‘Lord of the Rings’: What’s the Difference Between a Harfoot and a Hobbit?

The short and goofy creatures depicted in “The Rings of Power” aren’t exactly the same as the Hobbits seen in the films

Prime Video

If you’ve started watching Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” series “The Rings of Power,” you likely have a few questions – chief among them: why are the hobbits called “Harfoots?” There’s a good answer for that: because they’re not hobbits. Not exactly.

Indeed, one of the more perplexing aspects of “The Rings of Power” to those not well-versed in J.R.R. Tolkien’s lore is the appearance of hobbit-like creatures who call themselves “Harfoots.” Hobbits were, of course, a major aspect of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy with Elijah Wood’s hobbit Frodo destroying the One Ring by the trilogy’s end alongside his platonic buddy Sam (Sean Astin). Jackson even made a whole trilogy of movies about hobbits!

“The Rings of Power” – which is set during the Second Age, thousands of years before the events of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” – has elves and dwarves, so why no hobbits? And what are Harfoots anyway? Let’s break it down.

Harfoots, as laid out by Tolkien in his books, are one of three different types of hobbits and are essentially ancestors to the hobbits we see in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” As described, Harfoots are smaller in stature and have a browner complexion. Harfoots were the first group of hobbits to enter Eriador, the land that encompasses Bree and the Shire, but they originated at the foot of the Misty Mountains.

The second group of hobbits, the Fallohides, were less numerous but once they reached Bree they crossbred with Harfoots. Thus, the hobbits seen later in the Third Age are descendants of both groups.

So yes, Harfoots look a bit like hobbits, and in many ways they are kind of hobbits – they are similarly wary of humans – but it’s not quite a 1:1.

Other races depicted in “The Rings of Power” will be much more familiar to those who only know Middle-earth through the Peter Jackson films. The elves are angelic and high-and-mighty, the dwarves are boisterous and overly confident and the humans are… enigmatic.

The first two episodes of “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” are now streaming on Prime Video.