Out of all of the great fantasy novels in English literature, Lord of the Rings is perhaps the most well-known and popular. The enduring success of the series doesn’t just come down to the great story told within the novels, but benefits from the vast mythology Tolkien managed to build up. The incredible universe he created opens up the possibility for plenty of fan theories about the Lord of the Rings.
After all, the few pieces of writing he published set in the world of Middle-earth were barely enough to scratch the surface in terms of the overall history of the narrative. Plenty of questions were left completely unanswered, and the author was known to purposely include unsolved mysteries to keep his readers guessing, not the least of which is about Gandalf's powers. This means that fans have had to come up with their own Lord of the Rings theories to try to fix some of the plot holes, and explain the parts the Tolkien left open to interpretation.
Before the fellowship leave Galadriel to continue on their journey, she gives each member a gift. When it came to Gimli, the dwarf simply asked for a strand of her hair. The elf gave him three. While this may seem rather insignificant at first (and kind of creepy), but one theory from Redditor doymand suggests it has far greater importance.
Thousands of years prior to the events of the series, Galadriel was asked by one of the most powerful elves of all time (Feanor) for a lock of her hair. She refused this request three times, despite Feanor's status and his continuing pleas. Instead, she gave three hairs to a dwarf, who only asked for a gift when she commanded him. This act was essentially an olive branch between the elves and dwarves, and showed how much good Gimli had in him.
Even though Gandalf often helped others in need, he usually only did so because it fit into his own grand plans. Assisting Thorin on his expedition to take back the mountain from Smaug may not have been done entirely out of good will, after all.
Many suggest that Gandalf had already begun to suspect that Sauron was returning to power. Sensing that the Dark Lord may well be able to use the dragon as a powerful ally to wreak havoc in the North, Gandalf created a scheme to remove the threat. It also had the added bonus of reuniting the dwarves, elves, and men in the region, and preparing them for the upcoming war.
Despite the fact that Radagast the Brown is of the same order as both Gandalf and Saruman, the books and films do not show him in the same light. In fact, it is suggested he might not be as powerful as his two counterparts.
A theory suggested by some Planet Tolkien members posits that Radagast played an important role in the War of the Ring by intelligence gathering, using his animals to spy and send reports to the White Council. They believe he could have even used his strong relationship with the eagles to persuade them to help Gandalf during his efforts.
The final destruction of the One Ring has often bothered fans, who saw Gollum tripping and falling into Mount Doom as something of a lazy end. Tolkien later revealed in a series of letters that a higher power, known as Eru, had taken over when Frodo failed to ensure the Ring was destroyed.
Many have taken this to mean the god-like being directly intervened in events, though some believe otherwise. Reddit user Uluithiad suggests that Eru may have just been fulfilling an oath Gollum made to Frodo. At several points during the story, the hobbit forces Gollum to swear fealty to him on pain of being thrown into fire. When Gollum attacks both hobbits on the slopes of Mount Doom, Frodo states that, "If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast into the Fire of Doom.” Moments later, that is exactly what happens as Gollum takes back the One Ring from Frodo.