Number 6: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Bilbo and the Dwarves watch from the Lonely Mountain as the dragon Smaug attacks Laketown. Bard the Bowman manages to break out of prison, fights Smaug, and eventually kills him with the black arrow given to him by his son Bain. Smaug's falling body crushes the fleeing Master of Laketown, along with his cronies, who were escaping Laketown on a boat with the town's gold. Bard becomes the new leader of the Laketown people as they seek refuge in the ruins of Dale, while Legolas travels to investigate Mount Gundabad with Tauriel. Thorin, now struck with "dragon sickness", searches obsessively for the Arkenstone, which was stolen earlier from Smaug by Bilbo. Bilbo learns from Balin that it would be best if the Arkenstone remained hidden from Thorin, who orders the entrance of the Lonely Mountain to be sealed off.
Meanwhile, Galadriel, Elrond and Saruman arrive at Dol Guldur and free Gandalf, sending him to safety with Radagast. They battle and defeat the Nazgûl and Sauron himself, banishing them to the East. Azog, marching on Erebor with his vast Orc army, sends Bolg to Gundabad to summon their second army. Legolas and Tauriel witness the march of Bolg's army, bolstered by Goblins and giant bats.
While Bard and the Laketown survivors shelter in Dale, Thranduil arrives with an elf army, supplies and aid, and forms an alliance with Bard, wishing to claim an elven necklace of white gems from the Mountain. Bard attempts to negotiate and reason with Thorin to avoid war, but the dwarf refuses to cooperate. After Gandalf arrives at Dale to warn Bard and Thranduil of the Orc army on the way, Bilbo sneaks out of Erebor to hand the Arkenstone over to Thranduil and Bard. When Bard and Thranduil's armies gather at the gates of Erebor, offering to trade the Arkenstone for Thranduil's gems and Laketown's share of the gold, Thorin nearly kills Bilbo in a furious rage. After Gandalf forces Thorin to release Bilbo, the arrival of Thorin's cousin Dáin with his Dwarf army worsens matters. A battle of Dwarves against Elves and Men is imminent, when Wereworms emerge from the ground releasing Azog's army from their tunnels. With the Orcs outnumbering Dáin's army, Thranduil and Bard's forces, along with Gandalf and Bilbo, join the battle as some of the Orcs attack Dale.
Inside Erebor, initially refusing to fight, Thorin suffers a hallucination before regaining his sanity and leading his company into battle. While the other dwarves of the company aid Dain's forces, Thorin rides towards Ravenhill with Dwalin, Fíli and Kíli to kill Azog and force the Orcs to retreat. Meanwhile, after being banished by Thranduil, Tauriel leaves with Legolas to warn the dwarves of Bolg's approaching army; Bilbo follows them using his invisibility ring. Thorin sends Fíli and Kíli to scout, but they are captured by orcs. Bilbo and the elves arrive too late as Fíli is executed by Azog. Kíli, who is hiding underneath the cliff, sees his brother's body dropping down and attacks some Orcs in a fit of rage. As Thorin battles Azog to avenge Fíli, Bolg knocks Bilbo unconscious, overpowers Tauriel and then kills Kíli who had come to her aid. After Legolas kills Bolg, the Great Eagles arrive with Radagast and Beorn, and the Orc armies are finally destroyed.
Bilbo regains consciousness and finds that Azog has been killed by Thorin, who makes peace with him before succumbing to his own injuries. On Thranduil's suggestion, Legolas leaves to meet with a young Dunedain ranger going by the name "Strider" (Aragorn). Grieved by the deaths of Thorin, Fíli, and Kíli, the people of Laketown, the elves, and the dwarves reconcile and bury them inside the tombs of Erebor. As a result, Dáin and Bard are crowned King Under the Mountain and King of Dale, the citizens of Laketown are given the riches promised to them by Thorin, and Dáin returns to the elves the white elven gems that King Thrór had stolen from them years ago. When asked by Balin if he will stay for Thorin's funeral, Bilbo politely refuses, claiming that he and Thorin were never close friends.
