It is said that the One Ring has a will of its own and can perform certain actions impossible for inanimate objects, most notably losing itself from Gollum to Bilbo. In hindsight, you could say that it had terrible judgement, since it indirectly placed itself in the possession of its destroyers.

I vaguely remember the Ring exercising its will at many other points in the books though. At which points did the Ring do so, and what actions were these?

  • I'm not sure if this happened in the books, but in the movies the ring lands exactly on Frodos finger when he trips / slips / is pushed (?) in the Prancing Pony. It also urged Frodo to wear it when the Nazgul were near (Shire, wetlands). Since you asked about the books I'm leaving this as a comment and not as an answer.
    – SBoss
    Nov 5, 2014 at 8:17
  • bilbo wasnt really a bad idea, gollum was so careful that he would have lived and died in the cave without goblins/orcs ever finding him. bilbo is out having an adventure accross the world where he could easily be killed at anytime, and if nothing else the ring would be able to detach itself and find a new host outside of the pit it had been trapped in for close to 500 years. it actually attempted this a few times in the hobbit where teh ring was all of a sudden off, or he became visible anyway.
    – Himarm
    Nov 5, 2014 at 14:05
  • I believe the ring plays tricks such as changing its size and/or getting heavier to have it fall of the wearer's finger. The ring betrayed Isildur by using one of these tricks. There are probably other examples such as when Gollum lost it and Bilbo found it. Nov 5, 2014 at 15:38

3 Answers 3


As Gandalf says, "The ring wants to be found. It wants to return to its Master". Hindsight is always 20/20. Whatever may have been the final outcome, the ring was only exercising its will in order to be found and return to Sauron. This is seen several times when Frodo is "compelled" by the ring to wear it, so that Sauron's Nazgul can track Frodo and the ring.

Also, landing in Bilbo's possession might have been the ring's effort to not get lost (and thus ultimately be found). Staying in a household hobbit's possession has much better chance of coming to the limelight than staying with a wandering recluse.

  • 2
    +1 Gollum had taken the ring deep underground and had no intention of returning to the surface. The ring needed to abandon him if it was to leave the misty mountains
    – Liath
    Nov 5, 2014 at 11:17
  • Exactly. Also, the timing of returning back from underground is critical. Why did it decide to leave Gollum and go to Bilbo at that time and not before? Perhaps it had caught the wind of Sauron getting stronger by then? Nov 5, 2014 at 12:42
  • A strong +1 from me too; both answers are good but I prefer this one because of the cited reference/quote from Gandalf.
    – user8719
    Nov 5, 2014 at 16:21
  • @PrahladYeri - at the time the ring 'acted' Sauron was hanging out in Dol Guldur, just a bit south from the path Bilbo was taking with the Dwarves.
    – Oldcat
    Nov 5, 2014 at 20:41
  • @Oldcat - according to the LotR map Dol Guldur was further south of the map than the Grey Mountains were north of it. In fact one of the reasons given in the Hobbit for taking that path was to avoid the Necromancer: "Before you could get round it in the South, you would get into the land of the Necromancer". Somewhat further than "just a bit".
    – user8719
    Nov 5, 2014 at 22:30

The will of the ring seldom manifests in concrete actions and happenings, but more often in making its will into the will of the wearer. The wearers want to preserve the ring, all the way up to killing for to keep possession of it. This is the will of the ring since it wants strong people to wear and protect it. Frodo has a very hard time letting go of the ring, showing that the will of the ring has indeed been exercised throughout the journey (and, therefore, the books).

Another example is Boromir who is influenced by the ring and compelled to take it further towards Mordor. Perhaps the ring had then found that its current wearer had a strong will to destroy it and therefore tried to switch wearer. Failing this, the ring instead focused its efforts on corrupting Frodo.


The ring can only do what a ring is capable to do: change his size and weight. Bilbo was clever enough to put a chain through the ring, so the ring is not capable to escape anymore.

The actions where the ring influenced the wearer (I have only the German version of LOTR, so I do not cite them. You are free to edit and add citations).


  • Bilbo put the ring into an envelope, addressed it to Frodo and intended to leave it on the mantelpiece. Suddenly he put the envelope in his pocket and is astounded later that the envelope has changed the place.

  • While Bilbo was extremely resilient he acknowledges that the extended lifespan does something negative with him: a feeling of etiolation.

  • Bilbo extended resistance to give up the ring. It is very probable that the ring sensed that Bilbo goes on voyage and tries everything in his might to influence Bilbo. The last influence is that Bilbo hand twitch involuntarily and the envelope sails to the ground.


  • Frodo wants to give Gandalf the ring but the ring increases his weight as much as possible to prevent Gandalf from getting the ring.

  • Frodo tries to destroy the ring during the meeting with Gandalf by throwing it into the hottest place in the fireplace and realizes that he is not able to do it, in fact, the ring forces him to put him back into the pocket.

  • Every time he meets the black riders he gets a very strong urge to put on the ring. The ring knows that the riders are allies and tries to force Frodo to reveal himself (Invisibility is not working with the riders).

  • In the Prancing Pony Frodo suspects rightly that the ring forced him to use him during his dance because there were strange men which immediately left after his disappearance.

  • During the attack of the black riders on the Weathertop they and the ring together forced him to use the ring to finally reveal himself.

  • During Bilbos meeting in Rivendell when Bilbo requested to see the ring, he felt besides his own feeling of amazement and distress resistance, a shadow fell between them and he saw Bilbo as repugnant creature. I interpreted that scene that the ring hated Bilbo because he gave him up.

  • Frodo needed to use the ring to escape from Boromir and while he thinks that he coincidentally climbed up the seat I think the ring influenced him to have an opportunity to reveal himself to its master. It was only one moment where Frodo was able to resist and defeat the attempt of the ring.


  • The ring sensed that Boromir was desperate to save Gondor and I think that during the long voyage it seduced and tortured him by invoking feelings of omnipotence.

  • Finally he requested to see the ring during the breakup at Amon Hen before attacking Frodo.

  • That bit about changing size and weight was really good, I've almost forgot about it - and that's how the ring changed owners many times. Plus really complete set of examples. Also, it's been said ring caused Isildur's death by calling the orcs (most likely via it's aura). Feb 14, 2015 at 10:07

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