The world of Middle-earth was created from a combination of notes that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote throughout most of his life, which eventually formed the basis for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien passed away before he had a chance to finish telling the story of Middle-earth, which is why Christopher Tolkien stepped up to the task and spent most of his life assembling his father's work into a cohesive whole.
The fact that the stories of The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy were created led to mistakes in terms of continuity and inaccuracies when it comes to dates. This is to be expected, considering the size of the work in question.
The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have been adapted on several occasions, which has led to new errors creeping into the work. This is also unsurprising, considering how much text that the filmmakers have had to squeeze into only a few hours of film.
We are here today to at the parts of Middle-earth that don't make sense (not counting the dragons and magical rings.) From Galadriel's flagrant rule-breaking when it came to using the power of her ring, to Saruman's underutilized assets during the War of the Ring.
Here are Twenty Things In The Lord Of The Rings That Made No Sense (That We All Choose To Ignore)
20 Nenya Is Not Subtle
The power of the magical rings in The Lord of the Rings tended to be very subtle and understated. You would be forgiven for thinking that the One Ring was a huge letdown, considering the fact that we only ever see it grant invisibility to its bearer. The Lord of the Rings movies tried hard to make the rings seem powerful in a visually pleasing way, which resulted in the ghostly world that Frodo saw whenever he put on the One Ring.
The three Elven Rings were intended to be even more subtle, as their three bearers were trying to hide their presence from Sauron.
They were mainly used for inspiring the hearts of men, healing the most serious of wounds, and protecting the realms of Rivendell and Lothlorien.
The biggest exception to the subtlety of the Elven Rings happened during the War of the Ring when Thranduil and Galadriel led an assault on the fortress of Dol Guldur. It is said that Galadriel used the power of her ring to throw down the walls of the fortress and lay its pits bare. The text is vague on how she accomplishes this, though it's certain that she used her magic to rip down a castle, which goes against all of the other subtle uses of the Elven Rings and the method by which the other rings in the series have worked.
19 Do Balrogs Have Wings Or Not?
One of the most hotly debated questions among The Lord of the Rings fanbase concerns the physiology of the Balrog. Fans have been asking whether they have wings ever since the book came out and we still don't have an answer.
The text in Fellowship of the Ring is vague, as the Balrog is described as having wings, but these could just be the shadow coming from its body.
The fact that the Balrog doesn't fly out of the pit when Gandalf breaks the bridge is a pretty big clue that the Balrog lacks wings, but this could also be due to the fact that it may need to take off in a specific manner in order to gain the momentum needed to fly, as is the case with some species of bird. The Peter Jackson version of Fellowship of the Ring showed the Balrog with skeletal wings, which was intended to be a happy medium between the two sides of the argument.
The real problem comes from the Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings, as the version of the Balrog that appears in the movie is seen flying, so there is no reason given as to why it allows itself to fall into the pit.
18 Shelob's Absurdly Sharp Stinger
Bilbo Baggins was given a chain shirt made of mithril during the events of The Hobbit. He would later bequeath the shirt to Frodo so that it could keep him safe during his own adventures. Mithril is one of the most precious metals in the world of Middle-earth. It is almost indestructible yet is somehow as light as a feather. The shirt would save both Bilbo and Frodo's lives.
All of this information was given on-screen throughout The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies. We see the shirt in action in Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo is stabbed by a spear that is being wielded by a massive cave troll.
It seems that Peter Jackson and his crew would later forget how mithril works, as Shelob is somehow able to pierce the shirt with her stinger and inject poison into Frodo. The shirt is later shown to be unharmed. The books explained that Shelob hit Frodo in the neck with her stinger. It's possible that the change was made due to a neck wound being too much to show on screen.
It's also possible that Shelob's stinger went a little further south than what the mithril shirt covered. He probably would have been glad for the paralyzing poison after taking a giant spider stinger there.
17 Who Is The Eldest?
Tom Bombadil is a character who was omitted from the film versions of Fellowship of the Ring. Tom was an enigma, even to Tolkien himself, as he seemed to be incredibly powerful and yet didn't care about the world outside of his home.