Following these events, Bilbo bids farewell to the remaining members of Thorin's company and journeys home to the Shire with Gandalf. As the two part ways on the outskirts of the Shire, Gandalf admits his knowledge of Bilbo's ring and cautions him against using it. Bilbo returns to Bag End to find his belongings being auctioned off by relatives because he was presumed dead. The auctioneer says he will acknowledge that Bilbo is who he says he is if he can produce some evidence of his claim, to which Bilbo shows him his contract to work for Thorin and his company. The auctioneer admits his mistake and Bilbo returns home to his now-empty home. When asked who Thorin Oakenshield is, Bilbo nervously replies, "He's my friend."
Number 5: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Approaching his 111th birthday, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins begins writing down the full story of his adventure 60 years earlier for the benefit of his nephew Frodo. Long before Bilbo's involvement, the Dwarf king Thrór brings an era of prosperity for his kin under the Lonely Mountain until the arrival of the dragon Smaug. Destroying the nearby town of Dale, Smaug drives the Dwarves out of their mountain and takes their hoard of gold. Thrór's grandson Thorin sees King Thranduil and his Wood-elves on a nearby hillside, and is dismayed when they take their leave rather than aid his people, resulting in Thorin's everlasting hatred of Elves.
In the Shire, 50-year-old Bilbo is tricked by the wizard Gandalf the Grey into hosting a party for Thorin and his company of dwarves: Balin, Dwalin, Fíli, Kíli, Dori, Nori, Ori, Óin, Glóin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur. Gandalf's aim is to recruit Bilbo as the company's "burglar" to aid them in their quest to enter the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo is unwilling to accept at first but has a change of heart after the company leaves without him the next day. Traveling onward, the company is captured by three trolls, Tom, Bert & William, after their ponies are captured. Bilbo stalls the trolls from eating them until dawn. Gandalf exposes the trolls to sunlight turning them to stone. They search the trolls' cave and find treasure and Elven blades. Thorin and Gandalf each take an Elf-made blade—Orcrist and Glamdring, respectively. Gandalf also finds an elven shortsword ("Sting"), which he gives to Bilbo.
The company meets the wizard Radagast the Brown, who tells them of an encounter at Dol Guldur with the Necromancer, a sorcerer who has been corrupting Greenwood with dark magic. The company is then chased by orcs on wargs. Radagast covers the company's escape as Gandalf leads the company through a stone passage to Rivendell. There, Lord Elrond discloses a hidden indication of a secret door on the company's map of the Lonely Mountain, which will be visible only on Durin's Day. Gandalf later approaches the White Council — consisting of Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman the White — about his involvement with the dwarves. He also presents a Morgul blade Radagast obtained from Dol Guldur as a sign that the Necromancer is linked to the Witch-king of Angmar, despite Saruman's skepticism. When Saruman presses concern to the more present matter of the dwarves and Smaug, requesting that Gandalf put an end to the quest, Gandalf secretly reveals to Galadriel he had anticipated this and had the dwarves move forward without him. Galadriel then asks Gandalf about his motives and encourages him in his quest, promising him that she will come in person to help him, if he should ever need her.
The company journeys into the Misty Mountains where they find themselves amid a colossal battle between stone giants. They take refuge in a cave and are captured by Goblins, who take them to their leader, the Great Goblin. Bilbo becomes separated from the dwarves and falls into a cave where he encounters Gollum, who unknowingly drops a golden ring while killing a stray goblin, who attacked Bilbo from earlier, to eat. Pocketing the ring, Bilbo finds himself confronted by Gollum. They play a riddle game, wagering that Bilbo will be shown the way out if he wins or eaten by Gollum if he loses. Bilbo eventually wins by asking Gollum what he has in his pocket. Gollum then guesses what the hobbit has in his pocket three times and loses. Noticing his ring is lost, Gollum realizes that Bilbo possesses it and chases him. Bilbo discovers that the ring grants him invisibility, but when he has a chance to kill Gollum, Bilbo spares his life and escapes while Gollum shouts his hatred towards the hobbit.
