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
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 1:00
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    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. Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 7:45
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    @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. Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 14:50
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    @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). Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 15:14
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    Who can say that Peter Jackson might not make a trilogy on the Scouring of the Shire before all is said and done??
    – Oldcat
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 23:49

7 Answers 7


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.
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 1:50
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    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.
    – user2952
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 4:35
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    Well, from what he considers to be the climax of the story. Tolkien may have seen things differently. :)
    – dlanod
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 4:55
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    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
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 11:31
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    @dlanod Agreed. I thought the Scouring of the Shire was important to the story because it was so local. Defeating the bad guys matters because the bad guys harm people, which ultimately means individual places and people. Everyone fights for home and family in the end. Also, showing the value of hard clean-up work is a nice counterpoint to the glory of battle. Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 16:20

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
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 12:52

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... Commented May 10, 2012 at 9:51
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    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
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 13:06
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    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
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 17:59
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    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
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 21:42
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    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
    Commented Jul 7, 2014 at 5:27

The Scouring of the Shire was due to Saruman occupying it with ruffians, using Frodo's greedy cousin Lotho as his puppet-insider, setting up as "The Boss" of the Shire, and and giving him money and power to accomplish it, until Saruman had his occupation set up.

But since movie-Saruman was either dead, or imprisoned at Isengard while Treebeard was a jerk who'd never let him get away, then he Saruman was never able to do any of this, and there was no need to Scour the Shire.

The scene from the Mirror of Galadriel showed what would happen if SAURON took over, not Saruman, who wanted revenge on the hobbits for destroying Isengard and foiling his plot to get the Ring.

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    +1 for "Treebeard was a jerk" - one of the things I disliked most about Jackson's adaptation was how he completely changed some characters' ethics (Treebeard, Faramir, Arwen, even Frodo!) Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 18:09

The structural format of the medium did not allow for it. For this, I mean that the Scouring of the Shire would have depended upon the presence of Sandyman in the Fellowship. This was a long, slow narrative development which pitted the outside corruption of the world of Men and industry (represented by the Chief's Men who were lesser agents of Saruman) replacing the pastoral world of hobbits and agriculture. In this parallel, you can see that Tolkien made a sustained ecological argument throughout his body of works in preference for the respect of nature, the encouragement of good order and country comforts, and warning of the dangers of unrestricted industry and power (the orcs, the pollution and destruction of forests, the fires of war, etc).

Due to the obvious physical limitations of trying to condense these works in three films, the Sandyman/Chief's Men/Saruman subplot which would have been essential at the beginning was replaced by the end. The scowling hobbit who appears to hate Samwise I believe is Jackson's artistic nod to Sandyman the Miller, but nothing is ever said and he remains an unspoken background actor throughout the works.

Notwithstanding this discussion on the differences of theme and medium, the Scouring of the Shire could have added some energetic counterbalance to the prolonged (in my opinion exhaustingly tedious) denouement of the Return of the King. I remember people walking out of the cinema and falling asleep when I first watched it. What the Scouring of the Shire does accomplish is that it completes Tolkien's larger narrative: that goodness can be found in little people, in small actions, and the smallest person can withstand evil. Frodo, Pippin, Merry and Samwise return from their adventure as powerful, transformed figures and they use their newly acquired experience and authority to raise their oppressed community to drive out evil and to restore goodness.

When examining Jackson's Lord of the Rings, it would do well to look at the opening sequence which provides the long-form backstory to the War of the Ring which builds the world; but which also specifically locates this event as the central narrative force of the story. Working as a writer, or a creator of any form of narrative art, especially when dealing with adaptation, you need to be cognizant of the requirements and needs of the medium; and how they relate the story which you are trying to tell to your audience.


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
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 15:06

This answer is quite correct. The Scourging of the Shire is long and complicated to do. As the film is very long, Peter Jackson did not intend to do it. The climax of the story is the defeat of Sauron and the destruction of the One Ring.
Besides, the main antagonist of the story is Sauron, not Saruman. I have a supporting answer from this Question and Answer website:

Question: The scene in the movie with everything about Saruman is not true to the book, and even though there will be more scenes in the extended version, all this is not correct. Saruman's palantir and staff are actually taken by Gandalf, and Saruman is let out by Treebeard. Saruman later dies in the Shire, after the fellowship sees him on their way back home. Why is all this info being changed, couldn't they have put all this in the extended version? If all this was not filmed for the movie, why wasn't it?

Answer: The entire Scouring of the Shire sequence was never filmed. This was a deliberate choice by the film-makers to prevent the ending of the film from becoming overlong - the climax to the tale is, really, the destruction of the Ring and the fall of Sauron. The theatrical release of the film goes on for at least half an hour after that - to include all the necessary scenes would lengthen the ending of the film to probably around the hour and a half mark - the Scouring is a complex sequence - which is untenable in cinematic terms, even for an extended version. As such, in their version, Saruman dies at Isengard (apparently still at Wormtongue's hands) - this will be seen in the extended cut.

From http://www.moviemistakes.com/entry55184.


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