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Peter Jackson's Adaptation of The Lord of the Rings

     So the size adjusting ring let itself be removed? 
  • If the one ring adjusts itself to the wearer's finger, why doesn't it make itself smaller than their knuckle? It wants two things. Corrupt the person in possession of it, and return to Sauron. Wouldn't being impossible to take off make both goals immensely easier?
    • It doesn't want to corrupt anyone, per se. That just kinda of happens because the thing is filled with evil. It's more accurate to say that what it wants are to return to Sauron or tempt the bearer into using it to fulfill their own ambitions. It usually prioritizes the temptation side until it becomes clear that it's not going to work, at which point it tries to abandon the bearer by falling off. Neither of these two goals is furthered clamping down and not letting go. Sure, there are times when doing so would have let the Nazghul find Frodo, but the Ring doesn't have a mind. It can't think. It just has a will and goals.
    • The Ring doesn't want to stay on an unsuitable bearer's finger for very long; the longer it remains worn by them, the more the individual can bend its power to their will. It also presumably takes some time to change shape, so if the wearer yanks it off quickly then it won't have time.
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     Any reason why Gandalf loses several centimeters of beard when transformed into Gandalf the White? 
  • What the Hell? The longer the beard, the better.
    • The same reason his hair turns white and he gets greater magical powers.
    • In this case, I think we can safely assume, A Wizard Did It.
    • It makes him look younger and more warrior-like.
    • Long answer: Gandalf is an Ainu. The Ainur are a race of spirits/angelic beings that can shape-shift at will. When he was brought back to live he made himself a new physical form with a shorter beard. Short answer: Because he wanted to.
    • An Elven hairdresser in Valinor (come on - they must have them) offered him the first beard-trim he'd had in simply Ages?
    • The last time we saw him as The Grey, he was fighting a demon of shadow and flame. Odds are, some of it was burnt off. The hairdresser kindly got rid of the burnt bits till attached.
    • He wasn't playing up the "scruffy old vagabond conjurer" image he'd used to set common folks like the hobbits at their ease anymore. Being the harbinger and recruiting agent for a massive war demands a more dignified, well-groomed look.
    • The instinct I always had was that when you see him first reopen his eyes after being 'reborn', he's been lying there a good long while recovering from the immense trauma before awakening. So I always pictured him being returned not only naked but hairless (or, at least, much shorter-haired than he was), and the moderate-length hair and beard we see is where it's grown back to in the first instance.
      • The timeline of events in the book appendices states that it took nearly three weeks for Gandalf to be "sent back" after he passed away in the aftermath of slaying the Balrog, and several more additional days before Gwaihir found him on the peak of Zirakzigil and brought him to Lorien (missing the Fellowship's departure by only a day).

     The Opening Scene 
  • Sauron clearly bashes Isildur's dad into a cliff, and that is where he gets his finger cut off and subsequently explodes. But, when they show the explosion, the two are clearly in the middle of a mob of Orcs, and there's not a cliff in sight.
    • Other than dramatic effect, no reason in particular. Unless you count Sauron having some sort of delayed reaction to losing the One Ring, shrugging it off as a flesh wound etc.
    • The whole scene is a mythical retelling of an ancient event. Much like any oral retelling of an old legend, there will likely be some inconsistencies.

    Frodo's first brush with the Ring 

  • I do remember there's a more or less decent explanation in the book as Frodo's first brush with the Ring happens differently, but in the film, do the patrons of the Prancing Pony have short attention spans or what? The Ring falls onto Frodo's outstretched finger. Everyone reacts with the sort of shock you'd expect and stare down at the empty space. He's invisible for no more than about ten seconds. Yet by the time he takes the thing off everyone's forgotten all about it and is chatting mildly as if nothing has happened.
    • The patrons of the (movie) Prancing Pony are drinking copious amounts of beer of the Prancing Pony. Would you care about such trivial a thing as a vanishing midget if your tankard was running empty ? Priorities, man. Priorities.
    • Maybe they were at stage that he didn't vanished but changed into white mouse?
    • We're seen that all sorts of folks come into the pracing pony (the bartender knows Gandalf and he's a wizard), what's to say that the people in there haven't seen something like a vanishing person before? They might be surprised that someone decided to up and vanish but once he has they would be like "Oh, ok, he's just ones of THOSE folks. Back to the drinks!"
    • For that matter, hobbits are well-known for being able to blend into the countryside. Possibly the bar patrons saw him vanish, gawked a bit, then quipped, "Wow, that's the fastest-hiding hobbit I've ever seen!", and went on drinking.
    • Keep in mind that Middle-Earth is a realm where low-key magic tends to happen and is not uncommon. Gandalf is passed off by many as a mere "conjurer of cheap tricks," which means that there's likely plenty of illusionists and conjurers out there who know a bit of disappearing magic, or at least tricks to make something vanish. A bit of a sudden disappearing act might be something to briefly remark upon but it's not really something shocking and unheard-of, especially among an inebriated audience.

    Entering Moria 

  • Two things bugged me about the entry to Moria. One, why didn't Gandalf tell the Fellowship 'oh hey, I've heard Khazad-dûm isn't exactly a swinging place these days? They could still have chosen it as the least treacherous route, but it seems somehow cruel to let Gimli build up their expectations of feasting and fun for no good reason. And two, how did Gimli not realize something was up a lot sooner? Okay, maybe the lighting was bad and they didn't see the dwarven bones, but shouldn't he have noticed it was awfully quiet?
    • The dwarf who attempted to retake Khazad-dûm was a family friend. Gimli was far too optimistic about it. In the books, the entire Fellowship was aware that Moria was a hellhole, but it was literally their only route.
    • Balin was Gimli's cousin, and in the books, he states that part of the reason he wants to go through Moria is to find out what happened to Balin and the others who tried to retake the place.
    • It seemed that Gandalf knew about the Balrog and the orcs, but hoped that there was the very small chance that the dwarves hadn't run into them. After all, Moria is HUGE. Gandalf says that "it's a four-day journey to the other side", and the entire trip is in "Moria". When they find Balin's tomb, Gandalf says "It's as I feared.", implying that Gandalf wasn't 100% certain that the colonization failed until that moment.
    • As to the quietness, Balin's colonists don't have the numbers to garrison the entire mountain. It's not unreasonable for the fellowship to think that most of the dwarves are congregated in a main hall deeper in and don't have the manpower (dwarfpower?) to guard the outposts.
    • Also, the Fellowship entered Moria through a different, less-used gate, and had to pass through a major section of mineworks. Balin's expedition was to be a triumphant return, so they probably used the main gate on the other side of the mountains.
    • Gandalf is also thinking about the four very-scared Hobbits who have never been outside the Shire before. They've already been hunted by Ringwraiths, had to journey through a blizzard and nearly got killed by the Watcher in the Water. Add that to the fact that they get trapped in Moria literally right after they discover the dwarf bones, and he's probably guessed that it's not a good idea to scare everyone else more than necessary. There's not much they can do once the Balrog shows up, except run.

     An elvish password to a dwarven mine? 
  • Why is the codeword to open the door to Moria in Elvish?
    • It's harder to guess a password if it's in a different language than you would expect.
    • Don't remember whether the film explained this, but the land around the western gate was originally populated by Elves allied with Morianote . Plus, the Dwarves don't seem to have an aversion to learning other peoples' languages, but they seem secretive about their own.
    • Precisely. The inscription on the doors, visible only by moonlight, is Elvish artisanship: in Tolkien's writings, it was put there by Celebrimbor, the great craftsman who also personally created the Three Rings later borne by Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel. His people were (uniquely) friendly with the Dwarves of Khazad-Dûm in an earlier age and so the great West Gate of the mines was built as essentially the tradesmen's entrance for them. The password would have been primarily for their use in their frequent comings and goings to deal commercially etc. with the Dwarves. And as the comment above notes, the Dwarves kept their own ancient language of Khuzdul very close to their chests so weren't going to be handing out even a word or two to use as a password, if they could avoid it.
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    Council of War 

  • After the victory on the Pelennor Fields, they hold a council to decide what to do next. Present are Gandalf and his cronies (Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Pippin) and King Eomer. No-one is there to represent Gondor or Minas Tirith (surely Denethor had deputies beyond Faramir?) It's just not believable that a city that was taught to see "Gandalf Stormcrow" as an untrustworthy villain would all of sudden accept him and his protégé as their leaders, and follow them on a suicide mission, the purpose of which was not explained to them.
    • Actually, Stormcrow was a nickname given to Gandalf by Théoden. In Gondor, they refer to him as Mithrandir, Sindarian for the Grey Pilgrim.
    • In the original, the city is under the command of another Gondorian noble (Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth).
    • In an interview, Peter Jackson and the writers talk about how they wanted to add in Imrahil, but it seemed like too late in the game to add in another main character.
    • Really technically, Imrahil is in the movie but never named and never given his due, he's that unnamed guy who seems like a sergeant at times (he says "It is as the Lord Denethor predicted! Long has he foreseen this Doom!") who survives far longer than an unnamed character has any right to.
    • No, that's Irolas, an original character. He was going to be Beregond, but they decided he wasn't worthy of the character.
    • Given that people have heard the rumor that Aragorn is the true king and Denethor and his heirs are dead or incapacitated, it's not unthinkable that the people of Minas Tirith let Aragorn represent them. And Gandalf too, to an extent. After all, he took over the defense of Minas Tirith after Denethor had his BSOD.
    • Aragorn is the representative of Minas Tirith and Gondor at that point, as he is the rightful heir to the throne. Presumably, after showing up with the Army of the Dead and saving the city, whoever remained in command of the city in a civil capacity formally recognized Aragorn as the king.
    • Faramir likely would have been there had he not been in the House of Healing. After Denethor's death, Faramir would have likely become the next Steward.

    Merry and the battle at the Black Gate 

  • What is Merry doing at the battle at the Black Gate towards the end? I mean, I get how affecting it is to have the remaining members of the Fellowship there and all. Just a nitpick that if Éowyn is stuck in the Houses of Healing, Merry should be, too.
    • Merry didn't get his arm broken, just magically burned/shocked and a little bit squashed. He would have been fine after a day or two rest.
    • Hmm, not in the book he wasn't. I think it would have preserved the tension if Merry had stayed behind and Pippin, not Aragorn, fight the troll. But PJ loves his Big Damn Heroes, so...
    • Maybe after the stunt Éowyn pulled at Pelennor, Éomer told her she was under no circumstances going to go out fighting, and she decided to stay because hey, someones' got to keep Faramir company.
    • The full "Houses of Healing" bit wasn't going to make it into the theatrical release. The last theatergoers saw of Merry before the Black Gate was him gasping his pain and grabbing his arm. Book readers immediately know what this is about, but not everyone read the book first. If Jackson hadn't put him in the battle, it would have caused a lot of "where the hell was Merry?" questions, and maybe he figured "what the hell, everyone knows hobbits are tough" and thought that having all the seven remaining of the Fellowship in the same place was better. Also, Eowyn's sword arm was more hurt than Merry's was by the shield bash (not broken by the way Aragorn handles it, but you don't want a sprained shoulder or whatever when you're about to face the full force of Mordor).
    • And doesn't Eowyn decide to give up fighting after Pelennor Fields? It's at that point she's finally over her desire to die in battle. Sure she could go along if she really wanted to. But she was banged up pretty bad, and had probably realised she could do more good in the reconstruction efforts after the fighting was over.
      • In the books, that isn't the case - once Aragorn healed her body, she would've stormed out of the Houses of Healing and back to the battlefront if not for the Warden holding her at bay, and then Faramir catching her attention. She doesn't renounce her battlelust until Faramir declares his love for her.

     What is up with the moth? 
  • Seriously. It's this random moth that is somehow connected to the Eagles? What?
    • It was basically an Ass Pull by PJ to give some reason for the Eagle coming to save Gandalf from Orthanc with out having to include Radagast.
    • It's a way for Gandalf to communicate with Gwaihir. Dur.
    • Moth. Thing with wings. Messenger to Radaghast who sent out all winged things (didn't have to be birds) to gather information and news and to report to one of the wizards with it...
    • There's a mildly popular fan theory the moth is actually Radagast himself, shapeshifted in the form of a moth. It'd explain how Gandalf is able to whisper Sindarin to it and it seemingly understands what he's saying, as well as its apropos arrival. In the books, Radagast is referred to as a "master of shapes", so it's not inconceivable.