Meanwhile, the Great Goblin reveals to the dwarves that Azog, an Orc war-chief who beheaded Thrór and lost his forearm to Thorin in battle outside the Dwarven kingdom of Moria, has placed a bounty on Thorin's head. Gandalf arrives and leads the dwarves in an escape and kills the Great Goblin. Bilbo exits the mountain and rejoins the company, keeping secret his newly obtained ring. The company is ambushed by Azog and his hunting party, and takes refuge in trees. Thorin charges at Azog, but is overpowered and left defenseless on the ground. Bilbo saves Thorin from the orcs just as the company is rescued by eagles. They escape to the safety of the Carrock where Gandalf is able to revive Thorin, who renounces his previous disdain for Bilbo after being saved by him. In the distance, the company sees the Lonely Mountain, where the sleeping Smaug is awakened by the knocking sound of a thrush.
Number 4: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Thorin and his company are being pursued by Azog and his Orc party down the Carrock following the events of the previous film. Bilbo Baggins informs the group that a gigantic bear is also tracking them, and are ushered along by Gandalf to the nearby home of Beorn to seek his assistance. Beorn is revealed to be a skin-changer who sometimes takes the form of the bear. That night, Azog is summoned to Dol Guldur by the Necromancer, who commands him to marshal his forces for war. Azog then instructs his son Bolg to take over the hunt for Thorin. The following day, Beorn escorts the company to the borders of Mirkwood, where Gandalf discovers Black Speech imprinted on an old ruin. This coincides with a telepathic message from Galadriel urging him to investigate the tombs of the Nazgûl, forcing him to depart. He warns the company to remain on the path and leaves. Upon entering the forest they lose their way and are ensnared by giant spiders. Bilbo then sets about freeing the dwarves with the help of the One Ring. He subsequently drops the Ring and first begins to understand its dark influence after he brutally kills a centipede-like creature to retrieve it.
The remaining spiders are fended off by the Wood-elves led by Tauriel and Legolas. They in turn capture the Dwarves, and bring Thorin before Thranduil. He confronts the Elvenking about his neglect of the Dwarves of Erebor following Smaug's attack 60 years earlier, and is consequently imprisoned with the other Dwarves. Bilbo, having avoided capture, arranges an escape using empty wine barrels that are sent downstream. While being pursued by the Wood-elves, they are ambushed by Bolg and his Orc party, and Kíli is wounded with a Morgul shaft. They engage in a running three-way battle down the river, but ultimately the Dwarves are able to escape both groups of pursuers. Thranduil then seals off his kingdom when an Orc captive reveals an evil entity has returned and is amassing an army in the south, but Tauriel decides to leave and assist the Dwarves. Legolas goes after her. Meanwhile, Gandalf meets Radagast to investigate the tombs of the Nazgûl, which are found empty.
The company are then smuggled into Esgaroth by a bargeman called Bard. Thorin promises the Master and the people of Laketown a share of the mountain's treasure. It is then revealed that Bard is a descendant of the last ruler of Dale, and possesses the last black arrow capable of killing Smaug. Kíli is forced to remain behind, tended to by Fíli, Óin, and Bofur, as the remaining company receive a grand farewell. Meanwhile, Gandalf travels south to the ruins of Dol Guldur, while Radagast leaves to warn Galadriel of their discovery at the tombs of the Nazgul. Gandalf finds the ruins infested with Orcs and is ambushed by Azog. The Necromancer overpowers and defeats Gandalf and reveals himself as Sauron.
