Why Goblins Are Middle-earth’s Biggest Misconception

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings is known for its faithfulness to the books, but the movies make a big mistake with their portrayal of goblins.

While having to condense huge novels into just three hours of film, Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth adaptations stay as true to Tolkien’s work as possible. From the stature of the Hobbits to the immaculate appearance of the Elves, the films do a wonderful job of bringing the fantasy world to life. However, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit The trilogies both make a huge mistake by participating in one of the most common misconceptions about Middle-earth – the true identity of the goblins.

In modern literature and popular games such as Dungeons and Dragons, the goblin race all follow similar characteristics. They are often small, bony, whiny little creatures that are not intelligent but can be overwhelmed by their numbers. But while this depiction was mirrored on Middle-earth species, Tolkien’s version of the Goblins was described differently, actually being a translation of the word Orc.


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In The Hobbit novel, the term Goblin is used several times, notably in the Misty Mountains where Bilbo finds Gollum. Corn The Lord of the Rings revealed that Orcs and Goblins are one and the same, and their descriptions often went back and forth between the two. For example, as Saruman creates his army of Uruk-hai in Isengard, they are first described as “four taller goblin soldiers”, though later a stronger race of Orc.

Tolkien was known for creating entire languages ​​for his world, with each race having its own dialect. The Hobbits being heavily inspired by the people of the British countryside, they always spoke in decent English. And because of that, Orc was translated into goblin, like The HobbitThe preface of reads: “Orc is not an English word. It appears in one or two places [in The Hobbit] but is usually translated goblin.”


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Despite this, it’s easy to assume that goblins and orcs are completely different species, and that’s exactly the mistake Peter Jackson made. For the first trilogy, the one and only appearance of the Goblins took place during The Fellowship of the Ring when, as the Fellowship escaped through the mines of Moria, swarms of humanoid creatures crawled from the great pillars and surrounded them. Their design is noticeably different from any Orcs seen throughout the trilogy, showing that they were meant to be their own race.

Originally, you might have assumed that these goblins of Moria were just another type of Orc – those who adapted to life underground in the mines. But with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Travel, it is clear that goblins were seen as totally different. Their home and designs seen in Goblin Town are very different from anything Orcs have, more closely resembling the modern depiction of Goblins. The villainous Azog is another example of misinterpretation because, in The Hobbit trilogy, Gandalf originally refers to him as “Azog the Goblin”. However, all the other characters call him a “great Orc” and his design is different from the creatures in Goblin Town.


While this misinterpretation may surprise some fans, it’s an easy mistake to make. Tolkien goes back and forth between Orc and Goblin throughout his books, leading the reader to assume he is talking about two different species. Jackson did his best to adapt such dense source material – it’s just a shame that the Goblins were one of the few things that got lost in translation.

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