It is well known that The Lord of the Rings is a very long book, so long that the original publishers insisted on dividing it into three volumes. And so it is hardly surprising that not every character in the book made it into the major screen adaptations directed and produced by Peter Jackson, and often with good reason. Many of them do not need any special mention; there’s no need to list every Orc that did not get individually named or every minor Hobbit character at Bilbo’s birthday party.
However, some of the characters who did not quite make the cut could have made great additions to the screen versions, if only time had allowed. Here are characters who did not make it into the films, but who we’d love to see have their day on the big screen, or if anyone ever makes a long-running TV series version of this story…
Tom Bombadil and Goldberry
Although appearing in various video games and a Finnish television adaptation, Tom Bombadil and his wife Goldberry were two of the best known characters to be left out of the Peter Jackson films, along with the terrifying Barrow-wights (the homicidal tree Tom rescues the Hobbits from, Old Man Willow, was shifted to Fangorn forest and Tom’s role given to Treebeard in the Extended Edition of The Two Towers).
It is easy to see why they are often left out of adaptations of the books. The first half of The Fellowship of the Ring is notoriously a bit slow-paced and the whole series of incidents involving Old Man Willow, Tom and Goldberry, and the Barrow-wights have no connection to the rest of the story. Tom’s ability to wear the Ring and be unaffected and to see Frodo while he is wearing the Ring could also seriously undermine the Ring’s power and threat without the narration explaining just how shocking this is, and that Tom is a very powerful person. That in turn leads to all sorts of other things that might politely be called “questions” or less politely, “plot holes” – Gandalf has to spend a couple of pages while everyone is at Rivendell explaining why Tom cannot help everyone with the whole Ring problem, if he is so unaffected by it.
But it would still be nice to see Tom and his ethereal wife Goldberry in a major adaptation some day (they were also cut out of Ralph Bakshi’s animated film and the 1981 BBC radio adaptation). Goldberry increases the number of female characters in the whole story by quite a bit, and Tom is strange and fun and offers a nice counterpart to all the seriousness of the rest of the plot.
Elladan, Elrohir, and Prince Imrahil
Elladan and Elrohir are Elrond’s twin sons, Arwen’s brothers, who went with Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead and fought in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields outside Minas Tirith. Prince Imrahil is Denethor’s brother-in-law and the Prince of the city of Dol-Amroth in Western Gondor, and is one of the allies of Minas Tirith who also fought with his army in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and at the later Battle of the Morannon (the battle outside the Black Gates of Mordor at the climax of the story).
It is easy to see why all three were cut. Their roles in the story are tiny and their lines can easily be given to other characters, and cutting these allies from the battles makes our heroes’ situation more desperate on screen (Aragorn has only Legolas and Gimli with him through the Paths of the Dead; Minas Tirith has no allies except the Rohirrim to fight with them until the Army of the Dead show up). But on the other hand, their inclusion would help broaden out the world of Middle-earth a bit more. After all, Elrond and Arwen have more friends and family than just each other who are willing to help them or Aragorn, and Minas Tirith must surely have had more allies to answer those impressive beacons than just the Rohirrim. Minor characters like this make Middle-earth feel a fuller place.
Ghân-buri-Ghân is a really fascinating character because he and his people are humans who have their own culture which is quite distinct from the other main human groups, and who are subjected to racism from other Men and from Elves within the world of Middle-earth.
Ghân-buri-Ghân is the leader of the Drúedain, who live in the forest of Drúadan and who are especially skilled in their knowledge of plants, in hunting with poisoned darts or arrows, and in carving wood or stone, and they have some magical practices associated with stone carvings. They save Théoden and the army of the Rohirrim from being ambushed by Orcs on their way to Minas Tirith and show them a path through the woods to get them safely to the Pelennor Fields. In return, all Ghân-buri-Ghân asks is for his people to be left alone, and “do not hunt them like beasts any more.” He is another character who enriches the world of Middle-earth by showing that there are other people who live there than just our heroes, and another example of a heroic character who is a very different person with a very different lifestyle and culture to J.R.R. Tolkien’s better known heroes like Aragorn or Elrond.
