The Nazgul = Epic Fail

At one point in The Return of the King, Gandalf tells Pippin: Sauron has yet to reveal his deadliest servant. The one who will lead Mordor’s armies in war. The one they say no living man can kill. The Witch … Continued

At one point in The Return of the King, Gandalf tells Pippin:

Sauron has yet to reveal his deadliest servant. The one who will lead Mordor’s armies in war. The one they say no living man can kill. The Witch King of Angmar. You’ve met him before. He stabbed Frodo at Weathertop. He is the lord of the Nazgul, the greatest of the Nine.

And I thought to myself, “Oh, you mean that dude they chased away with a torch?”

Everyone in these movies talks about the Nazgul like they’re Jason, the Terminator, and Anton Chigurh rolled into one. As far as I can tell, they are pretty much useless. In fact, I think Sauron would have been better off sending a labradoodle, and I’m going to prove it.


Frodo senses the Nazgul coming. He and his friends hide by the side of a road as the black rider approaches. It proceeds to sniff around right at the edge of the road, unaware that if it moved its head about six inches, it would see Frodo staring at him with his freakishly large eyes. The hobbits get rid of it by tossing something in the opposite direction and noisily running away.

How a labradoodle would have handled it: It would have bounded off the road to investigate the Ring-smell, and found Frodo instantly. And if Sam threw something in the opposite direction, about five seconds later the dog would bring it back to him to throw again.


The Nazgul has found the Ring. Frodo and his friends run to a dock and jump on a raft. The Nazgul skids to a halt and gallops off in search of a bridge.

How a labradoodle would have handled it: Labradoodles love water. It would have been on that raft before Sam could say, “Mr. Frodo!”


A group of five Nazgul attack the hobbits on Weathertop. By “attack,” I mean “very very slowly approach,” so that Aragorn has plenty of time to come save them. And I feel like the Nazgul give up a little easily, even considering that Aragorn ranks pretty high on the badass scale. They’ve got him outnumbered – can’t they all just lunge in at the same time and try to take him out? And one of them is supposedly invincible. Yes, we know it’s just a cleverly-worded prophesy, but he’s convinced he can’t be killed. So that guy has no excuse for retreating. So what if you’re on fire? You’re invincible! Stop drop and roll, then grab the ring.

How a labradoodle would have handled it: Admittedly, the labradoodle would have been at a disadvantage against a dude with a sword. But at the very least, he’d leave some toothmarks on Aragorn’s boots, which is more than the Nazgul accomplish.


One of the Nazgul, now equipped with a flying mount, catches up with Frodo at Osgiliath. Frodo stands on a bridge right in the open and actually holds the Ring up. Ring-taking does not get any easier. But the Nazgul hovers there for about 30 seconds for no reason. It’s finally moving in when the flying thing is hit with a single arrow. The Nazgul gives up and goes home.

One. Arrow.

How a labradoodle would have handled it: First of all, the labradoodle would have jumped on Frodo the moment he saw him. Labradoodles don’t know the meaning of “dramatic pause.” And a labradoodle with proper training isn’t going to quit just because it gets injured. Those things are tenacious little buggers.

You know what I think the problem is? The Nazgul have spent hundreds of years just sitting around Barad-dûr, nothing to do except play cards. By the time the Ring is finally discovered, they’ve gone soft. They’re slow, they’re afraid of water, they’re afraid of fire, and even their flying rides throw in the towel at the slightest splinter.

Personally, I’m a lot more scared of Tom Bombadil. That guy’s crazy.

39 Comments on “The Nazgul = Epic Fail”

  1. fenzel #

    Of course, this is mostly the movies. In the books, the escapes are a bit more skin-of-their-teeth.


  2. the terminator #

    the movie will never be the same for me anymore :(


  3. fenzel #

    Yeah, because you were never unrealistically slow at killing somebody, terminator ;-)


  4. accidental reader #

    Labradoodle rocks! In fact you can easily pitch this idea as a screenplay for some comedy/fantasy movie, and it would have a lot of chance to be greenlighted, seeing films like Beverly Hills Chihuahua coming out.


  5. Homicidal Clown #

    Wow, that was a pretty lame attempt at humor. Or at least I think it was humor they were reaching for. This Article = Epic Fail.


  6. wtd #

    Don’t forget the fact that a midget with a baby sword did kill him!


  7. JR #

    WTF! example 1…”if it moved its head about six inches, it would see Frodo staring at him with his freakishly large eyes”

    you are aware that the nazgul are BLIND, why do you think he was sniffing for the hobbits?!


