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Film / The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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"The adventure continues."

Samwise: By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. 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? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. 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 on to, Sam?
Samwise: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a 2002 High Fantasy film based on the J. R. R. Tolkien novel of the same name. The second chapter of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy following The Fellowship of the Ring, it was directed by Peter Jackson and released in December 2002.

After the Fellowship of the Ring broke apart, Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee continue their journey towards Mordor with the One Ring, and encounter the devious creature known as Gollum, who held onto the ring for hundreds of years and has been stalking them for a while. Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck manage to escape their Uruk-hai captors and find allies in the Ents, living humanoid trees whose millennia-old forest has been devastated by the military needs of Isengard, Saruman's domain. Saruman is allied to the forces of Sauron, and he uses his dreaded armies of Orc hybrids called Uruk-hai to wage a war of annihilation against the human kingdom of Rohan.

Meanwhile, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas encounter a resurrected Gandalf, and the four of them set out to help the Rohan and its king Théoden against the incoming forces of Isengard after freeing Théoden from Saruman's mental grip. To stand a chance against the gigantic and implacable army of Saruman, the people of Rohan, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas entrench themselves in the fortress of Helm's Deep, hoping for reinforcements that Gandalf has gone to seek.

Followed by The Return of the King in 2003.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to C 
  • Acoustic Licence: When Saruman is addressing his army of ten thousand Uruk-hai, his voice appears to be magnified by magical means.
  • Action Bomb: During the battle at Helm's Deep, the Uruk-hai placed a bomb in the drainage tunnel at Helm's Deep, with an Uruk with a torch blowing himself up to set it off.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene:
    • While the film has a very loud build-up with the arrival of Saruman's army at Helm's Deep, the extended edition cuts away from this bombastic action to focus on cowering civilians in the caves underneath, with the Uruks chanting in the distance. Théoden also delivers a monologue where he doubts whether the Rohirrim can win and wonders what will become of his kingdom.
    • Frodo and Sam have many scenes that show The Power of Friendship. Likewise, there are many flashback scenes that show Aragorn and Arwen's romance.
  • Action Girl: There are also female warriors among the Easterling army. Women can be glimpsed in the army of elves that show up at Helm's Deep too.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Gimli and Legolas are standing guard at Helm's Deep and Gimli can't see over the ramparts, Legolas makes a teasing joke in response to his friend's complaining, which Gimli finds amusing.
    Gimli: What's happening out there?
    Legolas: Shall I describe it to you, or would you like me to find you a box?
    [Gimli bursts out laughing.]
  • Adaptational Context Change:
    • Surprisingly, the title itself is subject to this. While in the movie, it is said to refer to Saruman's tower of Orthanc, and Sauron's tower of Barad-dûr, in the book it refers to Orthanc, and Minas Morgul, the city Frodo, Sam, and Gollum pass on the way to Shelob's lair in The Return of the King, an event which took place in the book version of The Two Towers.
    • 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".
    • Faramir's speech speculating about what a dead soldier's life is like was a bit of narration in the book going over Sam's thought.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Downplayed, but some attempts were made to make the main characters seem more heroic at the expense of other characters:
    • In the book, nobody questioned Théoden's decision to fight at Helm's Deep instead of Edoras. It was Rohan's most impregnable fortress and the distance to Isengard was shorter, meaning Saruman's army would do less damage on the way.
    • The ents decided to march on Isengard without prompting from Merry and Pippin.
    • Faramir had made up his mind not to take the ring before Frodo or Sam told him not to.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Although never a villain, Faramir was more hostile to the hobbits in the movie than he was in the books, and is tempted by the Ring, until Samwise tells him what the Ring did to Boromir. The DVD commentary states that Jackson didn't feel that Faramir's assertion that he'd have nothing to do with the Ring didn't gel with what a corruptive and seductive influence it's made out to be.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The fight between Gandalf and the Balrog was only briefly mentioned and never described in the book. It's the opening scene of the movie here.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Gandalf stops at Rohan in the first book before going to Rivendell, attempting to warn Théoden about Saruman's Face–Heel Turn — but Gríma Wormtongue has already started poisoning his mind. This is eliminated from the film, so it's not explained how Gandalf is so up-to-date on what's been happening in Rohan.
  • Adapted Out: Ghan-buri-Ghan and Elrond's sons Elladan and Elrohir are also absent. Quickbeam the Ent appears in the crowd shots, Demoted to Extra.
  • Alien Gender Confusion: Gimli explains to Éowyn that humans sometimes assume that Dwarves reproduce asexually because Dwarf women look so much like the men. Aragorn clarifies that the beard is the source of the confusion.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Orcs and Uruk-Hai are portrayed as cannibalistic murderers bred for evil who enjoy little else but violence and insults. No quarter is given to them and the film extends none of the pathos given to human villains to them.
  • Annoying Arrows: The Uruk-hai berserker with the bomb-igniting torch at Helm's Deep keeps running unimpeded even though Legolas hits him twice. Notable since the trope is heavily averted in the rest of the movie, with Legolas himself one-shotting many enemies.
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • There are instances of mooks and redshirts dying from a single blow despite being encased in armour-armour specifically mentioned to be of exceptional quality, at that. Most notably, orc and goblins tend to wear particularly heavy-looking plate armour, yet often go down to a single swipe or arrow. Aragorn and Legolas also go without armour for a majority of the series, despite being some of the most capable fighters.
    • Slightly justified where the elves (and Aragorn) are concerned: Legolas is heard to pass advice on the weaknesses of Uruk-hai armour to his fellow elves in Helm's Deep, so they can Attack Its Weak Point. When humans or orcs fire a volley, it tends to fell significantly fewer troops per arrow fired, though orcs get around this by sheer numbers.
    • Also averted when Théoden is speared at Helm's Deep. While he had to withdraw from the battle for the time being, he was seen back in the fight later.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Though a bit distant from when the question came up, Sam gives ones to Faramir in Osgiliath:
    Sam: You want to know what happened to Boromir? You want to know why your brother died?! He tried to take the Ring from Frodo! After swearing an oath to protect him, he tried to kill him! The Ring drove your brother mad!
  • Artistic Licence – Geography: A rather infamous one with the "They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!" Legolas prefaces this by saying, "The Uruk's turn northeast". Except according to the maps from the books, Isengard is to the southwest, the complete opposite direction.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Gollum's Song" averts the trope by being in a minor key, having a much darker tone, and being sung in a dissonant, shrill voice.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In the film adaptation, during the battle of Helm's Deep, Aragorn and Gimli fought the Uruk-hai while the main gate is repaired.
  • Badass Army:
    • The Elven army is implied to be one of these in the film given how disciplined and co-ordinated they are. Not because they're inherently better, mind you, they've just had literally thousands of years of training and combat experience.
