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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) Poster

Goofs

Anachronisms 

Before the charge of the Rohirrim, while Theoden is giving his speech there is a shot of Eowyn making a face in response to something Theoden says, and you can see a silver filling on one of her teeth, on the left side of her mouth.

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When Elrond comes to give the newly re-forged Narsil to Aragorn, a gust of wind suddenly blows up, knocking over a suit of armor in the background. The armor makes no noise as it crashes however.
Prior to Faramir's ride to re-capture Osgiliath, Gandalf challenges him. There is one shot where Faramir comments on the "Men of Gondor" there are a number of words before this phrase but his lips do not appear to moving.

Character error 

When Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli enter Isengard, Treebeard calls Gandalf "young master Gandalf". Gandalf was present during the creation of the world, and therefore is much older than Treebeard.
In the Extended Edition, "Cair Andros" is mispronounced. ("Cair" should rhyme with "wire", not "fair".)
As Frodo enters Shelob's lair with Gollum, Frodo can be seen visibly favoring his right foot, but in the next shot, he is walking normally.

Continuity 

After Frodo wakes up in Minas Tirith, Merry and Pippin stand in the doorway. Their height reaches the middle of the ornate door carving in the close-up, but in their next wide shot running in, they are considerably lower. When Legolas and Aragorn walk in, also in a close-up, their height is just a bit higher on the carving than the two Hobbits' heights were. Then when Sam stands in the doorway his height also reaches the center of the carving.
When Gollum drops the lembas from the bridge, you see the leaves it was wrapped in falling away, and the wafers fall generally straight down. However, when Sam finds it later, the lembas is still mostly wrapped in the leaves, with only a few morsels broken off and laying around unwrapped.
During the final battle in front of the gates of Mordor the entire army of Gondor and Rohan are on horses. But when the war begins the horses are nowhere to be seen.
In the "Voice of Saruman Scene", Treebeard starts and ends the scene in front of Orthanc's door. Throughout the scene, Treebeard is nowhere to be seen.
When at the Black Gate, the army of men are surrounded by Orcs, then after Aragorn's "For Frodo" line, they charge across the screen from left to right. When they are running, in a shot where Gandalf is seen on the very right of the screen, you can see through some gaps and there are no Orcs, just an open field.
When Sam and Frodo are climbing Mt. Doom, Sam's sword switches from his left side to his right. Later when Sam draws his sword, it is back on his left side.
When Sam is holding Frodo on his lap during the climb up Mt. Doom, the wound on Frodo's face has moved from his right cheek to his left. The footage for the entire scene has been flipped.
When Gandalf and Pippin are in Minas Tirith, and Gandalf is outside he starts coughing on his pipe smoke. On this wide shot, Pippin is tucked into bed. Then, in the next shot, he is up standing by his bed looking at his new Gondorian armor. He then gets Gandalf some water from the pitcher.
Before the charge of the Rohirrim, we see that Merry and Eowyn are near the middle of the group, but when we see Merry during the charge, look behind him. There are about five horsemen, behind whom are just empty fields.
When Sam cuts Shelob's silk from around Frodo's face, it is completely cleared of silk in the close-up shots but remains covered with silk from the nose down in the long shots.
When Gandalf is speaking with Denethor, the end of his cloak alternates between clean and mud soaked.
After the battle at Minas Tirith the clasp holding Pippin's cape together changes direction between shots.
Gollum sprinkles crumbs of the Lembas bread on Sam to incriminate him. When Sam gets up, the crumbs are gone. Then, they reappear when Gollum points them out.
When Pippin takes the seeing stone from Gandalf's sleeping arms, he replaces it with a pitcher. This pitcher is absent when Gandalf wakes up.
When Merry and Pippin are dancing on the table at Rohan you can see Gandalf from behind bouncing up and down on his feet but when you see the front of him he is nodding his head and clapping.
When Eowyn is fighting the Witch King, the strap holding her helmet is buckled, however, when she pulls off her helmet, there is no strap on it at all.
When Eowyn pulls off her helmet to kill the Witch King her hair is fairly neat. In the next shot as she is crawling away and calling for Merry, her hair is very messy. Then when she is leaning over Theoden, her hair is neat again.
In the Voice of Saruman, when Pippin jumps from the horse and picks up the Palantir, the debris in the water changes position every time the scene changes.
When Gandalf and Pippin conclude their meeting with Denethor and leave, the bottom of Gandalf's robe clearly has been soaked in dirty water. Then the next shot of his robe from behind shows it to be clean.
When Sam rescues Frodo in the tower, as he puts the ring back around his neck, you can clearly see the scar from the stab wound on his right shoulder. However, in "Fellowship", he was stabbed in the left shoulder.
When Frodo and Sam are bewildered as the orc army marches out from the fortress by the bottom of the secret stair, they are lit from the bridge's direction by red and orange fiery colors. In the reverse shots of the bridge and the fortress, there is no orange light in the shot at all, only the ghostly green lighting.
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Elrond's hair changes from being neatly tucked behind his ears to free flowing and back behind his ears again between shots as Arwen convinces him to re-forge the shards of Narsil.
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The two doors of the Black Gate continue to open as Aragorn and the others ride away from the approaching Orc army. When Aragorn rides as he shouts, "Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers... when the age of men comes crashing down," at the top of the screen the "closed gate" is visible.
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Sam rolls down Shelob's back, then he grabs Sting and takes a stance against Shelob. In the next wide shot, Sam stands ready and Shelob positions herself at the stairway. Frodo's wrapped body is not lying anywhere to be seen.
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When Aragorn first meets the Army of the Dead, he is holding a torch in his left hand and a sword in his right hand. When he turns around to look at the rest of the undead, his torch and sword have switched hands. He then turns around again and the torch and sword are back where they originally were.
