Trivia: The Lord of the Rings

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    General Trivia 
  • Fountain of Expies
    • Gandalf is up there with Merlin in some circles.
    • If a character in a fantasy novel is a noble warrior who hangs out in the wilderness, there's about a 50/50 chance he was inspired by either Aragorn or Robin Hood.
    • The "elf ranger" archetype in fantasy descends almost solely from Legolas.
    • Along with Thorin from The Hobbit, Gimli is the iconic fantasy dwarf.
    • After the publication of The Lord of the Rings, it became de rigueur for the villain in a fantasy story to be a manipulative, rarely-seen Evil Overlord who lives in a dark tower in an evil realm, employs various horrible creatures to do his work, and is dependent on an artifact of his making for power and survival.
  • Hey, It's That Sound!: In the BBC adaptation, each time that the Eagles arrive (when Gandalf escapes Orthanc, and on Mount Doom), the sound effect used is almost identical to a TARDIS.
  • Name's the Same: No, Sauron is not that pterodactyl guy from X-Men. Actually, that pterodactyl guy from X-Men named himself after him.
  • Shrug of God
    • Tolkien deliberately left Tom Bombadil's true nature obscure. Fan debate has raged for decades, and probably always will.
    • Whether Sam killed Shelob or not is left a mystery.
  • What Could Have Been: At one point, The Beatles had approached Stanley Kubrick to direct them in a film adaption based on the books, but Kubrick felt the story was unfilmable.
    • When looking to branch out into fantasy comics, Marvel Comics originally considered making Lord of the Rings comics before settling on adapting Conan the Barbarian instead.
  • The Wiki Rule: There's the One Wiki To Rule Them All, which can be found here.

    Books 
  • Creator Backlash: Hippies buying the Ballantine edition is what popularized the book in The Sixties note  (see Memetic Mutation), and the back cover contains its own bit of Creator Backlash in the form of a written Take That, directed against the numerous unauthorized pulp versions that were spreading like wildfire on college campuses: "This edition, and no other, was authorized by me... those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it, and no other." as Tolkien was, in fact, quite unsettled to learn that American counter-culture was embracing his work.
    • To their credit, the college students mounted a campaign of protest against the unauthorized editions after Tolkien made a point of mentioning, in his responses to fan mail, that he was being royally ripped off by the pulp publishers and did not receive a single cent in royalties from any American LOTR paperbacks other than the Ballantine edition. (Ace Books, the main offender among the pulp bootleggers, were harassed sufficiently by angry fans that they made a point of paying a massive royalty check to Tolkien and withdrawing their edition of LOTR from print.)
    • Ironically, the covers for the Ace edition showed that the artist had read the books and knew what he was doing.
    • Parodied in the Bored of the Rings inscription, based on the one up top: "This Ring, and no other / was made by the Elves — / Who'd pawn their own mother / to get it themselves." In fact, the first edition included a direct parody of the author's warning stating that the intention of Bored was to make money off the pop-culture colossus that LOTR was becoming.
  • Defictionalization: Caradhras, Orthanc, Dol Goldur [sic!] and the Mindolluin Crag are real places in Washington State. Two climbers (and Tolkien fans) in the 1960's were the first to climb a segment of mountains in the Cascade range and thus ensured naming rights.
  • Extremely Lengthy Creation: It was mostly written between 1937 and 1949. The appendices and final edits weren't completed until 1955. In total it took around 18 years to finish.
  • Referenced By: The source code for Perl 5 contains several quotes from The Lord of the Rings (and one quote from The Hobbit). Most users of Perl 5 never look at the source code and never see these quotes. The file mathoms.c contains artefacts kept only for compatibility. It quotes the Prologue of The Lord of the Rings, about how the hobbits kept mathoms.
  • What Could Have Been: Previously unpublished materials have a lot of examples of what could have been.
    • Aragorn being a ranger hobbit named Trotter was one of them. Later, he was a man whose name kept changing back and forth between "Trotter", "Elfstone" and "Aragorn".
    • The History of Middle-earth has many of these, including the above example. Others include:
      • Treebeard being a villain.
      • Éowyn being Aragorn's love interest (before Arwen was created).
      • Éowyn dying on the battlefield defending Théoden and not getting to kill the Witch-King.
      • Anywhere from two to five hobbits setting out on the quest instead of four.
