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Book

  "At that moment there was a knock on the door, and Sam came in. He ran to Frodo and took his left hand, awkwardly and shyly. He stroked it gently and then he blushed and turned hastily away."

  • Internet Backdraft: Everyone stand back... "The Balrog has no wings!"
  • Iron Woobie: Frodo is the definitive example of this trope.
  • It Gets Better: They spent a whole book getting to Rivendell. Millions of readers were happy to wait.
  • It Was His Sled: Gandalf comes back. The Ring is destroyed. Aragorn gets crowned King of Gondor.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Gollum, in a Jekyll/Hyde split personality example: the Smeagol persona is a sniveling Woobie, while Gollum (his desire for the ring given form) is pure Ax Crazy Jerkass.
    • Less of a Jerkass or a Woobie than Gollum, but still qualifying, is Boromir.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Sauron. Especially after reading the appendixes and learning about everything he did to set up his victory--not to mention his role in The Downfall of Númenor.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Frodo Lives!"
    • and "Gandalf for President", both popular rallying cries from The Sixties.
      • "Tolkien is Hobbit-forming". Also, anything having to do with Hobbits.
    • Political discourse: "Frodo failed, X has the ring" or "Y is like the One Ring, everyone wants it"... Strangely influential, perhaps because many poli-sci geeks see the Ring as an allegory for nuclear weapons or the corruption of tyranny.
    • "Another piece of Mordor", often seen scrawled on ugly building projects under construction.
    • "My prrreciousssss..."
  • Misaimed Fandom: No, really. There are hundreds, if not thousands of pages that discuss Sam's and Frodo's relationship.
  • Newer Than They Think: Orcs and Balrogs at least — you'll find them in many generic fantasy settings alongside mythological creatures, but LOTR is the first (published) work to use them. "Orc" is a Quenya Elvish word (Sindarin has the variant "Orch" which gives the wonderfully apropos plural "Yrch"), while Balrog is Sindarin for "powerful demon".
  • Nightmare Fuel: Some of the scenes involving the Nazgul were pants-shittingly terrifying, as well as the general feeling of panic and being hunted while the hobbits are escaping the Shire. Also, Sauron.
  • Older Than They Think: The idea of a ring that makes you invisible goes back to the Ring of Gyges from Plato's Republic. Considering how well read Tolkien was, it's probably where he got the idea in the first place.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Poor, poor Arwen. Boromir, Denethor, and Thranduil definitely tend to get this treatment too in fan fiction.
    • Denethor gets this in the Peter Jackson movie. which turns him from tragic Jerkass to borderline villain.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Almost every modern fantasy copies from it to some extent or another; so much of the genre is aimed at children that by the time a reader gets to the Real Thing, they've seen it before...
  • Sequel Displacement: While The Hobbit is still considered a literary classic, it is The Lord of the Rings which is considered the defining work of High Fantasy.
  • Ugly Cute: Gollum
  • Unfortunate Implications: For lots and lots of details, see the trope page.
  • Values Dissonance: Allusions to Aragorn's inherently kingly status and confidence (almost magical, as mythology was wont to do) are greatly reduced in the movie, to the point his major character arc is reversed to personal reluctance to be king.
  • Vindicated by History: The book wasn't really popular until the Vietnam war and then the reading public started seeing parallels between Vietnam and the War of the Ring.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Didactic?
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Political?: There are many, MANY interpretations of LOTR as a thinly veiled allegory of World War II. In particular, according to this view, Sauron is A Nazi by Any Other Name, and the whole Scouring of the Shire episode is a satire on Communism. Tolkien started to shoot down these interpretations when he was still alive, but when has Word of God ever stopped fans (or not-fans)?
    • "I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence." -Tolkien, responding to this in a forward to a later edition.
      • Tolkien's old buddy CS Lewis adored allegory, hence his Narnia books being nothing but allegory. Such a falling out over allegory in Narnia (and other things Lewis did that pissed Tolkien off) that Tolkien and Lewis didn't speak for awhile. They agreed to disagree and got over it, buddies again, but it must have really rankled Tolkien to the end of his days when people saw allegory in LOTR.
  • The Woobie: Faramir. For one, his father says straight out that he would have preferred that Faramir die. Then he essentially tells Faramir to go try and die anyway.

Ralph Bakshi Animated Film

  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Leonard Rosenman's score.
  • They Just Didn't Care: Despite the rich languages that Tolkien invented, and the number of people fluent in them even back in 1978, composer Leonard Rosenman used made-up gibberish for the soundtrack's choral chants, with the occasional word like "Sauron" or "Mordor" thrown in.