     What idiot designed the fortress of Hornburg? 
  • A long wall that forces the defenders to spread their forces thin while protecting...nothing at all. Flimsy gates that open inwards. No moat. No second line of fortifications. No war machines. No boiling tar. No people assigned with pushing ladders off the wall. A HUGE opening in the wall (what was its purpose anyway? Because if it as a water way, its the dumbest idea ever since it's just asking the invaders to block or poison it). I could go on.
    • The opening is necessary because if you built a big wall there without any drainage, you'd get a dam. The lack of war machines or boiling tar is a side effect of Rohan not having prepared for war until the last second, due to Théoden's Saruman-induced "inactivity". The other objections are valid.
    • Well, I do not know is there is an individual designer or group of designers known, but it was very probably somebody at WETA. (In case you didn't just refer to the film: The fortess itself and its sister-fortress Isengard, each guarding one side of the Gap of Calenardhon (later Rohan), were built by the Gondorians. Also its build and the battle itself work a bit different in the original.)
    • A long wall that forces the defenders to spread their forces thin while protecting...nothing at all. The wall prevents attackers from surrounding the keep and attacking it from multiple directions. The area beyond the wall also likely serves as a mustering point for massing troops; there doesn't appear to be much room inside the keep for horsemen or camping troops. The wall also provides a wide firing point for archers to rain arrows on attackers; if they'd all been restricted to the keep there wouldn't have been enough room on the walls for all of their archers to fire down at the enemy. Also, it allows for a greater concentration of ranged fire against any attacker. It's quite clear that the Hornburg was intended to be defended by a far larger force than the one the Rohirrim was able to muster — especially considering it was built by Gondor originally, who could easily muster the manpower to defend it.
    • Flimsy gates that open inwards. The gates didn't seem that flimsy, considering they held up for what appears to be hours of constant hammering by rams and Uruk swords. They only broke inwards because the Uruks pounded them in.
    • No moat. No moat in the book either. The lower area beneath the wall could probably be flooded if the fortress' garrison had considered it or had time to divert enough water to it. That said, fortresses don't require moats and a lot of historical ones didn't. This, like the bit below about war machines/tar, can be chalked up to Rohan being sabotaged by Saruman's meddling with Théoden's mind.
    • No second line of fortifications. The keep is the second line of fortifications. The long wall is the first, and there's an inner keep as well. They probably could have built additional lines and walls along the valley, and IIRC there was a palisade or dirt wall at the entrance to the valley in the books.
    • In the book there was indeed another earthen wall farther up the valley. Like in the movie, the Rohirrim didn't have the numbers to man the entire wall. They just shot every arrow they had and ran like hell back to the fortress.
    • Besides, even with PJ's elf army that arrived in the movie, they barely had enough men to set up a first line of fortifications.
    • No war machines. No boiling tar. The fortress, along with Rohan in general, was not in any shape to fight in general thanks to Saruman mucking with Théoden's head. It's also questionable if Rohan has the technology to field catapults, ballistae, etc, considering their tech base. It is also notable that the Rohan army in the book didn't have these war machines or tar either, and that Jackson clearly did consider whether or not the defenders should have war machines, considering that Gondor had an array of trebuchets.
    • No people assigned with pushing ladders off the wall. Pushing the ladders off the wall would be hard when you've got giant berserkers wielding enormous greatswords that are killing a half-dozen troops with a single swing of their weapons who are clearing away everyone from the tops of the ladders, and the individual Uruk-hai infantry are an even match for the defenders. They're having trouble simply getting to the ladders in the first place, let alone pushing them over.
    • A HUGE opening in the wall (what was its purpose anyway? Because if it as a water way, its the dumbest idea ever since it's just asking the invaders to block or poison it). It was a grating to let water drain out. Otherwise your fort gets flooded.
    • That 'long wall that doesn't protect anything' seals off the box canyon above the fortress. These are the Riders of Rohan, who love their horses second only to their kin. And horses need pasturage and running water.
    • Also: Didn't Saruman only just invent gunpowder to exploit that specific weakness? Before then, a small tight solid iron grating wouldn't have been so easy to breach. You'd have to go in with a saw, taking ages to get all the bars cut, by which time you could have been shot or stabbed to death from defenders on the other side.
    • Yes he did. In the books and in the movies it is clear that Grí­ma Wormtongue had never seen anything like gunpowder before in his life. Rohan's tech base had nothing like it for them to even know to defend against. For all they knew it was a very well defended weakness in their otherwise impenetrable wall.
    • Bit of a point on the gates — It's actually very prudent they're hinged inwards — if they were hinged outwards a) every time you want to open them you have to have men running out into the open (not to mention getting in the way of anyone who wants to come in rather than being able to withdraw from the entrance as they open) and b) although the physics does aid a battering ram by having the gate open in the way you're battering it, it also aids the physics of barricading it shut — i.e it's a lot easier to push than to pull — running repairs like the one done in the film wouldn't be possible and you'd have to weaken the integrity of the gate's materials if you wanted to riddle it with holes for handles to pull on (and if the bolts went right through the gate the Uruk-hai wouldn't need to bother with a battering ram — all they'd need would be a spanner/wrench). Also, you could argue that having them open inwards actually blunts a bit of the force of a battering ram since you've built in a little bit of flex.
    • For me, the problem isn't with the Fortress itself, it's actually very well designed and the defenders exact a heavy toll on the Uruk-hai by the time Gandalf arrives. Despite that, my complaints are with the Hollywood Tactics on display at the battle. Mostly at the Deeping Wall itself where they could have held the Uruk-hai for longer.
    • Firstly, why did the Men and Elves wait until the Uruk Hai charge to start shooting arrows?! You've got some of the best archers and warriors in Middle-Earth who have just reinforced you, and you don't catch the Uruk-hai out by attacking the moment they get within bowshot? You not only kill several hundred more before they reach the wall, but you likely kill some carrying the explosives and ladders, buying you more time. Why wait? To make matters worse, in the books the Rohirrim harass the advancing army before they arrive at the fortress.
    • Probably they didn't have enough stockpiled ammunition to risk wasting it on extreme long-range shots.
    • Second, why do they not kick down the ladders? You see one get knocked down early on, and that's it? Even if there is a lot of Uruk-hai, it stops them climbing up, allowing you to shoot them to death. This is again used in the book.
    • Pushing down siege ladders is not as easy as people tend to think it is. Most modern people only have experience with modern lightweight metal ladders that do often seem unsteady and easy to push or fall over. But if siege ladders were as easy to push off as people seem to think, they would never have become a standard part of siege warfare. Siege ladders are built to be heavy and durable and are, by necessity, very long. You put them up and immediately start sending your big heavy fighters up them, which just makes them even heavier and more dug in. It's not like you can just give them a nudge and send them toppling. You start telling people "focus on knocking down the ladders", each ladder starts getting three or four defenders shoving at it trying to topple it, people get tunnel visioned, other ladders go up, your wall defenders start getting slaughtered while they're busy trying to shove ladders down.
    • Third, why only assign Legolas to shoot the torch carrier? You were able to spare some Elves to pick off the force advancing up the ramp, surely peppering it with arrows would have ended him, you have flippin' Elves at your command! Granted Aragorn might not have known what was exactly planned, but he clearly noticed it was a threat and failed to act accordingly.
    • You're misunderstanding what happened there. Aragorn did not assign Legolas alone to shoot down the single orc. He started frantically shouting "Shoot him! Kill him!" to pretty much everyone, and added a personalized shout to Legolas because 1) he saw Legolas and 2) he knew Legolas would be listening for his friends' voices amidst the tumult where other voices might not be. At that point Aragorn's just one voice in a shouting, churning maelstrom of sound, even if other elves heard him they might have thought "What is that Ranger on about?", whereas Legolas knows "If Aragorn thinks it's a big deal, it's probably a big deal".
      • Also, because while all Elves are skilled archers, Aragorn knows EXACTLY how good Legolas is. They're traveling companions, long-time friends, and familiar with each other's skills, so he immediately calls out a target for the best marksman in the army to take a shot at.
    • Fourth, when the wall is breached why do the Elves immediately not pepper the Uruk-hai with arrows again? The water was clearly bogging them down, easy pickings? Not helped by Gimli's stupid jump into the advancing army. Granted, Aragorn was dazed from the explosion and that helped him regain his senses. But then this forces him to charge the Elves into the army to save him, however this buys them time to form up and meet the charge with their pikes, and it just becomes more of a massacre.
    • Because calmly standing there peppering the enemy with arrows works a lot better when you have the high ground and a lot of separation between yourself and the enemy. When the enemy is overtaking your position, standing there and firing arrows means that the three guys behind the one you just shot have time to charge you while you're nocking another arrow to string. Yes, elves can fire with amazing speed, but that still doesn't mean much when there's basically eleventy-jillion Uruk-hai bearing down at them... if nothing else the elves would eventually run out of arrows and at that point there would be a big green gangbang right on top of them.
    • Infantry can push through arrow barrages pretty easily. You cannot really stop a significant infantry push with arrow fire. As deadly as the arrow barrage is, the elves don't have infinite ammunition and between every shot more Uruk-Hai will be pushing forward and gaining ground. The only way to physically stop the Uruk-Hai from pouring through the breach is to put your guys on that breach. Aragorn's call to charge was the right one, it's just that there were too many Uruk-Hai and not enough elves, and the elves were too scattered by the explosion, to be able to plug that breach. Standing off and bombarding the Uruk-Hai with arrows would have killed more in the short term, but it would have let more of them get inside the wall and led to the elves being surrounded even faster, and gotten them killed even more quickly.

     How did Gandalf get Glamdring and his staff back? 
  • Saruman clearly took the staff and presumably took the sword, and Gandalf clearly flew straight away, so how did he get them back?
    • Gandalf could easily get a new Staff, probably from Galadriel or so. The Staff itself is not so important on it's own, as it's more of a Symbol of a Wizard's power then anything else. As for the sword, I got no idea. Maybe Saruman didn't even know Gandalf had it, and he kept it hidden.
    • The making of shows that Gandalf the Grey has two staffs — the one with the pipe which fits in the top and the one with the crystal at the top, which we see close up in Moria. And I think that Gandalf hiding his sword from Saruman is probably the most likely explanation.
    • Agreed. As for the sword, I think we see it once on his horse that he takes to Isengard. If it ran off after Saruman's betrayal, Gandalf could retrieve it later.
    • Gandalf isn't show wearing his sword when he fights Saruman, is he?
    • Nope.
    • Let's not forget The Return of the King's extended edition, which shows the Witch-King destroying Gandalf's staff. He then gets it back during the battle in front of Mordor's gates.
    • No, he doesn't. He's conspicuously without his staff during that scene.
    • He does, at the end of the movie, when they sail forth.
      • It's a staff. A large stick. Presumably is does have to be a special type of large stick but still, fairly easy to replace in the years between the Battle Of Minas Tirith and the final scene.

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    Boromir's gift from Galadriel 

  • Why on Middle-Earth, in the extended editions, is Boromir the only one who doesn't get a gift from Galadriel? I know that they changed some of the other gifts, but just to completely ignore any gift for him seems to make it as though he is a less worthy member of the fellowship. Poor Boromir.
    • Because it's totally irrelevant to the plot? I don't even remember what he got in the book.
    • He got a golden belt. It played a semi-semi-major role when Faramir had that vision-thing where he saw Boromir dead. He only believed that it was true when he saw the belt on him. PJ cut out a lot of Galadriel-relevant scenes anyway, so it's not such a big deal, but it would have been a nice bit of continuity. Plot-wise, it does less than the other gifts anyway, what with Faramir's altered personality and scenes.
    • But they changed half the gifts anyway (Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn). Why not give Boromir something that he can use in his remaining screentime?
    • Maybe she knew he was going to betray the Fellowship (still a unfair move though). Most likely it just didn't matter. It's not like he was ever going to get a chance to use the gift, since he died at the end of the movie anyway.
    • In one of the DVD extras, Philippa Boyens (one of the scriptwriters) addresses the complaints of fans who thought Tom Bombadil shouldn't have been excised from The Fellowship of the Ring... She says that there's nothing in the movie that would suggest the Hobbits didn't meet Tom Bombadil, so maybe they met him, and that whole episode just wasn't shown, because it wasn't relevant to the main plot. Similarly, nothing in the gift-giving scene suggests that Boromir didn't receive a gift, so maybe he did, and his gift simply wasn't shown in the movie, because it wasn't important.

    Wormtongue's knowledge 

  • How could Wormtongue not know about the 10,000 orcs at Isengard? I mean, he's already inside the tower, and he tells Saruman "hey we don't have a lot of orcs" and Saruman shows him the big army. How did Wormtongue miss that when he first arrived at Isengard? Were the orcs all hiding or something?
    • They were probably all housed in the caverns under the courtyard while Wormy stayed on the surface and went straight into Orthanc.
    • You see him gallop into Orthanc and there are no Orcs there at that time, so they must have assembled after that. He probably knew of Saruman's designs, but had no idea of the number that had been bred. Plus, he had been away from Isengard for a while, and we know that the majority of Orcs were bred a few days before we see them.
    • If you were Saruman would you tell your prime mole in your enemy's court the size of your force? Besides the fact that Grí­ma had already proven himself a traitor, he might conceivably be caught. That is like asking why Stalin did not give his most precious secrets to Kim Philby.

     "The Uruks turn northeast. They're taking the hobbits to Isengard!" 
  • Where the hell are they, that Isengard is to the northeast? Why did they go so far south or west to begin with? What did Legolas expect on this side of the Anduin? Aaaaarrrgghh.
    • They're downstream of Anduin, on the western bank. They were trying to reach Mordor when they were intercepted by the Uruk-hai, remember? And it was the Uruk-hai that Legolas was afraid of on the western bank. Like all the elves he has occasional foresights to things to come, but unlike big names like Elrond, he can't get anything but vague feelings.
    • The original poster has a problem with the geography being wrong. Isengard is west (and slightly north) of the Rauros. If the orcs had turned northeast at any point, they would be heading away from Isengard and towards great (mostly-)empty Rhovanion. To reach Isengard while heading northeast you would have to be west of Isengard, aka west of the Misty and White Mountains, while the characters are currently east of it. (But, after all, this film does not care for in-universe logic.)
    • Alternatively, we can explain this by saying that the Uruks turned north-east to get around a large lake, marshland or rocky hills, and that happens to be the best route to Isengard.
    • The simple answer is that Orlando Bloom messed up his line, and nobody realised in time — he should've said "northwest".
    • The line is indeed simply messed up. In the German version — and most likely all others — Legolas says that they turn northwest.
    • Aragorn later says to Éomer: "We track a party of Uruk-Hai westward across the plains." So yeah, even in English they should be heading west.

     Doesn't anybody know geography in Middle-Earth? 
  • When Frodo, Sam and Gollum get to the Black Gate, we see an army of Easterlings marching towards it. They are coming in from the south... what the hell? First of all, they should have been coming in from the east, obviously. They actually didn't even need to march all the way to the Black Gate, because you can easily get into Mordor from the east, due to a lack of mountains on that side. But instead they apparently went around Mordor, through Ithilien, which is populated by Faramir and his merry Men, which doesn't really seem like a good way to not get killed.
    • The book doesn't actually say the Easterlings came from the south. It lists three roads converging on the gate, from north, east, and south, then says the Easterlings were arriving, but doesn't mention which road they took. It would be perfectly reasonable to assume they took the last named road if there were no evidence to the contrary, but there is. Slightly later, people are described as arriving at the Black Gate from the south, but this group is not identified with the Easterlings by anything beyond juxtaposition, somewhat less than conclusive.
    • I meant the scene in the movie. They are coming from the south, which as I described, is really quaint. Then again, as stated earlier, Legolas also has difficulties with geography...
    • Faramir and his band of Merry Men aren't exactly up to taking out any force of any size. Sure, they can harrass small companies here and there, but if they could automatically defeat everything that passed through Ithilien, they would have been able to prevent the whole attack on Gondor.
    • Perhaps the Easterlings needed to visit the Southrons for something, maybe diplomatic talks or reinforcements or weapons or something like that.
    • While the men approaching the gate in the book were Easterlings, in the movie they had the black serpant on their flags which in the books was the standard of the Haradrim leader at the siege of Gondor. Maybe in the film they were Southrons.
    • They are not expected to take on forces of any size. They are expected to recon, make trouble, and most of all, just be there as a reminder that Gondor had not ceded Ithilien to Mordor.
    • It could be reasoned that the Easterlings entering the Black Gate from the south in the film did so because there were some obstacles in the way on the other roads in
    • The Easterlings we see in the film could easily have been approaching from lands to the south or even south of Mordor; Rhun, Khand, and Harad are all lands stretching to the northeast, east, southeast, and south, and even southwest of Mordor. Mordor's mountains are such that if you're starting from the western two-thirds of the southern mountain border, it is genuinely a better idea to just go west around the mountains, if you're linking up for an attack on Gondor, otherwise you'll be going father if you went east around the mountains. Another factor to consider is that a commander of humans might not want his men to pass through Mordor itself if he can avoid it, considering how blighted and dangerous that land is to non-orcs. It might take longer to go around, but your army won't be coughing up their lungs from volcanic ash.

     Isildur and Elrond in the Crack of Doom 
  • Why didn't Elrond force Isildur to throw the Ring into the fire? "Evil was allowed to endure", indeed!
    • Perhaps the Ring itself subtly influenced him not to? It's at its most powerful within Mt. Doom, where no one has the strength of will to destroy it — Elrond could concievably have pushed Isildur in with the Ring, but even that likely wouldn't have worked, and he would have been reluctant to murder a friend in cold blood anyway. In the book, of course, there's no indication that either of them actually went inside the mountain, so the opportunity for Elrond to do anything beyond talking to Isildur never really came up.
    • It just needs to be mentioned publicly that "cold blood" doesn't mean what everybody seems to think it means. A "cold-blooded" murder is one done logically, with time and preparation. Elrond pushing Isildur off the cliff as a spur of the moment response to Isildur not destroying the Ring would be "hot-blooded" — Check it and see.
    • Tolkien specifically addressed this — attempting to seize the Ring in an act of force (or push Isildur in) would have corrupted Elrond much quicker than Isildur. Tolkien says this is why Bilbo wasn't corrupted as easily as Gollum, who stole the Ring and killed his cousin after being tempted by it.
    • That doesn't explain why Elrond couldn't have just slapped it out of his hand, or cut his hand off, or hurled him in. There are lots of ways to get that thing in the lava without taking it. Elrond seemed to be lacking creativity. The thing that stuck out in the scene most for me is that Elrond didn't even have another go at getting Isildur to throw it in, he just lets him walk away and looks a bit annoyed. "Cast it into the flames... please?"
      • All of those are attempts to take the Ring by force. They may be means intended to destroy them, but they are acts of aggression to control the Ring. The mere act of doing so would have corrupted Elrond irreversibly, especially in the Crack of Doom. At the very least, starting up a threatening action against the Ring and its bearer would have had the Ring aggressively attacking Elrond's mind, which would have delayed him enough to let Isildur escape or strike him down.
    • Because then he'd have to walk out and explain to the tens of thousands of Human soldiers still remaining where the ring went and why Isildur, their beloved Prince-turned-king and the guy who 'killed' Sauron, is no longer with him.
    • Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but Elrond at this point does not fully realize how bad of an idea it really is to let the ring continue to exist. He knows it's an evil thing, but Sauron is as far as he knows, dead, and not coming back. He may suspect allowing the ring to exist is a stupid idea, but not one worth pushing your buddy into a volcano over.
    • Plus, given that the Ring was already influencing Isildur's mind for the worse, Elrond may have realized that if he pushed the issue any further at the moment it would probably drive Isildur completely mad with jealousy, provoking a fight to the death on the spot. Letting Isildur step away from the brink of the Cracks of Doom, at least for the moment, was Elrond's only hope of buying time for the king (who was his friend) to come to his senses: time he didn't know Isildur wouldn't have.
    • I was always of the idea that Elrond did know the importance of the Ring (otherwise he wouldn't have led Isildur inside the volcano), but that he didn't force Isildur for two reasons: 1) he couldn't. He entered before Isildur so he couldn't block him, and as soon as he tried to force him Isildur would have slipped the Ring on and vanished. 2) he was probably hoping to convince Isildur at a later date, or possibly do the deed himself after stealing the Ring, but the Ring got away before this could be done.
    • He could've just grabbed the Ring it out of Isuldur's hand and throw it into the fire and magma himself, which could avoid either one getting killed!
      • The Crack of Doom is where the will of the Ring is strongest. Any act of aggression against its wielder, even to destroy it, would rapidly (read: immediately) corrupt the one responsible. If Elrond reached out to strike the Ring from Isildur's hand, all that would happen is that he'd instead just grab it and keep it, falling completely under its control.
    • Remember how Gandalf refused to touch the Ring, and seemed loathe to even talk about it? He was terrified of what would happen in the event he possessed the Ring for even of a fraction of a second. Galadriel just looks at it and freaks out. Elrond is one of the Wise yet weaker than either of those two. He knew the second he touched the Ring, or even tried to take the Ring from Isildur it would corrupt him. He wouldn't turn into Sauron v2 instantly, but he definitely wouldn't throw the Ring into the fire, either. Isildur himself was mentally tough, and probably full of hatred and determination against Sauron since his father and brother were both killed, his old Kingdom destroyed and his new one at war. Yet the Ring influenced him in the short walk to Mount Doom.
      • Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond are the bearers of the Three, which were deliberately kept hidden while Sauron had the One and only wielded once it was taken from him. The books make clear that if Sauron ever regained the One, the bearers of the Three would fall under his sway because they would no longer be hidden from the One. So it would also be if the One's influence turned any of them into a new Dark Lord. Their level of terror and caution was as much about protecting the others from harm as it was about avoiding the One's corrupting influence themselves.
    • Also remember that this is happening immediately after a huge battle where King Gil-Galad of the Elves and King Elendil of Men died. Elrond is grieving and probably doesn't want to kill Isildur. Something the movies really don't explain well is the fact that the Kingdom of Numenor was first established by Elrond's twin brother Elros, and the line of Kings are all direct descendants of Elros down to Isildur — thus he's Elrond's many-times-great-great-great-nephew. (Hell, in the Third Age Elrond traditionally fosters each of the chieftains of the Dunedain, Isildur's heirs, who continue the ruling line of Numenor down to Aragorn.) Elendil and his people were actually refugees from Numenor who fled shortly before its destruction and ended up establishing new kingdoms in Middle-Earth. Isildur is one of Elros' last living descendants at the time: his younger brother died in the siege against Sauron and their father Elendil has just been killed at the end of that war. Not to mention that Elrond was personally close to both Gil-Galad and Elendil. Elrond probably couldn't bring himself to kill Isildur after all the other losses that day.

