Lord of the Rings Plot Holes: Maybe Don’t Think About It?

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Without getting overly gushy, The Lord of the Rings is an undeniably exceptional trilogy of films. 

The less said about The Hobbit the better, but Peter Jackson’s original works in Middle-Earth are without a doubt one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema. They are a triumph of movie-making that seem near-impossible to outperform. If we see a fantasy movie series to rival The Lord of the Rings in our lifetimes, we at FinalBoss will feel both blessed and shocked.

But with all that said, the Lord of The Rings movies are not without their imperfections. 

While it’s easy to get caught up in Frodo’s turmoil, Aragorn’s ascent to the throne of Gondor, and Sam’s struggle to educate Gollum on the glorious gift from the heavens that is the potato, there are definitely some plot holes and inexplicable occurrences in this trilogy of films that can be quite hard to ignore when watching.

Knit-picking is a nasty business, but so is delivering a cursed ring to the heart of an active volcano, so if it’s good enough for Master Frodo, it’s good enough for us.

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Here are nine Lord of the Rings plots holes of power that keep the team at FinalBoss up at night:

Why Does Gandalf Question His Name?

Merry & Pippin find Gandalf

After Gandalf somewhat bizarrely fucks around with Aragon, Legolas and Gimli – pretending to be Saruman through the process of voice-augmentation – he reveals his new contemporary design of the White Wizard. Aragorn, startled and dumbstruck, approaches and addresses him by his old name, Gandalf. 

Gandalf looks bemused, and comments on how that used to be his name. Gandalf, the Grey. Now though, he’s Gandalf the White.

Great moment.

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Except for the fact that while he seems wistful now, remembering his former life, surely Pippin and Merry also called him Gandalf when they met him the day before yesterday? Wouldn’t that have been the moment he remembered his old name and history, rather than being reminded by Aragorn?

How Fucking Far Did Denethor Run? 

So passes Denethor, son of Ecthelion. This is a powerful scene in which we see Denethor perish in a blaze of fire, falling off the pinnacle of Minas Tirith into the battle beneath. It’s stunning and cinematic, but it’s also absolutely impossible.

The man was set alight in the crypts of the white city, ran all the way out, around the courtyard and down to the end of the rocky outcropping. Our very basic research suggests this is around a kilometre or more. 

Honestly, we’d doubt the ageing Steward’s ability to run that far on a good day after a high-protein breakfast and a warm-up, let alone while shrouded in enough fire to heat the Golden Hall of Rohan.

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Why Did the Nazgul Leave Frodo After Discovering the Ring in Osgiliath? 

Frodo, being the good young chap he is, attempts to return the lost ring he’s found to its owner. Sam, the stupid fat hobbit, stops him. The two take a tumble, not too far from where Nazgul saw Frodo with the ring. 

But the Nazgul just flies away. 

Yes, his fell beast is hit by an arrow, but is that enough to just leave the One Ring? His master is seeking the ring with all his being, and it’s right there. Surely, if the wraith was concerned about being outnumbered and stopped by the men of Gondor, he could have just shed his cloak, gone through the world as the invisible servant of darkness that he is, and nabbed the ring?

Or the Nazgul could have ordered an immediate assault to capture Sauron’s prize at the very least.

But no, he just leaves. We literally see him just flying away with no intention of searching for the ring. It makes absolutely no sense given the entire reason for the existence of the ringwraith right now is to find the bloody ring. 

Why Does the Witch-King of Angmar Not Go for Pippin?

It really was the Witch-King’s hour when he took a stand against that meddling wizard Gandalf atop the city of Minas Tirith. This Extend Cut scene is fantastic and shows just how powerful the servant of Sauron is, making easy work of the White Wizard. It makes his defeat at the hands of Merry and Eowyn even more impressive.

But there is a question we have to consider here: Why doesn’t he immediately go for Pippin?

Sauron knows very little about the whereabouts of his precious, but he does know one of these random fucking hobbits has it. They keep cropping up in weird places, like a whac-a-mole fairground game, and it’s got to be hard to keep track of which one is which. 

Still, the last known location of the ring was Osgiliath. Sauron does not suspect they are attempting to destroy the ring, therefore he must suspect the White Tower plans to use it. His greatest warrior comes face-to-face with a hobbit near the last known location of the ring, where it was in the hands of a halfling. 

Grab the little bastard?

No. Just as with the last time a Nazgul comes face-to-face with a hobbit, the Witch-King gets distracted and just flies away. 