Rankin-Bass Animated Film

Peter Jackson Films

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: The relationship between Frodo, Sam and Gollum.
  • Can't Unhear It: Sean Astin's distinctive accent for Samwise Gamgee is very similar to one of the most famous (extant) audio narrations of the book, though Astin claims he wasn't aware of the audio version. Eerily, Sam is never actually written with such an accent in the books, making it all the weirder.
  • Crazy Awesome: Viggo Mortensen. During the filming of Helm's Deep, he caught a sword in the face, and broke a tooth. His solution? Superglue the tooth back together and keep filming. All of the other actors were afraid he was going to end up killing himself before they finished filming, due to his insistence on performing lots of extremely dangerous stunts himself. Even the stuntmen were impressed by his dedication, and ability to ignore pain and injuries while filming. See Throw It In and Fatal Method Acting for more examples.
  • Creator's Pet: Aragorn comes across as this to some people.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Howard Shore's score is usually recognized as one of the best in film history, sometimes even by people who weren't fans of the movies. The three Academy Awards (two for best score and one for best song) didn't hurt this either.
    • Lux Aeterna's song, Requiem for a Tower, which was present in the trailer of The Two Towers. It's used for many youtube videos.
  • Ending Fatigue: Common complaint of the end of the third movie. The book has six chapters after Mount Doom, featuring crownings, burials, info on the War in the rest of Middle-earth, the journey home, the Scouring of the Shire, and the hobbits work to restore it and settle down again, which fails for Frodo, who leaves in the end.
    • It also doesn't help that the screen fades out in about 5 places and really looks as though the film is ending there, only for it to reappear again. Slightly different cinematography may have made this a much less common complaint.
    • Discussed on the cast commentary track, where somebody (one of the Hobbits I believe) says that the fade after "Here, at the end of all things" could be the end of the movie, albeit a very artsy and far-out ending.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory / Rule of Symbolism: Christian symbolism is carried over from the books, although in a very discreet manner. To cite an example: in the first movie, when the Fellowship parts from Lothlorien, a white-clad Galadriel makes a blessing gesture, looking much like Catholic statues of Virgin Mary.
    • At the very beginning of Fellowship, Jackson bows to Tolkien with subtle grace: the film opens in total darkness, and the voice of Cate Blanchett begins to speak... in Elvish. Because with Tolkien the languages came first, and then the people who spoke them, and their stories. In the beginning was the word...
  • Fountain of Memes: Just look at this page.
  • Genius Bonus: A little bit of extra awesome for those versed in The Silmarillion. In the scene in the extended edition where Sam tells Frodo, "There's light and beauty up there that no shadow can touch," the star he sees is no ordinary star. That's the Star of Earendil, the Evenstar -- yeah, the one Arwen was named after. We would call it Venus. In Middle Earth, though, it's an elf on a flying ship with one of the three Silmarils, which contain the light of the Two Trees; holy light that predates the sun and moon. The Star of Earendil was the source of the light contained in Galadriel's Phial.
  • Genre Turning Point: Along with the Harry Potter series, the LOTR trilogy proved that fantasy films didn't have to belong to cheesy B-movie fare and could be critically and commercially successful. A literal torrent of high-budget, CGI-heavy fantasy, sci-fi and superhero blockbusters followed in the next few years, and there seems to be no end to it.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: (or foresight) The first movie came out a few months after 9/11 and featured a scene where two characters ponder good and evil and the dark times they've been thrust into. The second movie is straight-up called The Two Towers and features, essentially, the first suicide bomber in Middle Earth blowing up a fortress.
  • Ho Yay: Frodo and Sam, as usual. Actor Ian McKellen, who is gay, was interested in the close relationship between the two characters. He noted the attention to detail in the pair's close relationship from page to screen, such as when Sam grabs Frodo's hand after he awakens from unconsciousness. In fact, both pairs of hobbits can reasonably be called Heterosexual Life Partners. It's worth noting that Sam is ironically the only hobbit to show interest in any specific woman in the films. In this regard, Merry and Pippin might be closer to this trope than Frodo and Sam.
    • This is pushed Up to Eleven in the DVD cast commentaries for the three films (but especially The Two Towers), where all four actors play with this trope at one point or another.
    • Aragorn/Legolas also get some of this. Actually, Aragorn/anyone do. Viggo kind of encourages it.
  • Memetic Mutation: "One does not simply Walk Into Mordor!"
    • (sigh) "They have a cave troll!"
    • "They come in pints?! I'm getting one."
    • "YOU! SHALL NOT PAAAAASS!!!"
    • "THEY'RE TAKING THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD!!"
    • “Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen, not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Tempestuous as the sea, and stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!”
  • Narm: Galadriel's rant when she is tempted by the ring. For some nightmare fuel of the high octane variety. For others it can be cringeworthy.
  • Narm Charm: Many lines were perfectly fine originally, but have become narm due to Memetic Mutation. One does not simply walk into Narm Charm.
    • "THEY'RE TAKING THE HOBBITS TO ISENGARD!"
      • Thank you, now that song is stuck in my head again.
    • Just about every bonding scene between the hobbits, Frodo and Sam, rely on the film earning audience respect for them beforehand.
    • Gollum again.
    • Boromir's anguished rant at no one in particular in Fellowship Of The Ring, punctuated by falling into a pile of leaves. In any other film, utterly ridiculous. But Boromir's Tragic Hero status and Sean Bean's acting sell the hell out of it, and it's a near-Tear Jerker.
      • I always got the notion that it was Frodo who pushed Boromir onto the pile of leaves, as he was badmouthing Frodo and his race at the time.
    • The music did not help. It might as well have been the best musical theme to depict pure evil ever written.
      • It, along with the Witch-King's cries and the look of the city was meant to invoke the feeling of a visit to dentist, I kid you not.
        • The Mouth of Sauron should have taken the hint. Yeesh!
  • Nightmare Fuel: Smeagol turning into Gollum at the beginning of Return Of The King.
    • Shelob. If you are an arachnophobe at all, you will have nightmares for a good while.
  • Role Association: About half the cast, but especially Agent Elrond.
  • Sci Fi Ghetto: Gloriously subverted, see Academy Awards above.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In particular Orcs being Always Chaotic Evil which the author struggled with, certain other racial undertones are seen too. More detail can be found on the Literature subpage.
    • The movie actually adds another layer to this. When you watch the documentaries on the DVD, you see that, under the prosthetics and make-up, the vast majority of the stunt people playing the brutish, subhuman Orcs and Uruk-Hai are actually Maori. The good guys, in contrast, are universally white; even the extras/stunt people playing random human and elf warriors. I suppose this is justified by the Medieval European Fantasy, but it's still quite jarring.
  • The Woobie: Frodo. Perhaps overly so, as a common criticism of the character (or at least Elijah Wood's portrayal thereof) is how he spends basically the entire trilogy with a pained expression on his face.
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