     Massive Idiot Balls for Sauron and the Witch-King 
  • In the opening scene of the first movie Sauron had Isildur at his mercy — downed and unarmed, but for a broken sword. All he had to do was swing his mace one more time and the human was finished. What did he do instead? He put the mace away and reached for Isildur with his bare hand. Why? To grab him? To strangle him? To help him get up? WHY?! During the Battle of Pelennor Fields in the third movie, the Witch-King had Éowyn at his mercy — downed, crippled, and unarmed. All he had to do was swing his Epic Flail one more time and the humie was finished. What did he do instead? He put the flail away and grabbed Éowyn with his bare hand. WHAT'S. THE. POINT?!!! Couldn't he deliver his punchline without bringing her close to him?
    • Well, per the books, Sauron's flesh is hot enough to be fatal — he's supposed to have killed Gil-galad simply by his own inner fire. He presumably intended to do the same to Isildur. As for the Witch-King, he simply believed he was invincible and that he could afford to pull stunts like that. Obviously, he was wrong.
    • Consider Sauron's position. He had a magical superweapon, but the effect seemed to be only knockback unless the mace was physically within range, and he had hardly any orcs left at Orodruin. He may have been trying to take Isildur hostage in order to get terms.
    • They both had perfectly functional weapons with which they had already casually killed tons of enemies by their responsive moments. Why suddenly try to be creative with "pathetic human # 3082"?
    • Think of it as a fighting game in which you're almost completely invincible (and your one weakness hasn't even occurred to you). You could win by spamming the same attack until you've won the whole game, but it would be boring, so you try for variety, only to find out that the game can actually kill you in real life. If they knew their peril, they would indeed stay safe, but I think that if a villain truly considers himself invincible, he would see even the War of the Ring like a game.
    • While it does sound plausible for Sauron, the Witch-King is an undead. Do you honestly think he was even capable of enjoying what he did whatsoever? I always saw the Nazgûl as fantazy counterparts of the Terminator — cold, determined, emotionless and efficient. When Éowyn faces him, what does he say? "Never stand between the Nazgûl and his prey". He doesn't even seem to regard her as an opponent as much as a nuisance. And, well, she kind of is — he defeats her in several swings. It just doesn't run well with me that he SUDDENLY feels sadistic and playful when all his previous behaviour spoke against that kind of act.
    • Both are meant to pad scenes from the book into something filmable. Sauron is effectively killed by Elendil and Gil-galad before Isildur reaches him, and the whole Éowyn/WK/Merry thing occurs in like a split second on the battlefield.
    • As for the Witch-King, I thought he was only devoid of positive emotions such as happiness, compassion, and so on. He could still feel anger, hate, malice and other bad emotions. As for Éowyn, I'm sure she was of interest to the WK because she was the only soldier to openly challenge him without fear or hesitation. Curiosity and amusement would make him draw out her death to see how much she can take.
    • Moreover, killing the opposing army's leader with your bare hands is a great way to break the morale of the rest of the Last Alliance troops. Sauron didn't just want to kill Isildur, he wanted to rip him apart where all of Gondor's soldiers could see him do it. Likewise, the Witch-King wanted to make an example of Éowyn, to show how futile it was for any of Rohan's troops to stand against the Nazgûl, who know all about terror as a battlefield weapon. And if she hadn't secretly been female, it would have been a very nasty example, indeed.
    • Did it really even have anything to do with her being female? The book never says "Women can kill them" — they follow the "You can't kill what's already dead" rule, after all. He was defeated because Merry managed to stab him with a special Plot Coupon sword right before Éowyn jabbed him.
    • There's a prophecy in the book (somewhere in the appendices, I think — the context is trying to stop the last king of Gondor from being a complete idiot), that "not by the hand of man shall he fall". This applies only to the Witch-King, not the rest of the Nazgûl. Of course, there needs to be other circumstances than him being stabbed by any old not-man: Merry uses an anti-Nazgûl knife to hamstring him, and once that's broken the spell protecting him, Éowyn can behead him.
    • I read somewhere that Sauron killed Gil-galad by picking him up and burning him alive. Adding on to what the previous post said about morale, it would be in keeping with Sauron's nature to inflict more gruesome deaths upon the leaders of his enemies. He probably intended to finish Isildur off in the same way as Gil-galad.
    • Sauron wanted to not just kill but to utterly destroy in the most humiliating way possible the leaders of those who opposed him to demoralise his (remaining) followers. It's like he was playing Mortal Kombat and went for the impressive looking Fatality rather than just the Fingerpoke of Doom.

    Sam versus Ringwraiths 

  • Just a niggling thing, but during the attack on Weathertop, Sam bravely challenges the Ringwraiths and slashes at them twice, both attacks being blocked. We see one of them swing his sword, we hear a slashing sound, and Sam is hurled aside. Where's the big gaping wound?
  • Actually, if you look closely, it appears that the Ringwraith in question batted Sam aside with the flatof his blade while countering his swings.
    • Fine, but what's with the slashing sound?
    • Big scary wraith-men make big scary sounds when they do stuff.

    Gandalf versus Witch-King 

  • This particular one has been the ire of fans for years; Gandalf is a Maia/Angel, correct? And the Witch-King is basically just a corrupted undead Human, right? Then how in all the seven Hells is the Witch-King able to shatter Gandalf's staff?! Does not compute!!
    • In the book, it's heavily implied that the Ringwraiths can draw on some degree of Sauron's power ("the power of their Master is in them..."), and Gandalf pretty much says that the Witch-King would be a tough fight even for him. But you're right — the kind of curbstomping the WK dishes out in the movie shouldn't have happened, and Gandalf would (especially as the White) almost certainly win any conflict between them, though WK would doubtless make him work for it.
    • The Wizards are pretty much forbidden to match power with power. Remember, they're not there to beat down Sauron or the Ringwraiths; they're there to convince the Free Peoples of Middle-Earth to work together to beat down Sauron and the Ringwraiths. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth also shows that Olórin/Gandalf thought that he was too weak to face Sauron.
    • Gandalf all but says that he did intend to fight the Witch-King at the Pelennor Fields, but was distracted by having to save Faramir from Denethor. It's distinctly possible that he just intended to keep WK tied up and out of the main battle, however, rather than actually going in for the "kill". Also, the prohibition about meeting force with force doesn't seem completely absolute — it's doubtful Gandalf killed the Balrog in direct combat using just the abilities of an old man. In any case, while Gandalf might not have been willing or able to defeat the WK directly, it's also very unlikely that the WK could curbstomp Gandalf so effortlessly.
    • In the case of the Balrog, it technically was not in league with Sauron (note how the Orcs in Moria fled at the sight of the thing), so the prohibition of the Istari on using their full power in combat with it would not have applied.
    • One thing I would point out is that Gandalf does take on the Nazgûl once in the book — at Weathertop before Strider and the Hobbits get there. He mentions that their battle caused a lot of flashes of light, so we can assume he's not afraid to show his true power in the face of danger. It may be that the ringwraiths were not so powerful by that point. Personally, I wouldn't accept the WK alone treading water against Gandalf, but I could accept him channelling Sauron to give pause to a lesser Maiar.
    • Channelling Sauron definitely seems to be the case, given that the WK's Morgul blade gains a fiery glow right before Gandalf's staff shatters. Almost as though it were a miniature Great Eye.
    • The battle was against Four Nazgûl, not all nine. They were probably the weaker ones, as the Witch-King and the Number 2 were chasing Frodo at the moment. Gandalf eventually had to retreat and the Nazgûl were none the worse for wear. Of course, the White Wizard is more powerful, but it seems Corrupted Undead are dangerous enough to give him pause. He does admit that "Black is Greater still", and he said that after hailed as the White Rider. I mean, Wargs almost killed him once. The Nazgûl are essentially compared to being an extension of Sauron's Will more then individual beings. And this isn't the ONLY upset that has happened....a Man has also killed quite a few Dragons, and they were said to be more powerful then Balrogs even. Of course, how it was a CURB STOMP battle is abit odd. It does make sense because Sauron is unwilling or unable to appear himself, he has to project his power through the Nine who are tied to his Will. And in terms of combat skill, the Leader of the Nazgûl has a fairly good track record in the backstory. Destroying Arnor, requiring what was essentially the second greatest battle of an age to bring him down at last, THEN surviving and conquering Minas Ithil a few years later.
    • In all likelihood, if Gandalf really wants to "win" he might have to overclock his body and die. Again. Otherwise, he'll be too strained by the limitations the Valar placed on him.
    • Gandalf actually was facing all nine Nazgûl on Weathertop. He escaped, and four of them went after him.
    • This is a little wanky, but I assumed Sauron had given him a tailor made 'kick Gandalf's ass' spell and training in how to best handle him. Gandalf is the single most powerful combatant on the field, it would make sense to have a plan to take him down.
    • Neither the movies nor the LoTR books ever say Gandalf is a Maia; they don't even mention the Maiar. Even the Silmarillion, where Valar and Maiar are introduced, doesn't say wizards are Maiar. That idea comes from a text that was only published after Tolkien's death. We may never know whether he even wanted it to be published. So, if we leave out this extratextual information, nothing in the text itself (the movies or the books) suggests Gandalf is way more powerful than the Witch-King.
    • He mentions to Faramir in a flashback that his name in the East was Olórin, and the Silmarillion describes a Maia by that name. So, while he doesn't spell it out in six-foot high letters across the front cover, the intent is obviously there. Not to mention that if he comes from the West, isn't an elf, and wields the Secret Fire, if he isn't a Vala or Maia, then just what the fuck is he?
    • "Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten"
    • Again, the idea that there was a Maia named Olórin comes from a book (The Silmarillion) which Tolkien never finished, and which was only published posthumously. If we look at the evidence found in the two books that were published as Tolkien intended them (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), the Wizards could simply be a group of extremely long-lived and powerful Men, or they could be members of a race separate from Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits.
    • I'm sorry, but you're grasping at straws here. Gandalf isn't a Man — lifespan issues notwithstanding, the only Men to have ever reached Valinor were Eärendil and (possibly) Tuor. The Istari are agents of the Valar sent from Valinor, so without other evidence, this constrains them into being Maiar or Elves. The most damning evidence, however, lies in the circumstances of his death and rebirth: "The darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell. Naked I was sent back-for a brief time, until my task was done." Now, we know that Elves go to the Halls of Mandos after death, and this isn't really any special knowledge. Gandalf's description, however, matches the expectations of what would happen to a Maia whose physical body is slain: he was left as a disembodied spirit (like Sauron at the end of the Second Age), but with the potential to be re-embodied (by Eru's intervention, it is implied).
    • I've just thought of something; Gandalf would have been defending Minas Tirith for several hours by that point. It was still daytime when the siege began, and was sunrise when the Witch-King confronted him. He would have been exhausted by that point. He's normally stronger than the Nazgul, but he was in a weakened state.

    Dark Queen 

  • "In place of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen! Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn!" Since when is the dawn considered terrible?
    • Elves like the moon and stars more than the sun, and due to their acute eyesight, don't fear the night. Dawn probably has the same poetic connotations for them that nightfall does for us.
    • For the Elves, dawn and the appearance of the Sun represent the appearance of Men (who came into the world at the first sunrise).
    • Remember, the Sun was set in the sky as a herald of the coming of Men and the beginning of the diminishment of the Quendi: "...and Anar the Fire-golden, fruit of Laurelin, they named the Sun. But the Noldor named [it] Vasa, the Heart of Fire, that awakens and consumes; for the Sun was set as a sign for the awakening of Men and the waning of the Elves..." Dawn more likely has the same connotations for them as dusk does for us: fading and diminishment, both of which the Elves are big on stopping; indeed, the warding off of decay and preservation of what was loved was part of the power of the Three Rings.
    • Indeed, her line might make more sense if written: "...beautiful and terrible as The Dawn" i.e. the first sunrise ever.
    • She could also just have been using the archaic meaning of the word 'terrible' as in "great and awe-inspiring" instead of "extremely bad." This is the same as the usage for the Russian ruler Ivan the Terrible.
    • This is certainly the intention: i.e. the literal meaning of 'terrible' as in "terror-inducing", in just the same way as 'awful' properly means "awe-inspiring". She's not suggesting she'd be "Not dark, but beautiful and frankly-a-bit-crap as the dawn."
    • Galadriel saw the first sunrise ever. It was totally unexpected, and freaked out plenty of the goodies who saw it as well as the baddies. And then all the elves who'd crossed the Helcaraxe started fighting Morgoth. Not something with entirely fluffy connotations in elvish culture, and probably something that made you as an individual feel pretty small.
    • Stare into the sun for long enough and you will go blind. So, while it might be necessary for life on Earth (and Middle-Earth) it has its downside.

     The elven rope 

  • It can be any size you need it to be, so at the scene in the second movie where they are on the mountain and looking over to Mordor why don't they just make a lasso and throw it all the way to a ledge in mordor, get a twig and zip line across? It would have saved about 4 hours of movie time.
    • Are you suggesting that a pair of hobbits throw a rope hundreds of miles? Seriously? Just wow.
    • To put a slightly more explanatory answer on the comment above, there are several reasons. Firstly, outside of the Middle-Earth universe, there would be no story. Secondly, Hobbits are small and somewhat lacking in physical strength. Even if they tried, do you really think the rope would fly that far thrown by a hobbit? Even thrown by an Ent it wouldn't go any more than a mile. Third, even if they succeeded in getting enough strength to throw it that far, there's any number of obstacles the rope might encounter on its way to Mordor which would stop its course. Fourth and finally, How is Sauron not going to notice a magical artifact made by the Elves that is flying extremely conspicuously through his domain?
    • There is nothing to suggest that the elven rope can change size/length; no idea where you got that from. The only thing 'abnormal' with it was that it unknotted itself, and Sam was of the opinion that it 'magically' knew when to do so.
    • They're confusing it with Wonder Woman's magic lassoo .

     What happened when Treebeard brought Merry and Pippin to see Gandalf in The Two Towers? 
  • Treebeard is unconvinced that they're not orcs, so he takes them to "the white wizard" to make sure. They're tossed at Gandalf's feet, but to preserve the mystery he's shown from behind and the scene ends before we see their reaction. The next time we see Gandalf, he's on his own again, and Merry and Pippin are back with Treebeard who is still unclear on the orc/hobbit issue. It's as though they never met with Gandalf at all.
    • I've always pictured it happening like this: Treebeard takes hobbits to Gandalf, who assures him that they are not orcs. Gandalf asks Treebeard to keep an eye on the hobbits a little longer (Gandalf knows the effect the hobbits will have). Treebeard calls the entmoot to decide if the ents should go to war, but first he has to convince the other ents that the hobbits aren't orcs. Because entish is such a slow language, it takes forever to explain and allow the others to decide whether to believe him or not.

     What's the password, cousin? 
  • Okay, so Gandalf was too clever by half in trying to figure out the password to get into Moria. But why didn't Gimli know it? I mean, it's his cousin's place, and he was expecting a "royal welcome," so shouldn't he at least know how to knock on the door?
    • Several reasons, Gimli never visited Khazad-dûm beforehand. Also worth remembering that Balin went on the expedition against the wishes of his kindred, it's also reasonable to assume that because of Durin's Bane most of the Dwarven folk deliberately forgot the password to ensure no one would stupidly go in and try to destroy it themselves. Gandalf also directly implied that forgetting such passwords is common amongst the Dwarves so thats another factor. Finally, consider that by the end of the Third Age, the Dwarves were living in the Lonely Mountain and the Iron Hills, which are northeast of Khazad-dûm. So, Balin would logically have gone through the eastern gate, but we don't know if that gate needed a password to get in to it.
    • Another Headscratcher from that scene: How likely is it that, of all the hundreds of other passwords that Gandalf knows and tries, in various dialects of Elvish and dozens of other languages, not even one of them would incorporate the Elvish word for "friend", or a homonym of that word in some other tongue?
      • Gandalf isn't even trying to brute-force the password, he is trying different kinds of opening spells, most which probably involve variations of "I command you" and "open up".
    • What the below says, it's probably just the exact word. And it's a Dwarvish door, making the password the Elvish word for "friend" is actually pretty brilliant, it would be like a white supremacist making his password "my_nword".
    • Not really. The password (as well as the carved words) are in Elvish because they were created to facilitate trade and cooperation with the elven city of Hollin.
    • This ^. The West-gate of Moria was originally built to allow access for the elves of Eregion (Hollin), the realm that lay outside Khazad-Dûm in that direction, with whom the dwarves had good relations and free trade during the Second Age. It makes sense that the elves would have a password in their own language, not least because the dwarves as a race were always notoriously secretive about their own tongue so wouldn't have been using snippets of it for external passwords.

