Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings
Two chapters into The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo is making plans in secret to leave the Shire and everything he's ever known, with only Sam for company. Three chapters later, we find out that Merry and Pippin knew about it all along, and made their own plans to go with him. Frodo does nothing to stop Merry and Pippin from following him and Sam.
"We are coming with you, or following you like hounds."
Tom Bombadil and Goldberry's very existence, as well as the side-tales of Tom's (mis)adventures. It might just be airy-fairy nonsense when taken out of context, but considering the setting they're in, it makes you smile when you consider there's still a little corner of joy that isn't just in the Shire.
This, from the ending of Fellowship of the Ring:
"Oh, Mr. Frodo," said Sam, shivering. "Where would you be if I hadn't had that feeling and come back here?"
"Safely on my way."
"Safely! All alone, and without me to help you? I couldn't have borne it; it would have been the death of me."
"It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam, and I could not bear that."
"Not so certain as being left behind...
"Of course [you have to go], but not alone. I'm coming too, or neither of us isn't going. I'll knock holes in all the boats first."
Sam asking Frodo if he thinks people in the future will be reading about their adventures.
When Sam defends the unconscious Frodo from Shelob, one of the most beautiful lines in the entire series:
A small moment after the Fellowship escapes from Moria. Gimli begs Aragorn to let him see Durin's crown and Frodo accompanies him. Gimli has just found out that his kin were all horribly killed in Moria and saw the terrible evil the dwarves accidentally woke long ago murder their party's leader, while Frodo is still mourning Gandalf's death. Both of them have a brief chance to see something beautiful still left after Moria.
Legolas's friendship with Gimli. In the Fellowship of the Ring, he was the one who pulled Gimli away from Balin's tomb and they began to get over their prejudices while in Lothlorien. In the Two Towers, when they are briefly separated during the siege of Helm's Deep, Legolas is extremely worried until he finds Gimli and watches over Gimli when he sleeps after the battle. By Return of the King, they are inseparable and refuse to be parted even after War of the Ring is over, spending the rest of Gimli's days together!
After Gandalf undoes Wormtongue's work on Théoden in The Two Towers, Théoden insists on going out and leading his people personally. The reaction of every Rohirrim warrior on realizing that their decrepit old king is now among them as a warrior once more is universal: a moment of shock, then laying their swords at his feet and saying "Command me, lord!" in joy.
A combination Funny and Heartwarming occurs when Gimli and Legolas are outraged on seeing Merry and Pippin well-fed and smoking in the ruins of Isengard, after having spent 36+ hours running after them on foot (and then battling through Rohan) and they immediately begin bickering when Pippin retorts that they are enjoying some "well-earned comforts" on the field of victory... meanwhile the Riders of Rohan are laughing at the show, and Théoden sums it up thusly:
"It cannot be doubted that we witness the meeting of dear friends."
Faramir, proving his quality after learning of the Ring:
"Sleep, both of you—in peace, if you can. Fear not! I do not wish to see it, or touch it, or know more of it than I know (which is enough), lest peril perchance waylay me and I fall lower in the test than Frodo son of Drogo."
As well as his opinion of Sam: "Your land must be a realm of peace and content, and there must gardeners be held in high honour."
At the end of the Quest when Frodo regains control of his mind:
"I am glad that you are here with me, Sam. Here, at the end of all things."
And Gandalf's parting words:
"I will not say, do not weep. For not all tears are evil."
When Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is freed from the Lockholes, she receives a standing ovation. And then, after she dies, it's revealed that she changed her will to end her feud with Frodo.
Frodo leaves Bag End, not to one of the Bagginses' many relatives, but to Sam.
It's amusing that Galadriel, in spite of all her wisdom and the ability to give astoundingly useful gifts, has absolutely no idea what to give Gimli. It leads to a real heart-warming exchange:
Galadriel: And what gift would a Dwarf ask of the Elves?
Gimli: Nothing, except to gaze upon the Lady of the Galadrim one last time (...)
Galadriel: (...) Let none here say that the Dwarves are grasping and ungracious!
