Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings’ Early Drafts Killed Off a Beloved Character (& Other Mad Stuff)

The character slowly evolved from that point. At one point his true identity was to be a hobbit called Peregrin Boffin, who had run off and ended up in Mordor many years before. Then he becomes a human, and a Ranger, then he gains a connection with the Ring. After a brief flirtation with the idea that he was an elf in disguise, he finally gains his human identity as Aragorn and loses the wooden shoes, but it took an extraordinarily long time for Tolkien to come to the conclusion that “Trotter” really was not suitable, even as a nickname, for such a serious character, and he was finally re-named “Strider” for the early part of the story, until his true identity was revealed.

Boromir Was Going to Betray the Others to Saruman

This one is perhaps a bit less surprising, but Boromir’s moment of weakness when he attacks Frodo and tries to take the Ring was at one point going to lead to a much bigger betrayal. In one story outline, when the remaining members of the Fellowship got to Minas Tirith and the Lord of Minas Tirith is killed, Aragorn was to be chosen as “their chief”. Boromir, “jealous and enraged,” and not yet established as the Lord’s son, was to desert to Saruman, wanting to obtain a lordship.

Treebeard Was an Evil Giant

When Tolkien first had Gandalf explain to Frodo why he had not met up with him as arranged on September 22na, Gandalf explained that he had been held captive by “the Giant Treebeard”, who had caught him in Fangorn. In another scrap of a draft, Frodo is to meet with Treebeard, who “pretends to be friendly, but is really in league with the Enemy.” This didn’t last long, though – Treebeard had become “kindly and rather good” long before the story was altered to have Merry and Pippin meet him rather than Frodo.

Aragorn Was Going to Love Éowyn Back, But She Died

Éowyn was a shieldmaiden who rode into battle from early on, but earlier drafts have her riding openly as a female warrior rather than disguising herself as a man. Aragorn (who is still being referred to as “Trotter” by Merry) returned his feelings from her, but she and Théoden were both killed while taking down the Nazgûl King, the chief of the Black Riders. Aragorn, of course, ended up marrying Elrond’s daughter (then named Finduilas) in an echo of Tolkien’s earlier story of the mortal Beren and the half-Elven and half-Maia Lúthien. Éowyn was spared from death in the end, which left her sitting around the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith at the same time as Faramir, giving us her happy ending as we have it in the final book, though her love for Aragorn stayed even when his for her was written out.

Sam Was Headed For the Crack of Doom With Gollum

Tolkien knew from very early on that Frodo would be unable to destroy the Ring and that Gollum would take it and fall in with it. But exactly how Gollum ended up plunging into the fire was more of a point of contention. One of Tolkien’s main ideas was that Sam, who had been delayed getting up the Mountain, would arrive just in time to push Gollum into the fire. This appears a few times – but Tolkien also considered at one point having Sam push Gollum in and fall in after him himself, possibly to make the climax more heroic-sacrifice and less murder-y. Thankfully that idea was rejected fairly quickly – a lot more quickly than some of those original names…

The Lord of the Rings Gollum

The Lord of the Rings Once Had an Adorable Epilogue

This last one doesn’t change anything about the plot of The Lord of the Rings; it just gives the reader a glimpse into Sam’s future life of him (having been spared from going down the Crack of Doom with Gollum) without having to scrabble around in the Appendices.

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