One of the lingering questions of The Lord of the Rings concerns the title of "Eldest" which refers to the oldest living being in Middle-earth. There are two candidates for this position, with different characters in the story referring to them as the original lifeforms of the world.
Tom Bombadil claims that he remembers the first moments of life itself on Middle-earth and claims to predate nature itself. Tom is also able to resist the power of the One Ring, which is linked to the fact that he comes from the time before Morgoth and Sauron.
Treebeard is the oldest of the Ents to still retain their consciousness in Middle-earth. Gandalf claims that Treebeard is the oldest of all living things in the world, which no one refutes. There is strong evidence to support either candidate for being the oldest living creature in Middle-earth, though it's possible that they may only consider themselves the Eldest from their own perspective and may not be aware of the truth.
16 Radagast The Coward
Radagast was one of the five Istari who was sent to aid the Elves and men of Middle-earth during their time of need. Two of the Istari disappeared into the East and were never heard from again, while the other three became known as Wizards and became important players in the history of Middle-earth.
Radagast took on the role of the protector of the animal kingdom and became known for his affinity for wild beasts. It is for this reason that he had less of a role in the story of The Lord of the Rings, due to Gandalf and Saruman having more of a direct involvement with the more powerful races of the world.
One of the unanswered questions of The Lord of the Rings concerns the fate of Radagast. The last time he is mentioned in the story is when scouts are sent to enlist his help and find that his home is abandoned.
What happened to Radagast during the War of the Ring? Did he take part in the fighting or did he remove himself from the conflict? If Radagast managed to survive, then what did he do after the War of the Ring? Did Radagast remain in Middle-earth or did he journey to the West like many of the other immortal beings?
15 Which Two Towers Were They (Even Tolkien Didn't Know)
J.R.R. Tolkien came up with several different names for the titles of the individual books of The Lord of the Rings. One of the original names for the second book in the series was The Treason of Isengard, which would be used in later editions of the books that broke them up into six pieces.
The second book in The Lord of the Rings series is called The Two Towers. The problem with this name is that there many towers within the story and the title could be referring to any of them.
Tolkien himself was actually unsure of which towers that the title referred to. The candidates include Orthanc, Barad-dur, Minas Tirith, Cirith Ungol, or Minas Morgul. There are strong cases to be made for each of them, as all of the towers were important to the story in their own way.
The Peter Jackson version of The Two Towers actually came up with an explanation for the name and included it in the dialogue of the film. There is a scene where Saruman is communicating with Sauron and he refers to the "union of the two towers" to refer to their alliance. This means that the two towers in the movie referred to Orthanc and Barad-dur.
14 Aruman The White
It wasn't until the early '00s that the technology existed to bring The Lord of the Rings to life in a live-action adaptation. Gollum alone would have been a nightmare to create in the days before CGI unless they managed to convince Iggy Pop to sign on for three movies.
Ralph Bakshi made a brave attempt at creating an animated version of The Lord of the Rings, which combined rotoscoping with scenes using traditional animation in order to create one of the most aesthetically unique films that you will ever see.
The Ralph Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings had to cut way more content than the live-action version of the film, as he was only given a single movie in which to cover most of Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers.
One of the strangest changes made to the Bakshi version of The Lord of the Rings involved Saruman. There are several scenes in the movie where he is referred to as Aruman, while other scenes keep the original name. The fans have suggested that this might have been a studio edict, as they may have been afraid that the audience might have confused the names of Saruman and Sauron.
13 Elrond Hogs All The Credit
One of the biggest changes made to the film adaptation of The Two Towers involved the arrival of a group of elven soldiers at the Battle of Helm's Deep. This followed a scene where Galadriel spoke to Elrond using long distance ring magic and wondered whether they should abandon the people of Middle-earth to their fate.
This storyline could not have happened in the books, as Sauron was attacking every major kingdom as part of his plan, in order to distract them while he dealt with Gondor.
The most confusing aspect of this scene is that the elven force is made up of Lothlorien soldiers, who are being led by Haldir, who is the marchwarden of Lothlorien. These are soldiers who serve Galadriel, yet Haldir claims that they were sent by Elrond as part of the ancient alliance between the two races.
