LOTR what-if: Swap out Aragorn for Boromir in the Three Hunters. What happens?

On a recent excursion to the HarryPotterverse to replenish my stock of certain useful magical potions, I inadvertently aroused the ire of Hermione Granger and was forced to retreat in a calm, dignified fashion that did not at all involve screaming like a little girl or wetting my pants, no matter what videos on YouTube seem to show. My continua buggy took some damage during this incident, forcing me to set down on Earth-analogue 193941485510-tiy for repairs. That Ea-series, as everyone knows, is where the Lord of the Rings movies take place, and I arrived just at the point in the first movie when the Fellowship is about to break; Boromir had just come to his senses after trying to steal the ring, and Aragorn had just realized that he and Frodo were about to be attacked by eleventy dozen orcs.

Now my usual policy, upon meeting Aragorn at any point in the timeline, is to shoot the poncy git in the back on the head to punish him for breaking Eowyn’s heart. But then inspiration struck. I jumped back into the continua buggy, and as soon as Frodo turned his back I used the teleporter to put Aragorn where Boromir was and vice versa. Everything went swimmingly. Aragorn was the one who attempted to come to the rescue of Merry & Pippin. That left Boromir to face the orcs, and with a little judicious sniper-rifle assistance from yours truly, he survived the incident and made it to Aragorn just in time to see the latter’s Saint Sebastian imitation. Otherwise matters proceeded much as in the previous timeline. Frodo and Sam made it to the river; Merry and Pippin were taken off by the orcs; and Legolas & Gimli arrived just in time to see Boromir grieving over Aragorn.

How do you expect the story to unfold from this point? Will Boromir be able to lead Gimil and Legolas in Rohan? Will he crash and burn? Assuming the former, will things go easier for Gandalf & Pippin in Minas Tirith?


I don’t think there is anyway Boromir goes to Rohan. Whether still feeling Saurony,feeling truly guilty for his actions and wanting to atone for them, or even just strategically unwilling to let any chance that he might have to prevent the ring from falling into the enemy’s hands, I think he would set off after Frodo immediately.
I still see L & G going to save M&P though.

This - even if this counts as his ‘Faramir moment’ where he realizes that the Ring is too strong for him (Faramir being wiser of course realized it was too strong for anyone), I don’t see him letting it go with a couple of hobbits without backup.

Sam will kill him if he tries anything.

Presuming Boromir keeps his ‘moment of weakness’ in trying to take the ring to himself, I think his confidence as a leader would be shaken to the core and he wouldn’t be as firm a leader of the remnant of the Fellowship. I can see big arguments between him, Legolas and Gimli, and who knows what happens. Boromir heads back to Minas Tirith to warn his father of the danger of the Ring, not trusting himself to not be tempted by it to follow Frodo and Sam.

Legolas and Gimli chase Merry and Pippin, who are saved by Treebeard. However the Battle of Helm’s Deep goes badly without Aragorn and King Theoden dies in the keep before Gandalf’s reinforcements arrive. Fréaláf, the new King, along with Gimli and Legolas, march to Minas Tirith. Without the Army of the Dead to fight for them, the battle is far grimmer than as turned out.

Boromir and Faramir fight in Osgiliath together and one of them is wounded with a Southron arrow before being rescued by Gandalf. Perhaps Denethor continues to despair, but with one of his sons still alive and well, the defence of Minas Tirith remains slightly more coordinated than it was?

All in all, Gollum falls into the Crack of Doom with the Ring, boom, Sauron and his forces die. But instead of the final battle being at the Black Gate, it’s with what remains of the forces of Minas Tirith. Victory for the West, but a hollow one. Gondor still has no king, and the line of Stewards continues in one of the sons of Denethor, and Eriador remains disunited.

I concur with wolfman, Boromir follows Frodo. Means well, but the temptation of the ring is too much, and the quest ultimately fails. Does something nasty to Gollum, to prevent him from following them. It’s the small and weak, yet brave, that cause the eucatastrophe that destroys the ring. Nothing else would serve. Even if Boromir remains true, it will still result in noble failure.

Meanwhile, Legolas and Gimli pursue orcs as before, but the big change there comes with their encounter with the rohirrim, which does not go well without Aragorn. They never make it to Fangorn.