    • The Uruk-hai army that attacks Helm's Deep definitely qualifies as a villainous version.
    • Subverted and Played Straight in regards to the army of Rohan. The forces at Helm's Deep are only a force of 300 men, most of whom are either too old or too young to be of any real use. But that's because the actual badass portion of the army is the 3,000 Rohirrim who were exiled earlier in the film, returning at the end to turn the tide of battle.
  • Batman Gambit: While Treebeard is taking him and Merry home, Pippin tells him to take them past Saruman's tower, claiming that the closer they are to danger, the further they are from harm. However, it's all a ruse to get Treebeard to see the devastation that Saruman wreaked upon the forest, which drives the Ents to attack Isengard.
  • Battle in the Rain: The Battle of the Peak (when Gandalf fights the Balrog on top of the Misty Mountains). Gandalf uses the thunderstorm to his advantage by letting a bolt of lightning strike his sword, which he then stabs into the Balrog's chest, killing it.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Théoden also gets a spear in the shoulder during the battle of Helm's Deep. He's not badly injured, due to his armour, but he has to switch his sword to his other hand for a bit.
  • Behind the Black:
    • Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli stop their run after Aragorn senses something. The Three Hunters run behind a rock and miss, by a matter of inches, being trampled by a huge contingent of horses and riders that are coming over the hill. Why the particularly perceptive Legolas or Aragorn couldn't see or hear the riders coming from a mile off is left unexplained, but the scene is played purely for effect. In the books, the hunters did in fact spot the riders coming from a long way off and had plenty of time to prepare themselves.
    • Sam steps into the Dead Marshes before realizing he's walking into a bog that stretches as far as the eye can see.
  • Big Bad: While Sauron is the ultimate Big Bad for the entire story, Saruman has the focus in this instalment due to the creation of his own army of Orcs and being the instigator of the battle at Helm's Deep.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Helm's Deep fills out this role quite nicely. We also see a bit of the fighting in Osgiliath near the end of the film, as well as an ambush of the Rohirrim refugees by a pack of orc raiders and the ents' destruction of Isengard.
  • Big Brother Instinct: In Faramir's flashback to the battle of Osgiliath, he and Boromir begin to celebrate their victory together, only to be unpleasantly interrupted by the arrival of their father Denethor, who has nothing but harsh words for Faramir. To his credit, Boromir does speak up for Faramir, and though his words fall on Denethor's deaf ears, he deserves a point for trying.
  • Big Damn Heroes: There's a scene when Merry and Pippin have been abducted and Pippin was about to be eaten by an orc when they were unintentionally rescued by the Riders of Rohan. They are saved again by Treebeard stomping on the orc a little later.
  • Big "NO!": When Faramir discovers that Frodo possesses the One Ring and contemplates delivering it to his father, Frodo has one and immediately retreats from Faramir, much to Faramir's surprise.
  • Blinded by the Light: The Uruk-Hai at the end of the battle of Helm's Deep are blinded by the rising sun when Gandalf and his army of Rohirrim come charging towards them.
  • Book Ends: A couple of examples (which may seem odd as it's the middle film):
    • Near the start of the film, Frodo attacks Gollum with Sting held in his left hand and holds the tip to his throat. Near the end, he does the same to Sam, except with Sting in his right hand.
    • Faramir's arc starts with Denethor mockingly asking if Faramir wants to attend the Council of Elrond to "show his quality". At the end, Sam earnestly tells him that he has shown his quality.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Nobody ever runs out of arrows despite firing dozens of them and never being shown replenishing their quivers or picking the arrows out of the bodies. In fact, Legolas specifically is seen after the Battle of Helm's Deep with several arrows still in his quiver.
  • "Bringer of War" Music: Heard during the siege of Helm's Deep as the torchbearer is running to ignite the explosives planted in the fortresses' drain.
  • Breaching the Wall: The first part of the battle at Helm's Deep has Rohan's army easily keeping Saruman's Uruk-hai at bay. Unfortunately, no one's aware Saruman has found out the fortress wall can be destroyed by placing a bomb on a sewage drain nearby. Guess what happens a few minutes later...
  • Breaking Speech: Elrond gives one to Arwen about how if she marries Aragorn, she will live to see him and their child die. This is an unusual example because he does it out of love.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the movie, Sam is shown to carry around some Shire salts, as he puts it 'just in case they find a chicken or something'. At the end of the movie, Merry and Pippin find a chicken in the spoils of Isengard.
  • Bring Him to Me: Saruman wants the ring bearer brought to him alive and unspoiled.
  • Buried in a Pile of Corpses: During the warg attack, Gimli is pinned underneath a warg he kills, followed by an Orc he kills, then finally another warg that was killed by Aragorn. He eventually works his way back to his feet.
  • Calm Before the Storm: At Helm’s Deep, Theoden has marshaled his forces and the Elves for the defense of the keep. They stand silently along the battlements as the army of Uruk-Hai appears in the distance and marches toward them.
  • Character Development: Aragorn has an important one at Helm's Deep. In the films (if not the book) he is still coming to terms with his destiny. Théoden and Aragorn are walking and Théoden talks (loudly, so that others around can hear) about that the Hornburg has never been taken and that the enemy will break on his fortress like water on rock. Aragorn and Gimli disagree, and Théoden gets right in Aragorn's face. "What would you have me say?" he hisses. "Look at my men; their courage hangs by a thread!" The unspoken message: the King has to stand tall, no matter what the odds. Aragorn takes this to heart and a few moments later when it's Legolas that predicts that everyone will die Aragorn simply says that he'll die as one of them. And Aragorn acts like a king from that point on.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the beginning, Saruman instructs his mooks to dam the river. At the end of the film, the Ents break the dam, dramatically destroying Saruman's army and Elaborate Underground Base in the ensuing flood.
  • Child Soldiers: Before the sacking of Rohan, Théoden rallies anyone who can hold a weapon. There is a scene where the soldiers suit up to defend Helm's Deep, and we see a number of very young boys needed to up their soldier count. Mercifully, we're never shown the kids doing any actual combat besides throwing stones at the besiegers from the wall.
    Gimli: Some of these men have seen too many winters.
    Legolas: Or too few.
  • Comically Missing the Point: As Sam and Frodo are left alone with Sméagol:
    Sam: It's too quiet. There hasn't been sight nor sound of a bird for two days.
    Gollum: No, no birdses to eat. No crunchable birdses!
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind:
    • When Merry and Pippin try to escape from the orc camp and are chased by Grishnakh, he has them at knifepoint and says nobody will save them now ... then the Rohirrim attack the camp and one of them throws a spear into his back.
    • Later on, Treebeard saves Merry and Pippin by stepping on an orc for them.
    • When the Rohirrim are attacked by orcs on the way to Helm's Deep, Gimli gets pinned under the body of one of the Wargs, and another one creeps up on him. Aragorn then grabs a spear out of the ground and skewers it before it can attack.