     Why wait to toss Frodo? 
  • In Moria, when they're jumping over the shattered stairs, why do they wait to get Frodo across last? He should have been second, after there was someone on the other end to catch him. He's got the Ring. You've got a balrog chasing you. A balrog getting the Ring is the second-worst thing that could happen after Sauron getting the Ring.
    • They didn't exactly have a lot of time to plan, or much room to maneuver. It's a narrow stairway and they're being shot at and chased. At that point, you go in whatever order you ended up in when you got there.

     How come Gandalf knows what happened down in the mines of Moria yet Gimli doesn't? 
  • Saruman says that Gandalf knows the Dwarves Dug Too Deep and unleashed the Balrog. If Gandalf has heard about this, how come Gimli never heard anything about what happened to his own cousin?
    • Two different incidents are involved here, not one. Going by the books, the Balrog was released centuries ago. Gimli's cousin-once-removed Balin (who, like Gimli's father Glòin, was one of the company of dwarves Bilbo met in The Hobbit) was leader of an expedition that tried to resettle the long-abandoned Moria — not one of the original inhabitants who were killed and/or driven off by the Balrog and his minions. Everyone, Gimli included, knew what happened to the original inhabitants; although the book gives the impression it wasn't common knowledge that the monster of Moria was a Balrog (the dwarves just called it Durin's Bane), it was pretty clear that anyone who'd heard of Moria by this point knew that there was something bad lurking down there. Gimli's excitement was mostly him getting his hopes up unrealistically high that the colony had been successful.
    • It's actually not as clear in the book that there is anything necessarily lurking in the dark. Moria had been abandoned for nearly a thousand years by the time Balin and his followers showed up to reclaim it, some 30 years before the events of LotR. Exactly what happened down there had been lost to Dwarven myth and legend. All that's remembered is that the miners of old unearthed... something and for all anyone knew it was long gone, if it even existed in the first place. For all Balin knew, "Durin's Bane" could have been something as mundane as a poisonous gas pocket which had been conflated by legend into a fire-breathing monster. It's worth noting that in the book, Balin's colony in Moria survived for quite some time (5 years), reclaiming a small part of the mines and even starting to work them again, before things began to stir once more.
    • (Also only in the book:) Gandalf and Aragorn have both been inside Moria before (apparently before Balin attempted to re-colonize the place.) They know its general history — but not the nature of Durin's Bane.
      Aragorn: I, too, have been in Moria. And although I, too, came out again, the memory is very dark. I do not wish to enter there again.

     How did Shelob's stinger penetrate Frodo's mithril armor? 
  • The cave troll's spear failed to injure Frodo, and that was made of metal. I don't know how hard Shelob's stinger is, but I doubt it's stronger than whatever the Cave Troll's spear was made of.
    • She hit him in the neck. It's a chainmail shirt, not a forcefield.
    • He's talking about the movie, where she clearly hits him somewhere in the stomach.
    • Perhaps the tip of Shelob's stinger is thin enough to get between the links of the shirt.
    • It isn't. We see it, the stinger is about the size of an adult male's forearm and the tip isn't that sharp.
    • The shirt isn't very long. Possibly Shelob managed to stab Frodo right under it. Or else, it might simply be because she's Shelob! The last daughter of Ungoliant who made Morgoth Bauglir cry like little girl. If any creature can corrode even mithril with its poison, it's Shelob.
    • It's because, if you look closely, Frodo's shirt was unbuttoned near the collar, leaving plenty of flesh exposed for Shelob to stab.
    • Shelob's stinger is nowhere near his collar. He's very clearly stabbed in the stomach.
    • She struck low and her stinger went under the mithril. It's a shirt, not a full suit of armor.
    • So she stung him in the crotch? ouch.
    • Let's just say his pain face had little to do with the venom.
    • Narrow, pointed edges can penetrate chainmail, even fine and sturdy chainmail; most maille vests had leather padding underneath because the point of a spear or arrow will still dig into the skin and could potentially break it. All Shelob's stinger needs to do is get a little bit into the skin. A small, superficial cut that would barely be noticed in the heat of a battle is all it would need to get venom into Frodo's bloodstream.
    • Also important to remember, the movies don't really get into it other than vague implications (because we're not given any real insight by characters that know better) but Shelob is not just a giant spider monster. Something closer to a minor god. There is every possibility that the stinger just went through the shirt like an ethereal weapon. (It's also extremely lucky those orcs came along, because if Shelob had found the Ring on Frodo, Middle Earth would have been extra double screwed.)
      • A very intriguing thought this one in the brackets, given that Shelob was not subordinate to Sauron and recalling the Melkor-Ungoliant story mentioned above...

     How did Aragorn learn the name of the Uruk-hai? 
  • In the first film we see Saruman naming his new creation, but at no point do any of the good guys hear the name during the movie, and they seem to consider them just another breed of orc. But in Two Towers Aragorn, when confronted by Eómer, tells him that: "We were tracking a band of Uruk-Hai westward across the plain". Where on earth did he hear the name in between the two movies?
    • My guess is Gandalf overheard it while he was a prisoner of Saruman, and told the others about it at some point during the trip before faced the Balrog.
    • Uruk-hai simply is "Orc-folk" in Black Speech. The name has also been already used decades before as a term for a similar big breed of Mordor-serving orcs.
    • Using a Black Speech term for orcs doesn't seem too smart if you want to convince Eomer you're a goodie. PJ had written himself into a corner using different synonyms for orc to describe distinct races (orc is standard Westron, goblin is hobbit-Westron, uruk and uruk-hai are singular and a specialised plural in the Black Speech, all describing the same creatures).
    • Eomer himself referred to them as "uruks". So it's probably a common regional way of referring to orcs in general; that Aragorn would add -hai to it wouldn't raise too many eyebrows. (And while he is a Warrior Poet, he probably isn't a Warrior Linguistics Scholar. The Rohirrim aren't big on written records and histories so he probably doesn't even know that "uruk" is a specifically Black Speech word.)

     Arwen, Elrond, and the last ship out. 
  • So, Elrond wanted Arwen to go to the Undying Lands so she wouldn't have to face the pain of watching the man she loved grow old and die and subsequently die herself of brokenheartedness, right? So he sends her off with the boarding party to go to the ship and . . . he doesn't go himself? He stays behind to die and leave his daughter alone for the rest of eternity? Or have I grossly misinterpreted something?
    • It wasn't the last ship. Where do you think the ship that Frodo sailed off in came from?
    • Elrond couldn't leave with her at the time, because he wears one of the Three. If he sails off before he's sure the One has been destroyed, he'd have to leave the Ring of Air behind so he's not carrying Sauron's influence into the Undying Lands with him.
    • The Three were the only rings of power in whose creation Sauron had no part, and so they were not tainted by his malice. It wasn't that Elrond would "carry his influence" with him if he took his ring over sea — but the fact remains that possession of one of the Three carried with it the perpetual duty to use it to help keep the fight against Sauron kindled. Elrond could not lay down this task while the struggle went on; but in the darkest of hours when he felt the battle was nearly lost he could at least send his only daughter to safety in the Uttermost West on what he believed would have been the last ship.

     The final splitting of the group. 
  • Two questions — one, why were the remaining Hobbits not given invitations to join Frodo on the last ship out? Was this not possible, or was there no room? Two, did Frodo just not care about anything but his own self-interest when he saw how much grief and agony his leaving would cause his friends, especially poor Sam?
    • Frodo was only offered the spot because he was a Ringbearer, and in the books, Sam does join him later on (after he's done living his life with his family), because he bore the Ring temporarily. Merry and Pippin never bore the Ring, so they don't get the invite. Frodo left because he simply didn't fit in the Shire anymore.
    • It was more that Frodo left because he hoped that, in the Undying Lands, he might find some peace from the injury that he recieved from the Witch-King, along with an escape from the memories of carrying the Ring.
    • The movie only calls attention to Frodo feeling pain return every year on the anniversary of it being "dark in the dell under Weathertop", but in the books he experiences the exact same thing in response to being poisoned by Shelob; additionally, he is given a jewel by Arwen that he takes to fingering in the absence of the Ring. Passing into the West would allow these hurts to finally heal and never trouble Frodo again.
    • Would it be any easier for Sam et al. if Frodo died of his injuries or went mad? In the book, he's ill every year on the anniversaries of Weathertop and Cirith Ungol, and he seems to be getting worse each year. The compressed film timeline, so we don't see how he suffers, make it seem less reasonable.
    • If one of my closest friends is invited to go to some sort of worldly paradise for immortals, I’ll probably miss him, but I won’t stand in his way, I’ll be happy for him. I’m not sure who would be more “selfish” in that situation... well scratch that, definitely the more selfish would be the guy who thinks Frodo should stay in order to avoid his grown up friends the sadness of his absent.
    • Also you're missing the point that the others don't want to go. They have lives, families, children and friends in the Shire and they're happy there. Frodo can't be any more. They're sad to see him go but they understand and they have their own lives to live. As noted above Sam does go eventually, though I don't think it's 'cos he was a Ringbearer, since Gimli of all people took the trip eventually, the only Dwarf ever to go, but more because Sam actually wanted it. Basically if you want to go and the Elves are happy to take you then you can go. Legolas spoke up for Gimli.
    • I believe the appendices to the book confirmed that, no, Sam did get to go over sea in the end precisely because he had once been a ringbearer. Gimli received a one-off dispensation, that no other dwarf ever got, because of the unique strength of his lifelong bond with Legolas and his "love for the Lady Galadriel" or words to that effect.

     How big are orcs exactly? 
  • In The Return of the King, orcs are the same size as Men during the battle of Minas Tirith and the Black Gate, yet they are also the same size as Frodo and Sam after the scene with Shelob and when they Dress As The Enemy near the end. Did Peter Jackson simply forget to change their sizes?
    • There are different breeds of orc. Orc soldiers, like you'd see at major battles such as the Pelennor Fields, are human-sized or slightly shorter, but there are other breeds (like trackers, one of which is described at one point in the book of ROTK) which are quite a bit smaller. Frodo and Sam would still be on the small end for orcs, but not so much as to instantly arouse suspicion.
    • Smallest Orcs (Moria Goblins) were even shorter than Hobbits and very monkey-like in appearance. It's the scene in the first film, before the Balrog comes, when Goblins climb desperately the pillars. They look much shorter than Men and slightly shorter than Gimli or the Hobbits.
    • Orcs come in a number of breeds and sizes. Goblins are typically smaller, about the size of hobbits, with the exceptional ones being as tall as men. Uruks are commonly around the same size as men, and make up the majority of Mordor's armies. Uruk-Hai are as tall as, if not larger, than most men.

     Did Arwen lose her immortality or not? 
  • It seems that Arwen gave up her immortality to stay in Middle-Earth and marry Aragorn. But in The Two Towers, Elrond tells her that Aragorn will die from old age while she lives on. What?
    • Arwen did give up her immortality; however, the Appendix of Return of the King establishes that she did indeed outlive Aragorn, and since he lived to be over 200, she must have still had a longer-than-human lifespan. Also, keep in mind that Elrond's foresight isn't perfect.
    • It's inferred she died of grief — Tolkien is not very explicit in the book on how she died after Aragorn laid down his life forever, and as an Elf she is supposed to have an immensely long life, but the good Professor never forgets to mention how vulnerable psychologically are the Elves and how grief can make them grow weary and die. (It's a way of telling the difference between Elf and Man — Men cling to life and are ready to make superhuman efforts to preserve it when facing hardships.)
    • When her uncle, Elros, chose mortality (to become the founder of the line of Kings of Numenor), he lived 500 years and died only because he laid down his life, wearied of the world due to his mortal soul questing beyond it. It says in Unfinished Tales that both Elros and Elrond had "the same physical capacity of life" — ie, the Half-Elven that were given the Choice (and only a very few were ever allowed this Choice as to which Kindred they should belong; the default is "any mortal blood makes you mortal") and chose to be mortal, still retained their Elven agelessness until they chose to lay themselves down.
    • To note: Choosing the time of their death is an ability of all those descended from the half-Elven as well. They'll die eventually anyway, even if they don't choose to, but the further past a normal human span they get, the more bitter life becomes. It's said that all the great kings of Numenor and Gondor willingly set aside their lives at the proper time, and that Aragorn does as well despite Arwen begging him to linger on. Death is a gift given to Men that they may leave the circles of the world before they tire of it. That men fear death is one of the greatest evils the enemy has wrought on the world, and the Wise will accept the Gift rather than cling bitterly to life.

     Scale in the Shire 
  • After watching the start of the first movie again, I suddenly noticed — everything in the Shire is to scale. So a Shire dog seems just as large to a hobbit as a Gondorian one would to a human. But hobbits are explicitly likened to children in terms of size when compared to Men. So, really, a full-grown hound or freshly harvested ear of corn in the Shire is going to be considered rather puny beyond its borders. Do the hobbits have a whole mess of miniaturized animals and produce? Is there something in the water there that stunts everything’s growth?
    • There is only the same thing in the water that stunts our human dog's growth: Why don't you go and buy a dog that's up to your shoulder, as those can be and are bred after all? Answer: Size of domestic plants and animals is mostly the result of how it's been bred to be, and you breed and keep animals/plants to whichever specifications you need. So why would they want a monster dog bigger than themselves if we humans (usually) don't want one either? And more besides that: keep in mind that those over-bred huge-ass livestock breeds in use nowadays are a pretty much recent modern invention, and the livestock/plants traditional for most of the history of agriculture were significantly smaller.
    • It's also mentioned in the DVD commentary that building everything in two scales is difficult, so any excuse to use a "normal" sized object in a scene that is only just going to have hobbits is easier. I doubt a hobbit would complain about food twice as big anyway. maybe they're just eating three normal Man-sized meals a day.
    • Real Life people breed miniature horses and cattle, so there's no reason why hobbits couldn't do so as well. As for selling their produce to outsiders, food is generally sold by weight, not number of individual items: a tavern-keeper in Bree who goes shopping for 20 pounds of potatoes would be just as satisfied with a few hundred egg-sized ones from a hobbit farmer as a few dozen fist-sized from a human farmer.
      • Well, until he had to peel them...

     Unicorns? In my Mordor? 
  • If you look closely at the Battle of Minas Tirith, when the enormous wolf-headed battering ram is brought out, it's pulled by what look like two enormous one-horned rhinoceroses. Are those creatures ever elaborated on?
    • The book says that "great beasts" drew Grond and nothing more. Sauron has Middle-Earthian pterodactyl-substitutes, it's not much of a stretch to assume he has Middle-Earthian dinosaur-substitutes as well.
    • The movie design team say that the Great Beasts were based on Megacerops, an extinct rhinocerous ancestor which stood at 8 feet tall. Interesting side note: Tolkien had limited knowledge of dinosaurs and other extinct megafauna (partly because some of the discoveries were still being made at the time he was writing), but when someone pointed out to him how much the Fell Beasts (the Nazgûl winged mounts) resembled real-life pterodactyls, he basically went along with that train of thought. He thought that the resemblance to be a delightful boon to the framing device that his stories were actually histories of a long-past age of the world.

     Gandalf vs the Balrog 
  • Gandalf fights the Balrog on the bridge until collpasing it. He falls into the great chasm. Then in Gandalf's flashback, they're back at the top of a mountain (I'm just gonna chalk the falling into an underground lake up to Frodo's imaination, since that was a dream). Still, how did he end up on top of a mountain after falling into the abyss?
    • Endless Stair.
    • After they hit bottom (yes, the underground lake exists, it's in the books), the Balrog fled into tunnels in the deep and Gandalf followed it. They continued their fight, for days, and it took them all the way from the depths back to the very peak of Zirakzigil (one of the mountains under which Khazad-Dûm was delved) via an epically long staircase that is indeed called the Endless Stair, where it was finished after two more days spent battling on the summit.
      Gandalf: From the deepest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought my enemy.

