What Happened After Lord Of The Rings?

From Tolkien’s own writings such as The Silmarillion and The Hobbit, to Amazon’s recent foray into Middle-earth, The Rings of Power, we have plenty of material to piece together a pretty comprehensive understanding of the events that led up to the Lord of the Rings.

However, when it comes to what proceeds the conclusion of Tolkien’s original trilogy, we’re left to wonder, with little source material on which to base our theories, but that’s not to say the master of high fantasy didn’t leave a few clues here and there.

What Happened After Lord Of The Rings?

Thanks to posthumous publications compiling lore, half-finished stories, and scraps of letters and notes, we know a few things to be true of post Return of the King Middle-earth, and today, we’ll be filling you in on all the juicy details!

What Became Of Frodo?

At the end of the final Lord of the Rings book in sequence, we – along with Sam, Merry, and Pippin – say a tearful farewell to ring-bearer extraordinaire, Frodo Baggins.

Joining Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel on an elven ship, the protagonist sails into a silvery light towards The Undying Lands, a name that has caused many a debate over the years.

Is “The Undying Lands” a representation of heaven, or are the inhabitants of this mythic land permitted immortality upon arrival?

If the former is true, then Frodo’s departure is symbolic of his death, but if the latter is true, he lived on endlessly in a tangible empyrean domain. However, neither theory is quite right.

In actual fact, The Undying Lands are named so because historically, only immortal beings such as the elves were permitted to travel there.

Granted, it is heaven-like, but very much within the physical realm, and if you’re not already immortal, paying a visit to The Undying Lands doesn’t change that.

Gravely injured in both body and mind, Frodo left Middle-earth to be and die with his uncle Bilbo.

What Became Of Aragorn? 

After the fall of Mordor, Aragorn marries Arwen and takes his rightful place on the throne of Gondor before committing himself to revitalize the Kingdoms of Men.

His major challenge is reestablishing the union of Gondor and Arnor, a once prosperous land broken by political unrest and civil war early in the Third Age — Before the turmoil, Gondor and Arnor were ruled as a single, mighty kingdom.

Basically nonexistent at this point, Arnor had to be completely rebuilt, and that’s precisely what Aragorn did, eventually claiming the traditional position of High King, ruling over both Gondor and Arnor as one, a title last held by his ancestor Isildur.

Under Aragorn’s command, the aptly-named Reunited Kingdom became the most powerful in all of Middle-earth, heading up conquest after conquest to reclaim territories overrun by Easterlings and Haradrim.

But it wasn’t just the Kingdom of Men Aragon was intent on patching up. He was also dedicated to repairing the wounded relationship of men, elves, and dwarves. 

His rule gestured in a period of heightened communication and cooperation between all noble inhabitants of Middle-earth. He died in the 120th year of the Fourth Age, which means he lived to the ripe old age of 210.

His wife Arwen died a year later of a broken heart, and their son Eldarion inherited the throne of the High King.

What Became Of Samwise Gamgee?

The life and soul of the story, and one hell of a good friend, Samwise Gamgee remained in the Shire for a great many years after the fall of Sauron.

He and his wife Rosie Cotton had thirteen children together and raised them in Bag End, which is left to Sam by Frodo before he leaves for The Undying Lands.

After the resignation of Will Whitfoot, Samwise was elected Mayor of the Shire, serving seven consecutive seven-year terms in office.

Sadly, Rosie passed on in the 61st year of the Fourth Age, and Samwise is permitted to travel to The Undying Lands to be reunited with Frodo and live in peace until death (Find out How Old Is Frodo?).

Before he leaves, he bestows the Red Book of Westermarch to his daughter Elanor, so perhaps the next adventure in sequence would have been hers to chronicle.

What Became Of Gandalf?

Okay, so we all know that Gandalf boarded the ring-bearer’s ship and headed for The Undying Lands, but unlike Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam, no death awaited The White Wizard on these heavenly shores.

In fact, his arrival is more of a homecoming than a death.

As one of the Maiar – the primordial spirits created to aid the Valar in shaping the new world at the beginning of the First Age – Gandalf is native to The Dying Lands, or as he knows it, Valinor.

Like the Valar and the elves, he is an immortal being. Yes, his physical form can be destroyed, but his deathless spirit will always return to Valinor.

What Became Of Legolas & Gimli?

The bromance that bloomed between Legolas and Gimli during The Fellowship was so strong that they continued adventuring together after Sauron was defeated.

They returned to Helm’s Deep where the two set to return it to its former glory so it might serve as a new refuge for displaced dwarves following the war.

After a flying trip to Fangorn Forest, the two parted ways, and Legolas headed to Ithilien to restore the woodland realm ravaged by Sauron’s forces.

When news of Aragorn’s death reaches him, he builds a boat, invites Gimli to join him, and the brothers-in-arms sail to The Undying Lands.

As a member of a mortal race, Gimli (the only dwarf ever to witness The Undying Lands) eventually dies, but immortal Legolas lives on, never to return to Middle-earth.

What Became Of Merry & Pippin?

As you might expect, Merry and Pippin partied for a while after returning the Shire to its former glory, eventually inheriting leadership roles within the area.

Pippin married Diamond of Long Cleeve, and Merry married Estlla Bolger — Both couples begat one son.

When Éomer – close to death – requests to see the two hobbits again, they relinquish their positions of authority in the Shire and head to Rohan where they stay by his side until he passes.

The dynamic duo then made tracks to Minas Tirith where they live as honored celebrities before passing away, Merry at the age of 109, and Pippin at the age of 101.

What Defined The Fourth Age?

The Return of the King marked the end of the Third Age, making way for the Fourth Age to commence… the Age of Men!

The elven exodus to Valinor that coincided with the dawning of the Third Age is in full swing. Dwarven populations are dwindling due to the scarcity of female dwarves willing to marry. 

And with the king formerly known as Strider essentially at the helm of mankind, it’s the humans’ time to shine. 

What follows is stable peace, but Tolkien perhaps had a little more strife up his sleeve for the Kingdom of Men.

The title of his abandoned sequel to The Lord of the Rings, The New Shadow, hinted at the coming of a new darkness, or perhaps a return of the very same darkness that threatened to consume Middle-earth in the first trilogy.

Final Thoughts

There you have it — When we closed the back cover of that third and final installment of The Lord of the Rings, life went on for our favorite characters.

Emerging from two decades of war and corruption, there was work to be done to restore Middle-earth, and they got right to it, each in their own way.

The exception is of course the crew of that first ship to The Undying Lands, who set sail to find a semblance of peace after their hellish experiences trying to banish Sauron and his forces from the land.

Sophie Andrea