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(Pocket-lint) - Amazon's next big series, based in the world of Lord of the Rings - called The Rings of Power - is one of the most hotly anticipated series to be launching in 2022. It's also billed as the most expensive TV series ever made.  

The Rings of Power is due to hit Amazon Prime Video on 2 September 2022, with the first season running for eight episodes in total. So if you've never watched any Lord of the Rings movies - or even if you've watched them a million times - there's no better time to catch up. 

It's worth noting, Amazon's series won't be rehashing or going over the story paths already trod in the two movie trilogies so far. Instead, these will be based on some of the longer, deeper and more historical world missed out by the two movies. Think of these as being set thousands of years before The Hobbit when evil re-emerges in Middle-earth. 

Best viewing order for Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

But the question remains: which is the best order to watch the two existing trilogies? There is no right way, of course, but there's a way we think makes the most sense. 

Depending on how patient and committed you are, you may want to seek out the extended editions. Each of the six movies is available as a much longer version than released in the theatres/cinemas. All of which easily run over the three-hour mark. 

NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW

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The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Most of the movie may be set in the time after The Hobbit trilogy, but The Fellowship of the Ring is a really good introduction to Middle-earth, Hobbits, Elves, the Shire and - more importantly - the history of The One Ring. What's more, some of its narrative is key to understanding what happens in the Hobbit movies. Primarily, because the Hobbit movies begin with an old Bilbo writing down his adventures to Frodo, and so an introduction to Frodo is important. 

In this movie, Frodo and his company: Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf, Merry (Meriadoc), Pippin (Peregrin) and Sam 
(Samwise) take possession of the ring and begin their journey to Mordor, where they aim to throw the ring in the fire to destroy it. All the while being stalked and chased by Sauron's terrifying Nazgul and Saruman's army of Orc and Uruk-hai.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

As mentioned, the story begins with Bilbo recounting his adventures to Frodo. We're introduced to the time Bilbo gets rail-roaded into an adventure by the wizard Gandalf and a gang of dwarves looking to reclaim their lost city in the Lonely Mountain which is full of treasure and currently home to the dragon Smaug. Bilbo first gets hold of the One Ring in this movie after a game of riddles with the creature Gollum. What is in his pockets?  

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Bilbo, the dwarves - led by Thorin - and Gandalf the Grey continue on their mission to reclaim the city. They've made it passed the Misty Mountains, and now need to take on Mirkwood Forest, which isn't without peril and they must do it without Gandalf. Once they get to the mountain, Bilbo - as the designated burglar - has to find the Secret Door and steal back the precious Arkenstone which the dwarves revere as being key to their power and taking back control of their city. 

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Bilbo and company are engaged in a war, the dragon has left the Lonely Mountain and the people of Lake-town are under threat. Orcs, dwarves, elves, people and even giant eagles are preparing for war while Bilbo is dealing with a power-mad Thorin. Gandalf is also rescued from the Necromancer in this movie.  

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The company is split at the end of Fellowship, and so Frodo and Sam continue on the mission to destroy the ring without the rest of the company. It's on this journey they meet Gollum properly for the first time, while Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli set off in search of Merry and Pippin who were captured by orcs. They meet the people of Rohan, its besieged city and exiled riders. We're introduced to Ents - tree shepherds who take a long time to say anything - and Faramir, Boromir's brother. 

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The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

Sam and Frodo's perilous journey is almost ended early thanks to some sneaky work from Gollum, but no matter the obstacles in their way, they have to get the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. The rest of the company - now joined by the might of Rohan - is engaged in war with the dark forces of Middle-earth to save Gondor, while its power-mad steward seems intent on tearing it down from within. 

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Chronological order

While some of the scenes in Fellowship of the Ring occur in the time years before the first Hobbit movie, most of it is set in the times afterward. It's set in the time after Bilbo's 111th (or eleventy first) birthday. Similarly, while the Hobbit stories are being written down afterwards by an older Bilbo, the story itself takes place when Bilbo is younger. 

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

Theatrical (release date) movie order

Of course, you could just watch them in the order they were released. That way you're watching them in the order anyone would have watched them, had they gone and seen them on their opening nights. There's nothing especially wrong with it, but if you do, you're ending with arguably the weakest of the six movies. 

  • The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

What about the animated movies? 

There are two animated movies that were produced way before the big budget Jackson epics. The Hobbit (1977), Lord of the Rings (1978) and The Return of the King (1980) were all based on the Tolkien novels and are classic animated stories, but let's just say they haven't aged all that well. There have also been a number of short movies and even some Lego shorts to coincide with the Lego console/PC games. 

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Where does the Amazon TV series fit in the timeline?

The Lord of the Rings TV series is based in the Second Age of Middle-earth, placing it thousands of years before the events set out in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. So don’t expect to see much of Frodo or Bilbo in this production. This is how Amazon Studios describes it: 

“Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.”

The first season has been in production since early 2020, with production placed on hold not long afterwards. It’s will Premiere on Amazon Prime Video in September 2022, and a second season has already been ordered. In fact, the initial deal included a five season commitment, so we could see this as a recurring series for a good few years. 


What is the best streaming device for your TV? Our top recommendation is the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Also excellent are the Google Chromecast with Google TV, the Roku Express 4K, the Apple TV 4K and the Amazon Fire TV Stick.


The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit games

Of course, there's plenty more Lord of the Rings action other than just in the main theatrical releases. You'll find a lot of games for consoles and PC including - but not limited to - the following: 

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2002)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
  • The Hobbit (2003)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  • The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring (2003)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth (2004)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (2004)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Tactics (2005)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (2006)
  • The Lord of the Rings Online (2007)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Conquest (2009)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest (2010)
  • The Lord of the Rings: War in the North (2011)
  • Lego The Lord of the Rings (2012)
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)
  • Lego The Hobbit (2014)
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War (2017)

Did you like this?

Then maybe you'll like our other movie order viewing guides:

We also have these rumour round-ups on upcoming movies:

Writing by Cam Bunton.
Sections TV