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YMMV: The Lord of the Rings

Books

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Many are prone to this.
  • Applicability: Read the entry for details.
  • Award Snub: Issac Asimov thought so, at least. When his own Foundation trilogy got the special Hugo Award for "Best Series," he stated that he thought Lord of the Rings deserved it more.
  • 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.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment
    • Early on in The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien briefly stops the action to describe a fox's train of thought, which runs something like this: "three hobbits, out at this hour, beneath a tree? I sense a disturbance in the fox." Tolkien concludes with: "and he was absolutely right, though he never found out any more about it."
    • For those who have never read any other Tolkien, Tom Bombadil is this. They visit him and he doesn't play any other real role afterwards. The only impact this has on the story is to explain where Merry gets the sword he uses when fighting the Witch King of Angmar.
  • Broken Base
    • Whether one likes Tom Bombadil and his whole episode or not.
    • Denethor, opinions vary as whether he was a pitiable character or a total Jerkass who deserved what he got. It doesn't help that he was less fleshed out in the movies and made into somewhat of a villain rather than a Asshole Victim.
    • Whether the many songs and poems in the books are any good or not.
    • Whether the books are better than the movies or vice versa.
    • Some consider the end to be too long. Hence the whole subplot of the "Scouring of the Shire", taking place after Sauron is defeated, was dropped in the movies. Yet Tolkien wasn't eager to pawn off a pat "happy-ever-after" ending. Instead, the heroes' homecoming is just as important a part of the journey as it was in the old epics it emulates.
  • Creator's Pet: Tom Bombadil; the fact that he was based on Tolkien's childhood doll doesn't make it any better.
  • Critical Backlash / Vindicated by History
    • Did you know that if we had the internet in the 1950s, that people would probably be describing this as the same way they do to popular 2012 whipping boys like Twilight and Inheritance Cycle? The Lord of the Rings didn't catch on until the 1960s.
    • Peter S. Beagle expressed it well in the foreword: "The Sixties[...] were when the word progress lost its ancient holiness, and escape stopped being comically obscene."
  • Die for Our Ship: Poor, poor Arwen. Aragorn/Boromir, Aragorn/Legolas and Éowyn/Aragorn fans hate and bash her like there's no tomorrow. The fact that she was a late addition (Tolkien didn't create her until the third draft) really doesn't help her any, nor does the fact that she doesn't actually do anything, and her love story with Aragorn is in the appendices.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Glorfindel, Prince Imrahil, Legolas, Faramir, Arwen, the Balrog...
  • Fridge Brilliance: Seven to the Dwarf lords... Apparently Tolkien had a sense of humor.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The shriek/howl of the Nazgul, the orc-drums in Moria, and the battle-horns in Minas Morgul are all cited. The horn at Helm's Deep apparently seems this way to Saruman's forces.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: When Galadriel gives gifts to the members of the Fellowship, most of them get some pretty cool items. Sam, on the other hand gets a box of dirt, leaving the reader to ask, "Is the box of dirt going to help?"
  • Ho Yay: Hi, meet the fandom. Read the books. Go on the Internet in general. Tolkien himself apparently stated that Sam and Frodo were not in love with each other, and it didn't slow the fandom down a bit.
    "At that moment there was a knock on the door, and Sam came in. He ran to Frodo and took his left hand, awkwardly and shyly. He stroked it gently and then he blushed and turned hastily away."
    • Legolas and Gimli get their fair share, too.
    When King Elessar gave up his life Legolas followed at last the desire of his heart and sailed over Sea. We have heard that Legolas took Gimli Glóin�s son because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf. If this is true, then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love, or that the Eldar should receive him, or that the Lords of the West should permit it.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The Entwives, who lived in what is now the Brown Lands, after a campaign by Sauron.
  • Internet Backdraft: Everyone stand back... "The Balrog has no wings!" There're arguments both ways, considering how Tolkien worded it in the books, but even if it did the Balrog couldn't fly with them. But giant fire and shadow monsters look more awesome with wings.
  • Iron Woobie: Frodo is the definitive example of this trope.
  • It Gets Better: It takes around half of The Fellowship of the Ring to properly start the quest of the Ring.
  • It Was His Sled: Gandalf comes back. The Ring is destroyed. Aragorn gets crowned King of Gondor.
  • Jerkass Woobie
    • Gollum, in a Jekyll/Hyde split personality example: the Sméagol persona is a sniveling Woobie, while Gollum (his desire for the Ring given form) is pure Ax-Crazy Jerkass.
    • Less of a Jerkass or a Woobie than Gollum, but still qualifying, is Boromir.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Sauron. Especially after reading the appendixes and learning about everything he did to set up his victory—not to mention his role in The Downfall of Númenor. Or at least, he tries to be one, but he's playing far out of his league.
  • Memetic Mutation
    • "Frodo Lives!" and "Gandalf for President," both popular rallying cries from The Sixties.
    • "Tolkien is Hobbit-forming." Also, anything having to do with Hobbits.
    • Political discourse: "Frodo failed, X has the ring" or "Y is like the One Ring, everyone wants it"... Strangely influential, perhaps because many poli-sci geeks see the Ring as an allegory for nuclear weapons or the corruption of tyranny.
    • "Another piece of Mordor," often seen scrawled on ugly building projects under construction.
    • "My prrreciousssss..."
  • Misaimed Fandom
  • Moral Event Horizon: With all the evil that Saruman does, it's instructing his orcs to start denuding Fangorn forest in order to fuel his forges that causes him to cross it. As Treebeard says, ''A wizard should know better!" Ultimately, it's also what brings about Saruman's downfall.
  • Newer Than They Think
    • Orcs and Balrogs - you'll find them in many generic fantasy settings alongside mythological creatures, but The Lord of the Rings is the first (published) work to use them. "Orc" is an Anglicized Elvish word ("Orch" in Sindarin, which gives the wonderfully apropos plural "Yrch"), while Balrog is Sindarin for "powerful demon."
