|“||Revenge?! Revenge?! I will show you revenge! I am fire, I am… DEATH!||„|
|~ Smaug's most famous line.|
|“||The King under the Mountain is dead and where are his kin that dare seek revenge? Girion Lord of Dale is dead, and I have eaten his people like a wolf among sheep, and where are his sons' sons that dare approach me? I kill where I wish and none dare resist. I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today. Then I was but young and tender. Now I am old and strong, strong, strong, Thief in the Shadows! My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath, death!||„|
|“||You will take nothing from me, Dwarf! I laid low your warriors of old. I instill terror in the hearts of men. I am King under the Mountain!||„|
|~ Smaug to Thorin.|
Smaug (also known as Smaug the Dragon) is the main antagonist of the 1937 classic novel The Hobbit by the late J.R.R. Tolkien, and its many adaptations. He appears as one of the three main antagonists in Peter Jackson's live action film trilogy of The Hobbit (2012-2014), alongside Azog the Defiler and the Dark Lord Sauron. He appears as a flashback antagonist in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the eponymous titular main antagonist of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and a minor antagonist in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
In the live action trilogy, he was voiced by the Academy Award nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who also played Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Grinch in the 2018 film, Dormammu (also via motion capture) in Doctor Strange and Shere Khan (also via motion capture) in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. Incidentally, Cumberbatch also portrayed Sauron in the "Hobbit" trilogy, once again via motion capture, meaning that Cumberbatch portrayed the trilogy's two principal villains.
One of the last great dragons of Middle-earth, Smaug rose to prominence by laying waste to the town of Dale and capturing the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) with all of its treasure. He was already centuries old at the time, this having happened over 200 years before the events of The Hobbit. The book recounts the tale of a party of dwarves (consisting of a few of the original residents of the Lonely Mountain and their descendants) and the titular hobbit to recapture the mountain and kill the dragon. In the book, he is sometimes called Smaug the Golden, Smaug the Terrible, and Smaug the Magnificent.
Smaug was intimately familiar with every last item within his hoard, and instantly noticed the theft of a relatively inconsequential cup by Bilbo Baggins. According to Tolkien, his rage was the kind which "is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy lose something they have long had but never before used or wanted". This theft and the dragon's ensuing rampage all echo the story of Beowulf, on which Tolkien was a noted expert and which he described as one of his "most valued sources" for The Hobbit. Among the items in Smaug's possession were the Arkenstone, and a number of mithril mail shirts, one of which was given as a gift to Bilbo by Thorin Oakenshield, the company's leader. In The Lord of the Rings, set 60 years later, the shirt saved Bilbo's relative Frodo from injury multiple times.
Smaug's belly was crusted in gems and gold, which rendered him almost invulnerable. However, when Bilbo met him in his lair, he discovered a bare patch on his left breast. When Bilbo told his Dwarf companions about Smaug's weakness, he was overheard by the thrush that roosted by the mountain's secret door. The thrush in turn told Bard the Bowman of Esgaroth. When Smaug attacked the town, Bard shot his Black Arrow into Smaug's left breast, the dragon's weak spot, slaying Smaug and causing him to plunge into Esgaroth.
After Smaug's death, Thorin and Company claimed the treasure as theirs by birthright. This created a conflict with Bard and the Elven king, Thranduil, of Mirkwood, who each wanted a portion of the gold as reimbursement for all of the damage that Smaug had caused their kingdoms over the years. Thorin refused to share the treasure as long as they stood in arms before his gate and declared war on both of them.
Conflict was avoided by the arrival of the Goblin and Warg army who wanted the treasure out of greed, and the Dwarves decided to ally with the Elves and Men to fight this greater enemy in what was known as the Battle of Five Armies. The huge battle was eventually won by the Elves, Men and Dwarves, but Thorin was mortally wounded.
The Hobbit (1977 animated film adaptation)
In the 1977 Rankin/Bass cartoon film adaptation of The Hobbit, Smaug was voiced by the late Richard Boone. In this version, he resembles an Eastern dragon with ears that are somewhat cat-like.