One possible solution for this inconsistency involves a late change to the story of The Two Towers. The filmmakers had originally wanted to include Arwen in the Battle of Helm's Deep, with her bringing the reforged Narsil to Aragorn and taking part in the combat. These scenes were partially filmed but never finished, due to the filmmakers changing their minds. It's possible that Haldir was thrown in as a last-minute replacement, with the references to Elrond in his dialogue being an oversight.
12 What Is The Flame Of Anor?
The scene where Gandalf confronts the Balrog in Fellowship of the Ring is one of the highlights of the series. It is one of the few moments where Gandalf cuts loose and exhibits his magical powers, which even includes how the scene plays out in the books.
When Gandalf is telling the Balrog that he cannot pass, he claims that he is a servant of the Secret Fire and the wielder of the flame of Anor. The movie version of Fellowship of the Ring suggests that this is the name used for the magical shield that Gandalf conjures up around himself, but this is an invention for the film.
It's never explained exactly what the flame of Anor actually refers to, as it is never mentioned again in any other part of the series. Anor is the elven word for "Sun" which could mean that Gandalf was wielding the power of the sun itself, but it's never explained how he could do this.
It's also possible that the flame of Anor refers to the power of the ring that he wore, as Narya was considered to be the Ring of Fire. Gandalf almost never used the power of the ring openly in the story of The Lord of the Rings, though the direness of the situation may have prompted him to finally unleash his true power.
11 The Ents Can Yoga Teleport To Treebeard's Side
One of the biggest changes in the movie adaptation of The Two Towers involved the Ents initially refusing to help Merry and Pippin. This came as a big shock to those who had read the books and were expecting the Ents to go tear up Isengard. It's possible that this change was only made to surprise those familiar with the books, as it comes after the other big change involving the elves arriving at Helm's Deep.
The Ents are eventually convinced to enter the war when Merry and Pippin convince Treebeard to go on a path that leads to the destroyed parts of Fangorn Forest.
The problem with this scene is that Treebeard lets out a scream, which not only convinces every Ent in Fangorn Forest to arrive at his position and get ready for battle, but it somehow manages to teleport them within a short walking distance.
We understand that Peter Jackson was aiming for brevity when creating this scene, but it makes no sense, as we had previously seen how slow the Ents were when making decisions and moving. The fact that they suddenly teleported into position when needed made the scene seem rushed and unsatisfying.
10 Don't Let Grima Escape!
Grima Wormtongue acted as Saruman's spy within Rohan. This led to Grima manipulating King Theoden, which wasn't stopped until Gandalf and his companions arrived at Edoras and freed Theoden from the influence that was poisoning his mind.
In the books, Grima was given the choice of riding into battle or accepting exile. Grima chose the latter and fled to Saruman's side. He would later be the one who took Saruman's life before he was shot down by archers.
The movie version of Grima Wormtongue was allowed to flee from Edoras, despite the fact that he had valuable information concerning the defenses of Rohan. It was due to Grima's knowledge that Saruman learned how to break open the walls of Helm's Deep. Grima would later be shot by Legolas, but this scene could only be seen on the extended edition of Return of the King.
It's never explained why Grima was allowed to flee from Edoras. King Theoden could have dispatched riders to catch him before he got too far and brought him to justice for his treason. This would have severely weakened Saruman's cause, yet Grima is allowed to run away with all of the national secrets and defensive plans that he had learned during his time as an advisor.
9 The Picky Ring
The One Ring had a will of its own which allowed it to betray to escape its owners, which it could do by altering its size and escaping from their finger. This was how the One Ring betrayed Isildur, as it escaped from his hand and allowed him to shot down by his enemies.
It's stated that the One Ring wanted to be reunited with Sauron, which is why it bided its time and waited for the perfect opportunity to escape from its current bearer. The One Ring had the misfortune of falling into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, who was an ally of the side who opposed Sauron. Bilbo's resistance to the One Ring's seduction meant that it had to wait even longer before it could sink its claws into him.