Gimli's courtly love for Galadriel is really rather adorable, as is her regard for him. When the Three Hunters meet up with Gandalf again and he gives Aragorn and Legolas some ominous prophecies from her, Gimli is sad that she didn't send a message to him. But then Gandalf gives him this:
"To Gimli son of Glóin...give his Lady's greetings. Lockbearer, wherever thou goest my thought goes with thee. But have a care to lay thine axe to the right tree!"
And Gimli's so happy he actually capers about and sings!So sweet. Even funnier when you realize Gimli was the only one who got good news.
The most touching part of Galadriel's gift to Gimli is actually found in Silmarillion. Feanor, the greatest of the Elves, asked Galadriel three times for a single lock of her golden hair, and three times she refused him because she could see the darkness in his heart. When Gimli asks her for a single lock to be made a treasure of his house, she instead gives him three. Despite the tensions between their races and Gimli being of a much lower standing, Galadriel considers him worthy to receive three times as much as the gift she refused the greatest Elf of the First Age.
Faramir and Éowyn in the chapter "Steward and the King". Best confession of love, ever.
When Frodo and Sam are brought before the survivors of the battle at the Black Gate at the field of Cormallen and a minstrel comes and sings a song about 'Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom'. Sam breaks out into happy tears, joined by the rest of the army. *Sniff* Nope...no Manly Tears here...not at all *sniff*...
Merry seeing Éowyn facing off against the Witch King, knowing that she has practically no chance of surviving that encounter and that anyone who tries to help her is as good as dead as well, yet he doesn't hesitate to try and help.
Merry: She should not die, so fair, so desperate. At least, she should not die alone, unaided.
The father/son relationship between Merry and Théoden.
Every time Bergil starts talking up the great captains who will defend Gondor—Faramir, Prince Imrahil, and Aragorn after Pelennor—he always adds his dad, the plain man-at-arms Beregond, to the list. Any boy who loved and admired his father would of course think him the equal to the mightiest heroes of the land.
Beregond's love and admiration for Faramir. He's not even under Faramir's direct command. And while everyone in Gondor thinks Faramir is pretty great, Beregond is one of the few who values Faramir and Boromir equally. And that's well before he storms the Silent Street to rescue Faramir from a premature cremation.
The Houses of Healing, where Aragorn fulfills the prophecy "the hands of a king are the hands of a healer". (Once he gets those hands on some bloody kingsfoil, at least.)
When Faramir comes to, the first thing he does is to address Aragorn as king. When Aragorn tells him to rest and get well, Faramir agrees. "For who would lay idle when the king has returned?" (This is the first time he's ever seen Aragorn.)
He heals Éowyn and praises her valor. He and Gandalf also point out to Éomer (who didn't understand why Éowyn became such a Death Seeker) that Éomer could deal with the crisis in Rohan by going out and kicking ass, while she had to stay in Meduseld all the time, dodging Wormtongue and watching the man she loved as a father deteriorate more and more.
He heals Merry and ribs him about the request for pipe-weed. When Merry apologizes for being flippant (wary of being too effusive), Aragorn brushes it off.
The very end of the novel. "Well, I'm back."
This one also appears in the Tearjerkers page. It's fitting: the last line of the book deserves to be emotionally complex, and powerful, and yet a very simple line.
Crowning Moment of Heartwarming In Adaptations
During the song "Leave Tomorrow Till It Comes" during Frodo's dream sequence. Can't help but feel touched by the scene where the pair of hobbits on the road encounter a pair of benevolentorcs, and the groups wave at each other with easygoing good cheer — a delightful subversion of the typical Always Chaotic Evil portrayal of Tolkien orcs. Since this was Frodo's dream, it says more about Frodo's own sweet heart than about the actual orcs they have encountered while awake. But this moment still works in an elegant way that even a child can easily grasp.
And strangely, this is what Tolkien would have wanted if he had more time to write. He hated the idea of an Always Chaotic Evil race, since it contradicted his Catholic upbringing.
Not only there did it show less than evil Orcs. The song "Where there's a Whip" has the line "We don't want to go to war today/ But the lord of the lash say 'Nay, nay, nay'." That battalion didn't really want to fight but was being forced to. note Of course, they may have just been Dirty Cowards.
