Do not read the following if you don't want to see any spoilers.
THE RETURN OF THE KING, CONDENSED
By Molly Winter
A RIVER, CENTURIES AGO
SMEAGOL and DEAGOL find the Ring and start fighting over it.
DEAGOL: Yours. (dies)
UNOFFICIAL ENTRANCE TO MORDOR
SAM: We can't trust Gollum! He's out to kill us!
FRODO: Really, Sam, you and your imagination. I suppose YOU have a better
plan for getting into Mordor?
SAM: As a matter of fact I do. Hanggliding.
FRODO: Excuse me?
SAM: Hanggliding. It's all the rage in the Southfarthing. We make a big
kite-like frame out of a lightweight wood, like balsa, if you follow me, and
stretch some muslin across it; then we climb to the top of one of these
mountains, wait for a warm updraft -
FRODO: I am NOT listening to this.
FRODO grabs GOLLUM's hand and walks away.
LEGOLAS: The sky wears a film of gauze. The night air breathes infamy.
Deceit weaves itself around my fingernails.
ARAGORN: What the hell is that? Poetry? I pay you to do two things: shoot
stuff, and look pretty. If you have something to tell me, tell me in normal
LEGOLAS: Fine. S-A-U-R-O-N is H-E-R-E. Simple enough for you, numbskull?
(MEANWHILE, INSIDE IN EDORAS)
PIPPIN: I'm going to go look at that crystal bowling-ball thingy.
MERRY: Bad idea, Pip.
PIPPIN: No, I think it's a good idea.
MERRY: Really seriously bad idea.
PIPPIN: No, it'll be fine. See? I just pick it up and AAAAHHHHH!!
ENTIRE CITY wakes up.
GANDALF: Fool of a Took! Now I must take you on a horseback ride.
PIPPIN: Okay! Can Merry come?
MERRY: See what you did? Ugh. Why do I always hang out with the stupid ones?
EOWYN: Here, little fellow. Put this armor on.
MERRY: Thanks much, my lady. Ooh, I don't think you fastened my belt right.
Could you put your hands there again? ...Ahh, that's it; right there...
EOMER: Wow, sis, you are getting desperate.
EOWYN: Look at this hobbit: can you honestly tell me he isn't brave and
handsome, and doesn't inspire your courage?
EOMER: (snicker) Uh, sure. Sure, he's great. Yeah. (gives MERRY thumbs-up
sign) You go, dude.
GANDALF: Don't say anything, Pippin. Hi, Denethor!
DENETHOR: Hi. My favorite son is dead and my life sucks.
PIPPIN: That's all my fault! I'll fight for you!
GANDALF: Agh. WHAT did I say, Pippin? What did I say?
ELROND: So, we brought you this sword.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE READ THE BOOK: About freaking time.
ARAGORN: Shiny. Thanks.
ELROND: Oh, and by the way, Arwen's sick. The longer the Ring goes
undestroyed, the weaker she gets.
ARAGORN: Come off it. That's such a crock. There's no connection between her
and the Ring.
ELROND: Yeah, well, I guess they don't teach you everything in Ranger
school. It's just TRUE, okay? Now go pick up a ghost army and save your
grimy unshaven people.
ROHIRRIM CAMP, LATER
EOWYN: I love you.
ARAGORN: Me? What? Oh. Um...listen, Ellen...
ARAGORN: Right, Eowyn. You're a fine-looking woman, and I'm sure somebody
will say to you someday, "Erin -"
ARAGORN: "Eowyn...you're the only woman for me. Be my wife."
EOWYN: But it won't be you.
ARAGORN: Exactly! It won't be me. I'm glad we understand each other. Well
kiddo, I've got to go. The Paths of the Dead beckon.
EOWYN: Don't do it! You'll never survive!
ARAGORN: Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has.
PIPPIN: Any chance I can get out of fighting, Gandalf?
GANDALF: Probably not.
PIPPIN: Are Frodo and Sam going to make it?
GANDALF: Don't think so.
PIPPIN: Isn't there anything you can say to cheer me up?
GANDALF: Maybe you'll get decapitated. That should be quick and painless.
PIPPIN: Oh. Uh, thanks.
PATHS OF THE DEAD
GHOST: Hello! Welcome to the Paths of the Dead. We ask that you keep your
hands and arms to yourselves at all times, as the ceiling is low in places,
and fighting back will only prolong your ghastly death. Unless of course you
are the heir of Isildur, in which case you and your party get a free pass.
ARAGORN: Hey, that's convenient. I AM the heir of Isildur!
GHOST: Got any ID?
ARAGORN: Sure, hang on a sec.
ARAGORN starts digging through his knapsack for his Ranger license.
AUDIENCE: I'm just not the least bit worried for them.
