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Trivia / The Lord of the Rings

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    General trivia 
  • Completely Different Title: The Dutch version of the trilogy was named In de Ban van de Ring which translates to 'Enthralled by the Ring'. The Fellowship of the Ring was simply named De Reisgenoten, translating to 'The Travelling companions'.
  • Follow the Leader: It started the fantasy genre as we know it, and indirectly started role playing games as we know them too. The live action movies led the way for more film adaptations based on epic fantasy books.
  • Fountain of Expies:
    • Gandalf is up there with Merlin in some circles.
    • If a character in a fantasy novel is a noble warrior who hangs out in the wilderness, there's about a 50/50 chance he was inspired by either Aragorn or Robin Hood.
    • The "elf ranger" archetype in fantasy descends almost solely from Legolas.
    • Along with Thorin from The Hobbit, Gimli is the iconic fantasy dwarf.
    • After the publication of The Lord of the Rings, it became de rigueur for the villain in a high fantasy story to be a manipulative, rarely-seen Evil Overlord who lives in a dark tower in an evil realm, employs various horrible creatures to do his work, and is dependent on an artifact of his making for power and survival. In fact, that's the TV Tropes summary for High Fantasy, a genre which existed long before Tolkien was born and often included quests or journeys, but not necessarily any of the rest. In fact, much High Fantasy didn't even have a villain as such. See Lin Carter's book Imaginary Worlds, the Art of Fantasy for more on this subject.
  • Hey, It's That Sound!: In the BBC adaptation, each time that the Eagles arrive (when Gandalf escapes Orthanc, and on Mount Doom), the sound effect used is almost identical to a TARDIS.
  • Shrug of God
    • Tolkien deliberately left Tom Bombadil's true nature obscure. Fan debate has raged for decades, and probably always will.
      "Even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)."
    • Whether Sam killed Shelob or not is left a mystery.
  • What Could Have Been: See subpage.
  • The Wiki Rule: The One Wiki To Rule Them All, and The Tolkien Gateway.

    The novel 
  • Accent Depundent: One of Sam's relatives is "Halfast Gamgee"note . American commentators suggested this was a pun drawing attention to the character being a little bit of a dolt to his Shire neighbours. British readers went "huh?" as they couldn't see it (Halfast = Half-assed), since J. R. R. Tolkien and other Brits would probably say "half-arsed" instead. Although Tolkien does make that joke - with the name of Sam himself - "samwise" meaning "half-wise" in Old English. In fact LOTR is stuffed with obscure philological puns which go right over the heads of readers who don't have Tolkien's level of expertise.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Hippies and students first discovered the book via the unauthorized, inexpensive Ace paperback edition, and there were apparently other pulp bootleg editions as well,note  which spread like wildfire on college campuses: then the authorized Ballantine paperback edition came out. All these things created the massive "psychedelic fandom" for the book in The '60snote  (see Memetic Mutation). JRRT loathed paperbacks, and in fact was quite unsettled to learn that American counter-culture was embracing his work. But he took advantage of the young people's devotion to compose his own bit of Creator Backlash for the authorized Ballantine edition, in the form of a written Take That!: "This edition, and no other, was authorized by me... those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it, and no other."
    • To their credit, the college students mounted a campaign of protest against the unauthorized editions after Tolkien made a point of mentioning, in his responses to fan mail, that he was being royally ripped off by the Ace publishers and did not receive a single cent in royalties from any American LOTR paperbacks other than the Ballantine edition. (Ace Books, the main offender among the pulp bootleggers, were harassed sufficiently by angry fans that they made a point of paying a massive royalty check to Tolkien and withdrawing their edition of LOTR from print.) More on the unauthorized editions here.
    • Ironically, the covers for the Ace edition showed that the artist had read the novel and knew what he was doing, while Barbara Remington for Ballantine hadn't had time and just created a whimsical-looking alien landscape for Book I (Books II and III are somewhat closer to the right spirit).
    • Parodied in the Bored of the Rings inscription, based on the one up top: "This Ring, and no other / was made by the Elves — / Who'd pawn their own mother / to get it themselves." In fact, the first edition included a direct parody of the author's warning stating that the intention of Bored was to make money off the pop-culture colossus that LOTR was becoming, and declaring that "Those who approve of courtesy to a certain author will not touch this gobbler with a ten-foot battle lance."
  • Creator's Favorite: Tolkien named Samwise Gamgee as his favourite character, going so far as to name him the real hero of the story.
  • Defictionalization:
    • Caradhras, Orthanc, Dol Goldur [sic!], and the Mindolluin Crag are real places in Washington State. Two climbers (and Tolkien fans) in the 1960s were the first to climb a segment of mountains in the Cascade range and thus ensured naming rights.
