Three books to rule them all, three movies to adapt them, millions of strange ideas to start them all, and in the bright light of day scrap them.
No one can deny the lasting brilliance of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga, or the bonafide success of the Peter Jackson films that followed. Filled with wizards, orcs, elves, fiery eyeballs, yet another Sean Bean death and a whole lot of hairy big feet, they are filled with no end of fantastically entertaining fantasy that ensure a long and lasting legacy.
However, would we remember them so fondly if some of the items removed from the original stories had made their way into the final edit?
What follows are funny factoids, interesting tidbits, and mind blowing concepts that didn't make it into the books and subsequent movies, and would surprise even the greatest of Hobbit-heads.
In hindsight they seem as odd as a slimy, bug-eyed skinny creature with a total disregard for good grammar. However, when first writing his epic, Tolkien left no idea, plot line, or arkenstone unturned.
Some of these made their way into the LotR appendices, others included in subsequent stories and the rest left to die on the cutting room floor, quickly forgotten like poor ole Sean Bean laying on a bunch of leaves in a random forest.
Here are the 15 Bizarre Things Cut From The Lord Of The Rings Books.
15 Sam attacks Gollum and ends his own life in the Process
One of the most wonderfully twisted things cut from the final books is the several dark alternate endings that Tolkien originally devised.
The craziest (and perhaps favorite of all you Sam-haters out there) would have seen Gollum stealing the Ring from Frodo, then Sam bum rushing the little monster before hurling both Gollum and himself into the Cracks of Doom.
Realizing that Sam's death was probably a terrible idea, Tolkien revised it so that Gollum gets the Ring by breaking Frodo's finger and does a happy dance during which Sam sneaks up and pushes him off the edge.
As satisfying as that might have been, Tolkien thought maybe it would work better if Gollum willingly threw himself off the cliff and then eventually settled on the gloating monster accidentally stumbling over like an idiot.
If nothing else, these would have made The Lord of the Rings a very different story altogether.
14 Gandalf Was a Shapeshifter
Gandalf was no ordinary wizard. He was actually the incarnation of one in a group of primordial spirits known as the Maiar, created to help provide order to the world.
As such, he had some amazing superpowers, like shapeshifting. All Maiar possessed this ability to one extent or another. For example, Sauron was known to assume the shapes of a werewolf, serpent, and vampire.
Why Tolkien left out this bizarre and entirely awesome skill from the pages of The Lord of the Rings is beyond us. However, he would later rectify this in his subsequent stories like during The Silmarillion, where he states that Gandalf could turn into an elf and walk amongst their kind unseen.
Luckily for us, Gandalf opted to take the shape of Sir Ian McKellen in the movies.
13 Strider Was Originally Going to Be Bilbo in Disguise
When sitting down to write what would become his ode to fantasy nerds everywhere, surprisingly J.R.R. Tolkien did not do so with some master plan in mind.
Quite to the contrary, he kind of made the whole thing up as he went along. A great example of this is the mysterious character of Strider, who early on takes a keen and somewhat creepy interest in Frodo and his friends but is not who he seems to be.
Because Tolkien thought it would be really cool to have a dark stranger show up out of nowhere to help the Hobbits, he created the character. Even cooler? If his name was Trotter. Better still? What if it was eventually revealed that Trotts was none other than Bilbo Baggins in disguise... and he wore wooden shoes. It pretty much writes itself.
12 Aragorn Was Originally Going to Be a Hobbit With Wooden Feet
So Tolkien was all set to have Bilbo decked out in a clever disguise fitted with shoes that went “clop-trop” when he walked (hence the name Trotter). Only problem was that this made no sense. Why did Bilbo have to hide his identity? Why wouldn't Frodo recognize him? What was with the stupid shoes? Nonsensical indeed.
No biggie, though, Tolkien quickly rectified the situation with another whim of an idea. Instead of Trotter being Bilbo, why not make him Bilbo's long lost relative who had to wear prosthetic wooden feet on account of having his own cut off from being tortured at Mordor.
There is no surprise why this never made it into the final cut. Instead, the character of an unkempt woods-wise hobbit named Trotter was refashioned as Aragorn, though not before Tolkien briefly considered calling him Peregrin Boffin.
