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Two-headed Trolls

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"Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless?" - Tom Bombadil
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.
Stephen King - "Two-headed" Troll

Two-headed Trolls might have been a legendary race of Trolls, as Gandalf once said that "I am afraid trolls do behave like that, even those with only one head each."[1] If Gandalf's statement was not merely a way of speaking, perhaps the two-headed Trolls lived in the Ettenmoors.[2]


Etten, the first element in Ettensmoor, is a word derived from Old English eōten ("giant, troll, ogre").[3][4] It has been noted that Tolkien "probably thought of an 'ettin' as a troll".[5] Historically, the Ettins have been represented as similar to giants, but with two heads.[source?] It is unknown if J.R.R. Tolkien was aware of this connection between Etten and the notion of Ettins as trolls or giants with two heads. However, in many other fictional fantasy worlds, the race of Ettin(s) are described as two-headed monsters.[6][7]

Commenting on Gandalf's words, John D. Rateliff has noted that trolls "with multiple heads appear in many stories", especially pointing to George Webbe Dasent's "Soria Moria Castle".[8]

Portrayal in adaptations

1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:

Although neither a race of "Two-headed" Trolls nor Ettin/Ettens are mentioned, there exists an individual monster called Skessa, a crossbreed between a troll and giant, having two heads.[9]

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

"'Two-headed' Troll" is a Warrior Ally for evil players.

1998-2004: Middle-earth Online:

Ettins, a race of two-headed trolls, was intended to be included in the game.[10]

2002-5: The Lord of the Rings Roleplaying Game:

Ettens resemble the Hill-trolls, but they possess "not one but two long heads". The solitary creatures, a result of an ancient experiment by Morgoth, live almost exclusively in the Ettenmoors.[11]

2017: Middle-earth: Shadow of War:

The Overlord of the Núrnen region of Mordor is an Olog named Ranger, who poses as a Troll with two heads. In reality, the second head is that of the Uruk Ratbag the Coward, who is riding on Ranger's back and wearing a large helmet to conceal his identity.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  2. See section "Inspiration" below
  3. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 183
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 770
  5. Michael D.C. Drout, "An Anglo-Saxonist Gets his Fifteen Minutes: or, what happens when the media briefly pay attention" at Old English Newsletter Online (accessed 10 March 2011)
  6. Dungeons and Dragons (1977), Monster Manual; see further Ettin (Dungeons & Dragons) at Wikipedia
  7. Ettin at World of Warcraft Wiki (accessed 15 November 2010)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The Second Phase, "Trolls", p. 99 (note 9)
  9. Zachariah Woolf (1995), Lake-town (#2016)
  10. Roundup 12.1 (02-09-2004) at (accessed 16 November 2010)
  11. Scott Bennie, Mike Mearls, Steve Miller, Aaron Rosenberg, Chris Seeman, Owen Seyler, and George Strayton (2003), Fell Beasts and Wondrous Magic
Legendary Races of Arda
 Animals:  Dumbledors · Gorcrows · Hummerhorns · Pards · Swans of Gorbelgod · Turtle-fish
Dragon-kind:  Great glow-worms · Sea-serpents · Spark-dragons · Were-worms
Evil Races:  Giants · Gongs · Half-trolls · Hobgoblins · Ogres · Snow-trolls · Two-headed Trolls
Fairies:  Dryads · Leprechauns/Leprawns · Mermaids · Sprites · Sylphs · White cow
Other:  Badger-folk · Great beasts · Lintips · Mewlips · Nameless Things · Spectres
Individuals:  The Hunter · Lonely Troll · Man in the Moon · The Rider · River-woman · Tarlang · Tim