The Reason Peter Jackson Left Tom Bombadil Out Of Lord Of The Rings

By Douglas Helm | Updated

The upcoming second season of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is taking a big swing by introducing Tom Bombadil, one of the most esoteric and mysterious characters from JRR Tolkien’s seminal fantasy novels.

Fans of the movies know that Peter Jackson specifically left the character out of the movies and didn’t bother to try, as there’s nary even a deleted scene of ol’ Tom in the extended editions. The thing is, as interesting as Tom is, Jackson made the right call, and The Rings of Power is going to have a hard time getting fans on board for this one.

Tom Bombadil Is Unlike Anything Else In The Lord Of The Rings

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Tom Bombadil is a character that is nearly impossible to adapt, considering no one really knows his true nature or his true origin. Even Tolkien himself has been ambivalent about Tom’s purpose in his stories, saying in a letter, “Tom Bombadil is not an important person—to the narrative,” adding, “He represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely.”

He also replied to a fan guessing that Bombadil represented God, “I really do think you are being too serious, besides missing the point.” So, really, introducing Tom to a TV show, or really any LOTR story with a narrative, is going to present tricky waters to navigate.

A Different Version Is Coming To Rings Of Power

The Rings of Power showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay have acknowledged the difficulty of bringing Tom Bombadil into the story, too, but contradicted themselves when speaking about the character. Payne pointed out, “He’s not driving forward and pushing people to arrive at any particular end,” but added, “I’d say our Tom Bombadil is slightly more interventionist than you see in the books, but only by 5 percent or 10 percent.” From what we’ve learned so far, Bombadil will be meeting with Season 1’s the Stranger and “nudging” him along his journey.

It’s hard to imagine that going down well with fans since Tom Bombadil wasn’t even concerned with the war for the One Ring in the books (arguably one of the most significant events in Middle-Earth’s history).

Rescues Hobbits

For LOTR fans who haven’t read the books, Bombadil’s brief but intriguing sequence in The Fellowship of the Ring introduces the character when the hobbits get in trouble with the tree known as Old Man Willow. Bombadil sings a song that causes the tree to release Merry and Pippin and then hosts the hobbits, along with his wife Goldberry, in his home.

Has No Interest In The One Ring

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During his time with the hobbits, Tom Bombadil tries on the Ring, it doesn’t affect him, and then points out he can still see the invisible Frodo when Frodo puts it on afterward. Later, the Council of Elrond discusses having Tom hold onto the ring, but Gandalf points out that he would probably forget about it or throw it away, as it has no relevance to him.

Tolkien has since confirmed that Bombadil is someone who may have been the first creature to inhibit Arda (Earth in LOTR) and may even be one of the Ainur, angelic beings who helped shape Arda. 

Holding Out Hope For A Decent Portrayal

On top of that, Tom Bombadil’s personality is whimsical, silly, and ethereal all at once, making it hard to imagine how he would be brought to life on screen. Even if Rory Kinnear’s version of the character (who is missing the extra bright clothes in these early screenshots) is decent, there are undoubtedly going to be three haters for every one person who enjoys the portrayal.

I personally hope The Rings of Power showrunners can pull it off, as Bombadil would be a cool character to see portrayed accurately, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being able to bring such a specific literary character to life.