This one might be the most popular Lord of the Rings fan theories in recent memory, partly because of how neatly it fills in what some consider the series' biggest plot hole. Any Tolkienite has heard of the offending inconsistency before: "Why didn't Gandalf just ask his eagle friends to fly everyone over to Mount Doom and get rid of the ring that way?" Well, according to Reddit user and righteous band name VulcanDeathGrip, using the eagles was exactly what Gandalf was planning on doing. He just got sidetracked.
As the story goes, Gandalf was struck with the idea after the eagles first rescued him from the tratiorous Saruman during the events of The Fellowship of the Ring. As he soared through the air on these majestic creatures, he was no doubt thinking something like "Man, these guys really got me out of a pickle. Maybe they'd do me another favor with this ring situation..." The speculatory scenario continues as Gandalf lets his feathered friends in on his hot new plan to defeat the ultimate evil. The eagles agree to particpate, but when Gandalf meets back up and forms the Fellowship, he doesn't tell anyone about the plot. Secrecy is key here -- if word somehow reached a notorious gossipy blabbermouth (we're looking at YOU, Boromir), everything would be ruined.
The plan involved getting everyone on the other side of the Misty Mountains, then heading up North to rendezvous with the eagles. It seemed simple enough, but climbing up and over the mountains was rendered impossible thanks to the wargs that were in pursuit. So the crew had to turn South, out of their way, to brave the Mines of Moria. And we all know how that turned out.
Getting confronted by Balrog of Morgoth on a precipice in a cave has got to be one of the Top Five Stickiest Jams, right up there with accidentally supergluing a hand to your face, accidentally supergluing your hand to your dick, and raspberry marmalade. And still, champ that he is, Gandalf took on the beast. That Balrog certainly did not pass, but it managed to take Gandalf with him. Exasperated and on the verge of falling to his death, Gandalf tries to communicate his plan to use the eagles in three words:
What seems like sort of a weird old man way to say "Get the fuck out of Dodge, you assholes" is really just "Use the eagles to fly to Mordor, you assholes." Of course, Gandalf comes back to life with a dye job and a shiny bleached robe, but at that point he'd lost a lot of his memory. Gandalf the White doesn't even know his own name until Aragorn reminds him. Dude probably couldn't even unlock his phone, much less recall a plot to save the world.
Since this theory gained traction, a lot of Tolkien fans have come out against it, supplying numerous reasons that it would never work. Maybe the biggest and simplest piece of evidence against the eagles theory is the eagles themselves; they're kind of huge dicks. They're pretty convinced that they're above everyone, and they don't give a shit about puny humans or any other fleshy bipeds. The eagles only intervene in Return of the King because they see that Sauron means business, and they also owe Gandalf a solid from back in the day. At the beginning of the adventure, the eagles see no reason to help out, and they're perfectly content to hang back and watch the lowly mortal plebes fuck around with the ringwraiths for a year.
Really, we should be thanking the eagles. If they weren't such pricks, the Lord of the Rings would be a forgotten short story.
As you probably remember, Gollum wasn't always Gollum. For a time he was Smeagol, a Hobbit quickly corrupted by the power of the One Ring. It was his "precious" that afforded him an extraordinarily long life, and warped him into the scrappy half-naked mangoblin that becomes the bane of Frodo and Sam. Though he's been Gollum far longer than he was Smeagol, at times there seems to be a war of identities going on within the sad creature. We assume that the centuries he's spent under the ring's influence has created this rift within the character, but that might not be the case at all.
One intriguing fan theory claims that Gollum is actually a personality inside the ring, an entity that can possess anyone. The identity isn't unique to Smeagol, meaning that if someone like Aragorn held it long enough, he'd turn into a pasty diaper-wearing wretch just the same as you would.
Think about those we know who have held the ring for an extended period of time. Right off the bat, there's Bilbo Baggins. He seemed relatively chill about the ring and managed to hold onto it for years without going nanners, but we definitely saw some cracks forming in his psyche when Gandalf came to town. Bilbo was less than thrilled about having his "precious" taken away.
That, right there -- Bilbo unconsciously "gollum'd." That's the "Gollum personality" breaking through, its infection spreading within Bilbo. The possession gets a bit more overt later on during a conversation with Frodo, at which point Bilbo's face makes a hellish transformation.
Looks a lot like Gollum, doesn't it? Bilbo doesn't just call the ring his "precious" just because he heard Gollum say that -- that's actually Gollum talking through Bilbo. For more proof, we have to look no further than Isildur.
Remember this guy? Isildur is the one who lopped Sauron's fingers off and took the ring. Isildur is also the same shitbrick who, given the chance, didn't toss the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. Instead, he wore it around his neck, which is more or less the Middle-earth equivalent of treating a nuclear warhead like a piece of bling. The corrosive power eventually killed Isildur, but not before he wrote about the ring in a series of creepy journals. Gandalf discovered these writings, and found one particularly disturbing passage.
Could it really be a coincidence that a dude who lived thousands of years before Smeagol would used the same word to describe the One Ring? Probably not. It seems a lot more likely that Gollum is a personality inside the ring that infects its host and possesses them to protect the ring and do Sauron's bidding. If Isildur's hubris hadn't ended him, it may well have been his wispy form that Bilbo came across on his initial adventure in The Hobbit.
Now, the name "Gollum" is merely the name given to Smeagol after his neighors kept seeing him hacking up a lung every day, so it's probably not the actual title of the deity inside the ring. But the name "Gollum" has significance, in that it's pretty close to "golem," the mythological creature which is made of inanimate materials, but given life from an outside force.
It's a compelling theory not because it dramatically changes the story, but because it gives you a new perspective on what the ringbearers must have been going through. That, and it's fun imagining a crazed Viggo Mortensen wearing a diaper.