If you're like me, then you might have gotten a little emotional when you saw Frodo say goodbye to Merry, Pippin, and most importantly, Sam, climbed aboard the Elven ship at the Grey Havens, and departed for the Undying Lands along with Bilbo, Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond at the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. A part of you may have died inside a little when the trilogy finally ended and the credits started rolling.
It was the end of seeing the peoples of Middle-Earth battle against the forces of darkness on the big screen (at least until The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey came out ten years later). If you've read the books or, more importantly, read the appendixes at the end of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, then you probably know what the ultimate fate was of many of the characters who appeared during the trilogy.
But if you've only seen the movies and never read the books (please do so at your earliest opportunity), then you probably don't know what happened to some of your favorite characters, unless of course, a fellow LOTR fan told you about all about it.
If you're clueless and curious to see what events transpired in Middle-Earth after Frodo and company left Middle-Earth forever and sailed westwards towards the Undying Lands, then check out this list of 15 things you didn't know happened after The Lord of the Rings ended.
15 Sauron Was Reduced To A Weak Spirit
Sauron never truly "died" at the end of the War of the Ring. Sauron was a Maiar, a nearly-primordial spirit, and Maiar are immortal. If their physical body is destroyed, then their power is diminished, and they are forced to wander around aimlessly in a spirit-like form. The One Ring was Sauron's source of power, and when it was destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, Sauron was forever deprived of his physical form.
He became nothing more than a malevolent spirit that floated above Mordor, a "huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned...terrible but impotent," that was blown away by a great wind. He would remain forever nothing more than just a malicious spirit who could neither grow or take shape. His power was permanently gone, never to return, and he would never be a threat to Middle-Earth again.
14 Gimli Became The First Dwarf To Travel To The Undying Lands
After Gimli attended Aragon's coronation and his wedding to Arwen, he led a colony of Durin's Folk from the Lonely Mountain to the Glittering Caves where they settled, establishing a new Dwarf kingdom that Gimli had lordship over. He and the other Dwarves worked together to repair the damage done during the War of the Ring, rebuilt the Great Gate of Minas Tirith, and revamped the city's existing layout. The Hornburg was restored, and it became a shared fortress between the Dwarves and the Rohirrim.
After Aragorn died, Legolas, who had been busy revitalizing war-ravaged forests, built a ship to sail to the Undying Lands and invited Gimli to come along with him, a sign of their strong friendship. Gimli became the first and only Dwarf to sail to the Undying Lands.
13 The Easterlings Remained A Threat (For Some Time)
The Easterlings were allies of Sauron's during the War of the Ring, participating in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and the Battle of the Black Gate. Even though they were on the losing side of the War, their power wasn't immediately diminished. Some Easterlings were still a threat throughout the early years of the Fourth Age. However, Aragorn led a series of campaigns against them and conquered them, resulting in some of their lands being annexed into the Reunited Kingdom.
It is assumed that afterwards, there were no more major threats against the peace of the Free Peoples. It isn't known if the Easterlings blended in with their former enemies and lived in peace or if they started minor incursions against the Free Peoples sometime later.
12 Isengard Came Under New Management
Isengard was originally a beautiful tower with many lush trees and grass fields, supplied by the river Angren. However, after Saruman took over and turned it into his personal home and base of operations during the War of the Ring, he cut down the trees and grass, replacing them with stone and machinery and dammed and redirected the river.
After Saruman was defeated and the war ended, Isengard was restored to its former glory, thanks to Treebeard and the rest of the Ents. Many trees were implanted, the ring-wall was torn down, and Saruman's pits and caverns were filled. The Ents renamed the new forest the Treegarth of Orthanc and made a small lake near the tower. Aragorn gifted the valley to the Ents to do whatever they wanted with it, as long as they kept watch from the tower and forbade anyone without permission from entering it.