In Bashki's animated film, there's a very short bit in Lothlórien where Gimli tries shooting Legolas' bow. It's not important to the story, but it's a nice character moment that allows Gimli to try something he's not used to, and from an elf, no less.
In the same film, Galadriel's delivery of "I pass the test".
Frodo: Lady Galadriel, I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It's too great a matter for me.
Galadriel:(laughing) And I came to test your heart. (increasingly dark and forboding) You will give me the Great Ring freely and in place of the Dark Lord you will set up a queen. And I shall not be evil, but beautiful and terrible as the morning and the night. Stronger than the foundations of the earth. (proclaiming) All shall love me and despair! (softly, warmly) I pass the test. I will diminish and go into the west and remain Galadriel. And you must depart in the morning.
Then there's the moment from the book that was left out of the Jackson film:
Frodo: It does not seem that I can trust anyone.
Merry: It all depends on what you want. You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin – to the bitter end. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word!
Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in Peter Jackson's The Lord of The Rings Films
Fellowship of the Ring
Bilbo's conversation with Frodo at his birthday party.
Aragorn's decision to go to the aid of Merry and Pippin at the end of the first film. And Gimli's reaction.
And, of course, this:
Sam: It's a promise I made to Gandalf: "Don't you lose him, Samwise Gamgee." And I don't mean to.
Of course, the echo of those words at the end of Fellowship and Frodo's reaction just makes it even more so.
Sam: I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise! "Don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee." And I don't mean to. I don't mean to.
Frodo(choking up): Oh, Sam. (Hugs him)
The distinction between the two is important. Samwise made the initial promise to keep Frodo safe, out of fear of Gandalf. But by the end of the film, Sam has instead made it a promise to stay with Frodo no matter what, just out of loyalty and friendship.
At the end of Fellowship that makes us laugh through our tears:
Aragorn: You have my sword. Legolas: And you have my bow. Gimli: And my axe!
The quiet moment after we see Gollum for the first time.
Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case, you were also meant to have it... and that is an encouraging thought.
This comes up later for another heartwarming moment when Frodo is standing at the river bank thinking about what he said before wishing the ring had never come to him. He then recalls Gandalf's advice of "all you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you", which then gives him the resolve to continue with his mission. Made all the more heartwarming by the music that plays during this scene.
At the beginning of the first film, Bilbo is trying to work on his book when Gandalf comes knocking.
Bilbo: No thank you! We don't want any more visitors, well-wishers or distant relations!
Gandalf: And what about very old friends?
(Bilbo quickly opens the door)
A small one in Moria during a moment that would otherwise be a complete Tear Jerker. When Gimli finds his cousin's tomb and is sobbing over his body, take note that Boromir has a comforting hand on his shoulder the whole time.
For a few parts of the Fellowship, we don't see that much of Boromir except for the fact that he keeps wanting to use the ring. When Gandalf dies and Frodo starts screaming, Boromir's the one to carry him away.
And the one to insist that Aragorn "give them a moment, for pity's sake!" when the hobbits are grieving.
Boromir actually shows a lot of empathy and concern throughout the whole film. He shows the most concern for the Hobbits when Gandalf dies and tries to cheer up Frodo by telling him he didn't die in vain.
After Gandalf dies and the Fellowship escapes Moria, we see Gimli, enraged and in despair, trying to go back on what would definitely be a suicide run, and it is Boromir who holds him back and comforts him.
Boromir is also the one to point out that trying to cross over the mountains would kill the hobbits when Gandalf was stubbornly insisting on pushing onwards.
In a lighter moment of the film, he's teaching the Hobbits how to fight with swords when he accidentally cuts Pippin's hand. He instantly starts apologizing - and gets knocked ass-over-kettle when Merry and Pippin proceed to tackle him playfully. He proceeds to laugh uproariously and put one of them in a headlock; you half expect him to start ruffling hair or giving noogies.
It's even better when you realize that he's probably played with Faramir in the same way when they were kids, and likely reminded of said brother.
Shall we just say 'Boromir is everyone's big brother' and have done with it?
