A comment on a recent question stated

The Undying Lands doesn't prevent mortals from dying so, in fact, [Frodo] died... maybe sixty years (or more, if his life was prolonged) after the end of the story.

If this is correct, Gimli certainly would have died. Is there any direct reference to his death (preferably with age)? Failing that, what canon states or implies that mortals will still die there?

The Undying Lands might not prevent death, but the One Ring seems to. Gollum lived for over 500 years because of it. Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam all aged slowly before making their way to Valinor, even after the Ring's destruction. My impression was that because of the Ring's influence they were expected to live forever, and their residence in Valinor served not only to make them comfortable, but also (perhaps even moreso) to protect them from becoming wraiths due to the Ring's effect.

So, did the Ring Bearers live until the End of Days in Valinor, or did they eventually expire, and at what age? Were they mortal once again because the Ring's power had been broken by its destruction, or the magic of the Undying Lands, or did the Valar themselves reverse it?

I'd also appreciate canonical references to age at death if it did happen.

  • 7
    In a nutshell they're called the undying lands because immortal people live there not because anyone there becomes immortal. – IG_42 Mar 12 '15 at 0:19
  • 3
    In the Akallabêth (the tale of the fall of Numenor) it is stated that the immortality of the people who live in the undying lands does not come from the land itself, but from what the people themselves are (the land is named after the people, not the other way around). Sauron tricked Ar-Pharazôn (the last king of Numenor) into believing that the land would grant him eternal life, so he set sail with a mighty host to invade the undying lands. It did not work out very well for the king. – Hoffmann Jul 12 '15 at 1:32
  • 2
    Earendil was half elven thus was given the choice for mortal or immortal by the Valar. Frodo and the rest are pure mortal, so Earendil's case doesn't apply here. – user49161 Aug 4 '15 at 10:42
  • 4
    @hoffman actually Sauron was literally correct. Ar-Pharazôn did in fact achieve immortality by going to Aman, albeit imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten. It appears Illuvatar withrew the Gift of Men from those who were imprisoned. " But Ar-Pharazôn the King and the mortal warriors that had set foot upon the land of Aman were buried under falling hills: there it is said that they lie imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten, until the Last Battle and the Day of Doom" – WOPR Aug 4 '15 at 11:36
up vote 77 down vote accepted

Frodo is mortal, and going to Valinor doesn't change this. I don't remember this being explicitly stated in The Lord of the Rings. Book VI closes as Frodo sails away. Gandalf, Galadriel and the others do not make any prophecies regarding what will happen in Valinor. One of the appendices provides a timeline for “later events concerning the members of the Fellowship of the Ring”, but strictly limited to Middle-earth. The Ring is destroyed in 1422 by Shire reckoning, Sam sails West in 1482 when his wife dies, and Legolas and Gimli (“it is said”) are the last of the Fellowship to leave Middle-earth in 1541. That's all you'll find in The Lord of the Rings: that story is told from the point of Middle-earth and does not chronicle what happens in the Elven lands that Man cannot reach.

Mortality is a gift to Men (this is clearly established in the Simlarillion). This is a gift of Ilúvatar and not even the Valar can affect it. Although Hobbits are not mentioned, they are probably close enough cousins of Men to be mortal in the same way. The case of Dwarves may be less well-established but nothing indicates otherwise.

We can turn to Word of God in the form of The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. There it is clearly stated (letter 246):

‘Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured’, said Gandalf — not in Middle-earth. Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him — if that could be done, before he died. He would have eventually to ‘pass away’: no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within Time. So he went both to a purgatory and to a reward, for a while: a period of reflection and peace and a gaining of a truer understanding of his position in littleness and in greatness, spent still in Time amid the natural beauty of ‘Arda Unmarred’, the Earth unspoiled by evil.

Letter 325:

As for Frodo or other mortals, they could only dwell in Aman for a limited time — whether brief or long. The Valar had neither the power nor the right to confer ‘immortality’ upon them. Their sojourn was a ‘purgatory’, but one of peace and healing and they would eventually pass away (die at their own desire and of free will) to destinations of which the Elves knew nothing.

