Hollywood is filled with successful movie franchises, but the Lord of the Ringstrilogy holds a special place in cinema history. These movies proved that high fantasy can be critically and financially successful. All three films offer stellar acting, writing, and set design, and most of the special effects still hold up nearly twenty years later.
When these movies first released, they were all over two hours long. Fans didn’t mind, because of how vast the story is. Most people have only seen the director’s cut of the trilogy, but there are also extended cuts of all three movies which bring the total length of the trilogy to over eleven hours. Some movies are better because of their director’s cut, though some argue that the extended versions of the LOTR trilogy make the movies feel bloated. However, they offer fans a more complete version of the story.
10 The Gifting
It may not be the best moment in the trilogy, but the gifting scene was sorely missed in the theatrical cut of Fellowship of the Ring. In the book, Galadriel gives something to each member of the Fellowship. However, the theatrical cut only shows her giving Frodo the Light of Eärendil, which he uses to defend himself against the massive spider in the third film.
The extended cut sees Galadriel give Legolas his iconic bow. She also gives Gimli three strands of her hair, which is very symbolic and sets the groundwork for his friendship with Legolas. Merry and Pippin receive daggers, and Sam gets Elven rope which later restrains Gollum.
9 Saruman’s Death
Like certain other book-to-movie adaptations, the LOTR trilogy had perfect casting, and Sir Christopher Lee played the role of Saruman to perfection. The end of Two Towers saw Saruman’s forces decimated, but the corrupted wizard does not appear in the third film because he is said to be locked up in his tower.
However, the extended cut of Return of the King does feature Saruman however. During a confrontation with Gandalf, he is killed by Grima Wormtongue, the former advisor of King Théoden. Saruman then falls from his tower and gets impaled by a spiked wheel.
8 Fangorn Forest Coming To Life
The battle of Helms Deep is one of the greatest action sequences ever captured on film. In this epic scene, an alliance of humans and elves fight back against an army of 10,000 Orcs. Although the alliance’s defenses hold for a time, the enemy’s numbers are too great.
When the battle seems lost, Gandalf appears with thousands of exiled Rohirrim, and together they decimate to Orcish forces. The theatrical cut makes it look like the riders kill all the orcs, but in the extended cut, hundreds flee into Fangorn Forest. There, they die at the hands of the slow-moving living trees within.
7 The House Of Healing
Aragorn is one of several LOTR characters who deserve their own game, and the King of Gondor had his fair share of great scenes throughout the trilogy. In the theatrical cut of Return of the King, Aragorn leads his army straight from Minas Tirith to the Black Gate of Mordor. The extended cut, meanwhile, shows what Aragorn actually did between battles.
The extended cut sees Aragorn visit the House of Healing. While he’s there, he tends to Éowyn, who is dealing with life threatening injuries from her encounter with the Witch King.
6 Merry And Pippin Drinking Ent Water
Merry and Pippin showcase their courage multiple times throughout the series. That courage is ultimately the reason that orcs capture them at the end of the first movie. The two Hobbits then spend the majority of the second movie in Fangorn Forest, where they befriended the Ent named Treebeard.
The extended cut of the Two Towers includes a scene where Merry and Pippin drink some magical Ent water. This caused them to grow slightly taller, but it also gave them the ability to speak with trees.
5 Frodo & Sam Hiding Amongst The Orcs
After Shelob paralyzes Frodo, several orcs take his body deeper into Mordor. Sam infiltrates the stronghold of Cirith Ungol to rescue him. In the theatrical cut of Return of the King, Frodo and Sam leave the stronghold and immediately find themselves climbing Mount Doom.
The area was filled with thousands of Orcs, and the extended cut showed how the Hobbits were able to get past them all. They managed to traverse the Plains of Gorgoroth by putting on Orc armor and marching with the enemy forces. The scene might not be long, but it does add a moment of comedic suspense.
4 The Midgewater Marshes
In Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn leads the Hobbits to Rivendell. The extended cut shows that their journey includes a brief stay in the Midgewater Marshes. The scene is barely two minutes long, but it still manages to pack an emotional punch for fans.
During the night, Aragorn accidentally wakes up Frodo with his singing. The song in question is about an Elven maiden who dies after giving her love to a human man. This song hits hard for Aragorn, since it parallels his relationship with Arwen.
3 Boromir Flashback
Boromir may have only appeared in the first movie, but he is still one of the most beloved characters in the series. He is the only member of the Fellowship to actually sacrifice himself. The extended edition of Two Towers does feature Boromir again, in a flashback scene.
The scene shows Boromir immediately after he and his forces reclaimed the city of Osgiliath. It is the only scene which shows Boromir with his younger brother and father, and demonstrates the family dynamic between them. The scene is about five minutes long, and shows what Boromir was like before he went to Rivendell for the ring.
2 The Paths Of The Dead
There are plenty of events in Middle-Earth to explore, but the creation of the army of the dead is not one of them. Aragorn used this army of treasonous ghosts to win the battle of Minas Tirith in the third movie, but the extended cut prolonged the entire recruitment progress.
Gimli blows away some ghostly hands, and the trio must later escape the undead stronghold after a literal mountain of skulls crashes down upon them. The heroes make it outside and see ships in the distance. When they believe that all hope is lost, the ghosts agree to join the fight.
1 The Mouth Of Sauron
Several characters from the books never appeared in the LOTR trilogy, but the Mouth of Sauron is not one of them. The Mouth was one of Sauron’s most devoted servants. His presence was greatly missed in the theatrical cut of Return of the King, which basically showed Aragorn shouting at Mordor’s Black Gate before it opened.
The extended cut showed the Mouth meeting with Gandalf and the rest of the Fellowship outside of the gate. He taunts them about Frodo’s “death.” Aragorn goes on to decapitate him. He proclaims that Frodo is still alive, thus giving him and his men the courage to charge into the final battle.