Lord of the Rings: Tom Bombadil Is a Huge Opportunity for The Rings of Power Season 2 (2024)


Rory Kinnear is set to play the beloved Tom Bombadil in The Rings of Power season 2. What does this mean for the show and the Lord of the Rings character?

Big news just dropped over at Vanity Fair: a first look at a character set to appear in The Rings of Power season 2 who has to date only made it into a few older radio versions, games, and foreign-language adaptations of The Lord of the Rings—Tom Bombadil, played by Rory Kinnear (Men, Bank of Dave, James Bond films). Tom’s first live-action appearance is obviously a huge deal for The Rings of Power season 2 and Lord of the Rings fandom as a whole, especially because Peter Jackson chose to not include the beloved Tolkien character in his film trilogy, but how will he fit into the story of the Second Age of Middle-earth?

What Is Tom Bombadil’s Role in The Lord of the Rings and Why Isn’t He in the Movies?

On the page, Tom Bombadil appears early on in The Fellowship of the Ring, rescuing the four hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin from first an evil tree called Old Man Willow, and later the revenant inhabitants of some old tombs, the Barrow-wights.

In between those two moments, the hobbits stay overnight with him and his wife Goldberry, the “daughter of the river,” and Frodo is shocked to discover that the One Ring of Sauron has no effect on Bombadil whatsoever. He can still clearly see Frodo when Frodo is wearing it, although the Ring makes the wearer invisible to most (except the Nazgûl, bearers of the Nine Rings for Mortal Men, and Sauron himself), and Tom himself does not disappear when wearing the Ring either. In fact, he can make it seem to disappear for a moment. Gandalf later clarifies that Bombadil does not have power over the Ring, but that “the Ring has no power over him. He is his own master.”

Tom Bombadil gets cut from most major adaptations of The Lord of the Rings because the whole series of adventures involving him plays no part at all in the main story. In fact, all he really does is introduce yet another potential plot hole that has to be explained away, as one of Elrond’s friends asks the Council of Elrond why they can’t simply give the Ring to Bombadil to look after, and has to be told that Bombadil is so wrapped up in his own concerns that he might forget it or throw it away, and he could not stand up against Sauron by himself.


Ad – content continues below

However, that doesn’t that Bombadil has no potential as a screen character at all, especially when it comes to a TV series, where stories have more time to breathe and include small episodic elements.

What Tom Bombadil Could Mean for The Rings of Power Season 2

We speculated on whether the show might introduce Old Tom all the way back in 2017. At the time, we pointed out that he is one of those characters who is very easy to include, because he is an ancient and ageless character. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Elrond says he had forgotten Bombadil’s existence all together, “if indeed this is still the same that walked the woods and hills long ago, and even then was older than the old” There’s even a meta level to his ancient-ness, as the character was invented long before The Lord of the Rings or even The Hobbit; Tolkien wrote the first of his poems about him, “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil,” in 1934.

Because he is ancient and ageless, Tom Bombadil can appear in just about any story set in Middle-earth, and although by the time of The Lord of the Rings he has chosen to confine himself to a small area near the Shire, there is no reason to assume he lived there all the time before then. We even thought some of the early season 1 posters, which showed close-ups of various characters’ hands without their faces, might be him (it turned out to be The Stranger).

Tom can bring something to a show that no other Tolkien character can do quite as well, as he is entirely mysterious, and very much in tune with nature. JRR Tolkien described him to his proofreader (writer and poet Naomi Mitchison) as an “enigma,” “intentionally” so, and admitted that the character was “not an important person to the narrative” but added that he would not have left him in “if he did not have some kind of function.” Bombadil represents, Tolkien suggested, “a natural pacifist view,” a character who has access to immense power but chooses not to wield it, but rather to observe and not to participate in the wars around him.

Even though The Rings of Power is a show full of extremely long-lived Elves who are quite fond of very pretty-looking tree houses, it still does not feature any other character quite like that. The closest is probably the Stranger, and it is no surprise to see that this mysterious younger version of probably-Gandalf, possibly-Saruman, is the character who will be interacting with Bombadil in the show, on the edge of the eastern land of Rhûn. That is a long way from Bombadil’s chosen home in The Lord of the Rings, but this story takes place centuries earlier so that does not seem unreasonable.

It is Gandalf who seems to know Bombadil best in The Fellowship of the Ring, so it makes sense that it is likely Gandalf who will meet and interact with him here. They clearly have a long-standing friendship of some sort by the time of The Lord of the Rings, as after Sauron is defeated and almost everything is sorted out, Gandalf leaves the hobbits to go home to the Shire (and deal with the chaos they find there) and tells them he is, “going to have a long talk with Bombadil: such a talk as I have not had in all my time. He is a moss-gatherer, and I have been a stone doomed to rolling.” The Stranger is still somewhat lost and uncertain of his own origins as of the end of season 1 of The Rings of Power, so perhaps a talk with Bombadil will be enlightening—and we can hope that it might finally put to bed the question of which wizard he is as well!


