If you’re gonna go see ‘The Hobbit’ in theaters next week (which if you aren’t, you need to seriously re-evaluate your life priorities), you’ll need some help memorizing some of the main characters’ names. There are a lot of them. Especially dwarves. And they all look the same and have weird dwarvish names.
But first things first. “Dwarves” is spelled with a ‘v’ – not “dwarfs” with an ‘f.’ It’s a Tolkien thing. If you wanna be cool while talking about multiple dwarves, don’t ever say that ‘f.’ EVER. You’ll be cast out to Mordor by your cosplaying Gandalf friends.
Next, you gotta learn all the dwarves’ names as a group so if anyone ever asks you “what are the names of all the dwarves from ‘The Hobbit’?” you’ll be like “bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam and BAM – in your FACE!” So here we go!
13 dwarves in all (in the order that they are introduced in the book and most likely the movie as well): Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Thorin. If you can say all of those in one go already without looking, you’re pretty groovy. If you can’t, keep reading and picture the following story:
Imagine you’re facing a wall with a big painted ‘D‘ on it (“d-wall” – Dwalin), when suddenly a ball comes flying out of nowhere and slams into the wall (“ball” – Balin). As it hits the wall, the ball hits and kills a flea (“kills” – Kili; “flea” – Fili). The wall then turns into a door (“door” – Dori). As you walk through this door, you are nose-up, ignoring everything around you, even all the gold and ore (“ignoring” – Nori; “ore” – Ori) shining around you. You trip suddenly and shout “Oi!” as you hit yourself in the groin by accident (“oi” – Oin; “groin” – Gloin). As you get back up, you wave bye to a furry creature (“bye fur” – Bifur) that is puffing (“puff” – Bofur) on a bomb that is being lit. Finally the bomb rolls right in front of you and explodes (“bomb” – Bombur) as you see Thor laughing in the distance (“Thor” – Thorin).
Ok, now for the juicy stuff. While the action is going on on screen, you wanna be able to recognize and name each dwarf so that you can annoyingly whisper to your friends throughout the movie, things like “that’s Bifur, did you know that?” and “isn’t Bombur such a fatty? Oh Bombur, you fatty.” So let’s go through them all, one-by-one. If you don’t understand what I’m doing below, read up on my older blog post on how to memorize names. The quick recap is as follows: come up with an association between the name and a distinguishing feature of the person, or in this case, dwarf.
Dwalin is the only dwarf who’s partially bald. He also has a tattoo etched into his cranium (you can’t see it in this photo, but he does). So his distinguishing feature will be his bare dome. The name Dwalin sounds like “wall” so imagine him using his bare skull to barge down a wall. He also looks like a bad-ass, and bad-asses are always head-butting people into walls, right? Yup.
Balin is pretty easy to recognize because he is the oldest of all the dwarfs, and he looks it. In terms of a distinguishing feature, he’s the only dwarf with a grey/white, un-braided beard. Just a straight-up, cool, old man beard. The name Balin reminds me of a “ball,” so picture a ball being thrown into his big, big fluffy beard and it just landing – poof – all soft and cushiony. Fun fact: Balin is Dwalin’s older brother. Not-so-fun fact: Balin is the same dwarf that’s buried in the tomb that the fellowship finds in the Mines of Moria (in LOTR). I think he got shot by Orcs. Bummer.
Kili is one of the youngest and the least dwarf-looking of all of them. He’s also got the shortest, lamest, most non-existant dwarf beard (he looks like me after a few days of not shaving), which is kind of against dwarf code, but that’s Peter Jackson’s poor character design. Anyway, let’s use the fact that he has the shortest beard. His name sounds like “kill” so I would imagine him killing people with a knife and then using that knife to trim his own beard super short. He also has the best eyesight out of all the dwarves (he’s always sent forth to lookout for evil things — things that might “kill” them — dun, dun, dun).
Kili’s bro Fili is another dwarf that looks sort of mannish and not very dwarf-like, but his most distinguishing feature is his braided, blonde, dangly moustache (I need to grow one of these for Movember next year). Fili sounds like “fill," so imagine filling up his moustache with braids. Or even crazier, imagine filling up his dangling moustache with “fleas” (also sounds like Fili). Yuck. Fun fact: Kili and Fili are the sons of Dwalin’s sister, Dis (who is rumored to have sported a pretty mean beard. In other words, she was a total babe).
