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This question already has an answer here:

The first time Gollum had attempted to kill the Hobbits didn't go as plan, as the Hobbits were aware of his presence and were able to trick him into thinking that they were asleep.

However, Gollum had many other opportunities once he had agreed to take them to Mordor to have killed them in their sleep and take the ring from Frodo. This isn't the case though, and he seems to remain loyal (to an extent) and doesn't really seem to attempt anything until the final film, where he leads them into Shelob's lair.

Why is this?

marked as duplicate by Mithrandir, Edlothiad, Anthony Grist, Gallifreyan, Rand al'Thor Jul 16 '17 at 14:42

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    'We swears to serve the master of the Precious. We will swear on the Precious. " – user68762 Jul 16 '17 at 13:53
  • That is true in the sense that he swore to serve the master of the ring. However, at the end of the film when Frodo is being attacked by Gollum and stated that Gollum swore on the precious, Gollum replied with "Smigel Lied". – Zan Jul 16 '17 at 15:08
  • that's interesting, especially that peter jackson thought it was smeagol who lied. – user68762 Jul 16 '17 at 16:31
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He actually did consider attacking them, but quickly changed his mind afterwards (split personalities, if you remember). Here's how the inner debate went in The Passage of the Marshes.

  1. He was held by his promise

    'I don't know. I can't help it. Master's got it. Smeagol promised to help the master.'

    'Yes, yes, to help the master: the master of the Precious. But if we was master, then we could help ourselfs, yes, and still keep promises.'

    'But Smeagol said he would be very very good. Nice hobbit! He took cruel rope off Smeagol's leg. He speaks nicely to me.'

  2. "They'll wake up too quick and kill us"

    'No, sweet one. See, my precious: if we has it, then we can escape, even from Him, eh? Perhaps we grows very strong, stronger than Wraiths. Lord Smeagol? Gollum the Great? The Gollum! Eat fish every day, three times a day; fresh from the sea. Most Precious Gollum! Must have it. We wants it, we wants it, we wants it!'

    'But there's two of them. They'll wake too quick and kill us,' whined Smeagol in a last effort. 'Not now. Not yet.'

Though treacherous, deceitful and a downright liar, Smeagol didn't dare to "directly" attack Frodo. Why? Because he was held by his promise. Only when he learned Frodo was going to destroy the Ring did he bite Frodo's finger off.

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