Ad – content continues below

We expect any conversation between these two to touch on some of the themes closest to Tolkien’s heart. Tolkien and his son Christopher were both war veterans, not pacifists, but one of the major themes of The Lord of the Rings is the horror and enduring psychological scarring of war, and Bombadil’s pacifism—while ultimately unhelpful to everyone else!—is a counter-point to that. His affinity with nature is key to the role he plays in The Lord of the Rings in a way that even Tolkien himself could not quite put into words; Bombadil represents living in complete harmony with nature (he is married to a river-goddess after all), while his withdrawing to a smaller and smaller plot of land over time demonstrates the encroaching industrialization that Tolkien was so upset by around his home in Birmingham.

The Rings of Power has already touched on some of these themes in season 1, with the eruption of Mount Doom to create Mordor out of the Southlands being an extreme example of a grim force of industrialization sweeping the land. We can expect Bombadil to represent the interests of nature and the land in some way in his new setting near Rhûn in season 2. Showrunner JD Payne told Vanity Fair, “the lands of Rhûn… used to be sort of Edenic and green and beautiful, but now is sort of a dead wasteland… [he] has gone out there to see what’s happened.”

Bombadil will bring something else extremely valuable to The Rings of Power as well—humor and whimsy. Some of the strongest scenes of season 1 were those featuring the Dwarves Durin and Disa, and their relationship with Elrond. Their long friendship and witty interactions brought some much-needed lightness and warmth and humor to the story, giving audiences a refreshing break from the intense seriousness of some of the other characters.

Tom Bombadil is the embodiment of warmth and whimsy, and it looks like that will be fully translated to the screen, with Rory Kinnear, speaking to Vanity Fair, likening his costume to a “ridiculous” hat his 10-year-old daughter wore for a while, and Payne saying that he will be “singing and saying lines that could be nursery rhymes from children’s poems.” Season 2 of the show will likely feature plenty of serious, even grim, storytelling as it follows the machinations of Sauron, the power struggles and politicking in Númenor, and the deadly threat uncovered in the deepest mines by the Dwarves. It will be a welcome change of pace to see something a little more lighthearted in between all of that.

Lord of the Rings: Tom Bombadil Is a Huge Opportunity for The Rings of Power Season 2 (1)

The Right Time to Bring Tom Bombadil to Live-Action?

Many book fans were disappointed at the lack of Tom Bombadil in the Peter Jackson film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. From a filmmaker’s point of view, it makes no sense at all to include him in terms of plot or pacing, and even Tolkien himself was willing to have the section cut from a potential film adaptation (he read a treatment for a planned film that was never made in the end, which he hated; one of his complaints was that Tom Bombadil and Goldberry were in the film but without anything meaningful to do, and he said of Goldberry that, “she had far better disappear than make a meaningless appearance”). But for fans of the book, Bombadil is a beloved and fascinating character, and it is disappointing to see adaptation after adaptation leave him out, so they never get to enjoy him on screen.

This may be partly why The Rings of Power team have decided to include him now. Some of the show’s storytelling decisions in Sseason 1 proved controversial with some book fans, especially the extreme time compression of the story that fits thousands of years of Middle-earth history into one human lifespan. Bringing Tom Bombadil to the screen in a way that sounds like, geographical relocation aside, it will be extremely faithful to his book counterpart is perhaps something Amazon MGM Studios hope will bring some book fans back around.


Ad – content continues below

We are certainly excited to see that they do with this character. We do not yet know if he will actually interact with any Rings of Power, as the Stranger’s storyline in season 1 had not yet intersected much with the forging of the Rings at the season’s climax, but we would love to see a character completely unfazed by them if they do come into contact. And even if not, we are hoping that Bombadil will breeze in like a breath of fresh air, before dropping some wisdom on characters in need of it and reminding everyone of the beauty of world around them. And we don’t think his book-accurate costume looks ridiculous at all—bring on the blue jacket and yellow boots!

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power season 2 will premiere on Aug. 29 on Prime Video.


  • Share:
  • Share on Facebook (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on Twitter (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on Linkedin (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on email (opens in a new tab)



Comments count:0

Tags: FantasyLord Of The RingsStreamingThe Rings of Power

Lord of the Rings: Tom Bombadil Is a Huge Opportunity for The Rings of Power Season 2 (2)

Written by

Juliette Harrisson|@ClassicalJG

Juliette Harrisson is a writer and historian, and a lifelong Trekkie whose childhood heroes were JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. She runs a YouTube channel called…

Read more from Juliette Harrisson

Lord of the Rings: Tom Bombadil Is a Huge Opportunity for The Rings of Power Season 2 (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nathanael Baumbach

Last Updated:

Views: 6277

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nathanael Baumbach

Birthday: 1998-12-02

Address: Apt. 829 751 Glover View, West Orlando, IN 22436

Phone: +901025288581

Job: Internal IT Coordinator

Hobby: Gunsmithing, Motor sports, Flying, Skiing, Hooping, Lego building, Ice skating

Introduction: My name is Nathanael Baumbach, I am a fantastic, nice, victorious, brave, healthy, cute, glorious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.