On the road today, and without access to a copy of TTT. Someone refresh my memory, please. How were Legolas and Gimli inclined to proceed, before they gave the tie-breaker vote to Aragorn?

but then, Éowyn, having figured out the true secret behind Wormtongue, has taken it upon herself to confront Saruman and while furiously riding toward Isengard, chances upon the confrontation and ends it before more than half a dozen of the Riders fall before the pair.

[sub] If Skald can bend “reality” then so can I.[/sub] :wink:

It’s more interesting if Boromir gets over his Temptation. He follows Merry & Pippin with Legolas and Gimli and encounters Eomer and company, but Boromir, as son of Denethor, unlike Aragorn is known. He would have considerable influence among the Rohirrim. Eowyn would likely fall for him. On return to Minas Tirith, Denethor’s hope is renewed. Sauron is defeated on the Pelennor fields, but it is Boromir who calls him out with the Palantir and Anduril and fights at the Gates. With Aragorn dead, there is no one left of the line of Elros to take the throne so Boromir ascends by right of conquest with Eowyn as his queen.

Arwen passes quietly to the West.

If, instead of following Frodo, could Boromir have mustered as much warriors south of Gondor in time for the siege of Gondor?

Aragorn had no impact on either the healing of Theoden or the escape of Pippin and Merry and the consequent awakening of Treebeard and the Ents, and while it was nice to see The Sword That Was Broken in action at Helm’s Deep, it had no real impact on the battle. So Helm’s Deep goes off just as in the book.

Boromir is known and respected by the Rohirrim (in the book, Eomer was dismayed to hear that he was dead), so the meeting goes OK assuming the revised Three Hunters still go after the captured hobbits. I think it’s likely that they do. Boromir seems to have been shocked by his own actions in trying to seize the Ring and may have the smarts not to expose himself to temptation again. If on the other hand he, and Gimli and Legolas, go after Frodo, I think they never catch up. Without Aragorn they have small chance of finding two hobbits who are trying not to be seen (whereas the trail of the Uruk-Hai is easy to follow; they even slash and beat down growing things that are not in their way).

The Ring-Bearer’s quest fails for the following reason: Sauron only sent a premature attack against Minas Tirith because he saw Aragorn in the palantir and thought he now possessed the Ring and had to be beaten before he learned how to use it. Consequently there are still vast armies in Mordor and when Frodo is captured in Cirith Ungol, it is unlikely that he escapes - and even if he does, as soon as Shagrat pitches up at Mount Doom with Frodo’s mail-shirt and Sam’s Barrow-blade, Sauron has huge forces to put on general alert and reasonable grounds to suppose that some shenanigans with the Ring are involved. Since the Nazgul aren’t yet busy in the War, they can join in the hunt. Frodo and Sam escaped only with difficulty in Book 6; put another ten thousand Orcs and the Nine on the case, and they are comprehensively shafted. We shall charitably assume they go into hiding, with Frodo desperately holding off the Ring’s allure five minutes at a time, but they cannot reach the Mountain.

When Sauron is good and ready, he squashes Minas Tirith like a bug. There’s nothing premature about the attack; Aragorn has not awakened the Dead and so far from being able to turn up at Pelennor Fields with reinforcements, he is not there to deal with matters on the coast - so when the Rohirrim see black sails coming up the River, it is indeed corsairs as they originally supposed. Moreover, the Witch-King lives. Not having developed an unreasonable infatuation with Aragorn*, Eowyn remains at home to pine away and Merry has no-one to take him to Gondor, so the key players in the Witch-King’s undoing are many miles removed from the action. Both Faramir and Boromir fight bravely but fall to the Black Breath and there is no-one in Minas Tirith who can do anything about it.
*Now as always I utterly disagree with Skald’s take on this business. The mere act of Eowyn’s heaving her breast and sighing over Aragorn is no grounds for him to break his long engagement to the woman of his dreams, still less did he ever offer her so much as one glance of encouragement. And as is amply pointed out in the book, more than half of Eowyn’s passion is founded on Aragorn’s position and power and the chance of offering her a ticket out of Rohan, where she has tired of watching Theoden grow feeble and having her footsteps haunted by Wormtongue. Those are not good reasons for Aragorn to switch his affections and betray Arwen, still less for anyone to take against him for his sin of omission.

