One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor: Why the Eagles Aren’t a Plothole in ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Any popular movie, book, or television show is privy to having its storyline scrutinized and holes poked in the plot. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is no exception. Many fans sight one major plothole that troubles them throughout the series, “Why didn’t the Eagles take the Hobbits to Mordor?” In honor of the approaching release date of Amazon’s new LOTR series, it’s time to address this question. There are a couple of reasons why using the Eagles to destroy the one Ring would not have been possible or plausible. 

What is the plot of ‘The Lord of the Rings’?

'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" movie poster of the Fellowship walking in silhouette
Rings of fire burn near the movie poster for the film ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ | Stephane Cardinale/Sygma/ Getty Images

The Lord of the Rings plot can be complicated, so let’s start off with the basics. Sauron, an evil being, wages war on the free world. He constructs a Ring that gives him incredible power in the hopes of conquering all races of Middle Earth. A human named Isildur takes the Ring from Sauron. Many years later the Ring falls into the hands of a Hobbit named Frodo. The Ring must be destroyed, but this can only happen in the dangerous and far away fires of Mount Doom where it was created. Frodo volunteers to take the Ring there.

Why didn’t Gandalf ask the Eagles for help?

When fans ask why the Eagles didn’t take the Hobbits to Mordor, it seems to be under the assumption that the Eagles would have agreed to anything Gandalf asked. However, as pointed out in an article by Polygon, the Eagles are powerful, intelligent, and independent creatures. They are not pets or servants of Gandalf. The Eagles sometimes help Gandalf because he is on friendly terms with them. Gandalf once saved an Eagle named Gwaihir the Windlord when he was shot with a poisoned arrow.

The Lord of the Rings films sometimes give the impression that Gandalf has unlimited power over the Eagles. For example, in the movie Gwaihir the Windlord rescues Gandalf from Orthanc because Gandalf summoned him. In the book, however, Gwaihir finds Gandalf in danger while trying to deliver him a message. He chooses to rescue him because Gandalf once saved his life. On other occasions, such as the Battle of the Five Armies in The Hobbit, Gandalf doesn’t have any role in the Eagles showing up. They choose to fight because of their distaste for Sauramon and the Orcs. 

Why couldn’t the Eagles fly Frodo to Mordor?

Now, even if Gandalf could somehow convince the Eagles to carry Frodo to Mordor, it is likely that this plan would have failed. Polygon points out that the mission of the Fellowship depends on Sauron’s ignorance. He is not even supposed to know that Frodo has the Ring, let alone that he plans to destroy it. This is why a small group was chosen to accompany him in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s why Sam and Frodo must take a treacherous and secretive route on foot to Mount Doom. In the words of Boromir, “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” Sauron sees all, so a small group was chosen in the hopes that they could slip past him. 

Sauron cannot be allowed to see Frodo coming or know of his plans to destroy the Ring. If he did, he would likely draw all of his forces to take the Ring from Frodo. The Eagles are powerful and swift, but they would have been noticed by Sauron and then had to face the Nazgul on their winged Fellbeasts. If this plan failed, then Sauron would have the Ring again and all hope would be lost. The plan with the Eagles is too much of a gamble to stake on the entire free world. 

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