6 Reasons I Dislike Tauriel

Since The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug comes out on DVD and Blu-ray today, I thought I would comment on that element of the movie which has received possibly the most comments: Tauriel.

A fair amount of (primarily digital and therefor metaphorical) ink has been spilled over Tauriel, the female Elf introduced in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. While there are some very well-reasoned defenses of Tauriel, most of the anti-Tauriel sentiment is limited to, “She isn’t in the book so she’s bad and terrible and we hate her!” Case in point. (Note: I do not want to kill Tauriel nor do I even remotely condone the terrible application of that most annoying of memes.)

However well-intentioned (?) these complaints may be, they fail to present compelling arguments against Tauriel’s inclusion in the film.

1. She adds nothing to the plot.

Compared to LotR, The Hobbit has a relatively simple plot. It focuses solely on Bilbo and his journey with the dwarves. The straightforward nature of the plot creates an excellent opportunity to delve into other material, which I applaud Peter Jackson for addressing. But isn’t the history of the dwarves, the introduction of Radagast, the Necromancer, and the return of the Witch-king enough? Do we really need to add another character who does nothing to enhance the plot?

While I do tend to be a purist, I’m not completely opposed to new characters. Bard’s children, for example, are no where to be found in the book. Indeed, nothing at all is said of Bard’s family (I was always under the impression that he was unmarried, but maybe that was just me.) The creation of three children for Bard makes sense, though. They make Bard more sympathetic, help to humanize the people of Laketown a little more, and raise the stakes for Bard.

The argument may be made that Tauriel enhances the characters of those with whom she is mostly closely associated: Legolas, Thranduil, and Kili. While I do admit that Aidan Turner (Kili) and Evangeline Lilly (Tauriel) have excellent on-screen chemistry, I don’t see her presence adding anything to Kili’s character. I would have much rather seen the relationship between Kili, Fili (his brother), and Thorin developed, since we have seen little of Dwarvish families.

2. Her name bugs me. A lot.

In the research I did, I came across a number of translations of her name. Michael Martinez, whose work I have admired for years, translates it as “forest maiden,” so we’ll go with that. Seriously, Jackson? A Wood-elf named “forest maiden”? Is that the best you can do? (Interestingly, I couldn’t find any direct evidence that David Salo, the Tolkien language scholar, was involved with The Desolation of Smaug. Coincidence?)

Considering the care and attention to detail that Peter Jackson and his team has displayed before (Hadhafang, Arwen’s sword, comes to mind), I find this highly unimaginative name disappointing and honestly a bit silly.

3. She’s kind of a Mary Sue.

(If you don’t know what Mary Sue is, allow TV Tropes to enlighten you.) This comparison is pretty much unavoidable for anyone who spent time reading LoTR fan fiction or RPGs in the 2002-2004 era. In other words, thousands of teen and tween girls wrote themselves into stories in which they were the love interest for Legolas. So, creating an original character that serves as a love interest for Legolas is a red flag.

However, this isn’t the only Sue-ish trait that Tauriel displays. TV Tropes has a handy List of Common Mary Sue Traits to which I will refer. For the sake of space (and also in all fairness), I’ll only mention the most blatant characteristics.

  • Unusual hair relative to canon. Elves very rarely have red hair and a Silvan Elf has never been stated to have red hair. In fact, the only Elves who have even been mentioned as having red hair were Noldorin Elves of the First Age. Specifically, three of Fëanor’s sons who inherited it from their mother and maternal grandfather. Tolkien states that red hair is “a very rare thing among the Eldar” (Peoples of Middle-earth, 366).
  • Unusual skills and/or traits. Tauriel is depicted as being both a fighter and a healer. This was actually unusual among Elves. Typically healers not only abstained from war but also from hunting. (Morgoth’s Ring, 213). While Elrond is indeed depicted as being both a warrior and a healer, this isn’t a cultural norm.
  • Wish fulfillment. No, I’m not trying to say that Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, or anyone else involved with the screenplay has a thing for Orlando Bloom/Legolas. But of lot of girls did and still do. Creating a character that serves as his love interest feeds into that.
  • Relationship with multiple canon characters. Both Legolas and Kili are in love with her. Legolas is in love with her against his father’s wishes (although it’s unclear if Legolas is aware of his father’s opinion). Kili is in love with her despite the rather bizarre occurrence of an Dwarf falling in love with an Elf. Oh, and Tauriel is also “favored” by Thranduil, possibly even raised by him.

Yes, there are a lot of Mary Sue traits that Tauriel does not have, but she possesses enough to make her character suspect.