    • The word "orc" actually existed in Old English, but it was a vague term for an ogre or a demon. Same goes for "ent", which was a generic term for a giant (the related word "eoten" is a cognate for the Norse "jotunn", all referring to giants). It was only after LOTR that they started being used to refer to very specific fantasy creatures.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Some of the scenes involving the Nazgûl are pants-shittingly terrifying, as well as the general feeling of panic and being hunted while the hobbits are escaping the Shire. Also, Sauron.
  • Older Than They Think: The idea of a ring that makes you invisible goes back to the Ring of Gyges from Plato's Republic. Considering how well-read Tolkien was, it's probably where he got the idea in the first place.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Balrog is easily as famous as the other monsters from the books despite only appearing very briefly.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Poor, poor Arwen. Boromir, Denethor, and Thranduil definitely tend to get this treatment too in fan fiction.
  • The Scrappy: Tom Bombadil is hated by many fans of the book for being a Canon Sue who has virtually nothing to do with the main plot and spends his chapters singing ridiculously bad songs.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Almost every modern fantasy copies from it to some extent or another; so much of the genre is aimed at children that by the time a reader gets to the Real Thing, they've seen it before...
  • Sequel Displacement: While The Hobbit is still considered a literary classic, it is The Lord of the Rings which is considered the defining work of High Fantasy.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The faceoff between Gandalf and the Witch-King beneath the broken gate of Minas Tirith has all the makings of a truly EPIC showdown...and then the cavalry arrives (literally). The way it plays out is still awesome, but many a reader has wondered how that battle would have gone if it hadn't been interrupted.
  • Ugly Cute: Gollum
  • Unfortunate Implications: For details, see the trope page.
  • Values Dissonance
    • Some of the concepts may not go over well with some readers: the idea of inborn royal status and special fate, the general fact that most of the heroes are aristocracy, and the uncriticized use of monarchy as a positive form of government. Of course, as Word of God says, the book was not intended to be an allegory about "how things should be done" in the real world - it's a fantasy inspired by medieval legends and history, where people certainly didn't think like modern people do.
    • The end of Éowyn's story, where the proto-Action Girl happily sets aside her sword to Stay in the Kitchen. The films leave that part out. Although the sequence is part of An Aesop of the book that peace, healing and nurturing are better than war and violence (especially when the war is over) with language evoking a Call to Agriculture. Éowyn is paired with the Author Avatar Faramir, who isn't a Glory Seeker through battle like Éowyn and her people (or his brother Boromir) and thus more "enlightened" than them, and Éowyn just follows his lead. Éowyn wasn't simply a Glory Seeker but a Death Seeker as well, so ultimately she chooses life over death. Also, becoming a ruling lady of a princedom is different from becoming a housewife.
      • Ironically for modern readers, shieldmaidens in actual Norse sagas hung up their weapons whenever they married ("maiden" refers to being an unmarried woman), so Éowyn is perfectly in line with her legendary forbears.
  • Vindicated by History: The book wasn't really popular until the Vietnam War and then the reading public started seeing parallels between Vietnam and the War of the Ring.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: Just as the only evil in Lothlorien is evil that the visitor brings there, the only symbolism in Lord of the Rings is symbolism that the reader brings there. See Tolkien's quote under What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?.
    • Some critics have tried to find Christian symbolism in it, similar to C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, which is more openly Christian. Yet the only such symbolism Tolkien admitted to was the Elven "energy bread" lembas being reminiscent of the Christian Eucharist or Holy Communion.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: While its predecessor, The Hobbit, was geared towards a younger audience, this story was intentionally targeted towards adult readers due to Tolkien becoming more and more uncomfortable with the fantasy genre being used solely for children's stories.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?
    • There are many, MANY interpretations of the book as a thinly veiled allegory of World War II. In particular, according to this view, Sauron is A Nazi by Any Other Name, and the whole Scouring of the Shire episode is a satire on Communism. Tolkien started to shoot down these interpretations when he was still alive, but when has Word of God ever stopped fans (or not-fans)?
    • "I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence." -Tolkien, responding to this in a forward to a later edition.
    • Tolkien's old buddy CS Lewis adored allegory, hence his Narnia books being nothing but allegory. They had such a falling out over allegory in Narnia (and other things Lewis did that pissed Tolkien off) that Tolkien and Lewis didn't speak for awhile. They agreed to disagree and got over it, buddies again, but it must have really rankled Tolkien to the end of his days when people saw allegory in The Lord of the Rings.
    • The first complete Russian translation of Lot R, and still one of the best known, ran with the "Scouring as a parody of communism" idea by translating Lotho's titles as those once used by Stalin.
    • The Ring is a force of great power that is alluring to men, but cannot be controlled even if its power is harnessed and will twist you into a monster before it kills you. This is in no way a metaphor for nuclear power and weapons or radiation poisoning, the Ring's powers are completely literal.
  • The Woobie: Faramir. For one, his father says straight out that he would have preferred that Faramir die. Then he essentially tells Faramir to go try and die anyway. This isn't as pronounced in the books as it is in the film, mind- Faramir pretty much goads his father into putting it in so many words (and their relationship wasn't nearly so antagonistic until the very last draft)

