In his heart, The Lord of the Rings The trilogy is a story about friendship as a group of diverse members come together and form a bond around the common goal of destroying the One Ring. However, the indestructible bond of these heroes contrasts with a plethora of heartbreaking betrayals.
The lure of the Ring is the primary driver of many of these betrayals, as it plagues people’s minds and brings out the worst in them. While some of the betrayals were obvious and fans saw them coming, some were truly shocking and had a massive ripple effect on the rest of the story.
ten Smeagol kills Deagol
Perhaps no character demonstrates the Ring’s corrupting power more than Gollum. In a flashback, audiences learn that the Ring won the day the moment they first saw it. When Deagol discovered the One Ring while fishing, Sméagol was willing to kill him to get it.
The heartbreaking moment is one of the saddest things about Sméagol because The Lord of the Rings viewers can literally see the moment he lost his humanity. Deagol was Sméagol’s cousin and best friend, making the betrayal all the more upsetting.
9 The men of the white mountain break their oath
When the free peoples of Middle-earth mounted their forces for the massive battle against Sauron, the White Mountain Men pledged to join the fight. However, when the battle broke out, they broke their oath and did not show up. As a result, they were cursed and became “the army of the dead”.
The battle against Sauron was a defining moment in the history of Middle-earth and the betrayal of the Men of the White Mountain is blatant. However, they were able to make up for it by answering Aragorn’s call for help, finally fulfilling their wish and making up for their betrayal.
8 Denethor leaves his son for dead
Despite being vastly outnumbered, Denethor ordered Faramir and his men to fight for Osgiliath, essentially handing his son over to the enemy. Although badly injured, Faramir survived the mission, only for Denethor to try and burn him to death as he refused to believe he was still alive.
Boromir’s untimely death is one of the saddest things about the Fellowship and Denethor never fully recovered from it. As a result, he made a number of questionable decisions, many of which involved injuring his other son, Faramir. Faramir deserved better from his father and his leader than to be fundamentally rejected.
7 Grima Wormtongue poisons the king’s mind
As a not-so-subtle double agent working for Saruman, Gríma Wormtongue infiltrated Rohan’s palace and became King Théoden’s most trusted advisor. He abused this power and poisoned the king’s mind, controlling his decision-making. Gríma uses this power to banish Eomer from Rohan.
It is implied that Saruman promised to give Gríma, Eowyn, among others, in exchange for his services. Gríma was ready to sell her country and harm all of Rohan in return for her own selfish gain.
6 Boromir goes for the ring
Boromir is one of the most tragic characters in The Lord of the Rings as he succumbed to the Ring’s temptation and attempted to take it from Frodo. This action caused the Fellowship to split and set off the sequence that led to Lurtz killing Boromir. In his final moments, it was clear Boromir regretted his actions but it was too late.
He had Gondor’s best interests in mind, but was ultimately killed because of his actions and caused Frodo and Sam to separate from the Fellowship. Boromir had sworn allegiance to the Fellowship and he turned his back on that promise at a crucial time.
5 Saruman betrays Gandalf
As shown later in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Saruman and Gandalf were both members of a council of magic users who came together to oppose Sauron and prevent his full return. Because of this, Gandalf turns to Saruman for advice and help, only to find that Saruman has joined Sauron’s forces.
Gandalf clearly trusted and respected Saruman, making his betrayal painful. He is an influential figure whose betrayal was a major setback for free peoples and gave them a powerful new enemy to face in addition to Sauron.
4 Isildur condemns the free peoples of Middle-earth
In an astonishing turn of events, the free peoples of Middle-earth succeeded in defeating Sauron when Isildur managed to cut off the Ring from him. Elrond urged Isildur to cast the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom and end the Dark Lord’s reign of terror forever. However, Isildur chose to keep the Ring to himself instead.
After all that the free peoples had sacrificed to defeat Sauron, Isildur’s decision was an overwhelming one. His selfish betrayal doomed Middle-earth to years of conflict and violence, costing untold numbers of deaths, as he left the door open to Sauron’s potential return.
3 Gollum sets a trap
Despite Sam’s protests, Frodo made the decision to trust Gollum to lead them to Mordor without getting caught. Gollum accuses Sam of eating all the food and isolates Frodo before leading him to Shelob’s lair, hoping she will kill him so he can take the Ring.
While Gollum’s betrayal is not unexpected, it is a major setback that almost killed Frodo and would have allowed the Ring to fall into dangerous hands. Frodo trusted Gollum and he paid the price.
2 Frodo chooses the ring
After the epic journey from the Shire to Mordor, Frodo was too exhausted to climb the last steps of Mount Doom. Then in one of the best LOTR moments in the friendship of Sam and Frodo, Sam carried him up the mountain. However, once inside, Frodo chose not to destroy the Ring.
After all, they had been through and all they had sacrificed to get to Mordor, watching Frodo choose the One Ring is a heartbreaking betrayal that could have doomed all of Middle-earth. Frodo was weak and corrupted by the Ring, but it is still painful to see him make this choice.
1 Sauron forges the One Ring
In an attempt to take control of Middle-earth, Sauron used the Rings of Power to seduce and corrupt the rulers into obeying his orders. By giving the nine rings to the rulers of men, he created the Nazgûl. He then secretly forged the One Ring, designed to rule them all.
Sauron’s deceptive use of power has caused immeasurable damage to Middle-earth, costing thousands of lives and affecting countless more. This evil plan was the ultimate betrayal that forever changed the course of Middle-earth history.
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