  • Creative Closing Credits: They contain the names of every single member of the Tolkien fan club in the special edition.
  • Creator Cameo: Artist Alan Lee and Production Designer Dan Hennah appear as old men being armed when Legolas and Aragorn argue at Helm's Deep. Peter Jackson appears as a spear-throwing Rohirrim at Helm's Deep.
  • Cutting Back to Reality: Conversations between Gollum and Smeagol are depicted via cuts between each personality as they speak, with Gollum on the left of the screen and Smeagol on the right, making it look as though they really are two different people. However, once Smeagol finally plucks up the courage to tell Gollum to go away and never come back, we cut to a wide-angle shot of Smeagol sitting alone as he slowly realizes that it worked.

    Tropes D to I 
  • Death Glare: The crowning one has to be the one Théoden gives Grima after being freed from Saruman. You can almost hear Grima piss himself.
  • Death Wail: Aragorn lets out one when he finds Merry and Pippin's elven belts on the Orc funeral pyre. In Real Life, it was because Viggo Mortensen had just broken his toe on the helmet he kicked, but he went on with the scene.
  • Devoured by the Horde: The orc pack who take Merry and Pippin to Isengard are starving, and one of them attempts to eat the hobbits. Under strict orders to bring any hobbit back in one piece, the leader of the orc pack kills this orc instead, who is then devoured by his hungry comrades.
  • Didn't Think This Through: During the siege of Helm's Deep, the Uruk-Hai use Saruman's newly-created explosives to blow up the wall in order to make a breach. However, they were caught off-guard by the blast almost as much as the defenders were. The Uruks near the grate are blown up along with the ones already on the wall and countless more are crushed beneath massive chunks of falling rubble that were blown sky-high by the blast. After the dust settles, instead of immediately storming through the breach, they stand there staring at it, clearly not realizing that Saruman's new weapons would be that powerful. Of course, it's probably likely that Saruman just didn't bother to inform them of its destructive power because he didn't care, given that We Have Reserves was in full effect for the Uruks.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Théodred was killed in battle in the book, while in the movie he was only seriously wounded and brought back to Meduseld alive before succumbing to his wounds, possibly with assistance from Gríma.
  • Disney Death: Alongside Frodo's examples from the book that made it into the film, we also have Aragorn's plunge off of the cliff.
  • Dramatic Drop: Frodo drops Sting in horror after realizing he almost killed Sam in a Ring-fit.
  • Dream Intro: At the beginning, Frodo has a dream that reminds us what happened to Gandalf at the end of Part 1, although in this case, it continues into a sequence which he couldn't possibly have seen.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The extended version has a flashback to Boromir and Faramir's past, which serves to introduce Denethor before he becomes a major character in Return of the King.
  • Enemy Civil War: The orcs of Mordor and Isengard do not play nicely together. In fact, Saruman is only allied with Mordor out of convenience; he plans to betray Sauron once he gets the Ring and overthrow him.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: In the Extended Edition, Merry and Pippin's part of the story ends with them finding and smoking Saruman's stash of pipeweed and laughing uproariously all the while.
  • Evil Gloating: See Fate Worse Than Death.
    Saruman: Who now has the strength to stand against the armies of Isengard and Mordor? To stand against the might of Sauron and Saruman ... and the union of the two towers? Together, my Lord Sauron ... we shall rule this Middle-Earth!
  • Evil Laugh: Gandalf's attempt to free Théoden from Saruman's influence is met by sinister laughter from Théoden himself, showing how far gone he is.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: A side effect of corruption by rings of power. Gollum speaks this way after possessing the One Ring for centuries.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The (original) Dark Tower, Barad-dûr revealed in the film.
  • Extended Disarming: Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are asked to hand over their weapons before being allowed in to see Théoden. Gandalf plays up the "weak old man" angle to keep his staff, which is the one thing Gríma wanted taken away from them. It's strongly implied Háma knew what he was doing and let Gandalf keep it so he could free Théoden from Gríma's control.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Grima fails to see that Gandalf is holding his staff until it's pointed directly at his face, even though all his attention is directed toward the wizard for the whole scene and he outright ordered his men to confiscate it. In order to make this believable, Gandalf held the staff in a way that wouldn't draw attention to it, by tucking it under his arm so that most of it would functionally stay hidden behind him.
  • Fake Shemp: In Gandalf's final scene where he says that the battle of Helm's Deep is over and the battle of Middle-Earth is about to begin, an unknown Rohan rider is seen on the far left. This was originally meant to be Éomer, but since Karl Urban was not on set that day, his stand-in replaced him. On the DVD commentary, Peter Jackson admits that they planned to digitally replace the head of the stand-in with Urban's, but they simply forgot to do that during post-production.
  • Fanfare: The Rohan theme at points.
  • Flash Forward: Elrond warns Arwen what will happen if she stays in Middle-Earth and marries Aragorn, and there is a scene of Aragorn's funeral, after he has become king and has died of old age, while Arwen lives on in grief and loneliness.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Théoden and Aragorn do this at the climax of the Battle of the Hornburg, riding out of the gates and scattering the orcs on the bridge.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Gollum's Song, sung by Emiliana Torrini and played over the credits ends with 'You are lost, you can never go home.' While it's ambiguous who exactly this is directed towards, by the end of the quest Frodo at least suffers a tragic case of You Can't Go Home Again.
    • There are scenes all throughout the Extended Edition that hint of something ominous going on with the trees of Fangorn Forest. Merry, Pippin, and the Three Hunters hear their angry groanings on different occasions, and the Hobbits nearly fall prey to one that tries crushing them to death. It's all a buildup to the finale of the Battle of Helm's Deep, where the trees kill the rest of the retreating Orcs, and definitively destroy Saruman's army down to the last soldier.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Saruman shows the ability to levitate an enemy and toss him through the air, and to call down storms and avalanches from dozens if not hundreds of miles away, and Treebeard predicts that the Ents are probably doomed fighting against him. But during the actual battle, the Ents win easily and Saruman just watches angrily without using any magic.
    • In the books he actually kills one of the Ents with a jet of fire, making this an inversion of the usual Adaptation Deviation tendency to add much more blatant magic use than was in the source material.
  • Free-Fall Fight: Gandalf fights the Balrog while falling into the chasms of Moria. In both this and the book, they hit a lake on the bottom, but they are both too powerful to be killed by the impact.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • During the approach to Osgiliath, Minas Tirith can be spotted in the distance.
    • After Saruman's hold over Théoden is broken, he can be seen with a mark on his forehead from where Gandalf hit Théoden with his staff.
  • Friendlessness Insult: The film has Gollum do this to himself while trying to manipulate himself.