Thorin and his remaining company reach the Lonely Mountain, where Bilbo discovers the hidden entrance. He is sent in to retrieve the Arkenstone, and while doing so, he accidentally awakens Smaug. While trying to find Bilbo, Smaug reveals his knowledge of Sauron's return. Back in Laketown, Bard attempts to bring the black arrow to the town's launcher, as he fears what may happen when the Dwarves enter the mountain. However, he is arrested in the process and leaves his son to hide the arrow. Bolg and his Orc party then infiltrate the town and attack the four Dwarves, but are quickly dispatched following the arrival of Tauriel and Legolas. Tauriel then tends to Kili, healing him with kingsfoil, an herb. While Kili is recovering, he openly admires Tauriel's beauty and wonders if she loves him. Legolas leaves in pursuit of Bolg. Meanwhile, an imprisoned Gandalf watches helplessly as Azog and an Orc army march from Dol Guldur towards the Lonely Mountain.
Back inside the mountain, Bilbo and the Dwarves try to rekindle the mountain's forge in an attempt to bury Smaug alive in molten gold. This fails however and Smaug stumbles out of the mountain and flies off to destroy Laketown in revenge for aiding the Dwarves. Bilbo watches in horror at what they have unleashed, saying to himself, "What have we done?"
Number 3: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring by throwing it into Mount Doom. They are attacked in the night by Gollum, former owner of the Ring, but they capture him. Sympathising with Gollum for their shared burden, Frodo asks Gollum to lead them safely to Mordor, despite Sam’s objections. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursue the Uruk-hai who kidnapped their friends Merry and Pippin. The Uruk-hai are slaughtered by the Rohirrim army of Rohan, but the two Hobbits escape into Fangorn Forest where they meet the Ent Treebeard. Aragorn’s group later meet the Rohirrim who have been banished by their king Théoden, who is manipulated by Saruman’s servant Grima Wormtongue. Tracking the Hobbits in Fangorn, Aragorn’s group encounter a resurrected Gandalf who perished in Moria, but was revived to help save Middle Earth.
Gollum leads Frodo and Sam through the Dead Marshes whilst evading the Nazgûl. They reach the Black Gate to Mordor but Gollum stops them, saying it's too risky and that there is another entrance, finding himself becoming loyal to Frodo for his kindness. The trio later are captured by the Rangers of Ithilien, led by Faramir, brother of the late Boromir. When Faramir discovers Frodo has the Ring, he intends on taking him to Gondor, capturing Gollum when Frodo exposes him. Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, and Gimli travel to Rohan’s capital Edoras where Gandalf releases Théoden from Saruman’s power and Wormtongue is banished. Learning Saruman plans on wiping out Rohan with an army of Uruk-hai, Théoden decides to move his citizens to the protection of Helms deep, but Gandalf departs to find the Rohirrim led by Théoden's nephew Éomer. Aragorn strikes up a friendship with Théoden’s niece Éowyn who quickly falls in love with him. During a Warg attack, Aragorn falls off a cliff into a river, but is found by his horse and taken to Helm’s Deep.
In Fangorn, Merry and Pippin attend an Ent council but learn Treebeard and the others will not participate in the war. They convince them otherwise when they show the destruction Saruman has unleashed on the forests around Isengard. The Ents storm Isengard and take Saruman captive. The Uruk-hai army arrive at Helm’s Deep, finding a makeshift army of peasants and Elves from Rivendell waiting for them. A great battle follows with Théoden losing hope until Aragorn convinces him to ride out and meet them. Gandalf and the Rohirrim arrive, turning the tide of the battle and destroying the Uruk-hai.
Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are taken to the fallen Gondor city Osgiliath but they are attacked by the Nazgûl and Mordor army. Sam informs Faramir of how the Ring nearly drove Boromir mad, stunning Faramir. Frodo is nearly captured by the Nazgûl but Sam tackles him down a flight of stairs, prompting Frodo to nearly kill him until recognising him. After the attack ends, Faramir frees the trio and sends them on their way. Gollum, hurt by Frodo’s betrayal, decides to reclaim the Ring by leading Frodo and Sam to a creature he refers to as “her”, leading them away towards Mordor.