11 Magic Faded From Middle-Earth
There's a reason why the Fourth Age is called the "Age of Men." The elves left Middle-Earth to sail to the Undying Lands, and mankind pretty much takes over the continent. With the elves going away forever, the old magic that dominated Middle-Earth for millennia goes away with them. Tolkien wrote in a letter that magic in Middle-Earth slowly faded over time since the end of the First Age, the age of magic and mythical things and heroes.
Galadriel explicitly said before what would happen to her and the rest of her kind, "Yet if you succeed, then our power is diminished, and Lothlórien will fade, and the tides of Time will sweep it away. We must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten."
10 The Orc Race Remained After Sauron's Fall
While Tolkien didn't say much about the ultimate fate of the surviving orcs, he did say, "... so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope." Tolkien wrote before that all of Sauron's orcs hated one another, and he had to keep them fighting against some kind of enemy to prevent them from killing each other, which meant that they may have wiped their own kind out themselves.
To the people of Gondor living about 100-220 years after the War of the Ring, orcs were legendary creatures, which meant that orcs had eventually died out or became a secret endangered species that presented no threat to Middle-Earth.
9 Éowyn Settled Down And Married Faramir
After the War of the Ring came to an end, Éowyn decided to give up her dreams of glory in battle (defeating the Witch-King of Angmar is a pretty good career highlight). Before doing so, Éowyn insisted that Merry be made a Knight of the Riddermark and gave him the Horn of Rohan. She married Faramir and devoted her life to maintaining peace and a happy marriage. She and her husband settled down in Ithilien, a region and fiefdom bordering Mordor, and they had at least one son.
One of their sons, or perhaps their only son, was named Elboron. They had a grandson named Barahir who wrote The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, the love story of Aragorn and Arwen. It's unknown when Éowyn died since her death isn't recorded in any of Tolkien's works.
8 Sam Traveled To The Undying Lands
After marrying Rosie Cotton, Sam would go on to father 13 children; three of them he named after Frodo, Merry, and Pippin. He was elected Mayor of the Shire for seven consecutive seven-year terms. When his wife died, Sam gave the Red Book of Westmarch, which Frodo gave to him before he departed to the Undying Lands, to his eldest daughter, Elanor the Fair; the book, written by both Bilbo and Frodo, chronicled the adventures of Bilbo's journey to Erebor and Frodo and Sam's quest to destroy the One Ring.
Sam went to the Grey Havens and was allowed passage across the Sea since he was technically a Ring-bearer, even if was for only a short time, and he was reunited with Frodo in the Undying Lands, where it is presumed that they lived out the rest of their lives there together.
7 Elladan And Elrohir Remained In Rivendell
If you've seen The Lord of the Rings movies but haven't read any of the books, then the names Elladan and Elrohir might sound unfamiliar to you, since they were both cut out of the movies. Elladan and Elrohir were the twin sons of Elrond; Arwen was their younger sister. After Elrond left for the Undying Lands after the War of the Ring ended, the twins stayed behind in Rivendell, making the Elven town the last remaining Elven settlement at the start of the Fourth Age. Their grandfather Celeborn remained with them until he too departed to the West.
As it is specifically detailed that they stayed in Rivendell for some time after their father's departure, some LOTR fans believed this meant that they had chosen mortality like their younger sister, but Tolkien said the twins were allowed to "delay" their decision.
6 Éomer Restored Rohan To Its Former Glory
Following his uncle Theoden's death, Éomer became the new King of the Mark. He renewed the Oath of Eorl, the eternal bond of friendship between Rohan and Gondor, with Aragorn after the latter was crowned King of the Reunited Kingdom, and he had been crowned King of Rohan. During Éomer's reign, Rohan recovered from the damage war had inflicted upon it and once again became a rich and prosperous city.
As a result of his great achievements as king, Éomer gained the epithet Éomer Éadig, or "the Blessed." Éomer found a wife named Lothiriel, the daughter of Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, a feudal principality which formed part of Gondor, and he had a son named Elfwine. Elfwine succeeded his father as king when he died.
