It is no secret that The Lord of the Rings included numerous themes and influences from Tolkien's own experiences with war. In particular the effects of war on people, as well as ideas of sacrifice and death.
Throughout the narrative, several prominent characters die while sacrificing themselves for others.
For example, Haldir died while helping defend the people of Helm's Deep, King Théoden died assisting the Kingdom of Gondor, and even Gandalf sacrificed himself for the sake of the Fellowship.
However meaningful each of these deaths was for the purpose of the story, it is largely agreed among fans that Boromir's sacrifice was the most pointless of all. Let's review why.
Recap of Boromir's heroic, but futile death
If you think back to Boromir's involvement in the scenes of the first film, he is first invited as the son of the Steward and Captain of Gondor to the Council of Elrond, formed to decide the fate of the One Ring together.
Boromir is immediately drawn to the Ring, requesting it be used against the enemy and kept safe within his city. Although his proposals were refused, he formed one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring, tasked with destroying it within the fires of Mount Doom.
Boromir is an effective member of the team at times. A valuable warrior, he helps protect the Fellowship and the Ring against the many dangers of Middle-Earth. Ultimately, his desire for the Ring gets the better of him.
He attempts to forcefully take it from Frodo but is unsuccessful. Feeling guilty about his action he soon gets the chance to redeem himself by protecting the hobbits, Merry and Pippin, ultimately succumbing to his wounds from a volley of Uruk-hai arrows.
He admits his regrets over his actions to Aragorn as he dies. Boromir may be a valiant and key member of the Fellowship, but his character is only short-lived.
Why do fans think his death is a pointless one?
The main gripe fans have with Boromir's death within the full context of the story is that it is essentially needless.
Not only could his death have been more easily avoided under similar circumstances, but it makes no difference to the outcome of the following events. Mary and Pippin would have still been kidnapped by the Uruk-hai. And then likely still escaped of their own accord and then rescued by Treebeard.
What's more, fans point out that Boromir's absence from the Fellowship from that time onwards makes no apparent difference to Sauron's eventual defeat.
Frodo and Sam would have still likely separated from the group to continue on their quest alone. Pippin and Merry would have still encouraged the ents to take Isengard. And clearly the heroic trio of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli did not suffer without him.
Boromir was also an established and well-trained fighter. A warrior whose skill rivaled that of the other characters; including Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and his brother Faramir. So it's understandable why fans question Boromir's decision to fight the masses of Uruk-hai as he did. In which the rest of the Fellowship seemed to walk away relatively unscathed from the same battle.
This highlights that not only does his sacrifice seem pointless, but it diminishes his role within the story entirely.
Conversely, some fans instead support Boromir's sacrifice as a necessary one. Arguing that without Boromir's portrayal and attempt for the Ring, Frodo would have never felt the need to leave the Fellowship. Meaning one of the others would have turned on him themselves for the Ring later.
Alternatively, even if Frodo had decided to leave with Sam, Boromir was a valuable lesson to him that the Ring was too corrupting to be trusted in the hands of anyone else. Frodo suffered greatly on the remainder of his quest but never relented in giving up the Ring for this very reason.
The importance of Boromir's sacrifice seems mostly down to each person's point of view. The purpose of Boromir's death within the LotR may be a lesson in the fatalities of war.
On the other hand, things may have been very different for the Fellowship without him. Unfortunately, we can only assume the events of what would have happened in the scenario that Boromir had lived. And can never fully appreciate the full importance of his character.