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  • Accidental Innuendo: This line from Sméagol definitely counts.
    "Give it to us raaaw and wriggling!"
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Wormtongue is shown shedding a tear as Saruman addresses his assembled army before it marches against Helm's Deep. Is he overwhelmed at its size, or is he regretful that he may have doomed his people to slaughter?
  • Award Snub:
    • The film was the most neglected of the original trilogy at the Academy Awards, getting only six nominations (winning Best Visual Effects and Sound Editing), half of the eleven of The Fellowship of the Ring and the least of the five up for Best Picture - which went to Chicago, which while well regarded is nowhere as popular as The Lord of the Rings. The biggest outrage was for both Peter Jackson being passed over for Best Director, and ignoring Andy Serkis' mesmerizing work as Gollum, with his chances almost certainly being hurt by motion capture bias from the Academy.
    • Initially, Howard Shore's score was deemed ineligible for the Academy Awards because of a new rule which stated that scores featuring themes used in a previous movie were not eligible for submission. This rule was very unpopular, and was quickly abandoned. The score became eligible again, though it did not receive a nomination.
    • "Gollum's Song" wasn't nominated for Best Song.
  • "Common Knowledge": The line "Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!" is often held up by fans as a glaring example of Artistic License – History, under the reasoning that orcs in a medieval high fantasy world shouldn't know what restaurants are. In actuality, restaurants have been around for far longer — the earliest record of one dates back to 512 BC in ancient Egypt, and they were indeed present in medieval Europe in the form of inns and taverns.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Uruk ring-leader decapitates a hungry orc who tries to eat Merry and Pippin. That's quite frightening, until he yells "Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!" and the other orcs and uruks starts ripping the corpse apart within seconds.
  • Even Better Sequel: The first movie was already a Genre Turning Point, and took everything that worked in the original film and cranked it way up. Many find it the best in the trilogy, and it's indeed the highest rated on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • Fan Nickname: Fans of the novels who were furious with Faramir's Adaptational Villainy in this movie call him "Filmamir" or "Farfromthebookamir."
  • Fridge Logic: The sequence where Wormtongue is Instantly Proven Wrong when he proclaims, on the tower of Isengard, that there is no force large enough to take Helm's Deep really makes no sense in hindsight. He's last seen running away from Theoden's wrath, so he presumably traveled to Saruman at least partly on horseback (let's face it: he ain't exactly the world's running champion). What were the tens of thousands of uruk-hai doing for him to have been so caught by surprise at their presence at Isengard? Playing hide and seek in perfect silence?
  • Harsher in Hindsight: When Aragorn introduces himself and his companions to Eomer, he mentions both his father and Gimli's, but only refers to Legolas as being from the woodland realm. After seeing what Thranduil was like in The Hobbit trilogy, it's entirely possible that Legolas might not want to be associated with his father.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Legolas riding the Uruk-hai shield like a surfboard becomes a lot funnier when you learn that Tolkien originally intended for Bilbo to kill Smaug in the earliest drafts of The Hobbit. How? Bilbo would have infiltrated Smaug's lair, then stabbed him through the bare spot in his chest with Sting (which went so deep it vanished completely), and then ride a golden bowl like a surfboard on the massive amount of blood pouring out of Smaug's belly before triumphantly exiting the mountain.
    • Peter Jackson joking about giving Treebeard his own spin-off detective show in the commentary ("He solves crimes!... Very slowly".) Then in The Hobbit trilogy Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch from Sherlock were both cast. So alternate universe Bilbo and Smaug have three seasons of a detective show!
    • Treebeard commenting that Saruman now has a mind of metal. Christopher Lee would later work with metal bands like Rhapsody of Fire and Manowar, as well as release two Concept Albums of his own: Charlemagne.
    • When Legolas is talking to Aragorn before the Battle of Helm's Deep, he refers to three hundred against ten thousand. It is a reference to Thermopolyae, where three hundred Spartans killed ten thousand Persians. David Wenham appeared in 300.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Show of hands for anyone, even if you know nothing about the books, who actually bought that Aragorn would be randomly killed off halfway through this film. Especially since we hadn't yet seen the dramatic shot of him pushing open the doors that was in all the ads.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Eowyn's stew. It's said that the One Ring could have been destroyed if it was dropped into it.
    • The Uruk-Hai who blows up the walls of Helms Deep. He's notably the only orc in the trilogy who Legolas does not kill with one shot.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Theoden's line, "You have no power here!" has become a memetic way to mock someone's real or perceived powerlessness, ignoring what happened next in the movie.
  • Narm Charm: "They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard!"note 
  • Older Than They Think: Combining Warrior Prince Éomer with Erkenbrand, the Rohan captain who leads The Cavalry at Helm's Deep (actually infantry) in the books, was first done in the Ralph Bakshi film.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Easterlings. In an army comprised mostly of ragged orcs, these highly disciplined, heavily armored human warriors marching to aid Sauron would certainly stand out. Unfortunately, this is the only scene where they receive any prominence; they are Demoted to Extra and given a few Freeze-Frame Bonus moments in the next film. Justified since most of them would be fighting the northern theater of the War of the Ring (i.e. the Battle of Dale).
  • Special Effect Failure: These start to pop up to the trained eye after repeated viewings:
    • While Gollum looks good, he is often poorly composited against the ground he is on, particularly during the final scene or when he is curled up after Faramir’s rangers beat him.
    • The epic final charge out of Helm’s Deep loses a bit of gravitas when one realizes that the horses are poorly composited onto a background that is visibly pixelated.
  • Values Dissonance: At the Battle of Helm's Deep, Théoden sends the women and children to hide in the caves... well, most of the children, at any rate. All boys able to bear a sword are conscripted for what is sure to be a suicide mission. At the opposite end of the spectrum, very elderly and feeble men are also drafted, per Théoden's orders, and one of them starts the battle early when, unable to hold his bow steady, he accidentally shoots an Uruk Hai warrior. Unsurprisingly, the boys and old men are implicitly slaughtered, while the able-bodied women of soldiering age, who, though also untrained, would at least stand a better chance of not being instantly killed, cower in the caves, completely unutilized. Aside from the fact that most modern audiences associate child soldiers with terrorists and warlords like Joseph Kony, were it not for the assistance of the Elven reinforcements and the eleventh hour arrival of Gandalf with Éomer and the Rohirrim, every last person at Helm's Deep would have been killed. And, with a niece like Éowyn, it's not like the idea of a sword-wielding woman is completely alien to him.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: The kid whom Aragorn gives a pep talk to before the battle of Helm's Deep is a boy, but he looks like a girl and has a very high voice.
  • Vindicated by History: For many years, it was regarded as the poster boy for Middle Child Syndrome in film trilogies, and as an excellent film by any standards, but one that mostly served as a link between the two better-regarded films either side of it. Since then, an increasing section of the fandom has begun to regard this as the The Empire Strikes Back of the series — something which embodies all the best aspects of the films, without being as rough around the edges as the first film, and without suffering some of the contested plot elements that were used to wrap up the overall storyline in the third film. It's probably never going to be universally regarded as an Even Better Sequel in the way that Empire is, but there are now a good number of fans who'll make the case for it being the best entry in the series, something that would have been once unthinkable.

     2002 Video Game 
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