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In the Battle of the Five Armies movie, near the end the dwarves are all equipped with shiny armor that they found in Erebor. But for the final battle, they all go to combat without any armor. So they must have taken off their armor.

Why go to war without any protection when you have some of the best armor ever built by dwarves already on?

  • 14
    To quote Ulysses Everett McGill: "It's a fool that looks for logic in Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit' movies" – NKCampbell Jun 24 '16 at 21:31
  • @NKCampbell - You must be a man of constant sorrow...for Pete's sake. – iMerchant Jun 24 '16 at 22:04
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    @NKCampbell It's a fool that looks for The Hobbit in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit movies. – Misha R Jun 24 '16 at 22:21
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    ^ this. so much this – NKCampbell Jun 24 '16 at 22:24
  • When donning the plate they were preparing to defend against arrows and curved blades. This then changed to attacking against clubs and maces. – OrangeDog Jul 18 '16 at 9:01
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tl;dr version: They take off the plate mail, keeping just the chain mail and the leather / cloth layers underneath it, to trade protection for agility.

This is answered in the extras for The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies Special Extended Edition, in particular in the documentary called Out from the Gate in the first disc of the appendices which provides ample details about how this scene evolved; the following quotations are taken from the subtitles, starting at minute 04:05.

  • Initially, the idea was that the dwarf would enter the battlefield in full regalia, wearing the best armor found in Erebor's armory, the same armor they are sporting in the scene where they confront the elves and men:

Peter Jackson: The intention at one stage was to create this armor and that's what they would go into battle with at the end. We just thought that they should - within Erebor - they should adopt a much more regal attitude.

I mean, Thorin is the king, but the others are knights, essentially. Like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, they're all his warrior knights. So we wanted to create this imagery.

  • The problem is that the armor proved too heavy and cumbersome for the actors to move well in it, let alone fight.

Dean O'Gorman (Fili): The first impression when you see us ... that's an amazing work of art, really, that I got to wear.

Then you put it on, you're like: "I can't actually do anything".

Jed Brophy (Nori): You couldn't actually lift a weapon. Couldn't lift your arms above your head.

Adam Brown (Ori): It was a great day on set when the decision came that the dwarves were gonna shed their armor.

  • Richard Armitage provides an out-of-universe, visual reason too, as the viewers could find it difficult to recognize the characters in the action-packed battle scenes:

Richard Armitage (Thorin): I understood that we needed to see our dwarves, that we had followed for the entire journey; and burying them in armor where you really only see this part of them [the eyes] was a little unsatisfying.

  • Moreover and in-universe, removing the plate mail is not a senseless decision, as Thorin's plan to change the course of the battle is to strike down Azog, who is directing the orcs from up on Ravenhill; to reach him, the dwarves have to quickly cross the whole battlefield riding war rams and an iron chariot borrowed from Dain's army, so being light and agile is definitely a plus:

Graham McTavish (Dwalin): They knew that what they were going into when they left Erebor to join the battle was essentially a suicide mission.

So why did they need to wear all this protection? It's just gonna slow them down.

  • So, the creative team has to design a "light" version of the armor:

Weta Artist: When we were told about this casting off the armor for battle, from a design point of view, I could work closely with Bob Buck to create a stripped back version, so they took off all the heavy components. The garments you see them wearing are actually what they're wearing underneath all the plate armor.

PJ: That's the stripped down version, it's what they run out in because that was a more practical way in which these guys could actually even fight.

A few screenshots (click to view full size) to summarize what happens in the movies with regard to clothing and armor:

