The One Ring Challenge

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Name: The One Ring Challenge
Date(s): 2002
Founder: Dale
Type: fanfiction
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings
URL: The One Ring Challenge
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The One Ring Challenge was an influential challenge in The Lord of the Rings fandom, set by Dale in 2002, to write AUs in which a character took the Ring. The challenge was inspired by Telanu's darkfic No Windows, in which Gandalf took the Ring and defeated Sauron only to become a new Dark Lord.[1] The original wording was:

What if Frodo had kept the ring? If Gollum or Boromir had stolen it? If the ring had been taken by Gandalf or Galadriel? If Sauron had suceeded?

Any length, any pairings, any theme - just that in each story, the Ring belongs to someone.[1]

A total of 28 stories were written for the original challenge. The characters taking the Ring included Merry, Pippin, Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Boromir, Denethor, Gimli, Gandalf, Legolas, Arwen, Elrond, Galadriel, Celeborn, Éowyn, Éomer, Rosie Cotton, Gríma, Tom Bombadil, Thorin, Shelob and the Nazgul.

Many of the original set of stories were widely recommended. According to Gwynevere1, no challenge in this fandom has produced as many brilliant fics as The One Ring Challenge.[2] Carmarthen writes I think it's the quality of myth about many of the stories that attracts me most.[3]

Fans continued to write stories inspired by the challenge long after it had closed. Serious responses to the challenge were still appearing as late as 2008.[4] The idea of a character taking the Ring became a common Lord of the Rings trope cum cliché, and was often associated with "one character takes the Ring and rapes another character" badfic. Vulgarweed wrote in 2007: Damn, there was that stretch in LOTR fandom where everybody was writing these melodramatic Character X Takes The Ring and Kills and/or Rapes Everybody Else fic. They really did all start to sound the same. I want to see one where Bill the Pony takes it and rapes Shadowfax.[5]

Notable Works