Ralph Bakshi Animated Film

  • Compressed Adaptation: It just about doesn't come more compressed. At times, it feels like Bakshi sliced up whole pages of dialogue and left in only the lines that most people remember. Almost nothing is given a full explanation, and what we do get is usually rushed and leaves out important details. For example, Gandalf asks Frodo if he sees any writing on the ring. When Frodo says he doesn't, Gandalf tosses the ring into Frodo's fire, then pulls it out a moment later, remarking that it is still quite cool. But he doesn't bother looking for the writing he was attempting to reveal. Later, after several lines stating outright that the ring is indestructible, Elrond declares that the ring must be taken to the fires of Mount Doom. What he doesn't tell us, unfortunately, is that this is the only fire capable of melting it. Without that line, non-readers have no idea why the Fellowship is undertaking this quest.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Leonard Rosenman's score.
  • Ho Yay: If you thought the Jackson films made Frodo and Sam look gay...
  • Special Effects Failure: Much of the film, which was unfortunately released incomplete.
  • They Just Didn't Care: Despite the rich languages that Tolkien invented, and the number of people fluent in them even back in 1978 (as much as you can be fluent in them), composer Leonard Rosenman used made-up gibberish for the soundtrack's choral chants, with the occasional word like "Sauron" or "Mordor" thrown in.

