No dictionary definition of deus ex machina would be complete without a picture of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Eagles. I mean, really. They save the day every single time! When will Gandalf learn to just have them on standby?! Here’s how the stories would go, if the Eagles were used correctly:
The Hobbit: If Gandalf Were Smart
Thorin Oakenshield solicits aid from the wizard Gandalf the Grey to develop a plan to recapture the mountain of Erebor and the vast treasure that lies within it.
Gandalf summons the Eagles and uses them to transport the company of dwarves to the Lonely Mountain. The dwarves proceed to lure the dragon Smaug out of the mountain, and he is promptly torn to shreds by the Eagles, allowing the dwarves to reclaim the treasure that was once theirs.
The Lord of the Rings: If Gandalf Were Smart
Gandalf meets Bilbo at his home in the Shire, and realizes that the magic ring that Bilbo possesses is actually the Ring of Power that is enabling the spirit of Sauron to keep enduring and building a stronghold in Mordor.
Gandalf puts the One Ring into an envelope, then wraps it in several layers of cloth, so that it becomes a bundle that can be easily gripped by an eagle-like creature.
Gandalf summons the Eagles, and puts the bundle into the claws of one of the creatures. He then sends this eagle to Mount Doom, along with the other Eagles for protection against a possible attack by the Nazgûl.
The Eagles make their way to Mount Doom at high altitude, virtually unnoticeable to any ground forces. Once positioned over Mount Doom, the Eagles swoop down, and the one that was carrying the Ring drops it into the lava. Whatever enemy forces were in pursuit of the Eagles are instantly neutralized by the destruction of the Ring, and there’s no further danger.
(Total time to complete the mission: <1 hour.)