11 Frodo's Original Name Was Bingo
What if Bingo was his name-o. Granted, Frodo is not the coolest moniker in the Shire, but how much less heroic would he have seemed if the courageous Hobbit went by a name most often associated with farm dogs. Although he was really good at fetching rings, so what do we know.
Not only was Frodo originally conceived as the son of Bilbo, but in the early drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien referred to his young lead as “Bingo Bolger-Baggins.”
Why, you may ask? Because Tolkien's son used to play with a toy known as Bingo Bear Koala. Seems legit. We can just picture it know, the Fellowship of the Ring boldly marching towards the fires of Mount Doom led by none other than a stuffed teddy bear named Bingo.
10 Gimli and Legolas Continue Their Bromance for Eternity in Valinor
Appendices are where good ideas go to die-- or at least the ones that would make a 1,241 page saga just too long. However, let's be serious, who has ever seen the word “Appendix” and said “that sounds fun to read.”
Yet here we are, provided with a bunch of extra pages tacked on to the end of The Return of the King, and impressively, the world is a better place for it. Because if were not for Appendix B we would never have learned what became of one of Middle-earth's most unlikely couples.
Following death of Aragon, Legolas sails for the Undying Lands of Valinor-- a veritable elf paradise where mortals achieve immortality. Right there by his side? His pal Gimli, despite all the protests over letting a dwarf into heaven.
Thanks Appendices, for letting the budding bromance of Legimli quite literally live on forever.
9 Aragorn is an Elf
No true Tolkien aficionado can lay claim to the throne of Ringer without having read The Silmarillion. It's basically the sequel, prequel to The Lord of the Rings, and reads like The Bible of Middle-earth. It's also Middle-earth's version of Ancestry.com. One if it's craziest tree hints is that Aragorn is part elf.
Specifically, he is the descendant of Elros, brother of Elrond. They were members of a race called “halfelves” who had the power to choose between elven and human lives.
The latter chose pointed ears, the former opted for life as a mortal man and having Viggo Mortensen as an heir. Though Aragorn won't be standing by Santa's side anytime soon, this does mean he is a tiny fraction of elf. Which helps explain why he died at the age of 210 with just a luscious head of hair as ever.
8 Aragorn Married His Cousin
The daughter of Arwen doesn't feature all that prominently in The Lord of the Rings books. She does however get a little more action in the movies when Liv Tyler took the part and then promptly disappeared from movie screens forever.
This is a shame, though, because she was probably the most important female character of the Third Age, having been the Queen of pretty much everyone and uniting Elf and Man in peaceful love and harmony.
Thankfully The Silmarillion and LotR appendices filled in the gaps, such as the fact she was related to her husband, Aragorn. More specifically, they were first cousins sixty-three times removed.
As we mentioned previously, her father Elrond and Aragon's 61st great-grandfather Elros were brothers. However, go back far enough and aren't we all related?
7 Gandalf's Awesome Fight Against the Nazgûl
Tolkien's original manuscripts (which totaled 9,250 pages of content) were greatly parsed down to the breezy 1,241 pages that we finally got. So we can only assume that a lot of good stuff got the ax. For instance, take Gandalf's epic fight against the Nazgûl atop Weathertop.
In Book II of The Fellowship of the Ring Gandalf describes the battle where he “was besieged on the hill-top.” Unfortunately watching the grey wizard single handedly take on on nine Ringwraiths was something left out of the books.
All we get instead is a distant light show seen by Frodo during Chapter 11 of Book I. Too bad, since Gandalf himself described the midnight throw down “as such light and flame cannot have been seen on Weathertop since the war-beacons of old.”
Sounds like a pretty great party, so it's kind of sad that such an awesome scene was left out.
6 Legolas Doesn't Technically Have Blonde Hair
Contrary to what the movies depict, the elvish archer Legolas didn't have bleach-blond hair in the books. In fact, we don't know what color his hair was since any mention of their hue was noticeably absent. This is odd considering to what lengths Tolkien went to describe pretty every other aspect of Middle-earth.
Perhaps no words could describe Legolas' brilliant locks and only a well-crafted wig atop Orlando Bloom's well-crafted head could make its true color to shine through.
