The length of the theatrical version of Lord of the Rings is nothing to sneeze at. Peter Jackson’s Academy Award winning fantasy epic isn't just one of the best stories to hit the silver screen, it’s one of the longest as well. The runtime of all three Lord of the Rings movies combined is just over 9 hours. The extended editions are even longer clocking in at almost 12 hours.
It might seem like there wasn’t much left on the cutting room floor with numbers like that, but that’s definitely not the case. There are tons of great scenes that seemingly should’ve been included in the theatrical versions of the movie, but were saved for the extended editions instead. Even more surprising, there are scenes that were conceived, or even shot in their entirety, that didn’t make their way into either version of the trilogy.
Some of these scenes are great, others would have just added a necessary detail to the plot or fleshed out the world, and most are a mixture of both. But they're all sequences that, for one reason or other, should have been in the main trilogy, even if they would've padded out that runtime even more than normal.
So without further ado, here are 15 Deleted Lord of the Rings Scenes You Won’t Believe Were Cut.
15 The Scouring of the Shire
It makes a certain amount of sense why this pivotal scene from the books didn't really make the theatrical cut, having only been seen in a mirror of Galadriel as a “possible future.” No movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings has ever seen the hobbits return from their adventures to find their home in chaos and under attack. This important moment from the source material not making it into the extended editions, however, is a little strange.
It’s a cleaner ending to The Return of the King if everything winds down after the Ring is destroyed, but cleaner doesn’t always mean better. The Scourging of the Shire manages to show how far Frodo and crew have come when they return home. Fighting for the Shire might be anticlimactic after literally saving the world, but it's the last and most important step in the hobbits’ journey as heroes. It proves their meddle and heroism one final time.
14 Theodred’s Funeral
Theodred’s funeral is a very short scene for a very minor character. Though his death is important in Two Towers, most casual viewers probably don’t even know who Theodred is, and don’t even realize that he's only the biological son of King Theoden. (Theoden is Eowyn and Eomer's uncle, not their father.)
For all this, it's still a lovely and heartbreaking scene of grief. Which is important, as expressions of grief are strangely missing in a war epic like Lord of the Rings.
As much as it is a funeral for Theodred, it is really an acting spotlight for his cousin, Eowyn. Miranda Otto is superb as she delivers a funeral dirge for her departed prince. The music of Lord of the Rings doesn’t get enough credit, and Otto’s rendition of Eowyn’s lament is heartbreakingly beautiful. Thankfully, it can be found in the extended editions, but for such a small and well-acted scene that so adds much to the atmosphere of the movie, it should've never been left on the cutting room floor.
13 Frodo and Sam Disguising Themselves as Orcs
In the theatrical cut of Return of the Kings, Frodo and Sam kind of simply walk into Mordor, probably much to the ghost of Boromir's chagrin. It's fine a leap in logic. It does take them three rather lengthy films to get to Mordor anyway. In the extended editions, their trek into the dangerous land is explained, in a great and tense sequence where they disguise themselves as orcs.
The trope of the heroes dressing up as the villains and infiltrating their ranks is something that has been seen in everything from The Wizard of Oz to Star Wars. It might be familiar, but it works. This deleted scene is not only a source of great anixety, as the pair are nearly caught and ripped apart by the orcs, but it’s also another great example of the literal weight on Frodo’s shoulders. He nearly collapses at one point and almost ruins the whole ruse for them.
12 Aragon Singing About Beren and Luthien
This is the second musical moment on this list, and despite Howard Shore’s magnificent work on the trilogy, it'll be the last. This quick deleted scene from Fellowship of the Ring doesn’t add much new information, so we can certainly wrap our heads around the decision to ship it off to the extended editions. It still manages to be one of Viggo Mortensen’s best scenes in the movie -- and perhaps the trilogy at large.
Aragorn wakes Frodo up singing the ancient tale of Beren and Luthien, a human and an elf who fell in love. The parallels to Aragorn and Arwen should be obvious, and they're clearly painted on Mortensen’s face.
Lord of the Rings finds other ways to get into Aragorn’s head and emotional state, especially concerning his relationship with Arwen. But this scene is so economical and perfectly understated that it's a shame that it wasn’t kept in the movie somehow.
11 Galadriel’s Gifts
Galadriel does hand out gifts in the theatrical version of Fellowship; it’s just greatly reduced from what is found in the books and the extended edition of the film. The theatrical version of the film has the most important gift, narratively, The Light of Earendil, and not much else.
