54 user 18 critic

The Return of the King (1980)

Not Rated | | Animation, Action, Adventure | TV Movie 11 May 1980
Two Hobbits struggle to destroy the Ring in Mount Doom while their friends desperately fight evil Lord Sauron's forces in a final battle.


(novels), (adapted for the screen)
4,155 ( 222)

On Disc

at Amazon


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Animation | Adventure | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

The Fellowship of the Ring embark on a journey to destroy the One Ring and end Sauron's reign over Middle-earth.

Director: Ralph Bakshi
Stars: Christopher Guard, William Squire, Michael Scholes
The Hobbit (1966)
Animation | Short | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  

A homebody hobbit finds himself going on a quest to save a dwarven treasure from a dragon in this loose adaptation of the classic novel.

Director: Gene Deitch
Stars: Herb Lass
Short | Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The great events of the war of the ring are about to unfold and the priority for Strider and Gandalf is to keep the Ring secret. Sauron is preparing to unleash his armies and Gollum is ... See full summary »

Director: Chris Bouchard
Stars: Adrian Webster, Arin Alldridge, Patrick O'Connor
Stars: Greg Hildebrandt, Tim Hildebrandt, J.R.R. Tolkien
Fire and Ice (1983)
Animation | Fantasy | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

From their stronghold in Icepeak, the evil Queen Juliana (Eileen O'Neill) and her son, Nekron (Stephen Mendel), send forth a wave of glaciers, forcing humanity to retreat south towards the ... See full summary »

Directors: Ralph Bakshi, Tom Tataranowicz
Stars: Randy Norton, Cynthia Leake, Steve Sandor
Born of Hope (2009)
Action | Adventure | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Set near the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth. Arathorn takes refugees to Taurdal, the village of his father, Arador. Then as Arador begins his campaign against the gathering orc bands ... See full summary »

Director: Kate Madison
Stars: Christopher Dane, Beth Aynsley, Kate Madison
Wizards (1977)
Animation | Adventure | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

On a post-apocalyptic Earth, a wizard and his faire folk comrades fight an evil wizard who's using technology in his bid for conquest.

Director: Ralph Bakshi
Stars: Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus
Fritz the Cat (1972)
Animation | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A hypocritical swinging college student cat raises hell in a satiric vision of various elements on the 1960s.

Director: Ralph Bakshi
Stars: Skip Hinnant, Rosetta LeNoire, John McCurry


Cast overview:
... Frodo Baggins / Bilbo Baggins (voice)
... Aragorn (voice)
... Lord Denethor (voice)
... Gandalf (voice)
... Samwise Gamgee (voice)
... Gollum / Smeagol (voice) (as Theodore)
... Orc / Goblin / Uruk-Hai / Captain Shagrat / Lieutenant Snaga / Orc Sergeant / Lord Elrond (voice)
... King Theoden / Easterling / The Mouth of Sauron (voice)
... Gondorian Guard / Dwimmerlaik - The Witch-King of Angmar (voice)
... Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck (voice)
... Peregrin 'Pippin' Took (voice)
... Eowyn / Dernhelm (voice)
... The Minstrel (voice)


This film adapts the final book of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy where the Hobbits, Frodo and Samwise, struggle through the barren land of Mordor to destroy the Ruling Ring in Mount Doom. At the same time, Gandalf and the others wage a desperate battle against the forces of Sauron at Minas Tirith, but Sauron seems to have the upper hand while the source of his power, the Ring, slowly threatens to corrupt its bearers. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Story of Hobbits. See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

11 May 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El retorno del rey  »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Huston directed Theodore Bikel in The African Queen (1951), which also featured Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn was played in The Aviator (2004) by Cate Blanchett, who also appeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The cast of that film also included Ian Holm and Danny Huston. See more »


Many names of locations and characters are mispronounced: Gorgoroth as Gorogoroth, Minas Tirith as Mine-as Tirith (instead of Me-nas), Cirith Ungol as Sirith Ungol (insteaf of Kirith), Smaug as Smog (instead of Sma-ug), Sauron as Soron (instead of Sow-ron), Lebennin as LebEnnin (instead of LEbennin). See more »