Literally, in the case of Faramir - see below under The Two Towers.
In the Extended Version, observe Gimli's absolutely smitten expression as he reveals to Legolas that he asked for one hair from Galadriel's head as a gift, and she gave him three. Observe Legolas's knowing smile: he, like everyone who's read The Silmarillion, knows that Feänor made the same exact request of her in the First Age, to no avail. Galadriel, having read Gimli's heart, apparently deemed him thrice worthy of a gift she once refused to the greatest elf who's ever lived.
The lead up to those words: when Boromir is dying in utter despair, claiming that he's failed the Fellowship and lamenting that not only his city but his entire race is doomed, Aragorn - whom Boromir has only gradually come to accept, and who seems to identify more with the Elves - swears to save the White City, and "our people". You can see the joy and hope in Boromir's face, as he believes at last that there's a chance for the race of Men to survive. He dies content instead of despairing, thanking and accepting Aragorn fully with his final words.
The last words my king are only made even more poignant by contrasting his reaction to first discovering Aragorn's heritage.
There's something rather endearing in the Extended Edition when Merry leans forward to see the mithril better and Pippin holds him back, afraid that he might fall.
When Boromir's body has been placed in a boat to go over the Falls of Rauros, we cut to Aragorn strapping Boromir's vambraces (armour for the forearms) onto his own arms. It was Viggo Mortensen's idea for Aragorn to take them, both as a tribute to their fallen companion and to constantly remind himself of the promise he made to Boromir, to save Minas Tirith and their people.
Sam's speech at the end of The Two Towers; even Gollum was visibly affected by this speech, at least for a moment.
Sam: It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo... the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end because how could the end be happy? (...) Those were the stories that stayed with you... that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. (...) Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going... because they were holding on to something!
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
Sam's friendship for Frodo throughout the trilogy is even more heartwarming when taken with moments like the one that came before this. Let's face it, it takes a lot to get over your best friend threatening you, even if you knew it wasn't his fault.
Not only was Gollum affected, the speech convinced Faramir, who up until then was still contemplating bringing the Ring to his father, to let the hobbits continue their quest, regardless of the consequences to him.
Gondor soldier: You know the laws of the country, the laws of your father. If you let them go, your life will be forfeit.
Faramir: Then it is forfeit.
In the Extended Edition, it leads into this comment from Sam that doubles as a Meaningful Echo:
Sam: Captain Faramir, you have shown your quality, sir. The very highest.
The speech is also accompanied by shots of victory at Helm's Deep and characters cheering and celebrating that victory.
This exchange at the end of The Two Towers:
Frodo: You've left out one of the chief characters, Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without his Sam.
Gandalf's reappearance in The Two Towers. Aragorn being struck completely speechless and then only managing to say, "You fell..." unable to believe that he's truly come back.
Underplayed but Eomer's shear joy at finding Théodred still alive hints at how close the cousins are.
When Gandalf drives out Saruman's influence from Théoden and he comes back to himself. Éowyn is near to weeping with joy as he looks at her in wonder, and then says: "I know your face... Éowyn..."
It's only a small thing, but upon healing Théoden, Gandalf steps back and, for the first time really, Théoden notices him. With warmth and no small amount of disbelief, he says his name. Not only is it a welcome change from the bitter old man we saw under Saruman's influence, but Gandalf's method of addressing him in turn is heartwarming in the rarity with which he uses it.
Gandalf: "Breath the free air again, my friend."
The short, sweet reunion between the mother and her children at Helm's Deep after she sent them ahead to Meduseld to warn King Théoden of the invasion.
The arrival of Haldir in the nick of time at Helm's Deep to honor the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.
Haldir: We are proud to fight alongside men once more.
Then Aragorn, unable to think of anything else, gives Haldir a very grateful hug. All poor Haldir can do is awkwardly pat him on the back in return, aww!
The above sacrifice was made even more potent when the realization came that Haldir and the elves gave up immortality to honor the alliance and possibly die.
The looks on the faces of some of those soldier-extras was some mighty fine acting.