The one thing that was never clear about the One Ring is why it waited so long within Gollum's cave. We know for a fact that goblins would sometimes enter become lost and enter Gollum's cave, but the One Ring never tried to reach out to them. It would have had a much easier time trying to escape on the hands of a goblin, yet it kept on waiting in the darkness.
8 Saruman Has Amazing Acoustics
The end of The Lord of the Rings novels is a lot different than the movie version of Return of the King. One of the biggest changes was the fact that a diminished Saruman and Grima Wormtongue managed to escape from Orthanc and made their way West. They managed to take over the Shire, meant that Frodo and his friends had to save their home after the War of the Rings.
The final encounter with Saruman is different in the movies. The theatrical cut of Return of the King just handwaved away Saruman's existence in an obvious edit. The extended edition actually showed the fate of Saruman, as Grima stabs him in the back, causing him to fall onto a water wheel.
The fact that these extended scenes were cut out of Return of the King actually caused a rift between Christopher Lee and Peter Jackson, though the two of them were able to reconcile their problems in time for The Hobbit and before Lee passed away.
The problem with this scene is the fact that Saruman is engaging his enemies in polite conversation, despite the fact that he is on the top of a massive tower. We have previously seen Saruman using magic to enhance his voice, but this effect wasn't used during this scene.
7 Galadriel Is Not Woman Enough For The Witch-King
The Witch-king of Angmar has the unusual trait of being weak to technicalities. The reason why Eowyn was able to destroy the Witch-king was due to a prophecy that stated that no man could take the Witch-king's life.
This idea of a man believing he was invincible due to a prophecy was actually taken from Macbeth, as Macbeth is told that he cannot be harmed by a man of woman born. He is later slain by Macduff, who is revealed to have been torn from his mother's womb before she was due to give birth.
The final movie in The Hobbit trilogy brought back the Nazgul for a scene where the members of the White Council attack Dol Guldur and chase out the Necromancer. There is a moment where Galadriel loses control and unleashes her full power against the Nazgul and Sauron. This scene treats the dark version of Galadriel from the scene where she is tempted by the One Ring into some kind of Super Saiyan style powerup.
We see Galadriel blasting the Nazgul into dust, yet this doesn't destroy the Witch-king. Is Galadriel not woman enough for the prophecy? Do you have to be at least Shania Twain levels of woman before you can destroy the Witch-king of Angmar?
6 Sauron's Lack Of Fingers
When Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's finger, it caused him to lose almost all of his power and destroyed his physical form. This turned Sauron into a malevolent spirit who was unable to influence the outside world.
It took many years, but Sauron was eventually able to create a new body. Gollum actually Sauron when he was dragged before him, though his description was vague. The only thing we know for sure about Sauron's new form is that he is still missing the finger that Isildur cut from his hand.
The Peter Jackson version of The Lord of the Rings included a line where Saruman claimed that Sauron was still unable to take on a physical form. This raises the question of how he was going to be able to put on the One Ring if it had somehow been returned to Mordor?
This is even further confused by information from the documentaries that were included on the Return of the King extended editions. It was originally planned for Aragorn to battle a revived Sauron during the final battle of the movie, but these scenes went unfinished and a CGI troll was used in his place.
5 The Detour
The story of Frodo & Sam's encounter with Faramir was drastically changed in The Two Towers. This was due to how they essentially just had a friendly chat in the books before Faramir sent them on their way. The movie version of the storyline involved Faramir being tempted by the One Ring and taking the Hobbits to Osgiliath, which was under siege by Sauron's armies. Faramir never actually takes the One Ring, even though he has plenty of opportunities to do so.
Frodo is possessed by the power of the One Ring, which causes him to almost given the ring to one of the Nazgul. Sam manages to intervene, which leads to Faramir finally overcoming his desire for the One Ring. Faramir goes on to free the Hobbits and sends them back on their way to Mordor.
This change is the one that makes the least sense in terms of the overall story of the series. If Sauron had thought for one second that the One Ring was in Osgiliath then he would have dispatched his entire army straight away to try and take Gondor. He would have unleashed the Nazgul on the region until they had torn apart the city in their search for Frodo.
