In Jackson's Hobbit Desolation of Smaug, Bilbo stands near Smaug as he wakes up and puts on the ring to become invisible. From what we can see, Smaug doesn't lay eyes on the ring.

Yet Smaug comments, "You carry some gold, something precious". (Smaug says this whilst looking at Bilbo when he is invisible, and doesn't appear to be able to see him).

Is there a connection via Morgoth to the rings of power that were forged and the creation of Smaug that enables Smaug to 'smell' the ring? Or is this just a coincidence of words?

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    I suspect it's just Jackson playing with his viewers - maybe even Smaug is being tempted by the Ring? Note that Jackson isn't legally allowed use Morgoth's creation of the dragons as that's Silmarillion material (it didn't stop him with the Blue Wizards and Tol Fuin though).
    – user8719
    Dec 30, 2013 at 21:35
  • 1
    @JimmyShelter I would say that Jackson used a lot of Silmarillion material. The whole battle with the Necromancer was not recorded in the Hobbit. Dec 31, 2013 at 1:37
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    @jacen.garriss - it is mentioned in the Hobbit ("Gandalf had been to a great council of the white wizards ... they had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold") as well as in LotR (mainly the Tale of Years); most everything else in the movies was made up by Jackson.
    – user8719
    Dec 31, 2013 at 6:20
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    @jacen.garriss You are right about the council, but not about Dol Guldor (I am nitpicking, though). In the "Tale of the Years" (Appendix to Lord of the Rings) it is mentioned that members of the council "put forth their power" and drove Sauron out of Dol Guldur. Sauron anticipated the move and fled to Mordor without any resistance. There was no fight going on In Dol Guldur at this time and the council already knew that it was Sauron for 90 years.
    – mort
    Dec 31, 2013 at 15:02
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    @jacen.garriss Hardly a "screw-up." Jackson wanted another LotR: a trilogy of violent, teen-friendly blockbusters. The result is more LotR than Hobbit, with vicious orcs instead of petty goblins, orc-slaughtering Elves instead of silly elves, and so on. I will never grow fond of the result, but I can't blame Jackson for turning the non-incident at Dol Guldur into a battle foreshadowing the War of the Ring.
    – Alveric
    Jan 1, 2014 at 15:16

3 Answers 3


I think that the best answer we can give is out-of-universe: it creates drama.

In the book, there is no indication at all that Smaug in any way whatsoever was aware or tempted by the Ring. He was simply curious because someone entered his bedroom who

  • Smaug didn't know the smell of (even lots the very wise have never heard of Hobbits...)
  • entertained him with riddles (everyone knows that dragons like riddles)
  • flattered the narcissistic dragon
  • was able to hide from Smaug somehow (Smaug didn't know that Bilbo was invisible).

The rest was made up by Jackson and crew.

  • 3
    Part of this is that the ring wasn't actually a tempting object in The Hobbit as originally conceived. Tolkien did some rewrites after Lord of the Rings came out, but they didn't touch this section...
    – Micah
    Dec 31, 2013 at 17:52
  • True, but I doubt Tolkien just missed rewriting this section properly. The ring was tempting for those that knew of it and where around it for a while (e.g., Boromir). It never tempted the dwarves. Nor did it tempt and of the numerous guests Bilbo must have had around during all those years he kept the ring in his hobbit hole.
    – mort
    Dec 31, 2013 at 19:09
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    I'm not saying Tolkien missed it, but I do think the constraint of not messing up too much of the existing text put some limits on just how tempting the Ring could be. Whereas when Jackson does things in the opposite order, it pulls the rules in the opposite direction.
    – Micah
    Dec 31, 2013 at 20:36
  • Smaug was a dragon, i.e. the creatures that love gold more than anyone else on the planet. I'm pretty sure the One Ring would be a million times more tempting to him than the average hobbit - and note that personality matters. The greedy and violent Smeagol was tempted almost as soon as he saw it.
    – Adamant
    Jul 30, 2019 at 0:49

Particularly enjoyed this adaptation. For the dragon is ambitious for gold. It would be natural for him to attract a gold ring magic (and very powerful).

So my answer is, the power of the ring and fascinated corrempeu the dragon (in the film). Even without the dragon have visual contact with the ring, the ring can touch his conscience.


Smaug didn't smell the ring, he just noticed that the "thief" being Bilbo was invisible..

In the Samirilian dragons served Morgoth...

Somehow Smaug is oddly up to date with general middle earth knowledge like Thorin having the nickname 'Oakensheild' and that "a darkness is coming" being Sauron and his army..

I'm positive Smaug wasn't tempted by it, he can just sense the evil (like Morgoth) that he once may have served or at least definitely was around for..

not sure why he referred to it as precious although Isildor, golum, gandalf, bilbo (later) and I think even Frodo refers to it as that at some point.. so maybe he was just taunting bilbo

  • Is this supported by canon? Feb 17, 2014 at 18:01
  • Not to be cruel but: Silmarillion; Oakenshield; Isildur; Gollum; Gandalf and Bilbo (the latter two being that you have them lower case). And there is no evidence that Smaug served Morgoth. As for why he referred to it as 'precious' it's simple - it's a film. Not just a film but a film where PJ has a role to play in its making. And certainly Gandalf did not consider the One Ring to be Precious. He was extremely careful the times he touched it and he told Frodo directly to not tempt him.
    – Pryftan
    Feb 21, 2018 at 1:55

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