For many, The Lord Of The Rings is the perfect film franchise. Against all odds, it took a legendary book series and did it justice, a feat few adaptations ever achieve. The casting was spot on and so much care went into costumes, sets, and writing. Granted, some changes made to certain plot points irked fans, but overall the impression was inoffensive, and the films earned heaps of acclaim.
Ah, but not so fast! It’s extremely easy to look at the films through rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia and write them off as infallible. But closer inspection reveals a series of curious logical fallacies. Many characters make decisions that make no sense or are simply there to service plot points. There are indeed a few plot holes. Certain characters appear in places they really shouldn’t or are omitted altogether, to the detriment of the story. And then there’s The Hobbit. Don’t even get us started on that train wreck. We couldn't help but take a look at it.
Nearly two decades of analysis by a begrudging Internet has exposed the cracks in the ornate Numenorean armor of The Lord Of The Rings and has diligently arranged them into easy to digest memes. We at TheGamer have mined deeper then Moria to find these hard to ignore truths about the series and present them to you now. They're a reminder that, indeed, there are fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the world.
25 Should Have Seen That One Coming
Anyone with eyes in their skull could see that Brad Dourif's character of Grima Wormtongue was bad news as soon as he appeared onscreen. He had shifty eyes, pale and clammy skin, a wardrobe consisting only of tattered black robes, and greasy hair. And his actual name was Wormtongue. Shouldn’t this be setting off a few red flags? Yet, he was allowed into the deepest council of the king, until Theoden was corrupted utterly by Saruman’s magic.
Only the appearance of Gandalf the White could reverse the spell, and bring Theoden back from the brink.
Wormtongue’s true nature was exposed at that point, and yet, for some untold reason, Aragorn chose to let him go! Grima promptly returned to his master and told him of the critical weakness in the Helms Deep stronghold. Not so smooth on Aragorn's part.
24 Slow Moving Society
In the prologue of Fellowship Of The Ring, we are treated to an epic sequence that shows the Battle of Dagorlad in the Second Age. We witness the alliance of men and elves, the defeat of Sauron, and get to see the tactics and weapons that the armies of Middle Earth used 3000 years before the events of The Lord Of The Rings. And yet, in the films, very little has changed technologically since the opening sequence. What gives?
There are several good theories floating about. Elves are immortal beings. They take their sweet time to change and grow and probably saw no reason to evolve their serviceable tech. Furthermore, in those 3000 years, no all-encompassing was going on. Wars inspire technological advancements, as we see in Sauron and Saruman's highly industrial approach to The War of The Ring.
23 Not Enough Butter
This next one has less to do with the films, and more to do with our own world. With Lord Of The Rings, three massive books were adapted into three succinct movies, though they easily could have been a TV series. And yet, bafflingly, The Hobbit, a children’s story of 300 pages, managed to get three full-length movies of its own.
Money, of course, was a key a factor in this misguided decision.
“The Lord Of the Rings was successful as three films, why not The Hobbit?” said the overly ambitious studio executives. The film was originally going to be directed by Guillermo Del Toro, and only going to be two films. Instead, he stepped down after countless delays and changes and handed the project over to Peter Jackson, who was overwhelmed by the work before him. The result is the mess we know and loathe today.
22 I Don't Feel Like We Don't Belong
Of all the plot liberties that Peter Jackson took with the films, there are a few that stand out more than others. Arwen in exchange for Glorfindel in Fellowship. Gimli’s status as comic relief. And of course, the Elves showing up at Helms Deep at the last minute to save the day.
There are few real problems with this one. First off, who even told them what was going on, and where to be? How did they arrive right on time? Though these questions are ever present, the real issue with this change is less obvious. In the books, the battle of Helms Deep is about man’s struggle against the forces of evil, and shows how a small but determined group of courageous humans can win, despite the odds. Having the elves show up is very deus ex machina, and undermines the arc of Rohan and its people.
21 I Feel So Out Of Place!
Speaking of elves who don't belong, there’s one particular travesty in The Hobbit that cannot go unspoken. Granted, there are more than could probably be listed in an entire article, but let's just stick with the most obvious for now.
Why is Legolas in this movie?
When the films were first announced, and it was said we would get a glimpse into some stories outside the text of the book. This was exciting, for there are lots of canonically sound stories to explore that related to the story, such as the White Council’s battle against the Necromancer. Legolas’s inclusion is totally overblown. If anything, we should have seen him for a mere moment while the company was in Mirkwood. But instead, he and Tauriel somehow ended up as key players, and we got more subplot than anyone ever asked for.
