Legolas was a Sindarin Elf of the Silvan realm of Mirkwood, the only recorded son of King Thranduil. He became famous because of his membership in the Fellowship of the Ring, in which he served as one of their most valuable assets because of his superior sight, hearing, lightness of foot, and unrivaled archery. Despite this, however, he played only a minor role in The Lord of the Rings, and the least is known about him, perhaps, of all the members in the company.
Legolas was alive during the Battle of Five Armies and it is most likely that he took place in it, though nothing is mentioned of it.
Tolkien first describes Legolas in The Fellowship of the Ring as “a strange Elf, clad in green and brown”.
As part of the Fellowship of the Ring, Legolas is armed with a bow and arrows and one “long white knife”. While the Fellowship attempts to cross Caradhras, Legolas alone remains light-hearted. He is little affected by the blowing winds and snow; he does not even wear boots, only light shoes, and his feet scarcely make imprints on the snow – illustrating the Elves’ otherworldliness. He is also lithe and slender with bright, keen eyes and ears and is fair of face as all elves are. He is an unrivalled archer and Gandalf calls him a dangerous warrior. He often bursts into song during the journey and is often the most cheerful member of the Fellowship. His keen eyes, ears and fighting skills are of immense use to the Fellowship but his friendship and loyalty to Aragorn, Gimli and Frodo make him an even more important member.
Legolas’ hair colour is not definitively stated. Both Ralph Bakshi and Peter Jackson make him blond in their respective film adaptations (see below). In a musical version of The Lord of the Rings, Legolas is dark-haired. In the real-time strategy game The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring, his hair is white or silver. However, typical Sindarin Elves have dark hair.
Though neither Legolas’ age nor his birthdate are directly given in Tolkien’s writings, some passages indicate he is far older than Aragorn and Gimli. For instance, he calls them “children” and says he has seen “many an oak grow from acorn to ruinous age”. The Appendices to The Lord of the Rings do reveal Gimli’s and Aragorn’s birthdates: at the time of the War of the Ring, they are 139 and 87 respectively.
Though his father and his kingdom appear in The Hobbit, Legolas does not appear himself, as his character had yet not been created (though his name had). However, since he is over 139 years old, being older than Gimli, he must have been alive during the events of The Hobbit, which take place less than a century before the Quest of Mount Doom.