      • The original hobbit names were Bingo (Frodo), Odo (Sam), Marmaduke (Merry), and Frodo/Faramond (Pippin)
      • A Fellowship that consisted of seven instead of nine members (Legolas and Gimli were later additions, and at one point, another elf was supposed to go as well)
      • Treebeard and the Ents appearing at the last battle in front of the Black Gate (and this is after they act as The Cavalry for Lothlórien).
      • Boromir arriving at Minas Tirith and completely going over to the dark forces partway through the siege.
      • Denethor surviving the siege of Minas Tirith (but still suspicious of Aragorn).
      • Denethor originally being less harsh towards Faramir — in fact, in the first draft, it was Faramir's idea to retake Osgiliath, and Denethor reluctantly agreeing, but Tolkien eventually switched this around to make Faramir more sympathetic.
    • There was a sequel planned called The New Shadow, set more than 100 years after the events of LOTR, involving an evil cult and boys playing at being orcs. Tolkien got about 13 pages in and decided "screw this."
  • Word of God: The appendices are only the start; Tolkien's son has edited together and published fifteen volumes from his notes.

    Ralph Bakshi version 

    Films 
  • Academy Award: ROTK is in a three-way tie with Titanic and Ben Hur for the most Oscars won by a single film — eleven. Moreover, the film series The Lord of the Rings won more Oscars than any other film series.
    • Despite all of the series' wins and nominations, the trilogy's cast was snubbed: the only acting Oscar nomination was Ian McKellen for the first film. Most notably, Andy Serkis was not eligible for being nominated for best supporting actor because his character was CGI.
    • Peter Jackson was still putting the finishing touches on the extended cut of Return of the King when it won Best Picture, prompting him to muse in one behind-the-scenes clip (as they were adding the rolling skulls to the army of the dead sequence) about how he could still be working on a film that had already won Best Picture.
  • Actor Allusion: In the extended cut of the third movie, Saruman is impaled on a spike that goes through his heart after falling to his death from Orthanc.
    • Also, in the first film:
    Boromir: (after cutting himself on Narsil) Still sharp
  • Adaptational Context Change: Numerous lines and events are taken from the books but given a different meaning by changing the context or speaker.
    • In the book, Sam wakes up to find Gollum crouched over Frodo and accuses him of "sneaking" about. Gollum was actually in the middle of a near-repentance, but Sam's words harden his animosity towards the hobbits and his resolve to feed them to Shelob. In the movie, Sam surprises Gollum disposing of the lembas, and uses the same language on him. In this context, Sam's accusation is more justified and lacks the negative consequences of the original.
    • In the book, Éowyn says the line "Do you not know?" to Faramir, in order to let him know that she has fallen in love with him. In the movie, her relationship with Faramir is downplayed, and her feelings for Aragorn emphasised, so the line is kept the same, but said to Aragorn instead.
    • In the book the whole "fear no nightly noise" speech was said by Tom Bombadil in his house in the Old Forest on the borders of the Shire. When they decided to cut Bombadil from the film adaption they gave this line and some others to Treebeard in Fangorn forest. This changes the meaning of the line from "no matter what you hear tonight, it won't harm you" to something more like "sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite".
    • Sam's vision of the star over the Ephel Dúath shows up in the extended edition of the movies, but is given slightly different significance. In the book, the vision is a private experience of Sam's that gives him strength to continue the journey. In the movie, Sam points out the star in order to encourage Frodo, taking the focus off of Sam's inner struggle and shifting it to Frodo's need for support.
  • Agony of the Feet: To the actors. Sean Astin stepped on a big piece of broken glass when wading into the river at the end of Fellowship, and Viggo Mortensen broke his toe kicking a helmet (see Throw It In).
  • All-Star Cast: A staggering list of recognizable names in the cast, not to mention that these movies made recognizable the names of every actor in them whose names hadn't been beforehand.
  • Author Phobia: Peter Jackson actually used his own phobia of spiders to measure the effectiveness of Shelob's design and animations.
    • It seems that he only got one minor thing wrong: spiders don't sting, they bite. Yet it is true to the book. Justified in that Shelob is an Eldritch Abomination, not a simple giant spider, so the rules don't necessarily apply to her.
  • Backed by the Pentagon: The New Zealand army in this case. Parts of Mordor were from old mine fields (that were swept beforehand), since they had enough ash to make the look needed.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: People often don't remember Aragorn's speech before the Black Gates quite right — possibly they're remembering the version in the trailer, which was from a different take. Théoden's speeches get this, too, to a lesser extent.
