The world waited with bated breath when The Rings of Power was set to drop a whole 20 years after we'd watched Frodo and Sam complete their journey to Mount Doom and cast the One Ring into the fires.
Audiences were ready to head back to Middle-Earth and meet up with some old friends, maybe even see some new faces.
The Rings of Power immediately became one of the most-watched Amazon Prime Video series of all time, with fans desperate to sink their teeth into the show's extravagance.
Over the first season, we found ourselves in the company of characters we'd known from prior films, plus some that we'd only have known if we'd read all of Tolkien's side material.
Some of those characters stand out as more fleshed-out and compelling than others, of course. Here are my picks for the best characters in The Rings of Power and why they're so great.
5. Prince Durin
Durin is the Dwarf who would eventually come into contact with the mighty Balrog in Moria—and lose his life trying to kill it.
However, until that scene comes to pass, we have the character in this series to help push the story of The Rings of Power forward, and he does a great job of it.
The Prince of Moria has to contend with many issues throughout his time on the show and he has significant doubts about his father's rule, which brings about the waking of the Balrog.
He's one of the most interesting characters in the series, with a performance by Owain Arthur to match the writing in his scenes.
Durin's best scene: When Durin finally confronts his father about why he should trust Elrond and save the Elves, their verbal clash is titanic, with Durin losing his title as Prince because of it.
Elrond is one of the most famous characters in the saga, played by Hugo Weaving in the original films. To see him as a younger, ambitious Elf with a different temperament? An experience to behold.
Robert Aramayo gives life to the younger Elrond, showing flaws that Weaving's incarnation didn't have, and the character is used to set up the events that led to Gandalf's eventual fall in the Mines of Moria.
Lord Elrond has one of the most important arcs in the show. Seeing it unfold while knowing what kind of Elf he would inevitably become is one of the most intriguing aspects of the series.
Elrond's best scene: When Elrond attempts to beat Durin in a rock-cracking competition, the effort he puts in to defeat the experienced Dwarf is a lot of fun to watch.
The story of Halbrand is one that the whole series pinned its hopes on. For everything else that happens throughout the show, he's the one character who has the biggest twist.
When he reveals his true nature to Galadriel, Halbrand shows that his story was something audiences should've picked up on beforehand.
The whole first season is designed around the way he moves, which is the twist because of his relationship with Galadriel.
In the end, Halbrand is fun to watch, but the reveal turns the series into something more akin to what audiences have seen before.
Halbrand's best scene: The revelation of his true character is hard to beat, as Galadriel sees Halbrand for what he is through a series of visions that he places in her head.
2. Gandalf (The Stranger)
When he landed in the series (quite literally), there was debate over the identity of the one known only as the Stranger.
Some were convinced it was Sauron. Others claimed he might be Saruman. For the rest of us, we believed him to be our beloved Gandalf—and by season's end, it became clear we were right.
Thanks to the work done by Sir Ian McKellen over the past two decades, Gandalf is the character whom fans hold closest to their hearts. Obviously, The Rings of Power without him would feel wrong.
Daniel Weyman takes the role and makes it something new, away from the wisdom of McKellen's iconic character and into a different kind of Gandalf for a new generation of LOTR fans.
Gandalf's best scene: Though Gandalf has many displays of power throughout the first season, it's the way he tells Nori to "follow your nose" in the last episode that hits the warmest.
As the star of the series, Galadriel had so much weight to carry in connecting the various stories that were told in different parts, first with the Elves and second with the Southlands.
Through it all, Morfydd Clark was excellent as the Elf who would one day help Frodo on his path to Mordor. But Clark's was a younger Galadriel, one who chose to fight and push her way to finding Sauron, even though we all knew her task would fail.
Galadriel is the anchor to the show, the character with whom audiences could instantly connect.
Up until now, we'd only known Galadriel as the one brilliantly played by Cate Blanchett. That was to Clark's benefit, who made the character her own while not stepping on what Blanchett achieved.
Galadriel's best scene: When Galadriel has bested her foe in the Southlands and captured Adar, we see the dynamic between the two shift several times in the interrogation sequence - which showcases the instability she feels in the first season perfectly.