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Top 10 Biggest Differences Between The Lord Of The Rings Movies And Books

VO: Matthew Wende
Written by Clayton Martino One of the greatest fantasy novel series of all time changed movies forever when it was adapted into a film trilogy, but how much did the stories themselves change? WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Biggest Differences Between The Lord of the Rings Books and Movies. But what will take the top spot on our list? The size of the war of the ring, saving the shire from Saruman, or the exclusion of Tom Bombadil? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to MattW128 for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Biggest+Differences+Between+Lord+of+the+Rings+Books+and+Movies

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Top 10 Biggest Differences Between The Lord of the Rings Movies and Books

In terms of film adaptations, few show more respect to the source material than this one, but no translation from book to screen is without change. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Biggest Differences Between The Lord of the Rings Movies and Books.

For this list, we’re looking at characters, scenes, and other details that have been added, cut, or changed in the movie adaptations of these famous fantasy novels.

#10: The Eye of Sauron

One of the most memorable images from The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the giant, fiery eye that sits atop a dark tower and watches Middle-Earth. This eye of Sauron is the symbol of the Dark Lord and main antagonist of the entire franchise. In the books, however, it’s not literally an eye, but rather a metaphor for Sauron’s immense presence and far-reaching grasp across Middle-Earth. In fact, the novels imply that Sauron has a physical body and he requires the ring in order to complete his conquest, not to regain his corporeal form.

#9: Fatty Bolger

We all know the original gang of Hobbits who leave The Shire - Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin. What you may not have known is that the gang was supposed to be five, with an additional hobbit named Fredegar “Fatty” Bolger. In the books, Fatty elects to stay behind, partly out of fear but also to make it seem like Frodo never left. In the novels he even helps fight against Saruman when the wizard takes over The Shire. Bolger’s role was completely in the films, and he makes only a fleeting appearance in the extended edition of “The Fellowship of the Ring.”

#8: The Dúnedain

Though Aragorn is identified as a ranger in the films, we don’t learn about their history, or the fact Aragorn is part of the Dúnedain, an ancient race of men, many of whom became the Rangers of the North. During the War of the Ring, the Dúnedain played an important role in protecting the North from the forces of evil. Essentially, they defended the lands of the Free People from the darkness of Sauron. Unfortunately, due to time constraints we didn’t get to see any of this on the big screen, which is too bad because it would have been pretty cool to see a group of Aragorn-type warriors in battle.

#7: Warg Rider Ambush

One of the more memorable scenes from the second film is when a group of Orcs from Isengard riding Wargs take on the soldiers of Rohan, including Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. It’s a particularly brutal scene with Wargs and horses smashing into each other, with the battle nearly killing Aragorn when he topples over a cliff into a river. However none of this actually happens in the books. In fact, Aragorn is never forcefully separated from the group. Despite this, it’s definitely one of the cooler additions to the film!

#6: Helm’s Deep

Although the Battle of Helm’s Deep is one of the most iconic moments in the entire franchise, it’s significantly different on-screen than it is in the books. In the film, there are only 300 men fighting for Rohan, but at the last second they’re aided by a group of elves. In the book, however, the conflict is called the “Battle of Hornburg” and there’s around 2000 Rohan soldiers that are able to withstand the assault on without the elven assistance. But in both versions they face well over 10,000 orcs from Isengard, making it an impressive victory either way.

#5: Glorfindel Rescues Hobbits Instead of Arwen

Glorfindel is an important characters in the novels, and was even considered as a candidate for the Fellowship. The role of this elf however, is all but eliminated in the films. Perhaps one of the most striking examples of his character’s downgrade is the fact that in the novels, it’s Glorfindel who rescues Frodo after he’s stabbed by one of the Nazgûl. In the film however, Arwin who comes to the rescue, summoning the enchanted water to wash the Nazgûl away and prevent them from entering Rivendell. From a filmmaking standpoint, the change makes sense as it helps to develop Arwen’s character and make her more than a love interest.

#4: Bilbo Leaves The Shire 17 Years Before Frodo

In the first film, Gandalf realizes pretty quickly that Bilbo’s ring is not just an ordinary ring, and after a quick trip to Gondor, discovers that it’s actually the One Ring of Power. This all happens in several minutes of screentime to help jumpstart the plot, but in the novel, it takes Gandalf much, much longer to put two and two together. In fact, Gandalf travels for 17 years in search of answers, popping into Hobbiton every now and then during that stretch of time, before discovering the truth. Then, and only then, does he send Frodo on his journey.

#3: Scale of the War of the Ring

Although the film franchise essentially covers the War of the Ring, it basically boils down to two major battles while Frodo attempts to destroy the Ring. In the novels, the scale of the war is much, much bigger. Massive battles were fought at Dale, Mirkwood and Lórien, none of which are shown in the film. In fact, the war is actually divided into two different theatres, the Southern Theater and the Northern Theater. Obviously Peter Jackson couldn’t show all of these battles in just three films since it would take a Band of Brothers-esque mini-series to accurately portray how huge the war was. Future project, perhaps?

#2: Tom Bombadil

One of the more peculiar characters in all of Middle-Earth, Tom Bombadil assists Frodo and the other hobbits on their journey in the first novel. It’s quite possible that he’s the oldest being in Middle-Earth, and that even the One Ring has no power over him. His character was completely cut from the films, however, with Peter Jackson stating that Bombadil does nothing to advance the story. Jackson did keep some of his dialogue, however, giving the lines to Merry and Pippin instead.

#1: Saving The Shire

It’s completely understandable why Jackson would decide to end The Return of the King after the fall of Sauron. In doing so, however, he cuts the Battle for the Bywater. Essentially, Frodo and the hobbits return home to discover that Saruman had taken over The Shire. With the assistance of the other hobbits, they’re able to defeat Saruman and his soldiers. It is here that Saruman ultimately dies, as his throat is slit by Wormtongue. In the film, we briefly see a scene that resembles this when Frodo looks into the Mirror of Galadriel, but that’s all.

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