    Gollum: Master, Yes, Precious. False! They will cheat you. Hurt you. Lie!
    Smeagol: Master's my friend.
    Gollum: You don't have any friends! Nobody likes you!
  • Funny Background Event:
    • During the Entish assault on Isengard, one of them catches fire. The Ent running around and then dousing himself in the overflowing Isen is hilarious if you notice it.
    • As the Ents break the dam overlooking Isengard, there is an Ent in the foreground holding a struggling orc in his hand. When the Ent sees the dam breaking in the background, he casually throws the orc in the path of the torrent and walks away.
    • During the Battle of Helm's Deep, when Aragorn alerts the defenders that the Uruk-Hai are bringing up siege ladders, an Elvish archer gets hit in the face by the quiver of the man standing in front of him, his gauntlet coming off after it catches on one of the arrows.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The Ents overrun and flood Isengard in retribution for the damage Saruman did to their forest.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom:
    • The Ents when...
      The Ents: Break the dam; release the river!
    • Near Isengard at the end, flooding all foulness out of it.
  • Godzilla Threshold: The reason Théoden recruits young boys as Child Soldiers for the Battle of Helm's Deep; the Uruks plan to kill everyone and they need to up the soldier count. To be fair, everyone involved in-universe (Théoden, the soldiers taking the children to the armoury) was thoroughly unhappy with the situation.
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: More pronounced in the film than the book, where we're asked to take Gollum as more of a whole person.
  • Green Aesop: The conflict between Isengard and the Ents.
    Saruman: "The old world will burn in the fires of industry. The forests will fall!"
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: It's easy to miss and hard to see, but at one point when the Ents are fighting the forces of Isengard, one Ent is swinging an orc around and whacking other orcs with it.
  • Groin Attack: Happens a couple of times to orcs during battles, particularly to an Uruk-Hai at Helm's Deep. Gimli hits him with an axe.
  • He Didn't Make It: It has a strange example because that scene was filmed before the script was totally ironed out: the director wasn't sure what actually did happen to Aragorn, so decided to keep the dialogue vague to save time.
    Éowyn: Where is Lord Aragorn?
    Gimli: He fell.
  • Hollywood Darkness:
    • The night battles at Helm's Deep and Osgiliath are shown in a blue tint. Helm's Deep occurs with rain during the bulk of the battle, meaning that the only light would have been lightning and scattered torches, but this isn't cited as nor provides any obvious difficulty. Osgiliath is a retreating battle in which both sides tried to ambush the other, no one has torches lit, but the orcs in the boats stay low, and the Gondorians took cover in the broken urban landscape.
  • Hollywood Tactics:
    • The Rohirrim defenders of Helm's Deep let the Uruk-hai neatly form up outside the fortress without shooting — until one bowman prematurely does, which (only then) provokes the Uruk-hai to charge.
    • The Rohirrim cavalry charge at the conclusion of Helm's Deep — downhill, towards thousands of Uruk-hai armed with pikes and spears pointed right at them is a textbook example. In real life, this would have skewered the horses and their riders like shish-kebab. But the Uruk-hai, blinded by the sunlight (and perhaps Gandalf's magic) ridiculously start to raise their weapons when they could've just stuck their spears into the ground and pointed them straight forward at their attackers, and the Rohirrim cut them down.
    • They have to buy time for the women and children to escape and rather than hold a well-defended position they choose to charge out and be instantly surrounded and overwhelmed.
    • This series does an excellent job of analyzing the military tactics being utilized and described in both the book and the film. It's probably of very little surprise that the books are much more accurate to historical warfare than what is shown in the film. Warning: Very, very long, and goes into elaborate and fascinating detail.
  • Homage Shot: The shot of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum looking down at the Black Gate mirrors a similar shot in The Wizard of Oz, featuring the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion. Both sets of heroes find their destination heavily guarded, with new armies arriving. Later in both stories, one of the characters (Dorothy, Frodo) is captured, and in order to move around in the enemy's territory, all the heroes must dress in enemy uniforms.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: What Sam's speech amounts to. There will be times of great suffering and fear, but those times must pass on, and the light at the end of the tunnel will be even brighter than before.
  • Horns of Villainy: The Balrog wasn't clearly described in the novels, but it's given large ram-like horns, giving it a beast-like appearance.
  • Hypocrite: As a Brick Joke from Fellowship, Saruman chided Gandalf's inability to recognize the One Ring for what it was while it was in Bilbo's possession by saying that his "love Of the halfling's leaf" had dulled his wits. Cut to the aftermath of the Ent's war against Isengard in this film, and what is found among the stores of Orthanc that Pippin and Merry cheerfully plundered? A staggering amount of pipeweed, implying that Saruman either partook himself or was at least okay with having it around for others to smoke.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: When Gandalf confronts Saruman while the latter is speaking through the possessed King Théoden, Saruman mocks him with the declaration "You have no power here, Gandalf the Grey!". At this, Gandalf casts off his grey outer cloak, revealing himself (to possessed Théoden's shock) as Gandalf the White before successfully casting Saruman out of the king's mind.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Sam manages to talk Frodo down when the other hobbit (under heavy influence from the Ring) has a sword to his throat.
    Samwise: It's me. It's your Sam. Don't you know your Sam?
  • Iconic Sequel Song: While the motif for Rohan is one of the most recognizable parts of the series' score, it first appears in this film.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • "You will taste man-flesh!"
    • "Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!"
  • I Meant to Do That: Gimli, when he falls off his horse.
    Gimli: Nobody panic! It was deliberate. It was deliberate.
  • Inertial Impalement: Subverted: The Rohirrim cavalry charges down a steep incline where orc pikemen are massing. However, the sun rises just in time for them to be dazzled, and the charge completely breaks the line apart.
  • Info Dump: A scene in which Gandalf brings Aragorn (and the audience as well) up to speed on everything that is happening at this point in the story, was shot late in production in the event they needed it (or the studio requested it). It is included in the Extended Edition.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Deliberately invoked by Pippin, with the aim of getting Treebeard to see first-hand the damage Saruman has caused to Fangorn.
    Pippin: If we go south, we can slip past Saruman unnoticed. The closer we are to danger, the further we are from harm. It's the last thing he'll expect.
    Treebeard: That doesn't make sense to me, but then you are very small. Perhaps you're right.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When Saruman says that taking Helm's Deep would require tens of thousands of soldiers, Wormtongue replies, "But my lord, there is no such force." Cue him seeing Saruman's huge Uruk-hai army two seconds later.