4. She distracts from Legolas (not to mention Bilbo).

Throwing Tauriel into the mix dilutes Legolas’s character. Not only do his action sequences become less impressive (which admittedly an unimportant downside), but his character is also rendered (more) bland. His relationship with Tauriel isn’t developed in any meaningful way (although it may be in the third film) nor is there any relationship apparent with Thranduil. Why couldn’t Legolas have been the one to defy his father’s wishes specifically to aid the outside world? Not only would that have made Legolas more interesting, but it’s just more efficient storytelling (at least as far as films go).

Tauriel and co. swooping in to save the Dwarves from the spiders also undermines Bilbo’s heroism. In the book, Bilbo almost single-handedly saves the Dwarves from the spiders in Mirkwood. While the film does portray this (in an all-too short scene, in my opinion), it doesn’t show all of it. The only way he is ultimately able to save the Dwarves is by running off by himself and drawing the spiders after him. While he does have the protection of the Ring, this is still a meaningful step in his character arc–one that was neglected in the film.

5. She’s the apex of the dreaded love triangle.

Okay, so, not all love triangles are bad. It can be a legitimate source of tension and even character development. Aragorn/Arwen/Éowyn is an intersting, albeit somewhat mild/unimportant, love triangle.

But love triangles are just a…thing now. Twilight is the big culprit here, of course. Hunger Games also comes to mind (although I don’t object strongly to that one), as well as who knows how many other novels written for teenaged girls. In short, they’re such a common trope now that it’s annoying to see one shoe-horned into a film.

One thing I do want to mention here is that Evangeline Lilly, much to her credit, actually fought against having a love triangle (thanks to The Mary Sue for the link to this article). Apparently it was added in after principal photography because the studio wanted it. This makes me wonder why Lilly’s contract wasn’t honored, but a discussion of Hollywood’s morals is completely outside the scope of this post.

6. Any of my future Elf cosplay are ruined.

As mentioned above, Tauriel has the unusual (for Elves) trait of long red hair. This is kind of weird, considering Evangeline Lilly isn’t a red-head (unless she actually is a ginger and I just don’t know it). Well, I happen to be a (natural) red-head too. My hair isn’t as long as Tauriel’s, but it is pretty long. Forevermore, if I cosplay as an Elf, everyone will think I’m Tauriel. This causes me to sigh from the depths of my being.

I may not be a fan of Tauriel, but all things considered, I do find this highly amusing.

Photo Credit: petradr

  18 comments for “6 Reasons I Dislike Tauriel

  1. andiwatt
    January 11, 2015 at 7:42 am

    So I watched the Five Armies last night. Not a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, but is is definitely fun to watch even though it was pretty straightforward and predictable.

    Tauriel bothered me a lot. She was thrown into the story as a love ploy. She was also the only character in the movie who needed to be saved during battle, less ye not forget by the men of course.

    Is Hollywood ever going to use a female character with no strings attached? Let her fight, instead of mucking up their stories with romance and white knights. Or just stick to the book that Tolkien wrote.

    • Emily
      January 11, 2015 at 11:20 am

      I agree with you about Tauriel being nothing more than a love ploy. I don’t like female characters who are thrown into a story for the sake of having a woman. I think they made some vague attempt at giving her a character, but it was lost in the all-consuming love triangle.

  2. Anlinn
    January 19, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Disagreed.Tauriel is not the only character who needed to be saved in BOTFA, if you really watched the movie then you notice how Bilbo also is being rescued one time.
    She may have traits of a mary sue but so do canon characters in LOTR, and also TH.Like Eowyn, Gandalf, Arwen, hell, even Aragorn who is my role model(I admire his honor, wisdom, great spirit) is kind of a mary sue.
    Luthien and Beren are definitely mary sues.
    I do not see anything wrong with being a mary sue.After all, everyone in real life is a bit of that, or whises they could be, and why hate on one another for it?
    Also, the name does not mean “forest maiden” only.It is “daughter of the forest”.She is a sylvan/wood elf therefore her name is suitable.
    Tauriel adds some intrigue to the plot, it stays with the Silmarillion LOTR tradition-we have a fellowship, who goes to save the land, to recover it etc.We have friendship.And also we have romance.The friendship between hobbits-men-elves-dwarves and romance elven-dwarf, that shows how social status and race become irrelevant when you meet that kindred spirit, nothing can stand between you and the loved one.Kinda like Gimli and Legolas, Arwen and Aragorn.
    If the movie was to respect the canon, it would have been just as amazing.I recognize at first I was not happy with the addition of Tauriel either but then I came to accept her and even like her a lot.
    No one had anything against Gimli’s blind admiration for Galadriel, nor against the Aragorn-Arwen or Aragorn-Arwen-Eowyn thing, so I do not see the issue of Tauriel being involved with Kili or that Legolas has some feelings towards her.

