In the fictitious Middle-earth, home to humans, hobbits, dwarves, elves, and orcs, a decisive war between good and evil is presented to us in this epic called Lord Of The Rings. All creatures in Tolkien’s fantasy world are represented equally, yet they do not all have complete trust in one another. An evil force known as Sauron takes advantage of the differences among the stronger forces—elves, humans, and dwarves. He convinces the elves to create several powerful rings and obtains one for himself. It possesses the power to dominate all others and is referred to as the One Ring.
Eventually, Sauron and his orcish army are vanquished once their trick is revealed. But by that time, he had corrupted nine men, who later rose to become the Nazgûl, his foremost feared lieutenants. Through his four main works—The Hobbit and the trilogy The Lord of the Rings—Tolkien shares the story of how a hobbit called Frodo Baggins and a group of elves, men, a dwarf, and a wizard overcome a rising Sauron.
There are more volumes that Tolkien started but never finished during his lifetime but which are essential reading for anyone interested in learning more about the background of everything covered in the four main novels. And since The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power is already released and many of you have been wondering if you need to watch The Lord Of The Rings franchise films before The Rings Of Power? or how The Rings Of Power fits in The Lord Of The Rings franchise? We’ll answer all of your questions by going through The Lord Of The Rings Franchise and see what the best way to experience this franchise.
The Lord of the Rings Franchise According To Release Dates
It’s important to know that Jackson’s New Line Cinema-distributed LOTR film series wasn’t the first to be based on Tolkien’s epic. That honor belongs to the Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass animated feature The Hobbit (1977), which adapted the plot from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit: or There and Back Again.
Later, based on Tolkien’s LOTR book series, the same directors created The Return of the King, an animated movie sequel. Ralph Bakshi, a renowned animator, added his own style to Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings in 1978. Together, the three movies can somewhat please Tolkien fans, but they fall short of the caliber that Jackson achieved with his live-action versions of the LOTR trilogy and The Hobbit movies, which were released in the following order:
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
Jackson’s six films have been among the highest-grossing movies of all time. With a total of 475 awards from 800 nominees across award shows, it is the most decorated film series in history. These include a record of 17 wins out of 37 nominations for the Academy Awards, the most ever for a single film franchise. Jackson, however, had nothing to do with the eagerly awaited The Lord of the Rings series, which was created by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay.
The Lord Of The Rings Franchise Perfect Watch Order
Few series are as influential or as well-loved as The Lord of the Rings, whether it be for epic battles or fearsome wizard duels. There is no doubting that Peter Jackson’s adventure films, which were adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary classic of the same name, contributed to the development of the fantasy subgenre. It can be hard to choose where to begin your Middle-earth movie marathon with two different sets of trilogies and just a total of six films.
Six unnumbered fantasy films, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy from the 2000s and the Hobbit prequel trilogy, collectively tell the Lord of the Rings saga. Despite their odd order of release dates, the events of each of these movies are meant to be seen in chronological order. But, we will show you how to best experience the entire “One Ring” story.
Here is the best order to watch The Lord Of The Rings Franchise:
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (2022)
The Rings of Power is the very first live-action show based on Tolkien’s works. Its plot starts thousands of years even before the events of The Hobbit trilogy. It starts before Sauron’s ascent and demise at the allied efforts of mankind and elves. As a result, this series acts as a means for showing the formation of the deadly One Ring, which serves as the focal point of the LOTR film series based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The series takes place chronologically during the second age of Tolkien’s Middle-earth, whereas all of the movies take place during the third age.
The series presents a very different Middle-earth landscape because it is set in a world that is considerably younger than that of The Hobbit or the LOTR trilogies. There are many rich and flourishing locations, including the magnificent island kingdom of Nmenor, the dwarven city of Moria, and the metropolis of Grey Havens. These locations would appear entirely ruined, barren, and abandoned by the time of the movies.
There are no Hobbits in the series, despite them being one of the main tribes of Middle-earth as depicted in the novels and movies. Instead, the Harfoots—their ancestors—are shown to the viewers. Many well-known characters from the movies also make appearances as younger versions of themselves. The majority of these are elves, who are famously immortal in Tolkien’s world. Elrond and Galadriel, the series’ protagonists, are two examples of important characters.
Some characters that are just referenced or show up in flashback scenes in the movies make well-developed appearances in the show. Among them is a youngster Isildur whose adult self is seen in the LOTR movies in narrative flashbacks, the elven ring-maker Celebrimbor, and the elven ruler Gil-galad. Durin IV, Arondir, Nori Brandyfoot, Mriel, and Bronwyn are among the new characters.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
The Hobbit trilogy, based on Tolkien’s 1937 novel of the same name, begins with this movie. Its plot starts 60 years before the Lord of the Rings trilogy’s events. The story revolves around the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who is hired by Gandalf the Grey to assist a group of 13 dwarves, captained by Thorin Oakenshield II, in taking back Erebor from the evil dragon Smaug in the Lonely Mountain. Gollum gives the One Ring to Bilbo on their journey. Because of its overwhelming power, he makes the decision to keep it in his hands forever. Gandalf, on the other hand, is informed of the existence of a dangerous being known as The Necromancer.
