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The article Movie vs. Book: Fellowship of the Ring shows the differences between the book and film of the Fellowship of the Ring. This causes the film to leave out 4 entire chapters. Because of this, Tom Bombadil was completely left out of the film series.

Did this decision cause problems later by creating plot holes or situations that needed to be explained away which were not in the original text?

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    the entire tom bombadil scene is almost like an interlude/side quest of the story, their is almost nothing that carrys over from visiting him except that the hobbits gain their daggers from a wright cave with him, and that i believe their is a conversation with gandalf about giving the ring to tom bombadil, in which gandalf(or elrond) states that the ring is meaningless to him tom, and he would probably put it in a drawer and forget about it. – Himarm Nov 3 '14 at 21:28
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    The scene with the tree swallowing Merry/Pippin and Treebeard coming to their rescue was the only element taken from those chapters. But it doesn't represent any kind of plot hole or explanation - it was just a scene that Jackson liked, and he simply used Treebeard for the rescuer instead of Bombadil. – Omegacron Nov 3 '14 at 21:32
  • @Omegacron and used in the two towers instead of the fellowship. (in case people cant remember the scenes location) – Himarm Nov 3 '14 at 21:33
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    i think all of our bases are now covered. – Himarm Nov 3 '14 at 21:42
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    Well, I would have liked to see Bombadil also. As stated in several of Tolkien's texts, Bombadil is pretty much the oldest living thing in Middle-Earth, with the possible exception of Fangorn, and yet he acts like a child, which really makes me want to see what Jackson would have made out of him. As for the Barrow-Wights, Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online has a pretty interesting concept for them, making them rotting skeletons. Personally, I think Jackson could have incorporated them, possibly right before Weathertop or something. If you're not going to include Bombadil, at least include some – user44822 Apr 25 '15 at 23:36
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According to Tolkien himself, Bombadil is unnecessary to the narrative; as he notes in Letter 144:

Tom Bombadil is not an important person – to the narrative.

The only thing significant to the plot in the Bombadil episode is the finding of the Númenorean knives in the Barrow, which the movies also leave out. So we don't get to be aware of the fact that Merry's attack on the Witch-king was actually made with an enchanted dagger made specifically for that purpose; but that hardly seems to matter so far as movie-canon is concerned: if you ignore the fact that an enchanted dagger was needed to harm the WK, you can have Merry attack him with any old dagger just as well, and get the same result.

Letter 91 does note a foreshadowing in the Bombadil adventure that is of some significance later:

Frodo will join them and pass over the Sea (linking with the vision he had of a far green country in the house of Tom Bombadil).

In the movie, the description of the "far green country" is of course given to Gandalf (during the siege of Minas Tirith) and is entirely absent from the end of Frodo's voyage (which doesn't appear in the movie). Whether this is major enough to be considered a "plot hole" is probably too opinion-based for me to comment any further.

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    I always thought it was a bit odd that Gandalf would try to reassure Pippin's fear of death by describing his own memories of Aman, which Pippin would (probably) never see. It just seemed kind of disingenuous: "Gandalf: 'Don't worry Pippin, death's not so bad; just listen to how beautiful my afterlife is going to be.' Pippin: 'Cool, is that what I'm going to see when I die?' Gandalf: 'awkward silence'" – Jason Baker Nov 3 '14 at 21:59
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    @JasonBaker - ah, so you noticed that too. What's also odd is that G has recent experience of exactly what he's talking about. "Hey, I was killed and it's cool but yayy me, I came back". – user8719 Nov 3 '14 at 22:08
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    @JasonBaker: Men (and therefore Hobbits) do seem to get a "time of waiting" in Aman on their way to the great beyond. That's why Beren is able to be resurrected, because he tarried there at Luthien's behest. – Shamshiel Nov 4 '14 at 0:14
  • What are these Letters? – Daft Nov 4 '14 at 17:09
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    @Daft: The Letters of JRR Tolkien – user8719 Nov 4 '14 at 17:17
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Leaving out Bombadil had several implications for the movie:

  • Peter Jackson would have needed a new deus ex machina to rescue the Hobbits from the Barrow Wights. This was moot however because PJ simply removed the Barrow Downs--much to my dismay: I'd love to see what Jackson would have done with it. With his genius for evoking a location, the Barrow Downs would have been a thing to behold.
  • The Hobbits needed another way of acquiring their ancient super-special magic daggers. Again this was waved away by having Aragorn simply give them these out of nowhere on Weathertop. The bit about the daggers being made to combat the wraiths (which allowed Merry to help kill the Witch King) is easy enough to ignore in a movie.
  • Bombadil, and the proposal of giving the ring to him, was simply left out of the Council of Elrond. The deliberation of the Council were so ruthlessly chopped anyway that this hardly registers. Sheesh, they didn't even mention the dwarf rings, or Balin's expedition to Moria, where he had hoped to recover the last of the Seven--but, realistically, cuts had to be made for the movie.
  • The scene with Old Man Willow had to be either cut or relocated. As it was, it was relocated to Fangorn where Treebeard rescues them from an anonymous huorn. Eh, too bad, but not much difference in my estimation.

