Gimli is the son of Gloin of the House of Durin. Gimli's father Gloin was one of the original thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield who set out on a quest to reclaim the treasure of Erebor (The Lonely Mountain) with whom Bilbo traveled which subsequently led to his finding of the One in Gollum's cave beneath the Misty Mountains. In an odd twist of fate Gloin's son Gimli sets out with the fellowship from Rivendell to guard the ring's new bearer Frodo Baggins. On the fellowships' journey through Khazad-dum ( Moria) Gimli is shocked to find his cousin Balin (and all his company) slain. Shortly after this discovery Gimli sees with his own eyes Durin's Bane (a balrog), creatures of shadow and flame who were, in the time of Morgoth (Melkor) the chief servants/lieutenants of Angband. After escaping Moria (and losing Gandalf the Grey) the company proceeds to the forest of Lothlorien home of Celeborn and Galadriel. During the fellowship's stay in Lorien, Gimli develops a fondness for the Lady Galadriel which is unheard of throughout the rest of Middle-Earth (a dwarf caring for an elf) but the lady sees in Gimli's heart a resolute warrior and trustworthy companion which is sure to benefit the rest of the company. During their stay in Lorien it is also noticed by the fellowship that Gimli and Legolas also seem to be developing a bond of friendship. Upon the fellowship's departure when all gifts are given to the rest of the fellowship Gimli asks only for a single strand of golden hair from the Lady Galadriel's head which she gives him.
At Amon-Hen during the breaking of the fellowship Gimli and Legolas fight together against the company of Uruks of Saruman who were sent to capture the weapon of the enemy from the halflings who are rumored to now possess it. During this struggle Boromir is slain, Merry and Pippin are captured by the Uruk-hai, and Frodo and Sam proceed alone to Emyn Muil (Drear Hills) where they can then descend to Mordor. Gimli, Aragorn, and Legolas choose to pursue Merry and Pippin and let Frodo continue along on the quest as he chose fit.
Gimli and his companions travel across the plains of Rohan but the swift Uruks soon pass beyond the reach of the company. The three companions cross paths with Eomer and his band of riders and discover the party of Uruk-hai have been slaughtered and that none were left alive. Overtaken by sudden despair the company believes their small friends dead but are given horses to ride and check the battlefield for any traces of the young hobbits. Gimli rides astride the same horse with Legolas and the company make their way to battleground at the edge of the Forest of Fangorn (Forest of Treebeard). Gimli is leery of the trees which seems to possess (and do in fact) the essence of life. The company are soon reunited with Gandalf (now the White) while tracking the trail of the hobbits Merry and Pippin and are told of their need in Edoras and that Merry and Pippin are safe and setting other plans in motion. Gimli, Gandalf, Aragorn, and Legolas ride to the hall of King Theoden who is bewitched by Saruman and the evil council of Grima Wormtongue. Gandalf rallies Theoden's strength and cast out Grima to ride back to Saruman and tell him that his treachery is known. The company (after quick preparation) ride to Helm's Deep to take defense against the oncoming attack by Saruman's Uruks and the rallied Wild Men of Dunland. During the battle Gimli's valor and skill are now made openly known to his companions as he swiftly cut down foe after foe. To add sport to the event of battle Gimli and Legolas even enter a contest to see who can fell more enemies (Gimli is later revealed to have won by one foe). Toward the breaking of day after the Deeping Wall of Helm's Deep is breached Gimli is last seen holding his ground against the invaders and much to their dismay Aragorn and Legolas believe Gimli may have been slain but hope remains knowing the stout dwarfs' resolve in combat. Their hope is rewarded in the morning after the charge of the Rohirrim is made and their enemies are overtaken, many orcs and wild men flee into the trees of a forest which had not been there at the start of the battle and never emerge again. To the amazement and delight of his companions, Gimli later emerges with a bandaged head and a notched axe which he blames on the steel collar of an enemy's armor.
After the battle the company ride to Orthanc where the now imprisoned Saruman resides. Gimli and his companions are soon separated from Gandalf again (this time with Pippin departing as well) after Pippin looks into the Palatir they acquire from Saruman (more so from Wormtongue being the one that attempts to drop it on them) it is revealed that Sauron believes Saruman has acquired the One and kept it from him. Thus it is that Sauron sends a Nazgul to retrieve what he believes the One but Pippin glimpses the Enemy's plan and Gandalf guesses that He is preparing to strike Minas Tirith and takes Pippin with him to not only safe guard but watch over him until the final battle begins. Gimli while at Helm's Deep gets to see the Glittering Caves and he and Legolas make a promise that if Legolas goes with Gimli to the Glittering Caves that Gimli with go with Legolas to The Forest of Fangorn. Gimli and the remaining company soon wish to return to Edoras and prepare for the next battle but with the acceleration of the Enemy's plan the party is forced to march to Dunharrow and muster Rohan's remaining forces for their march to the final battle in Gondor. Gimli accompanies Aragorn and Legolas along with a party of Rangers along the Paths of The Dead to regain the spectral army of the once allied men of Gondor (Men of Ered Nimrais) to fulfill their oath to Isildur and be granted their eternal rest at last. The party then take the Corsair ships of Umbar to the final battle of Minas Tirith and the aid of the besieged allied army of the men where Aragorn's standard in unfurled and his birthright shown to the Enemy. With the slaying of the Nazgul lord and the sight of the return of the king the enemy fall into abysmal disarray and quickly thereafter lose the battle of the Pelennor Fields.
Gimli rides upon Legolas' horse with him again as the now reunited company mounts a final offensive to stall as a diversion to allow Frodo and Sam a little more time to destroy the One and truly end the war. The Men of the West march on the Black Gate where in the final hour they are wholly outnumbered but joined by the great Eagles and soon after, the battle is won as the One is cast into Mount Doom and the enemy wholly defeated. After the great war when all is set right again Gimli is rewarded with a gift of receiving The Glittering Caves as his (his people's) own do dwell in and do what they will. Gimli and Legolas fulfill their promises to one another and ride to the Glittering Caves and to The Forest of Fangorn and finally at the end of his days Gimli departs on the White Ships (much like many of his companions before him) to The Undying Lands beyond the sea.
The dwarf that completes the popular trio in Lord of the Rings. Being a dwarf he is often made the subject of jokes in the books, movies, and games. Unlike Aragorn and Legolas he wields an axe instead of a sword. The speed of his character and weapons are usually slower than either of the other two which may be why people usually prefer to play as other characters.
* "For real, quality warfare... you have to go for Gimli!" - John Rhys Davies