GHOST: (examines license) Okay, you're legit. Ooh, hang on: I'm sorry, but
you must be at least as tall as this sign to enter. This kid with the beard
GIMLI: I'm a dwarf, not a child, you transparent twit.
ARAGORN: Really, he has to come along. He catches all the knee-level dangers
LEGOLAS: Indeed, if we leave him behind, I do not know who I will taunt for
the rest of the journey.
GHOST: Fine, fine. Let's go.
FARAMIR: Anything I can do for you, Dad?
DENETHOR: Yeah. Go die.
FARAMIR: Nice. Real nice.
FARAMIR storms out.
DENETHOR: Sing me a song, short man.
PIPPIN: I really don't feel like it.
DENETHOR: Aw, come on! Sing! Here's the karaoke song book - pick something.
PIPPIN: Well, if you insist... (clears throat) "You never close your eyes
anymore when I kiss your lips...and there's no tenderness like before in
OUTSIDE MINAS TIRITH
FARAMIR leads the charge against the latest forces of Mordor.
FARAMIR: Who's your daddy?? HUH?? Who's your- ow.
FARAMIR, with arrows sticking through him, falls off horse.
PIPPIN (V.O.): "You're trying hard not to show it..."
GANDALF and DENETHOR (V.O.): "Bay-beh..."
PIPPIN (V.O.): "But bay-beh, baby I know it!..."
PIPPIN breaks down crying.
PIPPIN: I'm sorry. That song always gets to me. I miss Merry...
DENETHOR: What's that noise outside? Is that the sound of my
good-for-nothing son getting dragged into the city by horses?
GANDALF: Yes, it appears to be. As I mentioned, Mordor is a serious threat
and now most of your soldiers are dead.
DENETHOR: Crap! Run, everybody, run!
GANDALF: Oh, shut up.
GANDALF clocks DENETHOR and takes over.
VICINITY OF CIRITH UNGOL
GOLLUM: Dead hobbitses...(mutter mutter)...won't be long now...(mutter
mutter)...will try wearing Ring on toe this time; yes, precious; very
SAM: Hey! I heard that!
FRODO: Heard what?
GOLLUM: Nothing, Master! Fat hobbit wants Ring; yes, Master.
SAM: I do not!
FRODO: I think maybe you do. Gollum wouldn't lie to me, after all.
SAM: He's trying to kill us! We're walking straight into a trap. I'm not
going one step further.
FRODO: Leave, then. I'm sick of your paranoid delusions anyhow.
SAM: But I...
FRODO: Go on - get out of here. Good riddance.
SAM: But you...
FRODO: Have a nice death.
FRODO stomps off. SAM stays behind, weeping piteously.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE READ THE BOOK: ...the f**k??
FRODO gets tangled in a gigantic spider-web.
FRODO: Egads! Does this mean a gigantic spider lives here?
GOLLUM: Ha ha! Smeagol tricked you, ssstupid hobbit! Did Master know
"gullible" was not in dictionary?
FRODO: Oh, dear. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to send Sam away.
SHELOB appears and starts pounding down the tunnel.
FRODO lights up the star-glass and gives us an all-too-clear look at her.
ARACHNOPHOBES IN AUDIENCE: Oh...dear...God.
FRODO cuts himself loose and runs like hell - but, being
FRODO, falls down. GOLLUM jumps on him.
GOLLUM: Jussst kidding about "ssstupid" comment! Nice master! Hold still so
spider can eat you, yes yes.
FRODO: I have a different plan, actually.
FRODO flings GOLLUM down an abyss.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE BOOK: You know, it's interesting: even though I've read
the book, I have no idea what's going on.
DENETHOR: So here's my plan: a barbecue. Featuring smoked and roasted
stewards of Gondor. Obey me or die, people!
PIPPIN: Ohhh-kay, crazy man alert.
PIPPIN runs off to get help. DENETHOR gets busy pouring flammable stuff all
over himself and FARAMIR.
DROOLING FANGIRLS: Oooh! Unconscious Faramir covered in oil! The things I
could do with THAT scenario!
VICINITY OF CIRITH UNGOL
SHELOB is hovering above FRODO, who is oblivious.
AUDIENCE: (apparently thinking they're at a horror film) Look up! LOOK UP!!
OH MY GOD, LOOK UP!!
FRODO gets caught and bitten, and attractively foams at the mouth. SHELOB
wraps him up in spider-silk.
ARACHNOPHOBES are whimpering somewhere under their theatre seats. SAM shows
up and saves day, stabbing SHELOB with borrowed sword.
SAM: Whew. All right, Mr. Frodo, I know I've teased you about running from
spiders before, but I don't blame you for that one. Er, Mr. Frodo? (prod)
FRODO is not looking good. SAM begins weeping and cradling him.