Those are changes that were made necessary by removing Bombadil. I don't think it really left any plot holes, though; Bombadil himself was really nonessential to the story. As I mentioned, my greatest regret about it is that PJ didn't find some other way of working in the Barrow Downs. I would dearly love to see his vision of it.

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    I always considered Aragorn just happening to be carrying around four Hobbit-sized swords in the movie a bit of a plot-hole. (He was keeping an eye out for Frodo, and possibly Sam, but he certainly wouldn't have expected Merry and Pippin. Why does he have exactly four short swords?) – LindaJeanne May 15 '15 at 18:32
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    That's a good question! About the best answer I could think to that was maybe the Dunedain had a weapons cache on Weathertop. I'm still not real comfy with that explanation, but it seems more plausible than "he just happened to find them" or "he carried them somehow without us being able to see them". – peyre May 17 '15 at 14:39
  • @LindaJeanne Perhaps he bought them in Bree? – Mary ML May 26 '15 at 7:29
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    @LindaJeanne - A Hobbit sword is just a knife for a human or elf. They aren't that uncommon. – Oldcat Sep 24 '15 at 18:30
  • The daggers used to injure WK were elven-blades, given to Merry and Pippin by Galadriel in the films. This is noted in the film script, and you can see the dagger. Obviously the daggers Aragorn handed them were worthless, rusty blades and neither magical nor effective, possible holdovers from a Barrow-blade script. Don't forget, they couldn't have been used against the Nazgul on Weathertop. – Ber Apr 4 '16 at 13:23
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I don't think that he leaves any holes in the plot, but taking him out does leave out a bit of lore I think. The scene where Tom Bombadil holds the one ring was important only to his background, not the quest of the fellowship. The fact that the ring had no power over him says quite a lot about how powerful he himself is. And yet, he spends his life in leisure. So the question is: why would a being that powerful spend his time singing to trees (not to mention banging a spirit)?

The answer, I think, is hinted at by Gandalf's actions after the ring is destroyed. Gandalf was one of the Maiar, lesser Ainur, the immortal beings created before time. Gandalf was believed to be the wisest of the Maiar, though he was called Olórin, or 'dreamer'. He was one of several Maiar who were sent to Middle Earth to contest Sauron. While in Middle Earth, they were known as the Istari, or Wizards. When the remainder of the fellowship is returning to the Shire, Gandalf leaves saying that he is going to go see Bombadil. And I think he says something about his job being done, though I don't have a copy of the book to check. My theory is that Tolkien was drawing a parallel between the two of them here. Tom Bombadil is a great spirit whose time is past, or possibly who never had a purpose. When one of the Hobbits, can't remember who, asks Goldberry who Bombadil is she replies "He is." There's a lot of debate about who Bombadil actually is, but my theory, based on this, is that he is the spirit of Ea, which is the name of all that exists. In Quenya, Ea means to be, so Ea refers to 'that which is', or 'the world that exists'. So no, nothing goes missing that pertains to the main narrative, but I think it leaves out a bit of the impressively extensive lore that Tolkien built around LOTR.

  • Some very good points, could you flesh some of them out and give sources? e.g. where does it say that "Ea means to be" etc? – Möoz Nov 4 '14 at 20:37
  • @Mooz Tolkien explains that in The Silmarillion. – akshay2000 Mar 15 '15 at 15:15
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The only reason I thought Bombadil needed to be included in the movie is because I thought he was the most significant being in Middle Earth. The Silmarilion hints that he was one of their "gods", or at least a minor diety. Tolkien liked his songs throughout the tale, and Bombadil seemed to be full of many. At least the scenes would have created a pleasant interlude, especially if the barrow wights scene had been kept also. At that point the hobbits, and audience, would have enjoyed a pleasant break from death and darkness.

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    Yes, but did leaving him out create plot holes? – Adamant Sep 25 '16 at 10:02

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