    Tropes J to P 
  • Kerb-Stomp Battle: Ents vs. Isengard, despite Treebeard's private musing that they might be going to their doom. It's already one-sided in favour of the Ents even from the start (likely helped by how the bulk of Saruman's army is at Helm's Deep), but at least a few Ents are downed by either flaming arrows or literally pulled down and hacked to pieces by axes (though the two we actually see suffer these fates are saved from dying). Once the Ents bust open the dam to release the river, however, any hope of victory for Isengard is lost brutally and swiftly.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: As the journey progresses, Frodo falls more under the Ring's influence. It climaxes in Osgiliath when the Ring influences him to stand in the open so one of the Nazgul can take it. Luckily, Sam reaches him just in time to tackle him out of the way. Unluckily, his attempts to remove the Ring draw the still-enthralled Frodo's possessive wrath, and Sam barely escapes getting his throat cut with his friend's sword. When Frodo "wakes up" and realizes what he almost did, his self-loathing horror is palpable.
  • Kill Steal: Gimli accuses Legolas of this during the fight with the warg-riding orcs.
    *riderless warg charges at Gimli*
    Gimli: Bring your pretty face to my axe!
    *Legolas shoots the warg when it's within mere feet of Gimli*
    Gimli: That one counts as mine!
  • Kubrick Stare: Merry gets one when he calls out the Ents for refusing to join the War of the Ring.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Performed by Sam in one of the Osgiliath scenes. His big speech to Frodo starts "By rights, we shouldn't even be here!". In-universe, this makes sense as a comment on what unlikely heroes they are, but it also references the fact that the two characters never go to Osgiliath in the book.
    • Also occurs when Haldir and the Elves arrive at Helm's Deep. Théoden's question, "How is this possible?", can also refer to the fact none of the elves appear in the book.
  • Leave No Survivors: In the film, Saruman tells his minions to kill everyone in Helm's Deep.
  • Leitmotif:
    • The "Rohan Theme." Wistful when we first hear it on the Norwegian fiddle when the heroes arrive at Edoras, it later appears in full-on brass mode for Helm's Deep. Plays over the charge of the Rohirrim at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, with Norwegian fiddle and brass sections working together.
    • "Gollum's Theme," appears all the way through the film whenever Gollum is around, but most notably as a song in the end credits sung by Emiliana Torrini.
    • Éowyn's theme (the only theme other than Gollum's associated with one character), played usually whenever she's standing at the front of the Golden Hall.
    • The March of the Ents/General Badassery about to Happen theme (can be heard here).
  • Lethal Chef: Éowyn, as seen in the extended edition. She provides Aragorn with a bowl of stew — he eats one bite and tries to pour it out as soon as her back is turned. She first offers some to Gimli, but despite the Dwarven appetite, he says "Oh no, I couldn't!" and takes advantage of being on his feet rather than sitting down like Aragorn to rush off before she insists.
  • Man on Fire: An Ent on fire at one point. Dousing the flames as the dam on the River Isen burst is a fairly notable Funny Background Event.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • The tune from "Concerning Hobbits" (the piece that plays as the Shire is introduced) appears at the end of the first movie in " The Breaking of the Fellowship".
    • After Gandalf removes the spell of age from Théoden, Éowyn looks at him and he says, "I know your face." When Théoden lies dying on the Pelennor, he looks up at Éowyn and says the same. In the book, he died without knowing she was there, but his last moment here is definitely a heartwarming one.
  • Melancholy Moon: Sméagol fishing in the waterfall has a curious use of the moon. Sméagol, who has found a measure of redemption helping Frodo and even banishing Gollum, is "betrayed" by Frodo under Faramir's threat of killing Sméagol.
  • Mercy Kill: Gimli offers one to the leader of the Warg riders when they find him mortally wounded nearby and deduce the Orc knows what happened to Aragorn.
    Gimli: [holding an axe to the Orc's throat] Tell me what happened, and I will ease your passing!
  • Mistaken for Betrayal: Faramir threatens to kill Gollum for catching fish from a sacred pool, but Frodo convinces him to spare him and goes to the edge of the pool to try and talk Gollum into leaving the pool freely. Unfortunately, Faramir's rangers decide to use Frodo as a distraction to capture Gollum and torture him instead, leaving Gollum with the impression that Frodo betrayed him to the rangers. Poor Frodo is thoroughly aware of what it looks like and tries to minimize the damage, to no avail.
  • Monogender Monsters: The movie's portrayal of Uruk-Hai, being all male and spawned from mud pits.
  • Mook Lieutenant: The unnamed Uruk-hai standing on a rock who commands the force at Helm's Deep by roaring out orders.
  • Murder Into Malevolence: Implied regarding the Dead Marshes, where the waters hold spectral images of the men and elves who died in a long-ago battle against Sauron's armies. Frodo falls in and has a vision of rotting corpses trying to drag him down, but his mental state is a bit unreliable at the time.
    Gollum: Don't follow the lights. Careful now, or hobbits go down to join the dead ones... and light little candles of their own!
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Grí­ma seems to believe that Saruman is biting off more than he can chew and that he might be able to play both sides against the middle — right up until Saruman shows him the magically frenzied 10,000+ superhumans in plate armour. The look on his face is priceless.
    • Frodo has a "What did I almost do?" moment. Under heavy influence from the Ring, Frodo doesn't notice that the Witch-King of Angmar is swooping in to grab him. Sam pulls him out of the way, simultaneously trying to get the Ring off. In response, Frodo pins him and threatens him with Sting. Sam manages to talk him down, but you can clearly see the horrified expression on his face as he drops the sword.
  • Neck Snap: Gimli kills an Orc during the Warg attack by snapping his neck, particularly impressive since he is pinned under a Warg at the time.
  • Neutral No Longer: Treebeard after seeing the destruction Saruman has caused to Fangorn Forest.
  • Never Found the Body: Aragorn's plunge off the cliff with the warg (Gimli even ambiguously says simply "He fell"), as well as Gandalf in Moria & Gollum on the Stairs.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Aragorn stops Théoden from killing Wormtongue because too much blood had already been spilled. Wormtongue turns around and gives Saruman the secret to defeating the defences at Helm's Deep thus causing nearly all the defenders to be killed. Too much blood indeed.
    • Faramir's soldiers capturing Gollum while Frodo is trying to talk him into leaving of his own will and subsequently torturing him leads to Gollum's betrayal in Cirith Ungol.
  • No Adequate Punishment: Treebeard's reaction to seeing Saruman having chopped down a good portion of his home forest lets the reader know just how unspeakable an action it is. The ents end up resorting to a Neutral No Longer and enacting Gaia's Vengeance by attacking Saruman's city of Isengard to, at the very least, put a halt to it.
    Treebeard: There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of men for this treachery.
  • No One Could Survive That!": Seen in both Aragorn's line "It cannot be. You fell..." speaking of Gandalf, and Sharku's line "He's dead. Took a little tumble off the cliff" speaking of Aragorn.
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: Faramir and the Gondorian rangers use bird calls to set up an ambush of a legion of Haradrim before capturing Frodo and Sam.