In Sir Peter Jackson's films
Smaug also appears in Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy 2012-2014 as one of the primary antagonists, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch through motion capture.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Throughout the first film, Smaug is kept either in shadow or never in full body view to keep his appearance a secret until The Desolation of Smaug.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
|“||Do you think flattery will keep you alive? No, indeed.||„|
|~ Smaug to Bilbo Baggins upon their meeting.|
Smaug appears as the titular main antagonist. When Bilbo Baggins is sent into the mountain alone to retrieve the Arkenstone, he accidentally awakens Smaug, Before Smaug can spot him, however, Bilbo puts on the One Ring and turns invisible.
Bilbo flatters Smaug, pretending to be an admirer, but the dragon is aware of Bilbo's true intentions. Smaug speaks of a darkness coming to their lands that was preparing for war (this is implied to be Sauron). Smaug reveals to Bilbo that he knows that he was sent to receive the Arkenstone from Thorin and his company. Bilbo feigns ignorance, but Smaug is not fooled. As he talks with Smaug, Bilbo locates a bare patch on his left breast. When Bilbo locates the Arkenstone, Smaug says that he is tempted to let Bilbo take it and let the it drives Thorin insane as it did his grandfather Thrór. Smaug changes his mind, however, and tries to kill Bilbo, but Bilbo once again hides by using the One Ring. In the process, he steals the Arkenstone and escapes.
Smaug eventually finds Bilbo, Thorin and the rest of the dwarf company and attempts to kill them all, but they escape. Thorin eventually conjures up a plan to kill the dragon and the dwarves lead him to the forges and trick him into lighting up the furnaces with his fiery breath, and after a long battle with the dragon, Thorin eventually confronts Smaug and reveals the giant golden dwarf statue, which was set up as a trap as the statue melted into gold and they attempted to drown Smaug in it.
Unfortunately for the dwarves, their strategy failed, as Smaug bursts out of the rivers of melted gold, shakes all of the gold off and flies towards Lake-town, intending to destroy it in a display of power.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
|“||Who are you that would stand against me?!?!||„|
|~ Smaug to Bard the Bowman.|
Smaug attacks Lake-town, destroying everything in his path and burning the entire city to the ground. Bard the Bowman, having just escaped capture from the corrupt Master of Lake-town, attempts to pelt Smaug with normal arrows, to no avail.
Bard's son Bain suddenly appears and gives his father the last Black Arrow to use against Smaug. The dragon spots Bard and Bain and taunts them both before attempting to kill them. Bard spots Smaug's weak spot and fires the arrow into the bare patch, killing Smaug as his corpse plunges into the lake, it crushes the fleeing Master of Lake-town.
In the extended edition of The Hobbit trilogy, Gandalf's fears of Smaug and Sauron working together are confirmed when Thráin reveals in Dol Guldur that the "the Dragon and the One" were "in league. " This explains Smaug's knowledge of the Ring and his awareness of the growing Darkness, as he is waiting for the Dark Lord to openly declare himself once more.
LEGO: The Hobbit Video Game
In the 2014 Lego video game adaptation of the The Hobbit films, Smaug is naturally featured in it as well. He appears as a minifigure and officially appeared in his Lego dragon form in a Lego Hobbit set on October 15, 2014.
Smaug's only motivation was his greed, he loved gold more than anything and was incredibly possessive over it, even when he had claimed the treasure of Erebor he refused to part with not one single gold coin as he said to Bilbo and was left completely mesmerized when he saw a solid gold statue. Smaug can also be ruthless and cruel, as he destroyed the entire kingdom of Erebor to seize its treasure, and destroyed the entire village of Lake-town as to hurt Thorin's Company. Smaug is also motivated by a sense of vengeance, as when he saw that Dwarves were stealing from him, he destroyed the entire Lake-town as an act of revenge.