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After Gollum says, "Clever Hobbits, to climb so high!", he jumps onto Frodo and Sam. Gollum then attacks Frodo and when he turns Frodo onto his back, Frodo's shirt is wide open at his neck/chest and the chain and Ring are gone. In the next close-up as Gollum chokes Frodo, and the following shots, the chain with the Ring is back.
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When Theoden "reforms the line" as the Mumakil approach, there are empty fields behind the horses. In the overhead shot of them charging, it is seen that there are still orcs in the background who should have been there in the previous shot.
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When Sam believes Frodo to be dead after his battle with Shelob, Frodo's eyes are open/closed/open between shots.
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During the fight with Shelob, Sam is holding Frodo's sword which switches between Sam's right and left hand in between shots at least once.
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When Arwen is reading the book after she sees the vision, there is a picture on the right-hand page. When she drops the book there is no picture there.
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When Aragorn's party rides to the Black Gate, Eomer is shown as riding with them (he can be identified by the white plume on his helmet). When they reach the gate, Eomer is missing from most of the wide shots, although he's shown in at least one close-up.
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While Denethor is eating in the citadel hall and is asking Pippin if he knows how to sing, he has a smear of red wine/sauce/blood on his chin. In a subsequent shot, Denethor turns to the camera and the smear is gone. It then reappears as he looks back to Pippin.
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When Pippin finds Merry after the battle his leaf-brooch is pointing to the left, in the following shot is pointing to the right.
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When the Army of the Dead enters Minas Tirith, one of the battlements on the city's outer wall (near the bottom of the frame) changes its shape and position, losing a portion of its tower.
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When Frodo flips Gollum/Smeagol over the cliff his back and shoulders are free of spider webs. But when he falls and has the vision, the spider webs are back.
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When Pippin saves Gandalf from being stabbed during the Minas Tirith battle Gandalfs hands change position when he is talking to Pippin.
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When Pippin is recovering from looking into the Palantir, the shots alternate between Gandalf and Pippin. In the shots of Pippin, you can see Gandalf's hand holding the side of Pippin's face. In the shots of Gandalf, the hand is no longer there.
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Through the course of the movie, Frodo's face is very dirty. When unconscious in the spider web, it has become totally clean. But once he is freed of the spider web, it is dirty again.
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When the camera pans over the tower of Isengard where Saruman is being held captive, you can see the entire top surface - and that he is alone. A few moments later, Grima appears behind him - also imprisoned at the top.
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In the ride of the Captains of the West and the army from Minas Tirith to the Black gate, Aragorn's hair is suddenly - and obviously - a different wig. The hair is longer, straighter, and the hairline is different. While it's conceivable that Aragorn might have cleaned up a little bit before he took charge of his new kingdom's army, his hair couldn't have grown that much, and his hairline shouldn't have changed.
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Denethor prepares to eat as he goads Faramir into attacking the orcs. Faramir leaves the hall. There should be a time delay as Faramir puts on his armor and organizes the attack. Yet while Pippin signs and the attack begins Denethor is still eating this meal.
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When Frodo is panicking and stuck to the web in Shelob's lair, shortly before he pulls out Galadirel's Phial, his Elven cloak sticks to the web and is pulled off of his shoulders. Yet, in the next shot of him (Galadriel's voice-over) it is still on his shoulders.
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As Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are jumping out the ship, Aragorn's positioning changes between shots as he leaps out.
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Right after Éowyn and Merry saying "to battle", there's a scene where a trebuchet is throwing a fiery rock into Minas Tirith. You can clearly see that the rock won't fly for more then a dozen feet or so, thus there's no way it made it over the walls of Minas Tirith like seen in the next shot, unless the trebuchet stood right at them.
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When Pippin replaces the Palantir with a jar as Gandalf was sleeping, Merry cries for help and the jar is no longer with Gandalf.
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When Gollum throws the Lembas bread over the cliff, we see it breaking apart, the wind blowing the parts away. However, when Sam finds the bread again, the pieces are all rather neatly assembled at the foot of the cliff.
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In the Extended Cut edition, Aragorn cuts the head off of the Mouth of Sauron. Though it was removed from the Theatrical Cut of the movie, the black Orc blood on his sword was not.
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The position of Smeagol's hands around Deagol's throat changes noticeably between cuts.
The amount of mud along with the ring in Deagol's hand lessens considerably with each shot of him looking at the ring, until the mud is completely gone by the time he is attacked by Smeagol.
When Aragorn meets the army of the dead, the elf leaf that hold his cape together changes. First its pointing left, then right again etc.
When Aragorn is running back to join his fellow men, when the black gate is open, we can see the CGI flag of the rider that goes with him is going from left to right, but in the next shot, the wind is in the opposite direction.
Theoden's horse continually changes from a gray to a bay throughout the movie, including when he was to have ridden the horse from one destination to another nonstop.