It’s pretty obvious why it's shortened in the theatrical version. The movie is already rather long at that point, and the meeting with Galadriel occurs just after Gandalf’s “death.” It wouldn’t seem totally appropriate to hand out presents while in mourning.
Galadriel isn’t anywhere close to Santa Claus and always talks like someone has died anyway, so it should’ve worked. While the theatrical version mainly focuses on her understanding of Frodo, the extended edition makes clear with the other gifts that her understanding extends outside the ring bearer. The gifts add important foreshadowing for the rest of the trilogy, as well as elevate Galadriel’s status as an all-knowing and important figure.
10 Eomer Finds Eowyn on the Battlefield
Let’s be honest: Karl Urban’s Eomer gets the real short-shift in the theatrical cut of the trilogy. He's present and accounted for, sure, but he doesn’t really do anything. Instead it's Eowyn who, for very good reason, becomes the face of Rohan.
The extended editions give the character his due. No deleted scene is more important for him than the moment where Eomer finds his sister on the battlefield, seemingly lifeless. Otto’s portrayal grief at Theodred’s funeral is moving, but Urban’s terrified screams as he finds his sister, who he didn’t even know was at the battle, is just gut-wrenching.
Everything has a happy ending. Eowyn survives the trilogy, and there's not much more that comes of Eomer’s horrific discovery besides momentary madness. Still, it's a masterclass of acting by Urban and another example of the very human toll that the war has on the characters of the epic.
9 Arwen’s First Meeting with Aragon
This is the rare scene that, like the Scourging of the Shire, didn’t make into any version of the films. It was glimpsed in a teaser trailer for The Two Towers, but nothing more happened with it. A lot of Arwen footage was exorcised from the second movie but this one feels particularly significant.
Viggo Mortensen and Liv Tyler manage to do a lot with very little in building Arwen and Aragorn’s tragic love story. It’s clear from their very first scene that there is deep and abiding love between them. It’s still completely unknown to film fans how the two met, however, which would have made this cut scene so helpful.
Of course, it also helps that Arwen and Aragorn are one of the best cinematic love stories of all time. Any chance to spend more time with them and their story would've been a welcome opportunity. It might've slowed Two Towers down a bit, but we don't imagine many would've complained about seeing more of these two.
8 The Passing of the Elves
The sequence is one of the most gorgeous in the entire trilogy, and any version of it. The moment occurs when Frodo and Sam see elves for the first time as a group of them is exiting Middle-earth. The Passing features one of the most soothing and powerful pieces of music on the soundtrack, and it adds so much to the world.
While the heart of the scene is in Sam’s excitement over seeing elves, it’s truly a tragic moment for everyone. The Passing of the Elves, while pretty to look at, is the first real hint that there is something seriously wrong in Middle-earth in the movies.
It’s a sign of all the drama (and misery) to come from the rest of the story, but it's rendered in a breathtaking way. The Elves are leaving Middle-earth, and with them, a little less hope is being sucked out of the tale.
7 Arwen at Helm’s Deep
After being a relatively major character in Fellowship of the Ring, Arwen pretty much disappears from Two Towers. Liv Tyler has a few scenes in the middle chapter, but most are either flashbacks or dream sequences. The original plan was for Arwen to be involved much more in the second film. In fact, the first cut of the battle of Helm’s Deep had Arwen participating, in a drastic departure from the books.
It was ultimately completed removed from the canon of the movies. (Although in one quick shot from the movie, Liv Tyler can be glimpsed in the background of Helm's Deep.) The rumored reasons for Arwen being removed from the battle are unconfirmed and wide-ranging, but the consensus is that most book fans didn’t care for the change.
Despite those fans' opinions, it still would've been an interesting dynamic to add into the big battle. The elves are already a part of Helm’s Deep in the movies anyway. To have the elves come to Aragorn’s aid without Arwen almost seems silly. It’s especially weird that it’s not even included in the extended Two Towers, since most of the footage was filmed.
6 Frodo Becoming Gollum
There's no scene that exists (or was even planned) where Frodo literally turned into Gollum. This scrapped moment occurred as a dream sequence on Faramir’s part, and it was supposed to happen during in The Two Towers. When Faramir was lured in by the ring, he was evidently supposed to receive a vision of Frodo in a Gollum-like state that would've turned him away and brought him to his senses.
In the theatrical and extended version of the film, Faramir is still drawn in by the ring (like his brother) but he manages to stop himself from making the same mistake. The Gollum vision is missing, which is a real shame, because it sounds like it could've been the best part of the sequence.
If included, the transformation would've immediately underlined the differences between Faramir and Boromir. It might have been startling, but it would have been undeniably memorable.
