How many times have you heard "You shall not pass!" referenced and parodied in pop culture? It's an iconic line from an iconic franchise that marked a turning point in cinema.
The Lord of the Rings will forever be a special film franchise. Never before had a big screen production captured what fantasy writers had so thoroughly written about in their books.
And coming from a writer as brilliant as J. R. R. Tolkien, it's no surprise that these films have so many more great quotes.
Here are my picks for the best Lord of the Rings movie quotes. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are even memes! But they're all great in their own ways. Did your favorites make the list?
12. "I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone." (Arwen)
There's a lot of magic, adventure, and conflict throughout The Lord of the Rings as two Hobbits make their way to Mordor to destroy the One Ring while the rest of the gang fights off Orcs.
Tolkien was more focused on friendship than romance in his novels, but they still feature a prominent love story.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, we're introduced to Arwen—an angelic Elf who gives up her immortality to be with her human lover Aragorn.
Against her father's wishes, Arwen sacrifices her Elven life to stay with Aragorn, something she was already set on in the first movie when she delivered this impassioned line.
Played by Liv Tyler and Viggo Mortensen, the war-torn lovers don't have a lot of screen time together, but they're always dreaming of each other.
11. "Death is just another path, one that we all must take." (Gandalf)
Most of the best quotes from The Lord of the Rings come from Gandalf, perfectly portrayed by Ian McKellen. It makes sense since he's a wise, omniscient wizard who's there to educate and motivate everyone else!
We were shocked when Gandalf fell to his death in the first movie, sacrificing himself to a Balrog so that the Fellowship could escape. When we meet him again in The Two Towers, Gandalf has reincarnated as an even more powerful wizard.
Tolkien infused Middle-earth with a divine quality where the spiritual and the physical overlap. When Gandalf says that death isn't really the end but just another path, he means it literally! And that gives us and the characters some peace of mind.
10. "There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for." (Sam)
Although Sam wouldn't have been strong enough to carry the One Ring himself, he plays a crucial role in getting Frodo there.
Elijah Wood and Sean Astin play the Hobbit besties navigating Mordor barefoot (ouch), and by the end of The Two Towers, Frodo has all but lost his will and sense of purpose.
Luckily, Sam is always there for a pep talk. At the end of the second movie, he delivers a grand monologue about the good of man:
"It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy?
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass."
9. "What about second breakfast?" (Pippin)
Any grand tale about evil, darkness, and war needs to be balanced with some comic relief. In The Lord of the Rings, that often comes from Merry and Pippin, the two innocent and naïve Hobbits played by Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd.
More so than Frodo and Sam, this duo embodies all it means to be a Hobbit: earthly, habitual, simplistic, and child-like.
Life on the road, therefore, comes as quite a shock to Merry and Pippin. Before they can grasp the gravity of the situation, the Hobbits are more worried about what's for tea than the evil shadow men on their tail.
This is summed up when Pippin asks "What about second breakfast?"—a line that loves to pop up in home décor stores.
8. "I am no man." (Éowyn)
Despite being written in the 1950s, The Lord of the Rings features several strong female characters.
When we first meet Arwen, she out-chases a clan of Ringwraiths and saves Frodo's life. Next is the almighty Elf queen Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett. Then, there's Éowyn, the noblewoman of Rohan, portrayed by Miranda Otto.
In the same way Arwen goes against her father's wish to leave Aragorn, Éowyn doesn't listen to what the men tell her to do. Despite all her sword training and dedication, Éowyn is ordered not to fight in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields—but does so anyway, in disguise.
Thanks to Éowyn, the Lord of the Nazgûl is finally killed. "You fool. No man can kill me," the Witch-king says to her before she famously removes her helmet, replies "I am no man," and stabs him in the face. Now that's some medieval girl power!
