While I love Tolkien’s mythology and Peter Jackson’s subsequent trilogy, one argument that’s always bothered me is how dismissive so many people are of Sam’s character. He’s a sissy. He’s a fruitcake. Aragorn’s way cooler. Yeah? Aragorn? Picking Aragorn is like choosing Jesus as your favorite Biblical figure. Samwise Gamgee on the other hand, is a complex, fascinating character that doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Get ready for some learnin’, Mr. Frodo.
3. You’re really just calling yourself a cry baby
Let’s put The Lord of the Rings into proper perspective. On its surface, it’s great fantasy fiction. But despite how awesome it might be to watch Legolas take down an oliphant by himself (and it is awesome), the story really isn’t about that sort of thing. It’s no mystery that Tolkien hated allegory, however that doesn’t mean that his mythology is without its own recurring themes, namely war and death. When Frodo leaves with the Elves for the Grey Havens? That may as well be a metaphor for dying.
- Makes dinner
- Stays true to his word
- Fights gigantic spiders
Above all else, Sam sticks with Frodo in spite of the fact that every day Frodo becomes an even bigger dick. So if loyalty, dedication, and blind faith are “gay,” then I wish all my friends liked taking it in the Black Gate.
1. Sauron would have won.
That’s right. If it weren’t for Sam, the Ring probably wouldn’t have been destroyed, and instead of Return of the King’s twelve endings, we’d have gotten a sad ass montage of Hobbit slaves. Bear in mind that I don’t subscribe to the idea that the Fellowship was a gigantic waste of time and that Elrond could have just flown into Mordor on Gwaihir the Windlord and plopped the Ring back into Mt. Doom. To illustrate just how essential Sam is in this, here’s a quick breakdown of every instance where he bails out Frodo:
- Fellowship of the Ring
- Sam stops Frodo from putting on the Ring during an encounter with a Ringwraith.
- Two Towers
- Sam stops Frodo from putting on the Ring during an encounter with a Ringwraith. Again.
- Return of the King
- Despite Frodo telling him to go home, Sam decides to go back and help his friend, even if he does ditch him in favor of following Nicole Richie to Mordor. It’s also worth noting that if Sam hadn’t swallowed his pride, none of the following would have happened either…
- Sam kicks Shelob’s ass, insuring that Frodo isn’t slowly eaten alive.
- Sam rescues Frodo after he’s captured by orcs and brought to a guard tower.
- Sam literally puts da team on his back and carries Frodo and the Ring up Mt. Doom, doo.
- Even after Frodo’s umpteenth “fuck you” where he claims the Ring instead of destroying it, Sam saves him from meeting Gollum’s fate.
In every one of those instances, the Ring could have easily escaped and found its way into someone else’s hands. That isn’t a ridiculous claim. Consider how easy it was for Bilbo to find the ring in The Hobbit. He practically tripped onto the thing.
Despite its title, I’ll go ahead and say that The Return of the King is as much Sam’s story as it is Aragorn’s. I get that Sam likely wouldn’t have fared any better if he were in Frodo’s position, but that involves way too many hypothetical scenarios to come up with. Obviously, the climax of the story is only achieved through an ensemble effort, however there are varying degrees of contribution here. I can only imagine that first conversation between Sam and Pippin in Rivendell:
Wow, what an adventure! I smoked my body weight in pipe weed and hung out with some talking trees. What’d you do?
Oh, not much. Just saved the fucking world.