Think best Lord of the Rings fights and most minds will go straight to Helm’s Deep or Pelennor Fields. These are epic battles featuring rousing speeches and plenty of dramatic action. But what about the smaller, more personal fights? The one on ones? These are surprisingly scarce in Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy but that makes them extra special.
SPOILERS for the Lord Of The Rings movies follow.
To qualify for this countdown both sides of a fight need to have a weapon and be part of the fight. So, as an example, Aragorn taking down the Mouth of Sauron doesn’t count as the Mouth doesn’t strike a blow. All clear? Let’s get into the best Lord Of The Rings fights.
6) Legolas vs Mûmakil, The Return Of The King
We start our countdown of the best Lord of the Rings fights with one of Legolas’ iconic scenes. Thinking they’ve got the job done against the orcs outside of Minas Tirith, our heroes are greeted with the sight of the arrival of the Haradrim and their mûmakils, forcing them to reset. There might be some debate as to whether this should count. After all, the mûmakil is full of Haradrim warriors. But Legolas’ main objective is to take down the mûmakil. Legolas uses all of his elf agility to scale one of the mûmakil’s legs, taking out many soldiers on the way. When he’s cleared out the Haradrim he fires two arrows into the head of the giant creature before gliding down its trunk. Gimli is particularly impressed, telling his elvish friend “that still only counts as one!” and thus ensuring its place on this list.
5) Sam vs Shelob, The Return Of The King
I love a tease for a sequel, and Gollum’s “she could do it” at the end of The Two Towers, when plotting the murder of Frodo and Sam, is one of the best. Those unfamiliar with the books would have spent a year wondering who “she” is. Well, she is Shelob, a giant spider who patrols the pass of Cirith Ungol, picking off pray for sport. After Gollum had convinced Frodo to go on without Sam, Gollum led Frodo straight into trouble. Stung by Shelob, with Elijah Wood doing a brilliant “I’ve just been stabbed face” for the third time in the trilogy, Frodo is wrapped up for later. Enter Sam, who returns to rescue his master. Sam has graduated from the frying pan he used so effectively in Moria to the sword Sting, dishing out plenty of slashes and stabs in Shelob’s direction, whilst the giant spider scuttles all over the place. Helped by Galadriel’s gift, the light of Eärendil, shining brightly, Sam finally delivers a blow strong enough to force Shelob to retreat.
4) Eowyn vs The Witch-King, The Return Of The King
Eowyn was always keen to be in battle. In The Two Towers, she reluctantly stayed in the caves while the battle for Helm’s Deep took place. No holding her back in The Return Of The King though. Defying her King, she joined the riders of Rohan in going to Gondor’s aid and took Merry along for the ride too. On the battlefield, she found herself face-to-face with the Witch-king of Angmar, chief of the Nazgul. She dealt with his fell beast efficiently, two hacks and he was headless. That didn’t put off the Witch-king though. With his mace in one hand, he shattered Eowyn’s shield, causing significant damage to her arm. However, he made the classic movie villain error, milking the moment. Instead of finishing Eowyn off, he taunted her, telling her that no man could kill him. At that exact moment, Merry, sneakily from behind, jabbed a knife into the Witch-king’s leg. Eowyn sensed her moment, removed her helmet, shook her hair and announced “I am no man!”, plunging her sword into the Witch-king’s face and ridding Middle-earth of one of it’s most evil forces.
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3) Gandalf vs The Balrog, The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Two Towers
Deep in the mines of Moria, the fellowship are surrounded by orcs when a great noise erupts and a great wall of fire appears. The orcs scamper and Boromir immediately senses trouble, “What new devilry is this?” asks the Gondorian. Gandalf knows it’s a Balrog, and tells the fellowship to run. With the rest of the group headed to safety, he stops on the bridge of Khazad-dûm to face the Balrog. He fends off the Balrog’s blows, lit by a circle of light. “You shall not pass” he roars again and again, before shattering the bridge, sending the Balrog into the abyss, only for the creature to flick out his whip and drag the wizard down with him. To those without book knowledge, this must have been massive. Killing off the face of the movies, halfway through part 1, is a bold move and worthy of a top 3 place in our list of the best Lord of the Rings fights.
However, it wasn’t quite over. The Two Towers opens with the continuation of the fight, swords clanging as the two tumble down and down until Gandalf delivers the fatal blow to kill the Balrog, but loses his life too.
He has unfinished business in Middle-Earth, however, and is returned and resurrected as Gandalf The White.
2) Gandalf vs Saruman, The Fellowship Of The Ring
After discovering that Bilbo’s ring is indeed the one ring, Gandalf despatches Frodo to Rivendell and heads to Isengard, to see the head of his order, fellow wizard Saruman. After a stroll and catch-up in the gardens outside Orthanc, they head into the tower to get down to business. It soon becomes clear that Saruman has been corrupted and Gandalf’s attempts to escape are blocked. A wizard fight ensues. Two old men going at it. They don’t make physical contact with each other, their respective staffs do all the damage. Yet it’s brutal. Both wizards are flung all over the place, pounding against the rock hard stone of Orthanc. Just look at the impact on their bodies. Saruman, with genuine hatred in his voice, gets the upper hand and his opponents staff and sends Gandalf spiralling up the tower. *
*(If anyone can explain how Gandalf ends up atop the tower, and later how Saruman and Wormtonge get up there, please do so in the comments!)
1) Aragorn vs Lurtz, The Fellowship Of The Ring
After the Uruk-hai army catches up with the fellowship a massive fight ensues. Defending the hobbits, Merry and Pippin, Boromir is pumped full of arrows by Uruk-hai leader Lurtz. As Lurtz stands to deliver the killer blow, Aragorn swoops in. Filled with fury at the imminent death of his friend Aragorn unleashes hell on Lurtz, who gives as good as he gets. The two knock each other to pieces. There are punches and headbutts to go with the sword fight. Aragorn narrowly escapes decapitation. Lurtz horribly licks the dagger that Aragorn has used to stab him. Aragorn needs a 1-2-3 knockout to get the win. Chopping off an arm, stabbing Lurtz through the body and then cutting his head off. A fitting end to the best Lord of the Rings fight.
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Shaun is FinalBoss’ most prolific cinephile. If he hasn’t seen it, it ain’t worth watching. You’ll find him writing about everything from blowout blockbusters to small-screen splendours as he waits impatiently for Lord of the Rings to be released by Amazon. Catch up with Shaun and see what he’s been watching on www.letterboxd.com/shaun_1982.