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Nightmare Fuel / The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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"You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum... Shadow and flame..."
  • "BILBO BAGGINS!!" The sweet, jovial old wizard of a man we saw in Gandalf suddenly darkening the room around himself and shouting with a primal fury makes the Ring-corrupted Bilbo so utterly terrified you'd think he soiled himself on the spot.
  • Galadriel's "Darkness crept back into the forests of the world" exposition. There is something so unsettling about her narration, especially when combined with the clips of darkened forests and swamps that follow. A surprisingly disturbing moment (and also very subtle) is when she mentions "Rumor grew of a shadow in the East; Whispers of a nameless fear" and it's intercut with a shot of a moonlit swamp, and two shadows that look either like a couple submerged tree trunks or legs.
  • Speaking of Galadriel, the genuinely unsettling calm, pleasant, soothing nature in which she acts, contrasting sharply with the demonically dark side she displays whenever she becomes angry or power-mad.
    • Galadriel's temptation by the Ring, with absurd amounts of reverb on her voice as she declares herself "Beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!"
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    • It also makes one wonder how Fëanor and sons looked and sounded when they swore their rash oath. They were close kin to Galadriel.
  • Oddly enough, how the Ring looks. You'd expect something crafted by a Dark Lord to be made of black metal with a skull-shaped ruby in the center, or something obvious like that. But it's simply a small gold ring. It shows it doesn't need looks to take over you.
    • The Ring would be less scary if it looked like an Obviously Evil Artifact of Doom. Instead, it's simple but beautiful. Enchantingly beautiful. The most beautiful thing you've ever seen in your life. Beautiful enough that you'd kill to possess it...
    • If an inanimate(?) object can fall into the Uncanny Valley, it's the One Ring. When Bilbo drops it onto the floor, it doesn't bounce and scatter into a corner, it hits the ground with a thud and goes instantly still, and when Gandalf later drops it into Frodo's palm, the hobbit's hand dips beneath its weight. Even aside from how it's barely warmed by being placed in fire and "accidentally" ends up on Frodo's finger at the worst time, there's something fundamentally off about the seemingly-innocuous piece of jewelry.
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    • The just out of earshot distant whispering does not help either
  • The shot from the prologue of the men who will become the Nazgul, each holding a ring and standing in almost robotic uniformity, in contrast to the natural movements of the elves and the dwarves in the previous shots. And then the scene just fades as the darkness swallows them...
  • Sauron joining his forces in the prologue's battle. Just as victory seems imminent for the Last Alliance, Elrond and Isildur suddenly give expressions of fear when they see him approach, and the rest of their army quickly joins in as the Dark Lord looms over them. He demonstrates that those fears are well-placed, showing himself to be a One-Man Army who sends at least half a dozen soldiers flying with each swing of his mace.
  • The screech and Vertigo Effect combination when someone encounters a Nazgûl for the first time.
  • The attack by the Ringwraiths on the Prancing Pony. Watching them come in the front door with the night mist (and Barliman cowering in fear) is bad enough, but then we see a pan around the hobbit's room, and they're just there, with swords drawn and ready, like they came in through the walls or something. It's very unnerving.
  • One of The Nine's scariest moments is the attack on Weathertop. Frodo wakes up to find his friends foolishly cooking on an open fire, declaring their location to everyone. Even as he snuffs out the last cinders, the all-too familiar screech of the Nazgûl echoes out and the hobbits look down to see several of them moving absolutely silently through the fog towards them. Now terrified, they run up to the top of the ancient watchtower and go back to back. You expect the Ringwraiths to come up the same stairways the hobbits used, but instead they appear right out of the shadows, in places seeming to step right out of empty air onto the watchtower's upper floor. Before they were just black-robed riders who made a creepy sound, now they're shown to be utterly inhuman.
    • Another example comes before that. Frodo and his friends are traveling on a road when all of a sudden Frodo gets a bad feeling and tells them to hide. No sooner have they done so when a cowled figure rides into view on a black horse. The figure gets off and then starts sniffing like a bloodhound on a trail. Then, all sorts of creepy bugs come crawling out all around them, seemingly reacting to the thing's very presence and trying desperately to get away from it.
    • A closer look at the moment when the Nazgûl appears shows that he doesn't just ride past the tree—he just shows up behind it, completely out of nowhere, as though he came straight out of it. The Nazgûl are so unnatural that reality itself balks at their existence.