A recap of the sacrifice they're making. First, they're immortal (as in, they do not die of old age). Second, if things got bad, they could always take a boat to Valinor (which is essentially paradise). Third, they knew that theirs was a suicide mission, and that they only raised the men of Rohan's chances of survival from nil to maybe 2%. Fourth, the people whose aid they came to had done nothing for them for three millennia. And despite all of this, they still did it.
The scene near the end of the Battle of Helm's Deep where The Cavalry arrive and this exchange:
Gandalf: Théoden King stands alone.
Éomer: No. Not alone. Rohirrim! To the King!
The camera pans up to reveal several hundred Rohirrim who proceed to charge through an army of 10,000 Uruk-Hai to save the king.
In a flashback in the extended edition, we see Boromir defending Faramir from Denethor's criticism and calling him out on how badly he treats his younger son. Though Faramir is clearly the Un Favorite, it's good to see that this hasn't poisoned his relationship with Boromir and that Boromir is genuinely angry at how his brother is being treated.note This is very much in keeping with the books, where "between the brothers there was great love, and had been since childhood, when Boromir was the helper and protector of Faramir. No jealousy or rivalry had arisen between them since, for their father's favour or for the praise of men. It did not seem possible to Faramir that anyone in Gondor could rival Boromir, heir of Denethor, Captain of the White Tower." Aw.
Even before Denethor shows up we get to enjoy a couple of minutes of the brothers celebrating together.
Boromir: "Remember this day, little brother. Today, life is good."
This one's my favorite,
Éomer: What business does an Elf, a Man, and a Dwarf have in the Riddermark? Speak quickly!
Gimli: Give me your name, Horse-master, and I shall give you mine.
Éomer: [gets off horse] I would cut off your head, Dwarf, if it stood but a little higher from the ground.
Legolas: [prepares bow and arrow] You would die before your stroke fell.
[Rohirrim point spears at Legolas]
Made even better when you consider that dwarves and elves have never gotten along well. In The Hobbit we see how judgmental Legolas was, and how much he's changed by the time The Two Towers rolls around.
A few seconds later Legolas intercepts him on the way to the king. All he says is "Le abdollen (your're late)", looks him over, states "You look terrible" and then all that needed to be said has been said, the worry and the relief. It's a completely silent understanding between (as of Bo FA confirmed) old friends.
Smeagol (temporarily) getting rid of Gollum. "Smeagol is free!"
Return of the King
After Aragorn is crowned as the King of Gondor, he moves through the crowd, reunites with Arwen and finally arrives at where the four hobbits are standing. They begin to bow to him, but Aragorn looks at them and says:
Aragorn: My friends...you bow to no one.
And then he bows to them. The camera pans out and shows the entire audience moving to bow to them (as the king does...).
Peter Jackson has said that this is his favourite scene out of the entire trilogy.
Samwise Gamgee's finest hour: At the end of the journey, at the base of Mount Doom, hungry, thirsty, wounded and exhausted by a quest so long and hard they cannot even really remember a time before it, Frodo and Sam are literally dragging themselves up the rocky slope until Frodo just can't go on anymore. Sam knows that he cannot pick up the burden of the Ring from Frodo and destroy it himself for he would fall under its spell, so he does what only a real friend would do: He, although if anything even more tired and damaged than him, picks Frodo up and carries him to the top of the mountain. He ain't heavy, he's my brother indeed.
Sam: Then let us be rid of it... once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you... but I can carry you!
After Frodo and Sam escape Mt. Doom. These two brave hobbits are finally free of their mission, but only for a few minutes that will seemingly be their last. So what do they do? They remember the simple life of the Shire and cling to one another.
Frodo: It's gone...it's done.
Sam: Yes, Mr. Frodo. It's over now.
Frodo (closing his eyes): I can see the Shire...the Party tree...Gandalf's fireworks.
Sam (wistfully): Rosie Cotton dancing...she had ribbons in her hair...if ever I was to marry someone, it would have been her. (Begins to cry) It would have been her.
Frodo (hugs Sam): I'm glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee...here at the end of all things.
