I was watching The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring the other day, and was wondering why the Morgul blade that Aragorn picks up (after it stabbed Frodo) disintegrated when he touched it? In one of The Hobbit movies (I believe the second or third one) Gandalf brings a Morgul blade to Rivendell after exploring the tomb which held the nine, and he is able to carry it without having the blade disintegrate. So I am wondering why the blade disintegrates in one case but not the other.

  • FWIW, that scene from the Hobbit films has totally no basis in any of Tolkien's writing. Just padding, invented from thin air so they could fill three parts instead of one. Letting the blade melt as soon as found would have rid them of an Elrond dialogue. Commented May 22, 2017 at 22:30
  • @leftaroundabout that's what I suspected, but as I have not read The Hobbit I was not completely sure.
    – Dave
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


Credit from original scifi answer.

From the books:

[Aragorn] stooped again and lifted up a long thin knife. There was a cold gleam in it. As Strider raised it they saw that near the end its edge was notched and the point was broken off. But even as he held it up in the growing light, they gazed in astonishment, for the blade seemed to melt, and vanished like a smoke in the air, leaving only the hilt in Strider's hand.

We don't know for sure why it vanished.

This answer on scifi covers the subject well enough. The main theories are that it either disappears after Aragorn touches it (so it might dissolve when a non-Nazgûl touches it), when the light hits it, or because a part of the blade has been broken off.

The answer, however, is only speculative, as Tolkien provided very little info on the subject.

In my opinion, the blade appears to disappear due to a combination of these factors. If Gandalf did pick up a similar blade (might have been a different kind altogether), he certainly knows how to prevent it from disappearing and can maintain its state to study it later, as he is a powerful Maiar.

  • Interesting. So you believe that Gandalf kept the blade together by use of his powers, where otherwise it would disintegrate?
    – Dave
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 16:19
  • 1
    Seems like something he could've done, yes, but again, it is only speculation. I'm not even sure if that scene is in any of the books or only in the movies (it is not in the Hobbit book, at least), so it might just be a movie adaptation mistake.
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 16:22
  • I suspected this was the case. Maybe in an effort to extend such a small book into three movies this was overlooked. Thanks for your answer.
    – Dave
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 16:24
  • You're welcome. If you believe it is a correct answer, mark it as accepted using the small 'check' sign beneath the vote-up and vote-down buttons, so the question is shown as complete =)
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 16:42
  • @Dave: It may not have been intentional on Gandalf's part. Maybe the blade can only be wielded by magical beings, and disintegrates when a mortal wields it. Maybe Gandalf didn't do anything in particular, he just happens to not cause the disintegration. There are similar objects that only effect a particular subset of people, not just everyone: e.g. Arwen's pendant gives her immortality, yet when she gives it to Aragorn, he does not become immortal.
    – Flater
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 9:40

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