In adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Samwise Gamgee is consistently portrayed as being overweight. In Peter Jackson's movies, for instance, Sean Astin was specifically asked to put on a good deal of weight for the role. In the earlier animated adaptations, the same is true.

Samwise (right) and Frodo, The Return of the King, 1980 enter image description here

Samwise (right) and Frodo, The Lord of the Rings, 1978 enter image description here

But I don't recall reading anything in the books that would support this image of Sam.

In fact, people seem to believe that all hobbits are obese to some degree, although the text seems to suggest only that they tend to become overweight as they get older. Samwise is among the youngest of the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings, so in the absence of other information, it would appear that he should be relatively slim by hobbit standards.

Do we have any reason to believe, based on Tolkien's own writing, either in the books themselves or elsewhere, that Samwise Gamgee was especially fat?

  • 8
    Since this was a fact in Jackson movies, we can reliably predict that it wasn't that way in the books Jun 14, 2015 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


This blog post covers a lot of details: http://sacrificium-laudis.blogspot.com/2009/02/popular-misdepictions-of-tolkien.html

Yet, the books never explicitly say anything about Sam's weight; Gollum calls Sam a variety of names, including cross, rude, nasty, suspicious, not nice, or silly. But never did he call Sam fat.

Stoutness is a very much a general trait among Hobbits. Tolkien mentioned often that the Hobbits enjoyed eating and drinking: in Letter 27, he describes them as being "fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg", and like humans, they were inclined to expand as they got older - as shown in the books by Frodo himself, who was middle-aged for a Hobbit (he was around fifty when he set out to destroy the One Ring) and getting rather stout before losing much of his weight by walking and running a lot:

Looking in a mirror he was startled to see a much thinner reflection of himself than he remembered: it looked remarkably like the young nephew of Bilbo who used to go tramping with his uncle in the Shire; but the eyes looked at him thoughtfully.

Even so, quite the opposite of what the movies would like to have one believe, Sam, being young and a hard worker, was probably fitter than Frodo, Pippin, or Merry (who are all upper-class Hobbits).

Pauline Baynes's illustration of the Fellowship, done while Tolkien was alive, shows all four hobbits as being of very much the same proportions. Oddly enough, the movie shows Sam as more or less the same build when he leaves Hobbiton and when he reaches Mordor, even though he had some weeks of semi-starvation.

  • 2
    Great answer, +1 and many thanks. Can you add the illustration you mentioned to your answer? As for Sam staying fat in the Jackson movies, I would assume that it was due to the shooting schedule and the difficulty of losing a significant amount of weight in a short time.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 14, 2015 at 23:33
  • 1
    And the thought also occurred to me that Sam is a manual laborer and would probably be in better shape than the others.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 14, 2015 at 23:34
  • 1
    I don't know who wrote the blog you quoted, but they might have plagiarized the content from the Tolkien Society FAQ page - a little googling brought this to my attention.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 14, 2015 at 23:41
  • My understanding is that in pre-industrial society the luxury of being fat was a sign of wealth. Oct 27, 2020 at 5:28

Frodo was the fat one. Didn't he look in a mirror and think he was flabby somewhere in the fellowship? I don't know where the movie makers got the idea that Sam was supposed to be fat. In fact, Sam should have been the skinniest because he actually has a job, unlike Frodo and does actual work. I haven't read the book in a long time but I do remember that Frodo was the only one who really got made fun of because of his weight.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Do you have any sources for this? The question asked for evidence that Tolkien thought that Samwise was fat(ter), on the basis that he has been portrayed that way. If you have quotes that show that Frodo was heavier (and Sam was not particularly fat) you should include them.
    – DavidW
    Oct 27, 2020 at 0:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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