Jun 2nd, 2017
Published between 1954-55, the Lord of the Rings is J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy story. It follows the adventures of Frodo and many others who hope to stop the evil lord Sauron.
The fandom started early on with letters being written to Tolkien about Middle-Earth and the characters. In the 1960s, hippie counter-culture found some resonance with the book and helped it to become a best seller. Several fan groups started around this time: The Tolkien Society, and the Mythopeic Society, to name a few.
Anti-fandom seems to have existed since as early as 1969 when co-founders of National Lampoon authored their novel, Bored of the Rings.
Of course, there are tons of other bits of history, and the books (and fandom) have impacted music and academics alike.
Online fandom started around 1993, with newsgroups like
He wrote of a “deplorable cultus” of fandom, and stated that “”Many young Americans are involved in the stories in a way that I’m not”. He was referring to the “Go Go Gandalf” and “Frodo Lives” buttons and stickers that had cropped up on many American college campuses.
Peter S. Beagle wrote that he’d once told the Professor about a young man who “thought he was Frodo,” and Tolkien said “I’ve ruined their lives.”
Ringer (fairly recent, limited to Lord of the Rings); Tolkienist (usually refers to students of Elvish languages or fans of Tolkien). LOTRians.
The fandom was probably the most active when the books came out. Based on data from Google Trends, it was most popular in 2004 with small spikes around December and January in 2005, December in 2012, December in 2013, and December in 2014. Coincidentally, The Lord of the Rings movies were released in December 2001, December 2002, and December 2003, and The Hobbit movies were released in December 2012, December 2013, and December 2014.
There is some evidence to support the notion that, in general, The Lord of the Rings is less popular now. For example, DragonCon removed its Middle-Earth programming track in favour of general fantasy programming.
Size of Fandom:
Based on sales of the book, there is likely an upper-bound somewhere around 150 million (as the book has sold over 150 million copies).
It was hard to find The Lord of the Rings specific conventions and conferences, but we did come across Tolkienmoot, which has been running since 2005 and has attendance of between twenty and fifty people in person, and one hundred to two hundred online.
Where does fandom live:
The fandom doesn’t live in one specific place; where the fandom lives depends on whether fans are more interested in the movies, Tolkien, etc. theOneRing.net remains fairly popular.
In a rare turn of events, Fanfiction.net has more entries than Archive of our own:
- Fanfiction.net: Approximately 55 000 fanfics
- Archive of our own: Approximately 17 000 fanfics
Are you in, or out?
T is out.
Z is out… as far as Lord of the Rings goes, but in for Tolkien.
G is in… on the whole.
Fans of the week
— Sarshimus P (@snoodmonger) May 21, 2017
This week’s spotlight
When Dan makes Arin watch Lord of the Rings, I will donate $100 to charity. Feel free to contribute to the pool or suggest charities.
— Reddit: When Dan makes Arin watch Lord of the Rings, I will donate $100 to charity.
The Tolkien Society is an educational charity, literary society, and international fan club, devoted to promoting the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Registered in England (charity no. 273809), the Society was founded in 1969 and received the blessing of Tolkien himself when he agreed to become the Society’s president. He remains the Society’s president to this day whilst his daughter, Priscilla, serves as the Vice-President.
Although based in the U. K., the Society has hundreds of members in dozens of countries around the world who hold local events in their areas and who all receive the Society’s journals Amon Hen and Mallorn. What binds all members together is a shared passion for the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Race Against Time
Now in its third year of running, the Race Against Time is the Nickscast’s annual charity livestream where we work our way though Chrono Trigger, obtaining all its endings, and also raising money for the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Last year we raised over $1200 CAD, and have plans to surpass that!
This year, the event will be held August 12 through to August 13, starting at 10am ET. You can also subscribe on Twitch.tv/theraceagainsttime in anticipation of the event!
Famous Last Words
This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Bollywood movie fans!
In The Simpsons, when Apu lives with the Simpsons temporarily, they watch a bollywood movie together. That movie now exists.
Are western fans of Bollywood also interested in Indian culture in general?
What is the most ridiculous Bollywood film that exists?
Where can you find us online?
We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:
- If you want to help us to create more amazing fannish content, become a patron on Patreon; even as little as a dollar a month pledge really helps us out!
- For all the latest updates, check us out on Facebook or Twitter
- To see the latest hijinx from our conventions or even our daily lives and adventures, check us out on Instagram
- For our latest convention updates, Let’s Plays, and other in-real-life video, check out our YouTube channel
- We’re also on iTunes, and Google Play, and would love it if you could leave a review and rating!
- if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
- Everything is
thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
- … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag
What is “Fanthropological”?
How did you read this far without asking this question?!
Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those with the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.
Who is “The Nickscast”?
We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.
We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.
We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.
- Lord of the Rings Wiki - Fandom
- Wikipedia - Lord of the Rings
- Wikipedia - Works Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Wikipedia - Tolkien Fandom
- Wikipedia - Tolkien Reading Day
- Vox.com - Why We’re Terrified of Fanfiction
- Wikipedia - Elfcon
- The One Wiki to Rule Them All - Fandom
- WikiHow - How to Become a Lord of the Rings Fan: 10 Steps (with Pictures)
- Vulture - The 25 Most Devoted Fan Bases
- Reddit - What Am I Missing with LotR?
- Reddit - My Addiction and Why The Lord of the Rings Means so Much to Me
- Reddit - Why do You Study Tolkien’s World and what Benefits Do You Find Through Doing So?
- Reddit - Why Do You Read Fantasy?
- The Odyssey Online - Why People Read Fantasy Books
- YouTube - Brandon Sanderson: Writing of Epic Proportions
- TheOneRing.net - DragonCon to Dissolve Tolkien’s Middle-earth Track
- Fanlore - Acafan
- Mythopoeic Society - About the Society
- The Tolkien Society - Frequently Asked Questions
- Reddit - What were the initial reactions from fans when the movies were first released?
- Fanlore - Tentmoot
- Fanlore - When a fan hits the shit
- Quora - What is so great about The Lord of the Rings?
- Biorgraphy Online - Why is Lord of the Rings so Popular?
Music / Sound
- All music and sound for this week’s episode were provided by Nick Green!