     Terrible strategy that actually turns out to be intelligent? 
  • In The Two Towers Gandalf is angry that Théoden isn't taking the field against the Uruk-hai and Dunlanders but is instead taking his people to Helm's Deep. The only problem? Not only does Grí­ma point out to Saruman that it's the best move Théoden can make it's also the same one that Gandalf suggests in the books. To make it more irritating, Théoden was completely correct. With so few soldiers they would have been cut to pieces if they had tried to fight Saruman on the fields. It hurts Gandalf's image as a wise man when everything we see afterwards suggests that his advice would have gotten everyone killed.
    • Gandalf is weed-smoking beatnik who loves to hang in the countryside with peace-loving, half-pint BoHos. It makes sense he wouldn't know that much about proper military strategy.
    • The problem is that Aragorn also seems to consider it a bad idea and Gandalf has been in Middle-Earth explicitly for the purpose of opposing Sauron. You expect a bit more from both of them.
    • This happened in the films because it makes a good story. It's more of Jackson's "character growth" idea. This is also why Aragorn doesn't want to be king (in the book he does); Andúril doesn't get reforged until Film III (in the book it's fixed in Book I); Théoden is possessed by Saruman (in the book he's just depressed); the Ents don't do anything until Pippin tricks Treebeard into seeing what Saruman's been doing to his tree friends; Pippin and Merry are more like Moxie and Pepsi from Bored of the Rings (in the book they're mature, responsible young men), etc.
    • Consider also that Gandalf is voicing this opinion right after Théoden has snapped out of his brainwashing. He knows that the people of Rohan need to see their king in action, not cowering behind a wall. He's pushing for Théoden to take action so as to inspire men to noble deeds in defense of their homes. He just didn't know about the 10,000 strong Humanoid Abomination army that was bearing down on them. When he arived at Helm's Deep with Éomer (Erkenbrand in the book), he was expecting to see Orcs and Dunlanders from the raiding parties, not an organized Uruk-hai army.
    • The problem is (again) that this completely contradicts the books. If it's supposed to be for character growth (which is a bit hard considering that pretty much all of Gandalf's happens prior to this) then it sure doesn't make sense because this isn't growth, it's tactics. Tactics which Gandalf apparently fails at.
    • There are tactical explanations: the army of Saruman is composed completely of heavy infantry, which makes them slow and vulnerable to faster units, in this case, the rohirrim, which are shown to be capable of horse-archery; the other problem is that to properly be able to defend you need to have enough numbers, which they don't; and finally, it is a bad idea to go in melee foot combat against an army that not only is better armed and trained in that field but surparses yours in numbers.
    • Also, wasn't Gandalf's advice not just "go and fight Saruman" but "go and find Éomer and the rest of the Rohirrim with him and then fight Saruman"?
    • Exactly. The "hide at Helm's Deep" strategy was losing until Gandalf found the cavalry and brought them over, which was arguably his strategy all along.
    • Even in the book, Gandalf initially plans to go to the Fords and help the defense there. It's only once he realises that the enemy has already crossed the river and routed a large army that he sends them to Helm's Deep, while he goes off to rally the relief force.
    • Why does Gimli, a Dwarf of Erebor, complain about them "fleeing to the mountains"?
    • It's not the "mountains" part that bothers him, it's the "fleeing".
    • For the record, it's Gimli who's voicing his displeasure at the strategy. Aragorn states the move makes sense on paper, he just seems to have a bad gut feeling about it. Gandalf, who has been to Isengard and knows Saruman personally, is concerned Theoden deploying a go-to tactic is playing right into his hands.

     Frodo in Osgiliath 
  • Ok, so the whole Frodo in Osgiliath thing. Ignoring the changes made to Faramir's character, etc, there's one issue that I can't work my head around: In Return Of The King, Pippin looks into the palantír, and ends up having to go on the run with Gandalf because Sauron thinks he's got the Ring. Merry says as much explicitly. Except, this doesn't make any sense. Why would Sauron think that Pippin has the Ring in Rohan, when he knows for a fact that the Ring-bearer was in Osgiliath? Not suspects, knows. Frodo went all weird, and ended up offering the Ring clear as day to the nearest Nazgûl he could find. Did the Nazgûl just forget to tell Sauron that the Ring was in Osgiliath? In the book this wasn't an issue, by virtue of Frodo being nobloodywhere near Osgiliath, but in the film this just creates a massive plot hole that I cannot get my head around. A plot hole that then drives the entire plot of the third film.
    • Why would the Nazgûl think it was The One Ring? They can sense it when Frodo puts it on but no earlier. Remember, the first time hobbits encounter a Ringwraith, he's literally a feet away from them but cannot find them. So when the Nazgûl in Osgiliath was about to attack Frodo, he probably didn't even see in detail what that stupid midget was doing. He saw Frodo in the open and decided to feed him to his Fell Beast. Then Faramir shot the beast and the Ringwraith retreated, because he saw no point in direct confrontation at that point. Had he known WHAT Frodo was bearing, there is no way in hell he'd backed off.
    • Frodo was holding the bloody thing out in front of him! He could not have made it more obvious if he tried. The Nazgûl can sense the presence of the Ring if it's close by, with or without Frodo wearing it. Tolkien made that pretty clear by the way the Wraiths stalk Frodo and company in Fellowship. In Osgiliath, Frodo was holding the Ring out in both his hands, bright as day, practically offering it to the Ringwraith. Are we to assume that after all the effort of Fellowship, the Ringwraith was too incompetent to see the Ring when it was literally being offered to him by the very hobbit he's spent the last few months tracking? Because that doesn't really say very much about PJ's 'additions' to the story.
    • The armies of Mordor are marching out and launching a full-scale attack on Gondor shortly after the battle at Osgiliath. It's safe to say that yes, the Nazgûl told Sauron where the Ring was. Sauron then concluded that the Ring was in Gondor, driving him to attack, because that would be the only direction to take the Ring; they came from the North, they wouldn't go south because of the Southron forces, and they're certainly not going to go east into Mordor with the Ring, because that would be silly. The only reason to go into Mordor with the Ring would be to toss it into Mount Doom, and no one would want to destroy the Ring, by Sauron's estimation.
    • You're of course assuming that both Merry and Gandalf knew that the Ringwraiths knew the ringbearer was in Osgiliath. Honestly, when I first watched the film (which was admittedly almost a decade ago), I just assumed that Gandalf went to Gondor primarily because of The "Gondor's gonna get invaded really soon" part of Pippin's vision, and thus wanted to hopefully lend some more help to the Steward in preparing defences while also requesting he relinquish the throne to Aragorn, with Pippin tagging along because he wanted to keep up his charade not knowing it was already found out.
    • Just because Merry says to Pippen "Sauron thinks you have the ring" doesn't mean Merry is right.
    • One further note: That particular palantír was pillaged from Isengard. Sauron knew that Isengard had fallen, though maybe not all of the details. It would be plausible for Sauron to think that Gondor would have sent a force to Isengard. Since no ring-bearing Hobbits were found either dead or fleeing to Minas Tirith following the fall of Osgiliath, Sauron could reasonably deduce that the ring had been retreated at least as far as Minas Tirith, if not further.
    • Also, Sauron knows they want to keep the Ring from him and his Nazgul do as well. When Frodo held out the Ring, the Nazgul may have thought it to be a decoy intended to lead it astray from wherever the real thing is. After all, why would any of them hand it over willingly?
    • That's a nice way of looking at it! Weirdly, Frodo practically offering it right up like that may have been an inadvertent Refuge in Audacity.

     The Death of the Witch-King 
  • (I've never read the books) The whole No mortal man can kill me / I'm no man line spoken by Éowyn during the final battle of the Return of the King. Was this just overconfidence on his part or a genuine loophole in his powers? Because the sheer concept of being able to circumvent someone's immortality solely by what you have between your legs just flabbergasts me. Although having said that I am appreciative of the fact that in an age where the only soldiers were male it would certainly be a handicap that wouldn't present a problem too often.
    • The Witch-King is especially susceptible to women in the same sense that Macbeth was especially susceptible to soldiers with leaves in their hats. It's a twist upon a prophecy, nothing more.
    • Basically, keep in mind that this is a prophecy (made by the elf-lord Glorfindel, one of Elrond's retainers and a powerful reincarnated hero of the First Age), not part of the Witch-King's powers — destiny is in play here. It's not that he can't be killed by a man, but that he won't be: a subtle but important distinction. Seems like Éowyn and the Nazgûl Lord were always meant to cross paths on the Pelennor Fields.
    • In the movie this isn't the case. The Witch-King says "No man can kill me" and the idea that he cannot be killed (except by some sort of magic) fits everything we're ever told about the Nazgûl. They are ghostlike beings who cannot be made dead because they are already not alive in the first place. Nothing supports any idea that they would have invulnerability to death by males only. In the book, Merry has a magic sword that makes him vulnerable, but the movie doesn't show this.
    • But in the movie, "I am no man" basically comes across as a badass bit of Literalist Snarking on Éowyn's part: and it has a kind of psychological/spiritual force, too, in both book and movie. This is the moment where she conquers her fear, the Nazgûl's greatest weapon, and turns it back on him. Shaking off his influence, believing that she has the power to kill him, and shocking him into doubting the invulnerability he's believed certain, she is able to overpower him. The sword through the head is almost superfluous, and it's not ultimately about her genitalia either, but about both Éowyn and the Witch-King believing he's met an exception to his rule.
    • It just violates the whole idea that they can't be killed by physical weapons for the same reason the Army of the Dead can't be killed by physical weapons. The movie could have fixed this plothole with a few lines, but didn't.
    • Also remember that it's Merry who damages the Witch-King first. By definition, Merry isn't a man either, in fact he's not even human. While Merry didn't stab the Witch-King in a vital organ, it is possible that this whole "No man can kill me" is negated, and whatever protection that the Witch King may have had, no longer exists due to Merry's contribution. In addition, in the books, the sword with which Merry stabbed the Witch-King was created 1600 years earlier and had been specifically enchanted against the Witch-King. Him stabbing the Witch-King in the knee broke through his protective enchantments.
    • It is important to note that words have meaning here. The Oath of Fëanor, for example, was so powerful that it compelled his sons to obey, even as it repeatedly led to tragedy for all involved. Compelled as in, one son knew obeying it was wrong and yet couldn't not carry it out. If a creature of sufficient power — oh, say, Sauron — were to say "No dong-haver can harm you", it likely means just that. Of course this still leaves the door open for the Maiar and the eagles to wreck his shit as applicable.
    • “No man can kill me” is never stated to be a prophecy in the movies, and it comes off as more of a Badass Boast on the part of the Witch-King. As shown in The Desolation of Smaug, living men actually did kill him in the past. The fact that the White Council is unable to kill him at Dol Guldur, despite stabbing him with Elven weapons and causing the same flashes of white light as when he is killed by Merry and Éowyn, is likely due to his close proximity to Sauron, who is presumably channeling his power into the Nazgûl, such as when the Witch-King is able to destroy Gandalf's staff, something only another Maia is capable of doing. Despite his formidable combat skills, he is still vulnerable, and when Merry stabs him in the leg with an Elven blade, he is wounded and distracted, enabling Éowyn to strike a killing blow.
    • The problem with some of these theories is that you can't invoke the books when they're directly contradicting something that happened in the movie canon, which is the context in which this question was asked. When Sauron first gave the nine rings of power to the kings of Men, they did not become the ringwraiths. They simply lived unnaturally long lives, like Gollum, but, also like Gollum, could be killed by normal means. When Sauron was defeated, the Last Alliance also hunted them down and killed them, burying their clearly earthly remains in the high fells of Rhudaur. After Sauron reestablished himself at Dol Guldur, he resurrected his fallen servants, with Beorn reporting rumors that the dead had been seen walking the high fells. Because their bodies had long since decomposed, their spirits were all that remained and they became wraiths. Because they had no physical forms, they could not be killed by any man, woman, ent, or anyone else. The Witch-King was the greatest of the Nine, so the rumor, which is never stated to be a prophecy in the films, is attributed to him, though it applies to the other eight. They are visible and can only touch things when close to Sauron, as they are at Dol Guldur, which explains why they can be seen in their true forms by people not wearing the One Ring in The Hobbit. When away from their master, they must wear their cloaks, probably bearing some enchantment, so that they can interact with the physical world. When the Witch-King leads the armies of Mordor against Gondor, he is powerful enough to break Gandalf’s staff, meaning that Sauron has likely channeled a lot of his power into him. Because magic in Middle-Earth is imbued into the material world itself, it presumably cannot exist without some sort of physical form, which would mean that in order to possess such power, the Witch-King must consist of more matter than usual, so he would be susceptible to being killed by normal, unenchanted swords like the ones used by Merry and Eowyn in the films. When the One Ring is destroyed, then the rest of the Nazguls' connection to the now-deceased Sauron is broken, and their only tie to Middle-Earth is their cloaks, which are destroyed by fire.
    • The problem with all of that is that it's pure Peter Jackson fabrication. The Nazgul were never, EVER 'killed'. They are already undead. They are wraiths, which is not the same as being spirits. That's why they can be only seen when you wear the ring, because the ring doesn't really make you invisible — it moves you into the twilight world, where undead can still be seen. They can hold weapons and ride horses via their armour, which they are physically WEARING. In the film, Jackson retains the 'no living man can kill' element because the Witch-King has existed almost undefeated for thousands of years, and was prophesied to never be killed by the hand of a man. The Witch-King's fate was pure old-fashioned prophecy, in the same manner as real-world ancient mythology. His fate was to be killed by a warrior who was not a man — and that's exactly what happens. At the time it was said, though, nobody would've really known what it truly meant as it was over a thousand years later that he was destroyed.

     The Rabbits 
  • This is probably a silly one, but in the original novel, the scene where Gollum catches some rabbits and Sam turns them into a stew is in a different chapter from the scene where Sam and Frodo are captured by Faramir. But in the movie, Sam makes the stew, then he and Frodo wander off to see the oliphaunt, then they get captured, leaving their campsite abandoned. So what happened to it? My family's favorite theory on this is that some of Faramir's men found the campsite and ate the stew themselves.
    • Alternatively, some hapless Haradrim footsoldiers, fleeing the ambush by Faramir's Rangers, stumbled upon the campsite, praised their strange southern gods for this tiny stroke of luck, and had a good Hobbitish rabbit stew before starting the long demoralizing trek back home.
  • What's more concerning is that Sam decided to make stew, a meal that takes hours to boil and cook properly -not to mention the smoke and smell-, in an unknown land surrounded by potentially hostile inhabitants. The smart thing to do would be to fry the rabbits in that pan he carries everywhere and be gone in half an hour.
    • There are a number of possible reasons:
      • Wild game tends to be gristly and thin. A fast cooking method like pan-frying would get them done fast enough, but unless Sam brought some marinade with him, it would leave the meat dry and chewy, possibly to the point of in-edibility. A slower method would break down the connective tissue and make sure the meat remained edible.
      • Making a stew is actually a good way to stretch out rations, by creating a nutritious broth that could potentially feed more people than just cooked meat. After all, none of them knew when they might get another meal this substantial, so best to take advantage of it. It'd also let him boil some additional protein out of the bones, which is worth doing since Sam specifically states that there's very little meat on the carcasses.
      • Sam knows that carrying the Ring is taking a lot out of Frodo, to the point of making him physically and psychologically ill. Some comfort food like a nice bowl of stew would at least make him feel a little better.
      • It's a frequently-occurring issue with Hobbits that, being such simple, peaceful folk, they sometimes have a problem realizing when they're in real danger. This could be just another one of these Idiot Ball moments.
    • Rabbits have virtually no body fat, so little that people eating no other game can get sick from lack of dietary fats. Unless Sam's also been hauling a packet of lard along with him, that's failed to go rancid after all this time, frying them isn't an option. Baking them in hot ashes might work, but that would've taken just as long as stewing the meat.

     Gondor's Outer Defenses 
  • Denethor objected to Faramir abandoning Minas Tirith's outer defenses by withdrawing from Osgiliath. The problem with that is, what outer defenses? Osgiliath was rather obviously indefensible, and had been so for a long time. Why did they not take some effort to actually fortify it? At a minimum, they should have torn down any structure that could be used to anchor a bridge from the other side, and dumped the rubble into the river to make it harder for the enemy to boat across. A river is only a defensive barrier if you take efforts to ensure that it's hard to cross it somehow.
    • Osgiliath sits astride the Anduin, the biggest river in Middle-Earth. You could've thrown houses into Anduin and it make no difference.
    • Stuff left out of the adaption, unfortunately. In the book Minas Tirith did have some extensive outer defenses. The entire Pelennor Fields was encircled by a great ringwall, the Rammas Echor, which Denethor had only just finished repairing when the attack from Minas Morgul comes. As for Osgiliath, more is made of it in the movie than in the book; in Tolkien's chronology it was already declining by the time of a great plague some 1400 years earlier, and it's been little more than an abandoned ruin for over 500 years. There isn't much left to fortify. In addition, it's a running theme throughout the book that Denethor has become a neglectful ruler in his despair and age, and has simply left defenses and affairs of state to decay.
    • Denethor does know that the outer defences won't hold, but that doesn't mean he just gives them up. He must make Sauron pay for the territory he gains — and if that costs him whole companies of men — well, "Much must be risked in war."
    • Even with pontoon bridges and smallcraft, crossing a river under enemy fire is no fun at all, especially for the unfortunate engineers who are trying to coordinate it. Osgiliath is the best place for Sauron to attempt the crossing, though: northward, there's marshland, and southward the river gets wider. There's also a good access road, to bring up the armies and the engineering train. The defense isn't very effective because PJ's tactics are univerally abysmal throughout the films — the situation required archers and artillery in the greatest concentration Faramir could bring to bear, targetting as far out into the river and the far bank as they can reach, and that is presumably what he did in the books. Also, in the books, once he realises he can't hold the crossing, he withdraws in good order to the Causeway Forts, where the road crosses the outer walls. Even once the Fort falls, it still isn't a rout and they're getting the wounded back to the city, until the Nazgûl scatter the rear-guard.
      • In the film Faramir's defense were reasonable, and they had been holding off the Mordor troops for a long time, until the Orcs managed to sneak a raiding force across that tied up the defenses long enough for a larger force to get across.
    • Simple: Denethor is wrong because he's a horrible strategist, he's basing his opinion off of his emotions, not reason.

