At one point in The Return of the King Gandalf rides out of Minas Tirith to blind some Nazgul and immediately returns to Minas Tirith. It doesn't make sense to me why he would take Pippin along for that. He could have easily waited in Minas Tirith. Is there an explanation for this?

  • 38
    For what it's worth, Pippin does stay in Minas Tirith in the equivalent book scene.
    – Nolimon
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 13:14
  • Yes, in the book, Gandalf rides out, and Pippin cheers him on from the citadel. Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 17:22
  • Pippin is great moral support. He’s like the Middle-Earth version of Gurney Halleck’s puppy. Commented Nov 4, 2021 at 19:09

4 Answers 4


First, I don't think the reason for bringing Pippin along for a ride is for him to meet Faramir as has been previously stated. Here is why I disagree with that:

  • that could've been done at any point once Faramir gets back to Minas Tirith quite trivially
  • Faramir didn't seem to notice Pippin until they got back inside the gates, anyway
  • Faramir wouldn't have had an opportunity to talk to Gandalf about Hobbits until they were back inside the city, of course, due to riding hard to escape the Nazgûl
  • When Faramir does lay eyes on Pippin, it's the look on Faramir's face that prompts Gandalf to ask about other Hobbits Faramir might have seen. Before that moment, Gandalf has no idea Faramir even knows about Frodo & Sam, let alone has seen them or helped them.

Rather, this is probably an attempt to reinforce Gandalf's ruse about Pippin having the ring to keep Frodo and the real mission a secret.

Gandalf believes that Sauron, having seen Pippin through the Palantir at Edoras, believes Pippin is the Hobbit he's been looking for. If Pippin is not seen again anywhere, Sauron is likely to keep his search efforts spread across the land, increasing the danger that Frodo & Sam are caught by an enemy scout or patrol.

However, if Gandalf the White, of all people, rides out from Minas Tirith with a Hobbit on his horse to blind the Nazgûl, I'm pretty sure the Nazgûl will relay that information to Sauron. If Sauron thinks the Hobbit he's looking for is in Minas Tirith, Gandalf expects him to have the following thoughts:

  • Why would Gandalf be keeping a mere Hobbit so close, if not to safeguard the ring?
  • If the ring is in Minas Tirith, then Gondor must be trying to use the ring for purposes of power.

Both are enough reasons for someone with the mindset of Sauron to fix all his attention and forces on attacking Minas Tirith (which we see shortly after in the emptying of Cirith Ungol and the massive battle at Minis Tirith), allowing Frodo & Sam to continue their journey in secret.

  • 11
    +1 for being a thoughtful, in-universe explanation that considers the movies on their own terms rather than as error-laden transcriptions of the books.
    – Ceph
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 14:15
  • 5
    While I agree with Ceph that it is good to take the movie on its own terms. It should be noted that this is (a nice) speculation, and the movie itself suggests no explanation for Pippin's inclusion (that I recall). Without additional information from the production, we can't say what the reason was. Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 14:25
  • @PaulSinclair Indeed, hence "probably" in my bold sentence.
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 14:44
  • 2
    Although it's speculation I accepted this answer because it has the best in-universe explanation in my opinion
    – Ivo
    Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 11:46
  • 4
    @Rad80 Only when it is used. There's a scene in FoTR where the Nazgul turn their heads/attention in the direction of the ring when Frodo puts it on while at the Prancing Pony. They're searching aimlessly up until that point... then they all make a beeline for the inn.
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 15:53

For comparison, Pippin remains in the city in the corresponding section of the book.

...Pippin got up and peered out. At that moment he caught a flash of white and silver coming from the North, like a small star down on the dusky fields. It moved with the speed of an arrow and grew as it came, converging swiftly towards the Gate... But now the dark swooping shadows were aware of the newcomer. One wheeled towards him; but it seemed to Pippin that he raised his hand, and from it a shaft of white light stabbed upwards. The Nazgul gave a long wailing cry and swerved away...

Perhaps the movie changed this for the flow of Faramir meeting Pippin: rather than picking him out from the crowd, Pippin is right in front of him and impossible to miss.

'Faramir!' he cried aloud with the others. 'Faramir!' And Faramir, catching the strange voice among the clamour of the men of the City, turned and looked upon him and was amazed.

'Whence come you?' he said. 'A halfling, and in the livery of the Tower! Whence...?'


Out of universe:

Because it was shot for a different point in the story in the film and in editing was used later

Per Peter Jackson's commentary on "The Return of the King" Extended Edition, Gandalf and Pippin were originally shot meeting and fighting the Nazgul upon their initial arrival to Minas Tirith, before they had even gone into the city.

There is no in-universe reason. It's simply out of the originally intended sequence.

PJ does mention it in the director's commentary on Disc 1 at around 1 hour and 12mn

  • 2
    So bad editing, not bad writing? :)
    – chepner
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 16:02
  • 1
    I decided to accept an in-universe answer, but you have my upvote and you have the best out of universe answer
    – Ivo
    Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 11:48
  • 2
    Is there a clip of this commentary on Youtube or elsewhere? :)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 3:56
  • @V2Blast - there are ways to listen to the commentary online. I'll leave it to you to Google that for yourself
    – NKCampbell
    Commented May 15, 2022 at 22:36

As far as I remember this movie scene is not in the books.

I think the scene was created for the movie to have Faramir meet Pippin in an easier way than in the books.

If I remember correctly, Faramir met Pippin while being debriefed by his father Denethor.

  • Hmm, I thought it was when Faramir returned from Ithilien, in a Minas Tirith street, on the way to being debriefed (edit: as in Nolimon's answer) Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 1:06

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