In The Return of the King, Halbarad and at least two dozen other Rangers of the North come to Aragorn's aid. Halbarad, and possibly some others, die in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, and it is possible that more may have died in the Battle of the Morannon.

Later, when Gandalf and the hobbits return to Bree, Butterbur the Innkeeper laments the departure of the Rangers, which had led to a significant deterioration in living conditions throughout the region. Gamdalf comforts Butterbur by saying that the Rangers have returned to the area, riding with himself and the hobbits.

But the hobbits are the only people riding with Gandalf, so it appears that Gandalf is referring to the hobbits.

All of this led me to wonder what happened to the Rangers after the war, where they went, and if they had returned to the north before Gandalf and company, why they didn't do anything about Sharkey and his goons.

Note: Here is the conversation in question. Just before this, Butterbur mentions how dangerous the roads have become; the hobbits say they have encountered no problems approaching Bree; Butterbur says their swords and armor would have scared off the ruffians, and Gandalf says the Inn, too, will be safe as long as he and the hobbits are there.

'How long will that be?' said Butterbur. 'I'll not deny we should be glad to have you about for a bit. You see, we're not used to such troubles; and the Rangers have all gone away, folk tell me. I don't think we've rightly understood till now what they did for us. For there's been worse than robbers about. Wolves were howling round the fences last winter. And there's dark shapes in the woods, dreadful things that it makes the blood run cold to think of. It's been very disturbing, if you understand me.'

'I expect it has,' said Gandalf. 'Nearly all lands have been disturbed these days, very disturbed. But cheer up, Barliman! You have been on the edge of very great troubles, and I am only glad to hear that you have not been deeper in. But better times are coming. Maybe, better than any you remember. The Rangers have returned. We came back with them. And there is a king again, Barliman. He will soon be turning his mind this way.

'Then the Greenway will be opened again, and his messengers will come north, and there will be comings and goings, and the evil things will be driven out of the waste-lands. Indeed the waste in time will be waste no longer, and there will be people and fields where once there was wilderness.'

Mr. Butterbur shook his head. 'If there's a few decent respectable folk on the roads, that won't do no harm,' he said. 'But we don't want no more rabble and ruffians. And we don't want no outsiders at Bree, nor near Bree at all. We want to be let alone. I don't want a whole crowd o' strangers camping here and settling there and tearing up the wild country.'

'You will be let alone, Barliman,' said Gandalf. 'There is room enough for realms between Isen and Greyflood, or along the shore lands south of the Brandywine, without any one living within many days' ride of Bree. And many folk used to dwell away north, a hundred miles or more from here, at the far end of the Greenway: on the North Downs or by Lake Evendim.'
-The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book VI, Chapter 7: "Homeward Bound"

  • @SJuan76 - possible, but many of Sharkey's henchmen seem to be Easterlings or Southrons. If the Rangers were near the Shire, surely they would not have allowed these people to enter the Shire.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 20:12
  • Not sure I see the problem - it's obvious from the text you quoted that Gandalf & the hobbits traveled back WITH the remaining Rangers. That doesn't mean the Rangers came to Bree with them, or The Prancing Pony.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 18:43
  • @Omegacron - You'd see the problem if you read the text- it says nothing about them riding with Rangers. Past Isengard, it speaks only of the hobbits and Gandalf (and maybe three elves). Before that, the only Ranger mentioned was Aragorn. The group that started out was the Fellowship plus Galadriel and her husband and Elrond.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 18:46
  • @WadCheber : yes, but Gandalf says flat-out that they rode back with them. It's entirely possible that they met the Rangers AFTER Isengard, traveled with them for days or weeks, then parted ways again. There is a lot of time unaccounted for in the text, so we have to take Gandalf's word at face-value.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 18:50
  • @Omegacron if I have learned one thing from reading LotR, it is that you never, ever take anyone's word at face value. If Gandalf's statement means anything, it probably means the hobbits are now effectively Rangers.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 5, 2015 at 18:52

2 Answers 2


Short answer: we don't know. We do know from appendix A that Aragorn restores the city of Annuminas after the war:

... when he [Aragorn] comes north to his house in Annuminas restored and stays for a while by Lake Evendim, then everyone in the Shire is glad.

In Homeward Bound, Gandalf hints that Aragorn also intends to restore Fornost.

And the King will come there one day; and then you'll have some fine folk riding through.

Now some Dunedain must already have been living at least partially settled lives; maintaining the blood line for sixteen generations would require a safe place for children to grow up. The Chieftains of the Dunedain were fostered in Rivendell, but there is no evidence to suggest that other rangers grew up there. Moreover, in the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen (Appendix A), Aragorn's mother Gilraen leaves Rivendell and returns

to her own people in Eriador.

In conclusion it's likely that the Dunedain returned to their ancestral homes when these were restored. For any that didn't fancy city life, there were still the orcs of the Misty Mountains to deal with, plus wolves, trolls and probably assorted other nasties that we know nothing about.

  • Actually, it is said in at least one or two places that all the heirs of Isildur were raised in Rivendell.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 20:06
  • @WadCheber --- Quite right. I must be getting tired. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 20:09

It's implied that they settle down, building some permanent settlements, and have trade & communication with Gondor. See e.g. Gandalf's conversation with Butterbur on the return trip.

  • My question was largely based on that conversation, but it never seemed to me that the settlers who would spread into the west would primarily consist of Rangers, or even that Rangers would be among the settlers.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 18:26
  • Could you please provide the quote of the conversation you mention? That would quite improve the answer. Commented May 31, 2015 at 16:49
  • 1
    @AlfredoHernández - I just added it to my question.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 20:04

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