Though it's already been more than a decade since Peter Jackson's high fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings ended, news of Amazon Prime's upcoming series has sparked renewed interest in Middle-earth. It was an epic undertaking for Jackson to adapt J. R. R. Tolkien's literary masterpiece to the screen (especially since the author was so prolific and so highly detailed with his works), and fans of the books knew not everything could be included.
Due to the sprawling nature of Tolkien's novels, Jackson had to organize the trilogy in a way that worked best for the plot, characters, and storytelling arcs. There were many changes from book to screen, and inconsistencies were unavoidable. The films generated questions that continue to linger more than a decade later. Here are ten we want to see answered.
10 WHY DID SAURON'S PLAN RELY SO MUCH ON THE RING?
As Galadriel's opening monologue in The Fellowship of the Ring explains, after the Rings of Power were cast, Sauron crafted another ring in secret, the One Ring to rule them all. Into it, he poured all of his malice, the very essence of his evil, and bound the Rings of Power to him.
Sauron quickly set about dominating the lands of Middle-earth, and he would have succeeded in their complete subjugation had it not been for Isildur, who cut off the finger that bore the Ring of Power with one of the Shards of Narsil. Sauron had no plan B and disappeared along with the ring for thousands of years.
9 ARE MEN MORE POWERFUL THAN A MAIA?
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf stands toe to cloven hoof against a Balrog, a supernatural being on the same level as the wizard in terms of power and magical ability. Still, the Balrog makes him work hard for his victory, but Gandalf emerges a stronger version of himself and transforms into Gandalf the White.
In The Return of the King, he faces down the Witch-king of Angmar (a man long since corrupted by Sauron and the One Ring) and he's knocked down as though he were a mere halfling. Are men more powerful than a Maia? On a related note, both Aragorn and Denethor could resist being bent to the will of Sauron, but Saruman, also a Maia, could not.
8 WHY DID THE ROHIRRIM ANNOUNCE THEIR ATTACKS?
As exciting as it was to hear the horns of the Rohirrim during the Battle of Helm's Deep, or the Battle of Pelennor Fields, it completely blew their element of surprise over Sauron's forces. Was it purely to announce to their allies that the cavalry had arrived to save the day?
At the Battle of Helm's Deep, reinforcements were only added to the main gate after a breach had taken place. With Sauron's inevitably larger and more powerful army, wouldn't the breach be considered a certainty and therefore a tertiary plan put in place to prevent against it?
7 WHY DIDN'T FARAMIR TAKE THE RING?
There's been a lot of debate about Faramir's character in the LotR films. Peter Jackson wanted him to be tempted by the ring, similar to his brother Boromir, despite the fact that Faramir isn't tempted in the books. It creates dramatic tension, especially since Frodo and Sam are Faramir's prisoners.
But problems arise when Faramir is tempted, but ultimately doesn't take the ring, despite the fact that his character has been built up to want to succeed in his father's eyes and change Gondor's fate. Faramir marches them randomly to Osgiliath but doesn't take the ring, ultimately only serving to negate Gandalf and Aragorn's distracting Sauron, whose Ringwraith now knows Frodo, not them, has the Ring.
6 WHY DIDN'T THE FELLOWSHIP USE THE EAGLES TO FLY TO MORDOR?
Perhaps one of the most common questions was why didn't the Fellowship just use the Eagles to fly directly to Mordor. Rather than travel through hostile territory and risk dying on the journey, catching a ride on the Eagles seemed like a logical alternative.
Neither Tolkien or Jackson provide a direct explanation why this option wasn't used, but a few inferences might be that the Eagles weren't at Gandalf's beckon call, they didn't want to interfere with the affairs of Men, Elves, and Hobbits, and Sauron had enemies (as well as his own Eye) that were vigilant against anyone approaching, especially some Great Eagles.
5 WOULD FRODO HAVE DESTROYED THE RING IF GOLLUM HADN'T ATTACKED HIM?
At the end of The Return of the King, after Frodo and Sam have made the perilous journey through Mordor, they face their final test; climbing to the top of Mount Doom and casting the One Ring into the volcano. Samwise is up to the task even when Frodo punks out, heaving the other hobbit onto his shoulders and carrying him the rest of the way.
At the clutch, Frodo wavers, and it appears that after all of their efforts, he may decide to not cast the ring into the flames. Gollum decides to attack Frodo and as they wrestle, Gollum goes over the edge with the ring in his grasp. If he hadn't interrupted, would Sam have had to forcefully make Frodo throw the ring in? Would they have been the ones wrestling instead?
4 DID THE SCOURING OF THE SHIRE JUST NEVER HAPPEN?
At the conclusion of The Return of the King novel, it's revealed that Saruman escaped to the Shire and, together with Sauron's forces, wreaked havoc on it. Ringwraiths and orcs and all manner of foul beasties ravaged the land, killing and enslaving halflings as they went.
This is only alluded to in a vision of the future Galadriel gives Frodo when he visits Lothlórien. We are made to think it will only come to pass if Frodo doesn't destroy the One Ring. Since Peter Jackson chose not to include it in his film version of RotK, did it not happen?
3 HOW DID THE HOBBITS ADJUST TO LIFE BACK IN THE SHIRE?
The Return of the King ends on a glorious high note, though it's part of a bittersweet melody. Aragorn is crowned King of Gondor, he weds his true love Arwen, the Elves sail to the West, and the hobbits who decide to remain head back to The Shire.
The Shire is apparently fine because the Scouring never occurred. There are scenes of them in the Green Dragon, drinking a pint of beer, contemplating the surreal nature of their situation. Did any of them suffer some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder (besides Frodo)? Did Sam marry Rosie?
2 WOULDN'T ARWEN DIE LONG BEFORE ARAGORN?
In order to remain with her true love, Arwen had to become a mortal and refrain from passing into the West with her father and the other Elves. When Arwen does this, does she concede to a normal human's life span or something else? Aragorn is descended from the Dúnedain and the Númenóreans, who have unusually long life spans.
In the books, he's 210 when he dies in the Fourth Age. Yet in Arwen's vision of his death, she's alive to mourn his grave, precisely because she's still an immortal elf. The thought is her becoming a mortal would allow them to live together in the same life span.
1 DID FRODO EVENTUALLY DIE IN THE WEST?
After everything he's been through, Frodo decides that he just can't remain in the Shire anymore. He's seen too much, and the effect of the One Ring on him was too great. He decides to sail into the West with Bilbo, Galadriel, Elrond, and the others.
Frodo doesn't magically become immortal by going into the Undying Lands with the rest of them. He's simply there, in a peaceful Utopia. So what happens if he decides to leave? Can he ever come back? Or has he decided to simply live out his days there?