Although George R. R. Martin has been accused of criticizing the moral simplicity of Tolkien's work with his series A Song of Ice and Fire, he has often said that he read and enjoyed Lord of the Rings in his childhood and drew a lot of his inspiration for the series from Tolkien.

Now, I've only read the first four books in the series and it's been ages since I last read Lord of the Rings. However, are there any "tip-of-the-hat" or "subtle shout outs" to the Lord of the Rings stories or characters?

An example that I would think could be possible would be naming a city or character after a character or city from Lord of the Rings, etc. However, as the two books are in the same genre and share a lot of similar characteristics as it relates to setting, environment, etc. the possibilities for this would really seem to be endless.

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    After following a link in Dima's response, I found this list of References and Homages. They are not all related to LotR and Tolkien, but interesting nonetheless. Commented May 22, 2012 at 14:35
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    Anyone who considers Tolkien "morally simplistic" obviously hasnt read the Silmarillion (which also out-Martins Martin when it comes to killing off major characters)
    – user8719
    Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 0:52
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    a is the 2nd letter in Baggins and the 3rd letter in Stark. 2 - 3 = 1. One Ring to rule them all... coincidence?? I think not!
    – Daft
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 16:51
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    Oakenshield is a castle on the wall and a dwarf in The Hobbit. Wargs are different things but they appear in both universes. Varamyr may be a nod to Faramir. Euron might share some iconography with Sauron.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 13:24
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    Also, the doom of Valyria is a shameless ripoff of the doom of Numenor.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 13:26

12 Answers 12


The name of the singer Marillion is a nod to Silmarillion.

Samwell Tarly is a nod to Samwise Gamgee, and the friendship between Sam and Jon parallels the friendship between Sam and Frodo. See the list of homages and references here.

We also see a character in the TV series named Pip who likes to joke and smile more often than the others. This could parallel Frodo's cousin Pippin Took.

While not related to LOTR, Martin also included a nod to Robert Jordan (author of The Wheel of Time series). In A Clash of Kings there is a Ser Jordayne of the Tor whose banner is a Golden quill.

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    how many of those are actually confirmed by Martin, and how many are just coincidental? Samwell is simply an archaic spelling of Samuel
    – HorusKol
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 4:19
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    In this interview GRRM confirms at least the Sam reference (See question 9). Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 0:11
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    While I don't have any concrete references, Marillion is supposedly an homage to the band Marillion who are in turn an homage to Silmarillion. Commented Jun 3, 2012 at 0:13
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    Marillion was a mistake! GRRM thought he was inventing an original name and hadn't consciously heard of the band. When he was informed of the name duplication he apologised and offered to change it in subsequent editions but the band were cool about it. Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 16:54
  • Pyp appears in the books as well, with the same tendency to make jokes
    – Aegon
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 10:33

Perhaps these are coincidences, but so far I've noticed that:

  1. Daenerys' husband is named Drogo, Frodo Baggins' father is named Drogo.

  2. Oakenshield is the name of a castle on The Wall, and also one of the shield islands. It is also the last name of the leader of the dwarf party in the Hobbit, Thorin Oakenshield.

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    A minor quibble, but "Oakenshield" isn't exactly a last name (i.e., it's not a family name), it was a nickname given to Thorin. From Wikipedia: In the Battle of Azanulbizar in Nanduhirion beneath the East-gate of Moria, Thorin's shield was broken, and he used his axe to chop a branch from an oak tree to defend himself, thus earning the epithet "Oakenshield". Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 14:30

A Dance with Dragons has a Tyrion chapter where he ponders the weak point of dragons (emphasis added):

The eyes were where a dragon was most vulnerable. The eyes, and the brain behind them. Not the underbelly, as certain old tales would have it. The scales there were just as tough as those along a dragon's back and flanks.

I read it as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the death of Smaug in The Hobbit and the death of Glaurung in The Silmarillion, both pierced to death in their soft, unprotected belly.

I was quite sure a different passage had Tyrion laugh at the idea of talking to a dragon, but I haven't been able to retrieve it.


A reference to Smaug on pg. 840 of A Dance with Dragons I believe. "No one. Most of the stories you hear about dragons are fodder for fools. Talking dragons, dragons hoarding gold and gems, dragons with four legs and bellies big as elephants, dragons riddling with sphinxes...nonsense, all of it."

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    None of which is original to Smaug, who is a fairly typical dragon in Norse mythology.
    – chepner
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 0:39

In Lord of the Rings, in the history, it talks about the white wolves coming in the Fell Winter... Wolves of Winterfell from A Song of Fire and Ice! Drogo was Frodo's father. And in a poem written by Bilbo, the name Tyrion appears, though spelled differently --

beneath the Hill of Ilmarin/a-glimmer in a valley sheer/the lamplit tower of Tirion/are mirrored in the Shadowmere.