     Legolas thinks Grí­ma makes good target practice 
  • I mean, why else would he shoot him? He's just rid them of one huge pain in the ass and has made no direct attacks against them. Why put an arrow through him?
    • Legolas was trying to keep Grí­ma from finishing off Saruman, a rather valuable intelligence source. It didn't work, but that was why Grí­ma ended up dead.
    • What bugs me was Legolas's ability to hit him to begin with. That angle? A distant target that small at that altitude? From horseback? Yeah I know, it's Legolas, but still.... Of course, they could somehow hear everything that was being said even from that distance...
    • Saruman was projecting his voice. In the books, Saruman's voice was said to have mesmerizing/magical properties. A Wizard Did It.
    • In the books, Saruman is standing on a balcony just above the door, not miles up the tower. That's just a silly Peter Jacksonism. Even the actors say they had no idea they'd be so far apart in that scene, so they didn't play it like they had to shout to be heard.

     Army of undead = poor use of resources 
  • So we get to see the full power of the Army of the Dead during the battle for Minas Tirith: they're invincible, fast and efficient, and effectively curbstomp the enemy army with no losses whatsoever. After this, they're freed and vanish. But hang on: how come nobody thought of asking them "Since y'all are immortal and all it'd be jolly good if you could help us by, y'know, killing all the orcs and other unpleasant individuals behind the gates of Mordor". There's no guarantee they'd accept, but at least Aragorn could try. Come to think of it, Aragorn could just have made the promise differently — "help us win this war in its entirety and I free you".
    • It's probably dependent on the exact wording of the oath that the Army failed to keep before death. In the original novel, the ghosts only fought against the corsairs before their oath was fulfilled. Then Aragorn stripped the fortresses on Gondor's southern border of men (Who had been posted there to guard against the corsairs) and sailed them to Minas Tirith in the captured ships.
    • In the novel the ghosts didn't even fight the Corsairs, only frightened them off their ships and enabled Aragorn and the Gondorian troops to take them. It's implied that they simply can't fight the living, being merely ghosts and all.
    • This is a good example of an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole, since the film introduces the idea of Aragorn deciding to free them only after the Pelennor Fields, which seems noble but foolish in context.
    • One explanation is that they thought it would be an unwise idea to bring a dead army anywhere near Sauron, who has also been known as the Necromancer (ie, someone who has magical power over the dead). Sure, the orcs and human armies of Mordor can't fight the ghosts, but Sauron himself probably could, and easily. Worst case scenario, Sauron takes control of them and turns them against the heroes, giving him yet another powerful army with which to conquer the world. It's not worth the risk.
    • In the novel, the race that became the ghosts actually worshiped Sauron for a time. Bringing them into direct contact with him at the Black Gate might have enabled them to overcome Aragorn's authority, or at least be easily turned against the Armies of the West by Sauron.
    • The ghosts were cursed in the first place for skipping out on one battle. If Aragorn hadn't released them from service after they'd made up for it by winning one battle, as he'd promised them, they might well have cursed him as an oath-breaker. As for why seizing the corsairs' ships hadn't already set them free, for all we know the corsairs booked it outta there the instant they saw the ghosts, so it didn't count as a "fight".
    • Simple: Aragorn asked them to fight for him, and he would hold their oaths fulfilled. Their oaths were to Isildur to join the Battle of the Last Alliance. It was his only bargaining chip - he had to promise on his honour that he would hold the oaths fulfilled. That's why their leader/king says 'You SWORE!' when Gimli mentions not releasing them. Aragorn knows he can't break that sworn promise, so releases them because it's demanded of him. He probably hoped he'd be able to keep them around against Sauron, but when it came to it he kept his word.
    • It's important to remember that at the time that Aragon released the Army, he had defeated a major part of the armies of Mordor and did not know that they would be marching in short order to the Black Gate. That and the time it would take to march the Army of the Dead to the black Gate may have made them a bit cross. Keep in mind that Aragorn isn't in direct control of the Army; he's offering to release them from their oath if they fight for him, and if it looks like Aragorn isn't going to release them from their oath they can just fuck off or may even turn on him.

     The One Ring and the Nature of Evil 
  • Upon reflection, it seems like the Ring is more powerful in the movie than it is in the book. In the book it's a seductive item, true, and most people who make contact with it succumb to its power, but some people can resist its influence, and do. Power speaks to Power in Tolkien's world, and the ones who can resist the Ring are the ones who don't really crave power for its own sake. Sam is a simple humble country boy who doesn't want anything but his garden. Faramir is a sensitive, intuitive scholar who is smart enough to see what the Ring really is. Déagol doesn't get to hang on to it long enough for it to really do anything to him. The argument can even be made that Frodo isn't so much seduced by the Ring as he is defeated by it; after a protracted Battle of Wills, his just finally gives out. The message is that evil is a powerful force in the world, but it can be resisted and overcome through the simple virtures of decency, earnestness, and perseverance. No such message exists in the movie; in the movie, no one can resist the power of the Ring. Not Faramir, not Sam, no one. Those simple virtues don't help any more. Perhaps the World has grown colder since Tolkien's day...
    • Hmmm...having read the books and seen the films (both multiple times), I'd have to say: 'Nope.' The exact same events and themes surround the Ring in both. It just plays out slightly differently, because it's an adaptation.
    • Realistically (ironic choice of words intended) it is not as dramatic to have characters not succumb to the will of The One Ring. It is after all the The One Ring. Thematically, you can't go into near as much detail in the typical movie time frame as you can in the books, so keeping the concept cohesive for all versus for most is just a simple way to tell the story and not worry about it. As for actual explanation... perhaps the time since the books were written, the Ring got more powerful.
    • According to the "making of" video "From Book to Script," this change was deliberate. They weren't confident they could convince the movie audience that the Ring was truly powerful and deadly if there were people who could resist it. This was given as a reason specifically for the changes in Faramir's character.
    • There was one person in the movies who never yielded to temptation: Aragorn, when Frodo actually holds the Ring out to him at the end of Fellowship. I was actually under the impression that was part of the reason for Faramir's character change — if the Ring never tempted him for a moment either, the strength and nobility of Aragorn's refusal wouldn't stand out as much.
    • Also, where does Sam really succumb to it? There's the "share the load" bit, which I thought was a genuinely selfless offer warped by Frodo's mind; and he hesitates to give it back after wearing it, which I think is in the books too and is as much about sparing Frodo as anything. I don't remember movie Sam being much more susceptible to the Ring than book-Sam; and in any case strength doesn't lie in not being tempted, but in resisting temptation.
    • Faramir is the only one that acts differently. Sam only briefly retracts his hand while handing it over (which matches an internal monologue in the book where he very briefly feels like holding onto it). Oh and people are forgetting Bilbo, the only guy to ever give the Ring up of his own free will after owning it for more than few hours. Everyone, everyone is tempted by the Ring, some are just better able to resist it.

     Legolas and Gimil's "contest" 

  • Did they ever make it clear who won?
    • Gimli won the first contest at Helm's Deep with 43 kills to Legolas's 42 (this is accurate to the book, although the numbers were ever so slightly inflated — in the book Legolas gracefully accepted defeat after being beaten 42-41). This is shown in a deleted scene that was restored for the Extended edition. They never mention who "won" in the Battle of Pelennor Fields (Minas Tirith).
    • I think the numbers were in the mid to upper 100's or low 200's in Pelennor Fields. Been a LONG time since I read the books. But if I am not mistaken, Gimli lost the second match up (and not because of the Mûmak).

     Aragorn's ability to break reality 
  • Now I haven't read the books, and this is something that REALLY bothered me, but in the City of the Dead, it is clear that the Dead are immune to conventional weapons, as evidenced by Legola's Epic Fail of an arrow. Now Aragorn blocking the King's blade with Narsil: I can understand since it was Isildur's sword. But then, Aragorn proceeds to GRAB the King by the throat. How in the HELL did Aragorn magically manage to grab a ghost's throat when later on, that same ghost king is seen going straight through Aragorn. Ok, King of the Dead, can Aragorn touch you or no? Make up your damn mind.
    • When Aragorn grabs him, he was exercising his power as the King of Gondor. Isildur was the one who put the curse on them, and so had power over them; Aragorn, as Isildur's Heir, has that same power if he wishes to use it. In other words, yes it actually was magic that allowed Aragorn to grab the King of the Dead. Very specific magic that likely wouldn't work on any other ghosts Aragorn would happen to encounter.
    • And as for the King of the Dead passing through Aragorn, that's merely Aragorn choosing not to exercise the aforementioned power. He doesn't need to be forceful towards the King at all times.

     Why would Saruman dam the river in the first place? 
  • So, I'm watching the bit in Two Towers where the Ents unblock the dam and flood Isengard and I can't figure out why exactly Saruman did dam the river in the first place? He mentions to one of his Orcs that they are to block the Isen at the start of the movie but I can't think why he'd do that. Surely he needs the water for something? Granted, I don't know much about rivers and dams, but I still can't figure out what purpose creating a dam served him.
    • Possibly, he was damming the river in order to power some kind of turbine. A piece of machinery for his forge, or even a mill to grind large amounts of grain (all those Orcs have to eat something). Otherwise, it's just blatant Rule of Symbolism: Saruman is raping the land just because he can.
    • It is actually clearly seen that he is working some sort of machines of the forge by the various water paths that are being redirected from the dam. So, it was not just to rape the land for the sake of it. He needed all the fires burning (trees be damned) and the waters flowing where HE wanted them, not where the land let the rivers flow.

     Where are the Dwarves? 
  • I can't remember if this question was answered in the books, but it certainly wasn't in the movies... More than once, Gimli says that an army of Dwarves would've handled this and that situation. But why aren't the Dwarves joining the War of the Ring? If Sauron is to take over Middle-Earth, it seems pretty obvious he wouldn't spare the Dwarves. Okay, since Dwarves don't live in areas near Mordor, maybe they don't know how bad things have gotten. But Gimli knows what the situation is, and he's supposed to be some sort of an envoy of Dwarves, right? So why doesn't he summon them to join everyone else in the fight against Sauron?
    • There aren't many Dwarves left, and the ones most likely to pitch in (the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain) are already facing a war at their own doorstep.
    • They are fighting, just in a different theater of war, up north by the Lonely Mountain; if they diverted forces to the Gondorian front, he'd be able to overcome them there and from there retake Mirkwood, threaten Lothlorian, and flank Gondor from the north.
    • Okay. It would've been nice if this stuff was mentioned somewhere, though, instead of Gimli just being all, "if only I had some Dwarves with me here".
    • They did allude to it. Immediately after Gimli says that line, Legolas replies "Your kinsmen may have no need to ride to battle; I fear war already marches on their domains."
      • ^ This is true and The Hobbit trilogy alludes to it even more, with Gandalf mentioning that Erabor is actually an extremely valuable tactical position, along with it's wealth, so the dwarves were probably fighting their own battles, what with dwarven mines and strongholds being very useful for creatures that move best in the dark...

     The title of Bilbo and Frodo's story? 
  • Just a silly thing really, but in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I do not recall them ever giving the story an official name. Unlike The Hobbit, which was given it's name by Bilbo in story. There and Back Again. A Hobbit's Tale. My question is regarding a great line from the books that could have been used to make Frodo's part of the story have a more "hobbit-like" sound to it. Like Bilbo's did. Why did they not call it Frodo Nine Fingers and The Ring of Power.? Now before you say "WHAT?!" That is a line that Sam uses in the book when they are in Mordor, beat to hell, and talking about all the old stories and how this story is not one of them (and a HUGE missed opportunity in the movie when they do the same thing). Sam (or perhaps Frodo, can't remember at this point) gives that line as the title for a story based on their adventures. I always took it as a sarcastic reference, but it still would have worked. Especially since the context of the scene in question was that they did not think they would survive no matter what happened. So when they do... why not use that title? Then at the end of the movie, they went with the "easy connection" title of The Lord of the Rings. Why?! And I would actually like both an insider info answer as well as in'verse if anyone knows or can come up with something plausible. Thanks (only thing that REALLY bugged me of the entire trilogy).
    • The movie did mess it up a little, but the original title Frodo uses in the book is The Downfall of The Lord of the Rings. Over time I guess that got shortened to 'The Lord of the Rings'. It's not that unusual really; it's just a name for the war, like if we called World War Two 'The Downfall of Hitler'. (The only reason we don't is because it's a lot more complex than that.) Personally, I prefer 'The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings', but hey.
    • The full title is "The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King". There's also a subtitle "(as seen by the Little People; being the memoirs of Bilbo and Frodo of the Shire, supplemented by the accounts of their friends and the learning of the Wise.) Together with extracts from Books of Lore translated by Bilbo in Rivendell". Heck, the book even gives the formatting of the title page. I don't know why the film didn't just point their calligrapher at pg1065!

     Éomer's banishment 
  • Gríma declares that Éomer is banished from Rohan under the pain of death, and the next thing we see of Éomer is him riding away... with two thousand men, all fully armed, and we later learn that the remaining Rohan forces (at least those immediately available at the capital) amounted to some several hundred men. Uhm... how did Gríma manage to banish the former with the latter, and why didn't the next scene after his "sentence" depict his greesy head on a spike, and Éomer taking charge?
    • That's what Eomer would want to do, but in doing so he would countermand the will of his King, the authority of whom Grima acts with (and has his own minions that the heroes fight later). Countermanding the will of your liege is Rebellion and also Treason. In a Feudal/Medieval society, Rebellion and Treason are like Murder and Rape in terms of gravity. Check out how many people throughout Europe in Medieval/Middle Ages times were executed for Treason against the crown. Eomer is second in line to the throne after Theodred, he would have to take exile ahead of committing a crime against the crown he may one day be expected to hold (since Theodred was at death's door by that point).
    • Because Gríma had the king's ear, and taking down Gríma meant, at that point, taking on the king. Éomer and his men leave because they're loyal to the king, and can't stand what Gríma's doing. Remember that Gríma has real authority there because of his place with the king. So, it's like asking, "When a corrupt cop gives you a ticket, but you've got four people in the car with you, why don't you just beat up the cop and leave?"
    • It's less giving an unfair ticket and more selling a nuke to the terrorists. In which case, it is a moral obligation of any dutiful citizen to stop them. And if it's not a cop but the President's advisor or, hell, the President himself, what does it matter? Are you saying Éomer and his men basically abandoned their country to the mercy of Saruman because of their loyalty to the king, even though the king was clearly either incapable or treacherous? I may not be privy to the specifics of Rohan policy, so maybe I'm missing something, but shouldn't at that point loyalty to the country and its people outweigh loyalty to a person?
    • They didn't abandon their country. One of the first things we see them do is slaughter the Uruk-hai. They're still fighting Saruman's forces even though the king isn't. They are protecting Rohan's land and people as best they can from external threats, because the internal threat is not something they can solve with two thousand warriors. Because really, what would be the most likely result of Éomer riding into Edoras at the head of a column of armed knights to demand Gríma's surrender? All-out civil war. The last thing Rohan needs. Too many innocent lives would be endangered, not the least of which is the puppet king himself.
    • And Gríma has Éowyn. There probably is a point where, if you hold his sister hostage, Éomer will tell you to kill her and be damned, but I don't think Gríma's quite there yet: as far as Éomer knows, this is all just a difference of opinion/competence over military strategy, rather than fundamental treason.
    • Also the example above supposes a modern concept of loyalty to a nation rather than it's leader which Eomer simply doesn't have. He loves his country certainly but his oath of loyalty is to Theodan and Theodan personally. If Theodan says he's banished then he's banished, regardless of how foolish Eomer may believe it to be or if he may think Grima is ultimately behind it. To do otherwise would make him a traitor and lose all honour. That's simply how people in that kind of society thought.