  • Bilbo Baggins's completely out-of-left-field freakout when he realises Frodo has the Ring. It really does come out of gracious nowhere. He does this in response to Frodo refusing to surrender the ring, which he (Bilbo) was starting to show signs of obsession toward all over again. This is immediately after he willingly (even joyfully) gives Frodo a Mithril Shirt stated in the books to be worth more than the entire Shire. The ring has such a strong hold on him that it's literally more tempting than all the wealth of the land he came from and then some. And to finish it all, there's the horrifyingly scary snarl delivered by Bilbo.
  • The way Boromir describes Mordor to the Council of Elrond. Despite inspiring one of the most classic memes, just the way he describes Mordor with a slow and intense voice like the hellish Eldritch Location it is, as if he's describing Hell itself, while seemingly Go Mad from the Revelation by doing so, is quite dreadful. And based on how quickly the entire council starts to fight amongst each other immediately after he's done, you could argue that the entire council went mad from the revelation.
  • Gandalf reciting the ring's inscription in the tongue of its maker, causing some dark force to briefly flicker into their world. He then follows up by saying that if Sauron wins, they can expect to hear more of this kind of language.
  • Even before we get to Moria, we know that something's wrong there by Gandalf's massive reluctance to anywhere near the place. Saruman's little speech does not help the feeling of dread.
    Saruman: Moria... You fear to go into those mines. The Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dûm... shadow and flame.
    • The horrors began the very second they set foot in Moria. Gimli is proudly describing his kin's hospitality and how good a time they'll have after slogging through the dark and cold up to this point, then the Mood Whiplash kicks in.
      Gimli: So, master elf, you will enjoy the fabled hospitality of the dwarves! Roaring fires, malt beer, ripe meat off the bone! This, my friend, is the home of my cousin Balin. And they call it a mine! A mine!
      Boromir: (sees the entrance hall) This is no mine! It's a tomb! (they see skeletons and signs of battle everywhere)
      Gimli:! No!!!
      Legolas: Goblins!
      Boromir: (as they all start backing out of the room) We make for the Gap of Rohan. We should never have come here.
    • And then the Watcher in the Water shows up, quite horrific all on its own, and forces them to go deeper into the very place they were just trying to leave.
      • If you found just the face of Watcher monstrous, you're in for a real scare. Games Worshop created a miniature depicting what they assumed the Watcher's whole body looked like; an aquatic chimera that looks more like a slimy, tentacled crustacean than any kind of cephalopod.
    • The entire journey throgh Moria is just eerie, with a building sense of dread. Gandalf's words do not help at all.
      Gandalf: There are older, and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
    • This unnerving shot of Gollum as he spies on the fellowship in the mines of Moria.
  • Gandalf reading the final diary entries of the mine's dwarves. "Drums...drums, in the deep...we cannot get out...They are coming-"
    • This becomes even worse when the reader realizes that the skeleton Gandalf pulled the book from is most likely Ori, another member of the company (and the youngest), who accompanied Balin to Moria.
    • Right then, of course, Pippin knocks a skeleton down a well, making all kinds of racket. After a tense moment of silence, Gandalf scolds him, then turns to leave. And then...
  • And then it cuts back to the room with the three passages as the light of flames suddenly appears in the middle one. Imagine what would have happened if they'd taken that path!
  • Once the Fellowship is surrounded by goblins in Moria, one orc with cat-like eyes is seen eyeing Pippin, practically licking his lips at the thought of tasting Hobbit for the first time.
    • The shot of said goblin became rather iconic and is probably the image most people will see if they look up goblins from the series. Yeah, this is what you'll find staring back at you.
  • Viewers who hadn't read the books were likely leaning back in their seats when the Balrog made its appearance. Even before it does, while all the Fellowship look unnerved as the Goblins scatter in terror and the sounds of the Balrog's approach grow louder, the look of terror on Gandalf and Legolas's faces is even worse. They both know full well what's coming, and that it's an enemy beyond any of them.
    • Even worse. Readers of The Silmarillion know perfectly well that the Balrogs are corrupted maiar just like Sauron himself, and are just as powerful as him.
