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In the book, while Frodo and the Fellowship were on their quest, the Shire was exploited and almost ruined by Saruman and his cronies. Jackson left this and the triumphant return of Frodo, Sam, and the now burly Merry and Pippin and their battle to reclaim the Shire out of the film. I was hoping to see it added to the extended version of the DVD, but it was not.

Did Peter Jackson explain why he omitted this portion of the book from the movie? If so, what was the reason?

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Not putting this as an answer as I'm not 100% sure where I read/saw this, but I believe there was an interview where he decided against the razing of the shire because it was too anti-climactic for the general public. No idea on why it was left out of the extended cuts though. – Jared Feb 23 '12 at 1:00
Interesting question! Yet, I feel the need to point out, for potential general discussion about this to remain sane, that: A film is not a book. Different media of expression, different rules for storytelling - be it a feature length film, extended special dvd or episodic series. This, of course, still remains an interesting question about the rules of storytelling. – Ilari Kajaste Feb 23 '12 at 7:45
@IlariKajaste: universal rules of storytelling exist neither for films nor books. The ending of LotR is very untypical for a book, there is no real reason why the films should have needed to adapt what's typical for films. – leftaroundabout Mar 3 '12 at 14:50
@leftaroundabout True, but book tolerates such digressions and detailing a lot better. Book form doesn't carry as much dramatic tension as a movie (especially a movie built on traditional drama storytelling conventions). – Ilari Kajaste Mar 3 '12 at 15:14
Who can say that Peter Jackson might not make a trilogy on the Scouring of the Shire before all is said and done?? – Oldcat Jan 20 '15 at 23:49
up vote 45 down vote accepted

There are some very interesting articles about this (and similar matters) here, here and here. Also, an interesting discussion back from 2006 in this forum.

Generally speaking, it seems that Peter Jackson doesn't really like that part of the book, and it also seems that Tolkien himself intended the chapter to represent a local situation in England, which contrasts heavily with the universal symbolism of the Eye, the Great Enemy, the everlasting confrontation of good and evil, etc.

The big argument to justify the omission can be summarized as

After 9 hours setting up two huge battles to conclude the movie in an epic fashion, the expulsion of a few ruffians from The Shire is just... well... dull. Boring. And most importantly, not fit for a movie, not cinematic enough, just like the whole Tom Bombadil part.

Nevertheless, it also seems that there is no official explanation from Peter Jackson on this subject, so this is just speculation from fans.

As for this part of the story being included in the extended version, consider that even the non-extended version of the movie has a very long ending, and that the extended edition is 20~30 minutes longer even without major additions. A whole new subplot and a battle would be too much.

In my opinion, The Scouring of the Shire would be a lovely short film to watch, especially if directed by Peter Jackson in the same spirit as the other movies, and even more so if the same actors were used. We could see the four hobbits being the leaders on the battlefield, Frodo reluctant to the idea of violence, the chief, an ugly Shire (e.g. fewer trees, no inns), etc. A longer film could probably involve later events, like Sam's "garden" (with Galadriel's seeds), Sam as the Mayor, Merry as a writer, Pippin being called to Gondor by the King, etc.

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+1 for the explanation, though I must say I agree with Peter Jackson on this one; I even thought both sections -- Bombadil and the Scourging -- were out of place in the book. Heresy, I know! :P – Andres F. Feb 23 '12 at 1:50
I believe Peter Jackson mentioned in the Extended Edition Features that it would have detracted from the real climax of the story, ie. the One Ring is destroyed. – Phong Feb 23 '12 at 4:35
Well, from what he considers to be the climax of the story. Tolkien may have seen things differently. :) – dlanod Feb 23 '12 at 4:55
Great answer. I like the idea of a short film, too; but who is going to be "the boss" if we stay consistent with the movies? – Raphael Feb 23 '12 at 11:31
@Raphael Gandalf was "sent back" for a second chance, so why not Saruman? Still, it doesn't have to be consistent, just a separate film :-) – Janoma Feb 23 '12 at 12:14

As it is, Return of the King has two major climaxes: the battle at Minas Tirith, and the destruction of the ring in Mount Doom. Aside from the extra time involved, a third climax would likely be overwhelming for the viewer; besides, it wasn't essential to the main storyline.

Something I recall, from the bonus DVD included with RoTK: Extended Edition, is Viggo Mortenson recalling a conversation with Jack Nicholson. It was to the effect that Jack hadn't seen the actual end of the movie, he left before that to warm up the car for his family. Jack commented that the movie had 'too many endings.'