    • "Lothlorien" is the former name of the thriving nature sanctuary/spiritual retreat (or non-Wiccan Fairy Faith/hippie commune) in Lawrence County, Indiana.note  Its founding documents were a poetic combination of Tolkien's idealism toward nature and "Christ Light" doctrine, making it a really New-Age Retro Hippie establishment. Today, it's called Elvin H.O.M.E.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Tolkien and his publisher went back and forth about the titles of the books, with Tolkien suggesting many different possibilities for both the three published volumes and the six narrative books (including some subsequently used by Christopher Tolkien like "The Return of the Shadow" and "The Treason of Isengard", and some very literal ones such as "The Ring Goes East"). Tolkien finally settled on "The Fellowship of the Ring", "The Two Towers", and "The War of the Ring" for the volumes, and left the narrative books untitled. The publisher overruled him and went with "Return of the King" for the third volume despite Tolkien arguing that it was a Spoiler for anyone picking up the series.
    • Executive Meddling is also what caused this novel to be written. After the success of The Hobbit, Tolkien's publisher, Stanley Unwin, asked if he had anything else written. Tolkien sent him a packet of writings, including a work-in-progress of The Silmarillion, but Unwin ended up turning down everything except Farmer Giles of Ham. Instead, Stanley Unwin pointed out that readers loved The Hobbit and so he suggested that Tolkien write a sequel featuring more Hobbits. After mulling over the idea, Tolkien eventually came around and wrote the first chapter of a sequel.
  • Extremely Lengthy Creation: It was mostly written between 1937 and 1949. The appendices and final edits weren't completed until 1955. In total it took around 18 years to finish.
  • Indy Ploy: Except for the climactic scene at the Cracks of Doom, Tolkien was pretty much deciding how the story would go as he went along, and often seemed to be as surprised by the plot twists as his characters were. Many chapters show frequent rewriting as new ideas came to the fore. (For example, he explicitly stated that meeting Faramir in Ithilien was as much a surprise to him as it was to Frodo and Sam.)
  • Referenced by...:
    • The source code for Perl 5 contains several quotes from The Lord of the Rings (and one quote from The Hobbit). Most users of Perl 5 never look at the source code and never see these quotes. The file mathoms.c contains artefacts kept only for compatibility. It quotes the Prologue of The Lord of the Rings, about how the hobbits kept mathoms.
    • The Led Zeppelin songs "Misty Mountain Hop", "Ramble On", "Stairway to Heaven", "Over the Hills and Far Away" and "Battle of Evermore" all refer to people, places and situations in the books. But they are only the best known references. There are thousands of others. Tom Rapp, Pearls Before Swine's frontman, set most of the "Three rings for the Elven-kings..." lyric to music, called it "Ring Thing" and put it on the Balaklava album. The men's choral pop group The Associationnote  had a soft song called "Toymaker" with these lines: "Picture book, Pippin Took/Taking a look." There have been several bands called the Hobbits and a number of albums with titles like Middle-earth, Lothlorien and so on. Much more here.
    • In Chakona Space, the Gene Wars produced a race of Plague Master Super Soldiers (Death Guard? What's that?) named Saurons, who were quarantined on the planet Mordor.
    • The meteorological offices of the UK and Ireland have been naming winter storms since 2015. The first storm of the 2021/2022 season was Storm Arwen.
    • Mountains on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, have been named after those of Middle Earth (yes, Titan has a Mount Doom too.)
  • Publisher-Chosen Title: The publisher meddled with the titles of the three volumes. Tolkien wanted the last one to be named The War of the Ring to avoid spoilers, but it didn't get through.
  • Reality Subtext: The story is not an allegory; Tolkien rebutted this by laying out what an allegory would have been. But there is a distinct tonal shift between The Hobbit, which started as a story for his young children, and Lord of the Rings, whose chapters he sometimes sent to his son Christopher while Christopher was serving as an RAF pilot in the African theater of World War II. The influence of World War I on his creative mind is also easy to see.
  • Sequel Gap: The Hobbit (1937) was followed by The Lord of the Rings (three volumes, 1954-1955), 17 years later.
  • Sleeper Hit: The novel's sales really didn't take off until the '60s, when it was embraced by the counterculture. The publisher expected to lose money but decided to publish anyway. The final decision came by telegram: "If you believe it is a work of genius then you may lose a thousand pounds".
  • Spared by the Cut: Pippin was originally going to be squashed by a troll during the Battle at the Black Gate. C. S. Lewis managed to talk Tolkien out of it.
  • What Could Have Been: See subpage again.
  • Word of God: The appendices are only the start; Tolkien's son has edited together and published fifteen volumes from his notes.
