To this day, The Lord of the Rings remains one of the best movie adaptations of a novel series. Despite its many changes and nuances, the films are just as beloved as the books, and are great in their own ways. While the franchise doesn’t have the lasting mass appeal as Harry Potter or even Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings is still one of the best fantasy epics of this generation.
One thing that made the movies so good was that director Peter Jackson wasn’t afraid to change things where he felt necessary. Instead of shooting the movie straight, recreating each scene from the book, many things were changed to better fit the new storytelling medium and have a much more concise picture for the big screen. That didn’t stop some fans from feeling burned by the changes, but they proved beneficial in the long run.
However, this led to many things that were cut from The Lord of the Rings movies. While some were a bit dumbfounding to some people, there were other changes that made a lot of sense. After all, there were some weird things in the books that didn’t make it into the movies that casual watchers wouldn’t understand.
The Lord of the Rings had plenty of things cut in the transition from book to film. However, get ready to learn about 25 weird things that were taken from the movies but were still in the books. You may not see Middle-Earth the same way again.
25 Tom Bombadil
One of the most controversial changes to The Lord of the Rings films was that Tom Bombadil was cut. While he was a fan-favorite character, it makes sense why he was passed over. There was a strange mystery about the character, and even book fans aren’t quite sure who he is or why the One Ring doesn’t affect him. It also presents another problem with Frodo’s quest (why didn’t they give the Ring to Tom?). He didn’t add much to the story.
When Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin first embarked on their journey in the books, they were halted in their progress by the Barrow-Downs. It was there that they were imprisoned by Barrow Wights before being rescued by Tom Bombadil. This scene was always just another bit of worldbuilding that just padded out the length of the novel (it had its place in context). Having random ghosts in the movies would confuse people watching the movies, especially considering how the Nazgul looked beneath their cloaks.
Fans of the movies might remember the scene of Frodo being taken to Rivendell by Arwen, but she didn’t have such an active role in the books. Instead, it was an elf named Glorfindel who took the Hobbit to the House of Elrond. Having a new character appear only once doesn’t serve the story much, so it’s a better change that Arwen was the one to do it in the films. It also gives her more to do that doesn’t just make her a random love interest.
22 Aragorn’s Kingly Desire
Aragorn in the movies is much different from Aragorn in the books. His entire personality was cut then built from the ground up. Aragorn, in the books, was always ready to talk about his heritage and was parading toward Minas Tirith to become the King of Gondor.
However, the movies saw him afraid to become king and didn’t want to make the same mistakes of his ancestors.
Having this more humbling attitude did help the audience to sympathize with Aragorn and follow his own internal journey.
21 Catch-Up With Thorin’s Company
Thorin’s company involved the dwarves that went with Bilbo and Gandalf to Erebor to take back the Lonely Mountain. In The Lord of the Rings books, we learn a bit about what they’ve been doing since then. Even Bombur gets a nod in the story, being so overweight that it takes a few dwarves to merely lift him out of bed. Without The Hobbit movies coming before The Lord of the Rings, those references were cut from the movies. Instead, we get tiny references to the events of Bilbo’s adventure.
20 Having Anduril
Anduril was the re-forged version of Narsil, the blade that defeated Sauron. Being the King of Gondor, Aragorn was given this blade. However, the movies didn’t give it to him until Return of the King. In the books, he had it since The Fellowship of the Ring. It went along with his personality of being ready to become the rightful king. In the movies, this change made more sense, as it signified his acceptance of his destiny. It also looked pretty cool.
19 Frodo’s Strange Knowledge
Dialogue wasn’t always the best way to get a feel for the characters in The Lord of the Rings books. Conversations often felt expository and it was difficult to distinguish one personality from the next. Frodo was given some moments where he seemed strangely wise and educated despite not being outside of the Shire.
This was cut from the movies, having him become more of a slightly clever yet naïve young Hobbit.
Most of the wisdom came from the older characters like Gandalf.
18 Gandalf Riding Alone
When Gandalf first arrives in the Shire in The Fellowship of the Ring, he does so on a carriage. In the films, Frodo meets him and rides with him for a spell until getting off before Bag End. In the books, this wasn’t the case. Frodo and Gandalf didn’t cross paths until Bilbo’s party, meaning that Gandalf was riding by himself the entire time. It was just a small change, but it was likely to better establish the Hobbit’s relationship with the wizard.
17 The Dragon Firework
Believe it or not, the dragon firework wasn’t just a visual trick for the films. It was in the books as well, but it was set off a bit differently. It’s commonly known as the firework set off by Merry and Pippin, who were fooling around. In the books, Gandalf was the one who intentionally set it off for a bigger spectacle. The change was likely made to better showcase the mischievous personalities of Merry and Pippin instead of just showing Gandalf’s fireworks a bit more.
16 The Flashing Disappearance
Bilbo did some strange things at his party, and it culminated with him putting on the One Ring during his speech and disappearing into thin air. Gandalf was surprised by this in the films, but not so much in the books. To prevent people from talking, he produced a flash that made it look like Bilbo conjured some neat trick. With the way the movies handled it, there’s a bit of uncomfortable mystery as we see the power of the Ring.
15 Talking To The Wood Elves
There’s something strangely sad about the Elves’ departure from Middle-Earth in The Lord of the Rings. However, Frodo and Sam get to meet more of them in the books than just in Rivendell and Lothlorien. During their journey, they found some Wood Elves, and they were invited to some food and a fire while they talked. In the movies, though, this entire scene was cut. Only the Extended Edition offers a glimpse of the Wood Elves, but that’s all we see of them.
