[Originally posted March 9th, 2015]
Many people are not aware of the complete ending to LotR; obvious spoilers ahead (both of the movies and book). The movie ends with the hobbits returning, Frodo sailing into the West, and Sam marrying and taking over management of Bag End. The book? Well… It’s a little more complicated:
The extended edition of the movie shows the death of Saruman at Isengard (which is left out of the theatrical version). In the book, he survives the attack by the Ents and questioning by Gandalf. He, at some point, manages to leave Isengard and complete his long-held plans for the Shire. He invades the Shire with bad men (referred to as Ruffians) and they capture hobbits, cut down trees, raze buildings, etc. Frodo, Merry, Sam, and Pippin return to find the Shire in disarray like this and immediately take action to stop it. They arouse the oppressed inhabitants of the Shire and fight the Ruffians. Victory costs the lives of several hobbits and men but the Scouring of the Shire is brought to an end. The finale finds Frodo and the rest of the hobbits confronting the rumored leader (Sharkey) at Bag End. Turns out: it was Saruman! Frodo does not want him killed or even injured and decides to let him go, but one slip of the mouth by Saruman to his servant Grima enrages Wormtongue to the point of action. Grima kills Saruman and is in turn killed by hobbit archers. The rest of the story plays out as the movies do, only more in-depth.