  • Working Title: Each of the six books of The Lord of the Rings was planned to have an individual title. The first book was going to be The First Journey, The Ring Sets Out, or The Return of the Shadow. Book two was going to be The Journey of the Nine Companions, or The Ring Goes South. Book three was going to be The Treason of Isengard. Book four was going to be The Journey of the Ring-bearers, or The Ring Goes East. Book five was going to be The War of the Ring. Book six was going to be The End of the Third Age.
  • Write Who You Know: J. R. R. Tolkien based on Treebeard on his friend and colleague C. S. Lewis.

    Ralph Bakshi version 
  • Accidentally Correct Writing: Unlike the Rankin-Bass and Peter Jackson versions, Aragorn doesn't have a beard and it's never specified in the book that he has one. After the movie came out, it was arguably implied in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (1980) that Aragorn would have been beardless because of his Elf ancestors despite being human. However, the quoted and summarized passage doesn't name him specifically, as it speaks of those Men descended from Elves in a general sense, and focuses on Prince Imrahil who has more recent Elvish ancestry than Aragorn. Some decades later, the full writing about this was published in The Nature of Middle-earth (2021), confirming that Aragorn was also explicitly said to be beardless, along with Boromir, Faramir and Denethor.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • There was a concern that audiences would confuse "Saruman" with "Sauron". So Aruman was used. That could be understandable, but then the movie keeps switching between Saruman and Aruman.
    • It was also the studio's decision to lie in all the marketing about the film being the "complete" story, which Bakshi was livid about and accurately predicted the fans would be pissed off as well.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Frodo and Pippin are cousins, and are played by brothers Christopher and Dominic Guard.
    • The Japanese dub is a rather curious case, as while both actors are relatives and dubbed the same film, they didn't participate in the same dubbed version: Gorō Naya voiced Aragorn in the in the theatrical dubbed version, while his brother Rokurō Naya voiced Gollum in the home video version.
  • Role Reprise: Three years after the film was released, Michael Graham Cox and Peter Woodthorpe reprised their roles as Boromir and Gollum for the 1981 BBC Radio adaptation.
  • Star-Derailing Role: John Hurt, Anthony Daniels, Simon Chandler and Philip Stone (Aragorn, Legolas, Merry and Theoden, respectively) were more or less the only actors in this movie who were still able to get good acting work after its release. The rest of the cast mostly all went on to play bit parts in low profile films or TV series (though others remained prominent on the radio). Most notable is Sam's voice actor, Michael Scholes, who, including this film, only has four acting credits to his name on IMDb, all except one in 1978, meaning that his career only lasted roughly a year.
  • Star-Making Role: This was the first time Patty Maloney worked as a voice actress, though IMDb doesn't specify her character.
  • Stillborn Franchise: Due to Executive Meddling.
  • Troubled Production: This was one of Bakshi's less problematic productions, but that's not saying much. Bakshi feuded with producer Saul Zaentz throughout production, the initial screenplay had to be heavily rewritten — with the new writer, Peter S. Beagle, doing so for a derisory sum in exchange for guaranteed work on Zaentz's other productions...which he never received — and Bakshi decided to shoot the whole thing in live action and just rotoscope over it to save time, only to discover that he'd ended up making the scenes far too complex to rotoscope in any reasonable amount of time, forcing him to use a far quicker and cheaper method that resulted in massive Art Shifts throughout the entire film. Then, he was forced to stop the story after adapting the first two books due to budgetary reasons, resulting in the property being handed back to Rankin/Bass — who had previously adapted The Hobbit — to create an adaptation of The Return of the King. Then, the executives refused to let the film carry its proper "Part 1" subtitle so people wouldn't think the film was a complete story, which led to the film getting absolutely destroyed by fans at the time.
  • What Could Have Been: See subpage.


By Film

In General

  • Ability over Appearance:
    • The producers intended to cast only British actors as the Hobbits as Tolkien had imagined the Shire as a form of England but American Elijah Wood sent in a strong audition tape and was cast as Frodo. A marginal case, seeing as Wood speaks The Queen's Latin with very few slips. Sean Astin's West Country take on Sam Gamgee has also received generally good notices (funnily enough, it's the exact same accent Bill Nighy gave Sam in the '80s radio adaptation, despite Astin not having heard it when he came up with the voice).
    • Gollum was meant to be an animatronic, but Andy Serkis's performance impressed the filmmakers so much that they decided to use CGI and motion capture (trope-naming Serkis Folk), plus having him physically acting on the set. That also allowed them to have the flashback scene at the start of Return of the King where a live-action hobbit-Sméagol played by Serkis transforms into Gollum.