    Here goes your traitor 

  • Why do they let Gríma go? Ok, Aragorn stops Théoden from killing the bastard, fine, he's all noble and merciful. But why let him go? It's obvious he's going to return to Saruman and tell him all he knows, and surely they wouldn't want that, would they?
    • Saruman was literally in Théoden's head for the last few months, at the least. What on Earth could Gríma tell him that he doesn't already know? Saruman's also an incredibly powerful wizard — the total value he has as a tactical asset to Saruman is infinitesimally small once he's out of Théoden's court.
    • I see it as Aragorn trying to look out for Théoden's mental well-being. Théoden had just had his head invaded by evil for a long time... it probably wouldn't have been that great for his stability and the moral center of his soul if the first thing he did upon coming out of it was slaughter a physically defenseless man. It's not that Gríma deserved to live so much as killing him or having him killed would have been bad for Théoden's soul at that moment. To judge by their encounter at Isengard, it was probably a good call... once he was fully himself, Théoden was actually ready to offer Gríma a chance for mercy and repentance.
    • I understand why they didn't kill him — I don't understand why they didn't throw him into prison. As for Gríma's lack of useful knowledge, I don't know, he is still shown telling Saruman about the route that Rohans would take to the Helm's deep, and the defences, including the drain gate.
    • Considering Saruman's strategy revolves around exploiting that drain gate with explosives that he appears to have invented just for the occasion, he already knew about it.
    • “Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.”
    • As for why they let him go I got the impression everyone was looking at Aragorn and Theodan and Grima just took the chance while everyone was distracted to peg it. By the time anyone thought to grab him he was already on a horse going full pelt to Isengard.

     The Faramir "being dead" fiasco 
  • After Faramir led a doomed charge to retake Osgiliath, the entire group, except for Faramir himself, was wiped out. However they at first thought he was dead, but Pippin notices that he's just KO'd and needs medicine to which Denethor ignores, yelling, "My line has ended!". When he yells to his soldiers to abandon their posts, Gandalf knocks Denethor out and yells "Prepare for battle!" Why didn't Pippin or one of the other Gondor people take advantage of Denethor being knocked out unconscious and take Faramir to the healers?! And when Denethor takes Faramir's uncoscious body to burn it and himself in the Tomb of the Stewards, why did none of the other soldiers question Denethor's suicidal thoughts and incapacitate him for being insane, or check for a pulse on Faramir and tell Denethor that he was still alive?! Has no one in Gondor have a brain or something?!
    • In the first case, because they were preparing for battle and trying to fight off an army of orcs and trolls was more important than getting one guy to the healers. In the second case, Denethor is still in charge, suicidal or not, so soldiers are going to obey direct orders from him.
    • There is something of a Freeze-Frame Bonus during the funeral pyre scene. At least one of the soldiers holding the torches is really hesitant. He's slower than the others and keeps looking around at them. You can almost hear what he's thinking. "Um, guys? Are we really doing this?"
    • Back to the first case. Faramir was important too. Taking him to the healers would also keep him safe!
    • Who's to say they didn't? Some guards bring him to be healed offscreen and then Denethor shows up to drag him to the pyre with no one stopping him because of the above reasons.
    • But couldn't soldiers be get morally righteous and pull off a Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!, or go You're Insane! to Denethor and disobey him for being suicidally insane? Especially if it's the case of "If our leader kills himself, WHO'S GONNA LEAD US?!"?
    • Doing what you think is "right" on the spur of the moment rather than with hindsight is much more difficult than people seem to think. The men had probably been soldiers for most of their adult life; after a decade or so of following orders and having "obey your superiors" drilled into their psyche, it's completely understandable that the soldiers ignored their moral qualms and just obeyed orders. For those who doubt it, go look up the "just following orders" Nazi soldiers working the concentration camps in the Holocaust and the Milgram Experiment
    • For the second objection, neither Denethor nor Faramir was leading the Gondorian army. Faramir was unconscious and near death and it's clear that after Denethor's Villainous BSoD and Gandalf's smackdown, the Gondor military was following Gandalf. Besides, Denethor was never meant to be a leader in a time of war, he was a politician; he would've had generals (like Imrahil in the book) leading the army.
    • Denethor was also in the middle of a "abandon everything and just give up, we're going to get slaughtered, nothing we can do to stop it" speech when Gandalf knocked him about. At the time the situation was looking very grim. These soldiers easily could have been depressed and suicidal themselves thinking, "sure Faramir is alive but it doesn't make much difference. He'll be dead in a weeks time with much torture in between no matter what we do. Only right thing is to burn him alive to please his father before we all take our own lives."

     Why Didn't Boromir Bring His Shield During the Fight at Amon Hen? 
  • When Boromir tried to save Merry and Pippin from Saruman's Uruk-hai battle group at Amon Hen, why didn't he bring his shield (which he usually carries around) to the battle? If he did, he would've been able to protect himself from Lurtz's arrows and not be killed!
    • If I remember correctly, the events at Amon Hen happen at a rather quick succession: Boromir talks with Frodo, he tries to take the Ring from him, Frodo runs away, the Orcs attack, Boromir tries to save Merry and Pippin from the Orcs. Boromir doesn't have his shield with him when he goes to talk with Frodo, because he has no need for it then. And the Orcs attack immediately after that, so possibly he thinks there's no time to go and fetch the shield, because they might've already killed Merry and Pippin before he comes back with it.
    • But didn't he rest his shield nearby when he was gathering firewood when he talks with Frodo? He could've grabbed his shield after Frodo ran away.
    • His shield was at their camp. Boromir and Frodo were far away from their camp.
    • How far away?
    • Exactly 3.74 miles. Who knows? The orcs were showing up right then, Boromir didn't have time to go back to camp.
    • Far enough away that no-one can hear the yelling or crashing about, but still close enough for the horn to be heard. Think of how far a car alarm or a siren can be heard if the wind's right, versus the racket when the pubs chuck out. If it's a mile to the camp, that's a round trip of ten minutes or more. Of course, it's bad security to wander off alone in the first place, but Frodo seems to be lacking in self-preservation instinct, and Boromir is not thinking straight by then.
    • Boromir left his shield behind because they tend to be heavy, and when collecting firewood you need to minimize the extra weight you're carrying if you want to stay fresh.

     Do orcs have five legs? 
  • When the forces of Mordor march on Minas Tirith in ROTK — about 1.45 into the extended version — they're marching to a drumbeat in 5/4. How do they not stumble?
    • The beats are still spaced out evenly, you can still walk a steady pace to 5/4 as long as you alternate your starting foot at the start of the rhythm.
      • ^ anyone else get a mental image of a thousands strong army of evil skipping along in step?
    • The 5/4 time was probably also an audio callback to the 5/4 time signature of the Uruk-hai/Isengard leitmotif and subtly implying that all evil think alike. Or copy each other.

     The Ents are going to war...far too quickly. 
  • I'll admit that it makes for a great shot when all the Ents come out of the forest ready to attack Isengard after Treebeard howls, but it also makes no sense. After the Ent Moot they'd most likely dispersed to get on with whatever it is they were doing, which was probably not hanging around near Isengard — so how did they all get there so quickly? Even in the Extended Edition, there's only about a minute at most between Treebeard yelling and the other Ents coming out of the woodwork.
    • They were heading back to whatever it was they were doing, but they're Ents — they don't go fast coming or going. They probably weren't far from where the Ent Moot was held anyway.
    • There could be a subtle hour-long cut during which Treebeard, Merry, and Pippin are standing there awkwardly and twiddling their thumbs waiting for the ents to get to the edge of the forest and PJ didn't want to bore the audience. Rule of Cool.
    • From the looks of it, Ents can move pretty fast when they actually want to - they just usually don't. Treebeard's howl of rage calling them to war could have told the other Ents that some really, really bad stuff had happened and to get out there right away.
    • Ents walk pretty fast. Like, we see them moving slow because they don't see any good from hurrying along under normal conditions. When they come out of the forest, though, they all step it up double-time. Comparing Treebeard's strides before he sees Fangorn in the lead to Isengard versus after? He goes from a sedate lazy swagger to power-walking. It's just that ents are freaking humongous. Their power-walking looks like a man trying to sprint on the moon. Honestly, any scene with the ents in looks like it's in slow motion for most of it.

    Gollum and Shelob 

  • Why, after putting up with Sam from Emyn Muil to Minas Morgul, does Gollum want to get rid of him right before he's about to be eaten by Shelob? It makes no sense to risk confrontation at this point, when he only has to put up with him for a few more hours at most. Just let Shelob deal with him!
    • Because Sam was starting to become suspicious of Gollum. It wasn't about "putting up with him," it was about getting rid of him before he convinced Frodo that Gollum had to go.
    • But Sam had already tried and failed to convince Frodo. Unless something else happened, there was no real risk of Frodo changing his mind at this point. And even if they did send Gollum away, they would still have to go through Shelob's lair, since it was the only open way, so Gollum could just have followed them like he did earlier.
    • Sam clearly planned to be persistent about it, and even if Frodo said no, Sam was going to watch Gollum closely, which means Gollum can't get away with as much. And that's discounting the possibility that Sam decides to just kill Gollum. Also, two hobbits together have a better chance at getting through Shelob's lair than one hobbit alone.
    • Plus, Gollum is pretty much not on a speaking basis with sanity. Why does Gollum behave irrationally? Because he is irrational.
    • Something else would have happened: Sam would have seen Cirith Ungol and likely tried to convince Frodo it was suicide. There's also the possibility that Sam succeeds in wounding Shelob enough to back off (as he later did).
    • Shelob kills to eat, not to annihilate: she takes one victim at a time. If Sam and Frodo are together when she ambushes them, there's a 50-50 chance she'll attack either of the two first. If it's Sam that's no problem for Gollum — he'd just strangle Frodo, who's too messed up by the Ring's weight to defend himself — but if she snatches Frodo and carries him off, a tearful and enraged Samwise will be left behind to cut Gollum's throat for leading them into a trap.

    Paths of the Dead 

  • In the Extended version scene in the Paths of the Dead, there are a lot more skulls buried there than actual ghosts. Where did they all come from?
    • The people who were brave/foolish enough to attempt to travel the Paths of the Dead without having the authority to command the dead.
    • Alternatively, the Men of Dunharrow lived there for a long time before they were called on to fight Sauron. Therefore, there would be many generations of their dead buried in the catacombs, but only the final generation which was alive when they broke their oath became ghosts. Plus, from the composition of the army, it looks like their noncombatants were given a pass on the 'doomed to haunt the earth until redeemed' thing, but they'd still need burying when they died.

     Why Rohan? 

  • In the movies, why do Aragon, Legolas, and Gimli fight for the protection of Rohan? Yeah, it was a moral thing to do, but their quest when they join Rohan is to find the hobbits so that they can get them to Mordor. Joining Rohan not only puts their original quest on hold, which was established in The Fellowship of the Ring as a matter that would decide the fate of Middle-Earth, it puts the fate of the quest in danger. There was justification for them going to Rohan, Théoden was controlled by their enemy, but there was no justification for them staying. Give them a reason! Give them a personal connection to the people of Rohan. Instead of having them arrive and finish their initial task in the middle of the afternoon, make it later so they would have to stay the night or late enough for Théoden to through them a thank you feast so they would get a chance to form a connection with these people before they decide to stay.
    • That's not how it goes. At the end of Fellowship, Frodo and Sam sent off on their own to Mordor and Aragorn chooses not to follow them. Merry and Pippin are the ones who are grabbed and taken to Isengard, and the three set off through Rohan to try running down the Uruk Hai from behind. After Éomer and his band of merry men kill all the orcs, Aragorn starts to track Merry and Pippin into the forest before they run into Gandalf the White. He is the one that diverts them to Edoras. Basically, after The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn had chosen to accept the fact that Frodo and Sam are going on the trip alone and turned his attention to the ongoing war.
    • Besides which, there is a practical reason to save Rohan as well: it has a powerful army. With Sauron preparing to make war on Gondor, it makes sense to ensure that Gondor would have some allies to help them when the hammer comes crashing down. And if they didn't stay and save Rohan, then Saruman's army takes over and Gondor is surrounded by enemies on all sides, a truly nasty tactical situation to be in. Rohan's survival was necessary for Men to have any chance of surviving the war.

     Defense of Helm's Deep 
  • Since the women of Rohan are (according to Éowyn) apparently trained in weapons to some degree, how come the women are all sent to the caves, while little boys and old men are conscripted to fight? Surely the women (being at least adult-sized, adult-minded and many healthy) would stand a better chance than what looks like 10-year-old boys. Or they could have used the women as well as the boys/old men. It seems crazy to have so many able-bodied adults sitting in the caves when they could be defending the keep.
    • Since the movie (and book) was based on medieval Europe, pretty much all women in those days weren't trained or expected to fight. Eowyn is portrayed as a tomboy and a bit of an oddity among women for learning to fight.
  • But Eowyn says earlier that the women of Rohan learned that those who don't wield swords can still die upon them, implying that Rohirrim women will fight if the need is dire enough. There could be no greater peril than the genocidal Uruk-Hai army at Helm's Deep. So why don't they take up arms and fight?
    • You misinterpreted that line. Eowyn means that even if she can't fight, the Uruks will still kill her because they are merciless. In her mind, she can either die helpless or she can fight to safe herself, so she chose to learn to fight. That's her own mindset; it doesn't imply that all the women think the same way.
    • Expanding on the earlier post. Possibly the only reason why Eowyn is allowed to learn to fight is because she's the niece of the king (basically his adopted daughter) and doesn't need to work and farm, so she had time to pursue other hobbies. Theoden clearly dotes on her, so he probably never pressured her to settle down and be "more of a woman", and humored her when she wanted to fight. Any other young woman from a lesser family (read: the rest of the women in Rohan) would long have been told to stop being silly and learn to sew and make bread and whatnot.
    • Tolkien based his world on medieval Europe, a time when war was an entirely male occupation, and women were in charge of the house and the family. The boys, despite being young, arguably have more "military" experience than the women because they were taught from a young age the basics of fighting and riding by their fathers and uncles, who expected them to grow up and take their place as defenders of the land. The women have never been trained and have no idea how to fight, and if you throw untrained, untested recruits against the well-armed, well-trained, merciless horde of Uruks, they would have been massacred.
    • In today's terms, it's like sending first-year recruits versus sending in civilians to an active-combat zone. The recruits will still do terribly, but at least they have a general idea of what to do. The civilians (for the most part) would freeze and end up being liabilities.

     Smeagol's mannerisms. 
  • In the flashback at the beginning of the third movie, Deagol seems to be a perfectly normal dude, but Smeagol's a twitchy, creepy, degenerate mess — even before he ever encounters the Ring. He's got massive bags under his eyes, his skin seems to have a bit of an uncanny pallor to it that Deagol's doesn't, he's already talking in that exaggerated, croaky, hissing, back-of-the-throat voice, and he's even speaking in plurals ("Give that to us") even though, by all rights, his split personality shouldn't even be close to existing yet. I understand that there was a need to make the character recognizable, to convey easily and immediately that the man we're seeing is Gollum, but don't all these things really undermine the idea that the Ring is what twisted and perverted him? The way it's portrayed in the movie, it seems like the only difference between the uncorrupted Smeagol of the past and the tormented creature of the present is his physical appearance.
    • That dialogue quirk is actually straight from the book, when Gandalf is telling Frodo the story in Bag End. As to why he would refer to himself that way back then, still a good question. (Maybe in the context of speech patterns like "our Harriet told us" when the speaker is just referring to their individual self, maybe it was Gollum's truthful account verbatim and Gandalf didn't bother to verbally copyedit). Smeagol was already kind of a weirdo, too, making a habit of digging around everywhere (possibly he didn't get outside much with all his digging, which would account for the pallor?), looking for secret things, and was apparently more susceptible to the Ring than most people in the first place—he's in a murderous rage just minutes after he sees it, and it takes Boromir months of travel to make a grab for it. He wouldn't have become a murderous wretch if the Ring never entered his life, but he was still a little creepy.
    • There may have also been a mental health disorder that made him particularly vulnerable to it's corruption. Bilbo held the Ring for decades and the close he came to attempting murder was his freak out in Rivendell. Frodo carried it to Mordor and resisted it until the very end, where i would be pushing everything into corrupting him so it could survive. Sam might have been briefly tempted to keep it after Shelob rather than give it back to Frodo but after Frodo pleaded for him to give it back a few times, he was pretty quick and it's possible his brief reluctance was due to the harm i was doing Frodo. So it is possible that most Hobbits is somewhat resistant to temptation and Smeagol had some issue that made him vulnerable. I'm not saying mental issue = easy to corrupt. But it's well know people with a support network cope better. Maybe Smeagol had an issue but didn't have a good support system so he was easy prey for the Ring whereas someone with the same issue but a good support system would have taken longer. This theory makes the splitting of the party more significant since it removes a good portion of Frodo's protection against the Ring, leaving Sam alone as his support and protection.

