The Return of the King

Important Note: This information was originally compiled while the Lord of the Rings Film were still in Production.  It is now in the Process of being updated with the actual changes that were made when the Film went into release.


Shelob Appears in Third Film

Film: The encounter with Shelob will not appear until the third film.

Book: The second book ends with the spider Shelob poisoning Frodo, Sam stabbing said Shelob, and the poisoned Frodo being captured by orcs.

Pro: According to Peter Jackson, "''If we started Return of the King after Shelob - the way the Book do - there'd be very little for Frodo and Sam to do," It also allows the time frames of the separated characters to more closely match each other.

Con: Frodo being stabbed by Shelob and taken prisoner by the orcs was the perfect cliffhanger on which to end the second film.


Round Spiked Wheelie Dealie (RSWD)

Wizard impaled on spiked wheelWizard impaled on spiked wheelFilm: Saruman is killed after his staff is broken by Gandalf. He is pushed off the balcony by Grima and is impaled on one of his machines, a spiked wheel.

Book: Saruman dies after Wormtongue slashes his throat in the Shire at the end of the War of the Ring.

Pro: If there is no time to fully depict the Scouring of the Shire as Tolkien wrote it in the third film, then this death Provides his character with a fitting end. It is poetic justice that he dies upon his own machinery (as well as an in-joke about Christopher Lee's portrayal of Dracula in other Film).

Con: Impalement is a cheesy death, seen in too many other Film. By not imprisoning him in Orthanc, it robs the filmmakers a chance to show Gandalf's compassion. Besides, the Scouring of the Shire is one of the best parts of the book.

Note: Many originally believed that the "wizard kabob" was a prank that Peter Jackson played on people attempting to spy on the production. Only a few days before the RSWD scene appeared in full view of the public street, production guards aggressively chased away people who were getting to close to the filming.


Saruman Falls Holding Palantír

Film: After being impaled upon the wheel at Orthanc, Saruman drops the palantír from his hand and into the flood water of Isengard.

Book: Wormtongue throws the palantír out of an Orthanc window, where it hits the railing of the balcony that Saruman was standing upon and rolls toward a pool before Pippin rescues it.

Pro: If Saruman is to die on the RSWD, this is a good way to "kill two birds with one stone."

Con: This change is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Legolas Kills Wormtongue

Film: After Wormtongue pushes Saruman off of the balcony at Orthanc, Legolas kills him with a well-placed arrow.

Book: Wormtongue is killed by hobbits after murdering Saruman at the Scouring of the Shire.

Pro: If there is no time to fully depict the Scouring of the Shire as Tolkien wrote it in the third film, this is a good way to Wormtongue to conclude his role in the story.

Con: This change is an invention of the filmmakers and does not represent Tolkien's work or characters.


Merry Offers Sword at Edoras

Merry offers his sword to TheodenMerry offers his sword to TheodenFilm: Merry offers his sword to King Théoden outside the Golden Hall at Edoras.

Book: Merry does this inside the hall of the Hornburg at mealtime.

Pro: The change of locale gives the scene more visual impact.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Merry and Pippin Wake Up in Edoras

Film: Pippin and Merry appear in a scene in which they wake up in "the sleeping quarters of Edoras."

Book: There is no such scene, although the two hobbits would have slept at Edoras when they arrived to bury King Théoden.

Pro: This is probably used as a transition scene to help set time and place for the audience.

Con: The script would require additional dialog written by the scriptwriters rather than by Tolkien.


Faramir Meets Pippin on the Streets of Minas Tirith

Film: When Faramir arrives in Minas Tirith from his travels in Ithilien and sees Pippin on the city streets, he immediately reveals to Gandalf that this is not the first halfling he has seen.

Book: Faramir does not reveal his encounter with Sam and Frodo until he reports to Lord Denethor in his private chamber.

Pro: By moving some of the action from Denethor's chamber to the city streets, the filmmakers take better advantage of what films' do especially well - move the audience from location to location. Having too much action confined to a single room would make the film seem too much like a stage play.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Wounded Faramir Dragged by Horse

Film: When Faramir retreats from his defense of Osgiliath, he is pierced by many arrows and is brought into Minas Tirith dragged by his horse.

Book: Faramir is pierced by only a single dart, and Prince Imrahil carries him back to Minas Tirith.

Pro: Apparently Imrahil does not appear in the films. This eliminates unnecessary introduction scenes and gives the more important characters more of the dialog. This particular change could be quite exciting to watch.

Con: Imrahil is a favorite character among fans. Eliminating him just to add more action-adventure trivializes the story.


Orcs Growl and Wear Scavenged Armor

Where did that Orc in the middle scavenge the fuzzy hat from?Where did that Orc in the middle scavenge the fuzzy hat from?Film: At the battle of the Pelennor Fields, Orcs growl like animals and scavenge through the bodies of their victims to steal bits of clothing. (Some Orcs were dressed in a mix of clothing scraps.)

Book: All Orcs in the story were relatively articulate, and no mention was made of Mordor's armies being anything but already well-equipped for battle.