There you have it: the Ring-bearers were mortal, they remained mortal, and they eventually died in the manner of mortals, albeit after a time of their own choice.

A final note, still in letter 325:

(…) But the legends are mainly of ‘Mannish’ origin blended with those of the Sindar (Gray-elves) and others who had never left Middle-earth.

As this last passage shows, we don't know precisely what happened to Frodo and the other Ring-bearers in Valinor because what we know is the legends of Middle-earth. We have no knowledge of what happened in Valinor after it was removed from this Earth, save through what little contact it still had with Middle-earth until the end of the Third Age.

  • 1
    The first quote (letter 246) is certainly an authoritative answer, but is there anything more about the One Ring's influence? While it existed it seemed to keep Gollum, the Hobbits, and even the Nazgûl alive (for some definition of "alive"; their spirits attached to their bodies at least) while it existed. Is there anything about whether that effect would endure indefinitely if it remained extant, and whether its destruction ended that effect or just reduced its duration? – Kevin Aug 27 '13 at 0:03
  • 3
    I feel like there's a common misconception that the Gift of Men is mortality -- Dwarves are also mortal. The Gift of Men is the combination of not being bound to Arda and the ability to shape their own lives beyond the Music of the Ainur (free will of a deeper sense than that of the Elves). – Plutor Aug 27 '13 at 12:22
  • 2
    @Plutor dwarves are mortal but in a different way. Dwarves were not part of Ilúvatar's plan but were creations of Aulë. When they die they return to his halls at death. The Silmarillion makes a point of differentiating human mortality from that of other races and mortality, in the sense that after death humans go off to mysterious lands that only Ilúvatar knows about (not even the Valar) is indeed his gift to men and is exclusive to them. I have no idea where you get the free will thing. – terdon Aug 28 '13 at 13:07
  • 3
    You're right -- the free will thing is important ("they should have a virtue to shape their life, amid the powers and chances of the world, beyond the Music of the Ainur, which is as fate to all things else", The Beginning Of Days) but not the Gift. But "dwarves are mortal but in a different way" is my whole point. It's not mortality that's the gift, but the leaving of Arda completely. – Plutor Aug 28 '13 at 14:30
  • 2
    @Kevin I believe the quotes in this answer support the idea that the destruction of The One Ring did end that effect. – Beofett Oct 3 '13 at 14:14

Yes, every mortal who goes to Aman (the Undying Lands) will eventually die. The Undying Lands were likely thus called like that because immortals dwelled in them, not because they granted immortality.

Other important arguments against the immortality of the mortals who sailed to Aman can be found in another letter and in a passage from The Akallabêth:

  • As for Frodo or other mortals, they could only dwell in Aman for a limited time - whether brief or long. The Valar had neither the power nor the right to confer 'immortality' upon them. Their sojourn was a 'purgatory', but one of peace and healing and they would eventually pass away (die at their own desire and of free will) to destinations of which the Elves knew nothing." —Letter 325

The Eldar reported these words to the Valar, and Manwë was grieved, seeing a cloud gather on the noontide of Númenor. And he sent messengers to the Dúnedain, who spoke earnestly to the King, and to all who would listen, concerning the fate and fashion of the world.

  • ‘The Doom of the World,’ they said, ‘One alone can change who made it. And were you so to voyage that escaping all deceits and snares you came indeed to Aman, the Blessed Realm, little would it profit you. For it is not the land of Manwë that makes its people deathless, but the Deathless that dwell therein have hallowed the land; and there you would but wither and grow weary the sooner, as moths in a light too strong and steadfast.’ —J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  • Those quotes certainly answer the first part, but what about the Ring's effect? Was the longevity never permanent? Did its effects break with its destruction? Did the Undying Lands override it? – Kevin Aug 27 '13 at 0:20
  • 1
    The effects of the ring were likely lost when the ring was destroyed. Sauron was a Maiar and his power even in his degenerate state would have still be far beyond most things in Middle Earth. So the limited immortality of the ring would likely sustain any mortal creature that touched it. And its effects would likely linger on any creature that used it. Once destroyed, Sauron's essence would likely fade and along with it, the appearance of halted youth. Characters would likely resume aging normally becoming long-lived members of their species. – Thaddeus Howze Aug 27 '13 at 0:39

