Dwarves Not Fighting Sauron: Why?

Here’s why the dwarves didn’t fight Sauron in Lord of the Rings:

The dwarves actually did fight against Sauron on more than one occasion.

Their exploits were largely excluded from the events of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but in appendices and other extra sources, Tolkien explained how the dwarves fought.

They largely fought in the first war against Sauron and at New Dale.

So if you want to learn all about why the dwarves weren’t in the major battles against Sauron, then this is the right article for you.

Keep reading!

Dwarves Fighting Sauron: Why Didn't They? (All the Info)

Why Didn’t the Dwarves Fight Sauron? (3 Clarifications)

Any time you want to discuss The Lord of the Rings (much less ask intricate questions), some clarification is necessary.

Originally, the story came in the form of a trilogy of somewhat short novels (although they are full-length novels and not novellas).

The books were adapted into the extremely well known Peter Jackson movies.

But, there have been countless other retellings and references of The Lord of the Rings.

For starters, the same Middle Earth of the trilogy is featured in The Hobbit (both a book and a series of movies).

There have been animated features, extended universe tellings, games, and more.

So, if we’re going to talk about the dwarves and their absence in the fight against Sauron, we have to specify what media is up for discussion.

Today, I’m going to limit this to the original books and the Peter Jackson movies (which I’ll just call “the movies” from here on out).

The Peter Jackson adaptation largely followed the source material, but there were some differences.

I’ll talk about where they are the same and where they are different.

Overall, I’ll cover why the dwarves didn’t fight Sauron (and the ways that they actually might have fought against him).

Before all of that, I’m going to cover the very obvious exception.

#1 The Gimli Exception

If you have read the books or watched the movies, then you probably remember Gimli.

He’s a major character in the story and part of the original fellowship of the ring.

He travels with Frodo for some time on the way to Mordor to destroy the ring.

He fights alongside the fellowship on many occasions.

He’s at the battle of Helm’s Deep where he bests Legolas in a competition to see who can kill the most enemies.

He’s also present for the battle of Minas Tirith, and he even shows up at the gates of Mordor to fight the armies of Sauron to distract the big evil while Frodo ascends Mount Doom. 

Out of all of this, Gimli never has a one-on-one fight with Sauron, but he definitely fights against the dark lord’s forces many times.

But, he hardly represents all of the dwarves (even if he is a bit of an official representative in the fellowship).

So, we’re going to call him an obvious exception.

Whenever I say that the dwarves didn’t fight Sauron, I’m not including Gimli.

#2 In the Books

The original trilogy consists of three books written by Tolkien.

They are some of the most famous novels in history, and they are widely regarded as the origin of the fantasy genre (especially if we include The Hobbit too).

As I said before, I’m only discussing the actual Lord of the Rings trilogy here, so any other works by Tolkien or other authors is being neglected. (There’s just too much to cover it all.)

With all of this covered, why didn’t the dwarves fight against Sauron? 

Well, they did, actually.

Dwarves in significant numbers were present in a number of major conflicts with the dark lord and his forces.

It’s easy to forget because none of the major dwarf battles are covered at length in the books, but Tolkien made it clear that the dwarves fought hard.

I’m going to break down the individual conflicts in detail later, but here’s the overview.

The dwarves were missing from most of the major battles in the trilogy because during those events, they were busy fighting Sauron’s other armies.

There were a few battles and sieges that involved the humans and dwarves to the north, and by some estimates, those battles were significantly bigger than what you may have read in the original trilogy.

It’s interesting because Tolkien only originally mentioned these battles as appendices in the books.

They’re essentially footnotes in the history of Middle Earth, even though by any measure, they were major events.

#3 In the Movies

While the movies largely cover the same events and aim to be a faithful adaptation, they are not identical to the books, and there are differences worth discussing.

This is a good point to note that I’m going to cover the original theatrical releases and not the multiple director’s-cut updates that came later.

When it comes to the dwarves, the battles in the north are completely missing.

There is no appendix, and ultimately, the movies aren’t able to cover as much detail as the books, so this part of Middle Earth history was omitted.

In general, the movies omitted the major battles of the dwarves throughout (not just the battles in the north).

They are not easily seen in the first war against Sauron, and their conflict with the Balrog in Khazad-dum is barely mentioned.

In short, the movies fail to explain just how much conflict the dwarves were facing in the times of the fellowship and the war for the ring.

Where Were the Dwarves in Each Major Conflict? (6 Explanations)

Clearly, there’s a lot to cover if we really want to discuss the dwarves throughout the Lord of the Rings series, so I’m going to break it down by each major conflict.

You’ll see that the dwarves were actually major participants in some and completely absent from others.

When the latter is the case, I’ll explain why.

Let’s get into it.

#1 The War of the Elves and Sauron

If you’ve watched The Fellowship of the Ring, it starts with a bit of backstory and is fairly accurate to the original story.

Long ago in Middle Earth, Sauron betrayed the other races and tried to make a grab for power.