Footnote: I hope Boromir is wise enough to leave Anduril alone. Death comes to any who draw it unless they be Elendil’s heir.

The Riders were about to ride straight on by when Aragorn chimed in with a ‘whazzup dudes’. So Legolas and Gimli are probably safe enough from them, if they have the smarts to sit down and shut up. Then they can still get to Fangorn within a day or so of when they would have with Rohirrim mounts, and probably still find Gandalf.

Of course, as Malacandra points out, it really doesn’t matter…

Oh, and in reference to the OP: movie? :dubious:

Meh. “Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil’s sword save Elendil’s heir.” Clearly Aragorn was just telling Hama that “I’ll kick your ass from here to the Ettenmoors if you don’t keep your mitts off my shiv!”

Okay, just talking movie, only Aragorn can forgive the army of the dead for breaking their oaths and is therefore the only person who can make them fight. Since this was extremely vital to win the battle, Minas Tirith falls, Sauron turns his attention back to looking for the ring, Frodo is captured, game over for Middle Earth. Alternate Universe Peter Jackson would have to rewrite ROTK even more than he already did to change that outcome. Even if he went back to to book and didn’t bring the army of the dead all the way to Minas Tirith, they are still very important for removing the Corsair threat and getting Aragorn to Minas Tirith in a timely manner.

So no. The Heir of Elendil is way too important for the success of the major campaign in Gondor, whether you are talking book or movie. Boromir is simply not going to be able to do the mythical part, however good a commander and reformed character wrt the ring he may be.

I’m with Mrs. Cake. Without the Army of the Dead, they’re screwed. Gondor falls.


Are you feverish? Do you really expect me–ME, of all people–to be FAIR when declaring undying enmity and seething hatred? Justice and equity are against everything I stand for.

Your blood sugar is obviously low. Do you need me send over a cherry danish or something?

I only hate the THIRD one. The first one is wonderful with minor flaws, while the second is good though with greater missteps.

Also, I specified the movie series because, though I myself prefer the books in every way except–well, I can’t think of anythying–though I myself prefer the books in every way, I expect there’s more people on the boards who’ve seen PJ’s World o’Wonder but not read Tolkien’s romance than the reverse. Also, as you point out in your first point in the thread, Aragorn didn’t actually affect the course of events in Rohan all that much IN THE BOOK. He’s much more important in the movie.

True. Also, even if there were some enchantment on Anduril to the effect that anybody other Elendil’s heir were to draw it, I expect said spell would have become nonfunctional with Aragorn dead, since he was childless–hell, probbaly a virgin.

Well, the thing is, Boromir was starting to feel the tug of the Ring, even though he’d hardly ever seen it. So I figure he would have gone “fuck everything, for dadd… I mean for Gondor !” and set out on his own after the two hobbits. Probably died a couple days later in an orc ambush or something.
I don’t really see him going to Rohan for help, relations between Gondor and Rohan seemed pretty tense (neighbours…). Elrond’s probably not coming either, since his daughter’s got no reason to nag at him to go and save her lurve. With no help for Rohan, Saruman fucks up everything there (the Ents destroying Isengard being an admittedly small setback). Gondor’s truly alone against both the Eye AND its bestest groupie. Falls.

Well, in the books there’s actually more than one Aragorn - that is to say, plenty of descendants of the people of Numenor, now styled Rangers of the North because they’re like him : bums with delusions of grandeur. They tag along with Elrond when he comes to help at Helm’s Deep.

Sure, Gorny’s supposedly their once and future king and all that, but he gotta have some cousins twice removed or something, you know royalty. They’re like fucking kudzu, guillotine one and there’s three dozen pretenders perking up. Numenor fell like one whole Age ago, there’s no way its royal bloodline tapered down to just one bloke, no matter how ruggedly dreamy.
Besides, I didn’t see the ghosts check for pedigrees and titles of nobility ; and they’re pretty anxious to be relieved of their oath. Long as someone knows they’re there, why they’re there, and what to tell them, they’re probably good to go.

I’m pretty sure that Tolkien verified this at one point. Back when Elrond found out that his daughter and that good-for-nothing mortal were making eyes at each other, he laid a whammy on Aragorn that he would not only not have his daughter, but no woman at all, until he wore the Crown and bore the Scepter.

Not sure which of the myriad writings this was in, though.