It gets better; in a previous scene, it was Sam who was reminiscing about the Shire...but Frodo couldn't, because the Ring weighed so heavily on his mind. Now that the Ring is destroyed, Frodo can remember the Shire.
Before that scene, Sam and Frodo are escaping from the eruption of Mount Doom, and pushes Frodo onto a large rock in order to save him first. After all that Frodo did beforehand in the Crack of Doom, Sam still cares more about his life than he does his own. Scene for you
Théoden speaking to Éowyn before he left to battle when she asked what other duty he would have her do.
Théoden: Duty? No... I would have you smile again, not grieve for those whose time has come. You shall live to see these days renewed. No more despair.
When Aragorn was reunited with Arwen and the kiss that followed.
Made doubly heartwarming since all the romantic scenes previously have been this very idealized, courtly sort of love; then at the end Aragorn is like, "screw it" and snogs Arwen's brains out.
Elrond's happy yet sad expression as he sees his daughter happy with Aragorn, despite knowing she will eventually die and separated from him.
Also when the riders of Rohan are waiting at the battle of Pellenor Fields, and Theoden gives that speech and rides along with his sword as the riders shout, and Éowyn and Merry shout and raise their swords.
Rohan gets another good one with their timely rescue of Gondor. The King's speech to his men... "Fear no darkness! Spears shall be shaken! Shields will be splintered! It is a sword day! A red day! ERE THE SUN RISES!" The glorious charge, a hell-bent, screw-it-all charge into an army of orcs that are quite prepared for it, is a beautiful statement of human courage.
"End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The gray rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it...The White Shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise." And just like that, all the darkness and despair goes away for a little while.
At The Black Gate:
Aragorn: Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails! When we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship - but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!"
Another one occurs mere moments later. It's heartwarming enough to hear Aragorn say "For Frodo" and then charge... Then it's made ten times more so by having Merry and Pippin be the first ones who follow.
The bonding between Merry and Éowyn. "Whatever happens, stay with me. I will look after you."
Éowyn: Ride with me.
Merry: My lady.
After the Battle of the Pellenor Fields, Pippin finally locates Merry amidst the debris, after they had been separated for the first time in as long as they can remember. The other hobbit says five simple words. Cue the (happy) teardrops.
Crosses into Tear Jerker territory even more when, in the extended edition, it's shown that Pippin has been desperately calling for Merry for hours, but didn't give up hope.
The moment toward the end when the hobbits are back in the Green Dragon tavern. They don't even need to say anything to each other; after all they've been through, they just clink their tankards together and have a pint.
Samwise Gamgee is a hero amongst men, dwarves, elves and hobbits, he's faced immortal demi-gods with nothing but an empty stomach, an enchanted knife, and a magic lantern... and he'll be damned if he ain't going to work up the courage to ask a girl out! And then, the amusement of the other three that turns into joy for their friend.
The end of Return of the King, when Frodo wakes up in Gondor...and Gandalf, the mentor he thought died and whose memory he has been mourning for the past two movies, is there for him.
When the rest of the remaining Fellowship enters the room to see Frodo. They are all either laughing or crying in joy, something they hadn't done together in a long time. After everything each of them had been through, they are finally reunited.
And at the very, very end of that particular reunion — the last person to enter is Sam, who's meekly, shyly coming in, almost unnoticed by the others. But Frodo sees him hovering by the door, and just looks at him and smiles... and Sam smiles back.
The dying words of King Théoden to Éowyn.
Éowyn: I'm going to save you.
Theoden: You already did... Éowyn... my body is broken... you have to let me go. I go to my fathers, in whose mighty company I shall not now feel ashamed.
And there's the Meaningful Echo of his words when Gandalf freed him from Saruman's control.
Theoden has another wonderful moment when he confronts Saruman and Gríma Wormtongue at Isengard. He looks up at Wormtongue—a traitor who had helped to drive him mad and send his nephew into exile—and offers him forgiveness. A touching moment of compassion from a usually stern king.
Theoden: Grima! You need not follow him! You were not always as you are now. (he smiles) You were once a man of Rohan. Come down.
Stoic elf-king Elrond breaking down and deciding to help, and accept, both Men as a whole and Aragorn in particular when his prim, proper, always in her place daughter Arwen utters one simple word, "Ada."
