With great responsibility comes great power in J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy series The Lord of the Rings, the lengthy collection of novels that follows the Fellowship of the Ring and its Ring-Bearer, the hobbit Frodo Baggins, from Rivendell to the shadowy lands of Mordor. It's Frodo's responsibility to cast the One Ring forged by the Dark Lord Sauron into the fires of Mount Doom, preventing anyone from obtaining its awesome power. But, can he resist the draw of the power it may grant him?
The Frodo Baggins that Peter Jackson envisioned for his interpretation of the novels is a hobbit with his failings. The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films depicts a naive, scared, and worried hobbit that doesn't always seem up to the task. This is at odds with the literary version who, despite a few instances, is much braver, more confident, and prepared for the responsibility the One Ring grants him. Below are ten facts they leave out of the movies that will give a more complete picture of Frodo's complex character.
10 HE'S STRONGER THAN EXPECTED
The Frodo of The Lord of the Rings movies is much maligned for being a whiny, petulant hobbit that ends up being saved by everyone. From Gandalf and Aragorn, to Samwise and Arwen, other more powerful beings are constantly risking their lives to help him and keep him from harm.
In the books, Frodo is made of sterner stuff. It's Frodo who, after being pursued doggedly by the Black Riders, stands tall at the Ford of Rivendell with his sword held high. He doesn't get saved by Arwen, but instead tells them to "go back to whence you came, and never follow me again!"
9 HE'S ACTUALLY BILBO'S COUSIN
In the films, Frodo is Bilbo's nephew, a young hobbit often doubting his own decisions. He looks to others for guidance, and trusts in their advice. While it makes sense that Gandalf is the source of most of his sagacity, Samwise knows about as much as Frodo does about the world beyond The Shire, yet he's constantly looking to Sam for aid.
In the books, Frodo is Bilbo's adopted heir, the orphaned son of his first cousin (which makes them second cousins). He's listened well to Bilbo, whom he regards as an "Uncle" and heeded his words. He's more calm, collected, and astute in his observations.
8 HE HAS A LOT OF CONFIDENCE
We see Frodo' confidence shine the most in the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, when he's frolicking in the trees or busying himself with the other hobbits of The Shire. Rarely does he show this level of ease and confidence again in the film, even when he reluctantly agrees to take the One Ring to Mordor.
Frodo is, by and large, a plucky hero in The Lord of the Rings novels. He doesn't let a great deal deter him, except for matters of the heart (such as when he thought he lost Gandalf to the Balrog), and doesn't need constant reassurance from Samwise to understand the great responsibility he's accepted.
7 HE ENCOUNTERS TOM BOMBADILL
The first film of the trilogy effectively eliminates a large portion of the first book, where the hobbits encounter Crickhollow and the Old Forest while traveling to Bree. They encounter the enigmatic Tom Bombadill, Goldberry, and encounter the Barrow wights in the Barrow Downs.
This period informed the hobbits how scary Middle-Earth is outside The Shire, with the encounter with the Barrow wights being one of the scariest in the story, and the reason that Merry obtains the sword he'll later use to kill the Witch-King.
6 HE ISN'T TEMPTED BY THE RING SO OFTEN
One of the biggest characterizations of Frodo in the films is the constant pull he has to the One Ring. He frequently has a need to use it, and when he does, it physically weakens him. It begins to alter him from a happy-go-lucky hobbit to a bitter, aggressive, jaded possessor. The constant bickering with Samwise, or the overblown issue about lembas before reaching Shelob's lair was completely out of character compared to the Frodo of the books.
Frodo wasn't defined by his constant struggle to abuse the power of the Ring in the books. He viewed it as a ward he must protect, and took his duty seriously. Both he and Sam operated as a team on that front.
5 HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH SMEAGOL IS DIFFERENT
In the films, there is a strange series of events that lead Frodo to side more with Smeagol/Gollum than with Sam. It's as though their shared burden of lusting after the One Ring has brought them closer together. Because Smeagol understands Frodo's state of mind, he is a more empathizing figure than Sam.
In the books, Frodo is not so taken in by Smeagol's silver-tongued words, and is constantly one step ahead of the former halfling. Frodo is much more cunning and observant.
4 THE RING MAKES HIM A PROPHET
Most of the trilogy concerns itself with Frodo and Sam making their way to Mount Doom, with Frodo becoming more and more sickened by the presence of the One Ring. It seems to take all of his willpower not to give in to its promise of unimaginable power. His relationship with the Ring in the books is very different, though a sort of power is bestowed.
In the books, Frodo becomes much more like a prophet. The ring imbues him with the wisdom to see into the future after a fashion, which is why he allows Gollum to lead him and Sam. He's fully aware they'll be double crossed, but he also knows Gollum is the only one capable of getting them to Mordor.
3 A DECOY WAS LEFT BEHIND IN THE SHIRE
Frodo appears a young and inexperienced hobbit in the films, incapable of undertaking a dangerous journey to the Prancing Pony, let alone Mordor. He needs friends to help him on his journey, which is why he gets the help of Merry, Pippin, and Samwise. There was one more member of their party that the films leave out.
In the books, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Fatty Bolger are the hobbits who decide Frodo can't go on his quest alone, and thus conspire to aid him. The first three go on with Frodo and encounter the Black Riders, while Fatty Bolger stays behind to keep up the appearance that Frodo is still in the shire.
2 HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH SAM IS MASTER/SERVANT
In the films, Frodo and Sam are best pals, and although Sam is Frodo's gardener (revealed in The Two Towers), it doesn't mean that there's any inequality between them. It's this bond that ensures Sam will always see to Frodo's safety, and why he'll never leave his side. In the books, the relationship is different.
Sam is still Frodo's gardener in the books, and that status makes him take on a much more humble role in the Fellowship. He isn't an equal part of it, but considered Frodo's manservant that will see to his needs, as well as cook the meals and such.
1 HE RETURNS TO A GRATEFUL SHIRE
Peter Jackson chose to leave out "The Scouring of the Shire" passage in The Return of the King, in which The Shire is reduced to rubble and ash by its cruel masters. In his version, the four hobbits return to an uninterrupted world, where hobbits kept leading their lives blissfully unaware their world might have ended.
In the books, Saruman escapes Oranthc and descends upon The Shire with a vengeance, while Nazgul and orcs plow through its lands. The four hobbits return and put things right, to the jubilant appreciation of all. They are treated like heroes, and there is a much more digestible ending.