  1. when leaving from Laketown on boat, the dwarves wear man-sized clothing gifted by the people, together with weapons and some pieces of armor coming from the Laketown Guard leaving Laketown
  2. the ill-fitting armor is discarded as soon as they move ashore (if not earlier still) as it is completely unpractical, so the dwarves remain dressed in cloth and furs while searching for the hidden door, entering Erebor and ultimately making Smaug fly out entering Erebor
  3. after the death of the dragon, the dwarves have some quiet time to explore Erebor and find proper dwarf-sized garments / light armor, which they are wearing when Fili, Kili, Bofur and Oin join them, still in their Laketown gear the company reunited
  4. in order to show the power of Erebor to the elves and men of Laketown coming at the gate the dwarves "dress to impress", donning the regal armor found in the armory (note that many of them are now wielding tall lances instead of their usual weapons of choice) dressed to impressed
  5. when Thorin declares they would not fight, the dejected dwarves remove the heavy and unconfortable pieces of plate armor they are wearing, as they would not need it undressed and depressed
  6. finally, when they decide for a final sortie they keep "only" the dwarven chainmail they were wearing under the plate armor, so they could be faster and more agile Leroy Jenkins!
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    It's funny that the dwarves would be been concerned with the armor slowing them down when the battle was literally outside their front door. Dain and his dwarves had to March a long way, and they were all wearing full armor. If it was a suicide mission, they should still want to hold out as long as possible, which armor + helmets would let them do. In LOTR, Gimli wears his armor just about the entire time. At Helm's Deep, he puts on even more armor! I understand the rationale of the filmmakers' decision, but I think it's weak. – Ben Osborne Jun 24 '16 at 21:17
  • @BenOsborne The objective of Thorin's raid is Azog, up the Ravenhill, not the orcs closing in on the door; in the extended edition of the movie it is shown clearly that they have to quickly cross all the battlefield to reach him (using the war rams and the iron chariot) so I think they really need to drop some weight; at Helm's deep, Gimli was basically waiting for the orcs to come at him. Anyway, thank you for the comment, I'm probably going to add some clarifications. – lfurini Jun 24 '16 at 21:29
  • Good to see the real answer. Pity it doesn't really make sense in-universe. – Dronz Jun 25 '16 at 18:22
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    They're not wearing t-shirts, but Thorin has a v-neck that makes his jugular a very open and tempting target. Also, they should really at least put their helmets on. It wouldn't have taken long to put them back on and run out the door. Gloin's helmet must have been pretty comfortable and not too inhibiting, since Gimli wore it for one year straight, even when he was sprinting across Rohan. But yes, I understand this is due to tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HelmetsAreHardlyHeroic . I did up-vote the answer. – Ben Osborne Jun 27 '16 at 15:15
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    Its a shame that Jackson did all he could to make the hobbit longer (9 hours...) but didn't use 30s to explain, what appears as a continuity error, with just a little phrase like "he friends, lets remove these heavy armors to run like hell across the battle" – max pnj Jun 28 '16 at 10:17
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There are a few different theories that people have proposed. My personal favorite is the idea that the "shiny armor" is largely ceremonial, meant to impress elves and men, and more decorative than functional. What they actually wear is leather and chainmail that they can move around in. Plus, recall that we typically see mithril in the form of chainmail shirts. Thus, the mail they're wearing might be better protection than all of the plate armor (recall that Frodo survives a direct spear-blow from a Troll (or an Orc Chieftain in the book), enough to lift him off of his feet, and sustained little more than bruising).

Another theory that sounds plausible (if less bright) is that they took off the armor when they thought there would not be a battle (armor is uncomfortable to wear for longs amounts of time), and didn't feel they had time to put it on when joining the fray.

Lastly, there is the theory that it's about rejection of materialism, but the dwarves seem too practical to eschew armor just because it's a material possession.

  • An Orc chieftain stabs him in the book, not a troll? I didn't know that! – Daft Jun 24 '16 at 12:40
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    The use of mithril chainmail rather than ceremonial armor seems the best answer. Armor is basically not good for infantry, which is what the dwarves are. – sabbahillel Jun 24 '16 at 13:39
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    Also, "found" armor is probably not going to fit as well as armor made specifically for them (there's no way they were carrying that stuff around with them), so in battle, you'd go with the best fit, unless it was substantially inferior. – PoloHoleSet Jun 24 '16 at 14:25
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    I have the impression that Bilbo's (later Frodo's) mithril mail coat is one-of-a-kind, or nearly so, by the end of the Third Age. It is described as being worth more than the entire Shire, and perhaps only the Arkenstone was more valuable out of the items in Smaug's hoard. – Todd Wilcox Jun 24 '16 at 15:47
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    Dwarves in the books love stuff, don't they? Rejection of materialism seems like a silly argument :P – Wayne Werner Jun 24 '16 at 19:55

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