Spoilers for the Hobbit ahead

At the end of the Battle of the Five Armies,

The prominent casualties claimed by the War on the heroes' side are Thorin Oakenshield and his two nephews/heirs Fili and Kili. The three deaths mean that the line of Thror and Thrain is extinguished and the Kingship of Erebor passes to Dain II Ironfoot.

Does Tolkien discuss why he did so in any letters/writings? Is there any literary or historical (as important for the events of LotR/eventual defeat of Sauron) meaning or importance to this, in Tolkien's lore?

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    Both died in the Hobbit Jan 12, 2015 at 9:43
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    What bloodline exactly? Dain II Ironfoot is still a descendent of Durin. tolkiengateway.net/wiki/House_of_Durin
    – Firebat
    Jan 12, 2015 at 11:15
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    Yeah, all three die in the book: Thorin, Kili, & Fili. Thror and Thrain were already dead before the book's timeframe begins.
    – BBlake
    Jan 13, 2015 at 17:50
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    A significant theme in The Hobbit is Thorin paying a high price for his pride. He reclaims the Lonely Mountain and its treasure, but does not live long enough to enjoy it. He alienates many friends and potential allies, otherwise he might have survived. The extinction of Thror's bloodline may have been intended as part of the penalty suffered by Thorin. But this is pure speculation and I'm not aware of any comments by Tolkien on the matter. Jan 15, 2015 at 23:26
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    @Demarini Sure, we only know how things went with Thorin's line dead, but the extinction of that bloodline did have political ramifications - most importantly that the two dwarf kingdoms of Erebor and Iron Hills both came under the sole leadership of Dain II, instead of being two separate kingdoms under 2 different leaders (albeit both from the same general family)
    – Shisa
    Jan 16, 2015 at 5:05

3 Answers 3


In his Letters, Tolkien never mentioned his reasons for killing Fili and Kili. Apparently it was a question that no one asked him, and likely not one that he had thought about in great detail. I think that their deaths probably were meant to show just how devastating the Battle of the Five Armies was. Since they had no part in Thorin's decision to double-cross the Men of Lake-town, and since the book gives no indication that he even knew of their deaths before he died of his wounds, I do not think that the deaths of Fili and Kili were intended as a punishment for Thorin's mistakes. They were his nephews, not his sons, so Thorin's bloodline was not extinguished by their deaths. Tolkien states that many Dwarves, both male and female, chose not to marry. Not having a direct descendant to rule after him would not have seemed problematic to a Dwarf king. In any case, Dain comes off as a much wilder character in the movies than he does in the books, where he apparently rules both his Iron Hills and Lonely Mountain kingdoms very well. Additionally, he was a cousin of Thorin's, not a stranger that Thorin had never met. Thorin trusted Dain and would not have been sorry to see Dain ruling Erebor.

Also remember that the Dwarves in the book have little to distinguish them as individuals. Fili and Kili are younger, related to Thorin, and have better eyesight. Otherwise, we have little information about them. People who have seen the movies are likely to be more attached to individual Dwarves, because Peter Jackson made a point of giving the movie Dwarves distinguishing features. But Tolkien's original readers were unlikely to be very moved by the deaths of Fili and Kili. Thorin was the only Dwarf to whom Tolkien gave a fully developed personality, and he is also the only one of the Dwarf casualties of the battle to receive a death scene. Fili and Kili's deaths are mentioned almost as an afterthought.

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    I would add that, of the dwarves, Fili and Kili would have been the most likely to lay down their lives defending Thorin, their kinsman. Mar 11, 2015 at 13:25
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    Balin, Dori, and Bombur do get a reasonable amount of characterization in the book, although certainly not what Thorin gets.
    – Buzz
    Sep 2, 2016 at 23:31
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    I just want to point out that my personal experience was different with regards to Fili and Kili. I read The Hobbit for the first time when I was 11, and remember being distinctly fond of these two dwarves, in no small part because they were younger, they were twins, and their names rhymed. (Were they actually twins? I'm not sure, but that is how I perceived them.) The Hobbit is the first book I read that ever made me cry, and it was because of Fili and Kili's deaths. I have a very strong memory of my father asking me why I was crying, and me telling him it was because they'd died. Dec 6, 2016 at 0:00
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    @EarlJenkins My sister and I also cried over this. Feb 24, 2017 at 19:51
  • A fairly predictable afterthought, though; they are explicitly described as dying while defending Thorin.
    – chepner
    Sep 10, 2019 at 17:36

The line does not end: Dain is of the line of Durin, and so is Gimli son of Gloin from LoTR.


Also Tolkien is from a time that was terrifying and a world we can scarcely think of, Kili, Fili and Thorin are probably supposed to represent lives of soldiers lost in war. So it's supposed to be self explanatory probably to the time he lived. And that during the war whole families were lost.

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