Why Does Saruman Not Tell Sauron of Frodo’s Quest?

There’s always a major plot hole people site about The Lord of the Rings, in that why doesn’t Sauron just put a gate over the Crack of Doom? Imagine Frodo and Sam had got up the mountain to find it locked, they’d have been done for. No way they had the strength to do anything more than slowly amble towards the fire.

But this all makes sense really, when you understand that Sauron has no concept of the ring’s destruction. It never occurred to him that somebody would try to destroy the ring. 

But he should have known that Frodo was trying to do exactly that.

Sauron was working with Saruman very closely. Saruman was actively trying to help him conquer Middle-Earth. We also know from the Extended Cut of The Return of the King that Saurman knew of Frodo’s quest. He comments on how Gandalf had sent the halfling to his death.

“Tell me, what words of comfort did you give the Halfling before you sent him to his doom? The path that you have set him on can only lead to death.”

So why the hell did the disgraced wizard not tell his new master somebody was trying to kill him, in the only way that was actually possible? The most reasonable answer is that he didn’t actually know. But that makes this statement all the stranger. What journey would he be talking about if not Frodo’s quest into Mordor to destroy the Ring of Power?

Without additional context, it just makes no sense.

How Does Slicing the Inside of a Mumakil’s Legs Bring it Down?

When Gamling is underneath a mumark, firing yet another pitiless arrow into skin already coated in shafts, it seems like he’s wasting his time. And he is. The mumakil barrels on, little care for the hundreds of arrows and spears being thrown it’s way.

But then Eowyn gives one a few chops on the legs with some blunt swords (one of which is trash she grabbed off an orc) and suddenly the creature becomes similar to AT-ATs wrapped in tow cable. 

Elephants in the real world have very thick and hard skin. It’s not easy to cut one with a sword. Mumakil are about 5 times the size of an elephant, easy. Their skin is going to be tougher and thicker by default. We see this in the fact that arrows do shit all to phase them.

Eowyn’s cuts, although beautifully timed, would have done very little. More than likely, they’d have glanced off the tough hide, grazed them or been ripped from her hands by the force of the impact against this massive beast. 

Why Did None of the Gondorian Soldiers Attempt to Take the Ring?

Faramir does indeed show his quality – in the end. He lets Frodo go and saves the quest. It’s a great moment for the character, and it makes sense to him. He’s tempted, but ultimately he shows similar strength to Aragorn in that he’s able to resist the allure of the ring.

He shows that there is strength left in men. 

But how many other fuckers are around Faramir during their journey from the wilds of Gondor to Osgiliath? How many of the soldiers would have learned about the ring? It wasn’t exactly kept secret that Frodo had the One Ring.

It’s hard to believe that there wasn’t one person in this gaggle of men that wasn’t even the slightest bit corrupt enough to go against the orders of a Captain notorious for being hated by his father. Return to Minas Tirith and with the Ring of Power and you’ll be a hero. The call of the ring itself is often far too much for people to bear. 

But nobody even chances it. Does Faramir really possess the absolute power required to make such a decision? The Gondorians seem to believe the weapon of the enemy has the chance to help them win the war. Boromir thought as much, at least. With all their kinsmen dying around them, was nobody willing to risk trying to take it either for themselves or the kingdom?

Why Did Nobody Help Pippin Find Merry?

Pippin spends hours pouring over corpses on the hunt for Merry. He’s certain he’s on the battlefield because he finds Merry’s cloak. He’s right, of course. The pair are reunited and it’s a beautiful scene between the two. Although Merry does ask Pippin if he’s going to leave him, which is a strange thing to say at that moment but it does set Pippin up for a classic line, so.


Why was Pippin the only one searching for Merry? Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli literally spent days of their lives running to catch up to the hobbits. Gandalf was also seen on the battlefield. The majority of the fellowship were there, but only Pippin stayed to look for Merry.

Why Didn’t Theoden Know Where Gondor Was When the Westfold Fell?

King Theoden asks a simple question after Aragorn suggests they called for aid from Gondor in the Battle of Helm’s Deep. He asks the ranger and soon to be king: Where was Gondor when the Westfold fell?

It’s a strange question.

Gondor hadn’t moved. It was still to the East.

Love The Lord Of The Rings as much as we do? Check out our look at the movies’ best fights. Can’t wait for the Amazon TV show? See who’s been cast and what we think might happen.

If you liked this article, please check out more of our movie content!

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James Speyer
James Speyer
James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.

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