Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series has the opportunity to fix one of the biggest book-to-movie changes that still divides opinion: Tom Bombadil’s exclusion. Director Peter Jackson left him out of the films to tighten the trilogy’s focus and run-time, but with multiple seasons planned for the show with even an even longer runtime, Amazon should be able to find room to use Bombadil and restore his narrative importance in Middle Earth.
Tom Bombadil has a significant appearance in the novels saving Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin at the start of their journey out of The Shire. Bombadil comes to the rescue of the four Hobbits when they are attacked in the Old Forest by the sentient tree Old Man Willow. Afterward, he invites them to his home, where the Hobbits tell him about their mission and the Ring. One of many bizarre facets of Bombadil, besides the tendency to burst into song, is that the Ring appears to hold no power over him. Later, it is discussed at the Council of Elrond if Bombadil could be the Ring Bearer. So, why was this powerful character left out of the movies, and how can Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show fix this oversight?
Peter Jackson explained his decision to cut Bombadil from the films because he believed the inclusion would have little relevance to the overall plot and would hinder the main story. While this makes sense for the theatrical versions, Bombadil’s importance to the overall story can be explored in the Amazon series. Although the series will feature the Second Age rather than the Third Age that the films capture, the show can delve into Bombadil’s history in Middle Earth using J.R.R Tolkien’s The Adventures of Tom Bombadil as a reference.
Bombadil’s importance to The Lord of the Rings storyline is debatable, but some elements prove vital to the development of Frodo. After the days spent in Bombadil’s home, the Hobbits continue on their journey only to be captured by Barrow-wights in the Barrow-downs. Frodo overcomes the temptation to leave his friends behind by putting on the Ring and instead calls on Bombadil’s help. Gandalf later describes the encounter with the Barrow-wights as perhaps Frodo’s most dangerous moment of all.
For a proclamation of this magnitude from Gandalf, it would imply that the story of Bombadil has greater importance to the novels than a side quest. While Peter Jackson has his reasons for not including Bombadil in his movies, many fans of the books would argue it was his greatest mistake. Amazon now has the opportunity to rectify this error in their Lord of the Rings series. They can give Tom Bombadil a much-deserved role and give a nod to his importance to the overall story of Middle Earth.