5 Faramir Became Prince Of Ithilien
Aragorn appointed Faramir as the Prince of Ithilien. He became one of Gondor's two highest-ranking nobles and acted as one of the king's chief commanders. In addition to that, he acted as resident march-warden of Gondor's main eastward, cleared the lost territories of orcs and outlaws and rejuvenated the land, and cleaned Minas Morgul of all evil residue. Faramir also acted as the Steward and the King's chief counselor and ruled Gondor in place of Aragorn while he was away.
He married Éowyn and the two settled down in Emyn Arnen, a series of hills in Ithilien. Since Emyn Arnen was the ancestral home of the Stewards of Gondor, it became the official home of Faramir and his posterity. His son, Elboron, succeeded him as Steward of Gondor after his passing.
4 Merry And Pippin Returned To Rohan And Gondor
Sometime after they returned to the Shire, Merry and Pippin got married to beautiful Hobbit women, Estella and Diamond, respectively. Merry became the Master of Buckland, wrote a short treatise named Old Words and Names in the Shire and had at least one son. Pippin became the 32nd Thain of the Shire (the traditional military leader of the Hobbits of the Shire), a position he held for 50 years until retiring. He had one son named Faramir Took I, who later married Sam's daughter, Goldilocks Gardner.
When Merry was 102 and Pippin was 94, they left the Shire for Rohan and Gondor, never to return to their homeland. They were laid to rest in Gondor. When Aragorn died, they were entombed beside the late king.
3 Aragorn Ruled Over The Reunited Kingdom For 120 Years
After Aragorn ascended the throne and became the 35th King of Gondor, the 26th King of Arnor, and the first High King of the Reunited Kingdom, he ruled over the kingdoms for 120 years. His reign was characterized as a time of great prosperity and harmony and a renewal of cooperation and communication between Men, Elves, and Dwarves. He led an efficient rebuilding operation following the war and successfully reclaimed lands that Gondor lost in previous centuries.
When Aragorn realized that the end of his life was drawing near, he went to the House of the Kings in the Silent Street, said goodbye to his son Eldarion and his daughters, and gave Eldarion his crown and scepter. About a year after Aragorn's passing, Arwen died of a broken heart. Eldarion ascended the throne following his parents' deaths.
2 The Shire Became A Protected Community Inside The Reunited Kingdom
Before and during the War of the Ring, some of the Dúnedain Rangers stationed themselves around the Shire and safeguarded it from the forces of darkness. One of these Rangers was Aragorn, who was known among the people outside the Shire's borders as Strider. After he became the King of the Reunited Kingdom, the Shire once again became part of the Kingdom of Arnor, but the Hobbits were allowed to keep their old Hobbit laws and customs by Aragorn.
Aragorn officially gave the small Hobbit colony of Buckland to the Shire, which previously had not been officially recognized as part of the Shire. Moreover, the Shire became a protected territory inside the Reunited Kingdom. In addition to that, Aragorn wrote an edict that banned the entrance of full-grown Men into the Shire and proclaimed that the Shire was a Free Land under Arnor's protection.
1 The World Is Turned Inside-Out At The End
Much like Armageddon, there is an end-times event for Arda, known as Dagor Dagorath, also known as "The End." Tolkien drew inspiration for the Apocalypse prophecy from Ragnarok from Norse mythology and from the Armageddon prophecy from the Bible. According to the prophecy, Melkor will escape from the Door of Night, his final prison, and darken the Sun and the Moon. Eärendil, Elrond's father, will return from being a star in the sky and meet with allies on the plains of Valinor.
The forces of Valar will fight against Melkor and his forces in an epic battle that will end with Melkor being vanquished once and for all. Arda will be destroyed and rebuilt. Tolkien doesn't say what the fate of the old races, or of the old world, will be in the new world.