The elves believed that Tuor, a man, set sail from the havens at the mouth of Sirion with his elvish wife Idril, daughter of Turgon, King of Gondolin. The silmarrilion states that Tuor and Idril arrived safely in Valinor, bypassing the ban of the Valar, and that Tuor was accounted one of the elder race, and granted immortality after the manner of the elves.

It is possible, in other words, for a mortal to live on in the undying lands like an elf. However, Tolkien indicated in his private letters that Frodo and Sam and the others were not counted as elves, and indeed died, even in the "Undying Lands."

In addition to the other answers dealing with mortality in Valinor, it's clear from the books that the effects of the Ring are only temporary, and that they will wear off in time. For example, Gandalf's comment in Shadow of the Past:

he possessed the ring for many years, and used it, so it might take a long while for the influence to wear off...

So it's clear that:

  • the effects of the Ring do wear off after you no longer have it,
  • this wearing off takes time,
  • how much time it takes depends on how long you have the Ring and how much you use it.

Looking now at the Ring-bearers, we see that

  • Sam had it the least amount of time (excepting Déagol, who was killed almost immediately), 2 days maximum, and gave it up willingly, so it shouldn't be expected that it had much lasting effect on him.
  • Frodo had it about 18 years, but the Ring completely claimed him at the end and was taken off him by force; that's obviously going to have a lasting effect.
  • Bilbo had it about 60 years, only used the Ring for tricks (and escaping from the SBs), and also gave it up willingly; he was without it for almost 20 years when he went West.
  • Gollum had it for almost 500 years, obtained it by force, used it for evil, lost it unwillingly, and was without it for close on 80 years at his death.

Obviously, in the light of Gandalf's statement, it's going to take longer for the effects of the Ring to wear off both Bilbo and Gollum. Even when we meet Bilbo in Many Partings they're still wearing off - he asks to see the Ring. Gollum of course still wants it right to the very end, and as such is still under its influence.

  • +1 Though I wonder what weighs more: that Bilbo had it more time (but gave it up willingly) or that Frodo was unwilling to part with it (but had it for less time)? – Andres F. Dec 28 '13 at 16:16
  • Or if it mattered at all at the rings destruction? – Clay Aug 13 '15 at 4:18

Once the influence of the ring was gone, the films show Bilbo rapidly aging to appear his true age.

Here he is in Fellowship of the Ring

And Later

Before and after pics

  • 14
    I love the films, don't get me wrong, but they are divergent enough from the literary world of Tolkien that I don't think they can be used to provide canonical answers. Also, even if Bilbo aged in Middle Earth, that point alone doesn't tell us anything about his aging or dying in the Undying Lands. – FoxMan2099 Aug 27 '13 at 9:38
  • 14
    With all due respect to the films (ie, very little), that makes no sense: Gollum had had the Ring for hundreds of years, so he should have died immediately on losing it if this was what happened. Plus, Tolkien explicitly makes it clear that he would "just stop as he was when he parted with it". – Daniel Roseman Aug 27 '13 at 9:56
  • 2
    The books make very clear that a great span of years passes between Bilbo losing possession of the Ring and his advanced age in Rivendell, and later at the end of ROTK. He advanced more quickly than he should have, but only in the sense that he was "catching up" to his actual age. In other words, he went from looking 50 to looking 131 in the time it took for him to age from 111 to 131. – user44330 Apr 22 '15 at 22:00
  • 1
    This doesn't really answer the question. It just shows that in the movie, Bilbo visibly aged much faster without the powers of the One Ring. – TylerH Dec 7 '17 at 21:39

That King of Numenor complained to a herald from Valinor that he also loves Arda and would not leave it and wants to live in Valinor. The herald says the Valinor itself doesn't confer immortality in fact a mortal would burn too bright and die sooner if he went there. (I can't recall the exact words.)