7. "Shall I describe it to you? Or would you like me to find you a box?" (Legolas)
The second duo to provide the most comic relief is Legolas and Gimli, the Elf and Dwarf played by Orlando Bloom and John Rhys-Davies. The two spend the whole trilogy trying to one-up each other despite the fact Legolas always wins...
The parkour Elf glides smoothly in combat while Gimli stumbles, and the two keep a competitive kill count amid the world-ending chaos.
The two races have a history of making fun of each other, even when on the verge of destruction—like in this scene when Legolas makes a sarcastic dig at Gimli's height, who can't see over the castle wall.
6. "One does not simply walk into Mordor." (Boromir)
When the Fellowship first gathers to discuss plans for the One Ring, the head Elf explains that the Ring can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, where it was created.
Boromir (Sean Bean) replies that this is no simple task, and it all devolves into a large argument until eventually Frodo stands up and offers to "walk into Mordor" for them.
In the history of all memes, this one's a classic. The "One does not simply..." image macro took the internet by storm in the early 2000s and has been toyed with in thousands of ways. It definitely makes it hard to take this scene seriously on rewatch!
5. "I'm glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee. Here at the end of all things." (Frodo)
There are so many moments in The Lord of the Rings that can bring tears to your eye, but this one's way up there!
Long after they've left the Shire, Sam and Frodo are near the end of their journey—and after all the trauma they've experienced, they realize this is probably the end for them. The world is saved, but they're stuck now.
It's an arduous journey that took over nine hours of screen time (or twelve hours in the Extended Cuts), and Frodo spent most of that time with Sam, who refused to leave him no matter what anyone said—not even when Frodo himself told him to.
With the One Ring destroyed and the world no longer on the brink of destruction, Frodo thanks Sam for his friendship with the highest compliment anyone could ever give. Together to the very end.
4. "I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!" (Sam)
The journey to Mount Doom was never going to be easy. Walking nearly 2,000 miles through snow, marshes, and spider caves is hard enough, let alone the Horcrux-type ring of misery around your neck.
But at the base of Mount Doom, Frodo collapses from exhaustion and appears to give up. But Sam is there by his side—not just to offer words of encouragement, but to physically lift him up and carry him.
"Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam," Frodo says in an earlier scene. And he's right! Even though Sam couldn't carry Frodo's burden, he could carry him to the finish line.
3. "What about side-by-side with a friend?" (Legolas)
For all the mocking banter shared between Legolas and Gimli, they do end up becoming close friends over time. They fight multiple battles and save hundreds of lives together, led by the future King of Gondor.
Tolkien's heavy focus on friendship comes in many forms: Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, the Fellowship as a whole. But most unlikely—and also sweetest—in Legolas and Gimli.
As the two stand together before the final battle, poised and prepared for death, Gimli says: "Never thought I'd die fighting side-by-side with an Elf." To which Legolas replies: "What about side-by-side with a friend?"
Race and rivalry matter no more as the two face the end together. "Aye, I could do that," Gimli says. Cue the tears.
2. "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." (Gandalf)
Who could offer better life advice than a wizard?
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo confides in his magical friend that he wishes "none of this had happened."
Gandalf, insightful as ever, replies: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
Although we might not be facing down Orcs or the apocalypse, but we all have our own battles in life. It can be easy to wish away the past and wallow in pain and curse our situations.
But we can also remember Gandalf's empowering words. While we can't control what happens to us, we can choose how to respond to it!
1. "You shall not pass!" (Gandalf)
You knew this one would be at the top, didn't you? It's the most famous line from the entire franchise, after all.
This scene occurs towards the end of the first movie, when the Fellowship is chased through a giant tomb where Orcs fester. When a Balrog wielding a whip of fire attacks them, Gandalf sacrifices himself to protect the rest of his party and buy them escape.
What you might not know about this quote is that it originated in France! The French battle cry, popularized during World War I, was screamed at enemies before attack: "On ne passe pas!" ("They shall not pass!")
It appeared as a war slogan on various posters, although it's unconfirmed whether Tolkien intentionally referenced it or not.