Content and Trigger Warning Guide: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Note: This guide may contain spoilers.

Synopsis:  Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron’s army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring. (Source: IMDb)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Estimated Self-Censored Rating Using Full Guide: PG-13 for frightening scenes and some character designs that may be upsetting to young viewers.

Content Warnings

  • Blood (11)
    • There is a fight between Orcs and Men where many are cut down and beaten, the majority of the fighting taking place between 0:51:54-0:54:36. 
      • A man is shown in pain and bleeding from the mouth from 0:52:14-0:52:25
      • A man bleeding from his forehead talks to Faramir and is seen from 0:52:19-0:52:35 and is knocked down 0:53:02-0:53:41.
    • Blood drips from Denethor’s mouth as he eats 1:10:32-1:10:34.
    • Severed and bloody heads of men are catapulted into Gondor from 1:31:14-1:31:28, there are a few close up shots.
    • The war between Gondor and the Orcs takes place 1:33:22-2:14:21 there is very little blood.
      • Pippin stabs an orc in the stomach and his sword is left bloodied from 1:36:43-1:36:52.
    • We see Sam’s bloody leg as he climbs down the mountainside 1:40:04-1:40:07.
    • Merry’s face is slightly bloody 2:17:44-2:10:01.
    • Frodo has visible bloody welts around his neck from the ring’s chain and is shown intermittently 2:27:52-2:50:55.
    • Smeagol/ Gollum’s head is bloodied from being hit with a rock 2:38:12-2:38:14.
    • Pippin’s face is slightly bloody 2:39:21-2:39:25.
    • Smeagol bites off the tip of an invisible Frodo’s finger to get the ring, leaving him bloodied 2:42:32-2:42:38. There is a close-up of his bleeding hand at 2:42:44-2:42:47,  2:43:19-2:43:23, 2:43:36, and 2:44:58-2:45:06

Graphic Violence (14)

  • Smeagol/Gollum chokes Deagol to death over ownership of the ring from 0:03:51-0:04:16. His body is seen for a few moments after.
  • Sam hits Smeagol on the head leaving a small bleeding cut from 0:17:52-0:18:15.
  • There is a fight between Orcs and Men where many are cut down and beaten, the majority of the fighting taking place between 0:51:54-0:54:36.
    • A man is stabbed in the stomach with a spear from 0:53:28-0:53:36
  • Severed and bloody heads of men are catapulted into Gondor from 1:31:14-1:31:28, there are a few close up shots.
  • The war between Gondor and the Orcs takes place from 1:33:22-2:14:21 with many breaks in the main action.
    • Denethor catches fire after he’s knocked onto a lit pire, and runs off the peak of Gondor, plummeting to his death in a fit of madness from 2:03:05-2:03:27. We do not see his impact. 
    • A man on top of an Oliphaunt (Giant Elephant) is hit in the chest with spear 2:06:03-2:06:07 and plummets off, pulling the Oliphaunt down with him.
    • Theoden is attacked by a Ringwraith and thrown violently to the ground, pinned underneath his horse  2:09:05-2:09:16.
    • Éowyn graphically cuts off the head of the Ringwraith and it writhes from 2:09:40- 2:09:52.
    • Éowyn stabs the Witch-King’s face, and his shadow body collapses in on itself from  2:12:03-2:12:19.
  • Smeagol attacks Frodo, and they fight each other, culminating in Smeagol being tossed down a deep ravine from 1:43:37-1:45:00.
  • Frodo is pierced by a giant spider, causing him to fall unconscious and is gruesomely wrapped up in the spider’s web and dropped to the ground 1:49:42-1:50:22.
  • A fight breaks out between the orcs, with one being kicked off a tall tower hitting stone on the way down, 2:19:34-2:19:52.
  • Sam stabs an orc all the way through his chest, killing him, 2:21:38-2:21:50.
  • Smeagol attacks Sam and Frodo, knocking them down against the rocky cliff side. Smeagol attempts to choke Frodo as Sam hits him in the head with a rock. Smeagol then smashes Sam’s head against the mountain side and bites him before Sam slices him with a blade 2:37:50-2:38:49.

Trigger Warnings

  • Animal Abuse (5)
    • There is a close up of Smeagol eating a catfish raw from 5:24-5:31.
    • War Horses are shot with arrows and collapse 2:00:21-2:00:33.
    • An Oliphaunt (Giant Elephant) is dragged down by the ear, ramming into another one as they fall to the ground on top of each other. 2:06:08-2:06:20.
    • The main assault focuses on the Oliphaunts, and many are cut down 2:06:40-2:07:18.
    • Legolas shoots an Oliphaunt in the head and it falls 2:13:42-2:13:51.
  • Intense War Scenes/Torture (2)
    • The war between Gondor and the Orcs takes place from 1:33:22-2:14:21 with many breaks in the main action.
      • The action focuses on Sam and Frodo in Mordor from 1:37:23-1:46:30, and 1:48:56-1:54:50. 
    • The final battle between the Men of the West and Mordor takes place 2:37:06-2:45:44. There are no significant moments of bloodshed or graphic violence.
      • The action focuses on Sam and Frodo on Mount Doom from 2:37:34-2:38:18, 2:38:37-2:39:00, 2:30:35-2:41:37, 2:41:49-2:42:04, 2:42:21-2:42:38, 2:42:46-2:43:03, 2:43:16-2:43:42, 2:43:50-2:45:21.

This guide was completed by Mackenzie Marrow, a Content Reviewer in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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