What makes it even more heartwarming (and tearjerking at the same time) is that 'ada' is informal... she wasn't saying 'Father', she was calling him 'Daddy'. Goes to show that even a gorgeous millennia-old Elf princess can still need her dad.
For that matter, Arwen deciding to cling to the world of life and accept her own death at the same time when she catches the glimpse of her curly-haired, blue-eyed son jumping into the arms of an older Aragorn.
After the Battle of Pellenor Fields, Aragorn releases the Army of the Dead from their curse of undeath. The looks on their faces as eons of anguish melt away is priceless.
In the extended edition, when the Mouth of Sauron is taunting most of the Fellowship by implying that Frodo had been tortured to death, all their reactions are both heartwarming and tear-inducing. Merry and Pippin desperately start yelling, Gandalf visibly has tears in his eyes, Gimli has to be held back by Legolas—who also looks like he wants to murder the Mouth of Sauron. And Aragorn silently and calmly rides his horse forward. The Mouth of Sauron taunts him for a moment... and Aragorn whips out his sword and whacks his head off, before insisting that he doesn't believe that Frodo is dead.
Bilbo's final line in The Return of the King: "I think I'm quite ready for another adventure!" Made all the more touching when Elrond, who took care of Bilbo during his stay in Rivendell, escorts the wizened Hobbit onto the ship.
Many scenes involving Faramir, such as the sequence from the Extended Version when Aragorn is healing Éowyn. Another is when he comforts Éowyn - and the look on her face suggests that she has finally found a man who truly understands and appreciates her. (Knowing Éowyn's fate from the book helps; she no longer feels she has anything to prove, because of him.) His gentle "I do not believe this darkness will endure" melted hearts all over the world. As did the look on Éowyn's face.
It's only a small thing, but very powerful. In the Extended Edition, Eomer and Eowyn share a very painful scene in which Eomer, having seen the combat that Eowyn so desires to take part in, rebukes her harshly. This is practically their only scene together in the entire trilogy and it seems to paint a very cold relationship between the two. Later on, however, Eomer spots Eowyn laying wounded, seemingly dead, after killing the Witch King. He immediately drops everything and runs to her, howling with inarticulate grief. We then see her being tended to by Aragorn in the Houses of Healing and he is right by her side. And this proud, powerful warrior, who is now King of Rohan, looks like a scared six year-old at the very notion of his sister being wounded. Actions speak louder than words, Eomer loves his sister.
Sam forgiving Frodo for sending him away. He doesn't say anything, but his smile says it all.
The Award Bait Song "Into The West" by Annie Lennox is a CMOH for Awesome Music, basically a song about adventurers/warriors who have gone through harrowing experiences and finally get to rest. It fits not only with the story and characters, but also in a meta example for the whole production crew; It's been an experience of truly epic proportions spanning several years of nonstop production, and they can all finally take a real rest and look back on experiences that brought them together. There's a reason they won an Oscar for this one.
What can you see,
On the horizon,
Why do the white gulls call,
Across the sea,
A pale moon rises,
The ships have come to carry you home.
As the Ring falls into the Crack of Doom, Frodo is left hanging from the edge. Sam tries to reach to pull him up, but his hands are slippery with blood. Frodo looks up at him with despair on his face, looking very much like he's about let himself fall. But Sam is having none of it:
And with that, Frodo grabs Sam's hand and is pulled to safety.
When Frodo gets on the ship to the West, his friends are weeping. Then, after a whole trilogy of looking terrified, incredibly sad, or increasingly crazed, he smiles back at them. And they smile again as well.
Best of all, even after the return from Mordor Frodo has looked nothing but worn out by his ordeal—pale, weak, hollow due to the physical, mental, and emotional anguish he'd gone through. But in this moment, when he's getting on the ship and looks back to give that smile, suddenly thanks to the lighting and the makeup job he looks as he did in the beginning...way back at the start of the movies, when he was still carefree and innocent. It's a real Tears of Joy moment. You get the feeling that after all the crap that Frodo went through, he's finally going to be able to move on and heal.