  • Offscreen Inertia: Played for Laughs. In the extended version (but not the theatrical version), the last thing we see Merry and Pippin doing before the film ends is lighting one up, and they're still smoking away several in-movie days later at the beginning of the next film.
  • Oh, Crap!: Many examples.
    • Bernard Hill as King Théoden does a series of great Oh Crap faces:
    • Théoden's Death Glare after he's freed from Saruman causes a great Oh Crap face on Grima.
    • Saruman has this reaction when Gandalf removes his grey cloak to reveal his newly upgraded status as Gandalf the White.
    • There's also Saruman's reaction to the Ents trashing Isengard. It's exactly the face you'd expect to see if someone was woken up with the news that the trees had come alive and were trashing his yard.
  • Off with His Head!: Aragorn decapitates an Orc in the Warg attack.
  • Older Than They Look: In the Extended Edition, Aragorn admits to Éowyn that he is 87 years old during the events of The Two Towers. Being a descendant of Númenor, he's in his prime. He goes on to live to 210.
  • Painless Death for a Price: Shortly after the skirmish with Saruman's warg riders, Gimli and Legolas realize they lost track of Aragorn in the fight and find a wounded orc cackling to himself. Gimli offers to ease the orc's passing if he tells them what happened to Aragorn. The orc replies, truthfully, that he was dragged over the cliff by the warg the orc was riding but expires before Gimli can administer the Coup de Grâce.
  • Palm Bloodletting: In the extended version, one of the Wild Men of Dunland swears fealty to Saruman. When asked to prove it, he slices his palm open and says that they will die for Saruman.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Emphasized a lot more in the films with Elrond's outright disapproval of Aragorn's and Arwen's relationship. In the book he is saddened but gives the conditions not out of spite but to provide the best for his daughter.
  • Plot Armour: Possibly the only example ever of a mook getting this occurs with the Orc with the bomb rushing for the drain. If he doesn't survive long enough to do his job the battle can't he's the only orc in the whole trilogy that Legolas can't kill with one arrow.
  • Plot Parallel: Because the film shows Frodo and Sam's travels concurrently with Aragorn's, the scene where Frodo reminds Gollum of his original name is immediately followed by one where Aragorn reminds Gandalf of his.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Faramir is benevolent enough to offer Frodo the chance to talk Gollum out of the Forbidden Pool before Faramir's troops shoot Gollum for violating the law, but instead of carefully explaining to Gollum that there are soldiers waiting above and that Gollum can either risk capture or be killed on the spot, Frodo doesn't bother to explain the situation beyond "you must come with Master." When Gollum obeys and is captured by Faramir's men, Gollum confuses the "come with me" offer for a betrayal and shortly begins plotting his revenge.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • Peter Jackson himself invoked this in his explanation as to his complete rewrite of the meetings of Faramir and Frodo's group: in the books, he lets them go free after learning of their quest and agreeing with it; in the film, he keeps them captive in order to take The Ring. Jackson said specifically this was because after the first book, the Ring's power to corrupt became an Informed Ability until it surfaced again at the tail-end of Return; in order to remind the viewer that it was basically evil incarnate, and keep with the rules Tolkien himself set, he had to have Faramir be tempted by the Ring.
    • The Osgiliath detour even gets a subtle nod in Sam's speech:
      Sam: By rights we shouldn't even be here!
    • He wanted to move Shelob to the third movie because anything was going to pale next to Helm's Deep, and that left Frodo and Sam completely out of (action-y) danger for the entire movie. There had to be a threat, and poor Faramir got drafted.
    • When Tolkien commented on ideas for a film version by Forest J. Ackerman, he said they should probably skip the Hornburg entirely so that the Ents' attack on Isengard as well as the final battle would look that much more impressive. (We're all glad the filmmakers didn't take him up on that.)
    • In the books, there's a lot of random elves who show up, do one incredibly plot-crucial thing, and are never seen again. Most of their jobs went to Arwen, so she'd have something to do to make the audience actually give a damn about her. Elrond got the rest. And then later completely turned on its head when Arwen was to be added to the Battle of the Hornburg before Peter Jackson decided it would be too much, which led to another elf getting a one-off: Haldir. Unfortunately, he dies in the films, while in the books his fate is undetermined.
    • Related to the above, the timeline in the book's appendices list how fighting was breaking out all across Middle-Earth, with Lothlórien fending off three assaults before launching its own attack on Sauron's fortress of Dol Guldur. This would be too much to include in a movie that was already more than three hours long. Bringing in a contingent of Lórien Elves to assist with the Battle of Helm's Deep helps to show the audience that the Elves aren't just sitting pretty and are indeed doing their part in the War of the Ring.
    • In the books, as Saruman's power wanes and Gandalf's grows, the white of Saruman's robes and hair fragments change so much that he becomes "Saruman of Many-Colours." The film-makers, realising how utterly ridiculous a rainbow-coloured wizard would look, represent this by having Saruman's robes get dirtier as he descends into evil.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Faramir knew in his heart that his brother was dead because he had seen a vision of Boromir's corpse.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "LEAVE! NOW! AND NEVER... COME BACK!"
  • Put Their Heads Together: One Ent takes out a couple of orcs at Isengard by picking them up and slamming them together, head-first.

    Tropes Q to Z 
  • Rain of Arrows: The defenders of Helm's Deep unleash a rain of arrows on the attacking Uruk-Hai, who have reserves. It sadly isn't enough to stop them, but it does mow down a lot of them.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Legolas's famous display of elf agility in mounting a horse was entirely improvised in post when Peter Jackson realized that, in throwing together the warg attack sequence, he had forgotten to shoot Orlando Bloom getting on a horse.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The scene of Treebeard's reveal lifts its music directly from the Weathertop sequence in Fellowship.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: "The Red sun rises. Blood has been spilled this night!"
  • Refuge in Audacity: Seemingly Pippin's near-suicidal plan to go back to the Shire by going past Isengard. To be fair, the only other alternatives are crossing over the extremely hazardous Misty Mountains or going back through Moria.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Gandalf is Not Really Dead. Aragorn is Not Really Dead.
  • Right Under Their Noses: Pippin wants the Ents to drop him and Merry off right at Isengard: "The closer we are to danger, the further we are from harm. It's the last thing he'll expect!" Lampshaded when Merry looks at him like he's crazy and Treebeard says the plan makes no sense to him, but Pippin was bullshitting. He really wants the Ents to see the desolation so they'll get mad and go to war.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Christian symbolism is carried over from the books, although in a very discreet manner:
    • Perhaps the most obvious is Gandalf's arrival at Helm's Deep atop a white horse, in a scene straight out of Revelation.
  • Savage Wolves: The Wargs are as evil and vicious as the orcs who ride them.
