The Great Goblin was ruler of a major Goblin dwelling east of Rivendell called Goblin-town below the High Pass in The Misty Mountains. He is described in the book as “a tremendous Goblin with a huge head.” His Goblins waylaid the party of Dwarves and Bilbo as they traveled in the Misty Mountains, took them to Goblin-town and brought them before the Great Goblin. Enraged whey he finds out Thorin is carrying the sword Orcreist, or ‘Goblin-cleaver,’ he ordered his goblins to “Slash them! Beat them! Bite them! Gnash them!” and rushes at Thorin. He is then killed by Gandalf who had escaped capture by the Goblins, unleashing a chase through Goblin-town. In the movie, the Great Goblin is played by Barry Humphries, who survives a bit longer and joins in the chase before being dispatched by Gandalf with a slice of his sword, Glamdring, to the Goblin King’s belly. The Goblin King was clearly a mighty and important orc. We find out later in the book that his forces were planning an assault on the Woodmen, and he extended the goblins’ influence enough to block off virtually all access over the Misty Mountains.
Analysis: Was he related to the Goblin royal family, Azog and Bolg? How had he come to his position? Did he have links with the Necromancer? Was he possibly an early example of a Uruk-Hai? Or was he just a Goblin with politicial ambitions?