Lord Of The Rings Complete Timeline Explained (Including Rings Of Power & New Movie)
12 mins read

Lord Of The Rings Complete Timeline Explained (Including Rings Of Power & New Movie)


  • Tolkien’s intricate timeline spans thousands of years, paving the way for adaptations like The Rings of Power and War of the Rohirrim.
  • The First Age saw Elves, Men, and Valar unite against Morgoth, while the Second Age introduced the Rings of Power and the Last Alliance.
  • As the Third Age ended with Sauron’s defeat, the peaceful Fourth Age began, ushering in the reign of King Aragorn and the eventual migration of the Elves.



J.R.R. Tolkien constructed a complex fantasy world complete with a timeline that spans thousands of years, and this creates the perfect opportunity for adaptations like The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. Though Frodo’s journey with the One Ring is the most well-known Middle-earth story, the legendary author recorded dozens of tales, each taking place at different points in his fictional world’s history. Tolkien organized his timeline into Ages, serving as the roadmap for Lord of the Rings adaptations.

There have been several Lord of the Rings screen adaptations over the years, but Middle-earth hit the mainstream with Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, which got its start in 2001. Since then, Jackson also released a The Hobbit trilogy, based on Tolkien’s book, which served as a prequel to Frodo’s tale. Now, Amazon’s Prime Video has adapted the Second Age of Middle-earth into the TV series The Rings of Power, while Warner Bros and Star Line are releasing the Third Age story of War of the Rohirrim. So, where do these fall on Tolkien’s timeline?


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The Creation Of Eä

Spanning Approximately 50,000 Years

An illustration of Eru Iluvatar

Tolkien’s world comes complete with a complex creation story, which saw the supreme god Eru Ilúvatar create the universe known as Eä. So far, these events have not been depicted in a Lord of the Rings movie or TV series, though it would certainly make for an interesting adaptation. The story begins with Ilúvatar creating the Ainur, a group of powerful beings that included the demi-god Valar and the angel-like Maiar (which included the likes of Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast, and Sauron). Ilúvatar led the Ainur in the Ainulindalë (AKA the Music of the Ainur), which created the universe.

After creating the universe of Eä, Ilúvatar created Arda—the Earth. At first, there was only one continent on Arda, and the Valar and Maiar were tasked with caring for it. However, one Vala, Melkor, grew jealous of Ilúvatar’s ability to create life (with something called the Secret Fire) and began causing chaos. The continent broke apart, and the most important landmasses that formed as a result were Middle-earth and Aman. The Ainur settled in Valinor (The Undying Lands) on the latter continent, while Ilúvatar’s creations, Men and Elves, eventually woke up in Middle-earth.

Years Of The Trees & The First Age

Spanning Approximately 5,000 Years

Two Trees of Valinor in Lord of the Rings the Rings of Power

The Ages of Middle-earth began when the first Elves woke up on this continent. The First Age spanned about 5,000 years, and a great deal happened during this time. Again, there have so far been no Lord of the Rings screen adaptations set within this time period, but Prime Video’s The Rings of Power makes frequent references to these events. This is when Melkor—who became known as Morgoth—rose to power and challenged his fellow Valar in war and when the Elf Fëanor created the Silmarils.

The First Age is divided into the Years of the Trees—when the light of the world came from two glorious trees in Valinor—and the Years of the Sun (after the creation of the sun and moon. During the Years of the Trees, Fëanor captured their light into glorious stones, and the Elf guarded them even more jealously after Morgoth destroyed these trees. When the Dark Lord stole the Silmarils, Fëanor led his people, the Noldor (which included Galadriel’s kin), to Middle-earth to retrieve them.

Fëanor’s efforts to reclaim his Silmarils were futile, and it led to countless deaths and the banishment of the Noldor from Middle-earth. By this time, the Years of the Sun had begun, and Men had awoken in Middle-earth. From here, there are thousands of years of war against Morgoth and his lieutenant, Sauron, until the half-elven Eärendil and his wife Elwing set out on an epic journey to request the help of the Valar. Touched by the union of Elves and Men, the demi-gods agreed to help and imprisoned Morgoth in the Halls of Mandos.