  • Acting for Two:
  • Actor-Inspired Element:
    • It was Viggo Mortensen's idea for Aragorn to take Boromir's gauntlets, both as a tribute to their fallen companion and to constantly remind himself of the promise he made to save Minas Tirith and their people.
    • The dream scene between Aragorn and Arwen in the second film was scripted entirely in English. Liv Tyler had fallen in love with the Elvish language and asked for some of the lines to be translated into Elvish.
    • Supposedly, Christopher Lee helped direct his death scene, since he knew from his WWII service how people react when getting stabbed in the back.
  • All-Star Cast: A staggering list of recognizable names in the cast, not to mention that these movies made recognizable the names of every actor in them whose names hadn't been beforehand.
  • Author Phobia: Peter Jackson actually used his own phobia of spiders to measure the effectiveness of Shelob's design and animations. By all accounts, it worked.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy:
    • Cate Blanchett joked that the main reason she wanted to play Galadriel was so she could wear pointy ears.
    • Christopher Lee always wanted to star in the movies, particularly as Gandalf due to being a big fan of the books when he was younger. He was noted to be the only cast member to have ever met J.R.R. Tolkien himself in real life.
  • Backed by the Pentagon: The New Zealand army in this case. Parts of Mordor were from old mine fields (that were swept beforehand), since they had enough ash to make the look needed.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • People often don't remember Aragorn's speech before the Black Gates quite right — possibly they're remembering the version in the trailer, which was from a different take. Théoden's speeches get this, too, to a lesser extent.
    • Memes often depict Boromir saying "One does not simply walk into Mordor" with his right fingers forming a circle. In actuality, the gesture is associated with "The Great Eye is ever watchful." The actual gesture when saying the former line was nothing short of a simple Face Palm.
  • Billing Displacement: Liv Tyler is billed third in all three, and while Arwen does get more focus compared to the books, it's still a fairly minor role with only 10-15 minutes in each movie.
  • Cast the Expert:
    • In addition to the lead actors who were trained on horses, and numerous digital extras, the Riders of Rohan were portrayed by regular horse riders from all across New Zealand who came with their own horses to act as extras.
    • For The Return of the King, The New Zealand Army provided extras for the final battle in front of the Black Gate. Behind the scenes commentary on the DVDs makes note of how good they were at following directions and setting up formations, as well as how much enthusiasm they brought to the combat scenes.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
    • Christopher Lee was a great fan of the books who even knew Tolkien personally, and he had always wanted to play Gandalf in a film adaptation. He took the role of a wizard in The New Adventures of Robin Hood only in order to get the producers to notice him, and later sent Peter Jackson a photo in wizard robes to suggest him the idea. When he finally entered negotiations with Jackson, however, Lee was dismayed to find out Ian McKellen had been already cast for that role. Eventually, although Lee was famously sick of playing villains, Jackson managed to convince him that he would make an excellent Saruman instead. According to rumors, another factor was Lee finding out how physical would be the role of Gandalf in comparison, which would be a problem due to his age.
    • Bernard Hill was also considered for Gandalf before being cast as Theoden.
    • Dominic Monaghan originally auditioned for Frodo Baggins before being cast as Merry.
    • John Rhys-Davies auditioned for Denethor. He played two roles - Gimli and Treebeard.
    • Sylvester McCoy was considered for Bilbo Baggins. He would later play Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit.
    • Orlando Bloom originally tried out for Faramir, not Legolas. The producers ended up convincing him that he'd be better suited for Legolas.
    • Billy Connolly was considered for Gimli. He would later play Dain in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Christopher Lee was understandably not happy that his one (and only) big scene was cut from the theatrical cut from The Return of the King (if he had been kept he would've got a SAG Award for Best Ensemble Cast). But he eventually reconciled his feud with Peter Jackson to be in The Hobbit.
    • The role of the Calvalry Of The Dead is considered by Peter Jackson to be this due to its Story-Breaker Power and "being unbelievable". If it had appeared any earlier, the Siege of Minas Tirith would have been one-sided and the Ride of the Rohirrim would have been unnecessary. Note however that this is after he simplified things and gave the ghosts a much bigger role by having them at the siege itself, instead of an offscreen battle (where it's strongly implied they scare away foes instead of physically fighting) in order to free up human reinforcements, who do go with Aragorn to the siege.
    • Though John Rhys-Davies had fond memories of working on the trilogy, he publicly swore off playing Gimli after production of The Return of the King concluded due to the allergic reaction from the make-up and prosthetics.
