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Plot Issues: Inconsistencies

I’m a really big fan of the Lord of the Rings books and films, and the Hobbit ones too. In this post, I’ll be discussing the films, which is where the inconsistencies I’m talking about, take place.


I’m one of those writers who gets really caught up in my characters, and I get so attached that my stories usually end up as a series, because I can’t bear to let my characters go.

This said, however, when you move from book 1 to books 4 or 6, you have to remember every detail of what came before. Keep your characters names the same. Don’t start calling the character Kelley, then start spelling it Kelly, Kelli or Kelle in later books. Keep their appearance the same, unless it’s a change that has been documented, in which case you have to remember that their appearance had changed. Don’t have them blue eyed in one book, but with big brown eyes in another. Don’t have them loving football in one book, then saying they hate it, later on.

Consistence is the key to a successful series.

My biggest niggles, from the films that I’m using as an example, are ones linking the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit.

Inconsistency #1 : In the LOTR films, Bilbo talks about meeting the trolls and how they spent so long discussing how to cook him, that the sun rose and turned them all to stone. Well…no. That’s not what happens in The Hobbit. In fact, he stalls the trolls, discussing various ways to cook them, until Gandalf can rescue him and the dwarves. Then Gandalf slams his staff into the stone and breaks a bit off, to expose the trolls to the rising sun. Totally different.

Now, how is that possible, when The Hobbit movie was written and filmed, after the LOTR films were already released? Why did the writers not keep to the original story, when they had already made a promise as to what would happen?

Which brings me to…

Inconsistency #2 : the orcs. Why oh why are the orcs bigger, scarier and meaner in The Hobbit, sixty years ago, than they were in LOTR? The orcs in LOTR are puny, rotting, hunchbacks who have no intelligence or willpower of their own. Yet, in The Hobbit, the orcs are driven by hatred, ready to defy their master and follow an agenda of their own, fuelled by vengeance. They’re smart, military minded and far superior to the orcs in LOTR.

Now, I know there may be arguments for this theory – that Sauron had been defeated for so long, that he couldn’t create them as strong or as good as they used to be, that they had withered over time, losing incentive and strength, because the ring was lost for so long.

But for me, that’s a lazy excuse for the writers deciding to make the orcs more frightening and more challenging foes, in The Hobbit, than they were in LOTR. Clearly, with advanced technology, with the workers skilled and comfortable with the art form, thanks to previous films, they decided to turn things up a notch and show off their skills. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it makes sense. The change in orcs doesn’t make sense, at all.

Inconsistency #3 : the finding of the ring. In the LOTR films, we’re shown a flashback to when Bilbo found the ring, in Gollum’s cave. In that flashback, Bilbo stumbles across the ring, lying in the dirt, while walking through the caves and tucks it in his pocket. But in The Hobbit, he falls into a pit, lands on the dirt and falls unconscious. When he wakes up, Gollum is there and he sees the ring fall out of his ‘pocket’. Being nosy, he sees and picks up the ring, doesn’t say a word, as Gollum keeps talking to himself, in the background. Now, in the LOTR, he says “A ring,” when he finds it, then you hear Gollum calling out, saying he’s lost his precious.

Why make the two so vastly different, when they know what was in the LOTR films already? There’s a lot of talk, in online forums, about it being true to the book, because Tolkein changed his mind about the finding of the ring and went back to edit The Hobbit, after writing LOTR. But, although this perfectly displays the plot inconsistencies I’m talking about, I don’t think that’s the problem here. I think the writers filled in the flashback gaps, in LOTR, because they didn’t know if or when they would eventually make The Hobbit into films.

Then, when the finally did get to write the scripts for it, they decided they’d glossed over these two big events, in the LOTR and had to flesh them out, for the films. So, they made both incidents more theatrical, for the films, for entertainment purposes. It clearly didn’t matter that they were being inconsistent, but all the fans of the book and the LOTR films, have noticed these inconsistencies, so they really are important.


It’s the same thing in books. If you’re writing a series, or even a novel with a complicated plot, you need to pay attention to every little detail. You might not notice inconsistencies, as you’re writing the story, but believe me, your readers will notice. This is why editing, editing again and editing until your teeth ache, is so important, as I said in my last Plot Issues post.

If you pay attention to the details, so will the readers and they’ll thank you for it.


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