Lord Of The Rings

10 Things From The LOTR Movies People Commonly Mistake For Tolkien Canon

Tolkien fans are very critical of any changes made to The LOTR books and related works, but some changes have slowly become accepted as canon.

Tolkien’s works are gaining yet another screen adaptation, this time in the form of a series on Prime Video. The series, titled The Rings of Power, has stirred up a lot of discussions due to its clear adjustments to the world that Tolkien spent his life meticulously developing.

While fans continue to be critical of what the new series will bring, The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy that was directed by Peter Jackson has been used as an example of a well-done adaptation with many fans hoping The Rings if Power will do Tolkien’s work equal justice. However, there were many additions to The Lord of the Rings movies that are often mistaken as Tolkien canon, but still added to the value of the story.

10Merry And Pippin’s Trouble Making

Merry and Pippin are friends of Frodo’s from the shire, and prove themselves to be brave and reliable in both the books and the movies. When they are first introduced to the screen in The Fellowship of the Ring they are seen setting off fireworks when they shouldn’t and stealing crops to feed their insatiable appetites.

While these mischievous acts made the two hobbits instantly likable to audiences, they are not portrayed this way in the books. Tolkien originally wrote Merry to be responsible, logical, and Frodo’s best of friends. Pippin, while considerably younger and more free-spirited, is still not nearly as mischievous as they make him in the movies.

9Aragorn’s Hesitation To Be King

In the books, Aragorn is very aware of his destiny to become king. He is proud of his lineage and truly has the spirit of a great leader. He is never boastful or arrogant, but he recognizes his duty and has known the prophecy surrounding his kingship his entire life.

In the movies, Aragorn is reluctant to become king. He has chosen the path of exile and is afraid to repeat the mistakes made by his ancestors. While in both versions Aragorn is good, strong, and a born leader, the change in his intention created a much more interesting character arc, and a considerably more triumphant return when he finally embraces his destiny.

8The Sword That Was Broken

In both the books and the movies, the sword, Narsil, is broken when Aragorn’s ancestor battles Sauron. In the movies, the broken shards of the sword are kept at Rivendell until Return of the King, when Elrond has them reforged and brings them to Aragorn to use in the final battle.

In the books, however, Aragorn always has the shards of the sword in his possession. When he delivers the hobbits to Rivendell, one of the most beautiful locations of The Lord of the Rings, he has the sword reforged himself. The movie’s version of the events contributes to Aragorn’s character arc, as well as creates an unforgettable scene as Elrond pulls out the sword and presents it to the future king.

7Arwen Saving Frodo

The book version of Arwen has virtually no lines, and the romance between her and Aragorn is only hinted at until their marriage in Return of the King. Instead of Arwen arriving just in time to rush Frodo back to Rivendell, an elf by the name of Glorfindel takes this credit.

Tolkien did not give much thought to many of his female characters, but Peter Jackson’s movies (sort-of) sought to correct that. Aragorn and Arwen’s romance was discussed in the appendix of Return of the King, so the movie creators did have Tolkien canon to work from, but they greatly added to her character and personality to keep her from melting into the background.

6Elrond’s Objections Of Aragorn

Aragorn and Arwen’s relationship became considerably more interesting when they were fighting against the odds. For this reason, the movies chose to portray their relationship as “forbidden” and had Elrond show his disapproval over the situation.

However, in the books, this is not the case. Elrond himself is half-elven. So the concept of Men and Elves joining is not new. Elrond also considered Aragorn a son, whom he loved just as much as his daughter. Elrond only gives the condition that they must wait to be wed until Aragorn was crowned king, which they both knew was destined to happen.

5Théoden’s Resistance To Gandalf’s Advice

Théoden is a likable yet stubborn character in both the books and the movies. He is a true and just king who has the respect of all of his people. However, in the movies, after Gandalf releases him from Saruman’s spell, Theoden is faced with the pressure of deciding whether Rohan will fight, or go find shelter.

The events of the book are completely different, however. Once he is in his right mind, Théoden does not doubt his duty to fight Saruman. He leaves Rohan in the hands of his niece, Éowyn, and leads his army to Helm’s Deep to meet Saruman’s army head-on. This version is slightly less exciting than the movies.

4Aragorn’s Tumble Off The Cliff

In the movies, as Aragorn travels with the citizens of Rohan, they are set upon by orcs and a small battle ensues. Aragorn ends up falling off a cliff and is considered to be dead until he makes a dramatic reentrance at Helm’s Deep.

This scene is a complete invention for the movies. In the books, Aragorn never comes so close to death. This scene was likely added as a way to build the connection between Éowyn and Aragorn, as well as to show his conflicted feelings about his love for Arwen, once again giving more development to the female characters and demonstrating ways that The Lord of the Rings movies did it better than the books. 

3Saruman’s End

In the movies, Treebeard keeps Saruman imprisoned in his tower after reclaiming Isengard. In the extended versions of the films, audiences watch Saruman fall from the top of the tower and become impaled on a spike, but this scene was removed from the final cut and never took place in the books.

Tolkien saw Saruman meet his end differently. Treebeard allows him to leave the tower with Grima, and the two head to the Shire and take over. However, Grima eventually turns on Saruman and kills him. This all takes place after the main climax of Return of the King so it makes sense that Peter Jackson would choose to skip it as it would have been nearly impossible to adapt to The Lord of The Rings films.

2Faramir’s Temptation

When Frodo meets Faramir in the movies, he is tempted by the ring in the same way his brother was, wishing to return it to his father to use it to win the war and earn approval. This relatable conflict made him an unexpected fan favorite in The Lord of the Rings

In the books, however, Faramir is completely different from Boromir.  When he learns that his brother died after being tempted by the ring, he realizes immediately that it should be avoided at all costs.  While he is a morally better character in the books, the relatable conflict that Faramir faced made him an unexpected fan-favorite character in The Lord of the Rings movies.

1Frodo Sending Sam Away

In the films, Frodo’s paranoia that someone will try to take the ring from him grows as time goes on. Gollum uses this to his advantage, slowly turning Frodo from Sam. Eventually, Gollum’s plan is successful, resulting in Frodo yelling at Sam to return home.

This does not happen in the books. Frodo’s inner dialogue explains his paranoia and the change that is slowly made to his mind and spirit from possessing the ring for so long. He does snap at Sam a few times, but the two remain loyal to each other. The drama of Sam’s departure, only to return just in time to save Frodo from Shelob allowed the movie creators to not only demonstrate Frodo’s change but to also demonstrate Sam’s unending loyalty.

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