Some of the most beloved stories of the last hundred years are ones linked to the elves, hobbits, dwarves, and wizards in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books. While the entirety of his Middle-earth collection might have found a place in your literature collection, it’s hard to argue that the most well-known of the franchise isn’t The Lord of the Rings trilogy. During this story, readers can watch the classic struggle of good versus evil in the midst of magic, mythical species, and epic battle scenes.
A detail that has boosted the fame of the The Lord of the Rings is indisputably Peter Jackson’s film adaptations that were released in the early 2000s. The trilogy instantly became distinguished as a work of art for filmgoers, and the billions of dollars it’s earned has cemented its successful status in the financial arena. As a fan favorite and a business endeavor, these movies very much paid off.
However, some people just can’t get behind the story elements that changed in their transitions from works of literature to epic movie creations, and to the credit of those book lovers, there are plenty of changes.
In fact, some of those modifications lead to poor representations of characters and scenes, and some even confused the story line so much that fans who exclusively latched onto the movies might be convinced of some very untrue ideas regarding Middle-earth and its occupants.
Here are the 15 Lord Of The Rings False Facts That Fooled Us All.
15 SAURON WAS NOT THE PRIMARY BAD GUY OF MIDDLE-EARTH
Let’s go ahead and dive into what could be the worst of these false facts by mentioning that there’s one evil presence in Middle-earth who outranks even Sauron, and that villain’s name is Morgoth. Sauron, in fact, is only Morgoth’s servant, and the reason Sauron is able to stand out as the main evil in The Lord of the Rings is that Morgoth has been overtaken and exists in the Void.
This finding might not seem too bad since Morgoth’s existence doesn’t negate Sauron’s looming doom over Middle-earth. Truthfully, if Sauron hadn’t been treated like the cream-of-the-crop villain, fans might not think anything strange about there having been a different enemy in the series. After all, Morgoth is primarily involved with other tales from Middle-earth, like The Silmarillion.
The problem arises, though, because fans of the films are led to infer that there’s no greater threat to Middle-earth than Sauron.
After sticking with a movie trilogy for years and about twelve hours of extended version DVDs, finding out that another— worse— guy came before Sauron feels like a betrayal.
14 THE RING IS NOT ALL PERSUASIVE
A main idea in the story is that the One Ring has a persuasive trait that anyone is almost doomed to fall under. The films start molding this idea in The Fellowship of the Ring when Bilbo proves that he’s been affected by the Ring— and even Gandalf won’t take it because he doesn’t trust himself with it.
Careful consideration of the films and the books contradicts this all-powerful notion, however, since characters get close to the Ring without it overpowering them. The obvious example is Sam, who carries the Ring for a space of time and has little qualm returning it to Frodo.
In the books, Faramir also doesn’t seem affected by the Ring, and during the films, Aragorn hears its call, but has the strength to curl Frodo’s fist around it.
Also recall that Merry, Pippin, and Legolas are in the Fellowship, and at no point do any of them hint that they’re considering taking the Ring. This isn’t even diving into the elves who have other rings of power, but remain good.
When cornered with a series of characters who don’t fall to the Ring’s influence, it’s clear that it isn’t ever-persuasive, no matter what the films say.
13 THE EAGLES WOULD HAVE BEEN SPOTTED
A theory exists to undermine the logic of the Fellowship traveling on foot to destroy the Ring in Mordor. What that theory boils down to is that all of the walking and danger could’ve been avoided if the eagles that fly in to save Frodo and Sam after the Ring’s destruction would have been utilized in the first place. Frodo could’ve flown to Mordor, dropped the Ring, then flown home.
This is an easy rationale to come to since the eagles are involved in an ex machina moment or two in the trilogy, but the logic is faulty. Given how well guarded the Black Gate is, and with the number of Nazgul flying across Mordor, any character who would’ve tried to enter into Mordor via eagle before the Ring was destroyed would’ve probably been caught— quickly.
