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Lord Of The Rings' Scouring Of The Shire Explained (& Why The Movies Cut It)

Lord of the Rings Saruman at the Scouring of the Shire

The Scouring of the Shire is a key event from The Lord of the Rings books that was left out from the movies - so what exactly happened in the scene? The Lord of the Rings was released by J.R.R. Tolkien over the course of three volumes in 1954 and 1955, and were later adapted into the blockbuster film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.

Like most movie adaptations, not every scene in the Lord of the Rings novels made it to the big screen. The runtime throughout the three films was nearly 560 minutes (almost 670 with the Extended Editions), but it's understandable why Jackson had to leave some of the novels' important scenes out of the movies. Still, even though big story aspects were cut, Jackson successfully created an epic tale that allowed a new generation of viewers to totally immerse themselves into the world of Middle-earth.

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Related: Every Lord Of The Rings Reference In Tolkien

If The Lord of the Rings film trilogy had time to spare, book readers probably would have picked the Scouring of the Shire as a scene they wished was included in the movies. It was a noteworthy late chapter in The Return of the King following Sauron's defeat that put everyone's favorite group of hobbits in one last dangerous situation.

Lord of the Rings Scouring of the Shire Illustration

The Scouring of the Shire took place after Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin returned home after their long adventure to find the Shire raided by a group of thugs. This was the work of dark wizard Saruman, aided by the traitorous Lotho Sackville-Baggins, who was in turn deposed and killed by Wormtongue.

The enraged hobbits didn't let this stand, however, and rallied the nearby villagers to take back the Shire; Merry and Pippin led their fellow hobbits and the men into the Battle of Bywater, which marked the final conflict in the War of the Ring. The hobbits managed to take back their home and forced a mass retreat from the surviving Orcs and thugs.

In the aftermath, Frodo found that Saruman and Wormtongue had been living in his home, Bag End. He offered Wormtongue refuge, but his master forced him to not accept. Feeling betrayed, Wormtongue turned on Saruman and cut his throat. The hobbits then shot Wormtongue with arrows, killing him. Frodo watched as Saruman's body turned to mist and drifts away, much like Sauron's death.

Related: Amazon’s Lord Of The Rings Has Hidden A Secret Message In Plain Sight

Although the Scouring of the Shire is not shown in The Lord of the Rings movies, the event was hinted at in The Fellowship of the Ring. When Frodo looked into the Mirror of Galadriel, he saw Orcs invading the Shire, a vision Galadriel explained that could occur if he does not destroy the One Ring. Of course, at the end of The Lord of the Rings, the hobbits returned to the Shire and found it to be untouched. Saruman's death, meanwhile, is not a major moment in the films at all; he dies early on in The Return of the King Extended Edition.

For those still hoping to witness the Scouring of the Shire, it doesn't look like the event will ever be transformed for live-action. However, there's still plenty of stories from The Lord of the Rings' universe left to be told, especially with Amazon's Middle-earth prequel soon on the way.

Next: What To Expect From Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV Show

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