We have seen throughout the Silmarillion and other Middle Earth related histories that the forces of "Good" (Elves, Edain, Naugrim etc) constantly sit and wait for their enemy to get stronger before acting.

Whilst this is understandable early in the mythos (the Valar did not want to make war on Melkor until the location of the children of Illúvatar was known), it was in my opinion inexcusable later in the mythos.


  1. The Noldor were too content with their realms in Beleriand and Hithlum to challenge Melkor during the siege until they were destroyed because he was developing his forces all the time.

  2. The elves of Gondolin refused to proactively fight until they were found and destroyed.

  3. The white council refused to attack Dol Guldur, preferring to watch and wait until Sauron was too powerful (that may have been due to Saruman's own plans).

  4. Gandalf prefered to watch Frodo and the ring for 17 years despite being suspicious. Wouldn't it have been safer to watch Frodo in Rivendell or Lothlórien for those years, with the possiblilty of his returning to the Shire should Gandalf be incorrect.

I am sure there are other examples but these are off the top of my head.

I know there are reasons given for each (eg Sarumans influence for point 3) but given the experience of (particularly) Elrond and Galadriel and other elven/Istari lords wouldn't it have been obvious to deal with a threat now before it possibly becomes unmanageable?

(Out of universe these all make uber wicked stories but in universe explanations please).

closed as primarily opinion-based by Valorum, Mike Scott, Stan, NominSim, The Fallen Feb 20 '14 at 14:58

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  • 2
    Because they are on the Light side of The Force, and aggression leads to the Dark side (Oh sorry!! wrong universe). (no reference on that) Seriously, I think that they believed in omen that in the end a savior from afar will come and help them defeat the evil. – Max Feb 20 '14 at 13:53
  • But in point 2 of my question - Ulmo attempted to be the saviour of Gondolin by sending Tuor to convince Turgon to abandon Gondolin. and FYI I think its more likely that Saurons Horcrux was making people loopy! Which makes me think - Was the ring a Horcrux? hmmmm I smell another days research – Steven Wood Feb 20 '14 at 13:57
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    Not in-universe: Because they are 'human'. 'Our homeland is unassailable', 'they have no reason to attack us', 'they only want ___', 'we are too weak to stand against them', etc. Neville Chamberlain and Woodrow Wilson were popular for keeping their peoples out of war; history repeats this pattern in part because war is obviously horrible. – Paul A. Clayton Feb 20 '14 at 13:58
  • Hmmmn So the question would be - Do the Wise consider their enemy to be logical and not just consumed by Hatred and Evil? It was a valid school of thought in the 30s to say that Hitler had no reason to attack Britain or the USSR because Hitler originally had the purpose of uniting the German people and reducing the influence of the Jews. He did not originally have the traditional Sauron/Melkor attitude of pure hatred of anything that lives. (I would like to point out I am not defending Hitler only saying that he was doing what he believed to be right as opposed to sauron who knew he was evil) – Steven Wood Feb 20 '14 at 14:03
  • However what he considered to be right was considered evil by the rest of the world. – Steven Wood Feb 20 '14 at 14:04