Eowyn: Begone foul dwimmerlaik! Leave the dead in peace.
The Witch King: Come not between the Nazgul and his prey, or he will slay thee in turn.
Eowyn: Do what you will, I will hinder it if I may.
The Witch King: Hinder me? Thou fool! Dost though not know the prophecy? No living man may hinder me.
Eowyn: But no living man am I! You look upon a woman, Eowyn am I. You stand between me and my Lord and kin. Begone, or living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him!
See more »


Follows The Hobbit (1977) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The Ascent of the Animated King
4 February 2005 | by See all my reviews

It was the first time that Rankin/Bass had dared to take on a two-hour special. But, having plunged into Tolkien's Middle-earth once before, it was a challenge they could pull off with the expertise R/B fans had always expected of them. Hence, The Return of the King: A Story of the Hobbits, to give the film its full title.

One wonders, I'm sure, what inspired Romeo Muller to change Bilbo's age from "eleventy-one," as Tolkien wrote the number, to one hundred and twenty-nine. Still, it was a thrill having most of "The Hobbit"'s vocal contributors back: Orson Bean, John Huston, Theodore, Paul Frees, Don Messick, Glenn Yarbrough --- and adding Casey Kasem, Theodore Bikel and Sonny Melendrez to the mix, too --- to take us on the journey that Ralph Bakshi should have finished, but didn't.

Many are the tales told about how Bakshi was only given enough financing to see us through most of The Fellowship of the Ring and approximately the first half of The Two Towers. When it became apparent, though, that the second Bakshi Ring movie would never come to pass, that made it possible for the folks at Rankin/Bass to seize a golden opportunity. And this they did, as we know by now, with a vengeance. Playing the story straight, as they did with "The Hobbit," the R/B team set out to take all the best elements from Return of the King and begin the film in flashback, with Bilbo's 129th birthday party, as he, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf and Elrond look back at the good times and excellent adventures that culminated in the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth ..... and with it, in Gandalf's words, "the beginning of the New Age of Man."

Again, as I did with Peter Jackson's version, I will dispense with a plot synopsis, assuming that you are already familiar with the legend without having to hear me tell it to you. Among the several strange moments that one does not notice about Rankin/Bass' Return of the King occurs during the sequence in which Gollum battles Frodo for control of the One Ring of Power. In a move considered unprecedented at the time of its original showing, Rankin/Bass decided to depict this climactic showdown graphically. The closeup of Frodo's just bitten hand shaking as though it were an earthquake monitor was, for its time, the most horrifying scene R/B's animators had ever attempted. To this day, one shudders in surprise that this scene was even cleared by ABC's censors!

In place of Tolkien's original songs, Maury Laws and Jules Bass save the day again (assisted partially by Bernard Hoffer, who would later write the score cues and theme songs for R/B's classic 80s series, Thundercats, Silverhawks and The Comic Strip). "It's So Easy Not to Try," "Small Things," "Retreat!", "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way" and "The Ballad of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom" are all singable, they help the story along (indeed, in the case of "Where There's a Whip, There's a Way," it has the proverbial great beat you can dance to --- or, one presumes, torture your enemies with!) .... and they're songs you can believe in!

But no one sequence in the film is as deeply powerful visually as Aragorn's Coronation Procession, set to the film's title song. Here's something you didn't know: For one short panning scene, the animators went to Jerusalem, where they shot live-action footage of people cheering. The footage was then studied and brilliantly rotoscoped, so that it actually looks like there are citizens of Minas Tirith cheering on the coming of their King!

Once again, we see that the Rankin/Bass team were second to none in their constant efforts to share with their audiences adventures unlike anything they had previously experienced. And because they were the only production entity that had pioneered the "dramatic animated television special," they could take this type of story and put it into the context that was its rightful due.

This, then, was the power behind The Return of the King --- a simple, straightforward saga that would not bow to the attitudes of so-called sensationalism, but would nevertheless be the only Tolkien adventure that one could truly believe in.

And then, as the world knows by now, came a man named Peter Jackson. But that, again as they say, is another story.........

12 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 54 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed