It's time to admit that Rings of Power is just fan fiction

(L-R) Lloyd Owen (Elendil), Maxim Baldry (Isildur) look into the distance in The Rings of Power
(Image credit: Matt Grace/Prime Video)

We are coming up on the season finale of The Rings of Power and unfortunately, the show’s story problem has not gotten better. In fact, after watching episode 7, I think there’s a chance it is intentionally tearing up the existing story (that it doesn’t have the rights to).

As I explained in my last piece The Rings of Power has a major problem that could alienate fans, which is that it does not actually have the rights to a lot of the story that should make up the bedrock of this show. This has caused Amazon to essentially make everything up, only borrowing the names of characters and major events that it can take from the Peter Jackson films, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy of books and its appendices. 

In fact, according to a recent feature from The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab), the pitch was to create five seasons of TV from the Galadriel-narrated prologue (voiced by Cate Blanchett) from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. If you think that seems like a difficult task, you’re right, and it's one that showrunners Patrick McCay and J.D. Payne are currently failing.

Real quick, if you have not seen the show yet turn back now. We get into spoilers quickly, so this is your final warning. Everything from Tolkien lore is on the table, and one does not simply walk into the depths of this article.

An image indicating spoilers are ahead.

(Image credit: Future)

Through two episodes, this was largely a problem for fans of the Tolkien books, particularly those fans that had read supplementary texts such as The Silmarillion. Since then though, the story problem has grown in scope to the point where major aspects of the Tolkien canon are being thrown out the window. Episode 7 even seems to kill off multiple characters that we know are very much alive in later years, which is the final straw for me.

I now think that the show has devolved into what is essentially fan fiction, and is beyond repair for anyone who is even remotely a Tolkien fan. Unfortunately, the show's poor pacing and mind-boggling obsession with the Harfoots are also probably ruining it for everyone else, even after a surprisingly good episode 6

Rings of Power's Galadriel problem

As bad as The Rings of Power may have been early on, a recent revelation in episode 7 just soured the whole story. Galadriel, it turns out, has been hiding a canon-breaking secret this whole time.

(L to R) Robert Aramayo (as Elrond) and Morfydd Clark (as Galadriel) share a moment in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

(Image credit: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

Let me be clear, the problem with this show isn’t that Galadriel (played by Morfydd Clark) is the lead. I was excited to see that Galadriel was billed as the lead of this show. 

As one of the three bearers of the Elven rings of power (Elrond and Gandalf are the others, though Gandalf is given his by Círdan the Shipwright), she is in the pantheon of most important elves in the Second Age of Tolkien’s world.

But, would one of the most powerful elves to ever exist, who in this very show is on an all-consuming mission to destroy Sauron because he killed her brother Finrod, simply go “Well, I guess my husband is dead” and move on?

But this version of Galadriel feels completely at odds with that idea. In the first episode, she is essentially cast out by her grand nephew Gil-Galad, who inexplicably looks decades older than her despite both being thousands of years old at this point. This felt odd at the time, since she notably is married to Celeborn at the time, and it was shocking that she abandoned him without any thought. 

It turns out she didn’t abandon him, because as she tells young Theo in episode 7, Celeborn has been dead for some time. This was a step too far for me because it was a canon-breaking moment that doesn’t align with the character Prime Video has been building. 

Could Galadriel, who doesn’t canonically have any major issues with Gil-Galad be at odds with her relative due to the natural tensions that exist between powerful entities? Sure. That breaks canon but doesn’t necessarily violate the spirit of the character. But, would one of the most powerful elves to ever exist, who in this very show is on an all-consuming mission to destroy Sauron because he killed her brother Finrod, simply go “Well, I guess my husband is dead” and move on? No. It makes no logical sense for her to have this attitude.

Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) and Charlie Vickers (Halbrand) in Prime Video's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

(Image credit: Prime Video)

That means we need to completely forget about her husband’s existence for the show to work. After all, why else would she agree to go to the Undying Lands? If Celeborn is still around, then there’s no impetus for her to leave Middle Earth, run into Halbrand, take Halbrand to Numenor and now take him to the elves of Lindon so he can be healed. 

This is all happening because Halbrand is probably Sauron, which is also a break from canon but less consequential depending on how the plotline is executed. At any rate, Celeborn’s existence would throw a wrench in the plot of The Rings of Power, so they brushed him aside because it serves their purposes.

Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) looks concerned as people behind her are on the move in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power episode 6

(Image credit: Matt Grace/Prime Video)

Celeborn will almost certainly come back, given we have literally seen him played by Marton Csokas in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The movies are one of the few things Amazon does have the rights to so it makes no sense for them to kill him off permanently and damage the cinematic The Lord of the Rings storyline. But my guess is we don’t see him come back until Sauron is revealed; in fact, he could even be the one to point out who is the Dark Lord in disguise.

The Rings of Power’s timeline makes no sense 

Along with Galadriel, the other thing McCay and Payne are wrecking is the timeline of events. This seems a bit odd, given that the appendices give them the rights to use every character they need to make this show work. However, I think they are doing this for two reasons.

(L-R) Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Queen Regent Míriel), Ismael Cruz Córdova (Arondir), Charlie Vickers (Halbrand)

(Image credit: Matt Grace/Prime Video)

First, there is the question of what makes good television. This story focuses on the forging of the Rings of Power, and (presumably) the fall of Numenor and the defeat of Sauron by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. That is a story that takes place over the course of thousands of years, which means that your favorite human and Harfoot characters, even the dwarves Durin III and IV would potentially die during the course of the show. Only the elves would be guaranteed to survive. 

This likely presented a problem to showrunners because they may have felt — with some justification — that people need to connect with characters to enjoy a show and cannot do that if the characters are constantly dying. Not everyone has the fortitude to kill their darlings. Given that McCay and Payne are such fans, you would hope that they’d stay true to the source material, but given that this entire story looks set to take place within the course of mere years, clearly, they aren’t.

Owain Arthur (as Prince Durin IV) proudly stands in front of his peers in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

(Image credit: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

But the other reason that the show may be messing with the timeline could be due to what it has the rights to. Specifically, it does not have rights to the Akallabeth from The Silmarillion, despite showing a great wave crushing the island nation in one of the episodes from this season, something they may have only had the rights to because Faramir dreams of the wave in the The Lord of the Rings books.

Because Amazon doesn’t have those rights, I think the show will ultimately do something different. Numenor will still fall, but maybe we don’t see the actual wave. Maybe Elendil will already be in Middle Earth when this occurs rather than frantically escaping on ships with his sons Isildur (who is currently presumed dead) and Anarion (who we haven’t met). Sauron will certainly be involved with the creation of the Rings and the fall of Numenor in ways that differ from the established canon of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, as this is something that the show has already changed. There’s no reason to assume they’ll stop now.

The Rings of Power is destroying canon to make a TV show, and I want no part of it 

The reality of The Rings of Power is that aside from names and places, nothing is accurate. Yes, eventually Sauron will forge the one Ring (centuries late) but this story is, in essence, completely made up, and we need to just accept that.

What we do not need to do, is watch it. If you are a Tolkien fan, this story is not for you and we should have guessed as much once we figured out what Amazon actually has the rights to.

Benjamin Walker (High King Gil-galad), Morfydd Clark (Galadriel) and Robert Aramayo (Elrond) in a promotional image for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

(Image credit: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

If you’re someone who just wants to watch a good TV show, you do not have to accept the poor pacing. It's truly shocking that a show that has condensed millennia into hours feels so slow at times. You also don’t need to accept your intelligence insulted by the inclusion of Harfoots (because why would you watch without Hobbits?) or the show's unwillingness to tell a complete story in the interest of making sure you connect with the characters.

Finally, none of us need to accept the way certain characters are treated by The Rings of Power. This should have been the tale of Galadriel, powerful Elven ruler who commands a ring of power. Instead, it's the tale of an immature, undeveloped leader who has simultaneously killed many in pursuit of vengeance while also forgetting her partner’s existence barring a throwaway comment. That’s not fair to us, or to Galadriel, and I want no part of it anymore.

Next: The 7 best new movies to watch this week on Netflix, HBO Max and more. It's finale time with She-Hulk episode 9! Here's how to watch The Winchesters online.

Malcolm McMillan
News Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a News Writer for Tom's Guide. Before writing for Tom's Guide, he worked many retail jobs and many Black Fridays, including a stint for Microsoft. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. In his spare time, Malcolm is a fantasy football analyst. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

  • Jayboiiii
    I feel like this post is definitely written too soon. YOU have no idea how celeborn is gonna reveal himself, for all we know she probably only thinks hes dead but hes probably around. You havent listed any actual examples of the timeline not being accurate. Everything will be revealed in time and to say youre giving up on a series trying to adapt the simarillion only 7 episodes in tells me you arent a true middle earth fan. Just a contrarian trying to garner views with a hitpiece to an unfinished show lol
    Reply
  • Munkybhai
    I think they are clearly telegraphing it that Celeborn will come back. Now whether or not this is done so she can have a short romantic episode only to have to give it up once he returns, have her find out to save him, or because they have a plan to have some triumphant return to save her or other people is all speculation. But the idea that he is out of the show is just flat out wrong. If you read the trivia stuff on Amazon Prime's X-ray section they pretty much spell it out there that: it's a 'he's gone... or is he...?"
    Reply
  • Backcountry164
    Jayboiiii said:
    I feel like this post is definitely written too soon. YOU have no idea how celeborn is gonna reveal himself, for all we know she probably only thinks hes dead but hes probably around. You havent listed any actual examples of the timeline not being accurate. Everything will be revealed in time and to say youre giving up on a series trying to adapt the simarillion only 7 episodes in tells me you arent a true middle earth fan. Just a contrarian trying to garner views with a hitpiece to an unfinished show lol
    So she'll spend a thousand years looking for Sauron, whom everyone believes is dead, but spends no time verifying the death of her own husband?? When you have to make excuses for the show you're watching, the writing on that show obviously isn't very good. Everything will be revealed in time?? A- you don't know that, B- how much time?? How many episodes do we have to sit through waiting?? Jackson told 3 books worth of epic stories in fewer hours. With more time invested we've gotten virtually nothing from this show. Almost a full season and no one has any idea what's going on yet. It's almost as if they're intentionally dragging things out because they know they don't have the ability to fill 5 seasons with compelling content...
    Reply
  • ginandbacon
    While you may not be enjoying the show. I am. The fact that you flat out say that this shows isn't for ANYONE is extremely close minded as different people enjoy different things but according to your article nobody, and I mean nobody should watch it period.

    What we do not need to do, is watch it. If you are a Tolkien fan, this story is not for you and we should have guessed as much once we figured out what Amazon actually has the rights to.
    Your saying nobody that isa Tolkien fan could ever possibly like this show. Pretty broad generalization.

    If you’re someone who just wants to watch a good TV show, you do not have to accept the poor pacing. It's truly shocking that a show that has condensed millennia into hours feels so slow at times
    If your not up to date with every book, short story then you shouldn't watch it either because of slow pacing? Did you even watch Fellowship of the Rings? It's boring yet it's all setup. Neither of the other 2 movies would have been as good or made as much sense without the 1st one. Do you know a single person who says The Fellowship of the Rings is the best out of the 3? I highly doubt it because it's simply not. Also, let's not forget what a hot mess The Hobbit was. Stretching one book into 3 movies was a bad idea and the fact that Peter Jackson didn't even really have a plan made it worse. With that said the original director backed out so it did get tossed to Jackson but I wish del Toro did direct it. He's a master at the details and special effects but Jackson didn't want to use his script and pretty much winged the entire 3 movies.
    Reply
  • HavocR24
    How about you keep your biased opinion to yourself, and let us enjoy the show. No need to force us to not like it when you don't like it.
    There's also no need to keep watching it if you don't like it. Don't like it? Cool, stop watching it.
    Reply
  • Elfshadowreaper
    HavocR24 said:
    How about you keep your biased opinion to yourself, and let us enjoy the show. No need to force us to not like it when you don't like it.
    There's also no need to keep watching it if you don't like it. Don't like it? Cool, stop watching it.
    ginandbacon said:
    While you may not be enjoying the show. I am. The fact that you flat out say that this shows isn't for ANYONE is extremely close minded as different people enjoy different things but according to your article nobody, and I mean nobody should watch it period.

    What we do not need to do, is watch it. If you are a Tolkien fan, this story is not for you and we should have guessed as much once we figured out what Amazon actually has the rights to.
    Your saying nobody that is a Tolkien fan could ever possibly like this show. Pretty broad generalization.

