – dlanod Mar 9 '12 at 10:51
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    Sam wore it while eavesdropping on some orcs after Frodo was paralyzed by Shelob near Cirith Ungol. Jackson didn't put this (like many things) in the film version. – Matt Peterson Mar 9 '12 at 16:50

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