The Lord of the Rings films, brought to us in lengthy adaptations by director Peter Jackson, bring to life J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic tales of Men, Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, and all manner of evil beings vying for control of Middle Earth. They are at once beautiful, breathtaking, gawdy, and laborious. They are emotional juggernauts that cause fans of the tomes to either love them or hate them. They introduced to cinema goers a level of world building unmatched by anything seen before, and only recently in Game of Thrones.
The attention to detail paid in the films is truly staggering, with each dwarf and each elf having runes carved into their armor, as well as each chainmaille link made by hand. Though many scenes were full of CG, it doesn’t make the work that went into the costumes any less impressive. Cosplayers who have a love of Tolkien’s stories and the films have gone above and beyond to faithfully recreate the ensembles worn by the heroes, heroines, and villains. With Amazon having won the bid to create a television series based on other Tolkien stories in Middle Earth, CBR has found the top 20 Lord of the Rings cosplays to appease you while you wait for its release.
The haughty and graceful King of Mirkwood, whose hubris in the Second and Third Age made him isolated and removed from much of the suffering in Middle Earth, was nevertheless forced to face the realities of Sauron’s resurrection when a band of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield infiltrated his Woodland Realm. He would later send his son, Legolas, to Rivendell to join the Fellowship, and would pledge his armies to Aragorn in the War of the Ring.
Joshua Duart has beautifully executed the pageantry of Thranduil, known for his refinement and fondness for elegant things. His robes and crown are completely handmade, and the way he carries himself conveys the imperial majesty that separated Thranduil from other Elvenkind. He took his cosplay a step further and even made a whole music video surrounding the Thranduil character you can find here.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of Sauron in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, but based on what we saw in flashback sequences at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring, he was a terrifying behemoth of twisted metal and sharp edges. Though audiences never saw his face, the mystery of what lurked behind his jagged helmet only added to his menace.
This cosplayer has recreated his intricate armor down to the last detail. Several times a year, fans in Europe gather to recreate the epic battles from the films. This cosplayer hails from Russia, where one of these large gatherings occurs with weapons made out of foam suitable for bashing fellow fans over the head with. While the armor may look like metal, it’s sculpted from foam as well so as to not be too heavy to wear.
18 GRIMA WORMTONGUE
Who could forget Brad Dourif’s scene stealing performance as Grima Wormtongue, ill advised advisor to Theoden, the King of Rohan. Sniveling and secretive, he poisoned the king’s mind against the only allies that could help him.
Here, cosplayer Jace Moore nailed the look and the posturing of Grima Wormtongue, right down to the suspicious and scrutinizing expression. It’s rare that the cosplayer ends up looking exactly like the actor who made the character famous, regardless of the clothes they wear. The outfit took 60 hours to assemble, and was made in preparation for Dallas Comic Con, where Brad Dourif himself would be in attendance. No doubt when he saw this cosplay, he wondered if he wasn’t looking at his double.
Orcs are the grunt infantry force of Saruman’s fighting armies. Once East Elves, they were captured by Morgoth, twisted by Sauron’s lies about power and their lust for it turned them into the grotesque creatures he used to unleash waves of evil upon Middle Earth.
This Orc looks like it wandered off the set of one of the films. While most of the orcs in the film looked slightly smaller, Tolkien did specify that some orcs were made from robust Northern men, giving them greater physical advantages than their stunted brethren that were good for tracking and subterfuge. The armor is made from flex foam and painted with a veneer to make it appear metallic, as well as leather pieces, and the orc face is great prosthetics! He was featured on the popular web series Orcs of New York.
16 THE WITCH KING OF ANGMAR
During the Second and Third ages of Middle Earth, the Witch King of Angmar was Sauron’s second in command, and the leader of the Nazgul. He was once a Numenorean king of men, but fell to darkness when one of the Nine Rings of power corrupted him. He was the wraith who stabbed Frodo on Weathertop, but fell to Eowyn’s blade during the last battle of the War of the Ring.
Made for one half of the cosplay husband and wife team behind Striking Cosplay, Chris is pictured here with the costume he made, which won the Best Overall Craftsmanship award at the 2013 Nekocon. It was made using a mixture of fiberglass, resin, wood, and Bondo. It was surprisingly lightweight to wear, and with the black robes, allowed for a lot of mobility.
The Ringwraiths, or Nazgul, first appeared in the Fellowship of the Ring and immediately became an attention grabbing presence of evil. Once kings of men, they were seduced by the Nine Rings of Power that Sauron gave them, which corrupted their souls and turned them into his personal harbingers of death. Neither living or dead, they seek the One Ring at all times, and hunted Frodo and the Fellowship as they tried to get the ring to Mount Doom.
Cosplayer Sam Wyat evokes all the menace of the Ringwraiths with the cascading black robes, large cowl, gauntlets, and sword. The robes have been dusted with debris and mud, since the Nazgul ride through all manner of countryside without thought to their garments. All the Ringwraiths pictured are him at a cathedral in Belgium, then edited together!