14 Homey Bree
Bree is a grungy, dark place in The Lord of the Rings films. It’s filled with strange people and doesn’t boast decent company. However, that was a big change from the books. The Hobbits’ arrival in Bree took place during the day and it wasn’t even raining. The Prancing Pony looked like a welcoming and homey place rather than the dirty establishment we see in the films. Having Bree be so comfortable seems so odd, especially for those who are more familiar with the movies.
13 Bilbo At The Council
Bilbo was the one who had the Ring at the start of the story. Because of this, he was at the Council of Elrond in the books.
He even offered to take the Ring to Mordor himself, but Gandalf told him his time was over.
However, the movies remove him from the meeting altogether. Frodo was technically the only Hobbit who attended the Council in the films. It’s a bit of a weird change too, as it would’ve been interesting to hear a bit more of Bilbo’s perspective.
12 The Magic Of Caradhras
The Fellowship makes a perilous journey through Caradhras (or the Misty Mountains) in the first leg of the story. In both versions, they’re held back by the weather. However, the causes were different. The films were because Saruman cast a dark spell to force them into the Mines of Moria. In the books, there were some hints toward the mountains themselves being responsible for the storm. Either way, removing the mysticism of the mountains was probably for the best. Viewers don’t need to be confused.
Throughout The Lord of the Rings movies, we only ever get the name of one Ent: Treebeard. There are other Ents, but they’re never deemed important enough to name. That’s not the case in the books, which even has Merry and Pippin ride on a different Ent named Quickbeam. This one wanted to go to war against Isengard, which gave him some common ground with the Hobbits. It did detract from the main story, though, so it makes sense to cut Quickbeam.
10 Saruman In Fangorn
When it came to the books, there were just so many small details that helped to better explain the world that were left out of the movies for the sake of being concise. In The Two Towers, Saruman was seen walking through Fangorn, for whatever reason we’re not sure. In the movies, we never see Saruman walk through the woods. As a matter of fact, he outright refuses to go there. It was a long time ago when he used to travel through Fangorn according to Treebeard. A Saruman cameo would’ve felt odd at that point in the story anyway.
9 Elrond’s Approval
Elrond didn’t struggle too much with Aragorn and Arwen in the books. When she wanted to stay in Middle-Earth to be with him, his only condition was that he became the king of both Gondor and Arnor. In the movies, Elrond had a bit of a harder time. His approval was removed entirely from the story and replaced with a loving yet disapproving father who just didn’t want to live in eternity without his own daughter. It’s just a different take that made him more human in the movies.
8 Sam’s Line About The Haradrim
When Sam and Frodo first see the Mumakil, it’s a big moment. However, that becomes a big problem when they’re caught in the middle of an ambush by the Ithilien rangers. They witness the demise of a Haradrim and Faramir gives a speech about the sinister soldier’s humanity.
However, in the books, this line goes to Sam, who was always a bit of a nicer guy.
The change was a bit weird, but it probably was to paint Faramir as a more sympathetic character in the films.
7 Faramir And The Ring
In the movies, we see Faramir struggle with his importance to his father (especially over his brother). When he finally sees the chance to prove his quality by bringing the Ring to Minas Tirith, things seem to get dire. He eventually lets Frodo and Sam go, though. In the books, this never happened. Faramir even told Frodo not to show him the Ring. He never tried to take it and even let Frodo and Sam travel freely through the lands of Gondor.
6 Only Rohan’s Aid At Helm’s Deep
This is more about an addition than a cut, but it’s relevant nonetheless. During the battle of Helm’s Deep, King Theoden only gets help from a few other clans of Rohan. In the movies, it transpires a bit differently with one last alliance between men and elves. Haldir and a party of Lothlorien elves come to aid Rohan. Either way, though, the fight becomes extremely dire both times, with all but a few men left standing before Gandalf arrives to turn the tide of war.
5 Sacking Of The Shire
Another big thing from the books that was cut from the movies is the sacking of the Shire. When the Hobbits return home after their long journey, they find Saruman and Wormtongue there with some minions trying to destroy it. However, they fight with some Hobbits and end up destroying the White Wizard once and for all. It was always a weird scene in context of how climactic the previous parts of the book were, so it makes sense that it would be cut from the films.
4 Articulate Orcs
Orcs in the movies seem simple-minded and want nothing more than to chomp down on some man flesh. The books don’t quite portray them the same way. When Mordor’s armies were marching toward Minas Tirith, there was nothing to suggest that they were mean and dumb.
On the contrary, they seemed much more articulate and well-prepared for the war they were about to wage.
Articulate orcs would’ve felt a bit out of place in the movies, though, as it made for a much more sinister battle.
3 Lord Denethor With A Palantir
This is something that the movie never quite addresses. Lord Denethor uses a Palantir, which makes him insane. However, he’s never seen using a Palantir, nor is it ever fully suggested in dialogue that he has one save for a single line. Only those who understand more about the world would be able to piece two and two together. In the books, it’s more clearly explained, so his actions are a bit more understandable during the battle of Minas Tirith.
2 Gimli’s Stoic Personality
Gimli from the books and Gimli from the movies might as well be two different characters. His stoic demeanor from the books was entirely cut from the films. To create a more dynamic mix of characters. Gimli was turned into more of a comic relief character with some hilarious lines. In general, there was little humor in the books, so that was a big change to the movies. Gimli’s new personality in the films also gave him plenty of room to play off of Legolas.
1 Aragorn’s Camp In Ithilien
This moment was always a bit odd. After Frodo and Sam destroy the Ring, they’re taken to Aragorn’s camp in Ithilien, where Frodo gets healed. The movies don’t suddenly take characters to a new location. Instead, Frodo and Sam are taken to a place that the audience already knows, the peaceful Rivendell. That way, the audience can feel a sense of security, and it also ties back to the Fellowship being formed there in the first place. Introducing a random camp would’ve been a bit odd.