  • Saved by the Platform Below:
    • Frodo starts climbing down a cliff face when the cry of a Nazgul causes him to freeze and fall. A fortunately-placed ledge catches him.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Aragorn actually listens to the rocks to track the Uruk-Hai. Specifically, he was listening to the vibrations coming from several hundred Uruk-Hai in heavy armour running at full speed. Tolkien's avowed fondness for "Red Indians" is showing there.
  • Scenery Porn: Some shots just gush over the scenery, like the mountains in the opening.
  • Secret Message Wink: When Gandalf's party arrives at Rohan, the guards demand they disarm before meeting King Théoden. When they then ask Gandalf for his Magic Staff, the wizard implores them that they not "part an old man with his walking stick". When the guard relents, Gandalf shoots the rest of his group a quick wink, since they're now the furthest thing from "disarmed" they could probably be.
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil: Aragorn hears the Riders of Rohan and pushes Legolas and Gimli to hide behind a rock. None of the Horsemen, however, notice the three heroes despite the fact that before hiding, they were standing 20 feet ahead of them, right in front of them, on top of a hill, in broad daylight. However, once they've passed and Aragorn yells at them, then they notice.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first film is mostly focused on following Frodo and the Fellowship's journey. With the fellowship dissolved, The Two Towers expands the scope to multiple events occurring simultaneously on several corners of Middle-earth.
  • The Siege: The battle of Helm's Deep.
  • Sherlock Scan: Aragorn works out how Merry and Pippin escaped the orcs by examining the area and picking up on clues like their footprints in the ground and Merry's discarded belt. Flashback clips show he's exactly right about what happened to them.
  • Shield Surf: Legolas does this down some stone stairs during the battle for Helm's Deep, blazing a trail for shield surfers everywhere.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The long shot of Gandalf and the Balrog, still locked in combat, plummeting together down from the hole in the roof of an enormous underground cavern beneath Moria bears a strong resemblance to a shot in episode 24 of Neon Genesis Evangelion where Unit 01 and Unit 02, still locked in combat, plummet down through a hole in the roof into Terminal Dogma, an enormous underground cavern beneath NERV HQ.
    • And to The Wizard of Oz and the Winkie Guards when Frodo, Sam, and Gollum get to the rocky cliff above the Black Gate and witness the Easterlings marching from stage left into the castle, unintelligible chant and all.
    • During the battle at Helm's Deep, the Uruk-hai placing a bomb in the drainage tunnel is one to the Sergei Eisenstein film Ivan the Terrible, where Ivan uses a similar device to blow up one of his enemies' walls. The shot-angles are even similar.
    • When Grima ignorantly brings a flame near Saruman's gunpowder bomb only to have the latter firmly but carefully move it away from the fuse, it very closely mirrors a virtually identical scene in Army of Darkness between the Wise Man & Ash respectively.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Smeagol manages to do this to Gollum. Once the former breaks into tears after being reminded that he's a murderer, he counters that he doesn't need Gollum and banishes him from his head.
    Smeagol: Master looks after us now. We don't need you.
    Gollum: What?
    Smeagol: Leave now and never come back.
    Gollum: No!
    Smeagol: Leave now and never come back!
    Gollum: (growls)
    Smeagol: Leave now and never come back!
  • Simple Score of Sadness: The solo hardanger fiddle version of the Rohan theme.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: "Gollum's Song".
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the book, one of the Ents is set on fire during a parley with Saruman and presumably dies. In the film, it is lucky enough to be ignited just before Isengard is flooded and douses its head in the rising waters.
  • Split Personality: Gollum and Sméagol.
  • Split-Personality Makeover: Most notably with their voices, but there are subtle visual differences as well. (Sméagol's pupils are far more dilated than Gollum's, for instance.) Metaphysical theses have been written on the "diagnosis" of DID for Gollum/Sméagol. Tolkien did not mean it this way. Several characters in the book, notably Sam, dialogue with themselves when they're trying to decide something. Jackson made it look more like what happens in Fight Club.
  • Stab the Sky: "For Gondor!"
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Aragorn does this to Éowyn, when she sees Gandalf working his magic on Théoden. She tries to fight him off until he tells her to wait.
  • Starring Special Effects: Gollum.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm Scream makes one fairly pronounced appearance in this film, and two in the next.
  • Storming the Castle: The Ents attack Isengard and absolutely obliterate the place.
  • Surprise Vehicle: Surprise horses, as it were. The hunting party in Rohan is surprised by Éomer's cavalry who suddenly appear a mere stone's throw away — and this happens, among others, to Aragorn, who has been listening to how fast orcs miles distant are running.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • Saruman threatens to do this to Théoden while he is in possession of him, but thankfully, Gandalf overpowers his spell.
    • Then there is the Uruk-Hai suicide bomber that takes out the main wall of Helm's Deep and its Elven Archers.
  • Tattered Flag: The royal banners outside of Rohan's Golden Hall are so beat up, one of them gets torn off by the wind.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • "Is this it? Is this all you can conjure, Saruman?"
    • "No one's gonna save you now!" *Orc promptly gets speared by Rohirrim*
  • A Thicket of Spears: When Eomer's army of renegades arrives to lift the siege of Helm's Deep, the Uruk-hai form a solid line of pike-orcs to meet Eomer's charge. Being orcs, however, many of them run in terror and the line collapses just as the Rohirrim reach them (helped along by Gandalf amplifying the light of the sun coming over the hilltop and blinding them).
  • This Is Gonna Suck: In Faramir's flashback to when Boromir took Osgiliath and the two are celebrating, Faramir's face suddenly darkens. When Boromir asks what is it, Faramir informs him that their father Denethor has arrived, at which point Boromir bitterly wonders if Denethor will ever give them some peace; both brothers know that their father is going to give Faramir a tongue-lashing.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Clearly the tone in Treebeard's voice when he furiously exclaims "A wizard should know better!" — especially clear in the novels and other backstory as Saruman's (and Gandalf's) line of wizards are somewhat comparable to archangels sent to the world to watch over creation, and Saruman used to wander the forest on friendly terms with the Ents.
  • Throwing Your Shield Always Works: Legolas does it at Helm's Deep; after sliding down the staircase, he somehow throws it at an orc on dismount, sending it hard to enough to pierce the orc's breastplate.
  • Title Drop:
    • "To stand against the might of Sauron and Saruman, and the union of the Two Towers."
    • The name of a chapter from The Lord of the Rings was brought up on occasion.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Gandalf returns in the film, although anyone who read the book would know that, anyway.
  • Trail of Blood: Gimli tracks the hobbits in Fangorn by following the trail of blood left by the orc chasing them.