20 Oh Wait, There’s A Giant Spider In That Tunnel!
Gollum is arguably LOTR’s most dynamic character. His dual personalities make it difficult to determine his motivations, and at one point, he was almost redeemed. Sméagol managed to chase Gollum out of his head, and became a friend to the hobbits. He dutifully leads them to the Black Gate, and when such a route proved impossible, he offered an alternative: Cirith Ungol.
At the time, Sméagol was on the side of the hobbits and bore them no ill will. This all changed when Faramir captured him and Gollum reappeared, convincing Sméagol that Frodo had betrayed him. Thus, the plan for Shelob to dispose of the hobbits came to his mind. But they were already heading to her home! Perhaps, deep down, this was his plan all along. Maybe he genuinely forgot about her or had a plan to avoid her. We may never know.
19 Not So Tough After All
Orcs are bred for a single purpose: to wage war. It's undoubtedly all they think about. Their whole lives, they are trained to be ruthless fighting machines and must have been beyond stoked when it was announced that Sauron was declaring war on the free peoples of Middle-earth. Their time had come!
But so many Orcs are ended by kids, or even more embarrassingly, by hobbits.
The battle of Helms Deep has an army of stable boys and old men squaring off against the fighting Uruk-hai. And many of them take down the brutes! You’d think a young boy would have no chance against such a monster, but such is not the case. Throughout the trilogy, we see the hobbits slay countless orcs, proving how terrible they really are at fighting. What’s the point of training your whole life if you can't even take down one measly hobbit?
18 He Is Sorely Missed
One of the most tragic omissions in the film adaptations is Tom Bombadil. The four hobbits encounter this mysterious and gleeful character on their journey from the Shire to Bree, and he proves he is well beyond the corruption of the ring. He is full of songs and mirth, has a beautiful nymph for a wife, and saves the hobbits from the perils of the Old Forest more than once.
As one of the most beloved characters in the Tolkien pantheon, it's near criminal that he wasn’t included. Granted, his plot is more of an aside for the adventurers, but its inclusion would have fleshed out Middle-earth even more. Even a simple mention of him would have sufficed, perhaps at the Council of Elrond. It just seems wrong to completely ignore one of the oldest beings in the known world.
17 Unlimited Ammo Cheat
It's a well-known fact that Legolas is the best archer in Middle-earth. His orc slaughter rate grows higher and higher with every battle, and he’s been able to take down giant beasts with just a few well-placed shots. Sometimes, it just seems like he shoots and shoots and never runs out of arrows. How is this possible?
The arrows we see him using seem to be Elven made.
No doubt he picks up as many of his original arrows as he can, but there’s no way he can get all of them. Surely at one point or another, he would run out, but no such thing is ever seen. Perhaps he is picking up orc arrows as well, which are no doubt crude and ungainly, yet his hit rate remains 99.9% accurate. Guess he’s the best for good reason!
16 Maybe It Is Simple
One of the most enduring lines in all of LOTR was uttered by Boromir at the Council Of Elrond. “One does not simply walk into Mordor” became the butt of countless jokes, and inspired a revolution of memes. And yet, despite his naysaying, two hobbits and their treacherous cave dwelling guide did just that—they simply walked into Mordor.
Well, maybe it wasn’t so simple, really. They did have to climb the stairs of Cirith Ungol and deal with Shelob. They did get captured by orcs and almost failed dozens of times. But technically speaking, their feet alone carried them into the land of shadow, meaning they simply walked! Pretty impressive stuff for a couple of hobbits. And they did it all without the help of a fellowship!
15 Two Feet Are Better Than Four?
As the Rohirrim have proven countless times, cavalry charges are a highly effective strategy in tense combat situations. Their charges have turned the tides in many battles and provided terrifying spectacles (for the orcs, of course) at Helms Deep and Pelennor Fields.
At the final battle of the Black Gate, Aragorn and his company arrived on horseback.
They approached the gate to treat with the Mouth Of Sauron, and once “negotiations” were concluded, they returned to the army, and Aragorn gave his first rousing speech as king. Then, the gates opened, the enemy poured out, and for some strange reason, everyone chose to charge forward on foot! Why not use those menacing horses you had a few moments ago and increase your body count a bit? The battle was already hopeless. Guess they just wanted to look cool as they fought until the end.
14 Making The Tough Decisions
When the ring was cut from Sauron’s hand, the fate of the world was in a precarious balance. The dark lord had been crippled, but his contingency plan remained, to be destroyed or endure until the time was right for his return. Isildur took the ring, hiked all the way to Mt. Doom, and held it over the fire. Elrond followed, understanding what needed to be done.
But Isildur failed, and at that moment, so did Elrond. This is not going to be easy to read, but it's what should have been done. Elrond should have tried to take the ring from Isildur and destroy it, or else push Isildur and the ring into the fire. Such a thing would have likely created an unfixable rift between the forces of men and elves, but Sauron would be destroyed, and one ill deed would have prevented thousands. Food for thought!
