Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies are nothing short of masterpieces. This is in strong contrast to what he did with his Hobbit trilogy, which, for the most part, was a mess due to unnecessary changes and additions to J.R.R. Tolkien's original work.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, on the other hand, maintained thematic consistency with the original novels. But that doesn't mean that the filmmakers didn't change things. In fact, some of their alterations were met with disapproval and even anger. After all, these books have been beloved for decades. Without further ado, here are 10 Of The Most Controversial Changes Made To LOTR From The Original Books.
10. Cutting Tom Bombadil
Without a doubt, the most famous character exclusion in the movies was the character of Tom Bombadil. In the novel for The Fellowship of the Ring, Bombadil is depicted as a mysterious creature who lives in the valley east of The Shire. He was known for defeating ancient forces by hardly lifting a finger as well as singing completely nonsensical songs. It's quite possible that he's the eldest character in the entire series. And for some reason, this allowed him to not be influenced by the Ring.
In the novel, he assists Frodo and the other Hobbits. But, the character literally does nothing to advance the story. He's just an odd character Frodo meets along the way. Still, fans were outraged that he wasn't included.
9. The Inclusion Of Elves At Helm's Deep
The epic battle of Helm's Deep in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is one of the highlights of the franchise. However, it's significantly different in the novel. First and foremost, other than Legolas, there were no Elves present at the battle. Elrond and Galadriel sending an army of Elves to help the people of Rohan was made up for the film. The filmmakers even initially planned to send Arwen with them, in order to briefly reunite her with Aragorn. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
Fans were so unhappy about this choice because it made the Elves as little more than nameless soldiers to get lost in battle. It also slightly diminished Aragorn and Theoden's achievement when the battle was won.
8. Pitting Gandalf Against The Witch King
In the novel for Return of the King, Gandalf and the head of the Black Riders, The Witch King, never have a face-off. However, in the extended addition for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the two meet during the Battle of Minas Tirith.
Although Gandalf has taken on the Balrog and multiple orcs at once, he seems to struggle with The Witch King. In fact, The Witch King uses his magic to shatter Gandalf's staff and knock him off of his horse. The face-off ends anti-climatically due to the arrival of the Army of Rohan.
Even though it was cut from the theatrical release, the moment irritated fans who knew that Gandalf wouldn't have been such a weakling with The Witch King.
7. The Eye Of Sauron
One of the most memorable images from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is the ever-watchful Eye of Sauron that rested above the tower of Barad-dûr. However, in the books, there isn't literally a fiery eye on top of the dark tower in Mordor... The eye described in the book is actually a metaphor for Sauron's vast reach in Middle-earth. In fact, Tolkien's novels actually imply that Sauron has a physical body and that he needs the Ring to win the battle, not to regain his corporeal form.
Some fans really didn't like that the films made this metaphor literal. However, a film is a visual medium and there needed to be a physical version of the main antagonist presented on screen.
6. The Absence Of Glorfindel
The decision to leave out Glorfindel may not have been as controversial as the absence of Tom Bombadil, but it's worth mentioning. In the novel for The Fellowship of the Ring, it's the Legolas-like Elf, Glorfindel, who rescues Frodo after he's been stabbed on Weathertop. However, in the film, it's Arwen who gets the big action sequence. Many believe that this was a strong change, but it didn't mean that Glorfindel needed to get cut entirely.
In the novel, Glorfindel was even considered to join the Fellowship on their journey to Mount Doom. But, alas, this never came to pass.
5. The Scale Of The War Of The Ring
In the films, the War of the Ring consists of three main battles, with a sprinkling of smaller attacks throughout. But in the books, the War of the Ring is far more wide-spread. Although they're not always seen, there are far more significant battles across Middle-earth. They include the battle of Mirkwood, Dale, and Lothlorien.
Naturally, the films couldn't depict all of these battles since they would likely take the audience away from the main characters. However, some fans wish that these battles could have been mentioned in order for the war to feel even more grandiose.
4. Cutting Most Of The Songs And Poems
It was a major disappoint to fans of Tolkien's novels to find out that the vast majority of the songs and poems were cut from the film adaptations. Although others believe that the songs and poems would have taken away from the seriousness of the movies, it was a major departure from the books. After all, they are laced with Tolkien's original songs.
Luckily, both the theatrical and extended additions have one or two songs that honor the originals. Some of the poetry was even worked into the dialogue and into the musical scores that play in the background.
3. Legolas And The Sheild
Even some of the filmmakers knew that this particular addition would have had J.R.R. Tolkien fuming. The scene in question is from The Two Towers. During The Battle of Helms Deep, Legolas grabs a shield and surfs it down a staircase while firing arrows at his enemies. It was a cool action sequence that quickly brought Legolas down to the main battle in order to help his friends. Additionally, it gave the character a very memorable stunt during the battle's screen time which tended to favor Aragorn. However, it wasn't true to the realities of Middle-earth or in keeping with the tone of the novels. In fact, it was kind of silly.
2. Not Giving Closure To Saruman
In the theatrical release of The Two Towers, the last time we see Saruman is when he locks himself away in his tower after the Ents take out Isengard. When Gandalf, Aragorn and the gang arrive in Isengard at the beginning of The Return of the King, Gandalf simply remarks that they will leave Saruman there for good. This is terribly anti-climactic, given that Saruman caused a great deal of trouble in the first two films. He was also Sauron's right-hand man.
At least in the extended addition for The Return of the King, we got to see a definitive end for the character. But it was different than the one seen in the book.
1. Removing The Battle Of The Shire
Those who weren't big Lord of the Rings fans felt that The Return of the King had too many endings. Well, in the novel there was at least one more. When Frodo and the other Hobbits returned to The Shire, they found that it was under the control of Saruman and Grima Wormtongue. With the assistance of the other Hobbits, Frodo is able to defeat the White Wizard permanently.
It's totally understandable why this was left out of the film. After all, it was pretty anti-climactic after the fall of Sauron. However, it did seem more realistic to have some of Sauron's troops still willing to fight even after his demise.