    • Years later, Viggo Mortensen would go on to describe the film series as a mess, citing that the only reason the later two films got theatrical releases is because the Fellowship of the Ring was a surprise hit, and that if not for it, the series would have gone straight to DVD instead of any theatrical releases. He also felt that the movies went too far into relying on CGI as they went on, citing that he felt things got too over the top, and that Peter Jackon's skills as a director weakened when he moved on to doing larger projects over smaller ones.
  • Darkhorse Casting: Orlando Bloom was cast as Legolas two days before he finished drama school.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • In the Prologue, Sir Ian Holm is very briefly seen wearing a dark, curly wig, as Bilbo 50 years younger. While Gandalf does say that Bilbo "hasn't aged a day" since seeing him last, Holm is obviously too old to have such brown hair.
    • A rather interesting case is Billy Boyd as Pippin, as Boyd was the oldest of the four hobbit actors yet also played the youngest of the hobbits. Possibly subverted in that, being the youngest hobbit, Boyd is probably closest to his own hobbit's age; Pippin is only around 30, whereas Frodo looks in his 20s (the book calls the irresponsible twenty-somethings "tweens") but is closer to 50, while Merry and Sam are around 40.
  • Deleted Scene: Has its own page.
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: On the wall of Helm's Deep during the battle, a one-eyed warrior turns to the camera, revealing his scarred empty socket. The performer who played him showed up as an extra, wearing an eye patch. Peter Jackson politely asked to see what was under the patch, and then inquired if the gentleman would be interested in appearing in the film sans eye patch. The gentleman was reluctant at first, and quite self-conscious, but afterward, said the experience had made him more comfortable with his condition.
  • DVD Bonus Content: Set the standard for in-depth behind the scenes features, even though most DVD releases still can't compare to the sheer mass of juicy bonus material in the DVD sets, even discounting the extended cuts.
  • DVD Commentary: All three films, including the Extended Editions, have several impressive tracks by the Director, Producers, Production Designers, and Cast. They're especially notable for including a rare public appearance by Peter Jackson's wife and co-writer Fran Walsh, who didn't return for the Hobbit commentaries.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Sean Astin gained thirty pounds to play Samwise Gamgee.
  • Enforced Method Acting: The river that Gollum has fun splashing in in The Two Towers was actually ice-cold during filming (indeed, they had to thaw it upon arrival), which greatly encouraged Andy Serkis to not stop moving.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Played with. Jackson anticipated only being able to greenlight one or two movies so his writing team wrote the initial treatment accordingly. And indeed, the first few picture studios he visited did indeed want to do only one film (which Jackson found unacceptable, and would almost certainly have been too little time to tell the story). But when he pitched it to New Line, the producers saw it and said, "What are you doing? This is three movies." And this was before Hollywood was obsessed with cranking out trilogies—indeed, Lord of the Rings may have sparked the trend.
    • The initial plans for one or two movies is also why The Two Towers has an additional writing credit for Stephen Sinclair. Sinclair worked on early drafts, but apparently left once production expanded to three films. However, he contributed enough on The Two Towers to warrant a writing credit.
  • Fake Brit: The filmmakers went with an Accent Adaptation to have all the characters speak with English accents. In addition to the British actors cast, we also have...
    • Americans - Elijah Wood (Frodo), Sean Astin (Sam), Viggo Mortensennote  (Aragorn), Liv Tyler (Arwen), Brad Dourif (Wormtongue).
    • Australians - Hugo Weaving (Elrond), Cate Blanchett (Galadriel), Miranda Otto (Éowyn), David Wenham (Faramir), John Noble (Denethor).
    • New Zealanders - Karl Urban (Éomer), Craig Parker (Haldir), Martin Csokas (Celeborn) and various bit parts filled by locals.
    • Otherwise averted with Billy Boyd, who kept his natural Scottish accent as Pippin. Word of God is that his comic timing was better using his own accent, and they justified it by saying that Pippin's home was very similar to Scotland.
  • Fake Scot: English-born, Welsh-bred John Rhys-Davis gives Gimli a Scottish accent, the same one he had used for Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Averted twice, thankfully, but nonetheless some close calls for Viggo Mortensen, who was pulled under by a current and nearly drowned while filming the river scene in The Two Towers. Then there was his fight with Lurtz in Fellowship. Lurtz's actor mistakenly threw his real-sharp knife directly at Mortensen's face, and Mortensen managed to deflect the blade with his sword. The shot remains in the movie.
  • Fountain of Expies:
    • Gandalf is ranked up there with Merlin in some circles.
    • Thanks to Viggo Mortensen's portrayal, this applies to Aragorn. Although he may have already been one, anyways.
    • Gimli, who usually serves as a base for many Dwarf character creations for fantasy roleplay, if it helps.
    • Even people who haven't read the book or seen the film are familiar with Gollum, if only through Pop-Cultural Osmosis or his role as childhood Nightmare Fuel in The Hobbit. Or, the reference to him in Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On."
