The Lord of the Rings trilogy had some of the best costume design of any movie ever made by humans. But there was one thing that we noticed during one recent TNT marathon: after Gandalf fought Balrog and died, he then came back as Gandalf the White, and was totally wearing lace-up Dr. Martens boots.

Where did those come from? Legit no one else in Middle Earth had shoe laces. Every other character had the knee-high leather boots of the fanciful period. So, what happened? Was it a mistake in the movie? Was director Peter Jackson trolling us? What’s up?

We also consulted our resident LOTR expert and she says that J.R.R. Tolkien actually wrote about Gandalf’s lace ups in his book, so either way it’s not a mistake. But here’s what we like to think happened: Apparently when he dies, Gandalf goes into some alternate universe where “every day was as long as a life-age of the earth”. So, in the future of Middle Earth, they actually develop some pretty stylish footwear option and the White Wizard loved his Docs so much, he brought them back with him.

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gandalf the white shoes