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

Parents Guide

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MPAA Rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images

Sex & Nudity

Violence & Gore

  • Two characters fight for a ring, they bite and push each other until one chokes the other to death in a scene with a slightly intense atmosphere
  • Most violent Lord of rings movie.
  • The film is dominated by large scale battles
  • We see the aftermath of a battle. The battlefield is covered in dead bodies, some with spears or arrows sticking in them. We briefly see one dead man with his arm severed--we can see his arm lying next to him and his bloody stub--blood soaks the ground. The camera moves away and it is for at most a second.
  • The enemy catapults human heads into Minas Tirith. We see somewhat closeups of the bloody heads and their severed necks.
  • A Lord catches on fire, is engulfed in flames, and jumps off of the castle to his death.


Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking

  • A party is shown where various characters drink beer or ale, and get very drunk. A character gets so drunk he passes out.
  • A lot of characters smoke pipes, and one character coughs once or twice as a result.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • Gollum's transformation in the opening scene of the film is deeply disturbing.
  • The long, violent battlefield sequences are quite scary as the heroes are always under threat of death or serious injury.
  • A trio of characters journey through "The Paths of the Dead" and encounter ghosts.
  • Frodo gets attacked by a giant spider while Sam battles against it and it's very intense (these sequences can especially frighten those who suffer from arachnophobia). The spider also moves very quickly which makes the scene all the more intense
  • The Witch-King scenes may be frightening for some.
  • Two of the characters descend into violent madness. The first of these is marked by a transformation into a creepy creature. That scene is particularly intense.
  • Gollum's appearance and voice can be frightening.
  • This is a rather violent movie but not much blood/gore is shown. It has a fantasy overtone to it.
  • The ending of the film is emotionally intense. It is one of the most emotional scenes in motion picture history to some.


The Parents Guide items below may give away important plot points.

Violence & Gore

  • Near the end of the movie, in order for Gollum to get the ring from Frodo, he bites off his finger, which is not seen due to Frodo being invisible. But a few seconds later (when Frodo is no longer wearing the ring), you can see his bloody hand as he screams loudly.
  • There is a giant spider which chases Frodo, he is stabbed by the spider's stinger causing his mouth to froth up.
  • The opening scene features a fight between Smeagol and his cousin under the influence of The One Ring. They first only push each other but it then develops into a life and death struggle, including biting and wrestling and disturbing sound effects. The fight ends when Smeagol strangles his friend to death with his bare hands. We then get to see Smeagol's transformation into Gollum.
  • Thousands of orcs, some in transportable towers, charge a city of men. The orcs fire catapults into the city taking out several buildings. We see several dead bodies on the ground, some with blood. The humans return fire and take out several catapults. The orcs charge, and the humans take out several with arrows. The orcs climb the walls and engage the defenders. Soldiers on both sides are shot, stabbed, speared, decapitated and limbs are hacked off (though no blood splatters, we see bloodied swords). One principal character takes out several orcs and we see his bloodied sword. A hobbit stabs a villain, kills him, and he looks at his bloodied sword.
  • In one battle scene, thousands of cavalry riding humans charge a thousands strong army of orcs. The orcs fire arrows and take out several humans. The humans engage the orcs. Soldiers on both sides are decapitated, slashed, limbs are hacked off, stabbed, shot and speared. We see several soldiers on both sides getting killed or wounded with every camera shot. Olephant riding people arrive (they fight for the enemy), and take out several humans with arrows and spears, and the elephants stomp down on horses and people, crushing them to death. The orcs even bite people in the face occasionally. Wherever we look, several men and orcs are being killed or wounded.
  • A principal character is fatally wounded by one of the principal villains. We see his bloodied mouth. However, another principal character arrives and fights the villain. He wields a mace and chain and breaks her arm with it. She then stabs him in the face while another character stabs him in the leg (no blood here).

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • Lord decides to set himself on fire with his son at the stake (he thinks his son is dead), but two people stop him from doing so. They save his son, the lord finds out his son is alive, but still catches fire and throws himself off a cliff while screaming in agony.
  • In the end, Frodo decides to go with Gandalf, the elves, and Bilbo to the grey havens and hugs the heartbroken Sam, Merry, and Pippin goodbye.
  • Gollum falls into lava and melts, though this is shown from the top, and the character simply disappears below the surface. However he clearly died happy as he had the ring when he fell into the lava.

See also

Taglines | Plot Summary | Synopsis | Plot Keywords

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