Throughout Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, a big deal is made of the fact that Frodo should absolutely never put on the Ring, because it draws Sauron's attention to it, and every time he does so, Frodo is tortured by the Eye as if it's staring straight through him.

What, if anything, does Gollum see when he puts on the Ring? In the loneliness of The Misty Mountains he must have put it on numerous times, and for long periods of time, in order for it to "give him unnatural life" of 500 years.

Does he suffer any immediate adverse effects from doing so like Frodo does? Do the books elucidate on this any further than the movies do?

  • 12
    Sauron was not around (in a form that could do much) for most of that time.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 25, 2020 at 21:30
  • 23
    In The Hobbit (yes, the book, not the movie[s]), Bilbo spends weeks wearing the Ring while hiding in the halls of the Wood-Elves, searching for a way to release the Dwarves and escape. It's worth noting that there was no apparent need to ret-conn a reason for Bilbo not mentioning odd visions during that time. I'd take that as evidence that it was only in the couple of months leading up the the War of the Ring that there were any immediate adverse affects.
    – chepner
    Jun 26, 2020 at 1:07
  • 8
    Also in The Hobbit, Bilbo doesn't realize anything out of the ordinary happened when he put on the Ring the first time until Gollum walked right by him, at which point he deduced he must have become invisible.
    – chepner
    Jun 26, 2020 at 14:43
  • Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/48784/…
    – Annatar
    Jan 14, 2021 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


The short answer is we don't know, because Jackson doesn't show us and Tolkien doesn't tell us.

We never read or see Gollum wearing the Ring in The Hobbit. And by the time of LotR, he's long lost it.

I am sure that Frodo is enjoined to never wear the Ring because by that time it's known already that Sauron is back and looking for it. No such injunction was ever made on Smeagol, nor was it needed, because Sauron was long gone at that time.

However, we can conjecture.

Jackson shows us explicitly what Frodo sees when he's wearing the Ring: he can see the Nine as bright figures, he can see their ruined faces; Aragorn appears dark. Jackson also shows us what Bilbo can see when he's wearing the Ring: he can see Thorin & Co and Gollum as well as greyish figures; during the Battle of Dale, he can see Elves as bright figures and Orcs as dark shadowy figures.

Bilbo and Frodo were both clearly good folk. Predisposed to doing what is right & good at need. Smeagol was clearly not so good a person. He was predisposed to doing whatever it takes to get what he wants, even if in very small, very mean ways. He was not above murdering his friend in order to get the Ring in the first place. While I'm sure the Ring played a crucial role at that moment, the disposition towards evil was there.

I would hazard the guess that it conferred on Smeagol a similar kind of enhanced vision. It might have allowed him to look into dark places and find secrets more easily. He'd probably see his Orckish prey as brighter shadows in the dark. It is possible that other senses were similarly enhanced.

  • 18
    This is a great detailed answer, the only thing that would make it better is relevant passages from the books to show how Tolkien depicted those scenes just like how the answer currently elucidates on Peter Jackson's vision.
    – Prometheus
    Jun 26, 2020 at 1:12
  • 1
    Agreed. Will have to delve into the relevant books by and by.
    – elemtilas
    Jun 26, 2020 at 14:52
  • 3
    I would expect an answer on this topic should include at least some explanation as to why the wearer has "enhanced vision." The ring partially phases the wearer into the unseen realm. A side effect of that is that the wearer becomes invisible in the physical realm, but highly visible in the unseen realm to beings like the wraiths.
    – BlackThorn
    Jun 26, 2020 at 15:32
  • It has been a long time since I read The Hobbit, but I always got the distinct impression that Smeagol almost never wore the ring. He fawned over it desperately, but it wasn't an inanimate object: it had a will, and its goals were served best by tempting him for centuries. It was always his master and it consumed him. The relationship felt, to me, like a caricature of when an attractive woman leads on a male friend in whom she has no interest, because it suits her purpose.
    – Tom
    Jan 14, 2021 at 3:50

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