Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy is by and far one of the greatest adaptations ever brought to the big screen. The massive scope, incredible performances, fantastic writing, and meticulous attention to detail helped to craft a trilogy of films that have not only stood the test of time, but paid proper respect to its source material.
Indeed, it is rare to find an adaptation quite so loyal to its source material as Jackson's books. However, despite their best efforts, many Lord of the Rings fans were let down by the films, grieving the loss of many classic elements of the novels that never made it into the films. Here are the top 7 things from the books we would have loved to have seen on screen.
Many minor characters were cut from The Lord of the Rings, but one of the more noticeable omissions is Beregond, a Guard of the Citadel in Minas Tirith. In Return of the King, Beregond played a vital role in the character development of Pippin after he is inducted into the tower guard. The two become good friends, a role passed on to Faramir in the films, with whom Beregond was close friends in the novel.
When Faramir was to be burned alive by his father, it was Beregond, not Gandalf, who Pippin first sought out for aid. Beregond proceeded to abandon his post (a crime that warranted a death sentence) and attacked the men guarding the room where Faramir was being kept, clearing the way for Gandalf and Pippin to reach and save him. In the novel, it was he that carried Faramir to the House of Healing and stood watch over him as he healed. While he is not an essential character to the story, his noble presence is missed in the film, as is his warm friendship with Pippin which added some character development to the young hobbit's story arc.
Yes, werewolves. They are only briefly mentioned by Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring but they have a larger presence in the lore of Middle-Earth. Servants of Morgoth, Sauron himself apparently lead armies of them into battle in the First Age. In Gandalf's own words: "not all of Sauron's servants and chattels are wraiths; there are orcs and trolls, there are wargs and werewolves."
One can only imagine what Peter Jackson could have done with an army of vicious werewolves facing down the armies of men, but alas, it was not to be. As they were not a vital part of the novels one imagines they were not a priority for Jackson in his vision for his epic trilogy.
5 Sam's Singing
At times, Samwise Gamgee's portrayal in The Lord of the Rings can come across as a little one note. He is a loyal friend to Frodo, with a good heart, and a good sense for gardening. However, in the novels, Sam has a talent that brings a touch more depth to his character. Many times throughout the trilogy, Sam composes poems, or songs as they are other times referred to.
These compositions appear multiple times within the trilogy. They first appear in Fellowship of the Ring, first when Sam writes a poem about Gandalf's fireworks, then again when Sam and his friends stumble upon petrified trolls leftover from Bilbo's adventures in The Hobbit. Sam sings the poem to an old tune of which J.R.R. Tolkien actually made a recording. Sam's affinity for poetry and song returns towards the end of Return of the King, in which Sam sings a hopeful verse to himself in his darkest hour as he ascends Cirith Ungol searching for Frodo. It's a beautiful character moment as the ever-optimistic Sam must bolster his own spirits through music.
4 Halbarad and the Grey Company
Aragorn's Dúnedain heritage is only briefly mentioned in the extended edition of The Two Towers, in which it is revealed that he is a member of a near extinct race of men blessed with long life. And this is a shame because one of the more interesting parts of Return of the King centers around these kinsmen. In the film, Elrond meets Aragorn in Theoden's camp, urging him to take up his reforged sword to claim the allegiance of the Army of the Dead.
In the book, this transpired in a very different manner. Halbarad, one of the last of the Dúnedain and a secret protector of the Shire, receives a message from Galadriel calling for aid for Aragorn. Halbarad proceeds to round up thirty Dúnedain rangers which become known as the Grey Company. These, along with two of Elrond's sons, proceed to ride out to meet Aragorn just before he decides to confront the Army of the Dead. Halbarad delivers to Aragorn a banner made for him by Arwen, and the entire Grey Company accompanies Aragorn into the mountain to recruit the Dead. In the film it's the Dead that save the day in the Battle of Minas Tirith, but in the books the entire Grey Company charges in by Aragorn's side. It's an epic end for the last of the Dúnedain and it's a shame it was left out of the film.
3 Bill the Pony's Backstory
Sam's pony Bill was featured briefly in The Fellowship of the Ring, but it was just a passing reference. Bill's role in the book was much more fleshed out. In the novel, Sam buys Bill from a horrible old man (also named Bill) who horribly mistreated and starved Bill. Sam purchases him for much more than he is worth and slowly nurses him back to health. The bond between the two is incredibly heartwarming and sweet. However, much like in the film, Sam is forced to release Bill into the wild as they prepare to enter the Mines of Moria.
However, at the end of Return of the King, Sam is reunited with Bill, discovering that it had returned to it's former owner. Bill and Sam are reunited, Bill's owner gets kicked by Bill, and Sam rides Bill on his triumphant return to The Shire, bringing everything full circle.
2 Tom Bombadil
The most missed character from The Lord of the Rings novels, Tom Bombadil would have made a great addition to the films. In the movies, the hobbits make a quick journey from the Shire to Bree, in the books it was a bit more complicated. First, they are almost devoured by Old Man Willow, a tree that draws unfortunate victims into its roots (this is referenced in the movie version of The Two Towers). Then, they find themselves trapped in barrows by malevolent Wights. Both times, Tom Bombadil comes to the rescue.
An incredibly fun and curious character, Tom Bombadil is a cheery and kind old man who is far more than he seems. Older than any other being on Middle-Earth, perhaps older than the Valar themselves, Tom is infinitely wise and powerful, and yet seems to have no real concerns of the War of the Ring, content to live happily with his wife Goldberry presiding over the small forest he calls home. The ring doesn't even seem to have an effect on him. It is even suggested that the Ring should be kept safe by him, but Gandalf insists he'd probably lose it. Bombadil is an incredibly charming and memorable character and he would have made for a great addition to Jackson's trilogy.
1 The Scourging of the Shire
Did you think the movies had too many endings? Well then you're in for a surprise if you read the novels. After the dust has settled in Middle-Earth, the Hobbits return home to find the Shire taken over by a hostile force lead by a mysterious man named "Sharky". This man is soon revealed to be none other than the disgraced wizard Saruman. Our heroes are then forced to draw forth their swords once again to lead a rebellion against Saruman to take back their home.
It's easy to see why this was not included in the film. At a massive three hour run time, the Scourging of the Shire would have added what could feel like a second climax to the film. However, it's absence is still missed. Not only did it provide a satisfying ending for Saruman and his lackey Wormtongue, it provided the ending of the character arcs for all four hobbits. By finding their home in peril and having to fight to save it, we truly see the toll this war has taken on the once innocent hobbits and the changes they've undergone. It also further justifies Frodo's decision to leave for the West, as the home he once knew is not quite the same, even after they save it. Sam, Merry, and Pippin are all hailed as heroes, but Frodo is lost in the shuffle and slowly withdraws. Without this portion of the story, it is harder to understand the sheer emotional damage Frodo has experienced and continues to experience. It's a great ending to a great book, and the movies are missing something without it.