     Immolation, or drowning? 
  • So Gollum takes the high dive into the lava of Mount Doom, still clutching the Ring. Never mind the fact that he should be a Flaming Hobbit before he even hits the lava; scores of movies make that mistake. What gets me is, once he hits, not only does he not burst into flame, he's not even acting like the SCALDING HOT LAVA even hurts. He acts more like a drowning victim going under for the last time. Which is exactly how he appears to die. Wha? Hobbits are that tough?
    • The Ring is giving him every last drop of power it can in an attempt to save itself from destruction. But it can only resist Mount Doom for so long.
    • Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've heard that when a person is burned by an intense heat, the nerve cells that sense heat get cooked and stop sending signals to the brain, so all that the person feels is cold/numbness. It's quite possible that Gollum was completely numb by the time he fell into the lava and couldn't feel anything. As for not bursting into flame, Rule of Drama probably.
      • You're wrong in this instance. Third and fourth degree burns would cause a feeling of cold because open flesh and internal nerve endings that haven't yet been burned away are exposed to the air. The brain interprets the feeling as being cold (similar to how the brain has difficulty sometimes telling the difference between cold and wet sensations). In this circumstance, there is no air exposure. Besides the acceptable explanation of the ring attempting to exert power to save itself, his expression could also be sudden onset of shock.
    • The Ring is so desperate to avoid being dropped onto the magma that it damped Gollum's pain, just so that he'd keep still and hold it up out of the molten rock for another second or two.

     Why can't Sauron figure out exactly where they are and intercept them with his eye? 
  • Sauron sees Frodo in various places, in one case actually in Mordor (before he's distracted by the loss of his Voice). Why can't he see the Ring, which he is supposedly linked to, if his eye "pierces cloud, shadow, earth, and flesh"?
    • Depth perception. Not eyes of Sauron. Eye of Sauron. It's impossible for him to judge range. When Sauron saw the Ring when Frodo was in Mordor, he would have thought it was on the other side of the mountains, in Gondor. So he immediately attacks the invaders from Gondor, because he now knows they don't have the Ring.
    • Sauron can vaguely sense the Ring drawing nearer, but he doesn't have any precise idea where it is. Further, when people talk about Sauron's "eye" seeing everywhere, they're not talking about a literal Eye seeing things, but Sauron's information network delivering him information. He has spies pretty much everywhere, and he can instantly gather information from both Orthanc and Minas Tirith through his palantir (and possibly other places; we don't know where all the palantiri are). Saruman's statement of his gaze piercing everything is hyperbole, not meant to be taken literally. Personally, I blame Peter Jackson's decision to make Sauron a literal flaming eyeball for producing confusion like this; in the books, the Eye of Sauron is only referred to as a symbol or as a metaphor.
    • You are mistaken here. Sauron's Eye is a literal supernatural ability in the books, as well. There are several instances of characters feeling his gaze falling on them; Frodo himself almost gets seen when he puts on the Ring on Amon Hen and senses Sauron's will searching for him. But the Eye of Sauron still has limits; he can't see everything at once. He must focus on one thing at a time and if he doesn't know where something is his only option is to randomly look around in hopes of seeing something relevant. The problem about seeing everything is finding the important stuff that you actually need to see. The only thing that can block the Eye of Sauron completely from seeing something is a sufficiently strong opposing power, such as the power of the Three Rings.
    • The above is exactly why Jackson chose the 'literal flaming eye' concept - it's easy to understand both conceptually and visually. The debate about Sauron's Eye is only slightly less nerd-raged about than the Balrog Wings debate.

    Where did the horses go in the Battle at the Black Gate? 
  • When they go to the Black Gate and Aragorn gives the speech, he's on horseback. So are Gandalf and Legolas. But when they charge, they're on foot. I miss something?
    • Doesn't explain where the horses go, but since the Men of the West are completely surrounded with no space to maneuver, cavalry would be severely limited in their effectiveness. Also, having your most important people riding on horses in clear view of all nearby people is just asking to get shot by a lucky archer.
    • Isn't standing in a tight crowd in plain view of the enemy also asking for that? Come to think of it, Why Didn't the orcs Just Shoot them? Was Sauron so noble he wanted to give them a fighting chance?
    • The army of Mordor may very well have not had that many archers left by this point. I cannot imagine that wood is plentiful enough in Mordor to equip enough archers and spearmen to attack Gondor and the force that fights at the black gate adequately.
    • I thought only the Gorgoroth plain was barren, and Mordor actually had plantations and such. But even so - surely the gatekeep should have ballistas or something.
    • They probably do but Sauron isn't interested in tactics here. He just wants to send out an endless wave of orcs and end it in a simple overwhelming charge. At that point he is just 110% done with this crap.

    Actually, Where IS the Horse and the Rider? 
  • There seem to be a couple of major discrepancies concerning the entire Rohan plot in The Two Towers, namely: We later see that Rohan has at least 6000 horsemen who were ready to ride to war, and almost certainly more. If this is the case, why in all of Middle-Earth didn’t Théoden call on any of them to fight at Helm’s Deep? He pointedly tells Aragorn that they’re alone and no one is coming to help them, yet during what we’re explicitly told is a long, slow journey from Edoras to Helm’s Deep, he apparently forgets he has an entire country’s worth of loyal subjects to call upon. Even if time is an issue, he could’ve at least tried. Likewise, would losing the Battle of the Hornburg really have been that devastating? Certainly the death of the King would’ve been a blow, but even so, the King’s heir is riding around with a group of horsemen capable of wiping out what remains of Saruman’s army. And only a paltry fighting force (around 300) were at Helm’s Deep, with a huge majority of the country’s fighting force still available. They didn’t even lose their capital.
    • Those loyal horsemen had been banished by the King's decree — he had no idea where they were, and didn't have people to spare to go looking for them. That's where Gandalf is for most of the story — running around looking for them. As for the second, Rohan's civilian population is also there, remember. Also, if the Orcs take Helm's Deep, that means they have Helm's Deep, a heavily fortified stronghold deep in Man's territory. That is BAD.
    • Horses aren't particularly useful during a siege; Théoden could've sent one or two out at absolutely any time before it began. If they'd brought back any sort of fighting force, it would've been justified. However, he bizarrely seemed to think that no one in his own country was willing to help. There was so much time between Edoras and the battle to gather reinforcements, and he never even tried.
    • He needed every fighting man he had to protect the civilians he's trying to get to Helm's Deep. The Uruk Hai arrive maybe a day or two later, not nearly enough time for him to have sent any riders out and expect them to arrive in any time to help. Plus, sending "one or two" riders out just means they're going to get picked off by the enemy army that's damn near swarming the land.
    • Also, the enemy had cavalry as well. Hardly all the warg riders were killed in that one skirmish. An obvious move for Saruman would've been to position them across the land to intercept runners. So, perhaps Gandalf was the only one who could possibly safely reach Eomer or any other place.
    • Theoden almost certainly sent out a call to war for the rest of the Rohirrim to assist. The problem is that this is a medieval society; it takes time for messengers to ride out to the towns, villages, and keeps that aren't being threatened or destroyed by Isengard's forces, it takes time for the local lords to in turn send out the call to arms to their men, it takes time for those men to ride to their lord, it takes time for them to get provisioned, armed, and armored, and it takes time for them to get on the road to meet their King. Theoden only had the manpower at Edoras and the Hornburg because those were all the men he had immediate access to, as Eomer and his two thousand took off after being banished.
    • Also it could, at least partly, be because the people of Rohan living in the countryside do not really trust anyone at this point. It is well-known that Theoden has ben acting irrationally for quite some time, and many suspect that he is under influence by the enemy. If a rider arrived and demanded the village's fighting men, they would likely fear it being a trap. This could also explain why much fewer men than expected answer Theoden's call, in Return of the King. Many do, but it takes time to convince everyone that their king is back to normal.

     Gondor Calls for Aid 
  • In the novel, the signal fires are set on a range of low hills that skirt the Misty Mountains, along the road from Rohan to Gondor. In the movie, many of the signal fires are seen on peaks far above the clouds. So who are the poor bastards who have to live on the barren peaks of alpine mountains, tending bonfires that haven't been lit in a generation or more?
    • White Mountains.
    • The signal fires were most likely military outposts, and so were manned by regular Gondorian soldiers. It's an important job, but probably a crap detail, since it's been literally centuries since those things were lit. Maybe that's where Gondor ships the problem recruits.
    • So being sent to man the beacons is essentially like "taking the black". It's the equivalent of being sent to man the Wall.
  • Wouldn't it be very easy for the evil's spies to find the posts (it's not like they're concealed, you just look for the next huge pile of firewood in the clear vicinity of the one in Minas Tirith and so on) and then for the orcs to quietly slaughter a post or two, thus disrupting the link? In fact, I'm surprised they didn't do that.
    • They didn't do that because they didn't expect the beacons to be lit. The guy in charge is in a state of permanent despair and insanity, which Sauron knows that. Orcs aren't master tacticians, so they wouldn't think to go disrupt signal fires in the middle of a siege.
    • Also, up until the orcs began moving across the Pelennor Field, Gondor still had cavalry supremacy on that side. Their patrols would easily spot orcs trying to cross to sabotage those defenses.

     Arwen dying in the middle of The Return of the King 
  • What is the thing with Arwen dying anyway in The Return of the King? The only explanation we get from Elrond is that "her fate is linked to the Ring's" or something like that, but how did that happen?
    • When Arwen made the decision to stay with Aragorn in Middle-Earth, she gave up her Elven immortality (she has the choice to do this because there's human ancestry in her blood: Elrond's brother Elros made a similar decision a couple thousand years back). Thus, she became mortal. This meant that she could no longer travel with the Elves to Valinor, and was, more or less, stuck in Middle-Earth. That's why her fate is bound up with the Ring: if Sauron recovers the Ring and wins, she dies when he takes everything over. If the Ring is destroyed and Sauron loses, she lives happily ever after with Aragorn.
    • Also Elves can suffer illness and even injury from emotional wounds. Aragorn being gone and in terrible danger makes her ill, him dying would probably kill her.

     The noncombatants in Minas Tirith 
  • Why were the women and children only evacuated when the first level was being overrun by the orcs instead of days earlier, and instead incredibly complicated a orderly withdrawl to the second level and needlessly getting many killed in the chaos.
    • Because the guy in charge of the city was in severe denial and out of his mind and not able to make rational choices. The movies are pretty clear about this.
    • This is also why there are no armies protecting Minas Tirith. Gandalf even asks where Gondor's armies are.

     Bilbo's rapid aging 
  • So, the One Ring prolonged Bilbo's life, but once he gets rid of it, he rapidly ages for no apparent reason. It would make sense if, once he was no longer being affected by the Ring, his biological processes resumed their natural course where they left off under the Misty Mountains and he began aging at a normal rate. Instead, it's almost like he chose poorly.
    • Nothing "natural" about how his lifespan had been stretched out and out though, like the proverbial rubber band. Once the Ring's insulating presence is taken away, the effect of all those extra decades of artificially-maintained youthfulness sort of 'snaps back' on him in short order.
    • The film leaves out the 20 year gap between Bilbo leaving the Shire and Frodo starting out on his journey to Rivendell; in those 20 years Bilbo has aged to the point you see in Rivendell. The film version has no 20 year period and so Bilbo has aged dramatically in this version.
    • Keyword: Prolong. Not extend. The Ring, and evil in general, cannot create new life. It can warp, distort and manipulate existing life, but cannot grant new life. Bilbo's life was being unnaturally stretched out and behind his youthful looks he says that he feels old, thin and weary, like "butter scraped over too much bread." His old age later is simply a reflection of what he really is. Growing old and dying as the natural way of things is a big theme of LOTR and efforts to extend life are usually the motives or seductions of evil.
    • Also the Ring is a magic item, not a life-extending drug. It's not going to behave scientifically but according to it's own rules. A bad excuse if those rules are inconsistent but fine if they aren't.

     Checking the mantelpiece 
  • Why does Gandalf check the mantelpiece when Bilbo tells him the ring is there? Considering Gandalf got there before Bilbo, he should know that's a lie.
    • Bilbo could have put it there while pottering about. He likely knows it's probably not there but was just giving his old friend the benefit of the doubt.

     Keep the army of the dead on? 
  • Why does Gimli suggest Aragorn not release the Army of Dead as promised? Besides being uncharacteristically dishonourable for Gimli, he would surely know that they are not slaves of Aragorn and would not be bound to do any more fighting for him. In fact, after seeing them in action, it's clear they would be more than capable and motivated for a brutal revenge for such treachery.
    • Maybe he was scared the ghosts would immediately turn on them?
    • Here's a wild thought: he was joking.
    • Or he pointed out their usefulness just to confirm that Aragorn was sure he had to release them right away. If the terms of their pact could be stretched via Loophole Abuse, it would have been very useful to retain their assistance against Mordor's remaining forces. But Gimli can't be certain if it's workable to compel them to further service or not, because he's not up to speed on the finer details of human honor codes and pacts: he's just broaching the subject so Aragorn can decide if the ghost army really does have to be released now.

     The One Ring: Accrue Strength or Remove a Weakness? 
  • Obviously Sauron has personal reasons to want to get the One Ring back, but what does it mean for his conquest of Middle Earth? Up until the moment the ring is destroyed his victory seems all but guaranteed, but hypothetically regaining the ring is treated as if it would be a game changer. Is Gandalf et al concerned about Sauron reacquiring the ring because of the power he could bring to bear, or because it removes Mordor's one exploitable weakness from the playing field?
    • A bit of both. Sauron put most of his latent power into the Ring. His only concern about not having the Ring is that someone could use it against him. He doesn't for one moment think that anyone would even try to destroy it, but a mighty person like Gandalf, Saruman or any of the Elf Lords could bend it to their will. So Sauron would think of regaining the One Ring as removing the Free People's strength, as opposed to his weakness.

     Is Gandalf in charge of Gondor? 
  • Denethor sees the enemy massing outside Minas Tirith and immediately declares that people should flee. Gandalf promptly knocks him unconscious and orders the soldiers to battle stations. From then on he appears to be the person in overall charge of Minas Tirith's defences. Nobody ever seems to raise any objection to him battering their Steward (unpopular as he may have been), but later we see that Denethor has gotten up and is proceeding with his funeral pyre, apparently with the compliance of the Citadel guards. If Denethor is still in control then why does he not take action to overrule Gandalf at any point? If the soldiers have accepted Gandalf as their leader then why is there no attempt to keep Denethor out of the way and get medical care for Faramir?
    • The guards in Denethor's immediate circle may still have had a close loyalty to him, or at least a deference to the role he represented, and/or may have been unwilling — or unable — to stand in the way of someone with lunatic strength and determination. The bulk of the soldiers, however, would probably have taken the pragmatic view that if anyone with some sort of authority was taking decisive charge of the defence efforts then it made sense to follow the new plan. They'd likely have been far too preoccupied with the vast army attempting to break in though to spare manpower to deal with the rogue Steward and his Only Mostly Dead son upstairs.

     What happens to Gandalf's white staff? 
  • The confrontation with Angmar is only seen in the Extended Edition. Viewers of the theatrical cut must have wondered why the staff just disappears midway through the film and then reappears at the very end.
    • True, if they were paying close attention — but there was enough chaos that it wouldn't be immediately obvious. That the confrontation with the Witch-king ('Angmar' was just the name of the evil realm he ruled up North for a while a few centuries earlier) didn't appear in the regular edition doesn't mean Gandalf is just standing around twiddling his thumbs for the whole battle, after all.

     Tracking Merry and Pippin 
  • As good as Aragorn's tracking skills may be, shouldn't any tracks Merry and Pippin made have been destroyed beyond recognition by the combination of feet, hooves, and orc corpses being dragged over them?
    • The implication is that Aragorn is just that good. In the books it's a little more realistic, as an orc carried Merry and Pippin far from the battle before they escaped, so their tracks would be undisturbed, and Aragorn still has to rely on a bit of guesswork to piece together events, even admitting he is confused as hell at several points.

     Avoiding the wargs 
  • When the people of Rohan are attacked by the wargs, Eowyn directs the civilians away from the battle, telling them to "make for the lower ground, and stay together". Staying together is sensible, but why exactly must they keep to the lower ground? Being on foot, they're at risk either way - but what advantage is there in keeping to lower ground as opposed to high ground, where it might present a challenge for the wargs to reach them? Is there something I'm missing?
    • She was most likely just giving them directions to get away from the wargs, rather than getting them to a tactically better position. The civilians aren't going to be fighting the wargs, they're going to be running.

     Remove the Ring? instant aging, but only for you. 
  • So we meet Bilbo again in Rivendell, and in the time he has went from the Shire to there, he has aged far more than the six months (how long it took Frodo to get there), by the end of the film he is even older looking, so having the Ring away from him has somehow made all the years catch up, my question is this, Gollum, he had the ring taken from him 60 years ago, not only that but he was pushing 600 by the LotR, so why wasn't he long dead by the time the LotR story rolls about?
    • Bilbo hadn't held The One Ring for as long as Gollum, he was just feeling a bit stretched thin by it, and when he surrendered it all the ageing held at bay caught up with him. Gollum had held it for hundreds of years and was thoroughly corrupted by it beyond all mortal years entirely. Bilbo was blessed with his natural end despite The One Ring, for Gollum it was far too late for him to get such relief.
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