Recently MCF posited a scenario: Smurfs vs. Hobbits. After several submitted articles across a very small corner of the blogosphere, the results came in with most voting for Hobbits due to their size. Many would say “they can crush the smurf, forthwith.” MCF on the other hand stood with the Smurfs and pointed out that most hobbits weren’t even adventurous stating that the books listed a mere 5 that ever dared out of the Shire. Smurfs, with both alchemy and adventure on their side, would overcome the Hobbits. Despite MCF’s sloppy research, I will look at the data and see who truly would win in a battle of Smurfs versus Hobbits.
First, let’s clear up some details. Battling Gargamel, though no small feat, did not mean that Smurfs were in a dire war against a proficient mage. Although evil, his magic was often flawed and thus part of his reasoning behind hunting the Smurfs. The epitome of his weakness was created Smurfette and having her turned by Papa Smurf by mere alchemy. As for The Hobbits, all of them actually, were in a battle against Saruman, formerly the White of the Order. In the end, Frodo ordered Saruman and his men to leave and the old wizard slinked off, only to have his throat slashed by Grima (who was immediately killed by Hobbit archers).
Hobbits Physical Skills
Hobbits are all proficient in hiding, bettered only by elves. It’s not a magical talent, merely something they have always prided themselves in. Hobbits are also proficient in missile weapons, like stones, slings, darts and arrows. Bilbo himself managed to fell several spiders (of the same ilk that nearly killed Sam Gamgee in Torech Ungol,) with a mere stone.
Smurfs Physical Skills:
Smurfs are incredibly skilled in every art, work or ability available to creatures. At three apples height each Smurf has one specific skill and is known accordingly. The Smurf who is Brainy will, by nature, be the only Smurf that is Brainy (note that Braininess doesn’t come with Wisdom). This means that Smurfs do not currently lack in skills but it does mean that if, say Handy Smurf, was killed there would be no other Smurf to do Handy work.
Win: Hobbits since their physical skills are spread over a wide group whereas Smurfs skills are native to only one Smurf at a time.
Hobbits are often drawn by their stomachs but when push comes to shove they have tightened their belts and made do. Indeed, Frodo and Sam made sure to save enough lembas waybread to get them to Oroduin and die—not really expecting a way back.
Saying that, All Hobbits also have a latent ability at bravery and extreme courage—not just the five that MCF mentioned.
For instance: Bilbo, Frodo, Pippen and Merry came from a line of hobbits often labeled strange. Pippen, Frodo and Bilbo of the Took line (who were known for impulsive adventures) and Merry from the Brandybuck line (who lived way too close to the Old Forest and had an odd liking towards swimming and boating). In fact, one Gerontius Took (the 26th Thain of the Shire) led the defense against the White Wolves that had crossed into the Shire during the Fell Winter of 2911. Another took, Bandobras “Bullroarer” led the charge in the Battle of Greenfields where he knocked the head off the orc enemy leader, Golfimbul, with a club. The orc’s head flew 100 yards, falling into a rabbit hole and thus golf was invented.
Sam Gamgee had no relation to any of these normally heroic clans and yet he was the one who voluntarily became Ringbearer to make his way to Oroduin on his own, he was the one who slew Shelob the spider and he was the one who entered the Tower of Cirith Ungol to rescue his master—something that likely Gandalf wouldn’t have dared to do.
Hobbits are also adept at thriving during horrendously hard situations. Note Merry and Pippin’s banter during their capture (Fellowship).
All Smurfs have potential for great bravery and yet are often drawn to their bravery by means of their personal vice. For instance, Grouchy could be brave but only grouchily so. Vanity Smurf could be brave, but would constantly find his downfall in a mirror. Jokey’s bravery was often a danger to his own friends as much as to enemies—he just couldn’t pass up a good joke. So although the Smurfs have extreme potential they are slaves to their vices.
Smurfs have amazing potential for physical invention. If there is a desire to fly, a single Smurf will focus on that desire and achieve flying. If a second Smurf tries in the same endeavor he will (of Smurf necessity) fail miserably but with a lesson to all. Sometimes Smurfs would create other Smurfs only by need ie; Clockwork Smurf (the Data of Smurfdom who occasionally needs his innards overhauled)
Win: Hobbits since they have a proven track record of making potential active. Smurfs on the other hand have a track record of making a vice or desire Active. Admittedly that means there’s potential for Killer Smurf but that would reduce all other Smurfs to Non-Killer Smurfs. In a battle of several hundred hobbits to one killer Smurf, the outcome is obvious.
Hobbits have no magic like wizards, but they have that magic that lets them not be seen by seeking eyes and not being heard when they don’t want to be heard. Hobbits, strangely enough, have a good internal defense against magic. Gandalf himself was often surprised by their ability to survive the most adverse conditions. For two examples, note Frodo who survived over a fortnight with a Nazgul sword shard in his body (most men would have become wraiths after mere days) and note Gollum (Smeagol, a near relative of Hobbits) who had the Ring of Power for many years and never became a wraith, indeed at some points some good even shined in him.
In the Battle of Bywater, many of the hobbits were roused in a defense of Hobbiton. Lobelio of the Sackville-Baggins even gave Bag End back to Frodo Baggins after it was rightfully hers, eventually (at the end of her life) having all her goods sold and given to the Hobbits who had lost their homes.
Papa Smurf is extremely proficient in alchemy. Alive for 542 years and locked in at that point for all time, he would prove a difficult enemy for any adversary. Unfortunately, as stated earlier, Smurfs only focus on one skill set. So although he would be able to use Alchemy in his defense, Arrows would likely be the death of him. Arrows can slay wizards if shot in high enough numbers and wizards don’t rely on chemicals.
The Smurf Apprentice also has some potential for magic, but his experiment led more to disaster than following in the footsteps of Papa.
Tie: Smurfs obviously have more magic but Hobbits are amazingly resistant to even the blackest magic which Papa, even though he uses Pentagrams, really doesn’t use.
Conclusion: Hobbits Win
The Smurfs will offer a heck of a battle. They will use strength, flight, jokes, grouchiness and in some cases (Vanity) Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will come into full effect. In the end, the Smurfs have limited resources. A loss of a single smurf (ie: Flying Smurf) is the end of the Smurf Ability to fly—and that’s not even fly and fight. The Smurfs may stand a chance if they become Schlips via Papa Smurf’s potion but even in that scenario they will just be 3 Apple High and vicious.
Hobbits would eventually bring archery and missle weapons to bear, sword skill, courage, bravery and surprising acts of leadership against the smaller enemy. Papa Smurf may come close to surviving but since his skill isn’t Fending Off Arrows From Multiple Enemies, I doubt he’ll survive. Even if not, he’ll leave licking his wounds just like Saruman.