10 Unsolved Mysteries from the Lord of the Rings Canon

If you haven’t been under a rock for the past week, you’ve already seen Amazon tease their new Lord of the Rings series. Even though it’s just a map, this quick teaser already has fans asking a lot of questions. But the thing is, mysteries surrounding the Lord of the Rings aren’t new.

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In fact, there have been a couple of unanswered questions about the LOTR universe around since the books were released. We went through those questions to find the most interesting ones and present them to you. So get ready to dive deep into Middle-Earth, Hobbit fans, here are 10 unsolved mysteries from the Lord of the Rings canon.

10 Where are the Blue Wizards?

There are five wizards in the Lord of the Rings canon. They are all servants of good, until one of them, Saruman, is corrupted by a desire for power. Another two you also know, one being the very odd Radagast the Brown and the other, of course, Gandalf the Grey. So who, then, are the other two?

Well, according to some very mysterious writings from Tolkien, these two are the Blue Wizards. They’ve been on Middle-Earth for longer than the other three, but Tolkien doesn’t clearly define what they’re doing there. He only states that they went “East” and may have had a profound impact on the War of the Ring. Other than that, we hardly know who they are or what they’re doing.

9 What’s the Deal with that Talking Fox?

As Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are leaving the Shire in the Fellowship of the Ring book, a very curious thing happens. When they camp out for an evening, a random fox comes across their traveling party. What happens next is truly weird. The fox has an intelligent, human-language thought, asking himself what Hobbits were doing in this area of the woods. And then, this fox is never mentioned again.

RELATED: Lord Of The Rings: 20 Things About The Fellowship That Make No Sense

In fact, we never meet a thinking animal ever again in Lord of the Rings. So who was this fox that thought on human levels? Why was he so curious as to the Hobbits place in the woods? We may never get answers.


8 Where Do the Spiders Originate?

You probably know the character of Shelob from her appearance in the Return of the King film. You also may remember the talking spiders that captured Bilbo and the Dwarves in The Hobbit. However, what you might not know is that all spiders in the Lord of the Rings are descendants of Ungoliant, an entity of pure evil that took the form of a giant spider. But before her, there’s no clear answer as to where the great spiders in the Lord of the Rings originate.

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Ungoliant is supposed to have “come from darkness,” but exactly what that means is very unclear. Did she come from another physical plane or a spiritual realm? And more importantly, are she and her descendants destroyed for good? Because we really, really hope so.

7 What Were the Barrow-Wights?

Here’s another mystery from right at the beginning of the Hobbits’ journey. As Frodo and the gang are heading out of the Shire, they are briefly taken by mysterious entities called the Barrow-Wights. These ghostly figures remind us a little bit of the Nazgûl (more on them later), but we’re pretty sure they’re not related.

So what are these dark, boogieman creatures haunting the woods around the Shire? Are they some form of ancient evil or are their natures simpler, maybe even less dangerous than they appear? Whatever the case, these creatures almost spelled doom for our Hobbit friends right out of the gate. They probably would’ve been Barrow-Wight fodder if it hadn’t been for…well, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

6 What’s the Deal with the Cats of Queen Berúthiel?

Who were the cat servants of the ancient evil Queen Berúthiel? While this question might not seem important to you, it was to J.R.R. Tolkien. After Tolkien told the story of the ancient Queen of Gondor as an aside tale, he commented that he didn’t have an explanation for her cats, who served her as magic spies.

What’s interesting about the mysteriousness of this tale is that it’s one of the few things that stuck with J.R.R. Tolkien as an unsolved mystery. Though there are several open-ended tales in the Lord of the Rings universe, this is one of the biggest ones to stick with its creator. And for that, it’s worth mentioning.

5 Where are the Entwives?

Treebeard and his fellow Ents are very, very old. As such, they have long, intricate histories. And with those histories comes… romantic baggage? Yeah, Treebeard and his pals have some relationship problems to work through. Specifically, they don’t know where any of their wives are.

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Long ago, the lovers of the Ents left the woods that they call home, and have not returned since. So where are they all now? Well, that’s a question we don’t entirely know the answer to. And sadly, it seems like the Ents of Middle-Earth never will either.

4 Who are the Other Nazgûl?

There are nine Wring Wraiths, or Nazgûl as they are called by their Dark Lord Sauron. However, we know very little about what their identities actually were. Sure, we know that their chief was once the Witch King of a land called Angmar. We know the identity of his right-hand-man as well, and we know that at least three of the others were Kings of the North. But that leaves probably four Nazgûl that we just don’t know anything about.

Except, of course, that they were once powerful men. But who they had power over, how they wielded their power, and what eventually lead them to devote that power to Sauron are all lost on us.

3 What is the Watcher in the Water?

Speaking of mysterious, evil creatures, we never get an answer to one of the creepiest beings we meet in Fellowship of the Ring. Right outside of Moria, there is a deep body of water where something lives. Gandalf calls that something the “Watcher in the Water,” but other than this name, we don’t get much information on the creature.

We know that it is massive and old, possibly older than any other evil in Middle-Earth. And though this is a baseless theory, we can’t help but wonder if Cthulhu himself is a part of the Lord of the Rings universe…

2 Who is Tom Bombadil?

This is probably the most popular mystery in Tolkien’s world. Who is Tom Bombadil, the magical man that saves Frodo and Co. from the Barrow-Wights in Fellowship? There are a lot of theories behind who he is, but the truth of his identity and place in Middle-Earth are just never revealed.

All we know is that, well, no one quite knows who he is. Gandalf hints that he may be the oldest creature alive in Middle-Earth, so maybe he’s a Tolkienian Larry King? We can only speculate.

1 What was The New Shadow?

After completing Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien began a story set a few hundred years after the end of Return of the King. It was supposed to be called The New Shadow. However, Tolkien never got past a few pages of the story, claiming it was “too depressing.” But why? What about the story depressed Tolkien more than, say, the tale of Denethor or of Gollum, both sad stories that Tolkien seemed fine with completing?

According to the Tolkien Gateway, there would have been a conspiracy revolving around a “secret Satanic religion,” and that the story would have been a “thriller” following that. But what about that depressed Tolkien so much? Since he never finished it, we’ll never get an answer to that question. We’ll just have to leave a dark, depressing tale of Lord of the Rings scale to our imaginations.

Oh, wait. Game of Thrones.

NEXT:  15 Bizarre Things Cut From The Lord Of The Rings Books

What’s your favorite unanswered question from Lord of the Rings canon? Do you have any fan theories that could answer the ones we brought up above? Let us know in the comments section below!

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About The Author

Grant DeArmitt (64 Articles Published)

Grant DeArmitt is a New York City-based writer and lover of all things weird. He enjoys comic books and detective novels, firmly believes in Dracula, and has a special place in his heart for animated comedies. You can follow him on Twitter @GrantDeArmitt.

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