SENTIMENTAL BOOK-READERS: Say "Don't go where I can't follow." Say "Don't go
where I can't follow." Say "Don't go where I can't follow."
SAM: Don't go where I can't follow!
SENTIMENTAL BOOK-READERS: Woohoo! All right; I can die happy now.
SAM: Uh-oh; Orcs. Got to cut this short. So long, sir. (skitters and hides)
ORCS start prodding FRODO.
ORC #73: How long has he been dead?
ORC #89: Dead? Any COMPLETE IDIOT could tell he's not dead!
ORC #42: Then let's take him upstairs and strip him. We should at least get
to keep the change in his pockets.
SAM: Are you telling me...I had a chance...to give Mr. Frodo
mouth-to-mouth...and I DIDN'T TAKE IT??
SAM flies into a murderous rage, killing about eighty Orcs in the space of
half a minute.
OUTSIDE MINAS TIRITH
Black Ships sail up, with ARAGORN, LEGOLAS, GIMLI, and DEAD PEOPLE aboard,
and save the day.
AUDIENCE: Oh, come on. Orlando Bloom as the token pretty-boy on a ship full
of ghosts - yeah, we saw that over the summer. Next!
TOWER OF CIRITH UNGOL
SAM, lost, stops in a stairwell and sings out:
SAM: "The stars at night...are clear and bright..."
FRODO'S VOICE: (weak) "...deep in the heart of Texas..."
SAM charges that direction and kills an Orc mid-whip.
FRODO is lying in a swoon on a heap of rags, half-naked.
DROOLING FANGIRLS: Oh, HECK yeah! Come on, sugar, get those hands out of the
OTHER AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Eww! You're corrupting my immaculate Tolkien
SAM: Darling! You're alive!
FRODO: Sam, dear...if we ever get back to the Shire, remind me to enroll you
in a First Aid course. We really must review how to find a pulse.
MOLLY: Quite a lot of intense fighting takes place here. Once again I shall
try to sum up the highlights.
WITCH KING: (evil shriek)
MERRY: Um...roar! Yes! What she said!
WITCH KING delivers smackdown.
MERRY and EOWYN: Ow!
MERRY and EOWYN deliver counter-smackdown.
WITCH KING: Ow.
WITCH KING dies. EOWYN collapses. MERRY wanders off somewhere. PIPPIN finds
him under an Orc.
PIPPIN: Merry! Long time no see!
MERRY: Hello, Pippin. (cough) Would you believe I...got lucky with a hot
PIPPIN: Er...no. No, Merry, I wouldn't. I'm sorry; I want to humor you when
you're this hurt; but no, that's really quite beyond the realm of
MERRY: Then how do you explain this...(cough)...lipstick on my armor?
PIPPIN: (cry of disbelief) No fair! And all I got was an oily unconscious
FRODO and SAM stumble into view wearing Orc gear.
AUDIENCE bursts into giggles.
AUDIENCE: Somehow I don't think this is supposed to be funny, but it is.
FRODO: I'm forlorn. Desolate. Wretched.
SAM: Very eloquent, sir. Here I was just going to say, "This place sucks."
FRODO: I hate wearing shoes. Especially iron shoes. And this mask smells
SAM: Well, that's to be expected.
FRODO swoons, draping himself over a boulder.
FRODO: Let me die. I cannot go on.
SAM: Sure you can. Think of the Shire.
FRODO: It never existed. You're lying.
SAM: Now, what were the rules we set?
FRODO: (humble) No more calling you a liar?
SAM: That's right. Now let's get you up.
(Five minutes later)
FRODO stumbles to his knees and starts beating his head against a rock.
FRODO: This is hopeless! We're doomed. We should have given the bloody thing
to the Gondor brothers.
SAM inserts himself between FRODO and rock.
SAM: Sir. Remember our agreement.
FRODO: (humble) No wigging out?
SAM: That's right. Now will you stop wigging out if I move away from the
(Five minutes later)
FRODO flings himself onto the ground and writhes in agony.
FRODO: I can't bear it. Life is horrid. My heart is shriveled and my soul is
dead. The blackness of despair shrouds my eyes. I choke on pain and anguish.
SAM: That's it - no more listening to The Cure for you.
SAM picks FRODO up, slings him over his shoulder, and carries him up the
GANDALF: Now I guess it's time to knock on death's door and invite them out
to battle. Draw Sauron's eye to us instead of Frodo.
ARAGORN: All in the hopes of giving Sam and Frodo a chance.
LEGOLAS: A diversion.
ARAGORN: Yeah, thanks, Paraphrase Boy.
GOLLUM: Wait! Lassst chance! You know you want to sssee how pretty Ring
looks on my toe, you know you do! Give it to us!