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I remember to have once counted 7 separate endings during a rewatch... – Ilari Kajaste May 10 '12 at 9:51
To be snarky: The reason it has so many endings is because the actual ending was cut off! If you take any long work of fiction and cut it off halfway through the falling action, there's still going to be a lot of threads going on. – user1030 May 10 '12 at 13:06
I never understood the "too many endings" thing. Was I the only audience member who just intuited that RotK, after a trilogy of that length and weight, would end with "The End"? It didn't even occur to me that the movie would be over until I saw that title card. (And for those who are SUPER-nerds: it was Elijah Wood who had that conversation with Jack Nicholson. Not that I've watched the Extended Editions too much or anything.) – Nerrolken Jan 17 '14 at 17:59
It also adds to the realism - even the end of an age isn't the end of life and troubles. Hobbits have to grow up and fight for their own, and even happy endings aren't happy for everyone, like the Ringbearers who must leave the world. Tolkein, who saw the end of two World Wars, understood this well. – Oldcat Jan 29 '14 at 21:42
I'm personally happy that actual ending of the film matched the final words in the book, regardless of any cinematic ommissions such as The Scouring of the Shire : "Well, I'm back." – Andy Jul 7 '14 at 5:27

The most logical answer is, as other users have said, that the Scouring of the Shire would have been too long and complicated an element to include at the end of a film that was already pretty damn long.

However, Peter Jackson did include the sequence within The Lord of the Rings films by using the Mirror of Galadriel.

A Pretty Scoured Shire

The film-makers evidently made a decision at some stage not to feature Saruman and Wormtongue as characters following their demise at Isengard. The theatrical release of The Return of the King depicts Gimli, Aragorn, Legolas, Gandalf etc. travelling to Isengard, meeting up with Merry and Pippin and finding the Palantír. The extended DVD edition of the film clearly indicates that they had no intention of including Saruman or Wormtongue later in the film, or indeed the Scouring, as they shot this death scene with Wormtongue knifing Saruman in the back at Orthanc.

However, as @Omar Devon Little noted, the Scouring of the Shire does feature to some extent in the vision Frodo sees in the Mirror of Galadriel during The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo sees orcs taking over the shire, attacking Hobbits with swords, enslaving Hobbits in chain gangs, burning things and turning the green landscape into a blackened wasteland.

In the books it is Sam who has the vision of the Shire:

But now Sam noticed that the Old Mill had vanished, and a large red-brick building was being put up where it had stood. Lots of folks were busily at work. There was a tall red chimney nearby. Black smoke seemed to cloud the surface of the Mirror.

"There's some devilry at work in the Shire," he said. "Elrond knew what he was about when he wanted to send Mr. Merry back."

The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 12, The Mirror of Galadriel

By the end of The Return of the King it's evident that Sam is indeed seeing an accurate depiction of what is happening/will happen with the Shire. Whether Jackson depicts this accurately in the film is another matter. There's no mention of orcs ransacking the Shire in the books; those who enforce Saruman's rule are Men who act as thugs (although The Scouring of the Shire has Merry slaying someone described as "the leader, a great squint-eyed brute like a huge orc"). And the hobbits seem to be kept in check with a mixture of heavy-handed threats and bureaucracy (no burning more than your fixed allocation of firewood each day!) rather than actual slavery. Nevertheless, in the Scouring the green landscape of the Shire does seem to be destroyed with fire and the tools of industry, as shown in the screenshot.

In conclusion, Jackson and the film-makers do indeed feature the Scouring. They do so by giving a nod to the events during Fellowship but (rightly in my view) decided that having a full-scale Hobbit war during Return of the King would be over-long and bad for pacing. As it is, the Mirror sequence in the film serves two purposes. Firstly, it foreshadows to Frodo the terrible things that may happen if he fails. Secondly, it hints very concisely at events which happened in the books but which Jackson didn't have time to include.

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There's also an interview in which Jackson says he left out the Bombadil scene because the production team felt it detracted from the general pacing of the film. It didn't develop the plot in any way, therefore it was removed. I suspect that this is much the same for the scouring of the Shire. – John Bell Apr 22 at 12:52

It would be the fairly logical reason of time constraints but he still made time for a warg attack in TT. The scouring of the Shire was the conclusion to Frodo's viewing of Galadriel's Mirror in which he sees the Hobbits in chains and general chaos in The Shire. This was a poor decision on PJ's behalf as it leaves an unfinished scenario. If he was going to not include the final fight in The Shire he shouldn't have filmed those particular shots in the Mirror.

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Disagree. In the movie, the visions of oppressed hobbits in the MoG seem clearly to me to be visions to what will happen if Frodo is not successful in his quest, and to re-inspire him to do what he has to do. If this interpretation is correct, then it's perfectly logical to include them. – Dan Barron Jun 11 '15 at 15:06

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