11 Reasons ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ Film Adaption Disappointed Dedicated Book Readers

Almost two decades later, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy is still revered as one of the most faithful book-to-movie adaptions there is. The epic film series premiered to almost universally positive reviews with critics and fans alike praising the talented cast, dynamic action sequences and even Jackson’s dedication to detail. However, the beloved film trilogy features plenty of creative changes that some book readers just can’t ignore.

Over the years since the release of all three Lord of the Rings films, the dedicated readers of JRR Tolkien’s novels definitely haven’t shied away from voicing their hot takes about the Peter Jackson films. Some book readers even believe that the trilogy’s various creative changes went on to harm the adaption. Despite the trilogy’s financial success and dedicated fandom, book readers remain critical of story arcs, characterization, and in some cases, even the amount of battles.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy might be near perfect, but that won’t stop book readers from preferring JRR Tolkien’s novels over the films. Here are the most critical issues with The Lord of the Rings trilogy that left book readers hoping for an even more faithful adaption.

1. Cutting The Final Chapter Was A Mistake

Photo: The Return Of The King/New Line Cinema

All three films in The Lord of The Rings trilogy are incredibly long and the theatrical versions still left out hours of unused footage. Despite the obviously difficult task that editing must have been, some fans still take issue with the choices that were made. The Scouring of the Shire is the final chapter and last conflict in the books. It features the hobbits finally going home, only to discover that Saruman has wreaked havoc at the Shire.

The four hobbits of the Fellowship take up arms once more and fight to reclaim their land, resulting in the last battle of the War of the Ring, the Battle of Bywater. The storyline was filmed, but was ultimately cut and is only visible in the extended version. Many book-reading fans left the theaters after The Return of the King feeling like the story’s true ending wasn’t shown. 

2. Frodo Choosing Gollum Over Sam Should’ve Never Happened

Photo: The Return of the King/New Line Cinema

One moment in the films that irks fans more than anything is Frodo’s dismissal of Sam at Cirith Ungol, where he chooses to follow Gollum instead of listening to the advice of his closest friend. It’s a moment that most book-reading fans say is out of character for Frodo, even given the effects of the One Ring on him, and seems to be added for nothing more than dramatic effect. More than a few sources argue that this single moment diminishes the relationship between Sam and Frodo for them, along with their respect for Frodo. 

3. Elrond Was Way Too Different In The Films

Photo: The Fellowship Of The Ring/New Line Cinema

There are many who disagree with Peter Jackson’s decision to have Aragorn receive his family sword, Narsil, or Anduril in its re-forged state, later in the story instead of during the Fellowship’s visit to Rivendell. A Reddit user named lordleycester puts together a very compelling argument as to why the sword is only part of a larger problem with the portrayal of Elrond. The movie version of Elrond is more petty and bitter than the book version, and seems to be needlessly anti-man. Having Elrond not trust Aragorn, one of the story’s main protagonists, only diminishes Elrond’s character. 

4. Faramir’s Characterization Was All Wrong

Photo: The Two Towers/New Line Cinema

One character who receives a particularly rough ride from Peter Jackson is Faramir. JRR Tolkien originally inserted Faramir into the story to prove that there were still “pure good” people out there in Middle Earth, but the movie version of Faramir is far from pure. Film Faramir acts with hostility toward Sam and Frodo and impedes their journey, putting the quest to destroy the ring in peril for his own selfish needs. While Faramir eventually overcomes his flaws, many believe that he shouldn’t have displayed those flaws in the first place, like the folks at DangBlastedCritic

5. Accidentally Excluding This Minor But Powerful Character

Photo: The Adventures of Tom Bombadil/JRR Tolkien

Only book-readers will have heard of Tom Bombadil and plenty of casual readers will probably have forgotten that he even existed. Bombadil is a mysterious, enigmatic, and unbelievably powerful individual who the hobbits encounter very early in their journey. Bombadil is hinted to have a connection with Gaia itself, and might be the most powerful entity in all of Middle Earth. Plenty of fans are upset that he was cut from the films, while others think cutting Bombadil was a necessary choice because he would have made the movie very confusing and is ultimately pointless as a character for the movies.

6. Rushing A Slow Burn Romance

Photo: The Return of The King/New Line Cinema

In the novels, there are plenty of subplots that never ended up being adapted into the films. Others were adapted in a fairly weak fashion, with only a brief nod or mention. The romance between Faramir and Eowyn is a good example of the latter. In the books, the two enjoy a pleasant courtship in the background of The Return of the King, but the film seems to just hastily paste them together in a textbook example of what TVTropes refers to as “Pair the Spares.”

7. Time Definitely Passed By Too Quickly

Photo: The Fellowship Of The Ring/New Line Cinema

The events of The Lord of the Rings take place over a long period of time – years, according to JRR Tolkien. The events of the films don’t seem to take nearly that long, and some fans have taken umbrage with that. DangBlastedCritic claim that the movies don’t portray the passing of time well enough, and that an uneducated viewer might very well watch the films and think they took place over a couple of weeks. The length of the journeys in The Lord of the Rings is important in understanding the bonds developed by its central characters, and shortening the story acts against that. 

8. Modern References Ruined The Fantasy

Photo: The Two Towers/New Line Cinema

The Lord of the Rings is set in the ambiguous past of Middle Earth and the dialogue in Tolkien’s novels reflect the time period. Most of the dialogue in the films does, too, but some fans, like those at DangBlastedCritic, point out several instances where characters let an anachronistic phrase or two slip. The quote that gets targeted the most is when an orc says, “Meat’s back on the menu, boys.” Why would an orc know what a menu is? When was the last time that orc was served in a restaurant? Can orcs even read? This is a legitimate complaint. 

9. The Elves’ Help Undermined Mankind’s Victory

Photo: The Two Towers/New Line Cinema

The moment when the Elves showed up at Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers remains one of the most memorable and dramatic moments in the entire film trilogy. It’s also something that makes a lot of book readers grit their teeth with frustration. The Elves eventually lend military support to Aragorn in the books, but it doesn’t come at Helm’s Deep. Many feel that using the Elves as a deus ex machina removes legitimacy from one of the greatest victories for mankind in the entire story. 

10. A Little Too Much Comedic Relief

Photo: The Two Towers/New Line Cinema

Another change that is often made when translating a book to the big screen is the addition of more comic relief, and The Lord of the Rings is no different. There is humor in Tolkien’s original work, but Peter Jackson definitely dialed it up when adapting the books. Some fans complain that their favorite characters seem silly in the films whereas they are more serious in the books, particularly the supporters of Merry, Pippin, and Gimli. 

For example, the portrayal of Gimli is one of the biggest sore spots amongst the book-reading fandom because he is a proud character with a rich history in the books, but he plays the role of the buffoon in the movies. Gimli is every bit as strong a warrior as Legolas in the novels, but his shortcomings are constantly played for laughs throughout the on-screen trilogy. The need for laughs in a movie is obviously understood, but some fans just wish that Peter Jackson had picked someone other than Gimli to act as comic relief. 

In addition, there are also the Ents, the anthropomorphic tree race. The Ents are frequently highlighted as a group who were made to be too humorous in the movies, which took away from their plight and tragic storyline. 

11. Straying A Bit Far From The Novels

Photo: The Return of the King/New Line Cinema

In the interest of attracting and entertaining moviegoers, The Lord of the Rings cinematic trilogy focuses much more on action and battles than the source material does. That is not to say that there aren’t plenty of battles in the books, but they aren’t quite as central as they are in the films. JRR Tolkien’s son, Christopher, is one of those who has complained about this specific issue, claiming that Peter Jackson “eviscerated the book by making it an action movie.” For others, the battle scenes remain among the trilogy’s most memorable.