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Fabio Leone - Grima son of Galmod.png
Grima son of Galmod by Fabio Leone
Biographical Information
Other namesWormtongue
PositionKing's Advisor
AffiliationSaruman, earlier Théoden
Death3 November T.A. 3019
Bag End
Physical Description
Eye colorDark[1]
GalleryImages of Gríma

Gríma Wormtongue (died Third Age November 3, 3019)[2] was the chief advisor to King Théoden of Rohan. He was the son of Gálmód.[1]


[edit] History

Gríma was the advisor of Theoden, King of Rohan in the Third Age. At some point, Gríma was enthralled by Saruman, who had promised him Éowyn. Gríma not only informed Saruman about the secrets of Rohan, but also worked to weaken Théoden and his kingdom with his words and poison. This allowed Saruman to aid the King's enemies and amass a vast army, while Sauron's power grew in the East.

During the War of the Ring, the Nine Nazgûl came to Rohan and questioned Wormtongue, who, terrified, answered that the Wizard Gandalf had passed through Rohan, and also revealed to them where the Shire was. He also told them that Saruman had lied to them in order to deny them this information, revealing his false loyalty to his master, Sauron.[3]

Upon Gandalf's arrival, Gríma tried to discredit him, until the wizard managed to heal Théoden. After this, "many things which men had missed" were found locked in Gríma's trunk and he was given a grim choice: ride into battle or into exile.[1] Choosing the latter, he went to dwell with Saruman at Orthanc, where he witnessed the Battle of Isengard. Following the confrontation between Saruman and Gandalf, he mistakenly threw a "heavy rock"—which was actually the palantír of Orthanc—at the outsiders, perhaps not certain whether he hated Saruman or Gandalf the Most. Saruman seems to have punished him severely for this act.[4]

Ted Nasmith - Saruman is Overtaken

While being held in Orthanc, Gríma became weak and thin. When Treebeard released him and Saruman in August, they left and headed west. On their way, they were confronted by Gandalf, Celeborn, Galadriel and the Hobbits on their way to northern Dunland. They found them as travelling beggars and Saruman kicked Gríma to move on, as he exclaimed how he hated his master. Galadriel told Gríma that he was free to leave him but he did not reply.[5]

Saruman had already been exerting his control over the Shire from afar by sending evil Men there, thus Saruman sought his revenge in petty tyranny over the Hobbits who indirectly ensured his downfall. During this time Gríma became increasingly degraded until he was a crawling wretch, almost resembling Gollum, and Saruman shortened his nickname to "Worm". During this time he killed Lotho Sackville-Baggins on his master's orders, and may have eaten him.[6]

Spurred by the words of Frodo that he did not have to follow Saruman, and being pushed over the edge when Saruman scorned him, he used a hidden knife to slit the throat of his oppressor and darted down the road. He was quickly killed by several Hobbit arrows, and thus Wormtongue was the final casualty of the War of the Ring.[6]

[edit] Etymology

The name Gríma derives from the Old English or Icelandic word meaning "mask, visor, helmet" or "spectre".[7][8][9] It is also possible to link the name to the English word "grim", which among other characteristics meant "ugly" in Old English.[10]

Wormtongue is a modernised form of Old English wyrm-tunge ("snake-tongue").[11]

[edit] Genealogy

fl. late T.A.
d. T.A. 3019

[edit] Inspiration

J. Allard suggests that Wormtongue was based on Unferth from Beowulf, a character that sits near King Hrothgar and serves as a taunter.[12]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

Gríma in adaptations
Gríma Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)  
Gríma Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings (film series)  
Gríma Wormtongue in The Lord of the Rings Online  

1956: The Lord of the Rings (1956 radio series):

Bernard Rebel played Gríma.

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

Gríma Wormtongue was voiced by Michael Deacon.

1979: The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series):

John Vickery played Gríma.

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

Paul Brooke played Gríma. He is introduced much earlier than in the book in excerpts from The Hunt for the Ring when he is questioned by the Nazgul on his way to Isengard. His death at Bag End is also included in the final episode.

1992: Der Herr der Ringe (1992 German radio series):

Gríma Wormtongue is played by Karl Lieffen.

2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

Gríma is played by Brad Dourif. The reason for Gríma's pale and emaciated appearance in the movie is not entirely clear. Perhaps it is meant to suggest that by throwing in his lot with Saruman he has started down the same path to physical and mental corruption that caused Gollum to become a twisted parody of his original self, although it is just as likely that Jackson simply wanted to make it clear that Wormtongue was one of the "bad guys" in the large and confusing cast of characters.
The events of "The Scouring of the Shire" do not appear in the film version, so Saruman's death was moved to an earlier scene. Other than the location, which was moved to the tower of Orthanc, the manner of their deaths is very much the same. As in the book, Gríma kills Saruman, but by stabbing him in the back, not slitting his throat. Saruman's body then falls from the tower and is impaled on a spiked wheel, one of the remnants of his war machines. Gríma himself is shot by an arrow fired by Legolas, thereby mirroring his death in the book. This scene was to have included a line where Saruman blamed Gríma for killing Théodred, replacing Lotho in the context of that scene, but the line was cut out.

2002-2003: Pán prsteňov (2001-2003 Slovak radio series):

The voice of Gríma is provided by Ivan Gogál.

2007-: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Gríma Wormtongue, having the skill Seeds of Doubt, appears in the instance quest The Wizard's Vale.[13][14]

2009: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest:

Kirk Thornton did the voicework of Gríma.[15]

2013: Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game:

Gríma Wormtongue appears as a minifigure in the video game.[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The King of the Golden Hall"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-dûr to the End of the Third Age"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Voice of Saruman"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Many Partings"
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
  7. Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull (2008), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 404
  8. Hálfdan Helgason (1991), The Emigration from Iceland to North America: Icelandic first names, accessed 12 October 2010
  9. Joseph Bosworth, "gríma" at An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (online, accessed 12 October 2010)
  10. Joseph Bosworth, "EORL" at An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (online, accessed 12 October 2010)
  11. 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. 764
  12. J. Allard, Beowulf and Other Stories (2014) p. 45-7
  13. "LotRO's Rise of Isengard: The Road to Level 75, Days 4 & 5 - Page 2" dated 5 October 2011, (accessed 9 March 2013)
  14. "Grima Wormtongue (Player)", (accessed 9 March 2013)
  15. "Kirk Thornton", IMDb (accessed 9 March 2013)
  16. "Gríma Wormtongue", Brickipedia (accessed 9 March 2013)