Difference between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings

Key difference: Harry Potter is written by J.K. Rowling and was first published in 1994. Lord of the Rings is older and was published in 1954 by J.R.R. Tolkien. Additionally, Harry Potter has seven books in its series, whereas Lord of the Rings has only three. They also have different plotlines and stories.

Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are two popular book series that have also gone on to garner great fame and popularity. However, there are a number of ongoing debates regarding the similarities and differences between the works of fiction. The primary difference between them and the most obvious one as well is that they are written by different authors. The Harry Potter series is written by J.K. Rowling, the first book of which was published in 1994. Lord of the Rings is fairly older than Harry Potter. It was written by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the first book was published in 1954. Additionally, Harry Potter has seven books in its series, whereas Lord of the Rings has only three.

However, it can be ignored that there are a number the similarities between Rowling’s Harry Potter and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Some of them include Tolkien's Gandalf and Rowling's Dumbledore, both of whom act as a guide and mentor for their respective protagonists. The protagonists themselves, Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins are similar in nature. Both are young orphans (Harry is 11 at the beginning of the book, while Frodo is 33, which is a young adult for a Hobbit) that are cast into a world of magic that they didn’t know of, and have a destiny that they didn’t ask for. Harry has to face and defeat The Dark Lord Voldemort, whereas Frodo has to carry the One Ring and cast it into Mount Doom thus defeating the Dark Lord Sauron.

In fact, there are various similarities between the primary antagonists Voldemort and Sauron, both of whom sought power and total control. Both also used objects that they endued with their own power, which allowed them to survive even after losing their bodies and seemingly having been destroyed long before the story takes place. Voldemort used the horcruxes, whereas Sauron had the One Ring. Both were also commonly referred to as the Dark Lord, as people were scared to use their names.

Some other seminaries between the books include Tolkien's Wormtongue and Rowling's Wormtail, both of whom betray the people around them; Tolkien's Shelob and Rowling's Aragog, large man-eating spiders; Tolkien's Nazgûl and Rowling's Dementors, dark creatures of the night; Old Man Willow and the Whomping Willow, large sentient trees that like to attack people; and many more.

Despite of all the similarities in the two series, it should be noted that the similarities are superficial. They are primarily rooted in the fact that the works of J.R.R. Tolkien are so profound that they have subsequently shaped the future of the fantasy genre. It can be said that nearly any and all fantasy work can find itself to consciously or subconsciously find itself emulating some aspects of Tolkien. In fact, according to the Tolkienian scholar Tom Shippey, "no modern writer of epic fantasy has managed to escape the mark of Tolkien, no matter how hard many of them have tried".

Lord of the RingsHowever, there are many differences between the stories as well. While Tolkien created an entire mythology and a whole new world to speak off, Rowling stays in this world. Her mythology is intertwined with the real world where people can relate to it. Additionally, while the Harry Potter Series is a young adult series that focuses on growing up and dealing with the world around them, Tolkien’s series is more of an epic adventure journey that might not be suitable for children under a certain age. Also while the plot of Harry Potter primarily follows the story of Harry, the plot of Lord of the Rings is vast and follows the individual stories of all of the nine primary companions after they are separated, as well as the story of other characters as well.

They also differ in the themes that they address in their stories. Rowling’s Harry Potter deals with the themes of good vs. evil, death, love, growing up, as well as political overtures, normality, oppression, survival, and overcoming imposing odds. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is more traditional in context. It is a typical epic journey that deals with the themes of good vs. evil, the journey, self-discovery, as well as the duality and parallelism of hope and despair, knowledge and enlightenment, death and immortality, fate and free will. In both the stories, the protagonist must undertake a task with great risk to himself in order to save the world as he knows it.

Comparison between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings:


Harry Potter

Lord of the Rings


Young adult fantasy series

Epic high-fantasy series


J.K. Rowling

J.R.R. Tolkien

Number of books

7 books

3 books

Books in Series

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone in US)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King


  • 26 June 1997
  • 2 July 1998
  • 8 July 1999
  • 8 July 2000
  • 21 June 2003
  • 16 July 2005
  • 21 July 2007
  • 29 July 1954
  • 11 November 1954
  • 20 October 1955

Main Protagonist

Harry Potter

Frodo Baggins


A young orphan cast into the world he doesn’t understand with a destiny he didn’t ask for.

A young orphan cast into the world he doesn’t understand with a destiny he didn’t ask for.


The story primarily follows the protagonist, i.e. Harry Potter

There are many parallel stories that run together, one of which follows Frodo. Other story lines are also followed for the Nine companions of the Fellowship.


  • Good vs. Evil
  • Death
  • Love
  • Growing Up
  • Political Overtures
  • Normality
  • Oppression
  • Survival
  • Overcoming imposing odds
  • Good vs. Evil
  • The Journey
  • Self-discovery
  • Hope and despair
  • Knowledge and enlightenment
  • Death and immortality
  • Fate and free will
Reference: Wikipedia (Harry Potter, Harry Potter Influences,
Lord of the Rings, Themes of LOTR)
Image Courtesy: heartranjan.com, lisaebetz.com

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