Crew or equipment visible 

At the very end of the movie, as the camera pulls in toward the round yellow door of the house, you can see in the window to the left of the door a stage light reflected.
After Pippin draws his sword, the next shot is of Orcs running to the right of the screen. As that shot opens, click five or six frames in and two crewmembers are seen between the Orcs on the right of the screen, click a few more times and more crew members are visible in the middle, between the Orcs.

Errors in geography 

When Denethor catches fire, he is in the Hallows of Minas Tirith, yet he plummets off the prow of the city, which is "... about a mile..." away. Peter Jackson admitted this in the DVD commentary.
In the scene where Frodo and Sam encounter and fight with Gollum on the slopes leading to Mount Doom, Frodo starts running towards the entrance to the Crack of Doom. Not only are they on top of an erupting volcano, but they are also in Mordor, which as both the books and films would have us believe, is a arid, barren, and totally dry location. However, as Frodo runs up the hill, there is clearly trickling water in the background, indicating a large stream.

Plot holes 

There is no stairway or other form of entry to the roof of Orthanc. This is most evident in the extended edition of ROTK: Grima's sudden appearance behind Saruman when moments before an all revealing overhead shot didn't show him or any means for him to get there.
When Gandalf rides out, using the light of his staff to ward off the fell beasts so Faramir's team can get back to Minas Tirith, you see that Pippin is on the horse with him, even though there would have been no reason to bring him along. The reason is that this scene was originally filmed to coincide with Gandalf and Pippin's arrival at Minas Tirith, but was pushed further back as the story evolved.