Rankin-Bass Animated Film

Peter Jackson Films

  • 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
  • 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.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The relationship between Frodo and Sam is subject to Ho Yay interpretations just like in the books.
    • And just like in the books fans debate whether Frodo was the real hero of the book or if the real hero was actually Sam, since Sam was able to resist the ring's influence despite being in close proximity to it as opposed to Frodo, who eventually did become corrupted by it, if only temporarily, after carrying it for so long.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: A lot of the comic relief praftfall moments forced on Gimli in The Two Towers come off as this. It's even a bit of a Base Breaker.
  • Can't Un Hear It: Sean Astin's distinctive accent for Samwise Gamgee is very similar to one of the most famous (extant) audio narrations of the book, though Astin claims he wasn't aware of the audio version. Eerily, Sam is never actually written with such an accent in the books, making it all the weirder.
  • Crazy Awesome: Viggo Mortensen. During the filming of Helm's Deep, he caught a sword in the face, and broke a tooth. He wanted to Superglue the tooth back and keep filming, but Peter Jackson brought him to his dentist to fix it instead. All of the other actors were afraid he was going to end up killing himself before they finished filming, due to his insistence on performing lots of extremely dangerous stunts himself. Even the stuntmen were impressed by his dedication, and ability to ignore pain and injuries while filming.
  • Creator's Pet: Aragorn comes across as this to some people.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome
    • Howard Shore's score is usually recognized as one of the best in film history, sometimes even by people who weren't fans of the movies. The three Academy Awards (two for best score and one for best song) didn't hurt this either.
    • Lux Aeterna's song, "Requiem for a Tower," which was present in the trailer of The Two Towers. It's used for many youtube videos.
  • 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.
  • Ear Worm: The Green Dragon song from The Return of the King has this effect.
  • Ending Fatigue
    • Common complaint of the end of the third movie. The book has six chapters after Mount Doom, featuring crownings, burials, info on the War in the rest of Middle-Earth, the journey home, the Scouring of the Shire, and the hobbits work to restore it and settle down again, which fails for Frodo, who leaves in the end.
    • It also doesn't help that the screen fades out in about 5 places and really looks as though the film is ending there, only for it to reappear again. Slightly different cinematography may have made this a much less common complaint.
    • Discussed on the cast commentary track, where somebody says that the fade after "Here, at the end of all things" could be the end of the movie, albeit a very artsy and far-out ending.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse
    • Arwen — the film slightly expands on her role, combining it with the most Badass elements of Glorfindel, and bringing in most elements of the love story which Tolkien left to the appendices.
    • Peter Jackson jokingly suggested that they wanted Imrahil to appear on film, but only if they could get Schwarzenegger to play the role.
    • Figwit is probably the epitome of this trope, but was not in the book.
  • Evil Is Cool: Heavy amount of appeal to the villains, with the menacing weapons and armor. At is peak in the final film with Sauron's army look so Badass, with huge menacing trolls in armor and giant WarElephants.
  • Fountain of Memes: Just look at this page.
  • Genius Bonus: A little bit of extra awesome for those versed in The Silmarillion. In the scene in the extended edition where Sam tells Frodo, "There's light and beauty up there that no shadow can touch," the star he sees is no ordinary star. That's the Star of Eärendil, the Evenstar — yeah, the one Arwen was named after. We would call it Venus. In Middle-Earth, though, it's an elf (Arwen's grandfather, no less,) on a flying ship with one of the three Silmarils, which contain the light of the Two Trees; holy light that predates the sun and moon. The Star of Eärendil was the source of the light contained in Galadriel's Phial.
  • Genre Turning Point: Along with the Harry Potter series, the LOTR trilogy proved that fantasy films didn't have to belong to cheesy B-movie fare and could be critically and commercially successful. A literal torrent of high-budget, CGI-heavy fantasy, sci-fi and superhero blockbusters followed in the next few years, and there seems to be no end to it.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The Nazgûl's screams are very unnerving.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight
    • The line "Nobody tosses a dwarf!" after Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage gave a Shout-Out to dwarf Martin Henderson, who was injured in a "dwarf-tossing" event, and stirring up a controversy about similar events.
    • Legolas riding the Uruk-hai shield like a surfboard in The Two Towers becomes a lot funnier when you learn that Tolkien originally intended for Bilbo to kill Smaug in the earliest drafts of The Hobbit. How? Bilbo would have infiltrated Smaug's lair, then stabbed him through the bare spot in his chest with Sting (which went so deep it vanished completely), and then ride a golden bowl like a surfboard on the massive amount of blood pouring out of Smaug's belly before triumphantly exiting the mountain.
    • Peter Jackson joking about giving Treebeard his own spin-off detective show in the commentary. Then in The Hobbit Film Trilogy Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock were cast. So alternate universe Bilbo and Smaug have 3 seasons of a detective show!
  • Ho Yay
    • Frodo and Sam, as usual. Actor Ian McKellen, who is gay, was interested in the close relationship between the two characters. He noted the attention to detail in the pair's close relationship from page to screen, such as when Sam grabs Frodo's hand after he awakens from unconsciousness. In fact, both pairs of hobbits can reasonably be called Heterosexual Life-Partners. It's worth noting that Sam is ironically the only hobbit to show interest in any specific woman in the films. In this regard, Merry and Pippin might be closer to this trope than Frodo and Sam. This is pushed Up to Eleven in the DVD cast commentaries for the three films (but especially The Two Towers), where all four hobbit actors play with this trope at one point or another.
    • The cast commentary even provided some for the actors. Sir McKellen rather comes off as if he has a little crush on Elijah Wood. Everyone else sounds like they've got a crush on Sir McKellen.
