Théoden is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. He appears first in The Two Towers and stays to feature as one of the major players in The Return of the King.
Théoden is introduced in the second volume of The Lord of the Rings. By the time of the War of the Ring, Théoden had been king of Rohan for 39 years, and was showing signs of his age. He was increasingly misled by his chief advisor Gríma (or Wormtongue as most others in the Mark called him), who was secretly in the employ of the corrupt wizard Saruman, and who may even have accelerated his ageing through "subtle poisons" (as implied in Unfinished Tales).
In the last years before the War of the Ring, Théoden let his rule slip out of his hands, and Gríma became increasingly powerful. Rohan was troubled again by Orcs and Dunlendings, who operated under the will of Saruman, ruling from Isengard.
When Théodred was mortally wounded at a battle at the Fords of Isen, Éomer became Théoden's heir. Éomer was out of favour with Wormtongue, however, and was eventually arrested.
When Gandalf the White and Aragorn appeared before him in The Two Towers, Théoden initially rebuffed Gandalf's advice to ride out against Saruman. When the wizard revealed Wormtongue for what he was, Théoden returned to his senses. He restored his nephew, took up his sword Herugrim, and in spite of his age, led the Riders of Rohan into the Battle of the Hornburg. After this he became known as Théoden Ednew, the Renewed, because he had thrown off the yoke of Saruman and Gríma.
Bound by the Oath of Eorl (the first king of Rohan), Théoden led the Rohirrim to the aid of Gondor at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. In that battle he routed the Harad cavalry, personally killing their chieftain and banner-bearer in the process. He challenged the Witch-king of Angmar, the leader of the Nazgûl, and was mortally wounded when his horse Snowmane fell upon him. He was avenged by Éowyn and the Hobbit Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck, both of whom had ridden to war in secret. Before mustering the Rohirrim to ride to Gondor's aid, Théoden enlisted Merry into his army, but did not let the Hobbit ride into battle at Pelennor. In his last moments, he bid farewell to Merry and appointed Éomer the next king.
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