SAM: How about I pound your head with a rock instead?
FRODO: Know what? Change of plans. I'm not throwing it into the volcano.
SAM: Yes you are.
FRODO: No, I have a new idea: I'm going to take over the world. All shall
love me and despair.
SAM: But I already love you and despair.
GOLLUM: Smeagol will take over world with you, yes yes! Give it to us!
GOLLUM: YES! (chomp)
GOLLUM falls triumphantly into fiery chasm from whence Ring came, taking
FRODO's finger and the Ring with him. SAM hauls FRODO out of the special
Place To Throw Stuff Into Lava room. They find temporary refuge from flowing
molten rock on a boulder.
FRODO: Hey, I can remember the Shire again! Small comfort, considering we
seem to have about five minutes to live.
SAM: It's a shame. Now I'll never get to marry Rosie Cotton.
FRODO: (startled) YOU want to marry a girl? Really?
SAM: Aye. Why is that so hard to believe?
FRODO: It's just - er - well - you know, I think I must have misinterpreted
several things you've said over the past couple decades, Sam. Forgive me.
SAM: No matter. Could you hold me in your arms before we die, sir?
FRODO: See - like that statement, right there. Oh, who cares...
FRODO holds SAM in his arms. They pass out, but GIANT EAGLES rescue them.
WISEACRES IN AUDIENCE: So, how come the eagles didn't just pick them up in
Rivendell and carry them straight to Mount Doom in the first place? Why did
they have to WALK?
REST OF AUDIENCE: Shhh.
GANDALF: Hello, Frodo. Thanks for doing all the dirty work. Saved our butts,
let me tell you.
FRODO: Gandalf! You're alive! Legolas! You're alive! Gimli! You too!
Aragorn! Merry! Pippin! ...Okay, I'm starting to get tired. Are there many
more of you?
MINAS TIRITH AGAIN
ARAGORN is getting coronated. Which should be a word, if it isn't. He clears
his throat and starts singing in Elvish.
PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK: Jeez, people sing a lot in this movie.
PEOPLE WHO HAVE READ THE BOOK: Hah. That's nothing. You ought to read the
LEGOLAS steps out, wearing bridal white and a coy smile. He and ARAGORN gaze
into one another's eyes.
LEGOLAS: Are you ready to kiss your bride, my lord?
ARAGORN: Heck yeah. Come here, you.
LEGOLAS steps aside and lets ARWEN in.
ARAGORN: Oh! Arwen! Right. Wow, hi. Heh. Uh - come here, you.
ARAGORN kisses ARWEN. WATCHING ELVES smile as if the sight of a
bristly-faced human tonguing a pristine Elf doesn't turn their stomach.
FARAMIR: The only thing that would make this day better would be meeting an
attractive, single noblewoman. Oh, well.
EOWYN: The only thing that would make this day better would be meeting an
attractive, single nobleman. Oh, well.
SAM and ROSIE are getting married. FRODO stands by, smiling generously.
FANATICAL FRODO/SAM SHIPPERS: (sobbing) This is the saddest scene in the
RESPECTABLE AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Oh, give it up already.
GANDALF: I will not say, 'Do not weep,' for not all tears are an evil.
AUDIENCE: Good, because that's all we've been doing for the last three
FRODO: Goodbye, Pippin. I'm glad you found your courage. Goodbye, Merry. I'm
glad you got to wear horse-themed armor. Sam...
FRODO hugs SAM.
FRODO: I think I'll miss you most of all, Scarecrow.
FRODO kisses SAM on the forehead. FANATICAL
FRODO/SAM SHIPPERS stop sobbing for a moment and perk up.
FRODO/SAM SHIPPERS: Oh, hey! I totally need to screencap that and turn it
into an LJ icon.
SAM, however, is still weeping.
SAM: Can't I come join you, someday?
FRODO: Let's not talk about that. The audience doesn't need comforting with
such pitiful little shreds of hope. Goodbye, my friends.
FRODO smiles as he sails away, at peace in the knowledge that he never again
has to get up at five a.m. to have the makeup people put hobbit feet on him.
AUDIENCE: (sobbing) I can't believe it's over. What do I have left to live
PETER JACKSON: Well, there's the extended version, due out in November.
Complete with silly outtakes - I promise! And then someday there's the
full-extra-special boxed set of 241 DVD's. And eventually there's that
musical they're making...
AUDIENCE: November?? (crumples to the ground, weeping) You rip out my heart
and tear it to shreds and mash it into the sticky popcorn on the theater
floor, and then try to console me with freaking outtakes in freaking
November?? I hate you, I hate you...I hate you...(*sniffle*)...Can we come
back and see it again tomorrow?
PETER JACKSON: Of course you can, precious.