    • Legolas, who is made even more so by Orlando Bloom's portrayal in the film version.
    • After the publication of The Lord Of The Rings, it became de rigueur for the villain in a fantasy story to be a manipulative, rarely-seen Evil Overlord who lives in a dark tower in an evil realm, employs various horrible creatures to do his work, and is dependent on an artifact of his making for power and survival.
  • Friendship on the Set: The cast and crew became this thanks to the three years they spent filming the movies back to back/concurrently. Also, while the entire cast became close, smaller groups of true companions formed between the actors playing the four hobbits and between the trio who played Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli.
  • Hostility on the Set: There was something of a rivalry between the extras playing Elves and the extras playing Uruk-hai. The Uruks coined the nickname "cupcakes" for their Elven counterparts. This apparently started because the Elven extras (who were largely local college students) weren't getting into character as soldiers, so the Uruk-hai decided to start taunting, jeering, and otherwise acting like actual members of an opposing army. This got the Elven actors riled up enough to be in character. This doubles as Enforced Method Acting.
  • International Coproduction: The films were produced by New Line Cinema in the United States and WingNut Films in New Zealand.
  • Life Imitates Art:
    • According to behind the scenes material, Viggo Mortensen was a natural leader of the actors and film crew.
    • Sean Astin also ended up more or less taking care of Elijah Wood during filming.
      Sean was very much Sam for me. You know, always looking after me, being there for me.
      - Elijah Wood (2001)

      Well, I felt very, um… protective over Elijah, for no reason. He could take care of himself fine.
      - Sean Astin (2012)
  • Looping Lines:
    • The entire trilogy was dubbed in post: the enormous noise of the on-set fans and the assorted background noise made it impossible to hear any of the dialogue spoken while recording.
    • Notably averted with Bilbo's speech at the party, as Ian Holm couldn't recreate the drunk tone while looping those lines sober. That gave the sound editors quite some work.
  • Missing Trailer Scene:
    • The trailers for The Two Towers and The Return of the King both feature scenes of Arwen that didn't make the final cut- the former were moved to the third film for pacing purposes and the latter scenes (of Arwen standing on a bridge and hugging Elrond) didn't feature at all. Also, the scene of Éomer cradling Éowyn's unconscious body in Return didn't appear in the theatrical cut, but was restored for the Extended Edition.
    • Also seen in several trailers but cut is Merry apparently pledging his sword to Théoden.
    • The teaser trailer for The Two Towers that appeared as an Easter Egg on The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition DVD which featured (for about a second) a clean-shaven Aragorn.
  • No Stunt Double:
    • Viggo Mortensen: Broke his toe kicking a helmet (which stayed in the final cut), lost a tooth, nearly drowned and did many of his own stunts while filming. He was also described by legendary swordmaster Bob Anderson as "the best swordsman I've ever trained" (which is saying something in a 50-year career), and kept his sword with him at all times for the duration of the filming. Oh, and slept in the stables in order to bond with his horses, and bought said horses after the production finished.
    • With the exception of physically impossible moves that required a digital double, Orlando Bloom did all of his own stunts.
  • One-Take Wonder: The scene where Gandalf calls for his horse, and Shadowfax comes galloping across the fields and straight up to his Master, was achieved on the first take.
  • On-Set Injury: The production resulted in several injuries for many cast members, including bruises and broken bones.
    • Viggo Mortensen is the absolute king of this though; he cracked a front tooth (with the crew insisting he go to a dentist rather than glue the broken bit on to keep filming), nearly drowned floating down a river and broke his toe kicking a metal helmet (he incorporated his scream of agony into his acting when Aragorn is grieving over the apparent deaths of Merry and Pippin, with that take being the one in the finished film). Off-set, Mortensen also managed to get a black eye while surfing, so he had to be filmed in profile for many of the Moria scenes until the bruising healed.
    • Orlando Bloom broke a rib when he fell off a horse.
    • Bernard Hill got his ear sliced in two during the Battle of Helms Deep.
    • Liv Tyler accidentally stabbed herself in the thigh with a sword.
    • Sean Astin was injured twice. First, he stepped on a piece of glass in a river that went through his prosthetic foot and required him to be airlifted to hospital. Secondly, Andy Serkis pulled his wig so hard it gave him a hairline fracture.
  • Orphaned Reference: Faramir's lines "A chance for Faramir, captain of Gondor, to prove his quality," and "Tell him I send a mighty gift" were supposed to be Meaningful Echos of what his father Denethor says to him earlier, in Osgiliath. The scene in Osgiliath was deleted, though it can be found in the Extended Version of the film. Granted, Faramir in the book did say the first line at about the same point in the story and Book!Denethor did refer to the Ring as "a mighty gift" that Boromir would not have let slip by in Return, so the references are merely demoted to "shout-outs to the source".