While his personality is more or less the same as the book, in the movie, Smaug is considerably more malicious and cruel. He takes much more pleasure in psychologically tormenting Bilbo, making suggestions that Thorin was just using him, choosing to spare Bilbo just so that he can watch Lake-town burn, nearly allowed the Hobbit to take the Arkenstone, so he could watch it corrupt Oakenshield's heart, and sarcastically asking him how he would like to die. During his attack on Lake-town, Smaug went out of his way to mock and sneer at Bard and Bain. He was also aware of the return of Sauron and was apparently intent on joining forces with him. Like his book counterpart, Smaug is extremely destructive and arrogant, and the mere implication that he may possess a weakness made him visibly angry; being insulted by Thorin also was quick to earn his anger. Smaug was also purely confident and persuasive in his own powers, shown in his famous speech about how certain components of his body were weapons of destruction. Smaug was also utterly manipulative and merciless, completely capable of committing genocide in pursuit of his goals. Due to his hubris, egomania and overall extreme narcissism, Smaug clearly suffers from a superiority complex.
- In An Unexpected Journey, Smaug clearly has four legs, while in its extended edition, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Smaug has four limbs.
- This could be because the filmmakers were still making concept designs for Smaug when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released into theaters. Why they could have done this is unknown, but it may have been a surprise to the audience for Smaug's final design in the later releases.
- Although Smaug breathes fire during the battle in the film, he never makes reference to "the shock of my tail a thunderbolt" or "my breath death" as he does in the book, nor does he use either on the mountainside before going to Laketown. He also doesn't use any tail whips during the battle.
- A red dragon appears in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic who lives in a tall mountain laying on a treasure hoard, giving him a resemblance to Smaug who was likely his inspiration. Also, the episode where he appears has a similar theme song to Lord of the Rings, and, although this may be a coincidence, six ponies go to convince him to leave Equestria, while in the book Smaug eats six ponies.
- Smaug's infamous atrocities on Dwarves (including drove them all away from their homeland Lonely Mountain) and deadly capacity in causing massive destruction are reasons why Gandalf wanted Smaug to be destroyed before the War of the Ring began: Had Smaug allied with Sauron, it would have meant almost certain ruin for the Free Peoples — the forces of Rohan and Gondor would not have been able to bring him down without suffering enormous losses. This idea is reinforced in the extended version of An Unexpected Journey when Gandalf meets with the White Council at Rivendell, as he expresses concern at the possibility of Smaug allying with the new darkness that Radagast has encountered (although Saruman dismisses this as nothing more than some human playing with black magic rather than recognizing it as Sauron).
- The extended edition of The Desolation of Smaug confirms Gandalf's fear of Smaug and Sauron working together as Thrain reveals. Whatever the dragon serves the Dark Lord or is simply allied to him is unknown, but due to the will and power of the latter it is possible that the fire-drake is but a servant of Sauron (and may have been bred by the fallen Maia similar to how Morgoth made the dragons of the First Age). Otherwise, Smaug may just be influnenced by the will of Sauron just like Saruman had been when he fell. In other words, even should the dragon only ally with the Dark Lord, he will be but a mere puppet for the One to use as he sees fit. The Sacking of Erebor may have been one of Sauron's machinations and it is possible that Smaug had been sent there or that the Maia had made sure the dragon hears the rumors of the Dwarven treasures there.
- As of 2013, Smaug is ranked by Forbes (as part of their annual Forbes Fictional 15) as the second-wealthiest character in all of fiction – adjusted for inflation – with a net worth of $54.1 billion. He is surpassed only by Scrooge McDuck, with a net worth of $67.4 billion.
- In 2012, however, he was briefly ranked at number 1, with an estimated net worth of $62.0 billion.
- Given that McDuck is technically considered a hero despite his own notorious greed, this may make Smaug the single wealthiest villain in all of fiction.
- In the film, Smaug was somehow aware of Black Arrows with their proper noun. It is possible due to his recognizing them that he may have encountered the weapons at an unknown prior point in the film continuity or that he remembered their use against him in his attack on Dale.
- The portrayal of Smaug in Jackson's movies was beloved by fans and critics alike and Smaug is now considered to be the greatest dragon in cinema.