The Uruk-Hai were Saruman’s bigger, brawnier fighting force, similar to orcs but standing as tall as large men. Broad chested and shouldered, the Uruk-Hai were developed by Saruman by combining orcs and men with slime and sludge, literally growing them from the ground with dark sorcery. When they emerge, they are ill-tempered and nasty brutes already, ready to crush all that is good.
This Uruk-Hai cosplay was based on Lurtz, a commander in the Uruk-Hai army that led the hordes to many victories against the armies of elves and men. The cosplay is constructed of facial prosthetics, theater makeup, body paint, and lots of leather armor. This cosplayer is large enough to convey Lurtz’s hulking presence, and the prosthetics do a lot to convey his aggressive posturing.
13 THE HOBBITS
The fate of the lives of every creature and being in Middle Earth rested on the shoulders of Hobbits, the fair folk that made their houses in the green rolling hills of The Shire and liked nothing more than to eat, drink, and be merry with friends. It was Frodo Baggins that volunteered to take the One Ring to Mordor and destroy it, but he couldn’t go without his faithful friends Samwise, Merry, and Pippin. They were aided by Arwen of the Elves of Rivendell, and Aragorn (both pictured).
Every detail has been meticulously recreated in these outfits, from the tweed of their trousers and waistcoats, to the cotton of their shirts and the wool of their cloaks. The autumnal setting is perfect for the shot of everyone’s favorite Shirelings, and you’d have to look really hard to know that all the hobbit cosplays are gender-swapped.
In The Two Towers, Frodo and Samwise came across a creature that would be instrumental in helping them deliver the One Ring to Mount Doom. Not only could he navigate through the perilous landscape of Mordor undetected, but he had a grave understanding of the nature of the ring itself, for he himself had been slowly destroyed by it for decades before Frodo was born. While he vacillated between being a friend and an enemy, in the end, the pair of Hobbits would never have been able to accomplish their task.
This cosplay requires a lot of physicality to successfully convey Gollum’s movements, meaning lots of time crawling about on all fours. But what's more amazing is how much cosplayer Heidi looks like Gollum! She made the skull cape to pull her hair through, blackened her teeth with wax, and painted her skin to blend nicely with the prosthetics, ears (once part of Yoda costume!), and skull cap.
One of the fairest and most ethereal of all the elves in Middle Earth, Galadriel was born before the First Age had even begun. The greatest of the Eldar, she surpassed all in beauty, and was the keeper of Nenya, the ring of Adamant, one of the three Elven Rings of Power. As long as the One Ring had been in Sauron’s hands, she didn’t use her ring in an attempt to thwart his power. She gave the Fellowship respite in Lothlorien, the woodland realm she ruled, and resisted the power of the One Ring when it tempted her.
This cosplay by Lopti of Some Like it Blue, though seemingly simple, conveys the elegance and majesty of this Elven Queen from Valinor. The long, wavy hair looks realistic, her robes are cloud like, and the circlet is an exact replica of the one worn by Cate Blanchett in the film.
10 GANDALF AND GIMLI
An unlikely pairing, but two of the most memorable characters in the Lord of the Rings movies, Gandalf and Gimli represented the strong current of truth and common sense. Whenever bickering ensued amidst the Fellowship, their sagacious and timely words of wisdom were welcome reprieve.
Gandalf the Grey has always been described as having a tall gray hat, long gray cloak, and a long white beard, as well as being exceptionally tall. This cosplayer chose to depict him as we first meet him in the Fellowship of the Ring, with his long pipe and wooden staff. Gimli is seen as we first see him as well with a crimson tunic, as well as hallbards and shoulder arm, helmet and battle axe. A lot of attention has been paid to the runes in that helmet, worthy of the work in the film’s costume department.
One of the most popular characters to emerge from the Lord of the Rings movies was undoubtedly the shield surfing, fair haired and blue eyed elven archer Legolas, the Prince of Mirkwood and sworn protector of Frodo and the One Ring. He represented his elegant kinsmen well, the only elf that was a part of the Fellowship. A level headed soul, he was known for his marksmanship as well as his gift with music and sense of humor. Those sculpted cheekbones didn’t hurt either!
Every inch of elven craftsmanship has been recreated with this cosplay by Nanni Walker, right down to the intricate designs on the quiver. Some of the seams are visible on the tunic, which only adds to the realism, since Legolas was quite rustic when we first met him and had spent much time beyond his kingdom.
8 ELVEN WARRIOR
Rarely have any elves looked more fierce than this cosplay, which looks more intimidating than any Easterling or any warrior marching out of Mordor. This armor is reminiscent of the armor worn by the elves of Lothlorien that came to the aid of King Theoden in The Two Towers, as well as the armor of the elves in Valinor before the First Age.
This exquisite armor by Stano Morgoth is made of sculpted and hand stained leather and wool, meticulously bound together to be both articulated and beautiful. It also has some fantastic stitching of cotton with gold thread. This cosplayer built this impressive suit of armor for the Battle for Middle Earth, a Czech LARP (Live Action Role Play) that boasts hundreds of members.