  8. fenzel #

    Pointing out that they’re blind doesn’t seem to strengthen the case for their efficacy.


    • Jesse-Damon Bond #

      They are the only agents of Sauron that can detect the Ring when it is being used. They also cannot die. So…


  9. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    I’m not at all convinced they ARE blind (in the movies at least). They manage to do things like:
    a) Riding a horse at full gallop.
    b) Chopping off a hobbit’s head while riding a horse at full gallop.
    c) Realizing exactly where the end of a pier is and stopping with six inches to go.
    d) Sneaking into bedrooms and silently positioning themselves next to the beds before stabbing wildly… and then SEEING they just stabbed pillows and getting all shreiky.

    Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say that in the movies, the Nazgul can definitely see. Not that it helps them much.


    • Jesse-Damon Bond #

      They aren’t Blind but they see in a “shadow realm” similar to how the world appears to whomever uses the ring. They hunt using mostly sound and smell.


  10. Naters #

    look dude here the deal just about everyone of these examples you gave state some good points, but they are totally different form what happened in the books. if you are going to piss and mone about how lame they are in the movies then you should piss and mone about how peter jackson was stupid and made the most terrifying creaters ever imagined look like pussys. so make it clear that you are only talking about the facts where the movie failed and not where the nazgul failed, cause they didn’t.

    oh and to the guy who wrote “don’t forget the fact that a midget with a baby sword killed him” get the facts strait before you post a comment you tool. merry didn’t kill him he wounded him just enough for eown to stabe her sword into his face which is what killed him. and it wasn’t just any sword. also the small would that marry inflicted nearly killed him. if it wasn’t for the increadable healing abilities of aragon he would have died.


  11. fenzel #

    I like you how call them “facts.”

    I think it’s pretty clear that Belinkie is writing from the perspective of a movie buff, not a Lord of the Rings buff, so he’s measuring the Nazgul against other movie monsters as they appear in the movies, not against the books.

    But, this is an interesting point.

    Would you want to see some movies vs. books Lord of the Rings analysis?

    We do theme weeks, you know. Lord of the Rings theme week might come around one of these days.

    Perhaps we’ll address it in our next podcast.


  12. Maro #

    If you consider this kind of things, yeah they dont look as scary a as they should be but realise that in a movie the time isnt real specialy in the slow motion scenes

    a 2 minutes scene could be a 30 seconds in real time


  13. Theevillord #

    Lot’s of angry responses. It was a great attempt at humor and true to the letter. The nazgul in the movies are incredibly stupid. They get completly wacked all the time by everything they come across.

    Yes it’s different in the books although even there the weathertop scene was kinda strange to read. In the scene they stab frodo and then they run off to wait for frodo’s death thinkink they’ve won. Wich is kinda bizarre.

    Back to OT, very fun mate keep em coming


  14. Naters #

    oh and by the way they are blind even in the movies, but they can see the world kind of like froto sees when he is using the ring. they just cann’t see poeple i’ll explain all of your points.
    a) there horse can see and acually guide them thourgh most of what they do. if you notice in the movies they aren’t your normal horse.
    b) so this also explains point b.using the horse to guide him and his scence of smell he is able to locate and kill the hobbit.
    c) again his horse sees the end of the pier not him so much
    d) finally them go into the room stab the pillows and see that they are pillows not hobbits that they wouldn’t be able to see.
    so blind they are just not absolutely and they have help from there horses.


  15. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Okay, I’m willing to concede that their horses might be doing most of the driving, and maybe they could be blind. Although for a blind guy, the Witch King does pretty well in his mace-fight with Eowen.

    But really, doesn’t this just prove my point, which is that these guys aren’t all they’re cracked up to be? They’re BLIND! They’re HIGHLY FLAMMABLE! They’re prone to DRAMATIC PAUSES!


  16. fft5305 #

    Dude, this cracked me up! Pay no attention to the haters. They’re missing the whole point! I think some people forget that this is a MOVIE. And before you go whining about how Matthew should remember this is a movie and shouldn’t analyze it so closely, check out the name of the blog.

    Only 2 problems I have with this: 1) The Nazgul always creeped me out when I watched LOTR; now they’ll just make me laugh. 2) I never cared for Labradoodles (just because of their connection to Poodles); this has made me respect them. Just a little. Very little. But it’s there.


  17. Gareth Callenby #

    This must be the funniest string of replies I have ever read. Thank you for the humorour piece, but, especially, thank you to all the contributors who took this waaaay too seriously.


  18. Labradon'tll #

    This is definitely a funny string of replies… it never ceases to amaze me how stupid people can be on the Internet.