    • Emily
      January 19, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      I disagree that Aragorn, Gandalf, Éowyn, and Arwen are Mary Sues. Yes, they are more powerful and unique than those around them; that doesn’t make them Sues. If that were the case, pretty much every main character in every story would be a Mary Sue.

      I object to Tauriel’s name because it’s too generic. Elves would never knowingly name someone after another person; the likelihood of Tauriel being the first Silvan Elf to have that name is unlikely.

      Gimli’s admiration for Galadriel and the Aragorn/Arwen/Éowyn love triangle are actually both canon. I don’t have an issue with how Gimli’s feelings for Galadriel are portrayed. I do think the love triangle was overplayed, but I guess you’ve got to have some drama.

      After having seen BOFTA, my thoughts on Tauriel aren’t fully formed. I feel differently toward her than I did after DOS. I have to give it some more thought and write a follow-up to this. Thank you for inspiring me with your comment!

  3. Kinny
    February 6, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    How come I never saw this earlier?! Well maybe because I was still hoping the 3rd movie would get better…but now all hope has faded…
    Well of course I dislike the love triangle cliche but what I truly hate is when Tauriel stood against her king and aiming at him…for what?! And she even managed to make Legolas stand against the king, which is so weird and has completely ruined the image of elves in my heart.
    These movies are full of unnecessary plots. They cut the original story only to add their own bad fan fictions. Oh and seriously, if PJ loves CGI so much, where is the disappearance of the elven king’s feast?

    • Emily
      March 2, 2015 at 6:17 am

      Definitely agree with you about Tauriel defying Thranduil. I mean, I guess PJ was trying to make Tauriel seem like a better person because she was concerned about the outside world, but threatening to kill your king is not a moral thing to do.

      Ha, good point about the disappearing Elves! Honestly, I was very disappointed by everything that happened in Mirkwood. That and the Beorn scene were probably my biggest disappointments.

    • Ariel
      January 5, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      Also, what’s the point of shooting a bow when you are LITERALLY THREE FEET AWAY from him?

      • Emily
        January 9, 2016 at 10:55 pm

        Because it looks cooler that way?

        • Ariel
          February 24, 2016 at 1:38 pm

          LOL! True, probably because Peter Jackson wanted to make her seem cooler.

  4. Isabel
    April 21, 2015 at 9:30 am

    I would like to add taht her behaviour is very bad. She just left her guard position to go after a dwarf she met for five minutes. Then she left Bards kids when she was looking for Kili, she pointed at her king and should be executed for that, since few elves were traitors and evil. So Tauriel is a traitor and a horny girl that fells for the first guy who mentioned his pants, so if Legolas was after her, he should have done the same, I bet she would be runnig after him. Her fighting skills just vanished when she yells like a crazy b*tch making the poor dwarf get killed.
    The most useless and annoying character. At least Alfrid didn’t suck so much camera.

    • Emily
      July 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      It’s definitely true that she didn’t make good choices. I suppose the movie was trying to show that she held to a “higher” moral standard than that of her fellow Elves–she was concerned about the welfare of all Middle-earth, as opposed to only that of Mirkwood. I agree with you that, when looking at her actions as a whole, she doesn’t come off smelling like a rose, as my grandmother used to saw.

  5. Lai-Lai
    November 28, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Really, 3/4ths the major female characters in the movie franchise are Mary Sues. Well, Galadriel is a Mary Sue in the books too.

    Galadriel is God Mode Sue, she’s also obnoxiously angelic & goddesslike, & her melodrama is just untopable. She also had the Sue quality of being so beautiful that even Dwarves somehow found her attractive, despite Dwarf women being short, muscular, & bearded; A Sue trait that is passed on to Tauriel.

    Arwen is the least offensive of the bunch; the Replacement Sue, merely taking over scenes from throw-away characters & oversaturated characters. Arwen herself was a throwaway character in the books, having few lines & no important roles.

    Tauriel is the Relationship Sue who suffers from Sue Overdose. She is an OC, an orphan, adopted by a king, she creates tension between Thranduil & Legolas that was not in the books, she is the hetero love interest for the LGBT character Legolas, much in the same way that the throwaway character Rosie Cotton was for Sam, & she was also the love interest for Kili, both whom happen to be royalty, she did an excellent job of derailing the story by providing a filler subplot that shoehorns romance into a series that isn;t supposed to have any, & even though her character does not show up in LoTR & her character was completely expendable, she was still alive at the end of the movie. She could at least have died a martyr.