Some fans argue Leg's father Thranduil was described as golden-haired and so too his must have been. Others point to Appendix F's statement that elves were “tall, fair of skin and grey-eyed, though their locks were dark, save in the golden house of Finarfin,” of which Legolas was not a part.
We can say one thing for sure: Legolas had hair, and it was most likely some kind of color. Case closed.
5 Pretty Much Everything About Éowyn
The Rohirrim shieldmaiden Éwoyn is probably the strongest female character in LotR. (Admittedly, she didn't have a lot of competition.) After all, she does stab the Witch-King in the face after insulting him like a boss. However, of all the characters Tolkien tinkered with, her arc was the most all over the place.
Originally Aragorn and Éwoyn were to fall in love and she by his side when crowned king. When Arwen appeared, Éwoyn was sidelined and killed off on the battlefield.
Evidently Tolkien was not a fan of women taking up arms to fight and didn't know what to do with the strong-willed character he had created.
This makes her calling out Aragon for being sexist (“All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house.”) all the more awesome. Perhaps she was also yelling at her creator from the page.
4 Bladorthin the Wizard Helps Gandalf The Dwarf Find Smaug
Sure, to the non-fan this might sound like a string of made up words akin to the gibberish that might come out of a baby's mouth while eating. Heck, even the most well read in Tolkien lore would have a hard time deciphering them. That's because these are all things that never made it into the final, published version of The Hobbit and by relation, The Lord of the Rings.
Originally, Gandalf the wizard was to be called Bladorthin, head dwarf Thorin was named Gandalf, and Thror's map that would lead the dwarves in their quest to regain Lonely Mountain was referred to as far as an entirely made up word: Fimbulfami.
We're thankful that that Tolkien had a change of heart, but seriously though, who doesn't love saying “fimbulfami?”
3 Odo, Frodo, and Marmaduke Help Bingo To Destroy the One Ring
We like to imagine that, at some point, Tolkien took one look at some of the original concepts he had come up for The Lord of the Rings and proclaimed, “You shall not pass!”
All wishful thinking aside, one thing is evident: the author changed the names of his characters more times than Peter Jackson could end a movie. Gandalf as Bladorthin, Strider as Trotter, Aragon as Peregrin... then Ingold... and then Elfstone, and, of course, Frodo as Bingo. However, we're not done yet.
Perhaps best of all, Bingo was to be joined on his journey to Rivendell, and into he depths of Mordor, was going to be fellow Hobbits Odo Took (later renamed Peregrin), Marmaduke Brandybuck (later Pippin), and last but not least, Frodo (the once and future Samwise Gamgee).
2 Bilbo Was Turning Seventy on His Birthday... and Getting Married
In one of the (many) drafts to The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien had Bilbo getting married and having kids, one of whom would have been Bingo. Ultimately, Tolkien found this to be too hobbit-ish of Bilbo and incompatible with his adventurous nature.
In these early drafts of The Fellowship of the Ring, which were at first called The Return of the Shadow, all of Hobbiton gathers to celebrate the long expected party of Bilbo.
Only in this version, he is turning seventy (later changed to seventy-one, then fifty-five, then seventy-second before finally arriving at eleventy-one-- Tolkien had a hard time making up his mind).
The whole ordeal ends with the eccentric Hobbit loudly announcing, “Goodbye! I am going way after dinner. Also I am going to get married," and with that Bilbo disappeared, ring in hand, never to be seen in Hobbiton again.
1 The Original Titles for the Books Were Very, Very Different
The three books comprising The Lord of the Rings are well known from the Shire to Mordor. However, had Tolkien had his way his epic saga would have consisted of six books in total.
The original publisher presumedly took one look at the pile of paper on his desk and said "screw that, we're splitting this up into three books and cramming the rest into some appendices no one will ever want to read." (Of course as anyone whose read LotR knows, Tolkien's original scheme of six “books” was kept, only now they are separated two per volume.)
The titles of Tolkien's proposed books would have been: Book I, The First Journey, Book II, The Journey of the Nine Companions, Book III, The Treason of Isengard, Book IV, The Journey of the Ring-Bearers, Book V, The War of the Ring, and Book VI, The End of the Third Age.
Know of any other things that didn't make it into The Lord of the Rings books? Let us know in the comments.