13 Keep It Down, Aragorn!
The moments leading up to the battle of Helms Deep were tense. Nobody was prepared for it. All of Rohan’s fighting force had been banished, leaving only the stable boys and old men. When Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn were suiting up with everyone, the Mirkwood prince truly took in the state of the situation and began to despair. He lost his head a little bit and began venting in Elvish to Aragorn.
Aragorn responded in Elvish, not wanting to demoralize the already terrified troops surrounding them.
When Legolas finished his Elvish rant with “they are all going to [perish],” Aragorn lost it and exclaimed “then I shall [perish] as one of them!” in regular old English. For a commander, this is a broad oversight, especially when you are trying your best to maintain the morale of your troops, and something Aragorn should never have done.
12 A Light In The Dark
When Bilbo reluctantly signed onto Thorin’s quest, he was assigned the role of a burglar. This meant he would be sneaking into Erebor alone, in the dark, looking for treasure or some way to let the dwarves in to deal with the dragon. After they discovered the trolls cache of mystical weapons, Gandalf gave Bilbo Sting, a handy short sword that glowed blue when orcs were near. Isn’t this the last thing a burglar would want?
Granted, there probably aren’t many orcs in Erebor, but you never know! One stray goblin could illuminate Bilbo like a searchlight, especially to keen dragon eyes, and turn him into a BBQ dinner. You’d think that Gandalf might have thought of such things. But his inherent disregard for the safety of hobbits is well documented.
11 This Looks As Good A Place As Any!
The road from Bree to Rivendell was extremely dangerous for Aragorn and the four hobbits. They were constantly being pursued by the Nazgul and had to be careful about where they slept and how much noise they made each night.
Which is why stopping at Weathertop was a terrible idea.
Weathertop is a key landmark in the area and is very elevated. If I were a Ringwraith looking for travelers, I would certainly check out the old watchtower. Aragorn’s nostalgia seemed to cloud his judgment, however, as he insisted they stay there for the night, then went on an arbitrary scouting run. This allowed the bumbling hobbits to start a fire, cook some nice, crispy bacon, and attract the Nazgul. Frodo nearly perished as a result. Good one, Strider!
10 Taking Things Too Literally
J.R.R. Tolkien is a master of his craft. He seamlessly builds entire worlds with their own languages, histories, and mythologies, and is celebrated for his succinct visual descriptions of these worlds. In The Hobbit, Tolkien describes a storm in the Misty Mountains as a “thunder-battle.” Bilbo believes he can see in the distance stone giants throwing rocks as a game and can hear them shouting and guffawing.
How one takes this is up for interpretation. This could be a metaphor or could be taken literally, though giants were removed from Tolkien’s world as his stories developed. The Hobbit films, however, took things very literally and created another over the top CGI action sequence from one sentence in the book. This bloated the already overburdened film, a did a disservice to the story that Tolkien was trying to tell.
9 He’ll Be Fine, I Promise
Gandalf is well known as a disturber of the peace in the Shire, and his reputation is well earned. Whenever he turns up hobbits are thrust into life-changing events, usually against their will. Though they return as better people, the situations they go through are consistently life-threatening.
And none had it worse than Frodo.
When Bilbo prepared to depart for Rivendell, he asked Gandalf to keep an eye on Frodo. This, promise, we have seen, proved a bit ambitious. Instead of keeping an eye on Frodo, Gandalf gave him the most evil trinket the world has ever known and sent him out with only his gardener for protection. Frodo nearly perished a dozen times before arriving safely at Rivendell. Then he was sent to Mordor, the most dangerous place on Middle Earth, to destroy said evil trinket! Hardly keeping an eye on someone, in our opinion.
8 Shield-Maiden Of Her Own Selfish Desires
Eowyn has a lot going for her. She is the niece of a great king of Rohan and has lived a privileged life. She's learned a great many skills, such as how to lead and how to fight, and she was slated to rule the kingdom in Theoden’s stead when he left to aid Gonder. But instead, she threw it all away to be a fighter.
Being a part of a royal family means thinking outside of yourself. Eowyn was convinced the only path for her was one of a warrior and disobeyed a direct order from her king to follow this dream. Her responsibility was to her people, but she chose to ignore them and seek glory in battle. It's a good thing she managed to slay the Witch King, otherwise, her actions would be unjustifiable.
7 A Wizard Should Know Better!
Magic is a curious force in Middle-earth. Only a select few can wield it, and its appearance always seems extremely elemental and powerful. Gandalf is one of the chief magic users in the series, yet is very reluctant to tap into his power, even when the situation calls for it.