There's another time when Manwe says he has no means to hold a man in Arda for longer than his mortal life.

Only Illuvator himself can grant immortality and he did so for Tuor and he gave Beren a second life. On the other hand Illuvator didn't create Dwarves and it's unknown whether he granted them the gift of Illuvator. They were mortal, but not by Illuvator's will. So while the land of Valinor itself couldn't change Gimli's mortality, there's no clear rule that one of the Valar couldn't have granted Gimli immortality.

Remember, while Bilbo had it for longer and gave it up willingly. Frodo possessed it while Sauron was present and in power. Under his constant hunt, his constant will to draw it to himself.

It is very likely that Bilbo would have succumbed to that far sooner than Frodo did. It's not just the possession but the times of possession. What effect does owning a rifle have on a man? He may hunt with it, hang it on a wall, perhaps defend his house. What effect does a rifle have in the midst of a war? How many men does he kill with? Does he question whether he had to kill every one? Does he feel guilt at his anger or perhaps even pleasure when doing so?

The truth is, that Frodo bore the Ring in the midst of the war. And that burden, be it but for a few seasons, dwarfed (sorry for the pun) the many years that Bilbo and Gollum held the Ring.

  • 2
    Your "answer" makes no sense what-so-ever. – Joe C Jul 29 '17 at 2:25
  • As Joe states it makes no sense. I appreciate the pun however. Still Bilbo also had it with Sauron in power: it's just that he wasn't yet aware of hobbits. But the reason the Ring abandoned Gollum in the first place is that it had no more use of Gollum; the problem for the Ring is it didn't expect Bilbo to show up at that time. The war has nothing to do with whether or not they would die in Valinor: the only thing that mattered is they were mortal. As for Frodo he would also be important as a companion for Bilbo. – Pryftan Dec 22 '17 at 3:08

I believe that the Ring-Bearers and Gimli did in fact die, some time after reaching Valinor. Bilbo, Frodo and Sam went there for healing after their ordeal with the Ring, a grace that was granted to them when Arwen chose mortality. "For I am the daughter of Elrond. I will not go with him when he goes to the Havens. For mine is the choice of Luthien, and as she, so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter. But in my stead, you shall go, Ring-Bearer, when the time comes and if you so choose." The Return of the King, Many Partings.

As for Gimli, he went with Legolas after the passing of King Elessar, because he desired to see the Lady Galadriel again, and it is said that she obtained this grace for him. But it does not say that he was granted immortality, only that he was allowed to go into the West.

Maybe not!

As stated on Silmarillion:

As Eärendil set foot on the Undying Lands the Valar asked if a mortal can keep being mortal

(I don't remember the exact words) IMHO No one can really die (unless by violence) at Undying Lands. Remember even Fëanor's mother didn't "really" die after giving birth.

  • Could you look for quotes to support your final paragraph? If that's true, it's really relevant and worth the effort. – Alfredo Hernández Aug 4 '15 at 11:44
  • 2
    Eärendil has Elven ancestry. His mother was an elf. – user46509 Aug 8 '15 at 18:39
  • 1
    @AlfredoHernández Although wrong in that nobody can die there (what about the Númenóreans? They certainly died during their assault!) - because it has to do with mortality rather than where (this is one of the plots of Sauron: tricking the Númenóreans into the belief that landing there would give them immortal life) elves 'die' differently - and they can be returned to life (e.g. Glorfindel). – Pryftan Dec 22 '17 at 3:12
  • @user46509 Eärendil was human. An half-even is able to choose between elf and human and he chosed to life as a human. There are any human half-even lived forever without setting foot on the undying lands to support your affirmation? – jean Dec 22 '17 at 14:07

protected by Community Feb 26 at 2:44

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.