2609: Entwives

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No, we actually do have a woman who's basically part of our fellowship. She lives in Rivendell, you wouldn't know her.
Title text: No, we actually do have a woman who's basically part of our fellowship. She lives in Rivendell, you wouldn't know her.
  • The comic is a link to a YouTube video.


In The Lord of the Rings, the Ents are a species of tree-like humanoids, such as the one depicted in this comic. The comic shows an Ent, presumably Treebeard, meeting with some of the nine from the Fellowship of the Ring. The image is inaccurate inasmuch as it shows three hobbits: during the Ents' interactions with the Fellowship, two of the four hobbits (Frodo and Sam) were elsewhere in Middle Earth, so it was only Merry and Pippin who met the ents. The other three in the image are the human Aragorn, the Dwarf Gimli and the Elf Legolas. The last two of the nine, not depicted, were the wizard Gandalf and the human Boromir.

Part of the backstory of the Ents is that all the females of their species (the Entwives that this comic is named for) had disappeared thousands of years before during Sauron's war of the second age. The Ents and the Entwives lived in separate locations, and eventually, when the Ents went to visit the Entwives, the latter were seemingly nowhere to be found. The Ents have been searching for their lost mates ever since. The loneliness of the Ents' all-male society is considered a great tragedy in their culture. It is several thousands years ago in the time of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Ents have all but forgotten how the Entwives even looked. They live for many thousands of years.

This comic uses that backstory to satirically comment on the extreme gender imbalance of the protagonists of Lord of the Rings; when presented with the all-male Fellowship, the Ent assumes that they must come from a race afflicted by a similar tragedy. In a broader sense, this can be read as a commentary on how few female characters there are in the trilogy overall. In reality, the general lore presents, or at least mentions, the existence of at least multiple (if not numerous) female characters of almost all races that make up the fellowship (dwarf, man, elf, hobbit), and does not suggest that what happened with the Ents and their Entwives happened to any other race.

The clickable link on the image leads to the satirical video Lord of the Rings Trilogy but it's EVERY scene where two female characters interact. The creator claims that this shows all the scenes from the trilogy where two female characters interact (but later admits in the Youtube comments that there are indeed a few more). There is only one 3 second long scene, which only emphasizes how few female characters there are in the trilogy. The inclusion of this clip may be a reference to the Bechdel test, a baseline indicator of the representation of women in a piece of media that requires two women to have a conversation about something other than a man. Whether this three-and-a-half-word exchange is sufficient to pass the test is debatable. Later versions of the test suggest that the two women should be named (i.e. not just two incidental characters that have very few lines), whereas this scene is between Éowyn and an unnamed girl. There is debate as to if there are other scenes with women speaking with women, and if we are only talking about human women, or if other races females would also count. There are at least three important female characters, but they do not meet/speak much if at all. But they have several scenes where they talk, even a long monologue... But if they speak to someone it is male characters.

The title text most likely refers to the character of Arwen, an elf woman and, later, wife of Aragorn; while somewhat important to the story, she is nowhere near as significant as the males of the Fellowship, despite being used more prominently in the movies than in the books. Even if she were part of the Fellowship, a single important woman wouldn't counterbalance the heavily male-centric storytelling.

The way that the title text is phrased is a reference to the proverbial (and implicitly imaginary) "Girlfriend in Canada," a trope in which a single American character claims to have a girlfriend that their friends wouldn't know "because she lives in Canada" (or some other sufficient separation such as "goes to another school"), when in reality the reason that nobody else has met her is because she doesn't exist (with an implication that the character is a closeted gay, an incel, or just lying to make himself look better). Canada is one of only two countries with which the United States has land borders, making it a potentially plausible place for some American's long-distance girlfriend to live, and presumably the Fellowship consider the Elf kingdom of Rivendell to be sufficiently distant to allow the Ent to accept the plausibility of the statement without any further delving into potentially awkward details.


[A large treelike person (an Ent, maybe Treebeard) is holding one of his arms out towards six characters that are all looking at him. A man (Aragorn) with beard stubble and long hair, a dwarf (Gimli) with a helmet and a very large beard, an elf (Legolas) with long blonde hair (holding a bow down), and three short persons, hobbits, two with dark hair, and the middle one with blonde hair.]
Ent: Alas, there are no Ent women. The Entwives all vanished in the second age, during Sauron's war.
Aragorn: I'm so sorry.
Ent: And what about you all? Same story, I assume?
Aragorn: Huh? No, what do you mean?