Revealing mistakes 

Near the beginning of the film as the camera flies towards Rohan you can see the smoke pouring back into the chimneys rather than out of them.
Orlando Bloom's eyes are brown, but as Legolas, his eyes are changed to blue using CGI. In close-up outside the Black Gates, his eyes are CGI blue, but in a shot immediately following with Gandalf in the foreground and Legolas in the near background, his eyes are clearly brown.
After Frodo tells him to go home and he starts crying, the next close-up of Sam shows where his real and fake ear meet-right above the curl of hair.
After Gorbag says, "You touch it, and I'll stick this blade in your gut", Shagrat and Gorbag start to fight. A few shots later there's a close-up of Gorbag being bald - he's not wearing his hairpiece/wig in this shot-as he's being pushed towards the right of the screen by Shagrat, just before falling into the hole! (On the Extended Edition DVD Director/Writer commentary, writer Philippa Boyens actually admits that his wig falls off!)
In a quick shot of Gandalf holding Pippin while riding Shadowfax in front of the Black Gate you can see Billy Boyd's double's face.
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During the Black Gates scene, Gimli's body double is seen in a frontal shot that last at least one and a half seconds.
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When Aragorn and friends ride up to the black gate, in some of the close ups one of the hobbit's scale double's faces can be clearly seen in the background.
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In the scene where Gandalf and Pippin are racing through Minis Tirith (when they first arrive to talk to Denethor), in one of the shots where Shadowfax is turning a corner, you can see that the Pippin on his back is in fact a dummy.
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One shot where the army of the dead reveal themselves in the cavern is flipped: As he turns to regard them appearing, Aragorn's leaf clasp is backwards and the torch and sword have changed hands.
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When Legolas jumps on the back of the elephant, he goes to cut the rope to release the people. However, there are about three thick rows of ropes going through the back of the elephant. Legolas only cuts one. The other ones were already cut.
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In the scenes when Pippin is lying in his couch in Meduseld, tormented by the urge to watch again the Palantir, next to him there's a Rohir sleeping. While when Pip stands up to go to Gandalf the proportions between the hobbit and the man are right, in the scene before, when he's helplessly trying to sleep (before the scene in main hall between Aragorn and Eowyn), Pippin looks about as high as the Rohir.
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When the soldiers are riding out to the gates to meet with the Mouth of Sauron, you see a close up of Eomer who is wearing a bright red bandana under his helmet.
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When the heads come over the wall into Minas Tirith it is obvious from their trajectory that they were tossed from the other side of the wall, not fired a long distance by a catapult.
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Mostly Legolas's eyes are blue (as are all elves') but in several shots his eyes are brown.
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Right before Legolas jumps onto the Oliphant, he is counting kills as he shoots arrows from his quiver. As he is counting, however, he clearly is not pulling any arrows out of his quiver. He is just faking the motion.
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In Shelob's Lair, when Samwise pulls the web from "dead" Frodo's face, Frodo blinks. However, Frodo is paralyzed with his eyes open.
When Frodo is running through the stone gate at the Mount of Doom, you can see the surface beneath his feet is sliding away, so it looks like he is "floating" just above the ground.
When Aragorn speaks to Legolas and Gimli before they enter the Path of the Death, you can see a green shimmer in the back showing the King of the Death, exactly in this moment a knight of Rohan crosses between Aragorn and the entrance, but the shimmer which is supposed to be several yards behind him appears "over" him.

Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Continuity 

After defeating Shelob, Sam runs to Frodo. He lays Sting down next to him, on an area of dirt with a couple rocks sticking up. But later, when we see Sting glow blue, it's on perfectly level dirt ground.
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Continuity 

When Frodo finishes writing the book, he reaches for the stab wound on his shoulder with the writing quill in hand. Then Sam walks in and in the next shot, Frodo's hand is still by his shoulder, but the quill is gone.
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Continuity 

Nearing the end of the film where we see Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry having a drink at the Green Dragon, Frodo places four mugs on the table. The first sequence has two green mugs on the right and two brown mugs on the left. The second shot shows the mugs with a brown and green mug on each side of the table. Frodo puts the other brown mug in front of Merry, but in the next shot the other brown mug is in front of Pippin.
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Continuity 

The elf standing behind Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn at the Grey Havens changes position several times between shots.
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Continuity 

In the Coronation scene, when Aragorn bows to the four hobbits, in the close shot they are closely surrounded by a crowd of people. In the wide shot the hobbits are all along on a dais.
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Continuity 

After Eowyn decapitates the Witch King's fellbeast, the severed head disappears.

Continuity 

In the Voice of Saruman, after Saruman has fallen onto the spiked wheel it begins to turn, causing the Palantir to fall from his robe. When it is shown splashing into the water, the wheel is not turning, but continues to turn after the Palantir has landed on the ground.
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Continuity 

When Saruman falls from the roof, he turns backward and falls top-of-body first, meaning that he is toppling counter-clockwise when viewed from stage left (the camera's view, in this sequence): In the brief moment showing him reaching the bottom of the tower (just before smashing on the water wheel), his body is toppling clockwise, still viewed from the left.
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Continuity 

Toward the very end of the film, as Frodo finishes writing, he presses his hand to his chest. His quill is clearly visible between his fingers, and yet when the scene is cut to a slightly different angle, the quill disappears.
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Continuity 

In the scene of Theoden's death, a black line appears and disappears between shots on the right side of Eowyn's forehead, over her eyebrow.

Continuity 

When Sam deals the killing blow to Shelob, he is shown pulling Sting from her belly two times, first at the end of one view, then again about a second into a different view.
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Continuity 

At the end, when the four Hobbits are entering Grey Havens, Sam is wearing a yellow vest with brown buttons over a white shirt. When Frodo makes his way onto the ship and turns back to smile at his friends, Sam is no longer wearing the yellow vest. The vest is still not there when the three Hobbits turn to leave the Grey Havens. When Sam is holding his daughter, he is once again wearing the yellow vest. On the Extended Edition DVD they explain this mistake.
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Continuity 

When Eowyn kills the Witch King, her arm is hurt and she keeps holding it close to her body. But when she stands up after Merry stabs him she uses her hurt arm to push herself up.

Continuity 

During the early stages of the Battle of Pelennor Fields (at Minas Tirith), the two sides use massive trebuchets against one another, loaded up with large stones and fiery projectiles. However, later in the battle, when the Rohirrim arrive, and later when the oliphaunts [sic] and army of the dead do battle, these large blocks have disappeared from the battlefield. Several towers in the city of Minas Tirith which we see smashed during the early fighting, also appear to be intact later on.
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Continuity 

When Sam stabs Shelob in the eye with Sting, the blade is covered with blood, but when it is knocked out of his hand in the next shot, it's perfectly clean.

Continuity 

When Frodo is writing in the book, and stops because of the pain from his wound, he has only had enough time to write a couple of words. However, when Sam looks at it, the whole title is there.
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Continuity 

After the negotiations with the Mouth of Sauron (Extended DVD version), Aragorn decapitates the Mouth of Sauron. The Black Gates open, and the Orcs march out, but as the camera pulls back to a wide angle shot showing Aragorn and the others ride back to their army, there is no sign of the Mouth's body, or of his horse.

Continuity 

Before Eowyn delivers the first blow to the Witch King's Fell Beast, you can clearly see the cut through the beast's neck although no blows have been administered just yet.
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Continuity 

In the "Voice of Saruman" scene, as the characters approach Saruman's tower, the waterwheel is to their left and parallel to their path. When Saruman falls on it, it has moved directly in front of the characters and perpendicular to their path.
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Plot holes 

Frodo is covered completely in a web cocoon when Sam grabs him and frees his face. Frodo's neck is still wrapped when the orcs take him. Sam somehow took the ring and chain from around Frodo's neck without disturbing the cocoon as he has it when he rescues Frodo later.
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Revealing mistakes 

The round doors on the houses in The Shire are always shown as being much larger then hobbits, but at the end of the movie, Sam and his wife have to bend over to get inside their house.

Revealing mistakes 

While Eowyn delivers the decapitating blow to the Witch King's Fell Beast, the path of her sword swing does not come close to matching the location of the eventual sword strike on the beast's neck.

Revealing mistakes 

In the scene where Frodo is hanging on the ledge in Mt. Doom; as Frodo grabs Sam's hand, you can clearly see that the finger that's supposed to be cut off is actually curled up.
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Revealing mistakes 

When Frodo and Sam are on the rock at the foot of the exploding Mount Doom, there is a shot of Frodo's left hand where the hand is completely clean and the finger is still there.
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Revealing mistakes 

At the end of the movie when the four hobbits are at the Green Dragon and Sam works up the nerve to approach Rosie, Frodo has all 10 of his fingers. Gollum had bitten off the finger Frodo placed the One Ring on at Mount Doom.

Revealing mistakes 

In Mount Doom, after Frodo puts The One Ring on and Gollum jumps on his back, as they struggle, Frodo starts moving around. At some points in this scene, judging after Gollum's position on invisible Frodo's back, Frodo appears to be in mid-air.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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