The King Under the Mountain, Thorin Oakenshield, came from a grand Dwarven lineage. His pedigree granted him the piles of treasure his father, Thrain hoarded, as well as the throne of the mountain city at Erebor. It was while protecting the East gate of Moria from orcs that he lost his shield and, picking up an oaken tree branch from the floor, continued to press the attack, earning him his sobriquet.
Partly due to the fact that cosplayer Hizsi is a full-sized human, much of the amazing detail in the coat and tunic can be seen at great vantage. The bracers are leather and carved with dwarven geometric patterns, and they have even made their hands and forearms appear as large as Thorin's. What separated Thorin’s garb from many dwarves was the presence of huge fur portions and his intricate scalemail armor, which has small runes carved on each piece.
One of the most controversial additions to the characters in Middle Earth, Tauriel was not an antagonist original to Tolkien’s works. She was a character created by Peter Jackson as he felt there weren’t enough fighting female characters on screen. She is a Silvan Wood-Elf of Mirkwood, a different line of elves than Thranduil, Lord of Mirkwood, whom she served as captain of his guard. She frequently patrolled with his son, Legolas.
This Tauriel look, by cosplayer Fiathriel, is very reminiscent of Evangeline Lily in The Hobbit films. The wig isn’t big and too shiny (a common issue), and all the elven accents are subtle, with the prosthetic ears just peeking out from her hair. She has a suitably curious expression, as Tauriel was less isolatory than the rest of the Mirkwood elves.
The brave hobbit that took it upon himself to get the One Ring to Mordor, but was just fine with having eight stalwart companions to make the mission a little less daunting. Frodo was the nephew of Bilbo Baggins, who had so famously traveled with Thorin and his men to get the treasure under the mountain back from the clutches of the dragon Smaug. It was during that quest that Bilbo happened upon the One Ring, and which Frodo knew nothing about until Gandalf appeared at the Baggins’ door.
Cosplayer Amouranth has captured Frodo after the Fellowship visited Lothlorien, where Galadriel let them rest and resupply for the journey ahead. It was there that the Fellowship received gifts, including Elven cloaks with green leaf clasps. While this cosplayer has Frodo’s fair looks, dark curly locks, and a great outfit, they’re not nearly dirty enough!
4 STRIDER AND ARWEN
Strider and Arwen, prom king and queen of Middle Earth. Strider once went by the name Aragorn, and was a direct descendant of Isildur, who first fell under the power of the One Ring and failed to destroy it when he had the chance. Arwen is the daughter of Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, who fell in love with Aragorn even though romance between elves and humans is frowned upon (since humans tend to die).
This couple of cosplayers are perfectly coordinated, depicting Arwen, Sydney Robinson in the blue dress she wears during the requiem for the elves scene in The Two Towers, and Strider (her husband) wearing his Ranger garb along with the Evenstar pendant she gave him in Fellowship of the Ring. His bracers even bear the white tree of Gondor.
Arwen is the half-Elven daughter of Elrond and Celebrian, and because of her lineage that begins with the union of Luthien, the fairest of all Elven maidens, and Beren, a human man, gets to choose between being an immortal elf or being a mortal woman when she wishes. If she decides at any point to turn mortal, she will age and pass away, without going into the West, as all Elves do.
Arwen has so many beautiful ensembles throughout the Lord of the Rings films, but one of the most striking is this black and red number. Nicknamed the “Blood Dress” due to the immense, pooling bell sleeves, she wears this dress in the dream sequence where she foresees her own death. The cosplayer Vera Zeitceva handmade every inch of this gorgeous gown, and happens to look as enchanting as Arwen in it.
The imperious Lord of Rivendell, Elrond had grown cynical and jaded since his days fighting beside the Race of Men. He had watched as Isildur could not destroy the ring and so, pledged Middle Earth into another war. He was accommodating to Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits (especially when he helped Bilbo decipher the moon runes), but was suspicious of their capacity to be as pure in their intentions as the Elves.
Cosplayer Benjamin from the United Kingdom has faithfully recreated Elrond’s battle armor from the Second Age, which is mostly gold plated with silver chainmaille. They include his beautiful blue formal cloak signifying his command rank, as well as a sword similar to Hadhafang, which his daughter Arwen wielded against the Nazgul that were hunting Frodo.
1 KING OF THE DEAD
In Dwimorberg, Aragorn encountered the King of the Dead Men of the Mountains and his armies, legions of men that had once worshiped Sauron when they were alive. They were cursed by Isildur when they refused to answer his call to aid after pledging fealty to Gondor. Now ghosts, they serve as spectral warnings to all that allow greed and malice into their hearts. Only after they agree to fight with Aragorn can he, a descendant of Isildur, proclaim their oaths fulfilled so that they may rest in peace.
This makeup is seriously on point, and through a great combination of prosthetics and silicone, this cosplayer has managed to achieve a cadaver’s good looks. The armor is painted thermoplastic, and the trim was sewn on the cloak and tunic, which was then painted. The only points off would be for that surprisingly youthful looking ear!