Beregond and Bergil
Beregond is a soldier in Minas Tirith who is very loyal to Faramir, and who is given the job of looking after Pippin. Bergil is his 9-year-old son, who stays behind after the other children are evacuated and whose armor Pippin borrows. They are both fairly straightforwardly heroic characters, but they give a bit of face and character to the people of Minas Tirith beyond Faramir himself. It would have been especially nice to see Bergil in the films, as Peter Jackson added quite a few child and teenage characters as extras or with a few lines, particularly to the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers. Perhaps he did not want to repeat that in the Siege of Minas Tirith, but it would have been exciting to see the brave child defender that Tolkien actually wrote about included in the movies.
Farmer Tom Cotton is Sam’s wife Rosie’s father, and also appears primarily in the “Scouring of the Shire” sequence at the end of The Lord of the Rings. This entire section of the story was cut from the films, with just a brief vision given to Sam in Galadriel’s mirror in the Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring referring to it. Rather than killing Saruman in Orthanc, in the book Saruman and Wormtongue are set free and make their way to the Shire together.
Saruman’s rule over the Shire under the name of “Sharkey” is ended at the Battle of the Bywater, the last battle of the War of the Ring, fought in the Shire itself. Merry and Pippin are the military leaders, having fought in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and the Battle of the Morannon respectively, but they are leading armies of Hobbits, and Farmer Cotton is one of their most important men, as he acts as bait in a trap for Sharkey’s men.
The eventual end of the War of the Ring comes at Bag End itself where, just like in the films, Wormtongue kills Saruman before being shot to death by arrows himself. The whole sequence is full of action and enriches the overall picture of the Shire, as well as giving Merry and Pippin some good uses for their newfound fighting skills. But feature films understandably do not have time to cover it no matter how long (or Extended) they are, and it is all a bit anti-climactic after the dramatic destruction of the Ring. But perhaps some of it could become a TV miniseries one day. There’s certainly plenty of material there, waiting to be adapted.
Lord of the Rings Book Characters Who Do Appear in the Movies But in Altered Form
There’s of course a special group of book characters who do technically appear in the Jackson films, but in such a heavily altered form they barely resemble their counterparts on the page, or in a role so minor you’d barely notice they’re in the movies at all. Some book characters only appear in the Extended Editions and not in the original theatrical cut of the trilogy. Here are some of the standout examples…
Fredegar “Fatty” Bolger
Fredegar Bolger is a Hobbit that appears in the films, but in name only. Bilbo greets “Fatty” as he arrives at Bilbo’s birthday party, but that is the extent of his role on the big screen. In the books, he had quite a lot more to do.
Fatty is a very good friend of Frodo and Merry and is basically the Fifth Beatle of the core group of Hobbits. He, along with Merry and Pippin, got Sam to spy on Frodo, found out Frodo was planning to leave, and was determined to help him. However, Fredegar did not want to leave the Shire, so his role was to stay at Frodo’s new home in Crickhollow, on the edge of Buckland (where Frodo had pretended to move, having sold Bag End – the whole plan to run was much slower and more elaborate in the book). Fredegar was to act as a decoy, wearing Frodo’s clothes so that no one would realize Frodo had left the Shire. Tolkien’s narration mentions that “They little thought how dangerous that part might prove” and poor Fredegar is terrified and forced to flee after a night-time visit from the Black Riders. He survives, only to end up locked away in prison and too weak to walk when the Shire comes under the control of first Lotho Sackville-Baggins, and then Saruman at the end of the book. He is eventually rescued by his friends, at which Pippin cheerfully tells him he would have been better off coming with them after all.
