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Lord of the Rings: here’s why the Eagles didn’t fly to Mordor

Here we break down all the reasons why Eagles can't simply fly to Mount Doom and how there are no plot holes in the Lord of the Rings movies.

In every conversation about Lord of the Rings, there is always one person in the adventuring party who brings up Eagles flying to Mordor. How many times have you heard, “Why didn’t the Eagles just fly Frodo to Mount Doom?” or “Do you know about the Eagle plot hole?”. Well, it’s time to clear things up once and for all when it comes to the skies of Middle-earth.

During the Lord of the Rings movies, fans only get a few glimpses of the Great Eagles of Manwë. While they often help Gandalf, we don’t see them assist much when it comes to Frodo’s long journey to Mount Doom on his quest to defeat Sauron. But the Eagle’s absence isn’t a plot hole, no matter what Reddit may say. Here’s all the canon and very logical reasons why the Eagles didn’t fly Frodo or the One Ring to Mordor.

Why didn’t the Eagles fly to Mordor?

There are multiple factors why the Eagles didn’t and couldn’t simply fly to Mordor and destroy the One Ring instead of Frodo. The main factors are Sauron’s air superiority, the Eagles being sentient and not under anyone’s commands, and the logistics of Mount Doom and the Rings effects.

So, let’s get into the first and most important fact that fans who haven’t read all of Tolkien’s work may not know. The Eagles aren’t simply big birds. They were also sent to Middle-earth from Valinor, like Gandalf and the rest of the Istari. In fact, Gwaihir, the descendant of the greatest Eagle, had an understanding with Gandalf. So yeah, Eagles are no ones taxis and won’t listen to commands, especially ones that may put them in danger.

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The reason why the Eagles often help Gandalf is because back in the day, the wizard saved Gwaihir, the Windlord, from a poisoned arrow. The two have a deep friendship and bond. But, let’s be honest, the Eagles don’t really care about Hobbits and won’t risk their lives for them. And considering how Elves were leaving Middle-earth during the Lord of the Rings movies, some Eagles may have felt that Frodo’s quest was a lost cause, too.

Somehow, people also forget that Nazgul-birds (aka Fell beasts) are a thing, you know, those eel-like dragons we see the Nazgul riding around on. Then there are also all of Sauron’s spies around Middle-earth to keep track of. Even if the Eagles decided to help out Frodo, Sauron would have sent his winged army on them before they could reach the fires of Mount Doom.

Remember, the battle of the Black Gate in The Return of the King was primarily a distraction in order to draw Sauron’s eye away long enough for Frodo to get up the Volcano. So, if Sauron had the ability to spot a small hobbit when he wasn’t distracted by war at his doorstep, we are pretty sure that he’d be able to see a flock of giant Eagles acting as an express delivery service.

Giant Eagles flying over mountains in the Lord of the Rings movies

The most likely outcome is that Sauron would have stopped the birds, and easily reclaimed the One Ring, and all of Middle-earth would have been doomed. The “plot hole” theory also completely ignores the fact that you can’t just drop the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom from above.

The One Ring was forged in the Cracks of Doom (which is the volcanic fissure in Mount Doom). To destroy it, you need to cast it into this particular fire, not just the Volcano’s central vent. Considering how big Eagles are, this is a near-impossible task for them.

Finally, the One Ring itself is also a problem. The Great Eagles may be blessed beings, but we’ve seen the Ring’s potential effects on other Valinor figures, such as Galadriel and Gandalf. If Gandalf can’t touch the Ring because it could corrupt him, then the Eagles are the same. Remember, these aren’t your typical birds, after all.

Gandalf the White flying on a Eagle in Return of the King

So there you have it. There are no plot holes in Lord of the Rings so please forget the Eagle’s argument once and for all! If you need to see more evidence, here is our guide on how to watch all the Lord of the Rings movies in order.

We also have plenty more Middle-earth content with articles on the entire Lord of the Rings cast, the best Lord of the Rings characters, everything you need to know about the New Lord of the Rings movies, and all the details for The Rings of Power season 2.

For more quality lists, here are our choices for the best movies and the best fantasy movies of all time.