Since this is the first movie in the Lord of the Rings series, key events, such as how Bilbo acquired his elf dagger, Sting, are shown. Aside from Gandalf, Bilbo, and Gollum, some of the most significant LOTR characters also make their appearances in this movie. These include Galadriel, Saruman the White, and Elrond. According to the timeline, this is the first time viewers get to witness the Shire, a calm meadow filled with adorable small houses populated by the Hobbit. Thus, this represents the first indication of the differences between the Hobbit’s culture compared to the nomad Harfoots.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
After the events of the previous movie, Bilbo and the dwarves, together with Gandalf, continue on their journey to the Lonely Mountain in order to face Smaug. They run into unexpected dangers along the route, like the Milkwood enormous spiders and the Wood Elves. However, they also find unexpected friends in elves Legolas and Tauriel and a man by the name of Bard the Bowman who is in possession of the one weapon capable of killing Smaug. Meanwhile, Gandalf sees the the come back of Sauron as Orcs start preparing to help Smaug.
Legolas, one of LOTR’s super-strong characters, makes his debut in chronological order in this movie for the first time. This movie also explores his family history and connection with his father, Thranduil, an elven ruler who holds strong hatred toward dwarves.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
In The Battle of Five Armies, the third and final installment of The Hobbit trilogy, Bilbo transitions from a tricky situation to a full-scale battle and gets a glimpse of Sauron’s terrifying power and influence. Now that Smaug has left the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and his friends must fight with an army of Orcs as well as the dwarf king Thorin, who has lost his mind due to his obsession with the Arkenstone.
We also see Lady Galadriel, the queen of the elves, drive a shapeless Sauron and his army to the east, but as everyone knows, a ferociously ambitious dark lord can never be silenced for very long. At the conclusion of the Battle of Five Armies, we are brought back to the present when it is revealed that 111-year-old Bilbo still possesses the “One Ring.” We may now officially start The Lord of the Rings, one of the greatest trilogies ever produced, in light of this news and the approaching hobbit birthday.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo’s nephew Frodo’s journey is presented in the first live-action Lord of the Rings movie to hit theaters. Before Gandalf departs on an adventure, he pays Bilbo a visit sixty years after he receives the One Ring during his journey with the dwarves. But nobody knew what that would mean at the moment. He gives Frodo his ring as a memento, and with Gandalf’s assistance, Frodo learns of Sauron’s reappearance.
The two join the assistance of several characters, including men Boromir and Strider, a.k.a. Aragorn, Hobbits Pippin, Samwise Gamgee, and Merry, elf Legolas, and dwarves Gimli and Strider. The fellowship is made up of nine people. In order to destroy the ring in the flames of Mount Doom in Mordor, they agree that Frodo should become the Ringbearer.
Saruman, who Gandalf learns has allied himself with Sauron, and strong orcs, however, stand in Frodo’s way. Aside from brand-new characters like Arwen, this movie also features the first non-chronological appearances of numerous important characters from The Rings of Power trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy, such as Saruman, Legolas, Bilbo, Gandalf, Galadriel, Gollum, and Elrond.
The Mines of Moria, also known as Khazad-dûm, which Elrond first saw in all of its splendor in The Rings of Power, are also shown for the first time. There were 13 Oscar nominations for The Fellowship of the Ring. It received four awards for make-up, visual effects, music, and cinematography.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Following the incidents of the Fellowship, the Lord of the Rings action now picks up speed as Frodo’s party—which has since dispersed—must fight with Sauron’s army. The Academy Award-winning film tackles the franchise’s epic fantasy themes head-on and is jam-packed with interesting storylines and fresh characters. Gollum joins Frodo and Sam and starts pointing them in the direction of Mordor.
The rest of the group’s friends are preparing for the Helm’s Deep fight and battling the evil wizard Saruman in Isengard as the three continues on their trek. As we transition into the events of the third and final movie in the series, the trilogy’s conclusion is brilliantly set up with Frodo bringing us closer to Mount Doom and his friends fighting nonstop. This film was nominated for a total of six Oscars, having won 2 for visual effects and sound editing.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The Return of the King, the most highly acclaimed movie in The Hobbit trilogies and the LOTR, is regarded as a groundbreaking work of cinema, particularly for how well it uses special effects to create an immersive world of high fantasy.
The movie received a record 11 Academy Award nominations, and it won every single one of them, giving it the big win at the Oscars. It is also the third movie to tie the record for winning the most Oscars, which was held by Titanic (1997) and Ben-Hur (1959), and the first fantasy movie to take home the Best Picture award.
The acclaimed series comes to an epic finale with The Return of the King. Aragorn leads the armies of mankind in a decisive last fight against Sauron’s legions at Minas Tirith as the fate of Middle-earth swings in the balance. Frodo and Sam, on the other hand, arrive at Mount Doom alongside Gollum, unknowing that the latter intends to betray them in order to reclaim the One Ring.
The movie is notable for revealing to viewers how a noble Hobbit named Sméagol sadly turned into the evil Gollum about 500 years when Bilbo took the One Ring off him in the first installment of The Hobbit trilogy.
The previously mind-boggling 201-minute runtime is increased to 252 minutes by its extended edition! That is more than four hours! Prepare yourself for an almost 12-hour marathon if you decide to watch the expanded editions in their entirety.