Tolkien's Middle-Earth is a vast and richly detailed fantasy world, to say the very least. To be a bit more accurate, practically any work of fiction rooted in a high fantasy world of dwarves, elves and wizards owes it a great deal of gratitude. While works taking heavy inspiration from Lord of the Rings had certainly made their way onto the big screen before, the idea of the classic fantasy epic itself being successfully adapted for a live action feature must have seemed like an absolute pipe dream. Until Peter Jackson went and did just that, anyway.
With such a massive wealth of source material to work with, it shouldn't be surprising to see how much paring down the production needed to do in order to make itself feasible and render its resultant trilogy of films watchable. Still, some of the books' coolest and most interesting passages fell short of the silver screen, much to the disappointment of die hard Tolkien fans. Below are the ten biggest moments, characters, scenes and locales in the literary masterpiece that went unseen in the films.
10 Old Man Willow
Though he goes unmentioned in the films, Old Man Willow is encountered fairly early on in The Fellowship of the Ring. Taking a shortcut as they're leaving the Shire to avoid the Black Riders, Frodo and company plot a route through the perilous Old Forest. It's not the brightest idea they've ever had.
It seems as if the Old Forest conspires against them as they get hopelessly lost, and indeed, it does. They begin to feel strangely drowsy and come to rest at a great willow tree. This tree just happens to be the sentient Old Man Willow, and he does them no shortage of mischief until Tom Bombadil shows up to save the day.
9 Tom Bombadil & Goldberry
There are many words that could be used to describe both Tom and his lovely wife, Goldberry. Ancient, mysterious, and perplexing would likely be chief among them. Even elves don't know what to make of the pair. Tom is introduced as he appears to save the hobbits from the wily Old Man Willow, and as such, is never introduced in the films.
Old Tom plays quite an instrumental part in the hobbits' initial journey from the Shire, delivering them from danger on more than one occasion, and providing them with food, shelter, and his own quirky brand of good cheer. He may elude the comprehension of even the elder races, but it can't be said that he lacks a kind heart or immense power.
8 The Barrow Downs
One of the films' biggest omissions has to be the hobbits' interlude at the Barrow-downs, where they're taken captive by an undead wight before being rescued once again by the mysterious Tom Bombadil. Not only was this an incredibly cool scene with a lot of potential, its absence presents something of a plot hole later on in the trilogy.
After Tom banishes the evil spirit, the hobbits obtain a set of ancient Dunedain knives from the barrow. The nature of these weapons is what renders Merry able to wound the Witch King during the climactic Battle of Pellenor Fields, allowing Elowyn to deal him a mortal blow. Needless to say, this isn't mentioned in the movies.
7 Elrohir & Elladan
Though you wouldn't know them from the movies, Elladan and Elrohir were the twin sons of Elrond, and brothers to Arwen. More importantly, they were good friends to Aragorn, having fought alongside his father against the orcs in the battle that claimed his life.
Together, they had several big parts in the books, being particularly involved in the events of the War of the Ring. They served as scouts, ferried communications, and perhaps most notably, accompanied Aragorn on the Paths of the Dead when he sought the service of the Army of the Dead.
6 Hobbits Meeting Wood Elves
Shortly after setting off from the Shire, the hobbits have more than one close call with the ghastly black riders. However, they're set to some degree of ease when they happen across a travelling party of wood elves. Seeming concerned at their mention of the black riders, the elves take them under their wing for the night.
The elves feed and shelter them, providing Frodo with an ominous, but stern warning to keep clear of the riders they've been avoiding. When the hobbits awaken the next morning, the elves have gone. This scene's omitted almost entirely from the film, with the hobbits merely witnessing a travelling troupe of elves in the extended edition.
5 Glorfindel's Rescue Of Frodo
Though technically this event is present in the film, the character performing the rescue was swapped for Arwen, the daughter of Elrond. And it works out well enough, for certain - it's a strong moment for a feminine character, and it allows actress Liv Tyler to flex her acting chops a little harder than she would've been able to otherwise.
In the books, however, it was Glorfindel who rescued Frodo from the Ringwraiths during his needful flight to Rivendell. Glorfindel is a mighty elven lord with a lengthy history and many accolades to his name, but giving this moment to Arwen does no harm to the narrative, and it might actually be just a smidgen better for it.
4 Most Of Faramir's Personality
Though this is more of a change than it is an omission, it has definitely bred more than enough fan contention to bear its inclusion. As per his portrayal in the books, Faramir is just, wise, and loyal, and has absolutely no inclination to seize the ring from Frodo when he and Sam encounter him.
In fact, he says he wouldn't pick the thing up if he found abandoned by the roadside. His portrayal in the movies, often derisively referred to as "Filmamir" by disenfranchised fans, runs totally counter to this. He initially plots to drag Frodo (and the ring) to Minas Tirith in order to impress his father.
3 Halbarad & The Grey Company
The movies don't show much of the once proud race of men known as the Dunedain, outside of Aragorn himself. In the books, however, there are quite a few more of them lurking around than anyone would've thought if they'd only seen the films.
The Grey Company is the primary example of this. Led by Halbarad, the Grey Company is a small group of Dunedain rangers that forms and marches alongside Aragorn to partake in the series of battles that erupts towards the end of the War of the Ring. However, very few of them are said to have survived these ordeals by the end.
2 The Scouring Of The Shire
Saruman's sneaky conquest of the Shire during the events of the Lord of the Rings is only vaguely alluded to in the films, but it was a pretty big deal in the books. This is likely due to runtime concerns and the idea that it is effectively too lengthy and action packed to totally fit within the confines of the film's epilogue.
Taking place in the penultimate chapter of The Return of the King, the hobbits return to the Shire to find it transformed into a sort of militarized work camp. They proceed to spark an uprising that culminates in the Battle of Bywater, showing that the hobbits really can kick some butt with their furry feet when the need is upon them.
1 Fredegar "Fatty" Bolger
Fatty plays a small, but crucial role in the books. A close and trusted friend of Frodo Baggins, he accompanies his hobbit pals as far as Crickhollow, where he remains behind to keep up Frodo's house - providing the illusion that he hadn't left the Shire.
Though his inclusion isn't totally necessary for the movies, it certainly wouldn't have done any harm. It also would've helped to add some flavor to Frodo's calculated flight from the Shire and into the epic series of events that make up the bulk of the plot.