      • There is no fighting the Balrog—Gandalf outright says that it's completely beyond any of their abilities and their only options are Run or Die. Putting this into a bit of perspective, Aragorn stood up to and drove off the Nazgûl earlier in the film, and in the third movie Legolas kills a giant monster elephant by himself and Sam almost singlehandedly defeats Shelob. Gandalf only stands against it later to give the rest of the Fellowship a chance to escape—his first solution being to break the bridge so that it can't follow them—and we see in the next film that he legitimately died in the effort to kill it and only comes back as Gandalf the White from a genuine Deus ex Machina. Putting that into further perspective, no one in the entire history of Middle-earth has successfully killed a balrog without dying in the process! There's a better kill-death ratio against dragons!
    • The Balrog's roars weren't made from any animals or actors. They were made from the sounds of volcanoes erupting, further highlighting how this is not a beast but a full-blown demon.
  • When one puts on The Ring, they turn invisible. It's because you enter a shadow dimension where the only other one there is the DARK LORD OF ALL EVIL. It's Alone with the Psycho on a cosmic scale.
    • To say nothing of what Sauron says to Frodo when he puts the Ring on in The Prancing Pony:
      "You cannot hide... I see you. There is no life in the Void, only... death."
    • In that vein, the second time Frodo puts on the ring, he sees the faces of the Nazgûl - mummified kings with horrifying death rictuses.
    • Even the name of this place is tellingly horrible. It's called the Wraith World and the reason you become invisible to most creatures is that you've just put yourself on the border between life and death. The reason the Ring Wraiths can be seen in full there is that they're stuck in a state of being dead yet still living. It's implied beings like Barrow-Wights could also spot you in this world.
  • The lead-up to Frodo putting the ring on in the Prancing Pony. He's toying with it, rolling it between his fingers and slipping more and more into a dream-like state, and the ring begins speaking, repeating "Baggins." It hammers in that the ring, as Gandalf puts it, "wants to be found" and already it's beginning to exert an influence over its new holder.
  • Gandalf's reaction to being offered the ring by Frodo. Frodo is scared of Sauron coming for him and begs Gandalf to take it off him. Gandalf starts off trying to talk him down calmly, but as Frodo's panic grows, Gandalf eventually breaks down, looking more terrified than at any other point in the trilogy:
    Frodo: You must take it!
    Gandalf: (sternly) You cannot offer me this ring!
    Frodo: (panicking) I'm giving it to you!
    Gandalf: (backing up against the wall) DON'T tempt me, Frodo! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe. Understand, Frodo, I would use this ring from a desire to do good... but through me, it would wield a power too dark and terrible to imagine.
    • What's worse? According to Tolkien, he's right—and not only that, he'd have been even worse than Sauron. In "Letter 246" (collected in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien), he writes, "Gandalf as Ring-Lord would have been far worse than Sauron. He would have remained 'righteous', but self-righteous. He would have continued to rule and order things for 'good', and the benefit of his subjects according to his wisdom (which was and would have remained great). Thus while Sauron multiplied [illegible word] evil, he left 'good' clearly distinguishable from it. Gandalf would have made good detestable and seem evil."
  • During one scene, Saruman contacts Sauron through his palantir to get orders. Saruman is left visibly shaken by the experience, slumped in a chair and hugging himself as if he had just been subjected to a grueling torment. Sauron is so powerful even without the Ring that the effects of his voice are enough to render a fellow Maiar weak in the knees.
  • The scene where the ring gains influence over Boromir at Amon Hen. Frodo knows something is wrong when Boromir starts behaving erratically. Then the scary stuff kicks into high gear when Boromir pins Frodo down beneath him to take the ring for himself, forcing Frodo to put the ring on in a last-ditched effort to escape the crazed Boromir's grasp.
    • The extended edition goes into much greater detail about Boromir's desperation to save Gondor. Knowing later what movie-Denethor is like, the suffering of Gondor's soldiers against the increasing power of Mordor's armies, and the sheer monstrous pull of the Ring, it's no wonder that Boromir breaks from the pressure.
    • Boromir had spent the whole movie as a kind, calm figure and even though it was clear that he was tempted by the Ring, it came with a hint of pitiful desperation. But in this scene, after having been denied the Ring one too many times, he flies into a berserk rage that is terrifying for how sudden it is. Sean Bean really sells it:
      Boromir: You FOOL! (The Ring) is not yours save by unhappy chance! It could have been mine, it should be mine! Give it to me!