The movies give the information to rationally infer that this plan wouldn’t work— like how long it takes the hobbits to cross Mordor— but by portraying the eagles as easy escapes, they equip viewers with a nonsensical conclusion without setting the record straight.
So, if you bought into this theory, you were convinced of yet another false LotR idea.
12 ELVES CAN’T JUST DECIDE TO BE MORTAL
If you got wrapped up in the Aragorn/Arwen romance in the movies, that’s reasonable. Their love is nearly tangible while they interact in Rivendell, and their reunion after the War of the Ring is worth a smile.
Arwen giving up her immortality to spend a lessened number of years with Aragorn also seems loving, but if you assumed that every elf has the option to forego immortality in this manner then you’ve been completely fooled.
Arwen can only choose this because of her lineage from Beren and Lúthien— a human and an elf who fall in love. Once that human, Beren, dies, Lúthien dies as well, and only because Mandos (a Ainu responsible for passing judgement) is touched by her grief is she given the choice to live as a mortal with her love.
Two elvish women, then, give up their immortality. One has to tug at Mandos’s heartstrings post-life, which makes the decision more complicated than just saying she wants to be mortal. The other follows in her ancestor’s footsteps, in that it’s only because she’s of human and elf lineage that she can make the choice.
Essentially, unless they appeal to Mandos or have that combined ancestry, an elf is always an elf.
11 THE END OF THE RING ISN’T THE END OF FIGHTING
You can’t logically argue that the end of the Ring equals the end of the movies since there are approximately six billion (give or take) ending scenes before The Return of the King wraps up.
If you’re a fan of the books, though, there’s one specific detail that the film adaptations overlook. In the movies, once Frodo has recovered, the hobbits go back to the Shire. All is pretty much well after their return until Frodo decides to leave to sail to the Grey Havens. In the books, however, the hobbits’ return is different.
When the hobbits get back to their beloved Shire, they find that remnants of evil have taken over their home under the guidance of a bitter Saruman. The tiny heroes have to rid the Shire of that dark force before reaching a happy ending.
It’s understandable that Peter Jackson would neglect to add this detail in the movies, given that it taints the utter moment of victory of Sauron’s fall. Still, it clouds the overall conclusion of the war by fooling the audience into thinking that everything is uphill from the moment that Sauron topples downward.
10 MORE DUNEDAIN ARE PRESENT DURING THE WAR
The word “Dúnedain” doesn’t come up too often in the films— or in the books, for that matter— but if you’ve concluded that they’re unimportant to the goings on of Middle-earth because of this then you’ve been misled.
Not only is this group of warriors responsible for generally watching over the lands, but they also make an appearance in the books before Aragorn goes into the Paths of the Dead to collect his not-quite-alive army. Additionally, the Northern Dúnedain are fighting near the Black Gate when Frodo succeeds in destroying the Ring.
In the end, if you concluded at any point that Aragorn is the only representative of the Dúnedain who takes part in this epic struggle to save the realm then your estimations were wrong, based largely on the limited examples of the group in the films, and even how rarely their name surfaces.
Never doubt again, though, that these warriors fight to defend and save Middle-earth’s inhabitants, just as their station as Dúnedain calls for.
9 THE WAR STRETCHES BEYOND THE SPECIFIED BATTLEFIELDS
There were plenty of wars that are noteworthy in the history of Middle-earth, and the War of the Ring is just one of many. This limited scope makes sense for The Lord of the Rings trilogy since this war is the focus of the plot. Except for having a flashback to Isildur’s war and failure, every shown battle takes place from the moment Frodo gets the Ring.
Still, there are skirmishes left unaddressed in the films, and the potential result of this weeding out of book moments is that the things that happen in the movies feel like the only things that happen in the story—and that’s not the case.
Gandalf specifically mentions other areas in the books that are invested in the war, ones you don’t witness in the films. Mirkwood, for instance, is a territory he notes as being linked to the war, but all movie fans see of Mirkwood are its prince and his company until the prequel Hobbit movies.
Many places are touched by the War of the Ring, so if you assumed only the handful of areas covered in the movies are involved in the struggle, you were wrong.