The elves were not having it, so they put together a coalition to fight against Sauron.

Scenes of this war make for a pretty epic opening in the first movie.

In those scenes, you can see men and elves fighting together, but in the original cut, the dwarves were missing.

According to the books, there were dwarves present in this war.

In fact, there were dwarves on both sides of the conflict.

Perhaps the most famous dwarf activity was carried by an army from Khazad-dum.

When Elrond’s forces were in danger of being overwhelmed, the dwarves launched a courageous attack from behind Sauron’s army.

This enabled the elves to escape.

Eventually, the armies regrouped, and Sauron was defeated.

The dwarves were critical to this outcome.

#2 In Khazad-Dum

I glossed over this earlier, but the movies really do omit a lot of information related to this.

The dwarves of Khazad-dum were driven out of their homes by the balrog (the big fire monster that Gandalf eventually defeats).

While the balrog was not known to be a direct servant of Sauron, it still created major problems for one of the great dwarf homelands.

Because of this, the dwarves were unable to provide support in a number scenarios where they might otherwise have rallied beside the men and elves in the trilogy. 

#3 In Rohan

This brings us to Rohan.

Namely, the battle of Helm’s Deep was the major event in Rohan, and while elves and men fought together, there was a shortage of dwarves in the fight (noting the Gimli exception).

Since the dwarves weren’t there, there isn’t much to say except that this is likely due to the balrog.

The dwarves of khazad-dum would have been the most likely to send aid to Rohan, and they were simply unable.

#4 The Battle of Isengard

The Battle of Isengard happened more or less at the same time as Helm’s Deep, so the story here is much the same.

The dwarves might have helped, but they had their hands full and were unable. You’ll see that this explanation comes up a lot.

#5 In Gondor

There were a number of battles in Gondor in the books and movies, so I’m going to distill them all.

Once again, the dwarves were largely absent, and the reasons are largely the same.

They were busy with other stuff.

By the time we get to the battle of Minas Tirith, however, the reasons do shift.

At this point, the dwarves might have sent forces to help but they were unable, and it had nothing to do with a balrog.

Instead, they were fighting their own battles, and when you learn about them, you might see the entire dwarf race a little differently.

#6 The War in the North

Did you ever wonder why Gimli happened to be in Rivendale at the same time as Frodo?

It turns out that he was trying to rally support from the elves (which is much the same as what Boromir was doing there, but to get support for Gondor).

Even at that point in the story, the dwarves and humans in the north were facing off against massive armies from Mordor.

While the exact details of these battles and sieges were never explained by Tolkien, some estimate that Sauron’s armies in the north numbered up to 300,000 fighters.

That’s actually much, much bigger than the armies that attacked Minas Tirith.

So, when the dwarves were too busy to help the fellowship along their journey, it’s a fair statement.

Let’s get into the three major conflicts in the north to really see what was happening in the rest of Middle Earth at the time.

The Siege of New Dale

When the armies of Mordor marched north, they first came across New Dale.

This was a human settlement led by the king Brand that still maintained good relations with the dwarves of Erebor.

So, the forces of Sauron attacked the human city.

It’s hard to be sure how long the siege and battles lasted, but here’s what we do know.

The humans realized they would be overrun, so the king led an army to stall Mordor until the civilians could escape to Erebor.

The dwarves of Erebor sent forces to help the battle, and they covered Brand’s retreat with New Dale lost.

Keep in mind that the Mordor armies probably numbered around 300,000 fighters, including mixed forces.

The Iron Hills

After New Dale fell, the humans and dwarves regrouped in Erebor.

Outside of Erebor were the iron hills and open plains.

The dwarves actually hated fighting in confined spaces, so they marched into the plains and engaged Mordor there.

Again, the forces of Morder were in the hundreds of thousands, yet the dwarves held them back for some time.

Eventually, the superior numbers were too much, and the orcs and Easterlings eventually made it to the gates of Erebor.

But, what’s clear from this part of the story is that the dwarves were fighting a major war, and they were fighting fiercely while gravely outnumbered.


All of this came to a conclusion in Erebor.

This was the dwarf kingdom that went deep into the mountain, and there was only one major entrance, a giant gate.

The dwarves were led by King Dain Ironfoot. 

The battle went back and forth, including moments of extended siege.

At one point the forces of Mordor actually breached the gates of Erebor.

King Dain and King Brand led the charge to repel them.

Both kings were slain in the fighting, but they pushed the enemies back enough to once again secure the gate.

Thorin III Stonehelm took over leadership of the joint forces of Erebor.

Under his leadership, they were able to fully drive out the orcs, and many were slain in retreat.

It’s hard to put this into an exact timeline, but it seems that this final portion of the battle was happening around the same time that Aragorn led the attack on the gates of Mordor.

It’s safe to say that if not for the fighting of the dwarves in the north, Sauron would have had more than enough forces in reserve to defeat Gondor.

His eye would not have been distracted, and he very likely would have retrieved the ring from Frodo.