One thing I've noticed recently in The Hobbit book is how similar Bard is to Aragorn. Here is a list of similarities:

  • Both talk about how they're the heir to the ancestors (they both mention it a lot)

  • Both are kings in exile

  • Neither can come forth and claim their rightful kingdoms, until the evil that waylaid their ancestors is destroyed

  • Both live in fear and the shadow of the evil that killed their ancestors (Smaug for Girion, Sauron for Elendil)

  • Bard helps one company succeed, and so does Aragorn

My question is: did J. R. R. ever say anything about how similar these characters are?

  • 5
    i mean, thorin fits these too. I'm not sure if he started this, but for sure after this its a typical fantasy topic.
    – Himarm
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 13:55
  • 11
    Tolkien often reapeted motifs, there are also similarities Aragorn - Beren, even with Turin.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


The original concept of Aragorn can be read in History of Middle-earth 6, where he was actually a Hobbit who wore wooden shoes, and was nicknamed "Trotter" rather than "Strider".

Tolkien agonized quite a bit over the identity of Trotter, and his plot notes (those which have been published) frequently enough contain the question: "who is Trotter?"

The emergence of Aragorn as a Man is covered in chapter 1 of History of Middle-earth 7, Gandalf's Delay, and I'll quote the note in full:

Trotter is a man of Elrond's race descendant of [struck out at once: Turin] the ancient men of the North, and one of Elrond's household. He was a hunter and wanderer. He became a friend of Bilbo. He knew Gandalf. He was intrigued by Bilbo's story, and found Gollum. When Gandalf went off on the last perilous quest - really to find out about Black Riders and whether the Dark Lord would attack the Shire - he [> Gandalf and Bilbo] arranged with Trotter (real name [other unfinished names struck out in the act of writing: Bara / Rho / Dam] Aragorn son of Aramir) to go towards the Shire and keep a lookout on the road from East (Gandalf was going South). He gives Aragorn a letter to Frodo. Aragorn pretends he is a Ranger and hangs about Bree. (He also warns Tom Bombadil.)

Reason of wooden shoes - no need in this case because Aragorn is a man.

In other plot notes he was an Elf, and Tolkien even once reverted to him being a Hobbit before finally and definitively settling on him as a Man.

There's no evidence in any of the History of Middle-earth writings (nor in Tolkien's Letters) that Aragorn had been based on Bard. The story of the Fall of Númenor and the Last Alliance had actually already emerged before Tolkien started writing Lord of the Rings (see History of Middle-earth 5), and Aragorn was quite quickly identified as a descendent of Elendil. Again from Gandalf's Delay:

Trotter is a Ranger - descendant of Elendil? - he is known to Bilbo, and Gandalf. He has previously been to Mordor and been tormented (caught in Moria). Gandalf brought him back towards borders of Shire in April. It was a message from Trotter that fetched Gandalf away in summer before Frodo left.

The name "Trotter" survived until quite late in the writing of Lord of the Rings, interestingly enough.

While there are certain similarities between the two characters of Aragorn and Bard, the indications are that whereas Bard was quite quickly achieved, Aragorn took substantially longer to develop and went through many false starts, and there's no reason to think that the similarities were intended to evoke the other character. These are all common-enough tropes, after all.

  • 5
    I find the emergence of the name "Aragorn" to be a particularly interesting part of this, especially the first of the struck-out names: "Bara-". This is suggestive of Barahir, father of Beren, and his household contains at least one other name (Baragund) with the same prefix. It's all speculation of course, but it does suggest that if Tolkien had a model for Aragorn in mind from his previous writing, it was Beren more than anyone else.
    – user8719
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 16:08
  • 7
    Glad he ditched "Trotter" for "Strider". "Trotter" makes me think of pigs... :-) Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 3:02
  • 1
    @BobJarvis-ReinstateMonica It would make sense for a hobbit to be called "Trotter"; you can't take "Strides" with short legs and a fat body. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 18:07
  • @user8719 - also keep in mind that Tolkien's tombstone is engraved with the name "Beren", and Edith Tolkien's with the name "Luthien". Tolkien thought of Beren as representing himself, and Luthien as representing his wife. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 22:07

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