    Keep up the good humor and can you do a comparison of Nazgul vs. Yorkshire Terrier? Mine is named Maggie and would tear Frodo a new one. Unless he has a tennis ball, then she would just play fetch with him.


  19. Haradon #

    Samwise Gamgee would cook a Labradoodle stew with carrots and taters. But Frodo would choke to death on one of the Labradoodle bones that clumsy old Sam left in the meat. The Nine would come upon the awkward scene once they smelled the delightful Labradoodle dish from Mordor. An argument would ensue concerning the proper side dish for this new entree, and they would proceed to have Dance Dance Revolution danceoffs. The winner being obviously the Witch King of Angor, they would all concede pasta salad with pesto sauce. Sauron having just watched this all on Tivo would fall asleep with his beer in his lap and wake up thinking he peed himself.


  20. Camzy #

    Can’t believe these replies with people getting all defensive of the FICTIONAL Nazgul character!

    Seeing as I DO have a sence of humor (Unlike the many who have replied and are clearly heartbroken as their beloved Nazgul has been critised), i thought your article was GREAT fun as i laughed!

    Think I’m gonna go out and get myself a Labradoodle!


  21. fenzel #

    Be careful of the labradoodles, who, above all else, desire power.


  22. Jeffy! #

    I actually own a labradoodle, and I must admit that she’s likely more adept at locating/retrieving than the “MOVIE” (winy pseudo-nerds) version of the Nazgul. I’ve had, on several occasions, been holding a dog toy (admittedly larger than the ring) and had the labradoodle snatch it quickly and rather stealthily.

    Maybe it’s me, but I’d think they have had the best possible outcome had they sent a retrieving bird of some sort. You could get it to steal shiny things via reward training, and in the case of Frodo Faggins holding up the ring I would find it hard to imagine that the bird would have paused, or been hit by an arrow (even if it was shot by a long haired skateboarding beatnik [elf]).

    Excellent article!


  23. Mr. Legend #

    This is possibly the funniest criticism of a movie ive ever read. I adore LOTR but this is brilliant.


  24. Shagrat #

    I have never owned a ‘labradoodle’ but I did stay at the Prancing Pony once where I got to meet a Nazgul after betting against Bullroarer Took in a game of Goblin head golf. By themselves they aren’t so tough but with their whole gang behind them look out. And watch out for their singing, it’s worse than Vogon poetry. They are blind to the living, by the way, but can see the dead, so they try to make you dead, so when Butterburr says pay up it might be easier to just hit up your local mountain troll for a loan.


  25. JessamynRose #

    I’m gonna be that mad fangirl for a moment, here.
    You’re totally right. Labradoodle clobbers movie nazgul.That said, of these four (brilliant) examples – Every SINGLE BLOODY ONE was added for the movies. Not ONE was in the books. Not. One. Curse you, moviemakers.


  26. JessamynRose #

    “Everyone in these movies talks about the Nazgul like they’re Jason, the Terminator, and Anton Chigurh rolled into one.”
    For the record – I adore this line. Next up, Terminator vs BOOK nazgul.That’d be scary.


  27. Destin Dave #

    Randal summed up this topic best in Clerks II –

    Get lives gentlemen – they’re FICTIONAL CHARACTERS!


  28. Linus Rylander #

    Fucking hell… IT’S A FREAKING JOKE!

    Yes, it was hilarious, but some people are too caught up with facts and shit. Who cares, it’s still funny.

    Kudos to you Matthew.



  29. OneRingyDingy #

    I belive you have some valid points, Matthew Belinkie.
    I’ll get Steve Jackson that script idea a.s.a.p.
    Labradoodles are meaner than they look. Hey! Did you all know that if you sign up for a Lifetime subscription to Lord of the Rings Online, you actually get a pet like a Labradoodle that can take out most baddies as you level up? Try it!


  30. Bilbo #

    Dude, I’m convinced that Conan could’ve gone into the shire, taken the ring, killed all the Nazgul, dropped the ring in the volcano, come back and knocked up the entire hobbit village before *lunch*.


  31. Farstrider #

    Well thanks for killing my image of the deadly Nazgul…


  32. Sam #

    OK OK!.
    First of all this was brilliant! I pissed myself laughing the whole way through. Secondly, some of you really need to learn to spell. And thirdly this debate sucks.
    Yes, yes the book is different and in that the scare the piss out of anyone. In a way I think they cannot touch the ring themselves but must wait for Frodo to turn to the ‘dark side’ and com along WITH them to good old Mordor.

    There. That should be it


  33. Sam #

    Oh, and I accidentaly miss-spelled ‘come’ somewhere near the end


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