8 ARWEN IS MUCH LESS SIGNIFICANT THAN YOU MIGHT THINK
There are three key female characters in The Lord of the Rings, and each one stands out in the films. One of these is Arwen, the elf who Aragorn loves. While she might not be the first to charge on a battlefield, she’s still strong, and is a key piece of the story from the moment she helps rescue Frodo by rushing him to Rivendell.
Except, she doesn’t actually rush him to Rivendell. In the book, that rescue is at the hands of Glorfindel, an elf who has no dialogue in the films and only shows up as scenic props from time to time.
Fortunately, though, Arwen still has significance according to the films, like when she saves Aragorn after he falls off a cliff in The Two Towers. Except, Aragorn doesn’t fall off a cliff in the books, so the rescue never happens.
Basically, she’s a minor character in the books who’s enhanced in the movies to seem crucial in a reversal of what happens to Glorfindel. No doubt, Arwen is significant in the books, and there’s no argument here that she isn’t involved with the story-- she just isn’t as intricate as the films let on.
7 SAURON WOULDN’T HAVE JUST BEEN AN EYE
If you only know of Sauron from the movie then you probably associate him with a big burning eye that is elevated in the sky from its perch in Mordor. However, if you’re going strictly by the books then that image is inaccurate.
While you might read about Sauron’s eye in the books, the idea is more of a metaphor than something literal, and readers are even led to believe that, near the end of the story, Saruman has a physical form that includes more than just one eye.
This vision you have of an actual eye extended above Mordor is Peter Jackson’s creation since he chose to take a metaphorical idea and make it literal.
Overall, the choice doesn’t necessarily hinder the enjoyment of the films, and it’s an epic image to connect to Saruman. How many flaming eyes can nearly take over a realm or send shivers up your spine with a simply glance? It’s a unique, effective take on the matter, and it’s reasonable to conclude that Peter Jackson made a good call with this detail.
Regardless, it still isn’t accurate compared to the books, so you’ve once again been fooled.
6 THE TIMING IS MUCH MORE CASUAL THAN YOU MIGHT REALIZED
If you marathon your way through the films, you could conclude by things, such as the sun’s placement, that the whole adventure takes place in just months. Beyond hearing that Frodo wakes up in October after the Nazgul stabs him, viewers aren’t given much concrete information about timing.
What you do see is Aragorn’s rush to get the injured Frodo to Rivendell, a quick-paced search for orc-napped hobbits, and few moments of our heroes settling in some nights during their journeys. Based on this fast delivery and the common visual of heroes constantly traveling, it feels like these events happen in under a year or two.
In the books, nearly twenty years pass between Bilbo having the Ring to the tale’s conclusion— and most of it happens before Frodo leaves the Shire. The outcome is a pace that doesn’t feel hectic or hurried for saving the world.
It’s understandable that Peter Jackson would speed things up, and it’s strange to comment that a nearly 12-hour trilogy has an increased pace. Regardless, this is a valid difference between the books and movies, and one that might have tricked you into believing our heroes are always pushing to fight evil.
5 BOROMIR AND FARAMIR AREN’T JERKS
Many book fans have complained that the films don’t accurately portray Faramir— and for good reason. Whereas in the films, he spends a good deal of his time pushing the hobbits around and trying to impress his father, in the books, he’s quicker to assist.
Basically, books fans are right. The movies temporarily destroy his character. The poor representations of his family are not limited to Faramir. Rather, they also extend to his brother Boromir, and you don’t need to read the books to note this grievance.
In the theatrical version of The Fellowship of the Ring, there are plenty of reasons to label Boromir as weak and a burden. If you watch the extended version, though, you can see evidence that editing is responsible for a good percentage of Boromir’s bad reputation.
Specifically, there’s a scene after the Fellowship reaches Lothlórien where Boromir consoles an obviously upset Aragorn, assuring him he’s not to blame for Gandalf’s death. This is in contrast to the Boromir who tries to take Frodo’s Ring. Eliminating these more pleasant moments narrows his character into a hardly redeemable, two-dimensional being.