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This seems like one of the earliest-released comics in recent history Dextrous Fred (talk) 14:00, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

There seemed to be two versions of the title text; on mobile, there is a youtube link visible, but this is not present on my chrome desktop view Dextrous Fred (talk) 14:05, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

The comic is a link, like 1017: Backward in Time and many others. Many Android browsers simply choose to show the target URL beneath the title text. The YouTube URL is not part of the title text, on a PC you can just click the comic to open it. --NeatNit (talk) 11:47, 21 April 2022 (UTC)
My Android phone is too old for me to attempt this, but on my iPad if I tap and hold an image I usually get the mouseover text, but this time it only shows the link and gives me a menu for what to do with it. (I usually just get the mouseover text here, on THIS site). :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 07:02, 23 April 2022 (UTC)
My personal experience (not a very recent Android, I think it's browser-specific and I habitually use two different browsers on here so I can test that later, maybe) is that, for this comic, I get the mouseover text (truncated with an ellipsis… as usual for any titletext that's longer than not-very-long-at-all — which is why I also always pay attention to this site, primarily, rather than the original, until I discover that there's direct bonus-stuff to drinking from the true source) plus the youtube URI, and then various choices of copying/saving/etc various things (image, link, link-text, target... I forget exactly what, but around that area) with various usefulnesses-or-not in this context.
For a 'normal' comic, the long-hold just tells me the "titletext…" with its probable truncation and a slightly different set of options regarding mostly opening the image in a new tab/etc. Again, between testing that and writing this I've let the exact details slip from my mind, but YGTI... ;) 15:31, 23 April 2022 (UTC)

The mouseover text in android devices is this youtube link - [[1]] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt2qCjL6-n4 DefectedWBC (talk) 14:18, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

Is LotR the lowest scoring major motion picture on the Bechdel test? 14:37, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

Unlikely, depending on how you define major motion picture.
Some major films do even worse on the Bechdel scale than the Lord of the Rings films, which at least had three memorable, prominently credited female roles. Lawrence of Arabia had no actresses credited in the cast list. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World had no actresses credited in the cast list, nor does IMDb list any uncredited actresses for it. -- 19:20, 20 April 2022 (UTC)
There's no such thing as 'lowest scoring' - it's framed as a pass/fail test. 11:39, 21 April 2022 (UTC)
I would still be inclined to say it fails more. :) It's further from a pass than some.NiceGuy1 (talk) 07:04, 23 April 2022 (UTC)

As pointed out in YouTube’s comment section, the video seems to be a joke, not actually the only female interaction in the films. Chortos-2 (talk) 14:49, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

In response to Chortos-2 comment, I would think a slight edit for accuracy along the following lines -- instead of "a video showing" change to "a video that purports to show". As they discuss, the point still stands, but the added accuracy would hurt, would it? 15:39, 20 April 2022 (UTC)newbie

Gender imbalance among readers and viewers of lotr as well. 14:51, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

I feel like it's weird that nobody's brought up that this is an Ent comic on 4/20. For context, reddit.com/r/trees (the weed subreddit) has an in joke where they call themselves ents, basically. Bazzherb (talk) 15:44, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

How is the date significant? "Weed New Year", okay, but just because they're both plants??NiceGuy1 (talk) 07:02, 23 April 2022 (UTC)

So who is the third hobbit supposed to be? -- 15:56, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

With the caveat that (by movie standard reference) the hair colours are inverted — there is one dark-haired hobbit and three light(er)-haired ones — I'd say Pippin - if he's the taller one of the sidekick pair like I think he is, rather than Merry. But I can't guarantee the first two are Frodo and Sam (or which is which is which) because fairer-haired Sam is taller than dark- (and spiky-)haired Frodo in the reference cast photos I've just checked. (The necessary on-film rescaling/standing-in-a-hole of non-midget actors to play hobbits/dwarves might complicate these group tableaus!) Perhaps they are all Hobbits Of Another Story, coincidentally in a fellowship with another generic Human, Dwarf and Elf. Or else drawn more faithfully to the book (which I have yet to check) than the film adaptation? 16:30, 20 April 2022 (UTC)
But Frodo and Sam separated from the Fellowship before they encountered the Ents.DaBunny42 (talk) 13:34, 21 April 2022 (UTC)
I think this is important enough to mention in the explanation. Maybe they met the Ents later, when Frodo and Sam had returned, but this seems like earlier. --Kynde (talk) 08:53, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
It is not a third hobbit. It is Gandalf: He is a conjurer of cheap tricks and can normally make himself larger, but the Ents can see right through him. That is his natural size depicted. Sebastian -- 06:35, 22 April 2022 (UTC)

Considering Arwens and Ents age, I would actually suspect that yes he totally knows her. -- Hkmaly (talk) 18:19, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

My first thought was that, especially with both races having an interest in trees... But then I decided that their opposing views of trees (habitat vs livestock) might have encouraged a natural racial separation, or at least less likely to socially mix over the millenia. (Not that I wrote the text in support of it being a good excuse, I just post-hoc rationalised what I read. ;) ) 19:10, 20 April 2022 (UTC)

"...one of the United States' two neighboring countries..." What about Cuba, the Bahamas, Russia, etc.? Just because there is no land border doesn't mean there is no border. SDSpivey (talk) 15:44, 21 April 2022 (UTC)

