- "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
- —Bilbo's speech at his birthday party
Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit, and the main protagonist in The Hobbit; he was hired by Thorin and Company to be their burglar on the Quest of Erebor, and he fought in the Battle of the Five Armies. He was also one of the bearers of the One Ring, and the first to voluntarily give it up to Gandalf, though with some difficulty. He wrote of his adventures in a book he called There and Back Again. Bilbo adopted his nephew Frodo Baggins after his father Drogo Baggins, Bilbo's second cousin ended up drowning in the Brandywine River; and not long after adopting the orphaned Frodo did he become the sole heir to Bag End. Bilbo was the first Hobbit to become famous in the world at large and one of the few to not take Lord of the Rings seriously.
As a young Hobbit, Bilbo was curious and eager for news of the outside world. The Istar wizard Gandalf noticed these qualities of Bilbo's on his visits to the Shire. Bilbo would later remember Gandalf's Fireworks displays in the dwelling of his mother's family at Great Smials. Bilbo apparently practiced his rock-throwing skills in his youth so much, that birds and squirrels fled the area whenever he was around.
When Bilbo's father died in TA 2926 and his mother died in TA 2934, Bilbo became his own master and spent the next seven years living alone in Bag End. During this time, Bilbo grew fond of his life as a wealthy bachelor and acquired a reputation for respectability that the neighbors admired.
Quest to Erebor
- Main article: The Hobbit
In the year TA 2941, Bilbo at the age of 50 was visited by Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield. These Dwarves wished to hire Bilbo so they could avoid having an unlucky thirteen people on their quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug. Bilbo reluctantly agreed to go, and the next morning they set off from The Green Dragon Inn.
Bilbo's first duty on this journey was to investigate a light in the distance that turned out to be a fire with three Forest trolls around it. Bilbo attempted to snatch something from the trolls to bring back to the Dwarves, to show that he was a first class burglar, for everyone knows that trolls have large treasure troves. However, he was caught and the Dwarves who attempted to help him were captured as well. Gandalf tricked the trolls into arguing with one another until daybreak which turned them all to stone. Gandalf then rescued the party. The wizard also was the one who had found the trolls' cave, where they hid their treasure as well as hid from the sun during the daylight hours. In the cave, a number of weapons were found, Glamdring (Beater) and Orcrist (Biter) among them. Bilbo took an elvish dagger from the trolls' collection, which he would later name Sting.One Ring, forged by Sauron all those years ago. Bilbo soon found Gollum, who had been in possession of the Ring for many years. Bilbo and Gollum had a memorable riddle game, where if Bilbo won, Gollum would show him the way out. However, Gollum was not satisfied with Bilbo's final riddle, and while mourning his loss, found that his Ring was gone. Gollum then paddled back on his boat towards Bilbo, who he then accused of stealing his precious, but Bilbo had vanished.
Bilbo was soon reunited with his companions. Bilbo and the travellers had stopped for the night when goblins and a pack of wargs (or wolves) had found them near a patch of pine trees. The dwarves, Bilbo, and Gandalf, climbed up the trees and waited for them to leave. The goblins were not going to leave without killing them. They started to burn the trees down. The Warg Chieftain was ordering the other wargs around when Gandalf picked up a pinecone, and with his magic set it ablaze in a green fire. He threw it down hitting one of the wargs; it rolled around on the ground burning while Gandalf threw more and more pinecones down. The goblins and wargs fled and the group was rescued by eagles. When an eagle grabbed Dori, Bilbo had to jump and grab Dori's legs before he was forgotten. This prompted Bilbo to groan "My arms! My poor arms," and Dori to cry "My legs! My poor legs!" The eagles eventually took them to a ford where they rested and continued their journey.
The group traveled to Beorn's house where they rested, after being gruffly taken in by Beorn and his animal servants. Beorn learned of their story and gave a large number of provisions to help their quest. Beorn also lent several ponies to be used until the group reached Mirkwood. However, Beorn did not fully trust the dwarves, so Bilbo saw Beorn giving careful watch to see that his ponies were unharmed. Eventually the company reached Mirkwood, where the ponies were let go (to several of the dwarves discontent) and Gandalf left the group as well, warning them to "DON'T STRAY OFF THE PATH!!!"
The Company began to follow the path through the treacherous forest. Eventually the provisions ran low and the Company was forced to send Bilbo up a tree to see where the forest ended. Bilbo climbed up a tree, where a rewarding breeze of cool air and butterflies met him. Bilbo only saw more forest, so when he reluctantly climbed back down, he did not see that the forest ended. He reported his findings to the dwarves, where they met the news with ill comfort, angry that the dwarves were fatter than Bilbo and so could not climb the trees to feel cool air or see the butterflies. Eventually the last provisions were eaten. The Company then came upon the Enchanted River. Bilbo saw a boat on the other side, leading the dwarves to retrieve it. A deer came out of nowhere when all the dwarves were on the other side. A dwarf shot it where it died, on the other side. The dwarves hoped for venison for dinner when Bilbo realized that Bombur was drowning. The dwarves fished him out, where he was asleep, but the boat was knocked away, ending the hope for venison.
When Bilbo awoke in the night, he was alone. He cursed the dwarves for leaving the path and discovered that spiders had captured his companions. Bilbo was forced to find his lost companions and cut through the cocoons the spiders had formed around his companions. He distracted the spiders by improvising several insulting songs to irritate the spiders, who left their domain to find the insulter and eat him. Bilbo killed a few by throwing stones at a few spiders and he killed more via Sting. After freeing the dwarves, he led them into a charge against the spiders, where Bilbo killed dozens of the arachnids with the help of the Ring and Sting.
After traveling through Mirkwood Forest they had been taken prisoner by Wood-Elves, who believed that the company had "assaulted" the elves while they were partying (the bright lights the company had seen in the forest).
Shortly after, the travellers had gone to Lake Town, a small town occupied by men. Here is where Smaug would frequently attack, though he had not been seen in many years. The group had fended off the Dragon until Bard shot the Black Arrow at the single bare spot on the dragon's jewel encrusted underbelly. Killing it and sending him to rot at the bottom of the lake next to Lake Town. Here, after Thorin Oakenshield reclaimed the mountain, the Battle of the Five Armies took place. Beorn, Beorning chieftain, joined the travellers in their fight against an army of orcs.
After the battle, a soldier sent by Gandalf to search for him found Bilbo. Then Gandalf takes him to Thorin, who was lying on a bed, dying. Thorin apologizes to Bilbo about how Thorin cursed Bilbo, and Thorin then praised Bilbo's beliefs, that food and drink is valued higher than gold or treasure. Bilbo later attends Thorin's funeral. After the funeral, Dain offers him his one-fourteenth share of the treasure, which Bilbo turns down, receiving only two small chests, one with gold, and the other laden with silver. Bilbo traveled back with the wood-elf host that participated in the Battle of Five Armies. Bilbo traveled with the wood-elves down to Mirkwood, and then went to Beorn's house with Gandalf. Then Bilbo set out with Gandalf to where Bert, Tom, and William turned to stone. They dug up some of the buried treasure the dwarves buried earlier, in which Bilbo offered most of it to Gandalf to use to aid the peoples of Middle-Earth. Bilbo eventually made it back to Hobbiton, where he witnessed an auction selling most of his possessions to the other hobbits. His relatives, the Sackville-Baggins were...vexed to see Bilbo alive since they wanted to live in Bag End so badly. Bilbo had to buy back his sold possessions in order to avoid quarreling. Eventually, Balin and Gandalf visited him, where they reported the current news of Middle-earth.
After the Quest of Erebor
Although Bilbo returned safely to Bag End with his reward and lived in relative comfort, Bilbo’s life was not quite the same as it had once been. His sudden return after having been thought dead lost him some of the neighbors’ respect and he was later thought of as an oddity, and there was much talk and false rumors circulated about his affairs and doings. The worst of these problems came from the Sackville-Baggins who were angry that they were not able to possess Bag End when he was thought to be dead. This jealousy and anger increased when Bilbo adopted Frodo (a Brandybuck) as heir apparent.
Bilbo ignored these things said about him and avoided the Sackville-Baggins as much as he could, even using the Ring once to hide from them. Bilbo was very generous with his money and most people were willing to forgive him his oddities. He had many friends especially amongst the Gamgees whom he consulted frequently on landscaping and on the growing of vegetables. His good friend The Gaffer even allowed him to tutor his son Samwise Gamgee, teaching him to read and write and at some point taught him various bits of poetry and told him tales of the elder days. Yet, he slowly began to become weary of his settled and sheltered life at Bag End.
Bilbo was the bearer of the One Ring for many decades, ignorant of its significance. However, by TA 3001, the Ring had begun to affect him. He did not appear to have aged at all, although he felt older and thin inside. He decided that he wanted to partake in one more adventure, before he found a place to settle down and finish his account of the Quest for the Lonely Mountain.
On September 22, a farewell Birthday Party was held in his honour, where he announced his intention to leave the Shire, to the shock of his family and friends. Immediately afterwards, he put on his ring and disappeared, as a joke on his neighbours. He returned to his house where he was confronted by his friend Gandalf, who tried to persuade him to leave the ring for Frodo.
Bilbo initially agreed, but then became hostile and accused Gandalf of trying to steal the ring for his own benefit, which he referred to as his "precious." Horrified by Bilbo's outburst, Gandalf stood to his full height and ordered Bilbo to leave it behind. Immediately Bilbo returned to his senses, apologising and admitting that the Ring had been troubling him lately. After a moment of inner struggle, Bilbo finally dropped the ring to the ground, becoming the first ring-bearer to give up the ring on his own will. Bilbo and Gandalf bid each other goodbye, and Bilbo left the Shire for his journey.
On the same day, Bilbo left the One Ring and his home of Bag End in the possession of his relative, Frodo Baggins who was eager to be his own master despite the loss of Bilbo, for he was not yet ready to leave the Shire. After his departure, Bilbo accompanied three dwarves to Dale and the Lonely Mountain, before finally settling in Rivendell. There, he met Aragorn and Elrond.
Life in Rivendell
Between TA 3003 and TA 3018, Bilbo worked on the written account of his adventures, in a book that would later be known as the Red Book of Westmarch. He also studied the Elvish language and compiled a three-volume history of the Elder Days, which he called Translations from the Elvish. He composed the poem All that is Gold Does Not Glitter for Aragorn as well as a much longer poem about Eärendil during his stay at Rivendell.
In October 3018, Frodo arrived at Rivendell. Bilbo learnt that his nephew was on a quest to destroy the One Ring so he gave him the sword Sting and for protection his mithril shirt. However, he remained in Rivendell while Frodo travelled south. After Frodo returned, Bilbo had noticeably aged, partially freed from the Ring's effect, although he continued to desire it.Since Bilbo had been a ring-bearer, he was allowed to accompany Frodo to the Undying Lands. On September 22, 3021, Bilbo turned 131, and became the oldest Hobbit in Middle-earth, except for Sméagol. On September 29, he, Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Frodo boarded a ship docked at the Grey Havens and sailed away from Middle-earth. His fate afterwards is not known but as he too was a mortal being, he most likely died in the light of the Blessed Realm of Valinor.
Bilbo was a very friendly and well-mannered hobbit fond of food, drink, a full pipe, his friends and good cheer, and was known for greeting strangers and friends with hospitality saying: “At your service and your families”. Being related to both the Tooks and the Baggins two family groups that were fundamentally opposite in their mentalities, with the Tooks being more fond of adventures and wandering, and the Baggins who were more fond of the settled life, Bilbo had two different sides to him something he referred to as the “Took side” and the “Baggins side”. This meant that he secretly relished having adventures but still wanted to remain settled and was very afraid.
Bilbo seemed to be happy with his life at Bag End and would have been content to remain a child of his father, had adventure not come upon him. Still very afraid and wishing he had never left his hobbit-hole, the Took side eventually won out even after he returned home to his old life. Thus, his desire for another adventure never truly departed from him in his heart even into his old age. This he demonstrated in his sudden departure from Bag End in TA 3001.
- Translations from the Elvish
- The Fall of Gil-galad
- There and Back Again
- The Road Goes Ever On
- All that is Gold Does Not Glitter
- Song of Eärendil
- The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late
- A Walking Song (Wrote the lyrics)
- Warning of Winter
- Bilbo's Last Song
Behind the scenes
- Bilbo is the main character of The Hobbit, and has a smaller role in The Lord of the Rings.
- Ian Holm played Bilbo in Peter Jackson's film trilogy of The Lord of the Rings.
- Orson Bean voiced Bilbo in the animated version of The Hobbit.
- Martin Freeman will portray Bilbo in the three-part Hobbit film adaptation.
- The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Return of the King
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
- The Hobbit: There and Back Again