  • Translation Convention: The movies made a point of having characters speak in Tolkien's invented languages when appropriate, with English (Common) subtitles for the 99.9% of viewers who don't speak Elvish. However, when native speakers were talking among themselves, they reverted to Common (or Westron). Thus Galadriel speaks to Elrond in Common rather than Sindarin; the Witch-King addresses his orc minions in Common rather than Black Speech; et cetera.note 
  • Translation Train Wreck: There's a fantastic Chinese subtitle track out there, here's a page with some screens.
  • Troperiffic: Since it's based on the Trope Codifier for all of high fantasy.
  • Urban Warfare: The Battle of Osgiliath is a rare medieval fantasy example, with the orcs and Gondorian soldiers fighting each other in brutal close quarters combat amidst the ruins of the city while the Nazgul fly overhead on their fell beasts killing any human soldiers that dare expose themselves. This also happens in Minas Tirith after the orcs breach the main gate using Grond. In both cases, the orcs are able to utterly overwhelm their opposition.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Saruman goes from laughing his head off at Gandalf through Théoden to a cry of shock and surprise when Gandalf reveals he's been powered up to Gandalf the White (and thus promoted to his previous role). He spends the rest of the scene in impotent rage and disbelief. It's obvious afterwards that he's not taking Gandalf having definitively bested him well. He also spends the entire climax in a panic.
  • Villainous Crush: Gríma Wormtongue creepily lusts after Éowyn.
  • Villainous Lament: "Gollum's Song" that plays over the credits is a broken wail of anguish over how lost, alone and irredeemable Gollum is after being corrupted by the One Ring. Since Gollum is also Sméagol, it can also count as a Grief Song.
  • Voice of the Legion: When Gandalf first appears to the Three Hunters in Fangorn, Ian McKellen's voice is over/underlain by Christopher Lee's, which has a wonderful triple meaning: the blend concealed the newcomer's identity until the last moment so that those who hadn't read the books (or been spoiled by the trailers) would not know of Gandalf's resurrection; it played to Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas's worries that Saruman was after them thanks to Éomer's warning and Saruman's pre-Face–Heel Turn habit of wandering the forest to talk to the Ents; and it suggested that after coming back as the White Wizard, Gandalf actually was Saruman—or as Gandalf said, "Saruman as he was meant to be." (Also, having become Saruman "the Many-Coloured" it could be said he truly wasn't the White any more even aside from his fall to evil.)
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: Close ups of Galadriel's eyes (especially in the first film) reveal that they're incredibly beautiful with dozens of points of eye shine in comparison to the single points of everyone else. According to the Word of God this was done deliberately (using christmas lights rigged up in front of the camera) to help portray Galadriel's unique 'otherworldliness' in that she's the only Elf left in Middle-earth who has been to the Undying Lands (she was born there) and seen the light of the Two Trees.
  • We Have Reserves: Just like in the books, Isengard and Mordor use this as their primary MO when it comes to war, swarming over the forces of Men with sheer numbers, though they do occasionally bring in huge weapons of war in order to help their armies get past formidable defences like the Deeping Wall at the notoriously defensible Helm's Deep (which was destroyed with gunpowder), and the massive, nigh-unbreachable gate of Minas Tirith (which was broken by the massive battering ram Grond). At Helm's Deep the Uruk-hai using a battering ram even knock dozens of their fellows off of the castle's causeway to their deaths on their way up.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Though it's somewhat justified by their presence not existing in the book, what happened to the elven army at Helm's Deep? Are they all victims of Death by Adaptation? The supplementary book The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare states that they died to the last man.
    • It's heavily implied that Grima has a small group of his own corrupt enforcers to back him up, not only to fight Aragorn in the rest while Gandalf approaches Théoden, but also to drag Eomer (a member of the royal family) away when Grima realizes that Eomer knows too much. However, they seem to vanish from the film when Grima is banished from Edoras, seemingly alone.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Invoked: Wargs look only vaguely like wolves because killing wolves is no longer the acceptable behaviour it was when Tolkien wrote the books. They were later made more wolflike for the adaptation of The Hobbit. Of course, they are still referred to as "Wolves of Isengard" at one point.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Legolas gives Théoden a look that screams this when the latter gives the order for the Rohirrim to move on after dealing with the Warg riders, likely because he feels they're abandoning Aragorn. Théoden however notes that they have wounded who need help, and they need to get to Helm's Deep before enemy reinforcements arrive.
  • When Trees Attack: The massive numbers of ents (who basically look like giant tree people) marching on, who stomp and crush orcs with very little resistance despite Treebeard's prediction that the ent attack was likely to fail.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • Grima exiles Eomer on pain of death rather than having him executed or assassinated, leaving him free to slaughter Saruman's orcs and return to save Rohan's forces at Helm's Deep once Gandalf brings him back.
    • Théoden, freed from Saruman's control, fails to execute Grima (at Aragorn's urging), letting him go off to serve Saruman more.
  • Younger Than They Look: Théoden while being possessed by Saruman looks to be a decrepit old man in his 80s or 90s. After Gandalf releases Théoden from the spell, Théoden quickly reverts back into his mid-50s look.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: The "Samwise the Brave" scene includes Frodo reassuring Sam that he is an important part of the story.
    Sam: I wonder if anyone will ever say, "Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring!" "Yes, that's one of my favourite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn't he, Dad?" "Yes, m'boy, the most famousest of hobbits, and that's saying a lot."
    Frodo (laughs): Why, you've left out one of the chief character — Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam.
    Sam: Now, Mr. Frodo. You shouldn't make fun. I was being serious.
    Frodo: So was I.
  • You Didn't Ask: When Frodo and Sam hook up with Gollum to guide them, Frodo asks Gollum to "take us to the Black Gate" of Mordor, which he does. They see how massive and impenetrable the entrance is, and when they are about to make a charge for it, anyway; Gollum pulls them back and tells them there is another way in. Sam asks why he didn't mention this before. Well... you didn't ask...
  • You Know What You Did: Many Tolkien fans have lamented Peter Jackson's decision to insert this, to drive a wedge between Frodo and Sam when the one absolute element in the books was their unswerving loyalty to each other. Then again, doing nothing but walk all over Mordor gets kinda boring after a while, and Jackson didn't have Tolkien's detailed descriptions of the journey to help him out.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: The Trope Namer, since Gandalf actually says "You cannot pass" in the book. He says both in the film, but the long, more meme-inducing one was "shall not."

♫ And you will weep
When you face the end alone
You are lost
You can never go home
You are lost
You can never go home. ♫


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Two Towers



While Faramir is a grown character and, logically, "should've gotten over it by now," Denethor's scathing treatment of him makes it almost impossible for anyone not to sympathize. This factor, combined with a couple of scenes present in the Extended Editions, helps explain why Faramir initially decided to capture Frodo and the Ring, which is the opposite of how he behaves in the novels. It's also notable that the favorite, Boromir, actually admires and defends his younger brother, and is fed up with their father just as much as Faramir is.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheUnFavourite

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