  • The Other Darrin: Sala Baker played Sauron in his "black knight" form, when he still had the One Ring, in The LOTR trilogy. When The Hobbit was filmed, Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed the character in his guise as the Necromancer instead.
  • The Other Marty: Stuart Townsend was actually cast as Aragorn and in New Zealand filming. A couple of days in they realized it wasn't going to work out and called up Viggo Mortensen. There's even a still of him in character. um... Yeah.
  • Playing Against Type: Sean Bean at the time was heavily typecast as villains. His role as Boromir is what's recognised as the one that broke him out of those parts. While he did still play some villains, he was able to get more varied roles afterwards.
  • Permanent Placeholder: The One Ring's design was based on Rick Porras's wedding band after the producer used it as a prop for an impromptu acting session.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Elijah Wood's sister Hannah played one of the Rohirrim refugees.
    • Sean Astin's eldest daughter Alexandria, who was 4 at the time, played Sam's daughter Elanor in the ending of The Return of the King. In the same scene Sarah McLeod, who plays Rosie, is seen holding a baby played by her infant daughter Maisy.
    • Viggo Mortensen's son Henry played an Orc as well as a Rohirrim soldier.
  • Refitted for Sequel: Several scenes that happened in the books or early versions of the movie script are removed, but are replaced by similar scenes in later films (not only in later LOTR films, but in The Hobbit as well).
    • Merry and Pippin are nearly eaten by Old Man Willow before being saved by Tom Bombadil in The Fellowship of the Ring—>Merry and Pippin are nearly eaten by a Huorn before being saved by Treebeard in the extended edition of The Two Towers.
    • Frodo sings "The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late" at the Prancing Pony in FOTR—>Bofur sings the same song in Rivendell in the extended edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
    • Wargs attack the Fellowship on the way to Moria in The Fellowship of the Ring—>Warg riders attack Rohan refugees on the way to Helm's Deep in The Two Towers.
    • Orcs pursue the Fellowship into Lothlorien before being killed by Elves in FOTR—>Orcs pursue Thorin and Company from the Lone-lands into Rivendell before being killed by Elves in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
    • Orc archers attack Fellowship in their boats on the River Anduin in FOTR—>Orcs attack Thorin and Company in their barrels as they escape to Lake-town in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
    • Winged Nazgul attacks Fellowship after said Orc archer attack before being shot by Legolas in FOTR—>Winged Nazgul nearly captures Frodo in Osgilliath before being shot by Faramir in The Two Towers.
  • Saved from Development Hell: Various filmmakers tried to adapt the books for decades. Aside from John Boorman's aborted version, the likes of Walt Disney, Al Brodax, Forrest Ackerman, Denis O'Dell (who considered Richard Lester to direct, but instead approached David Lean, Stanley Kubrick and Michelangelo Antonioni) and George Lucas were interested in directing. The rights passed through the hands of several studios, having been briefly leased to Rembrandt Films before being sold perpetually to United Artists. In 1976, UA passed the rights to to Fantasy Films.
    • Peter Jackson first discussed adapting the book in 1995, started writing and storyboarding in 1997 and began production in 1999. And this was after it went from Miramax to New Line Cinema.
  • Role Reprise: Jed Brophy portrays the Orc Sharku and other random orcs in the The Lord of the Rings, the Dwarf Nori in The Hobbit, and the Orc Vrath in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
  • Separated-at-Birth Casting: Sean Bean and David Wenham, who portray Boromir and Faramir, look very convincing as brothers.
  • Shoot the Money: The entire trilogy embodies this. In fact, Peter Jackson confesses he pursued a project of epic scale because he needed to find continued use for the high-end graphics stations he'd purchased for The Frighteners and things took off from there. The level of detail put into the, well, everything is astonishing, and it shows. Every penny of its $285 million budget is right up on the screen.
    • Minor subversion in one scene, mentioned in the extended edition DVD for Return of the King: Still in Rohan, Éowyn offers a cup to Aragorn, and he drinks from it. Miranda Otto, along with the costume designers, lamented that the dress she wore as Éowyn for that scene was fantastic and intricate, particularly the skirt and sleeves - in a scene shooting the actors from the chest upwards.
    • The trilogy actually has a lot of subversions. For example Bernard Hill noted that Théoden's breastplate had beautiful, intricate stitching and details—on the inside, where only he and wardrobe ever saw it. However, it served to make him feel like a king.
  • Shrug of God: Whether Sam killed Shelob or not.
