"The Lord of the Rings": The True Ending (2023)

"The Lord of the Rings": The True Ending (1)

The lost epilogue ofreturn of the king

In all of Christopher Tolkien's efforts to edit and publish his father's unpublished writings, one of the unsung gems is the original ending ofLord of the Rings.

Maybe I shouldn't call it the "true" ending since J.R.R. Tolkien kept rewriting until his publisher shouted, "Enough!" and grabbed the manuscripts from his hands. Nor would I have the nerve to argue with the published version, Sam Gamgee's simple but eloquent "Well, I'm back." He sums up so much in these three words: the return of Sam the hero, the fact that Frodo (and Arwen) cannot return, and the fact that all the troubles and losses inLord of the Ringsbrought back not just a king to his kingdom, but also ordinary, decent people to their simple lives.

It's the perfect conclusion to the book in terms of narrative structure. It's just not quite the end of the story.

"The Lord of the Rings": The True Ending (2)

How Tolkien Wanted to End the Saga: There and Back, Emphasizing Back

At J.R.R. Tolkien's manuscript ofLord of the Rings, Sam's return to Bag End and his family is not the end ofreturn of the king. The true ending isn't found in the appendices either, although the heartbreaking "Story of Aragorn and Arwen" pushes the events of the saga even further.

Immediately following the words "Well, I'm back" is a scene set 17 years later. Sam, Rosie and their children have just celebrated the 15th birthday of Elanor, Sam's first born child who was christened by Frodo just before he left Middle-earth. Sam answers his children's eager questions about what happened to all his old friends and he has a brief personal chat with Elanor. The story ends with Sam and his wife talking together in the door of Bag End about that faithful day when Frodo threw the ring on the fire and both Rosie and Sam thought of each other in their darkest hour.

Tolkien dropped the ending on the firm advice of friends and his editor just beforeLord of the Ringswent to press. He regretted skipping the scene, but understood that multiple endings would be a stuttering ending. As a storyteller, he knew that the Bag End scene was basically a package to provide "in case you want to know" information, and didn't really serve as a powerful "finis" to the dramatic structure of the whole saga.

Small excerpt from the epilogue: A conversation between Elanor and Sam Gamgee

'Good night, Sam Dad. But-'

'I don't want good night, though,' said Sam.

"But don't you want to show me first? I wanted to say.'

"Show you what, love?"

(Video) The Wall Song ร้องข้ามกำแพง | EP.134 | โบ - จอยซ์ , พีท - ต้น , พี สะเดิด | 30 มี.ค. 66 FULL EP

'The King's letter, of course. You've had it for over a week now."

Sam sat up. 'Good gracious!' he said. "How repeating stories are! And you get paid back with your own coin and all. How we spied on poor Mr. Frodo! And now our own spy against us, doing no more damage than we do, I hope. But how do you know about it?'

Christopher Tolkien's Efforts

Christopher Tolkien spent most of his life carefully editing, annotating and publishing his father's work posthumously. Much of this material is dry and dense, and anyone but die-hard fans and Tolkien scholars would not be interested enough to plow through it.

defeated Sauron

defeated Sauron,Book IX of HOME is no exception. Thanks to grad school, I have a higher tolerance for footnotes than most, but even I haven't gotten around to reading all of themdefeated Sauron.Unfortunately, this is the volume in which you will find the epilogue just described.

The end of the third age

Fortunately, Christopher Tolkien also published the epilogue in a much shorter volume, The end of the third age, which only covers the rough drafts and revisions ofthe return of the Kingfrom Frodo and Sam's final scene in Mordor to the epilogue. There are also some fun tidbits, like Tolkien's own sketches of Orthanc and Dunharrow.

Why I love the epilogue

I appreciate the epilogue for four reasons.

First as a lover ofLord of the RingsI would like to know what happened to all the characters.

Second, the letter from Aragorn to Sam is the longest piece of Sindarin Elvish (with translation) in all of Tolkien's writings. It's still not very long, but it's our primary source for the language, as Tolkien was usually careful not to push too much Elvish on his non-Elvish readers. It's also fun to read a fraction of Aragorn's grand courtly style, having become a fine King Elessar - a king who has not forgotten his friends and who values ​​them highly.