Number 2: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
In the Second Age of Middle Earth, the Dark Lord Sauron forges the One Ring in Mount Doom to conquer the land. An alliance of men and elves battle Sauron’s forces in Mordor, where Isildur destroys Sauron by chopping off the Ring from his body. However, the Ring’s power corrupts Isildur to prevent its destruction. Isildur is assassinated by Orcs, but the Ring is lost for 2500 years until discovered by Smeagol who is consumed by the Ring and later named Gollum. After 500 years, it abandons him, only to be unexpectedly recovered by a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins.
Sixty years later, Bilbo celebrates his 111th birthday and is visited by his friend Gandalf the Grey. Bilbo reveals he intends on leaving the rural Shire to stay with the elves of Rivendell, and leave his inheritance to his nephew Frodo. After literally vanishing from his party, Bilbo prepares to leave but Gandalf convinces him to leave the Ring behind for Frodo. Concerned about the Ring, Gandalf investigates its origins discovering the truth and warns Frodo, revealing Sauron’s spirit survived and a captured Gollum informed Sauron’s forces of Bilbo’s home. Gandalf catches Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s friend, eavesdropping and forces him to accompany Frodo to the village of Bree. Gandalf goes to Isengard to speak to Saruman the White, learning Sauron has unleashed the Ringwraiths to retrieve the Ring. Saruman is revealed to be aiding Sauron, and he imprisons Gandalf on the roof of his tower Orthanc.
Frodo and Sam meet fellow Hobbits, Merry and Pippin, but they have to hide from the Ringwraiths. Arriving in Bree, they learn Gandalf is missing, but are joined by a mysterious ranger named Strider who escorts them to Rivendell. The Hobbits are ambushed by the Ringwraiths, one stabbing Frodo with a deathly morgul blade til Strider fends them off. Frodo is taken to Rivendell by Strider’s lover, the Elvin princess Arwen, and is healed by her father Lord Elrond. Gandalf arrives, having escaped Isengard on an eagle. Elrond holds a council to decide the fate of the Ring, Frodo volunteering to throw it into Mount Doom, which is the only way to destroy the Ring and Sauron along with it. He forms the Fellowship of the Ring, accompanied by Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, dwarf Gimli, elf Legolas, Boromir of Gondor, and Strider, actually revealed to be Aragorn, a descendant of Isildur and rightful king of Gondor. Bilbo gives Frodo his old sword Sting as a weapon.
The Fellowship set out but when Saruman magically blocks off their path, they must venture into the dwarf Mines of Moria. They discover all of the dwarves have been slain by Orcs, and Gollum is secretly stalking them. They are attacked by the enemy accompanied by a troll but escape, only for a fiery demonic Balrog to awaken. Gandalf prevents the Balrog from pursuing the group, but is dragged into a chasm by the beast, believed to be dead. Aragorn leads the mourning Fellowship to Lothlórien, home of Galadriel and Celeborn. Galadriel privately informs Frodo that the Ring will be a burden, and one of his friends will try to take the Ring. Meanwhile, Saruman forms an army of Uruk-hai to hunt down the Fellowship and bring the carrier of the Ring unaharmed.
The group sail on to Parth Galen, where Boromir attempts to take the Ring from Frodo. Afraid of losing his friends to the Ring, Frodo decides to go off alone. The Uruk-hai arrive, and in the commotion, Merry and Pippin are taken captive, believed to be carriers, and Boromir is fatally shot with three arrows by the Uruk-hai commander Lurtz. Aragorn beheads Lurtz and helps the dying Boromir find peace. Sam pursues Frodo, informing him he must follow him as a promise he made to Gandalf. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go to rescue Merry and Pippin, while Frodo and Sam head for Mordor.
Number 1: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Gandalf leads Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and King Théoden to Isengard where they reunite with Merry and Pippin, who helped the Ents destroy Saruman’s forces. With Saruman himself defeated, Gandalf retrieves Saruman’s palantír which is viewed by a curious Pippin, allowing Sauron to attack the Hobbit’s mind. Gandalf deduces Sauron will attack Gondor’s capital Minas Tirith, riding there with Pippin. They meet Lord Denethor, steward of Gondor, and Boromir’s father. Pippin declares his service to Denethor after Boromir died protecting him.
