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Peter Jackson’s alternate ending would have ruined Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings nearly ended with an intense duel between Sauron and Aragorn, but Peter Jackson cut it, and honestly, he was right to.

Aaragorn in Lord of the Rings:The Return of the King

If The Return of the King movie is known for one thing above all, it’s for having multiple endings, which brings the epic The Lord of the Rings saga to an emotional climax, and then another one, and so on. But one ending was filmed by Peter Jackson that featured a sword fight between Aragorn and Sauron – and it was dropped for very good reasons.

At the end of The Lord of the Rings, when Sam and Frodo are on the very last leg of their journey up Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, Peter Jackson felt that our favorite Lord of the Rings character, Aragorn, needed a heroic one-on-one battle of some kind. And while it’s not in the books, they initially filmed Aragorn confronting Sauron – in the armored form that we see in The Fellowship of the Ring’s flashback.

This was later wisely changed and became a smaller moment of Aragorn fighting a troll instead of Sauron. Jackson explained, “It was not what Tolkien imagined, and we realized that it was actually totally demeaning to what Aragorn was doing.”

Jackson continued, “Aragorn’s heroism is not a one-on-one duel with a big villain; his heroism is to put his own life on the line in the vague hope that it might somehow give Frodo and Sam the opportunity to complete their mission.”

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It was definitely the right choice for Aragorn’s contribution to be based on his faith in Frodo, rather than a one-on-one duel with Sauron. The evil eye swinging away from Sam and Frodo to what Aragorn and his army are doing is a key part of their ultimate success in destroying the Ring. And Aragorn’s heroism is that he doesn’t even know if the two little hobbits are still alive or if they still have the Ring – but he still decides to give them the best possible chance to end the evil that is the Ring.

In the scene that was filmed and later ditched, Sauron initially appears before Aragorn in his angelic form, Annatar. As Philippa Boyens explained, “it was the form he took when he managed to fool the Elves into actually creating the Ring…he comes forward in this guise of seduction and beauty.”

And Sauron as an angelic seducer is something that was revealed at the end of the first season of The Rings of Power as we now know that Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) is Sauron. In the season finale, Sauron attempts to lure Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) to the dark side, which she resists.

Sauron disappears to the newly forged Mordor, where we presume he’ll begin building his army and forging the rest of the 20 rings. We also know that Aragorn’s ancestor Isildur (Maxim Baldry) will have an important role to play in The Rings of Power season 2.

You can explore The Lord of the Rings cast and The Rings of Power cast in our guides.