    • Emily
      January 9, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      I can see your point that Galadriel is a Mary Sue, even though she’s one of my favorite characters. She does have a redeeming quality in that she made quite a few mistakes in her past–and she is genuinely tempted by the Ring when Frodo offers it to her. Your comment makes me want to write a blog post exploring Galadriel’s character in light of the whole Mary Sue concept. Thank you!

  6. Tricksterhera
    July 29, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I’m not sure anymore, the film’s tried to make the Kirkwood elves looked bad and tauriel is the only one with morals, a lot of scenes was not in the book and what the he’ll is a Mary sue??

    • Emily
      July 31, 2016 at 12:14 am

      I don’t think the Mirkwood Elves come off looking that great in the book, either. Sure, the movie takes it a little farther, but it’s not like Thranduil was a help in the book.

      A Mary Sue is basically an unbelievable and perfect character. TV Tropes does a really thorough job explaining it, so I recommend you check that out.

  7. Beth
    September 12, 2016 at 12:44 am

    A canon Character cannot be a Mary Sue since a Mary Sue is a term applied to fanfiction. I wish I had seen this blog long ago, because I am still bitter about Tauriel. Not only is she an example of fanfiction, she’s an example of very poorly written fanfiction. I mean how can some tween girl heal Kili of a Morgul wound so easily when Lord Elrond, one of Middle Earth’s greatest healers ,had to really struggle to heal Frodo of the same. And orcs don’t wield Morgul weapons anyway, and there is no such thing as a Morgul shaft. I mean what the heck? Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous and cringe worthy love triangle. Kili loves her because she locks him in a cell and she loves him because he made a dirty joke about the contents of his pants? Sounds much more like Middle School than Middle Earth. And if there are female guard captains among the elves, surely we’d have seen a few other elven female warriors at some point, and how on earth did she become captain of the guard anyway? She defies her King, leaves her Prince unguarded and then totally turns traitor and tries to kill her king. Who hired this girl?

    • fantasywind
      January 18, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      That’s why I would have preferred her in different role, like one of the elven spies of Elvenking:

      “He at any rate did not believe in dwarves fighting and killing dragons like Smaug, and he strongly suspected attempted burglary or something like it which shows he was a wise elf and wiser than the men of the town, though not quite right, as we shall see in the end. He sent out his spies about the shores of the lake and as far northward towards the Mountains as they would go, and waited.”

      Thranduil would be portrayed in better light, as someone who cares about what’s going on outside his borders. Tauriel as a spy that would simply befriend the dwarves and subtly aid them or something :), wait do I have to write a script now? JACKSON’S TEAM YOU HAD ONE JOB! ;). In general I think that Desolation of Smaug was the worst of all movies, it was a huge mess, it felt incomplete, started out of the blue despite that Unexpected Journey ended with them safe, suddenly at the begining of DoS we see them chased, why? Brief respite and then the pursuit catching up to them, wait they should also put the scene of Beorn capturing a Warg and Orc and torturing them, interrogating and then:

      “A goblin’s head was stuck outside the gate and a warg-skin was nailed to a tree just beyond. Beorn was a fierce enemy.”

      :) Hell yeah that’s so metal ekhm, now more seriously :) I think that many characters were done disservice in Hobbit movies (Beorn, Thranduil and Gandalf among them, oh definitely Radagast, while White Council, to put it simply misinterpretation of many characters pained me), also I would personally also prefer to have Azog actually dead and his son Bolg as arch-nemesis of Thorin more realistic motivation for the orc-chief, wanting to avenge the death of his father and so forth (with Thorin also having it for death of Thrór). Also it’s quite strange that with so short a book they even CUT OUT MATERAL, whole sequence with spiders the Enchanted River that only got to extended edition, gee. I think someone would really have to rewrite completely the script. On another personal note I kind of missed the presence of ‘raft elves’ who were sailing up and down the river with cargoes and were guests feasting in Esgaroth, elves mingling socially with humans would be nice touch :).

      • Emily
        January 28, 2017 at 10:56 pm

        Oooh, I love the idea of Tauriel being one of Thranduil’s spies! That would have been much more interesting.

        Completely agree with you–I was sad at how much material they cut out. I think the scenes with Beorn were the biggest loss. I was really looking forward to seeing Gandalf introduce the dwarves two-by-two while interrupting his story. It’s a great, humorous moment that they completely glossed over.

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