Fredegar is the perfect example of a typical Hobbit; home-loving and fond of comfort, but deep down extremely brave and willing to lose both home and comfort for a cause he believes in. It would be lovely to see him developed properly on screen one day.
Glorfindel also technically appears in the films, standing silently behind Elrond at Aragorn’s coronation in The Return of the King. But he was, to the dismay of many Tolkien fans, cut from his main scene in the book, in which it is he, and not Arwen, who picks up Frodo not far from Rivendell and lends him his horse to escape the Black Riders.
This Elf actually has a much bigger role in Tolkien’s larger legendarium than he does in The Lord of the Rings. Like Gandalf many centuries later, he once fought a Balrog and then plunged into an abyss, and he was later resurrected and sent back to Middle-earth to fight Sauron, fighting in the Battle of Fornost against the Witch-King of Angmar (the leader of the Black Riders). Many fans were disappointed not to see the character in action on screen, as they were excited to see such a powerful Elf brought to life. However, Glorfindel will be a much better fit for Amazon’s prequel series The Rings of Power if they choose to include him, freshly reincarnated. In The Lord of the Rings, he appears to do one job and then vanishes from the story all together – having Arwen, a much more important character to that story, rescuing Frodo makes much more sense in the context of The Lord of the Rings alone.
Lotho and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins
Lobelia Sackville-Baggins appears very briefly in the Extended Edition of The Fellowship of the Ring with her husband, Otho. The Sackville-Bagginses as a group had been mentioned all the way back in The Hobbit, measuring Bilbo’s rooms at Bag End to see if their furniture would fit after he went missing, and Bilbo still carries a grudge at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings because Lobelia stole his silver spoons. Their brief appearance in the film is suitably grumpy, but without any lines.
Lobelia and her son Lotho were really developed in “The Scouring of the Shire.” When our four hero Hobbits eventually get home from their adventure to Mordor, they find that Lotho Sackville-Baggins, after buying Bag End, had proceeded to take over most of the Shire, only to be replaced by Saruman and eventually stabbed in his sleep and possibly eaten by Wormtongue. Lobelia, on the other hand, proves to be a better person than she seemed. She is imprisoned by her own son’s regime for attacking some of his heavies with an umbrella, and is crushed to find out about his death when she is finally rescued. When she herself dies not long afterwards, she leaves her money to Frodo to help Hobbits made homeless by her son.
Lobelia’s end, while sad, is especially satisfying. She and her whole family had been such a joke in the books for such a long time, seeing her given some real characterization right at the conclusion was a breath of fresh air.
Bill Ferny is a Man who lives in Bree, and another character who technically appears briefly in the films, but who has no lines and none of his characterization or role in the story from the books.
On the page, it is Bill Ferny who sells Sam his beloved pony (also called “Bill”), who carries the Fellowship’s luggage until they reach the doors of Moria, at which point he has to be sent to find his own way home to Rivendell (and does, miraculously). It was also Bill Ferny who sold information on the Hobbits to the Black Riders, including the crucial detail that Mr. Underhill had suddenly vanished in the middle of a song in the pub (in the books, Pippin is not so stupid as to simply reveal Frodo’s identity; Frodo is entertaining the crowd when he slips and falls and the Ring makes its way onto his finger). Later, he worked for Saruman in the Shire, but was chased off by Merry and by his own old pony, who gave him one last kick in the back on the way.
Bill is a fairly straightforward villainous character, but he gives a more specific and human face to the threat facing the Hobbits in Bree, driven to betray them by simple greed.
The Mouth of Sauron
The Mouth of Sauron, a spokesperson for the Dark Lord himself, appears in the Extended Edition of The Return of the King, but not in the theatrical cut. It’s an impressive piece of acting and the scene is dramatic and suitably terrifying, but Jackson’s interpretation of the “Mouth of Sauron” as a creature with a literally over-sized mouth, rather than as a metaphor for a herald or messenger, is perhaps a bit too over the top.