Dori looks like the brother from the movie “Step Brothers” (John Reilly), or at least he does to me. There was a lot of door-slamming in that movie, since both brothers hated each other at first. “Door” sounds like Dori. If you’ve never seen “Step Brothers” (which is sad news), then use his massive potato-sized schnoz as his distinguishing feature. Then imagine slamming a door in his face, thus causing his nose to swell up to the size of a potato.
Good God, Nori has one of the most amazing braided facial hair set-ups I’ve ever seen! His eyebrows are braided upwards into his hair. That’s just ridiculous. Anyways, just imagine that his facial hair is so impressive, that it’s just too hard to “ignore.” Nori = “ignore.”
Fun fact: remember in the first LOTR movie when Gandalf reads from the book that was laying against Balin’s tomb in the Mines of Moria? That was Ori who wrote that. So yeah, he died too, but way after ‘The Hobbit’ (I’m not spoiling anything!). Ok, Ori has the worst haircut out of all the dwarves (although that’s debatable). Either way, it’s a bowl cut. The name Ori sounds like “ore,” as in gold. Imagine his hair was actually a bowl and if you flipped it over, it was suddenly filled with mounds and mounds of gangsta bling gold (or ore). Another fun fact: Dori, Nori, and Ori are all brothers (their parents were obviously really creative with their names).
Oin is brothers with Gloin and to me, is in serious need of some facial hair grooming – it’s all just a bit overgrown for my liking. You can use two things here as his feature: his massive curving moustache handlebars or his awesomely braided beard pig-tails. Both stick out pretty prominently, so let’s use them. The name Oin reminds me of a British punk saying “oi!” so let’s picture Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols being an ass and tying his handlebars and pig-tails together while shouting “Oi! Oi! Oi!”
Gloin is easy because he’s the dad of Gimli (the only dwarf in the LOTR trilogy – Gimli son of Gloin) and they look nearly identical. If you don’t think so or know nothing about LOTR (ughh), then use his dark reddish hair (not super clear in this picture, but it’s there). He’s the only dwarf with such deep brown-red hair (Bombur has red hair too, but it’s more light orange than red). Gloin sounds like “groin” so imagine the old phrase that asks “does the carpet match the drapes?” You get the idea. His red hair is probably the same color as the hair which is surrounding his groin. Not a pleasant thought, especially since he’s a Tolkien dwarf, but hey – it works. Fun fact: Gloin went to the Council of Elrond with Gimli in the first LOTR movie. He’s sitting there in that scene, but it’s hard to tell which one is he.
This dwarf has a piece of axe stuck in his head (no idea why – I don’t even know if that was ever mentioned in the book). Picture some type of furry creature saying and waving “bye!” and then flinging that piece of axe into his head, as if meaning to kill him. “Bye-fur” = “Bifur.” FYI, he enjoys raspberry jam and apple-tart. He’s also the cousin of Bofur and Bombur.
He’s the only dwarf with a hat, and a pretty massive hat at that. Let’s use that. Bofur is a tough name to come up with a picture for, but it sounds to me like the word “puffer” (it’s pronounced that way anyways, but with a ‘b’). So imagine diving under his hat and puffing and puffing until his hat gets bigger and bigger so that it’s as massive as it already is. Another option might be to think of “boff” as a sound one might make if being hit on top of the head. Imagine someone “boffing” him on top of the head, making his hat get stuck on tightly.
The fattest dwarf EVER. His name is pretty easy just because of that alone. He’s round like a bomb. “Bomb” = Bombur. Or think of it like this, he eats so much that he’s always on the verge of exploding, like a bomb. He’s da bomb(ur), yo! Super fun fact: Frodo asks about him in LOTR and is told that later in life, Bombur got so fat that he could only move from his bed or couch when six dwarves lifted him—in other words, he probably got his own special on the Discovery Channel.
Thorin reminds me of “Thor,” which reminds me of Thor’s hammer. Since Thorin is the leader of the clan, a descendant of king dwarves of old, and the most seemingly important dwarf of them all, imagine him ruling the other dwarves with a big hammer. He’s also got some grey streaks in his beard, probably similar to the color of the hammer itself, so imagine hammering his hair with big heavy blows, causing streaks of his hair to turn grey.
And, we’re done. Go buy your tickets and watch the midnight showing tonight and be all cool, knowing who each character is. Don’t you hate those movies where there are just way too many characters to remember and you can never recognize any of them? NOT THIS TIME.
Just to make sure, test yourself. And if you'd like to learn more memorization skills, check out my video below.
Editor's note: This post was original published on Climb for Memory, Nelson's blog. Follow him there!
Images from "The Hobbit" courtesy of Warner Brothers.