The War of Wrath, which saw the Elves, Men, and Valar join together to defeat Morgoth, saw the end of the First Age of Middle-earth.

The Second Age Of Middle-Earth

Spanning 3,441 Years

The Second Age of Middle-earth spanned 3,441 years and is when Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set. This is when Sauron began his return to power and created the Rings of Power by deceiving the Elves of Eregion, including Celebrimbor. Of course, he made far more mischief than just this. Sauron also deceived the Men of Númenor into attempting to wage war with the Valar in Valinor. Naturally, this didn’t turn out well, resulting in the destruction of the island kingdom through a massive wave.

Just as in The Rings of Power, Galadriel and Elrond were two notable figures of the Second Age. They were both born in the First Age (Elrond’s parents were Earendil and Elwing, and his brother Elros chose mortality and became the first king of Númenor), but many of their greatest deeds played out in the thousands of years that followed. Both became bearers of two of the Three Elven Rings, Elrond established the haven of Rivendell, and Galadriel claimed dominion over Lothlórien.

The Second Age is when Elendil and his kin founded the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor in Middle-earth, which later led to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

The Second Age is when Elendil and his kin founded the kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor in Middle-earth, which later led to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and the beginning of the end of this period in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings timeline. After Sauron and his One Ring to Rule Them All dominated and destroyed many major cities and kingdoms, the Elves and Men came together to take him down. The final battle of the Second Age saw Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron’s hand, and the Dark Lord was temporarily defeated.


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The Third Age Of Middle-Earth

Spanning 3,021 Years

The Third Age of Middle-earth spans 3,021 years and is when Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim is set. Chronologically, the 2024 animated movie comes first, with the events of War of the Rohirrim taking place about 2,740 years into the Third Age. This is when Helm Hammerhand, the ninth king of Rohan, waged war with the Dunlendings, who aimed to usurp the rule of Rohan. The great king died fighting at Helm’s Deep where it is believed by the people of Rohan that his spirit continues to defend the Hornberg.

The beginning of the end of the Third Age came when Bilbo set out from the Shire with his Dwarven company during the events of The Hobbit. These events led to the defeat of the dragon Smaug, ensuring that this beast couldn’t lend his strength to Sauron when the Dark Lord returned. Of course, Bilbo’s journey also resulted in the Hobbit’s acquisition of the One Ring. Frodo began his journey to destroy Sauron’s weapon in TA 3018, which jumpstarted the events of The Lord of the Rings.

The Fourth Age Of Middle-Earth

Span Of Years Unknown

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) smiles after he, his friends, and his army triumph over the forces of evil in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The One Ring and Sauron’s destruction meant the end of the Third Age and the start of the peaceful Fourth Age of Middle-earth. The length of this age is unknown, but a few hundred years worth of the events after The Lord of the Rings were recorded by Tolkien, some of which were shown in Jackson’s trilogy. This is when King Aragorn (Elessar) ruled Gondor and reestablished the kingdom of Arnor. During this period, the last of the Elves migrated to Valnior, and they were joined by any surviving Ring-bearers, including Bilbo, Frodo, and eventually Sam.

Peace in Middle-earth wouldn’t last forever since prophecy foretold the return of Morgoth and a great war that would result in the world’s destruction (and eventual rebirth) in an event called Dagor Dagorath. However, when this would happen is unknown. It would certainly be interesting to explore these events in a future The Lord of the Rings adaptation. Still, with so many periods of Middle-earth in Tolkien’s timeline, this final story may just have to wait its turn.

The Lord of the Rings Franchise Poster with Gold Words Resembling a Ring

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is a multimedia franchise consisting of several movies and a TV show released by Amazon titled The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The franchise is based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book series that began in 1954 with The Fellowship of the Ring. The Lord of the Rings saw mainstream popularity with Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Created by
J.R.R. Tolkien

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