He is usually seen fighting orcs with sword and staff, taking them down one by one like everyone else. But we have seen what Gandalf is capable of. He can create force fields and shocks waves, and can create beams of lights that repel evil. Why doesn’t he use some of these abilities in battle? Gandalf could have taken out, or at least disoriented, countless orcs in the Pelennor Fields with his shock waves, and probably has a dozen other tricks up his sleeve that he refused to reveal for some reason.
6 Some Friend You Are, Frodo
Samwise Gamgee is as loyal as gardeners come. From the first moments of their adventure, he had Frodo’s back and helped him selflessly on their adventure to Mordor. Without Sam, we can all agree that Frodo would never have made it anywhere close to Mt. Doom.
And yet, despite his loyalty, Frodo was ready to dismiss Sam at a moment's notice.
Granted, the evil of the ring and Gollum were both breaking him down, but such a condemnation should never have crossed his mind. Especially considering where they were, which was on the side of an evil mountain in the middle of nowhere. What's even more insane is that Sam let it happen! He was on his way home and probably would have perished along the way. Thank goodness he found that lembas bread and got his courage back!
5 Lava Is Less Hot In Middle-Earth
Oftentimes, you have to glaze over logic for the sake of a good story. LOTR is no different, and the logical leaps get larger and larger as the story progresses. One of the most blatant arrives when the hobbits finally get to the volcano. Do you know how hot the interior of an active volcano is?
We didn't know either, so we looked it up. The answer will melt your face: it can be upwards of 1100 degrees Celsius! No human or hobbit can survive that kind of heat, yet Sam, Gollum, and Frodo are all immersed in it. Once the ring is destroyed and the volcano erupts, Sam and Frodo somehow manage to survive the explosion and seek shelter on a rock. Being that close to flowing lava would end them just as fast as being inside the volcano, but we’ll let all this slide for the sake of a good story.
4 The One Time It Really Matters
As has already been established, Legolas is the best archer that Middle-earth has to offer. He can end a troll by firing an arrow through its open mouth. He can snipe a goblin in the eye from over 500 meters away while running. And he can surf down stairs on an Uruk shield and manage to get at least three fatalities at the same time.
Yet he can't take down one single Uruk when it counts.
The berserker Uruk running towards the wall with a lit torch like an Olympian should have been an easy target for the likes of Legolas. All it would take is a single arrow to the heart. He wasn't even wearing a breastplate! Yet all Legolas could hit were shoulders, and the Uruk set off the bomb without trouble, obliterating hundreds in the process.
3 You Think He Would Have Thought Of That
In the time of LOTR, Sauron had one weakness: the ring. He knew it was out in the world somewhere and could feel it. He knew there was only one way to destroy it. But he never imagined in a thousand lifetimes that two hobbits would sneak into his backyard and actually manage to cast the ring into the fire. Yet this is exactly what happened, and it could have been easily avoided if the dark lord had considered all possibilities.
All he would need is a single pair of orc sentries guarding the gates of Mt. Doom. Yes, it would be boring, seemingly redundant work, but they would have been able to easily overwhelm the exhausted hobbits. Sauron should have considered the possibility that the free peoples would try to undermine him where it hurts most. For a giant eyeball, Sauron certainly doesn't seem to have much foresight.
2 Aragorn's Foolproof Plan
After the battle of Pelennor Fields, things seemed optimistic for the free peoples of Middle-earth for about five minutes. They had won a decisive victory, but only thanks to an unstoppable army of ghost men, who had been promptly dismissed.
It then became clear that all of Mordor still remained, and the ring was nowhere near getting destroyed.
So what was Aragorn’s plan? Take his already exhausted army, and engage against Mordor in a nigh guaranteed suicide mission. It's a miracle anyone went with him at all. I suppose everyone knew they were doomed anyway, so they wanted to go out with a bang. The gamble thankfully paid off, but not before everyone was certain they were never going to make it home. Thank goodness the ground swallowed up just the orcs as well, made clean up a heck of a lot easier.
1 How Could We Forget The Eagles?
The eagles are LOTR’s most celebrated plot hole. It's been shown multiple times that they can fly people over vast distances, and could have flown the fellowship into Mordor, or at least close. So why in Eru’s name didn’t they make use of these magnificent creatures?
There are many canonically sound arguments as to why the eagles were ignored. Simply put, they are agents of Manwe, King of the Valar, and Lord of the Winds. The Valar are ancient spirits that helped form Middle-earth and live across the sea on the Undying Lands. They have sworn to participate little in the troubles of men and elves, and the Eagles only aided Gandalf because he is a Maia, a lesser version of a Valar spirit. But you don't think they could have made one exception, especially when the stakes were this high? Guess not!