Pro: The "scavenging" was an unfortunate necessity for the Pelennor Fields battle scenes, because there weren't enough Orc costumes to go around. However, the growling makes them more fierce.

Con: Sauron had long prepared for this battle, and his forces would have been well-equipped. The Orcs were intelligent creatures, but having them growl diminishes that notion.

Note: For the Pelennor Fields battle scenes, some Orcs were dressed in a mix of clothing scraps because there weren't enough Orc costumes to go around.


Plate Armor

Gondor soldiers in plate armorGondor soldiers in plate armorFilm: At least some of Gondor's warriors wear medieval-style plate armor.

Book: While Tolkien describes characters as wearing chain mail throughout the story, no mention is made of anyone wearing plate armor.

Pro: Plate armor makes for more impressive costumes.

Con: Tolkien's world was not a medieval one. Besides, plate armor always makes fighters in films look stupid.


Fighting Occurs within City Walls

Film: A battle takes place within the walls of Minas Tirith.

Book: Sauron's forces do break the gate open, and Gandalf confronts Witch-king as he attempts to enter the city. However, the Rohirrim suddenly arrive, and Sauron's forces return to the Pelennor Fields to fight them.

Pro: Having some of the battle take place within the city makes it more visually interesting.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Captains of the West Meet in Denethor's Hall

Film: Aragorn, Gandalf, Eomer and Legolas meet in Denethor's Hall after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Aragorn suggests challenging Sauron's forces at the Gates of Mordor to distract him and give Frodo an opportunity to reach Mount Doom.

Book: This meeting is held at Aragorn's camp outside the city, and it is Gandalf who suggests the ruse.

Pro: This change prevents wasting screen time explaining Aragorn's camp outside the city. Also, having Aragorn propose the plan helps to establish for the audience that he is becoming more of a leader.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Aragorn Uses Palantír at Denethor's Hall

Film: Aragorn reveals himself to Sauron using the palantír at Denethor's hall to trick Sauron into sending his forces out of Mordor.

Book: Aragorn did this before setting out from the Hornburg with the palantír of Orthanc.

Pro: Having Aragorn use the palantír to challenge Sauron at this point of the story helps to explain to the audience why Sauron would start emptying Mordor of it's troops, unwittingly allowing Frodo and Sam to cross it more easily.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters which takes screen time away from scenes that Tolkien actually wrote.


Merry at the Black Gate

Film: Merry appears at the Black Gates of Mordor when the captains of the west challenge Sauron's forces.

Book: Merry remains at the Houses of Healing.

Pro: Keeps the audience from wondering "where's Merry" during much of the film's action.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Ring Chafe

Um, aren't you wearing your Ring in Mordor a bit conspicuously, Mr. Frodo?Um, aren't you wearing your Ring in Mordor a bit conspicuously, Mr. Frodo?Film: The Ring chain cuts into Frodo's neck due to the growing weight of the Ring as he nears Mount Doom.

Book: The Ring does not physically damage Frodo.

Pro: This is a dramatically visual way of dramatizing the growing weight and torment of the Ring.

Con: It will look cheesy.


Frodo Wakes Up in Houses of Healing

Film: After Frodo is brought back from Mount Doom, he wakes up in the Houses of Healing, surrounded by all the surviving members of the Fellowship.

Book: He wakes up in Aragorn's camp in Ithilien. Later, Sam wakes up and they later rejoin Merry and Pippin in Minas Tirith.

Pro: This change eliminates screen time wasted on establishing Aragorn's Ithilien camp.

Con: This change is an invention of the scriptwriters and does not represent Tolkien's work.


Arwen at Aragorn's Crowning

Film: Arwen is present at Aragorn's crowning.

Book: Arwen and the rest of her Elven entourage do not arrive in Minas Tirith until two months after the coronation.

Pro: Combining Aragorn's crowning and wedding is an efficient use of screen time.

Con: The script would require additional dialog written by the scriptwriters rather than by Tolkien.


Scouring of the Shire Cut

The scouring of the Shire is simply a vision in Galadriel's mirror?The scouring of the Shire is simply a vision in Galadriel's mirror?Film: The final film does not depict the events of the chapter, "The Scouring of the Shire." However, the Mirror of Galadriel sequence from the first film, in which Frodo sees scenes of the Shire's destruction, pays homage to the chapter.

Book: The Scouring was an actual event instigated by Saruman occurring when the hobbits returned to the Shire after completing their quest.

Pro: According to screenwriter Philippa Boyens, "Unfortunately, as wonderful and brilliant as that last chapter is, it's not something we believe our film could sustain. You can't have a huge climax that your main characters have been striving for, for three films, and then start the story up again and play out an episodic ending. An audience sitting in the cinema just wouldn't go for it.".

Con: The Scouring, in its entirety, is the story's "coda" and is vital for demonstrating how much the hobbits have grown in courage and wisdom over the course of their adventures.


Go to False Rumours>>


The Complete List of Film Changes

The Hobbit The Lord of the Rings


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