  • Cast the Expert:
    • In addition to the lead actors who were trained on horses, and numerous digital extras, the Riders of Rohan were portrayed by regular horse riders from all across New Zealand who came with their own horses to act as extras.
    • For The Return of the King, The New Zealand Army provided extras for the final battle in front of the Black Gate. Behind the scenes commentary on the DVD's makes note of how good they were as following directions and setting up formations, as well as how much enthusiasm they brought to the combat scenes.
  • Creator Backlash: Christopher Lee was not happy that his one big scene was cut from the theatrical cut from The Return of the King (if he had been kept he would've got a SAG Award for Best Ensemble Cast). But he eventually reconciled his feud with Peter Jackson to be in The Hobbit/
  • Dawson Casting: In the Prologue, Sir Ian Holm is very briefly seen wearing a dark, curly wig, as Bilbo 50 years younger. The effect is, unfortunately, that of a 60-ish actor wearing a dark, curly wig. Mercifully, the shot is only a few seconds long.
  • Deleted Scene: Many put back in the extended editions, but some were still left out.
  • DVD Bonus Content: Set the standard for in-depth behind the scenes features, even though most DVD releases still can't compare to the sheer mass of juicy bonus material in the DVD sets, even discounting the extended cuts.
  • Executive Meddling: Played with. Jackson anticipated only being able to greenlight one or two movies so his writing team wrote the initial treatment accordingly. And indeed, the first few picture studios he visited did indeed want to do only one film (which Jackson found unacceptable, and would almost certainly have been too little time to tell the story), but when he pitched it to New Line, the producers saw it and said "What are you doing? This is three movies." And this before Hollywood was obsessed with cranking out trilogies—indeed, Lord of the Rings may have sparked the trend.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Averted, thankfully, but nonetheless a close call for Viggo Mortensen, who was pulled under by a current and nearly drowned while filming the river scene in The Two Towers.
    • Not to mention the knife thrown directly at his face during his fight with Lurtz in Fellowship. He shot the scene and defelected the knife himself.
  • Fountain of Expies:
    • Gandalf is ranked up there with Merlin in some circles.
    • Thanks to Viggo Mortensen's portrayal, this applies to Aragorn. Although he may have already been one, anyways.
    • Gimli, who usually serves as a base for many Dwarf character creations for fantasy roleplay, if it helps.
    • Even people who haven't read the book or seen the film are familiar with Gollum, if only through Pop-Cultural Osmosis or his role as childhood Nightmare Fuel in The Hobbit. Or, the reference to him in Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On."
    • Legolas, who is made even more so by Orlando Bloom's portrayal in the film version.
    • After the publication of The Lord Of The Rings, it became de rigueur for the villain in a fantasy story to be a manipulative, rarely-seen Evil Overlord who lives in a dark tower in an evil realm, employs various horrible creatures to do his work, and is dependent on an artifact of his making for power and survival.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • Who knew Walter Bishop was the last Steward of Gondor?
    • Elrond considers humanity to be a broken species for much of the trilogy. While he's not openly hostile (nor does he comment on the smell), he openly shows his contempt. At least this time he has a reason for it (that being Isildur's betrayal).
    • And yes, he's wearing a dress again. Sort of, anyway.
    • Seems like somebody went from Flipper to carrying the Soul Jar of the Big Bad.
    • Gandalf is Magneto, Master of Magnetism.
    • How many people wanted to scream RUDY! RUDY! RUDY! as Sam was carrying Frodo up Mount Doom?
    • Gimli has experience dealing with mystical artifacts before.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: The Japanese dub have a cast of very well-know voice actors playing some of the main characters:
  • Life Imitates Art: According to behind the scenes material, Viggo Mortensen was a natural leader of the actors and film crew. Sean Astin also ended up more or less taking care of Elijah Wood during filming.
  • Name's the Same:
    • No, Sauron's not that pterodactyl guy from X-Men (who actually named himself after him!)
    • In-universe — the name Gothmog initially belonged to a Balrog who served as Morgoth's Dragon. This Gothmog may have been named after that one.
  • The Other Marty: Stuart Townsend was cast as Aragorn, but was replaced by Viggo Mortensen a few days before filming supposedly for being too young.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Elijah Wood's sister Hannah played one of the Rohirrim refugees.