    • Aragorn/Legolas also get a lot of this. Actually, Aragorn/anyone do. Viggo kind of encourages it.
      • It really doesn't help that some scenes with just the two of them together (like after the battle of Helm's Deep) were originally supposed to be romantic scenes of Aragorn and Arwen.
      • And not only Legolas. Viggo kissed Billy Boyd offscreen. Really
  • Like You Would Really Do It: There are numerous instances when Jackson attempts to psych the audience into thinking a character is going to die — when even someone who has never read the book can tell, just by looking at the running time, "It's twenty minutes into movie one, the four main characters are not going to all die" or "No way Aragorn is going to be killed by an anonymous drop off a cliff."
  • Memetic Mutation
    • "One does not simply Walk into Mordor!"
    • (sigh) "They have a cave troll!"
    • "They come in pints?! I'm getting one."
    • "YOU! SHALL NOT PAAAAASS!!!"
    • "THEY'RE TAKING THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD!!" With the bonus of Orlando Bloom actually performing the song in costume on his very last day of playing Legolas in The Hobbit.
    • "Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen, not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea, stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!"
    • "Po-Ta-Toes! Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew..."
    • "Stupid fat hobbit! You ruins it!"
    • "You have no power here" is a popular macro, complete with senile Théoden's laughing face.
    • "Share the load."
    • "Manflesh."
    • Pretty much everything Gollum said, particularly in The Two Towers where he got his first time to shine. "My preciousss..."
  • Narm
    • Galadriel's rant when she is tempted by the Ring. For some, Nightmare Fuel of the High Octane variety. For others it can be cringeworthy. Galadriel on a whole can come off this way. The actress is attempting ethereal and somewhat inhuman... it can easily come off as if she's just really really stoned and looking at Frodo like an extra-large bag of Cheetos.
    • The heck was with Denethor running a whole mile while on fire just so he can go over the edge?
    • Certain lines, especially "Let's hunt some Orc."
    • Sauron's depiction as a literal flaming eye on top of Barad-dûr. In the book, Sauron was stated to still be a humanoid, and "Eye of Sauron" was just a metaphor for his power; Peter Jackson's decision to basically turn Sauron into a big, scary lighthouse has been met with some derision.
    • "Fell voices on the wind", or Christopher Lee singing in the shower?
  • Narm Charm: Many lines were perfectly fine originally, but have become Narm due to Memetic Mutation. One does not simply walk into Narm Charm.
    • "THEY'RE TAKING THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD!"
    • Just about every bonding scene between the hobbits, Frodo and Sam, rely on the film earning audience respect for them beforehand.
    • Gollum again.
    • Boromir's anguished rant at no one in particular in Fellowship of the Ring, punctuated by falling into a pile of leaves. In any other film, utterly ridiculous. But Boromir's Tragic Hero status and Sean Bean's acting sell the hell out of it, and it's a near-Tear Jerker.
  • Nightmare Fuel
    • Sméagol turning into Gollum at the beginning of Return of the King.
    • Shelob. If you are an arachnophobe at all, you will have nightmares for a good while.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Bret McKenzie as Figwit. One scene, no lines, and an entire Wiki article
    • Sauron in his physical form.
  • The Other Darrin: A very odd instance of this trope, as Andy Serkis plays Gollum in all three films, but the CG model used for the first film has quite a different face from that used in the other two. As Gollum is only seen in long shots (and very dark lighting) in the first film, it's not glaringly obvious, but it is noticeable.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Denethor gets this in the movie.
  • Sci-Fi Ghetto: Gloriously subverted, see Academy Awards above.
    • It's even been speculated that Fellowship and Two Towers were victims of Award Snub simply to keep the trilogy from sweeping three years in a row.
  • The Scrappy: Denethor from The Return of the King, who is viewed in this movie as a complete crazy jerk instead of a complex, sympathetic, Shakespearean Anti-Villain, gets a lot of hate due to his Jerkass behavior.
  • Special Effect Failure: Start to pop up to the trained eye after repeated viewings - and this series is good enough for repeated viewings.
    • In the aerial shot where the ring is destroyed and the ground under the orcs surrounding the good guys is collapsing, the dust is obviously swirling on a plate behind the little CGI orcs, as it doesn't pass in front of them.
    • The montage of the Minas Tirth warning beacons being lit. Yes, it's a climactic moment in the film and the music and sweeping landscapes were breathtaking, but the fire effects were on the whole poorly done, with the Minas Tirith and Amon Din beacons being engulfed within five seconds with an obvious flame superimposed over the wood stacks, which just as obviously aren't burning at all. Plus, most of the montage has beacons alighting atop the very narrow peaks of towering, snow-covered and wind-blasted mountains (a task that would redefine being Reassigned to Antarctica), with nobody shown to be lighting them even in shots where the beacon is close enough to the screen where such details should be seen.
    • In fight scenes, it's quite common for people being "stabbed" to actually have the sword tucked under their arm, which is one of, if not the oldest tricks in the moviemaking book. It's always in the background of shots, but once you start to notice...
    • When Aragorn and Frodo are on the Collapsing Stairs of Khazad-Dum, it is...rather obvious that they are in front of a green screen, with a fan blowing at their hair. (Understandably, since they couldn't possibly be filmed on a collapsing 500-ton staircase...) This was a very rare case of a failure that was quite easily visible on first viewing.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In particular, Orcs being Always Chaotic Evil, which the author struggled with. The movie actually adds another layer to this. When you watch the documentaries on the DVD, you see that, under the prosthetics and make-up, the vast majority of the stunt people playing the brutish, subhuman Orcs and Uruk-Hai are actually Maori. The good guys, in contrast, are universally white; even the extras/stunt people playing random human and elf warriors. This is maybe justified by the Medieval European Fantasy, but it's still quite jarring.