When Elrond presents Anduril to Aragorn. On the surface it seems like just an info dump about the Army of the Dead, and Aragorn getting his Awesome Sword, but if you're familiar with Tolkien's work, you know the back story; for most of Aragorn's life, Elrond has been a father figure/mentor. Taking that into account, listen to Elrond's speech: "Become who you were born to be!" As if to say, "This is your destiny. Stop running from it. You are ready for this!"
The final scene in the trilogy may also be the most touching. Sam returns to Hobbiton having said goodbye to Frodo, looking to still be as sad as when it happened. Just as he's coming up to his house, his daughter runs out and dashes to hug her father. Sam proudly holds her in his arms as his wife, Rosie, comes out with their baby with a smile on her face as the two kiss. Frodo's last message to him, combined with the accomponying music, may be theCrowning Moment of Heartwarming for the entire series:
Frodo: My dear Sam, you cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do. Your part in this story will go on.
Sam: Well...I'm back.
Although not in the actual movie, in the making-of feature, there is one moment where Arwen's stunt rider is talking about how she really wanted to buy the horse but was unable because of the price (stallions are very expensive), and another higher-up wanted him. Viggo Mortensen heard about this and said he would try to get him. He succeeded in it, and when asked how much the horse was, replied that he wanted to give him to the stuntwoman. It's very moving to see her start crying when she's talking about it.
This moment was really touching:
Gimli: I have taken my worst wound at this parting, having looked my last upon that which is fairest. Haugh, henceforth I will call nothing fair unless it be [Galadriel's] gift to me.
Legolas: What was it?
Gimli: I asked her for one hair from her golden head. She gave me three.
To elaborate, Galadriel, in dwarven lore, is someone of incredible beauty and desire. It is said that her hair is worth more than all the dwarven gold in the world... And she gave him three pieces of it. Gimli is so taken aback by this generosity shown to him that he nearly breaks down.
Even more so once you realize that this benevolent act is essentially what cements Gimli's incredible respect for her in his mind. In this moment, Gimli's perception of fancy-pants elves is slowly turned around. This, plus Gimli and Legolas's eventual friendship is what causes the reconciliation between the dwarves and elves.
Gimli: Never thought I'd die side by side with an elf.
Legolas: How about side by side with a friend?
Gimli: ...aye. I could do that.
And even more so than that when you factor in some of the stuff that was left out. Galadriel's half-uncle, Fëanor, was an elf of great repute; for instance, he was the one who created the Silmarils, kicking off much of the history of the First Age. He, who created these jewels beyond price, begged her thrice for a lock of her hair, but each time she refused him. And yet to a scruffy dwarf prince she granted this gift, recognizing the purity of his regard for her.
Any time the Shire theme flares up, heartwarming isn't far behind.
Aragorn and Arwen. Something about the Bad Ass, always-ragged, grim Warrior Poet and the beautiful, gentle elf girl just gets me. Especially the vision in The Two Towers...
For me, that vision always doubled as a Tear Jerker. It's just so beautiful.
Part of the Appendices(which detailed some of the events that happened after Frodo left for Valinor) mentioned how Legolas was the last elf to leave Middle-Earth after the rest of his people had long gone. "In the forest of Lothlórien, he built himself a single ship and sailed it down the river home. There was but one companion with him: Gimli the dwarf."
It was only after Aragorn's death that Legolas decided to sail, which would have indicated that even when his people had already left Middle Earth, he remained with his friend until the very end.
Gimli was the only dwarf ever allowed to visit the Undying Lands. Tolkien said that he was allowed both because of his true friendship with Legolas and at the direct intervention of Galadriel.
One from the cast commentary of either The Two Towers or Return of the King. Miranda Otto, who played Éowyn, was recounting about how when she saw Liv Tyler, who played Arwen, she'd decided she wouldn't go up to her because she didn't think it would be right to just go up to one of "the big stars." Liv Tyler apparently didn't agree; she ran right up to Miranda Otto, gave her a big hug, and exclaimed (paraphrased) "There's another woman here; I'm so glad! We can hang out and stuff..."