About 5 minutes into 'The Fellowship of the Ring', we see Déagol picking up the Ring from the bottom of the swamp where Isildur died, and the narrator says

The ring came to the creature Gollum.

But doesn't Gollum only exist after Sméagol has been corrupted by the Ring? Or was he corrupted before he got the ring?


2 Answers 2


I think it was worded that way for pragmatic reasons. Peter Jackson didn't want to tell the story of Sméagol until after the character Gollum was established. In The Fellowship of the Ring, the viewer is intended to see Gollum as a sort of beast. In The Two Towers, he has a much larger role and seems sort of halfway between beast and person, but a viewer who has not read the books is still unlikely to guess that he is a corrupted hobbit. The Return of the King opens with the story of Sméagol and Déagol to shed new light on who Gollum is, where he came from, why the Ring means so much to him, and what kind of influence the Ring wields over him. It is a bit of a shocking scene; the shock would not be nearly as strong if the viewer already knew Gollum's origin.

So, in the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring, that Gollum was once a hobbit named Sméagol is an extraneous detail. While "the Ring came to Gollum" is an oversimplification, it was a necessary one; it told the viewer what he needed to know at that point in the story and no more.

  • How is this handled in the books?
    – Mazura
    Aug 4, 2017 at 18:13
  • Even if the narrator said "the Ring came to Sméagol", it would still have been condensing the story: as the OP pointed out, we see Déagol's hand grab the Ring as this is being said. The narrator skips over Déagol, the first one to find the Ring. So when the narrator says "the Ring came to Gollum", the narrator simply skips over both Déagol and Sméagol, and condenses the story up to the point where Gollum owned the Ring.
    – Flater
    Feb 21, 2018 at 9:30

If you listen carefully to prologue it's like this.

History became legend, legend became myth, and for two and a half thousand years, the Ring passed out of all knowledge. Until, when chance came, it ensnared a new bearer.

While above lines are spoken it's shown that a hand grabs the ring out of riverbed.

If you look closely it's not Gollum's hand. It's a healthy hobbit hand.

healthy hand

The next scene starts with following.

The Ring came to the creature Gollum, who took it deep into the tunnels of the Misty Mountains. And there, it consumed him.

Now it's a gnarled, twisted and filthy hand.

filthy hand

Spoiler Ahead ( contains beginning of third part of LOTR )

So first it was Déagol who took ring out of riverbed.
Then Déagol and Sméagol fought over it where Sméagol killed Déagol.
Followed by ring corrupting Sméagol mind to make him Gollum.

So the statement The ring came to the creature Gollum. is a way of saying it was then obtained by Gollum

Galadriel voiceover script

  • 2
    I think the OP is pondering the semantics of how the ring could have come to Gollum, since until he has it, he's still Sméagol. It's a catch-22, and I wonder how the book words it, and if it's only for our benefit to keep the characters straight in the movie. Also, that 'spoiler' is only in the extended version, IIRC. More like, The ring came to Sméagol, who became the creature Gollum. But it's wording like that as to why I can't make it though the book...
    – Mazura
    Jul 30, 2017 at 7:26
  • @Mazura: I haven't read the book, so I don't know what phrase is being used there. As in the movie The ring came to the creature Gollum. means it was obtained by Gollum which is a cliffhanger story between how it was taken from river and who was Gollum. Which is what spoiler consists of.
    – Rahul
    Jul 30, 2017 at 8:41
  • Right, my bad. Spoiler is the beginning of #3. My vote is, instantaneously. So the narrator was not mistaken. (+1, you've already got the pics, but that's the relevant video)
    – Mazura
    Jul 30, 2017 at 9:16
  • @Mazura: Your counter is equally wrong. The Ring came to Déagol, he's the one who finds it. When you say that the Ring came to Sméagol, you're skipping over Déagol, as his involvement is not relevant in the current context. Similarly, to the narrator, both Déagol and Sméagol are irrelevant to the context. The narrator basically said "and after a lot of back and forth, Gollum ended up as the long term owner of the Ring". Which is a condensed summary, but adequately correct for the story that is being told.
    – Flater
    Feb 21, 2018 at 9:36

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