The Lord of the Rings: The Big Logic Hole Explained – Why Didn’t the Eagles Fly the One Ring Directly to Mordor?


It’s a question that has plagued “The Lord of the Rings” fans for decades: Why didn’t the giant eagles just bring the One Ring to Mordor and destroy it there?

The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf on Gwaihir

The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf on Gwaihir (Source:

For several months the Fellowship of the Ring crossed Middle-earth to reach Mordor and destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. It was a strenuous journey, associated with many dangers, but it was the only way to finally put an end to Sauron – right?

Some “Lord of the Rings” fans have long been wondering why Frodo, Sam, Aragorn and Co. had to fight their way through mountains, valleys and mines when there is a much more direct and faster way to Mordor: through the air!

We are of course talking about the massive eagles that live in Middle-earth and also appeared several times in the films. In “The Fellowship of the Ring”, Gandalf escaped from Saruman’s captivity, after the fight against the Balrog, Gandalf traveled comfortably to Lothlórien on the eagle’s back, and Frodo and Sam were also given a free flight in “The Return of the King”.

So why didn’t the eagles save the companions a lot of work and heartache? There are actually three explanations, at least one of which should satisfy any doubter.

Reason 1: Eagle Airlines doesn’t fly for everyone

The Lord of the Rings: Mordor

The Lord of the Rings: Mordor (Source: Amazon, lotronprime)

The Eagles of the Misty Mountains do not provide flight service to the inhabitants of Middle-earth. Gwaihir, “the Lord of the Winds”, who saved Gandalf twice and ultimately also Sam and Frodo (with two other eagles), is indebted to Gandalf because the wizard once healed a poisoned wound for him.

So Gwaihir doesn’t help Gandalf because he’s on the Fellowship’s side in the War of the Ring, but only to pay off his debt. The Eagles, like most of the inhabitants of Middle-earth who are not directly affected by them, are of little interest in Sauron’s plans.

Now one might ask why Gandalf, who apparently had three wishes at Gwaihir, didn’t simply wish for a direct flight to Moria. The novel “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” provides an answer here.

When Gandalf asks how far Gwaihir will fly with him, he replies that he will carry the wizard several miles, but not to the end of the world. He makes it clear that it is not designed to transport loads. The eagles are not to be understood as classic mounts anyway and even for Gandalf, Gwaihir would only fly a short distance.

Reason 2: Eagles are more easily noticed

The Hobbit: The Eagles of the Misty Mountains

The Hobbit: The Eagles of the Misty Mountains (Source:

It must be remembered that the plan to destroy the One Ring was hatched in secret. Sauron wants the ring back to regain his power, but he doesn’t know that his ring is about to be destroyed. If he had known about this, Frodo’s journey would certainly have been much more difficult and Mount Doom would have been even more heavily guarded.

If Frodo had died on the journey to Mordor, the ring might have been lost again, but then Sauron wouldn’t have gotten it directly. But now let’s imagine that an eagle like Gwaihir would fly the One Ring to Mordor.

The eagle would be noticed immediately, after all it is very large and after all, little escapes Sauron’s eye. Presumably there would then be an air battle with the winged creatures of the Nazgul. If Gwaihir doesn’t survive the fight, the One Ring will end up right at Sauron’s proverbial feet, and the Mount Doom that was headed for would have directly revealed what should happen to the ring. So it was too big of a risk that Gandalf certainly didn’t want to take.

Reason 3: The story just happened differently

The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring: Elrond's Council.

The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring: Elrond’s Council. (Source: Warner Bros. / Amazon Prime Video / Screenshot: Netzwelt)

The third reason might no longer be necessary, but it directly explains most of these so-called logic holes that always cause discussions. In “The Lord of the Rings” the One Ring is supposed to be destroyed, so the community of the ring is formed and they set off together towards Mordor – that is the story that JRR Tolkien wanted to tell and did tell.

Even if one can certainly say that the eagle option ultimately would not have made as much sense as one might think at first glance, there would of course also have been the possibility of adapting the story accordingly. But that’s not the story of “The Lord of the Rings”.

The long and exhausting journey to Mordor with all its dangers, losses, adventures and stopovers is what makes “The Lord of the Rings” what it is, everything else is just a “What if…?” scenario and by no means a logic hole. An exciting story simply cannot get off the ground if the characters first justify their actions at length in order to preemptively refute all accusations of logic holes.

A good story pulls you along and you accept it as it was told. Logic holes, if you want to call them that, only become a problem when you look at the story from a more distanced perspective. But this is more likely to happen when the story fails to captivate you.

Why does Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story” freeze into a pillar of salt like all the other toys when people are around, even though he thinks he’s not a toy? In Armageddon, is it really easier to train oil drillers to be astronauts than to train astronauts to become oil drillers? These questions make sense in principle, but behind these questions there is often just a desire for a different story.

Tolkien used the Eagles from the Misty Mountains very sparingly and there is nothing wrong with that. Anyone who finds the three “Lord of the Rings” books and films far too long and tedious would certainly wish for a quick eagle flight to Mordor, but most fans find Tolkien’s story just as perfect as it is now available to us .

The Lord of the Rings: Reviewing the Rings of Power
genreDrama, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
First broadcast

September 1, 2022

First broadcast in Germany

September 2, 2022
Other sources


Amazon Studios, New Line Cinema, Harper Collins Publishers, Tolkien Enterprises


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