    If you’re someone who just wants to watch a good TV show, you do not have to accept the poor pacing. It's truly shocking that a show that has condensed millennia into hours feels so slow at times
    If your not up to date with every book, short story then you shouldn't watch it either because of slow pacing? Did you even watch Fellowship of the Rings? It's boring yet it's all setup. Neither of the other 2 movies would have been as good or made as much sense without the 1st one. Do you know a single person who says The Fellowship of the Rings is the best out of the 3? I highly doubt it because it's simply not. Also, let's not forget what a hot mess The Hobbit was. Stretching one book into 3 movies was a bad idea and the fact that Peter Jackson didn't even really have a plan made it worse. With that said the original director backed out so it did get tossed to Jackson but I wish del Toro did direct it. He's a master at the details and special effects but Jackson didn't want to use his script and pretty much winged the entire 3 movies.

    First result I found on Google Screen Rant ranking LOTR. FORT is top. And it’s my favorite. FOTR may not be the most entertaining but it’s the best executed. ROP is neither entertaining nor well executed.
    Reply
  • Ketonian
    Jayboiiii said:
    I feel like this post is definitely written too soon. YOU have no idea how celeborn is gonna reveal himself, for all we know she probably only thinks hes dead but hes probably around. You havent listed any actual examples of the timeline not being accurate. Everything will be revealed in time and to say youre giving up on a series trying to adapt the simarillion only 7 episodes in tells me you arent a true middle earth fan. Just a contrarian trying to garner views with a hitpiece to an unfinished show lol

    He LITERALLY referenced things DIRECTLY from Tolkien and you're saying he hasn't provided anything to back up his point lol
    Reply
  • shadow101202
    Jayboiiii said:
    I feel like this post is definitely written too soon. YOU have no idea how celeborn is gonna reveal himself, for all we know she probably only thinks hes dead but hes probably around. You havent listed any actual examples of the timeline not being accurate. Everything will be revealed in time and to say youre giving up on a series trying to adapt the simarillion only 7 episodes in tells me you arent a true middle earth fan. Just a contrarian trying to garner views with a hitpiece to an unfinished show lol
    This show is NOT for Tolkien fans this author is right about that. There are so many examples of deviations from lore and timeline plus stuff that makes no sense in the established universe. You want examples.
    Galadriel was never a military commander. The numenorians at this point in the story already has a HUGE commercial and military presence in Middle Earth. They the numenorians fought and "captured" Sauron (no elf was involved) Sauron at this point in the timeline ( using the line of the Numenor kings to date) knew about Numenor and feared its power. Sauron has a massive army at this point. Mount doom was already a volcano at this point, as was Mordor. There was never region called the Southlands. Galadriel was never banished to anywhere she was a Queen and a powerful ruler at this point and refused to go Valanor. The jumping into the sea makes no sense as she could have left Valanor at anytime on a ship it was not a prison. Mithril is just silver Steel very light very strong, it did not come from a Balrog fight as balgogs are fire based creatures this plot line is dumb. I could go on and on about the stupid lazy deviations from lore. I wish they had just made a show with 100% original characters but in established places.
    However if you like it then that's cool but anyone that like me hates deviations from lore in any film or show will find the sheer disrespect too distracting. I HATED the Hobbit films they were worse than the RoP. I did not like what Jackson did to the lore in LoTR either
    Reply
  • Ketonian
    Munkybhai said:
    I think they are clearly telegraphing it that Celeborn will come back. Now whether or not this is done so she can have a short romantic episode only to have to give it up once he returns, have her find out to save him, or because they have a plan to have some triumphant return to save her or other people is all speculation. But the idea that he is out of the show is just flat out wrong. If you read the trivia stuff on Amazon Prime's X-ray section they pretty much spell it out there that: it's a 'he's gone... or is he...?"
    The thing is they're TOTALLY BREAKING Tolkien Canon to make this " story" THAT'S the problem.

    Elves are IMMORTAL and even they " die "they basically get reborn into new bodies in Valinor (it's like their heaven) and elves are HYPER MONOGAMOUS and mate for life... In Tolkien elves can literally DIE OF HEARTBREAK and become a eternally sad spirit that doesn't have the will to be reborn.

    SOOOOOO that means if Galadriel DOESN'T know where her husband is but DOES KNOW her brother is "dead" she can check in Valinor to see if he's there... If Celeborn ISN'T there that means he's still out there somewhere and ya know MIGHT NEED HELP...

    But INSTEAD of looking for the LOVE OF HER LIFE she spends HUNDREDS OF YEARS trying to get vengeance for her brother...

    This show SUCKS if you are a Tolkien fan cause it's fan fiction made for normies 😓
    Reply
  • carried.hither
    The wheel of time is clear evidence that even if they had all the rights, they still couldn't create a good show.
    Reply