There is quite a bit of Tolkien influence in A Song of Fire and Ice... and these are just from the Fellowship of the Ring.

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    Tirion upon Túna is an important city, mentioned many times, not just in a line of Biblo's poetry.
    – TRiG
    Commented May 22, 2019 at 14:36

There's no doubting that George was inspired from Tolkien and there's numerous quotes floating around that point to this.

Asked if Tolkien influenced the story of whatever happened with Rhaegar and Lyanna through the tale of Beren and Lúthien, George said he had a lot of influences, that Tolkien was certainly among them, but the fact is that there's a lot of historical influences -- the Wars of the Roses, the Hundred Years War -- and then Arthurian legend had some influence, the legends of Charlemagne had some influence (but not much, he doesn't know them so well), the Crusades and the Albigensian Crusade. He reads widely, basically, and he's influenced by all he's ever read.

I've also found indirect confirmation that Samwell Tarly is inspired from Samwise Gamgee and that there are lots or other references.

9- It's not really a question, but I've noticed a great similarity between ASOS and Lord of the Rings - the two Sams, Samwell Tarly and Samwise Gamgee. In particular, in each series, a Sam made a desperate attack on a hopelessly superior force (an Other and the huge spider Shelob) to protect a defenseless companion (Gilly and her baby and the bound Frodo). Would you care to comment?
There are a number of homages to LOTR in my book. I am a huge Tolkien fan.


Hardin refers to Arya as Arya Underfoot before her identity is revealed at the inn of the kneeling king in book 3 of asoiaf, reminiscent of Frodo's undercover name of Underhill at the prancing pony, perhaps.


The Corsairs of Umbar, and the Umbers, a powerful house in the North.

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    Other than a vague similarity of name, they don't seem very similar. One is a subsidiary minor noble house, the other a corrupted race of men who survived by piracy.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 22:19

Possibly the phrase "Valar Morghulis" in High Valyrian translating to "all men must die" could have some connections with Tolkien's origin story for Middle Earth. Assuming the first half of the translation "Valar" is the "all men" part of the phrase, GRRM could be referring to The Valar, who where Ainur (gods) and some of the first beings to populate Arda (The world).

This ties in neatly with the Ragnarok theory of his writings, where all characters are portrayed as different Norse gods.


Both LoTR and ASoIaF feature wargs. In Martin's books they are people controlling wolves. In Tolkien's they are evil sentient wolves.

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    Can you offer any specific quotes to back this up?
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 19:14
  • The horsemasters of Rohan and the horselords of the Dothraki sea.
  • Gandalf referred to Beorning as a skinchanger. Which is what they call a warg (LOTR orc monsters-riding things) in ASOIAF.
  • Oakenshield, Thorin's name and a castle of the Wall.
  • All the made up languages.
  • They call English the Common Tongue in both series.
  • Goerge RR Martin and J RR Tolkien. WHY ALL THE RR-ing?!
  • When going on an adventure, remember to bring your Sam.
  • Why do all the bad things come from the North? (Others, wildlings, Orcs, Smaug)
  • The Haunted Forest beyond the Wall, and all the haunted forests in Middle Earth #LOTR #ASOIAF
  • Where did you find the name of Theodred's horse? It was more likely to be Brego, the horse that Aragorn calmed down and asked to be set free in the extended version of the Two Towers film. The horse was named after an early ruler of the Rohirrim. The Golden Hall of Meduseld in Edoras was built in Brego's time. Brego's son Baldor dared to walk the Paths of the Dead, and was never seen again... Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 6:37
  • Westron in the common tongue in Lord of the Rings. It is not English, Tolkien 'translated' the Westron into English. Commented Jul 6, 2021 at 22:30
  • Several pf these are from sources used by Tolkien, and possibly used directly from those sources by GRRM. "Warg" means both "wolf" and "outlaw" in old Norse. "Skinchanger" is also a common trope in Norse myth, and in other folklore as well. Haunted forests go b ack at least to Mirkwood, which JRRT borrowed from the Elder Edda and other related sources. Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 0:42

The great wall goes back to The Silmarillion, including the Watch too. At around 27% The Silmarillion says,

and they raised up the mountain-walls of the Pelóri to sheer and dreadful heights, east, north, and south. Their outer sides were dark and smooth, without foothold or ledge, and they fell in great precipices with faces hard as glass, and rose up to towers with crowns of white ice. A sleepless watch was set upon them, and no pass led through them, save only at the Calacirya:

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