10 Uncanny Similarities Between Skyrim & Lord Of The Rings

10 Uncanny Similarities Between Skyrim & Lord Of The Rings

Fans will be able to enjoy a new story set in Middle-earth in the form of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on September 2, 2022. Those that love the single-player RPG Elder Scrolls game series are not quite as lucky, since it looks like Elder Scrolls VI is still years away from being released.

These two worlds have an awful lot in common, and that’s very clear to see when looking at The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Sir Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit film trilogies. Both Skyrim and the works of J.R.R. Tolkien are heavily influenced by Norse mythology, and this leads to quite a few overlapping ideas between these series. Although in other cases, it’s entirely possible that Skyrim borrowed ideas from The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit took some cues from Skyrim after that. Whatever the case may be, it’s plain to see that there are many shared ideas between these legends of the entertainment industry.

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Whiterun & Edoras

The Rohan town of Edoras in Lord of the Rings

One of the most obvious comparisons between Skyrim and Lord of the Rings is with the cities of Whiterun and Edoras. Whiterun is usually the first large city players visit in their adventures across Skyrim. Even on the first playthrough, it may have looked familiar to many gamers. It bears a strong resemblance to the capital of Rohan that first appears in The Two Towers.

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For starters, Dragonsreach and Meduseld are the main halls of the two cities and are both at the top of a hill and are constructed mainly from wood. Additionally, horses are an integral part of the culture of Rohan, and the sigil of both Whiterun and Rohan is the head of a horse. Other similarities include large walls surrounding both capitals, and city structures with smaller buildings covering the lower part of their hills, with larger ones nearer the top.

Gildergreen & White Tree Of Gondor

The Gildergreen tree as seen from above in Skyrim.

Whiterun takes tons of cues from Edoras, but there is one major aspect of it that echoes a part of Gondor. In The Return of the King, the White Tree of Gondor is the symbol of the realm, but it, unfortunately, appears to be dead. That is until Aragorn returns to the city and ignites hope, prompting the tree to begin blooming again.

Whiterun has a similar problem: there is a nearly dead tree in the center of the city called the Gildergreen. The tree was struck by lightning and badly burned, causing it to lose all of its leaves which gave it a similar appearance to the White Tree. Fortunately, it too can be restored, although not through hope. Players must retrieve sap from the Eldergleam in order to revive it.

Shadowmere & Shadowfax

Traveling across vast landscapes often requires horses, and there are few horses as legendary as Shadowmere and Shadowfax. One belongs to the Dragonborn (given as a gift from one of the members of the Dark Brotherhood) and the other belongs to the wizard Gandalf. Both are uncommonly impressive beasts.

The obvious connection between the two is that their names are almost the same. The similarities don’t end there, though. Each horse has remarkable levels of stamina and is able to run at full speed for much longer than other horses. They are both known as being the greatest horse alive in their own worlds, and it’s hard to argue with that.

Wood Elves & Elves From The Woodland Realm

An elf wielding a sword in Skyrim.

The Wood-elves in Peter Jackson’s films are admittedly much fairer than the Wood Elves that appear in Skyrim, but they don’t differ much other than that. Also known as Bosmer, the Wood Elves of Skyrim are incredibly skilled archers just as the Silvan Elves that appear in the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.

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Archery isn’t all that defines these groups of people, because stealth and light-footedness come just as naturally to both of these races. This makes it possible for the Elves from both fantasy worlds to skillfully track game or enemies. Anyone who’s seen any of the Middle-earth films or played Skyrim knows just how impressive the abilities of Elves are.

Solitude & Minas Tirith

Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Minas Tirith is a beautiful sight from afar, but it’s even more impressive up close in The Return of the King. The city of Solitude in northern Skyrim has a similar effect. Both cities are built into the side of a mountain and have an excellent defensive position. Not only are they both a wonder to behold, but they prove to be practical as well.

One of the other main connections between the two locations is that they are home to the king of their lands, that is whenever there is a king. The layout of the two cities is quite different, but what can’t be denied is the fact that they are both massive. They each have bustling economies and a wide variety of opportunities for those who call them home.

Dwemer Mines & Mor

A wide shot of Dwemer Mines in Skyrim.

The mining culture of Middle-earth’s Dwarves and Skyrim’s Dwemer has made it so that both groups prospered in the past, but the glory of their reign, unfortunately, couldn’t last forever. This is most readily apparent in Moria for the Middle-earth Dwarves, but every mine in Skyrim tells the same story.

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These mines are overrun with horrid, goblin-like creatures. Moria has orcs while the Dwemer mines are crawling with Falmer. Scattered all around the floor are the now defunct pieces of equipment that were once used during the prime of these people’s existence. Their majestic works live on, but few people inside the game or movies are able to enjoy them.

Riften & Esgaroth

A wide shot of the town of Esgaroth in Lord of the Rings.

Fishing provides livelihoods for people in many popular fantasy worlds, but the fishing towns in Middle-earth and Skyrim are unique in that they are both mostly built on the water. Esgaroth, also known as Lake-town, is much larger than Riften, but beyond that, they look almost identical. Almost everything is constructed of wood, and access to the water is prioritized.

Because of how different they are from other cities in their universes, Riften and Lake-town are some of the most interesting places to see. The energy is often high in these two towns and people are busy, thanks to the shipments that come and go frequently.

Markarth & Erebor

Ulfric Stormcloak was the main belligerent in the Markarth Incident

Even though the Dwemer were almost entirely wiped out, the city of Markarth that they built was largely left intact. The city is mostly above ground, but there is an expansive network of mines underneath it much like Erebor under the Lonely Mountain in Middle-earth. The appearances of the two cities are not much alike, but it’s the history of them that connects them.

The Dwarves in both Skyrim and Middle-earth carved the cities out of the mountains by hand. It required untold amounts of laborers and took many years to complete each project. And even though the glory days of each city are long past, there is still much beauty to be found at each location.

Dragon Priests & Nazgûl

Few characters have as much power in Skyrim as the Dragon Priests, and the same is true for the Ringwraiths in Middle-earth. Both groups are terrifying, but the Righwraiths are especially horrifying to those who understand the deep lore of the Nazgûl.

The similarities run deep between these two groups. For starters, they are both undead beings that serve entities greater than themselves. On top of that, their faces are always hidden from sight. Finally, there and nine Ringwraiths, led by the Witch-king of Angmar. The Dragon Priests are made up of eight known individuals, but there is a ninth mask unique from the rest which suggests they too had a great leader, which would bring their total to nine.

Cicero & Gollum

These are two of the most iconic, and sometimes most annoying, characters in Skyrim and Middle-earth. They certainly have their own little quirks, but in many ways, they mirror each other. Firstly, they both speak in the third person frequently, and often in a sniveling or high-pitched tone.

Perhaps most significantly, both of them obsess over an item of great power. Gollum is obsessed with the One Ring, while Cicero is endlessly concerned with the Night Mother’s tomb. Gollum and Cicero can each be conniving, with a tendency toward violence, but their respect for people with connections to the artifacts they love is often enough to keep them in line.

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About The Author

Grant Bullert
(4 Articles Published)

Grant Bullert is a list writer for Screen Rant and is deeply passionate about all things film. He fell in love with movies at the age of six after watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Appendices that detailed the work that goes into making stories into cinema were especially interesting to him and fueled his desire to one day be a filmmaker. Currently living in the middle of nowhere in Iowa has put a hiccup in that plan, so he instead writes about film (for now).

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