Third, the scene puts the spotlight on Elanor, one of the strongest and most vivid female characters in Tolkien's male-centric writing. She is one hot young lady! Her mother also gets a voice for a moment. For a moment they are no longer background characters, but turn out to be quite likeable.

After all, the true ending of the story isn't a "they lived happily ever after" moment, but a tender chat between Sam and Rosie after their kids have gone to bed. The final line is lovely yet haunting, a more subtle note to finish. I won't spoil it for you; choose it.

Do you know a Tolkien fan? Tell the tale of this obscure bit of Lord of the Rings trivia!

(Video) Make the Baby LAUGH, and win $1,000 Challenge!!

guest book

Booksam 11. May 2015:


Tim Baderfrom Surrey, UK on 05/01/2013:

I wasn't aware of this alternative, but I've always loved the "Well, I'm back" line.

... So much so that when Sam said it in the movie it brought tears to my eyes!

TanoCalvenoaam 06.04.2013:

Interestingly, I didn't know about the other ending Tolkien was considering.

MusicMadness LMon March 27, 2013:

I have to admit the published ending is better. But it's interesting to hear about another ending that Tolkien came up with.

eighties signon March 18, 2013:

I've read LOTR about 20 times and love it, as do The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, but I never knew about this missing epilogue, so thanks for sharing this. I'll definitely check out one of the books that have it in it.

Also, just wanted to let you know that I included this in my Coolest Squidoo Lenses. :)

(Video) SML Movie: The Spring Break Disaster!

anonymouson January 27, 2013:

Thanks for keeping the conversation alive, just like a real fan!!!

Willefrom Helsinki on 09/03/2012:

I feel the same as you. The ending of the book is great as it is, but I loved the excluded ending and can't help but wish it had been included. Sam was my favorite character and I'm totally invested emotionally in his happiness, his family, his legacy...everything the alternate ending gave us a glimpse of.

Cassidy Wadswortham 17. May 2012:

I had no idea there was an alternate ending and it's going to bug me now until I find it. Great job with this lens!

RylanPknson February 20, 2012:


tinw (Autor)from Middle-earth on February 1st, 2012:

@M Schaut: I've read them every year since I was a child. I'm both grateful and upset at Christopher Tolkien for publishing massive amounts of his father's unfinished tales, notes and tales of Middle-earth - it's fascinating stuff, but there's so much more to know now about The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit is just the tip of the iceberg!

Margaret Looksfrom Detroit on January 31, 2012:

I have read the whole series annually for many years and read it to my children. Some of the most wonderful stories ever written. favorite site. Thanks!

(Video) CBC News: The National | Trump indicted, N.S. shooting report, Catch the Ace

PeterStipon January 12, 2012:

good info, always interesting to read such details from the lord of the rings, thanks for the lens

giacomodonatiam 01.10.2011:

Really interesting, thanks for sharing this alternate ending...

The invoicefrom Gold Coast, Australia on April 21, 2011:

Wow, that's great to know as a LOTR fan. I guess I need to get my hands on the third lifetime book ending now!

Oliversbabycarecoukon February 15, 2011:

I didn't know that, I'll have to look it up. great lens

Emma Clarkinson February 13, 2011:

I love Lord of the Rings! I never knew about the extra bit at the end. Blessed!

people lmon February 13, 2011:

I had no idea! Blessed by the Fantasy Books SquidAngel :-)

(Video) Watch The Beat with Ari Melber Highlights: March 30


1. Gutfeld: We're seeing a flip in the world of free speech
(Fox News)
2. 'The Five' reacts to Donald Trump's indictment
(Fox News)
3. Grand Train Tour of Switzerland: The ride of a lifetime | Switzerland Tourism
(Tyler, The Creator)
5. The Weeknd - Save Your Tears (Official Music Video)
(The Weeknd)
6. The World Over March 30, 2023 | Full Episode: THE PAPAL POSSE!
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Madonna Wisozk

Last Updated: 03/21/2023

Views: 5896

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (68 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Madonna Wisozk

Birthday: 2001-02-23

Address: 656 Gerhold Summit, Sidneyberg, FL 78179-2512

Phone: +6742282696652

Job: Customer Banking Liaison

Hobby: Flower arranging, Yo-yoing, Tai chi, Rowing, Macrame, Urban exploration, Knife making

Introduction: My name is Madonna Wisozk, I am a attractive, healthy, thoughtful, faithful, open, vivacious, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.