Love them or leave them, the Lord of the Rings trilogy by Peter Jackson is in some ways very different from the novels we all know and love. Some of the changes were more aesthetic than not, while others we’ll never be able to forgive. Some of the changes were made for the sake of pacing or timing, and to be fair the movies would have all been at least twice as long without those edits. But that doesn’t always make the changes sit right to fans.
Here is a short list of some of the most frustrating bits of canon that Peter Jackson ignored when making his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
7 The Reason Merry & Pippin Join the Quest
Merry and Pippin are all cute and cheerful in both the novels and the movies, but there’s a dramatic shift between the two. In the novels Merry and Pippin are shockingly perceptive; being well aware that Frodo was in some sort of danger and planning on making a mad run. Knowing that they were likely to be headed into danger, the stubborn pair refused to let Frodo go off on his own (yes, Sam was going with, but without their support, it hardly counts).
In the movies, the pair are shown as bumbling hobbits. They’re clearly being used as comic relief at points. They ended up along the quest because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It gave no justice to their true characters or their loyalty.It may seem like a small change, but it did set the tone for these two characters and their appearances for the rest of the movies.
6 The Scouring of the Shire
It is mind-boggling that the Scouring of the Shire was left out of the movies. It was an important lesson for the hobbits and the readers alike to learn, so it seems strange that it got completely overlooked. At the end of the Return of the King, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin all come back home to the Shire…only to find it fundamentally changed. The Shire did not escape the war unscathed. Here they find that Saruman (disguised as Sharkey) had run from his tower to the Shire to take over their homeland.
The Scouring of the Shire represented the Hobbits learning to stand against tyranny on their own. They had to fight for their homeland in a way they never expected, from an enemy they didn’t see coming. This chapter has been considered vital by many, and as an allegory for what happened to Britain after World War II. Considering how influenced Tolkien was by the war, this seems extremely likely. The closest we get to this chapter is the briefest hint when a glimpse of the future is shown – and even then nothing really comes of it. It’s a shame this part was left out, though Peter Jackson to this day defends his choice.
5 The Elves' Reason for Leaving
In the movies, it was never really made clear that the Elves must leave regardless of the outcome. If Sauron wins, the reason is fairly obvious. But even if he lost, the Elves must depart. Their power had been weakening, and they had become somewhat dependent on the power supplied by their rings. If the one ring is destroyed, then so are their rings.
The movie pretty much glossed over this, however, showing it as the Elves leaving almost like they were giving up hope for the battle. It seemed at times like the Elves just assumed that the battle was already lost, and thus not worth staying. When in truth the Elves had invested so much in the battles before this and had high hopes for the outcome of this one. It was simply beyond them to stay and help.
4 Aragorn, Arwen, & Elrond
The relationship dynamics between Aragon, Arwen, and Elrond are a bit skewed between the novels and the movies. It might not have been a big deal, had they not played a major part in how things turned out. Aragon and Arwin were fiercely loyal to one another. Arwen had pled herself to Aragon some fifty years before the novels began, and that is not something Elves turn back on lightly. Thus she simply would not have considered leaving the way she did in the movie; she was tied to Aragorn one way or the other.
Likewise, Elrond wouldn’t have pushed Arwen to leave the way we were shown. He adored Aragorn in his own way – he was, in essence, the uncle or foster father for many of Aragorn’s line, and thus respected Aragorn highly. He thought that if anyone could get the humans through this battle it would be this man. There was tension built here that didn’t need to be. These three were very happily set in their own agreements and opinions. The changes weren’t needed, and the time could have been better spent on other areas that needed more explaining.
3 The Elf Army Appearance
In the movies, during the battle of Helms Deep, the fighters are given a sudden sense of hope as an Elven army arrives at their doors. This does not happen in the books. There simply were not enough Elves to go around at that point. There certainly weren’t enough of them that they’d be so willing to risk and throw away their lives like this. And once again, the Elves have been weakening for years. This land can no longer be their home. It doesn’t seem likely that the Elves would choose to stay and fight for a land that they will never be a part of again.
Another important point; the Elves were actively engaged in their own battle by this point in the novel. So they truly did not have the forces to spare, not even if they had been otherwise willing to. Admittedly the moment was very inspiring and heartwarming, which is likely what Peter Jackson was going for. There were other opportunities he could have gone with here though.
2 Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil was the biggest character left out of the movie adaptations. There were reasons for it, we’re sure (pacing, having to explain his character, etc), but it still stings. Tom Bombadil is a unique force in the world of Lord of the Rings. Many argue that he’s a great evil perfectly hiding as a crazy – but powerful – old man. Others are less convinced. In the novels, Tom Bombadil was one of the first encounters the Hobbits had all on their own. This odd encounter turns out to be extremely important later, but we’ll get to that. Tom helps Frodo to free Merry and Pippin from Old Man Willow, only to then invite the travelers back to his home.
Frodo trusted this man so much that he allowed Tom Bombadil to inspect the ring – yes, that ring. The ring notably had no effect on Tom Bombadil. Tom Bombadil saved the Hobbits once more after their parting. Tom is one of those characters that fans love to debate about. Still, no matter how one feels about him, we must all agree that he took care of the Hobbits and they likewise learned a lot from him. Not to mention the items they gained with his help.
Since we just talked about Tom Bombadil and his importance to the plot, we may as well cover the other reason Tom Bombadil is important. And this fact has inarguably long-reaching effects. Tom Bombadil is the reason the four Hobbits have Barrow-Blades.Barrow-Blades are the iconic short blades we see the Hobbits carrying in the movies (not Frodo’s, of course). These blades were found in a wight’s barrow, hence the name.
These blades were also known as Daggers of Westernesse, and were forged by those very men. They’re old blades, but they have one unique property to them. You see, these blades were enchanted by an Arthedian weaponsmith. Their purpose? They get around the protections cast upon the Ringwraiths. When Merry stabbed the Witch King during the Battle of Pelennor Fields, he significantly weakened the foe, allowing for Eowyn to strike the killing blow. The focus of this moment in the movies was shifted to Eowyn, diminishing the role that Merry (and thus the blades and Tom Bombadil) played in the movie.