  • So My Kids Can Watch: Viggo Mortensen hadn't read the books when he was offered the part of Aragorn and primarily accepted because his son was a huge fan of the series and convinced him the role would be worth it.
  • Spared by the Cut: The theatrical cut of The Return of the King leaves out Saruman and Gríma's appearance, leaving them effectively imprisoned in Orthanc. The extended edition restores the scene, in which Gríma kills Saruman before being killed by Legolas. Gothmog's death during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields is also omitted from the theatrical cut; he's last seen backing away from the Rohirrim charge.
  • Star-Making Role: The trilogy gave massive career boosts to a few of the cast members.
  • Stunt Casting: Word of God is that Liv Tyler playing Arwen was this - as they wanted a Hollywood star in one role (as Uma Thurman had to turn it down due to her pregnancy). As such the marketing for the first film heavily promoted Arwen as if she was a major character.
  • Talking to Himself:
    • Lawrence Makoare has a scene between himself as Gothmog and himself as the Witch-King. Both of whom are voiced by Andy Serkis, making it two different versions of this trope.
    • The Gollum & Sméagol conversations are In-Universe sort of this trope.
  • Throw It In:
    • In a scene at the beginning of the first movie, when Gandalf visits Bilbo at Bag End, Ian McKellen bumps into the low hanging lanterns, which was expected. Then he turns quickly, and whacks his head on a wooden beam in the low ceiling, which was not expected. Since it looked just fine and also pretty funny, it was kept as the final cut.
    • During the Flight to the Ford, a tree branch snags Arwen's face. A few minutes later, at the Ford itself, Arwen has a fresh scratch on her cheek.
    • Aragorn and Lurtz's fight is a lot more real than intended. Lurtz's actor threw the wrong knife instead of the safe prop, which made it quite lucky that Mortensen successfully deflected it. Lurtz's actor also could not see well in the costume, so many of his blows actually connected, which prompted Mortensen to go stiff on his own blows.
    • At first Viggo Mortensen couldn't get the cry of grief and anger right at the scene when the trio think Merry and Pippin were killed. In the final take, he kicked a helmet and broke two of his toes. That's why he screamed and fell to his knees. The scream actually fit the mood perfectly, and was the one used in the final cut.
    • In Helm's Deep, the army of orcs stomping their feet and weapons before battle was entirely unscripted. It all happened because one of the actors playing the orcs got bored and began stomping his feet and weapons. Then other orc-actors began to do the same thing. Before long, they all did it, which led to Peter Jackson throwing it in.
    • Contrary to popular belief, the flag of Rohan being ripped away from its pole was intentional, but the tragically poetic way it blew away in the wind was just a happy accident due to it being on top of a mountain with a consistently stiff breeze.
    • The "rat catcher's cottage" in Minas Tirith. The build team interpreted one of Alan Lee's drawings of a building as having a dead rat hanging in the window, and based an entire house around the idea that the Official Gondorian Rat Catcher lived there. Alan Lee maintains he didn't have something so specific in mind when he did the sketch, but then he realized that it was completely logical: after all, a medieval city the size of Minas Tirith would have a rat problem.
    • John Rhys-Davies couldn't be bothered to learn most of the fight choreography. According to Dominic Monaghan, fight scenes involving John were along the lines of John telling the stunt men to charge in a certain order and hitting them in his own way as they closed in.
    • According to Sean Bean, the famous "One does not simply walk into Mordor" line was a last minute addition to the script. Due to this, he had no time to rehearse the line, so he started the line by reading from it in his lap, which can be seen by how his face is aimed to his lap and his eyes are covered to give the impression he was in thought. This take was used due to how well he managed to use it to his advantage.
  • Tourist Bump: The movies were all shot in New Zealand, which quickly became known as 'Home of Middle-earth' following the first movie's release. The country still has many tourist attractions related to the movies.
  • Underage Casting: Frodo is 33 at the start of the story and is said to still look as such, even when he turns 50. Elijah Wood was 20 when he was cast. A Justified Trope, as possession of the One Ring slows aging, and he has it for pretty much the entire saga.
  • Wag the Director: Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler both requested that the script be re-written so they could speak more of the Elvish language.
  • What Could Have Been: See subpage at last.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: The trilogy was shot like that. Even as the cameras kept rolling, scenes and plots were being rewritten again and again - some versions of the script reached not just the double digits, but went up to 40 and above. Actors frequently got their lines only the night before the shooting and major revisions resulted in whole scenes being re-shot. Ironically, the writers insist that each iteration was ultimately closer to Tolkien's work and even stated that some of the remaining controversial changes might have been gone too, had they not reached a deadline by then.

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This book and film series has named the following tropes: