- "I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can't turn back. It isn't to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want – I don't rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire."
- —The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Shortcut to Mushrooms"
Samwise Gamgee, also known as Sam, was a Hobbit of the Shire. He was Frodo Baggins' gardener and best friend. Sam proved himself to be Frodo's closest and most dependable companion, the most loyal of the Fellowship of the Ring, and also played a necessary role in protecting Frodo and destroying the One Ring.
- "The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t."
- —The Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol"
Sam was the youngest son of Hamfast and Bell Gamgee, and had many brothers and sisters. A gardener by trade, Sam seemed to be a simple Hobbit of plain speech. However, his love for Elves, his gift for poetry, and his belief that the world contains greater wonders than most hobbits were aware of (all nurtured by his tutor Bilbo Baggins) set him apart from the beginning. It was Sam who first introduced (in Tolkien's novels) the theme of the Elves sailing from Middle-earth, a subtle foreshadowing of Bilbo and Frodo's final journey across the sea from the Grey Havens. He lived with his father, Hamfast Gamgee, known as "The Gaffer", on Bagshot Row in the Shire, close to Bag End. Sam's mother was Bell Goodchild. He had five siblings: Hamson, Halfred, Daisy, May, and Marigold.
Quest of the Ring
As "punishment" for eavesdropping on Gandalf's conversation with Frodo regarding the dangers of the One Ring, Gandalf chose Sam be Frodo's companion on his journey to Rivendell. Sam saved Frodo's life more than once during the quest to destroy the Ring, and accompanied him all the way to Mount Doom (Orodruin).
After Shelob attacked and seemingly killed Frodo, Sam took the Ring, intending to complete the quest on his own. Because he held the Ring for a time, he was considered one of the Ring-bearers and during the time he possessed it the Ring tempted him with visions of a great garden all for himself. Being humble, Sam never gave into the treacherous visions and temptations of the Ring, and returned it when he discovered Frodo alive in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. He and Bilbo were the only ones ever to have given up the ring willingly, and only Sam surrendered it readily.
When Orcs took Frodo's body, Sam overheard one of them saying that Frodo was still alive, so he followed the Orcs into the Tower of Cirith Ungol, determined to rescue Frodo. Once there he found that competing bands of Uruks and Morgul Orcs had rioted and killed one another over the possession of Frodo's Mithril coat, thus making it easier for Sam to get to Frodo and escape the tower with him.
Sam and Frodo made their way to Mount Doom, disguised as Orcs along the way. The way to Mount Doom was filled with fiery rocks and pillows of ash which made it almost impossible for the hobbits to pass. When Frodo collapsed from weakness, Sam carried him up the slopes of Mount Doom, only to be stopped by Gollum. Sam delayed Gollum while Frodo walked on to the volcano. As Sam, following Frodo, reached and entered the door of the Sammath Naur he didn't notice Gollum following behind. Sam yelled for Frodo to destroy the Ring, but Frodo was overcome by its power and claimed the Ring for himself, putting it on his finger and disappearing from Sam's sight. Just then Gollum attacked Sam, who fell and hit his head on a rock, temporarily knocking him unconscious. When he came to he saw Gollum fighting with an unseen foe (Frodo, having put on the Ring). Then Gollum bit off Frodo's finger, Ring and all, and was reunited with his treasure for a short time, until dancing with joy he toppled off the brink and fell into the depths, destroying the One Ring, and him dying in the process with it.
The two hobbits tried to escape as the volcano erupted. Just as it looked as though they were doomed, Gwaihir the Lord of Eagles saw them, and with his Eagle companions Landroval and Meneldor rescued Sam and Frodo and flew them to safety. Eventually, the hobbits returned to the Shire and settled there once again.
After the War of the Ring
After the War of the Ring and the end of the Third Age, Sam married Rose (Rosie) Cotton. They had thirteen children: Elanor the Fair, Frodo, Rose, Merry, Pippin, Goldilocks, Hamfast, Daisy, Primrose, Bilbo, Ruby, Robin, and Tolman. When Frodo Baggins announced that he was leaving to the Undying Lands, west of Middle-earth, he gave Sam the Red Book of Westmarch and the household of Bag End where he and his large personal family later called the Gardners would live for many years. After Will Whitfoot resigned his post as Mayor of Michel Delving, in SR 1427, Sam was elected Mayor of the Shire for seven consecutive 7-year terms.
After his wife died in the year 61 of the Fourth Age (SR 1482), Sam entrusted the Red Book to his daughter, Elanor and left the Shire. It is a tradition handed down from Elanor that he went to the Grey Havens, and because he was also a Ring-bearer (albeit for a short time), he was allowed to pass over the Sea to be reunited with Frodo in the Undying Lands.
Tolkien took the name from Gamgee Tissue, a surgical dressing invented by a 19th century Birmingham surgeon called Joseph Sampson Gamgee. "Gamgee" became the colloquial name in Birmingham for cotton wool; Tolkien described why he had chosen that name for his character:
- "The choice of Gamgee was primarily directed by alliteration; but I did not invent it. It was caught out of childhood memory, as a comic word or name. It was in fact the name when I was small (in Birmingham) for 'cotton-wool'. (Hence the association of the Gamgees with the Cottons.) I knew nothing of its origin."
- —The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Humphrey Carpenter
It is possible that Tolkien may have subconsciously recalled Dr. Gamgee (who died in 1886 but is commemorated by a plaque at the Birmingham Medical Institute, only yards from Tolkien's childhood home) but he claimed to be genuinely surprised when, in March 1956, he received a letter from one Sam Gamgee, who had heard that his name was in The Lord of the Rings but had not read the book. Tolkien replied on March 18:
- "Dear Mr. Gamgee, it was very kind of you to write. You can imagine my astonishment when I saw your signature! I can only say, for your comfort, I hope, that the 'Sam Gamgee' of my story is a most heroic character, now widely beloved by many readers, even though his origins are rustic. So that perhaps you will not be displeased at the coincidence of the name of this imaginary character of supposedly many centuries ago being the same as yours."
- —The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. Humphrey Carpenter
He proceeded to send Mr. Gamgee a signed copy of all three volumes of the book. However, the incident sparked a nagging worry in Tolkien's mind, as he recorded in his journal:
- "For some time I lived in fear of receiving a letter signed 'S. Gollum'. That would have been more difficult to deal with."
- —Tolkien: A Biography, Humphrey Carpenter
In the Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien tells us that the Westron form of Sam's name is Banazîr Galbasi (also spelled Galpsi). Banazîr comes from elements meaning "halfwise" or "simple"; Tolkien replaced it with Samwise, a modernization of the ancient English samwís which corresponds closely in meaning. Galbasi comes from the name of the village Galabas. The name Galabas uses the elements galab-, meaning "game", and bas-, corresponding somewhat to "-wich" or "-wick". Tolkien's English translation, Samwís Gamwich, could have come to Samwise Gamgee in modern English. Sam is also known as Perhael in Sindarin.
Many regard Sam Gamgee as the "true hero" of Tolkien's story. Tolkien himself expressed this view in one of his letters: Sam was referred to as the "chief hero", and special emphasis is placed on Sam's "rustic love" for Rosie.  The quest to destroy the Ring only succeeds because of Sam, who repeatedly saves Frodo from disaster (such as rescuing him at Cirith Ungol and carrying him up Mount Doom). He was one of only two Ring-bearers strong enough to surrender the Ring voluntarily. Even then, he is the only one strong enough to surrender it voluntarily and easily.
The relationship between Frodo and Sam was, in many respects, at the centre of The Lord of the Rings. To the modern reader, it seems archaic - it is clearly extremely class-oriented: Sam's humbleness and "plain speaking" is frequently emphasized in contrast to Frodo's "gentility", and he often shows deference to Frodo, calling him "Mister Frodo". At the same time, a strong bond of love and trust grows between them, portrayed most poignantly during the events of Cirith Ungol, where Sam vows to return to his (apparently) dead master, to be reunited with Frodo in death.
Tolkienologists regard Sam as Frodo's batman. In the British Army, a batman was an orderly who acted as the personal servant of an officer. It was a role with which Tolkien (who served as an Army officer in the First World War) would have been extremely familiar. Sam undertakes all of the typical roles of a batman - he runs errands for Frodo, he cooks, he transports him (or at least carries him), and he carries his luggage. Tolkien confirmed this interpretation when he wrote in a private letter that:
- "My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself"
- —J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, page 89, ed. Humphrey Carpenter.
- "Then you know that Sam was the true hero of the tale. That he faced far greater and more terrible foes than he ever should have had to face, and did so with courage. That he went alone into a black and terrible land, stormed a dark fortress, and resisted the most terrible temptation of his world for the sake of the friend that he loved. That in the end, it was his actions and his actions alone that made it possible for light to overcome darkness"
- —Sanya, offering his thoughts on Samwise Gamgee's role in The Lord of the Rings to Harry Dresden in Changes by Jim Butcher
In the books
In the movies
Portrayals in adaptations
Roddy McDowall voiced the character of Samwise Gamgee in the 1980 animated short of The Return of the King, made directly for television. In the more popular animated version, originally released in 1978, Michael Scholes voiced the character.
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
In the Peter Jackson movies The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Sam was played by Sean Astin. It is not clear whether Astin had heard Nighy's radio performance, but both actors bring very similar characterizations and accents to the role.
The Hobbit film trilogy
The latest news concerning The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is that that both Astin and Elijah Wood will be reprising their roles as Sam and Frodo.
- Sam appeared as a playable character in the action adventure video games The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003) both games follow Peter Jackson's Rings Movie Trilogy and the games were made by New Line Cinema (owned by Warner Bros.) published by EA Games and licensed by various companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. Each RingsTrilogy actor reprised their original role and added voice to the character in the game. Sean Astin reprises his role of Samwise Gamgee from the films for the video game.
- Sam appeared once again in the video game The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest but as the narrator of the story of the War of the Third Age as Sam is telling the story to his children after Frodo left Middle-Earth. Sean Astin once again reprises his role as Samwise Gamgee
Sam uses a short Barrow-blade for melee combat in books, movies and video games, but for a time after Frodo was attacked by Shelob and sent to the Tower of Cirith Ungol, Sam used Frodo's sword Sting to rescue him and more.
Sam uses his frying pan in Balin's Tomb as a weapon alongside his barrow-blade.
Sam can use rocks to hit opponents from a distance, however that is not their only purpose in the book (Frodo). In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game), he uses throwing knives instead of rocks.
Voice dubbing actors
|Foreign Language||Voice dubbing artist|
|Japanese||Shingo Yatsuda (谷田 真吾)|
|Korean (SBS TV Edition)||Sang Bum Lee (이상범)|
|French (France)||Christophe Lemoine|
|Spanish (Latin America)||Irwin Daayán|
|Spanish (Spain)||David Jenner|
|Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD)||Wendel Bezerra|
|Russian||Gennaduy Karpov (Геннадий Карпов)|
|Mandarian Chinese (China / Taiwan)||Tian Bo (田 波)|
|Cantonese Chinese (Hong Kong)||Chen Jian Hao (陳健豪)|
|Thai||Suphap Chaiwisutthikun (สุภาพ ไชยวิสุทธิกุล) (Kapook)|
Wanchai Paowiboon (วันชัย เผ่าวิบูลย์) (Channel 7)
|Arabic (MBC TV Edition)||????|
Translations around the World
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Portuguese (Brazil)||Samwise "Sam" Gamgi|
|Spanish (Spain and Latin America)||Samsagaz "Sam" Gamyi|
|Italian||Samvise "Sam" Gamgee|
|French||Samsagace "Sam" Gamegie|
|German||Samweis "Sam" Gamdschie|
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- ↑ The Lord of the Rings
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "Later Events concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring"
- ↑ The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, In the long summary-letter sent to Milton Waldman, published in as in Letter 131.
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F: Family Trees (Hobbits), II: On Translation