    • Sean Astin's eldest daughter Alexandria, who was 4 at the time, played Sam's daughter Elanor in the ending of The Return of the King.
    • Viggo Mortensen's son Henry played an Orc as well as a Rohirrim soldier.
  • Shrug of God: Whether Sam killed Shelob or not.
  • Talking to Himself:
    • John Rhys-Davis plays Gimli and voices Treebeard.
    • Lawrence Makoare has a scene between himself as Gothmog and himself as the Witch-King.
    • The Gollum & Sméagol conversations are sort of this trope.
  • Throw It In:
    • In a scene at the beginning of the first movie, when Gandalf visits Bilbo at Bag End, Ian McKellen bumps into the low hanging lanterns, which was expected. Then he turns quickly, and... whacks his head on a wooden beam in the low ceiling. Since it looked just fine and also pretty funny, it was kept as the final cut.
    • According to the wiki, when Aragorn deflects Lurtz's thrown knife it is pure luck. Lurtz was apparently scripted to miss, but the actor accidentally threw the knife right at Viggo’s face, who (fortunately!) managed to deflect it with his sword.
      • This is given a nice Call Forward in The Hobbit where Kíli manages to pull the same stunt. He seems surprised that it worked.
      • That whole fight scene includes this trope. That headbutt? Real. Aragorn getting punched in the ribs? Real. Aside from any stab wounds incurred, Lawrence Makaore and Viggo Mortensen were actually beating the crap out of each other. It was mainly because the make-up Makaore was wearing obscured his vision, and a lot of 'missed' punches ended up actually connecting. Mortensen figured that it would be better to just fight back, so Makaore fought harder and they got tired and pissed off...
    • At first Viggo Mortenson couldn't get the cry of grief and anger right at the scene when the trio think Merry and Pippin were killed. In the final take, he kicked a helmet and broke two of his toes. That's why he screamed and fell to his knees. The scream actually fit the mood perfectly, and was the one used in the final cut.
    • In Helm's Deep, the army of orcs stomping their feet and weapons before battle was entirely unscripted. It all happened because one of the actors playing the orcs got bored and began stomping his feet and weapons. Then other orc-actors began to do the same thing. Before long, they all did it, which led to Peter Jackson throwing it in.
    • When Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli first arrive at Edoras, there is a shot of a Rohirrim flag fluttering to the ground. The flag had simply slipped loose due to the wind but Peter Jackson threw it in because he liked the symbolism.
    • The "rat catcher's cottage" in Minas Tirith. The build team interpreted one of Alan Lee's drawings of a building as having a dead rat hanging in the window, and based an entire house around the idea that the Official Gondorian Rat Catcher lived there. Alan Lee maintains he didn't have something so specific in mind when he did the sketch, but then he realized that it was completely logical: after all, a medieval city the size of Minas Tirith would have a rat problem.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor) was considered for the role of Bilbo. (He would later go on to play Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit.)
    • Sean Connery was considered for Gandalf. Sean-freaking-Connery as Gandalf!
    • Arwen was actually suppose to arrive at Helm's Deep to give Aragorn his sword Andúril, the Flame of the West, and, of course, to fight alongside him. Her role was ultimately reduced, and the scene of her arrival at Helm's Deep instead became Legolas giving Aragorn back Arwen's pendant. Haldir was written in her place.
    • The idea of Sauron taking form (specifically Kate Winslet's form — The Eye was really bishonen back in the day) and almost kicking Aragorn's ass at the final battle was also briefly entertained, and then mercifully abandoned in place of a troll.
    • The episode with Ghan-Buri-Ghan and the Wood Woses (who were hunted and killed by the Rohirrim for sport) was cut out... but we have a production still of what he would have looked like.
      • Looks awful blue-skinned. In the book, the Gondorians were encroaching on their forest to mine it. Hmmm... Yeah, Tolkien did it first.note 
    • The movies were originally planned as duology because Jackson thought making a trilogy was going to be a hard sell. Thankfully, when he pitched it as a duology to New Line, they responded with "why do you want to make two movies?" and just as Jackson was about to launch into his defense of why it couldn't possibly be done in one film, they continued... "this is three movies."