Meanwhile, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are led by Gollum to Minas Morgul where they witness the fortress' lord, the Witch-king of Angmar leading an Orc army to drive Denethor’s youngest son Faramir and his men from Osgiliath. The three soon begin climbing an enormous stairway in the cliff face that would take them to Mordor. Having overheard Gollum's plot to regain the Ring, Sam keeps a suspicious eye on him. Following Gandalf’s instructions, Pippin secretly lights distress beacons to signal Théoden to assemble the Rohirrim for battle while Gandalf helps Faramir and men reach Minas Tirith.
While helping Théoden gather his forces, Aragorn is approached by Elrond who tells him that Arwen is dying after she returned to Riverdell upon seeing a vision of her son that convinced her to stay on Middle Earth. Elrond then gives Aragorn the sword Andúril, Isildur's sword Narsil reforged, so he can reclaim his birthright while gaining reinforcements from the Dead Men of Dunharrow. Joined by Legolas and Gimli, Aragorn travels to the Paths of the Dead, recruiting the Army of the Dead with the promise to release them from their curse once they fulfil their oath they made to Isildur.
Denethor falls into madness when he believes a wounded Faramir is dead from a futile effort to retake Osgiliath, leaving Gandalf to command the city defences against the Orc army under Gothmog. But as Gothmog's forces eventually force their way into the city, Denethor tries to kill himself and Faramir on a bonfire. Luckily, Pippin alerts Gandalf and they save Faramir while Denethor throws himself off the top of Minas Tirith as Théoden and the Rohirrim arrive. Initially having the advantage at the start of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the Rohirrim end up being overwhelmed by the Oliphaunt-riding Haradrim while the Witch-king mortally wounds Théoden. Though Théoden’s niece Éowyn, having posed as a male soldier, slays the Witch-King with Merry's help, Théoden dies of his wounds. Aragorn arrives with the Army of the Dead, quickly wiping out the Orcs and winning the battle. Once the battle ends, Aragorn allows the ghosts to pass on as Éowyn and the other wounded are tended to. Later, Aragorn and his friends agree to lead a united front to match towards the Black Gate as a distraction so Frodo and Sam get to Mount Doom.
Meanwhile, Gollum manipulates Frodo into leaving Sam behind before they arrive to the tunnel leading to Mordor. Gollum then leaves Frodo to get killed by the giant spider Shelob. Though Frodo evades Shelob, fighting Gollum off while revealing his intentions to destroy the Ring, the hobbit is paralyzed by Shelob. Though Sam returns and drives Shelob off, he takes Frodo's sword Sting and the Ring for safekeeping, believing him to be dead, before Frodo's body is taken by Orcs to Cirith Ungol. Realizing Frodo is alive, Sam gives chase and rescues Frodo, returning the Ring to him. With Aragorn's army holding off Sauron's forces, the Hobbits' are attacked by Gollum after they reach Mount Doom. Briefly evading Gollum, Frodo succumbs to the Ring's power, refusing to destroy it. However, Gollum attacks Frodo, biting his finger off to reclaim the Ring in a struggle that sends Gollum falling to his death with the Ring in hand. As Sam saves Frodo, the Ring and Sauron are both destroyed, causing an eruption that consumes Mordor and wipes out most of the fleeing Orcs. Gandalf flies in with eagles to rescue the Hobbits, who later reawaken in Rivendell and reunite with the surviving Fellowship members.
Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor and taking Arwen as his queen before all present at his coronation bowing before Frodo and the other Hobbits. The Hobbits return to the Shire where Sam marries Rosie Cotton. Frodo, unable to cope with the traumas of his journey, departs Middle Earth for the Grey Havens alongside his uncle Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Elves, leaving Sam the Red Book of Westmarch that details their adventures. Though saddened by Frodo's departure, Sam regains his joy when greeted home by his family.