42

In the movie The Two Towers, Theoden calls Gandalf "Gandalf Stormcrow". Where does that name come from?

60

Theodon thinks that Gandalf only appears when there will be trouble. Since a stormcrow is a harbinger of the "coming storm" or conflict, Theodon names him Gandalf Stormcrow.

32

The name comes from the full text of Théoden's greeting, most of which was not used in the movie:

You have ever been a herald of woe. Troubles follow you like crows, and ever the oftener the worse. I will not deceive you: when I heard that Shadowfax had come back riderless, I rejoiced at the return of the horse, but still more at the lack of the rider; and when Eomer brought the tidings that you had gone at last to your long home, I did not mourn. But news from afar is seldom sooth. Here you come again! And with you come evils worse than before, as might be expected. Why should I welcome you, Gandalf Stormcrow?

4

I'd like to add to the existing answers that this may well be a play on words of Tolkien's. Aside from the bird, "crow" is also a verb which means to utter a shill cry like a cockerel as a proclamation (of morning, or in this case, war). Theoden is accusing Gandalf of kicking up a fuss -- that is, crowing about a storm.

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  • 1
    To elaborate and expand, Gandalf, in appearance, was based upon Odin. Among Odin's many titles are "Raven-God" and "Stormer". Tolkien would have been well aware of the Nordic tradition of many descriptive titles for their myth heroes. The Grey Wanderer is a title Gandalf and Odin share, for example.
    – JohnHunt
    Nov 24 at 6:31
3

Théoden calls Gandalf stormcrow to suggest that he preys on disaster.

The full quote in the book has Théoden call Gandalf a herald of woe and compare him to crows.

'I greet you,' he said, 'and maybe you look for welcome. But truth to tell your welcome is doubtful here, Master Gandalf. You have ever been a herald of woe. Troubles follow you like crows, and ever the oftener the worse. I will not deceive you: when I heard that Shadowfax had come back riderless, I rejoiced at the return of the horse, but still more at the lack of the rider; and when Éomer brought the tidings that you had gone at last to your long home, I did not mourn. But news from afar is seldom sooth. Here you come again! And with you come evils worse than before, as might be expected. Why should I welcome you, Gandalf Stormcrow? Tell me that.' Slowly he sat down again in his chair.
The Lord of the Rings - Book III Chapter 6 - "The King of the Golden Hall"

In their commentary on this passage, Tolkien scholars Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull explain that Théoden (likely echoing Wormtongue), is making the comparison to suggest that Gandalf is preying on disaster like crows prey on battlefields.

512 (II: 117). Troubles follow you like crows - Crows are carrion birds, found on battlefields and at scenes of slaughter. Théoden suggests that Gandalf preys on disaster (though the sentiment is that of Wormtongue).
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion - Book III Chapter 6 - "The King of the Golden Hall"

2

The Celts believed the crow was a bringer of omen and death. Since the Rohirrim were portrayed with many of the cultural traditions (Celtic Knot weavings, etc) of the Celts, it would be appropriate to say he was saying Gandalf was the Omen of the Storm of Death that was coming Theoden's way.

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  • 5
    Since the Rohirrim were portrayed with many of the cultural traditions (Celtic Knot weavings, etc) of the Celts - if Tolkien described those in writing, you need to cite that. Otherwise I'm assuming you're referring to something Peter Jackson did, which I don't think works as an answer. That said, crows are considered by many cultures to be omens of bad luck.
    – Misha R
    Mar 7 '19 at 3:08
  • The Rohirrim are a Saxon/Norman analogue, not Celtic.
    – OrangeDog
    Nov 24 at 12:13

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