      • The plans for two movies is why The Two Towers has an additional writing credit for Stephen Sinclair. Sinclair worked on early drafts for the duology but apparently left once production expanded to three films. However he contributed enough on The Two Towers to warrant a writing credit.
    • Stuart Townsend was actually cast as Aragorn and in New Zealand filming. A couple of days in they realized it wasn't going to work out and called up Viggo Mortensen. There's even a still of him in character. um... Yeah.
      • Jackson didn't realize until four days into filming that Aragorn should be an older, mature type.
    • Sean Astin lobbied for his father, John Astin, to be given the part of Gandalf.
    • When Miramax was unable to finance the original two films, they tried to get them meshed into one two-hour movie. Thankfully, Jackson understandably considered this to be "cutting out half the good stuff." Apparently, it was suggested that they:
      • Shorten Rivendell and Moria.
      • Cut Bree and the Battle of Helm's Deep.
      • "Lose or use" Saruman.
      • Merge Rohan and Gondor with Éowyn as Boromir's sister.
      • As well as having Ents prevent the Uruk-hai from kidnapping Merry and Pippin.
      • Luckily, New Line was more than happy to dish out the money to finance the project as three films, not just one. Guess who has three movies that rank on the best-of-all-time list now.
    • The filmmakers tried to create the "Gollum into the lava" scene true to the book, but the take with Gollum simply falling into the lava while celebrating was deemed too anticlimactic. So they tried again, filming a scene where Frodo deliberately pushes Gollum and the Ring into the lava. That was basically murder, so they filmed a third take, which is the one we see in the final product.
    • There was going to be a river rapids scene in the first film when the Fellowship was traveling by boat. However, real life wrote the plot when the equipment the crew was going to use was washed away or ruined by flood waters.
    • The tenor of the times in 2002 compelled them to actually cut out a lot of material that mostly served to humanize the other races, such as the bit with the Southron or the conversations with orcs. (The writers said that people felt it necessary to show that the villains were "irredeemably evil").
      • The musings on the Southron soldier are in the Extended Edition of The Two Towers. Though, it's Faramir who delivers the musings (in the book, it was Sam).
    • You know that song at the end of The Two Towers that's sung by someone who sounds an awful lot like Björk? Well, the original idea was for her to sing it, but she was pregnant at the time and declined the invitation. They used another Icelandic singer, Emilíana Torrini, instead.
    • The Balrog was going to be shown after falling in the water with its fire gone out and covered in slime.
    • Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke were being considered for Éowyn and Faramir. Thurman initially accepted the offer but had to cancel due to pregnancy.
    • The role of Theoden almost went to Kevin Conway, an actor you've never heard of who has been in everything.
    • Sean Connery was originally offered the role of Gandalf, but turned it down because he didn't like the first script. (Another version of this says he "didn't understand the story".) Russell Crowe was another actor who turned down a role from this movie (as Aragorn) because he didn't like the shooting schedule. Daniel Day-Lewis, Jackson's first choice, also turned down the part of Aragorn.
    • Christopher Lee originally auditioned for the role of Gandalf. He immediately realized that Gandalf was a very physical role and he might have been able to have done it 25 years ago.
    • Patrick McGoohan was one of the first choices for Gandalf but he had to turn it down due to his declining health.
    • Tom Baker was offered "a role" according to him, not necessarily "the role of Gandalf". He turned it down because he didn't want to be in New Zealand for months at a time. Speculation still exists on what this role may have been. Some speculate that it might have perhaps been Radagast the Brown (which eventually went to fellow Doctor Who alum Sylvester McCoy for Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Hobbit).
    • Nic Cage was offered the role of Aragorn, but turned it down due to the time commitment.
    • Jeffrey Combs (with whom Peter Jackson had worked on The Frighteners) auditioned for the role of Grí­ma Wormtounge. Combs contends that he lost the role due to a less-than-stellar British accent, which did not sound credible when opposite the likes of Ian McKellen.
    • During the scene in Ithilien when Faramir attempted to take the Ring from Frodo (only to be stopped by Sam), the original intention was to have Frodo have a moment where he changed into a hideous Gollum-like appearance, as Bilbo did in Rivendell. Although this was cut, you can still see traces of it in the moment where Frodo, face hidden from the camera, cowers against the rock, and the greatly disturbed look on Faramir's face.
    • Orlando Bloom originally tried out for the part of Faramir, not Legolas. The producers ended up convincing him that he'd be better suited for Legolas.

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