5 Aragon Fighting Sauron
Originally, the plan was that in the final battle of the climatic end to the trilogy, Aragorn was going to face off against the man-like form of Sauron. Similar to the start of the trilogy, The Return of the King would see Sauron clash swords with a King of Men once more. Only this time, he would lose.
The idea was eventually scrapped, as it was considered too big of a departure from the books. The remnants of this scene can still be found in both versions of Return of the King, however. Aragorn still has a big duel at the Gates of Mordor, it’s just with a CGI troll, not Sauron. This is the definition of lame.
The faithfulness to the source material is a large part of what made The Lord of the Rings so special. The films defied standard movie conventions with regularity because of their emphasis on the books. Yet a battle with Sauron trumps one with a troll, every single time.
4 The Mouth of Sauron
Sauron might have been removed from the entire final battle, but his representative is in the extended edition of Return of the King. In one the creepiest (and most impressive) displays of special effects in the trilogy, The Mouth of Sauron comes to talk to the remaining Fellowship and inform them of Frodo’s “death." It serves as prologue for the huge brawl to come, but it's still a very important step.
The scene could be described as a little out-of-character for Aragorn. Upon hearing the news about Frodo, Aragorn loses his temper and cuts the head off of The Mouth, while the latter is unarmed and in the middle of a sentence. The character is evil personified, but it's a shockingly brutal moment from the noble Aragorn.
It’s because The Mouth of Sauron is wonderfully disgusting, though, that the scene should have been kept in the final cut. The delivery of the (fake) news about Frodo is far more effective in the extended edition because of who it's coming from. Plus, even if Aragorn’s behavior is slightly out of the norm, it's still pretty awesome.
3 Faramir and Eowyn’s Love Story
If there is any character in the film trilogy who gets a shorter end of the stick than Eomer, it’s Faramir. Faramir, like his future brother-in-law, is present for the theatrical cut of the movies, but he’s not doing a whole lot. The extended editions, however, add in a very important slice of Faramir’s story: his romance with Eowyn.
In the theatrical cut, Faramir and Eowyn still end up together, but it mostly happens off-screen. The extended editions tells the full story in its romantic glory. Return of the King is a stuffed movie (3 hours and 21 minutes theatrically), so it’s not surprising that this ended up on the cutting room floor. But Eowyn is such a great wonderful character, and Faramir such a vital one, that it should've been added to the runtime of the movie anyway.
Faramir and Eowyn’s romance gives more context to their characters and it manages to match (or even surpass) the pairing of Aragorn and Arwen in many respects. Return of the King has several happy endings, but this one should’ve been more than footnote.
2 Boromir’s Backstory
Faramir’s role might be greatly reduced in the theatrical trilogy, but he is still a decent guy. Boromir, despite his heroic fatal sacrifice, comes off as an impulsive monster in Fellowship. He would've stayed that way too, if not for the deleted flashback sequence that can be found in The Two Towers: Extended Edition. In the scene, we see Boromir get sent to the Council of Elrond and how very little his father, Denthor, cares for his little brother.
This deleted scene explains so much not only about Boromir, but his entire family, in a matter of minutes. It’s the perfect introduction to Faramir, and it does wonders to redeem Boromir, even if its done posthumously. The flashback humanizes the character in a palpable way and makes his death retroactively more tragic.
It's a terrific bit of acting, both by Sean Bean as Boromir and John Noble as Denethor, but it's really an essential moment to the understanding of the brotherly duo. It was an essential moment that, because Boromir or Faramir weren’t deemed important enough, was left out of the theatrical cut.
1 Saruman’s Death
For an amazing and charismatic villain, the theatrical cut of Lord of the Rings does Saruman very little justice. He’s a huge figure in the first two films, but then he pretty much disappears from the narrative. This is because his big death scene in Return of the King was deleted and saved for the extended edition.
The scene itself isn't the most magnificent one. It seems to take a disturbing amount of pleasure in killing the wizard, when he's ultimately a tragic figure. It’s still Christopher Lee in the role, though, and the moment of his death is incredibly important to the trilogy, so what gives?
The Lord of the Rings doesn’t feel complete without knowing what happened to Saruman. He’s a major villain of the story, secondary only to Sauron. He might have been defeated in Two Towers, but Gandalf's proof positive that wizards can always bounce back. To not include Saruman’s death scene in the theatrical version of Return of the King was a huge mistake, and easily the biggest oversight in a trilogy full of deleted or abridged moments.
What is your favorite deleted scene from Lord of the Rings? Sound off in the comments!