I realize that some of this can be pieced together through recurring characters of the movies, but I wonder if anyone knows how long the different races are supposed to live?

What is the average life expectancy of:

  • Dwarves?
  • Men?
  • Hobbits?
  • Elves?
  • Wizards?
  • Orcs?
  • Uruk-Hai?
  • Goblins?

I'm trying to figure out the relative ages of characters who appear in both films, how much time has passed, and how many of them are close to the limits of their mortality by the end of "The Return of the King"?

  • 1
    Hmm, elves are immortal, the wizards (if you mean guys like Gandalf and Saruman) are even higher beings existing before the world was created (and in some way pretty near to classical polyteistic gods) and thus likely immortal, too. Hobbits I'd say are pretty much like men (from our world), it was only the ring that gave Bilbo his unnatural age of more than 111. With men it already gets difficult. While "normal" men have pretty much our life expentancy, men with Numenorian ancestors (like Aragorn) can get deep into the hundreds.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 0:05
  • 1
    For a start, orcs and goblins are the same. For a second, there's nowhere near enough information in the films to answer this question: you'll need to look to the books (start with the Doom of Man). (Lord of the Rings Appendix B might be particularly useful. It's the Tale of Years.)
    – TRiG
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 0:06
  • That being said, the literary base material in this case provides pretty accurate timelines for many events and can probably provide a much better estimate of this than some home-grown approximation based on life expectancies.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 0:07
  • Well, Aragorn had not only the blood of Westernesse, but also that of elves and Maia. The royal blood is a special case, even among Numenorians.
    – TRiG
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 0:07
  • 3
    Wouldn't this question be better suited for scifi.stackexchange.com ..?
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 0:10

3 Answers 3


Using only the movies as source material...

Elves are immortal.

Gandalf says just before he goes to find Eomer: "Three hundred lives of men I have walked this earth and now I have no time." Even if men live only 50 years or so, 300×50 is 15,000.

Bilbo was Eleventy-One at his party, and he was considered "well-aged".

And let's not forget Treebeard, the Ent, referred to "young master Gandalf", so just imagine how old he is.

(This is a partial answer, at least. The movies don't really cover this. There's much more in the books, of course.)

If you're interested in information from the source material:


Gimli supposedly accompanied Legolas to the West in the year 3141 making him 262 years old. Appendix A in The Return of the King shows the descendents of Durin commonly living past 200 years old. Gimli was about 140 at the time of the War of the Ring.


Typical of modern humans, but Men of Numenorean blood lived much longer. Aragorn, for instance, lived to be 210, and was 88 at the time of the War of the Ring.


A little bit more than Men. Bilbo surpassed the Old Took who lived to 130. He was 51 when the events of The Hobbit took place.

Most of the Hobbits I see in Bilbo's family tree (Appendix C) lived between 80 and 100 years old for the most part.


Elves are immortal, for they have not received the Gift of Men. (Or the Doom of Men as some Men call it.)


They first appear in the Third Age.

When maybe a thousand years had passed, and the first shadow had fallen on Greenwood the Great, the Istari or Wizards appeared in Middle-earth...

They came therefore in the shape of Men, though they were never young and aged only slowly...

(Source: The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B)

So Gandalf, Saruman and peers show up about year 1000 and Gandalf departs to the West in 3021. It is unknown if Wizards are mortal or how old they can actually be.

No mention is made in the books as to how old orcs can live, assuming they don't die a violent death first, which is really more likely.

All that said, though, the movies deviate quite a bit from the books. In the books, Frodo lives for years in Bag End after Bilbo departs. In the movies, it's scant months.

  • Hobbits also came 'of age' at 33, so older than people today - implying their lifespan is longer but not drastically longer than man.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 4:50
  • 1
    @iandotkelly Is this said in the movie? Given that the movie seems to present the Hobbits in their 20s/30s instead of their 50s (and ignored the passage of 20 years after Bilbo's birthday) I don't think so.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 12:06
  • In the tower of Cirith Ungol a bit of orcish dialogue suggests, ambiguously, that some living Orcs remember the war with Elendil (“the Great Siege”). This would be consistent with the hypothesis that the first Orcs were Elves corrupted by torture. Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 8:32

Bilbo's age of 111 was not all that unusual. It would be like modern humans reaching 100. Somewhat uncommon, but nowhere near unheard of.

What would be unnatural, and part of the rings influence, was how he LOOKED at 111. Note in the movies that when he gave up the ring to Frodo he aged quite suddenly after that.

While I cannot speak to the authenticity according to canon, there is a chart of life expectancy of Middle Earth denizens at this link, which also states Elves and Ainur are immortal.

  • Awesome! someone has finally risen above the debate and answered this! Thanks JohnP Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 15:14
  • Yes, but that uses the book for source material. This information wasn't included in the movies.
    – Wrathchild
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 15:26
  • @Wrathchild - So...because I use an ultimately canonical reference to answer the base question of "what is the life expectancy", it's invalid? The OP did not specify only movie references, which would make it nearly impossible to guesstimate.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 15:29
  • 1
    Yet while providing valuable information the whole first part of this answer doesn't really answer the complete question at all and seems simply comment to another comment. The only actual answer is the link given at the end, which you might want to elaborate a bit more on.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 15:53
  • 1
    Risen above what debate, @JohnSmithOptional?
    – TRiG
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 15:56

Tolkiens expanded Books give a more detailed account of life expectancy...

  1. Men/Human: 80-100 years (dependent on health, fitness permitting), However Men of Valar loyalty; were blessed with extended lifespans triple that of normal men (300-400 years) Half Elvens who chose mortality, also added to the health of longer lasting bloodlines (Elros lived to be 500)
  2. Elves: Immortal: Lifespans are technically "Indefinite" however they are not totally immune to the ravages of time, they may grow weary of life and lose "will to live"
  3. Dwarves: 250 approximately, Thorin was 195, Gimli 139 when in the Fellowship
  4. Hobbits: 100 years, with 50 being......prime adult age.
  5. Wizards: Istari are in actuality "Maiar" thus they are Immortal, however they take on the physical attributes of human form, so it's not seen if they "Age" but apparently do.
  6. Ainur (Maiar, Valar) Immortal
  7. Ents: Thousands of years (However a majority of their time is spent inert)
  8. Eagles: Unknown, but possibly thousands of years old (Possibly immortal as they may be maiar in beast form)

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