4 THE GREY HAVENS ARE NOT SO HARD TO GET TO
One of the last scenes in The Return of the King involves Frodo boarding a ship to sail for the Grey Havens. This isn’t a new concept, since the idea that the elves are leaving Middle-earth has been known since the first movie. The notion is so pressing, in fact, that it feels too grand for their destination to be somewhere you can just sail to.
As it happens, though, you can just sail there as long as you’re a permitted arrival. Within the books, the non-elf allowances seem to be limited to Ringbearers, Gandalf, and Gimli, but the rigidity of the guest list doesn’t negate the bland means of getting somewhere so intriguing to a group of elves.
The ship Frodo boards, furthermore, is not the last that will head to the Havens. In the books, Frodo tells Sam that he, too, can come to the Havens someday since he bore the Ring, and Legolas and Gimli don’t travel there until Aragorn’s death.
With these details, the elvish urgency to leave plummets, and the finality of Frodo leaving is undermined. If people can go later, what would’ve been a majestic journey now feels more like a travel cruise.
3 ARAGORN IS READY TO BE KING
By far one of the most altered characters in The Lord of the Rings is Aragorn. Despite the movies’ insistence that Aragorn is reluctant to become the King of Gondor and that he worries he’ll be as weak as his ancestor, the book version of the character doesn’t have that same kind of hesitance or emotional baggage from his heritage. Instead, he’s completely okay with being king someday, though he has to wait for the right moment.
Even the dramatic moment in The Return of the King where Elrond gives Aragorn the re-forged sword is tainted with misrepresentation since that blade is in book-Aragorn’s possession before he leaves Rivendell on the quest.
Perhaps adding this twist to his character gives a more relatable trait to Aragorn, or maybe it provides depth to his personality. Regardless of the reasoning, if you labeled Aragorn a reluctant king then you were sadly mistaken.
2 ELVES WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN AT HELM’S DEEP
Few scenes in LotR compare to the sound of a horn and the sight of elves arriving to help those at Helm’s Deep. The elvish presence shows unity, and seeing the happiness from Aragorn and Legolas at the reinforcements is worth watching again and again.
Sadly, though, this scene is a movie creation that never, ever happens in the books— and it doesn’t really make sense. It's important to remember that the elves feel their time is over in Middle-earth.
This doesn’t mean that the elves don’t fight in the books, though. In fact, Gandalf mentions that Mirkwood is involved with the war. It’s safe to assume, however, that elves who are planning to leave Middle-earth wouldn’t go looking for battles to assist like this. Fighting what’s on your doorstep is one thing, but traveling to find the enemy is another.
There’s no record of this kind of assistance happening in the book, and logic shows too many flaws for it to be rational. Hence, the movie succeeds in convincing audiences of a false rescue mission on the part of the elves.
1 CHARACTERS AREN’T AS CLUELESS AS THEY SEEM
One of the most bizarre LotR elements is how clueless characters can be with one another, and this cluelessness goes into very odd territory. For instance, Gandalf has been to Bilbo’s house. The two are shown to be on friendly terms, and the wizard isn’t a stranger to the Shire. So, why doesn’t Gandalf know that a hobbit's house requires him to duck a bit more if he doesn’t want to bump his head?
This idea extends to Pippin and Merry’s encounter with Treebeard. In neither book nor movie does Treebeard know what a hobbit is, but he doesn’t argue with the hobbits about their species in the book. He just accepts that they’re hobbits and moves on.
This book response makes more sense than his movie response, though, where he’s insistent they’re orcs. Even if he doesn’t know what a hobbit is, the location of Fangorn Forest could have given him a glimpse of an orc, so he would potentially know at the very least that Pippin and Merry were not orcs.
Every time a character doesn’t understand something basic for tension, humor, or plot development, the audience has been fooled by an illogical addition to the story.
Any other false facts you noticed in The Lord of the Rings series? Let us know in the comments!