Yeah, it kinda does mean there is no border, at least in those cases. All are well outside the 12 mile zone of territorial sovereignty.DaBunny42 (talk) 00:48, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
No, the U.S. definitely has borders maritime borders with Cuba, the Bahamas, and Russia. (I can't support the "etc.", however - it's just those three, plus the maritime borders with Canada and (trivially) Mexico as well.) I will fix the text proper.Mathmannix (talk) 01:16, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
I think saying Canad and Mexico as the countries that borders US is the normal way to see it. Yes it has borders over sea. But who cares. :-) --Kynde (talk) 08:53, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
You're forgetting about Guam, PR, US VI, N Mariana Isl., and American Samoa are part of the USA and DO have water borders with other countries or foreign territories. SDSpivey (talk) 14:56, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
There is an exclave of Great Britain on the big island of Hawaii (Captain Cook's grave) so we have a land boarder with Great Britain too.
Sorry, "border" and "neighbour", as verbs, mean land only. Water borders aren't significant and are the whole reason for these verbs. If water counted, the U.S. borders the U.K.! The point is if you can change countries by foot and/or vehicle. Also, "bordering the U.S." implies the Continental U.S... Again, territories wouldn't be a significant statement.NiceGuy1 (talk) 07:02, 23 April 2022 (UTC)

Was the lack of women in the fellowship because of "the cultural biases of the era in which the novels were written", i.e. a novel writing trope? It would it be more accurate to say the series is influenced by Tolkien's personal experience of fighting on the front lines in World War I. Women were an important part of the war effort, but were not permitted to fight as soldiers on the front line. If you still want to count that as cultural bias, it would be the war-waging cultural biases of the 1900s/10s that left millions without their fathers, brothers and sons, rather than novel-writing cultural biases of the 1940s. 19:56, 21 April 2022 (UTC)

I don't know, but the Witch-king of Angmar's over-confident boast to Éowyn wouldn't make as much sense if Middle-Earth armies were routinely populated by both women and men. Paddles (talk) 10:08, 23 April 2022 (UTC)
Well, I always read that as hubris from too-widely interpretting an actually much narrower 'certainty.
(Was that a thing Sauron told him, back in the day when he was 'recruited'? "Yeah, sure, you're now protected from all men, m'kay?", but it was taken as "...protected from all of mankind, I mean, like totally dude!" Maybe even Sauron thought this, but didn't go through the source-code of the enchantment he was using to bugcheck what exceptions might kick up if encountering objects of type "emmancipated warrior-maiden" or "uppity halfling with a mildly magical barrow-blade", rather than the usual isMan()-satisfying objects. But, even then, just either interaction on its own could have been handled by other innate skills and/or powers, as may have happened in times past but turned out Ok for the guy, whether he knew it or not. It was a combinatorial race-condition, though, that set higher-order bits in the register that had never occured together before now.)
It's a bit like "when Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane". In the absence of Ents (Shakespeare didn't use Ents so much, in his plots!), the assumption was that this was "it'll be a long, long time, no need to worry", rather than "all it takes is for a good opponent to suggest his army use a bit of basic camouflage to get closer". Not so much "it won't ever go badly unless this happens" as "when it goes badly, this will have happened", filtered through a Cassandra Truth that the listener doesn't even get to fully appreciate before it's too late. 15:31, 23 April 2022 (UTC)

My initial reaction to the conversation between Treebeard and Aragorn was that Treebeard was about to become angry and possibly violent due to sexual envy, if he suddenly finds out that all other races in Middle Earth are enjoying normal sexual relations with eachother. A less likely outcome would be that Treebeard and his chums are all quite "friendly" with each other, and he might expect similar "favours" from the Fellowship in exchange for the Ents' assistance in fighting Saruman, etc. Or am I reading too much into this strip? Beechmere (talk) 05:27, 22 April 2022 (UTC)Beechmere

That last bit - yes, you are. 08:07, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
Yes very far out there ;-) --Kynde (talk) 08:53, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
Why would you assume that the way Ents engage in sexual relations was anything like that of humans, dwarves, elves or hobbits? Paddles (talk) 10:08, 23 April 2022 (UTC)

Is Rivendell a "real place" in the Lord of the Rings or something that xkcd made up? What is it known for? -- 05:36, 22 April 2022 (UTC)

Rivendell is the sanctuary of the Elves. 08:07, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
Very important place in LoTR where Elrond lives. It is where the fellowship of the ring is born. So as real as Narnia... :-D --Kynde (talk) 08:53, 22 April 2022 (UTC)
LOL! Yeah, a significant location, it's where the Fellowship rest up, IIRC they reunite with Gandalf there. They confer with elven elders there. In the movies the female elder was getting seduced by the ring and gets demonic before catching a hold of herself. NiceGuy1 (talk) 07:02, 23 April 2022 (UTC)
Nah, that was Lothlorien. Rivendell is where the Fellowship is formed. -- 06:54, 24 April 2022 (UTC)

Ummmm, there's ANYBODY who finds it debatable if non-human females count toward the Bechdel test??? By that logic the only male in this comic is Aragorn! Come on! That's one thing that bugs me on this site, SO many explanations with overly cautious uncertainty where none belong. There is no question whatsoever if non-human-but-humanoid females count, I suspect the definition doesn't specify "human", after all. :) My vote is to adjust that part.

Also, I know this is true for The Hobbit, but I forget: Did the movie add females who weren't in the book? In order to address this issue? NiceGuy1 (talk) 07:02, 23 April 2022 (UTC)

No, the LotR movies were better about not inventing characters from whole cloth. -- 06:54, 24 April 2022 (UTC)