    The extended editions address this, mostly by restoring Faramir's character arc. Faramir, being a front-line soldier but more soft-hearted than his brother, spends some time almost lamenting over the body of one of the Sauron-aligned humans, wondering if the man had family and if he believed his cause was righteous as well.
  • Values Dissonance
    • Notably lessened as allusions to Aragorn's inherently kingly status and confidence (almost magical, as mythology was wont to do) are greatly reduced in the movie, to the point his major character arc is reversed to personal reluctance to be king.
    • It's still present in Gandalf's speech to Pippin in Return of the King, where he is given lines that were spoken by Denethor in throes of madness in the book no less, how the rule being given to "lesser people" caused Gondor fall to to ruin.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The trilogy was basically the Star Wars of its time, shattering the boundaries of visual effects. Go to the main page for the details.
  • What an Idiot: Frodo in Return of the King when he ends up not listening to Sam and trusting the psychopathic Gollum instead.
    • Also in Return of the King, after Gandalf knocks out Denethor after yelling, "Abandon your posts!", why does nobody (including Pippin, who is the only person to figure out that Faramir was just knocked out from poison) take advantage of Denthor being knocked unconscious and get Faramir to the House of Healings or get him medicine and have him recover?! If they did, they would've saved his life and he wouldn't almost be burned to death without regaining consciousness!
  • The Woobie: Frodo. Perhaps overly so, as a common criticism of the character (or at least Elijah Wood's portrayal thereof) is how he spends basically the entire trilogy with a pained expression on his face.

BBC Radio Adaptation

  • Flat Joy: When Faramir asks the people of Gondor whether they will accept Aragorn as king, the book's "And the people cried out yea with one voice" sounds like a dull "Yay" in the radio version. The crowd's "Praise them! With great praise!" also comes out pretty flat.
  • Hey, It's That Sound!: Both times the Eagles arrive (when Gandalf escapes Orthanc, and on Mount Doom), the sound effect used is almost identical to a TARDIS.

alternative title(s): The Return Of The King
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