46

In The Lord of the Rings there are five Nazgûl that remain behind and attack the Hobbits on Weathertop.

Which Nagûl stabbed Frodo? Was it the Witch-king or was he one of the four that pursued Gandalf?

Crown as evidence:

While the answers are good and point to it being the Witch-king, the question Who were the Nazgul before they became wraiths? refers to kings plural therefore wearing a crown is only a pointer and not definitive. I'll wait to see if more evidence becomes available.

  • It is true that the Nazgûl are said to have been kings. However only the one who stabbed Frodo is described as wearing a crown at the time of the attack. It's possible that Tolkien neglected to mention the crowns on the heads of the others, but I think it more likely that it was only the leader of the Nazgûl (the Witch-King) who still wore a crown. – Blackwood Feb 3 '17 at 17:24
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    "The one who will lead Sauron's armies in war, The Witch King of Angmar, you have met him before... he stabbed Frodo on Weathertop." – jacksonecac Feb 3 '17 at 20:39
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    @jacksonecac movie quote? That scene differs from the books as all nine attack – user46509 Feb 3 '17 at 21:00
  • Maggie! Wait, sorry, that’s who shot Mr. Burns. (Spoilers.) – Paul D. Waite Mar 2 '17 at 23:16
  • Well, whoever he was, he was a real jerk :( – Misha R Mar 27 '18 at 5:08
74

It was the Witch-King who stabs Frodo.

There were five tall figures: two standing on the lip of the dell, three advancing. In their white faces burned keen and merciless eyes; under their mantles were long grey robes; upon their grey hairs were helms of silver;... Two of the figures halted. The third was taller than the others: his hair was long and gleaming and on his helm was a crown. In one hand he held a long sword, and in the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the ground, and he heard himself crying aloud: O Elbereth! Gilthoniel! At the same time he struck at the feet of his enemy. A shrill cry rang out in the night; and he felt a pain like a dart of poisoned ice pierce his left shoulder.

Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (pp. 195-196). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.


but all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. -Aragorn to Frodo about the incident.

The other four all had silver helms, only one of the five had a crown on top.

For even the Wise might fear to withstand the Nine, when they are gathered together under their fell chieftain. A great king and sorcerer he was of old, and now he wields a deadly fear. -Gandalf on the nine.

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  • It's weird that they don't all have crowns, given they were all kings... – Medinoc Feb 3 '17 at 17:09
  • @Medinoc i assume the silver helms were their "battle crowns" fancy headwear, and being the head/king of kings the additional crown on top is what distinguished the witch king – Himarm Feb 3 '17 at 17:11
  • @Medinoc they weren't defo all kings – user46509 Feb 3 '17 at 21:01
28

If you're ok with taking the movies' word for it, Gandalf clearly states that it was the Witch-king

Gandalf: Sauron has yet to reveal his deadliest servant. The one who would lead Mordor's armies in war. The one they say no living man can kill: the Witch-King of Angmar. You've met him before. He stabbed Frodo on Weathertop.

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27

It was the Witch-King (Probably)

Two of the figures halted. The third was taller than the others: his hair was long and gleaming and on his helm was a crown. In one hand he held a long sword, and in the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the ground, and he heard himself crying aloud: O Elbereth! Gilthoniel! At the same time he struck at the feet of his enemy. A shrill cry rang out in the night; and he felt a pain like a dart of poisoned ice pierce his left shoulder.

Theoretically it could have been from another of the Nazgûl (we don't see the actual strike) but the implication is very clear.


In the Peter Jackson film adaptation, the event is rather clearer

IN THE TWILIGHT WORLD:

Frodo finds himself in the weird twilight world...he looks upon the Ringwraiths, now visible in their TRUE APPEARANCE: Five Ghouls dressed in long Grey robes, with white hair, and Pallid, ruthless faces. THE WITCH KING extends a haggard hand towards Frodo, reaching for the ring on his finger. Frodo's trembling hand extends forward as if by the pull of the ring...he slides to the ground, unable to pull his hand away. The witch king snarls and springs forward. He stabs at Frodo with a wicked dagger! Frodo winces as the tip of the dagger sinks into his shoulder. Suddenly, Strider charges at the RINGWRAITHS, wielding his sword in one hand, a flaming torch in the other. He moves in slow motion, visible through a sea of mist. Frodo sinks to the ground. Behind him is a faint image of a Ringwraith fleeing, his head engulfed in flames. With draining strength, Frodo manages to pull the ring off his finger...

LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring - Original Script

enter image description here


And again in the Ralph Bakshi adaptation of Lord of the Rings, he's quite definitely stabbed by a character later identified as the Witch-King.

enter image description here

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  • 6
    Does the crown indicate he's the witch king though, as other nazgûl are described as great kings of men – user46509 Feb 2 '17 at 14:49
  • @Po-ta-toe - The tallness is the giveaway. He's the leader. – Valorum Feb 2 '17 at 14:49
  • He's the tallest of the five. – user46509 Feb 2 '17 at 14:50
  • That Ralph Bakshi - looks very much to me like live film (someone filmed in green light wearing a practical suit) with traditional animation added in. – Tim Mar 2 '17 at 21:17
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    @Tim - Pfft. If you've seen one mountain, you've seen 'em all. If you remove the long helicopter shots and over-extended fight sequences, Jackson's films are about four minutes long each. – Valorum Mar 2 '17 at 22:04
12

It was the lord of the Nazgûl (previously known as the Witch King of Angmar), or at least it seems to have been the most powerful black rider present.

Two of the figures halted. The third was taller than the others: his hair was long and gleaming and on his helm was a crown. In one hand he held a long sword, and in the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

Tolkien seemed to have a thing about height as a indicator of power. (Eomer was the tallest of the riders who accosted Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli.) The way the figure with the blade is singled out strongly suggests it was Nazgûl lord.

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