4 Legolas' Technicolor Eyes
It's not unusual for films to make it to theaters with audio or visual production mistakes. This is far more forgivable for the Peter Jackson adaptations of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, as he filmed almost twenty hours worth of movies combined if you count the length of the Extended Editions.
One of the most obvious technical inaccuracies involved the eyes of Legolas. This is due to the fact that Orlando Bloom wore contacts throughout most of the filming of the films.
Orlando Bloom has brown eyes in real life, but the filmmakers wanted Legolas to have striking blue eyes. This resulted in Bloom having to wear contacts that changed the color of his eyes. The reason for this decision is linked to the fact that most of the elves in The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit movies had beautiful eyes, which included using Christmas lights during filming to give Galadriel seven different points of light in her eyes.
Fans have noticed that Legolas' eyes change color many different times throughout the films. This is due to the fact that Orlando Bloom didn't wear them for every scene, especially ones that involved fight coordination or stuntwork. The post-production on some of the scenes also messed with the colors seen on the screen, which sometimes made Legolas' eyes seem darker or a different color entirely.
3 The Trollshaw Travel Agent
The routes taken by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins during their adventures in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings started out on a similar path, with both of them heading towards Rivendell in order to seek out Elrond. Their paths diverged heavily after this, with Bilbo having a light-hearted adventure in the lands of Middle-earth while Frodo was forced to walk through a hellish landscape while an addictive magical ring slowly gnawed away at his soul.
There are some discrepancies regarding the time taken during Bilbo and Frodo's journies after leaving The Shire. The biggest inconsistency involves the area known as the Trollshaws. The Trollshaws is the location where Bilbo and the dwarves encountered the three trolls who eventually turned to stone. Frodo also traveled through this region on his way to Rivendell.
Bilbo and his allies travel across a stone bridge in the Trollshaws and encountered the trolls a few hours later. When Frodo made the same journey, it took six days of travel to make the journey from the stone bridge to the petrified trolls.
It's possible that Aragorn was taking them on a roundabout journey in order to avoid the Nazgul, but spending six days on backtracking seems like an excessive amount of time when the enemy is mustering its might to try and stop you from reaching Rivendell.
2 The Vanishing Army
In The Two Towers, Frodo and Sam attempt to sneak past the Black Gate of Mordor. They are almost spotted by Easterling warriors, who break rank in order to check out the disturbance. It's only due to the incredible camouflage ability of their elven cloaks that Frodo and Sam managed to escape detection.
The warriors that Frodo & Sam saw were Easterlings, who hail from the uncharted lands of Rhun. The kingdoms of Rhun were conquered by Sauron, due to their close proximity to Mordor, which is why their armies served him during the War of the Ring.
One of the problems with the Peter Jackson adaptation of The Lord of the Rings is that we never see the Easterlings again. The army that Sauron unleashes upon Gondor is composed of orcs and Haradrim. The highly trained forces that Frodo and Sam witness never appear again.
The Lord of the Rings novels explains why the Easterlings may not have appeared during the Battle of Pelennor Fields, as Sauron was using his forces to attack various different factions in order to prevent them from coming to Gondor's aid. It's just a shame that the movie introduced such a cool looking army and then never did anything with them.
1 Saruman's Bombs
The invention of firearms changed the face of warfare forever, as no melee weapon could hope to match the power of gunpowder or explosives.
It seems that Saruman was way ahead of the curve, as he had found a way to create explosives at some point during the War of the Rings. This offered him the change to create devastating explosions without having to resort to magic, which would have involved a tremendous amount of power to accomplish.
J.R.R. Tolkien had stated that Saruman possessed the power to forge his own Ring of Power, which he may have used to challenge Sauron or become a new Dark Lord after the One Ring was destroyed. Saruman didn't need to try so hard, as he possessed a level of technology that was so far advanced compared to his competition that he could have easily won the War of the Rings had he utilized it properly, yet he only ever used it to break through the defenses of Helm's Deep.
The fact that Saruman could create bombs would have made his armies unstoppable on the battlefield if he had come up with a way to fire them over a great distance, like with a catapult or similar siege weapon, yet he never makes full use of the incredible power that was available to him.