Preach loud truth
420 blaze it Tollers
Jam session
Ceiling Lolkien
Shoot the Tolkpedo
Poke the Heretic
Chaika? Yes Chaika

What are Balrogs?

The final and conclusive answer to the burning question that Tolkien scholars have been brooding over for decades: What are Balrogs? How do they look like? And do they have wings?


Most commonly, Balrogs are thought to be fire-demons who associated themselves with the evil Vala Melkor at the beginning of time. As Maiar, they were lesser spirits than the Valar who ruled Middle-earth, but had still considerable power. I do not dispute any of that. In fact, in the Silmarillion Tolkien states quite clearly:

"For of the Maiar many were drawn to his [Melkor's] splendour in the days of his greatness, and remained in allegiance down into his darkness; and others he corrupted afterwards to his service with lies and treacherous gifts. Dreadful among these spirits were the Valaraukar, the scourges of fire that in Middle-earth were called the Balrogs, demons of terror." (The Silmarillion, Valaquenta, Of the Enemies)

This, however, does not answer the question how a Balrog really looked like. One has to dig deeper than that to find out (no pun on the dwarves of Moria intended). As it often is the case, an etymological look at the problem is very helpful.

"Valaraukar" is Quenya, and in fact "Balrog" is just a Sindarin corruption of the same word. The Sindarin form is far too mangled for a linguistic analysis, but "Valaraukar" is just a simple contraction of "Valar-au-car", a fancy French way of writing "Valar in a car". And this is already the whole truth. Balrogs were Maiar or lesser Valar (a gradual distinction one does not need to worry about), driving around in very small and stinky cars.

Tolkien, as we know, disliked the French language. He also disliked cars that ruined the precious English countryside. So it is not a surprise that he assigned both elements - French and cars - to the "bad guys".


Why was the Balrog's car not mentioned in "Lord of the Rings"?

Now imagine the impression the Balrog of Moria must have made on Frodo and the other hobbits in the mines of Moria. It was dark, they could hardly see a thing, and they were scared. No hobbit had ever seen a car, because they were not invented yet. Is it surprising that they did not mention the car when writing down the story later?

Below I am providing an artistic rendering of this scene. The Balrog's car must also have been very stinky after rusting in the caverns of Moria for millennia. As you can see, this theory also solves the question "do Balrogs have wings?" in a very convincing fashion.


A Balrog has come

Latest Additions

Random Truth

Tolkien Horoscope

Is it a good, difficult or bad day to read Tolkien?

Choose your zodiac sign:

Your horoscope:

Featured Content

Tolkien A-Z

A comprehensive collection of short truths from J.R.R. Tolkien's life, and the many wonders and miracles he bestowed upon the world. Put together and published here for the first time!


Visit me on Facebook:


Or meet me in person. I hold daily sermons in front of my prophet cave in the desert, whenever the voices tell me to. A small donation is welcome.