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Lord of the Rings: Every Theory About Who Tom Bombadil Is

Though he’s not mentioned in The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, Tolkien’s world is presided over by a God known as Eru. This primordial entity shares many traits with the monotheistic gods of the real world, and was responsible for creating all life with the help of his first children, the Ainur. Predictably, Eru doesn’t involve himself in the day-to-day events of the world. Despite his omniscience, Eru only intervenes directly on a handful of occasions throughout Tolkien’s entire history – one example (potentially) being Gollum tripping in Mount Doom.

Since Tolkien’s Eru is as mysterious as Tom Bombadil, it’s only natural that fans would connect the two. Bombadil boasts seemingly unlimited power, and a deep connection to nature. The character also aids Frodo without directly joining his quest, which fits Eru’s detached relationship with Middle-earth. Tom describes himself as the “eldest” who remembers the “first raindrop,” and the ancient elf Elrond labels him as “fatherless,” which some have interpreted as meaning he was the first being in existence – the fabled Eru. Unfortunately, Tolkien rejected the notion that Eru might have a physical presence in Middle-earth, but theories of Tom Bombadil’s divine nature have continued nonetheless.

Tom Bombadil Is One Of The Ainur

If Tom Bombadil isn’t Eru himself, he could be one of the Valar – who are to Eru what archangels are to God. The Valar dwell in the Undying Lands, watching over the world of men and taking action when necessary, and while Eru isn’t known to walk among his creations freely, the Valar certainly do. These beings loved the creations of their father, and gravitated towards a specific element of nature for which they were responsible. Some of the Ainur befriended elves in the distant past, and took physical forms in order to approach the children of Eru. Since Tom Bombadil’s power is restricted to the Old Forest, he could be a Valar, as both possess influence over aspects of nature. Some Valar are more proactive than others, which may explain Tom’s power being limited to his borders, and the Valar were also known to marry, which accounts for Goldberry’s presence better than if Tom were Eru.

More likely than a Valar, Bombadil may also be a Maia – a less powerful being, comparable to an angel. Since the Maiar were far greater in number than the Valar, Bombadil could more easily escape to the Old Forest for a quiet life, and plenty of Maia were left unnamed by Tolkien, giving some narrative wiggle-room. Interestingly, Tom Bombadil’s powers appear somewhat similar to those of Melian, a Maia who featured in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.

Tom Bombadil Is A Wizard

In The Lord of the Rings, a wizard is a Maia incarnated in human form. Tolkien’s known wizards are comprised of Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast and two blue wizards who are only mentioned in passing. Since Bombadil wears a blue coat and little is known about the movements of the blue wizards, some fans speculate that he could be one of these absent sorcerers in disguise, though this is highly unlikely due to Tom residing in Middle-earth long before the wizards arrived. Alternatively, Bombadil could be another Maia-turned-wizard from an earlier age, whose existence was not widely known. With that said, Tom’s resistance to the Ring perhaps dispels any notion of him being a wizard. Both Gandalf and Saruman were tainted by Sauron’s influence, but Bombadil was unmoved by dark power, suggesting his true form ranks higher than wizard. Tom Bombadil’s powers also seem to eclipse what the likes of Gandalf the Grey are capable of.

Tom Bombadil Is The Embodiment Of Middle-earth/Father Time

A more out-of-the-box theory suggests Tom Bombadil is a physical embodiment of the world itself. Tom’s abilities are largely based around nature. The living world responds to Tom’s commands – a power that even the Ainur don’t possess. Bombadil also remains neutral in the War of the Ring, and it could be said that his only concern is preserving the natural order. Moreover, The Lord of the Rings suggests that Tom’s power only extends as far as the Old Forest, where nature is particularly bountiful. In a town like Bree or the desolate landscape of Mordor, Bombadil’s influence would likely fade, which wouldn’t be a problem if he were Eru or one of the Ainur. A major clue in this theory comes during the Council of Elrond, as the concerned attendees contemplate using Tom as the Ring-bearer for the journey to Mordor. During the discussion, Galdor the elf states “the power to defy our enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the earth itself,” which hints that Tom and nature are one and the same.

For similar reasons, some have suggested Tom Bombadil could be the manifestation of time due to his carefree personality, immortality and command of nature. The “eldest” and “fatherless” adjectives support this theory, as does Tom’s resistance to the One Ring. The passage of time rules over all things, diabolical magic rings included.

Tom Bombadil Is The Song Of The Ainur

Tolkien’s Genesis story is told in The Silmarillion, in which Eru and his host create a piece of music that weaves the tapestry of all time and existence. It has been theorized that Tom Bombadil is the physical representation of this music in Middle-earth. This would make sense as Radagast the Brown already represents nature in Lord of the Rings. Moreover, Tom’s love of song is used as evidence in this argument, as the character exerts his power over other creatures through music, almost singing them into submission. If Tom were indeed the song of creation, this would effectively explain his status as the first ancient living being in a land full of ancient living beings. The song of creation simply is, with no will or mind of its own, merely flowing with the passage of existence. This perfectly describes Tom’s personality, and his lack of interest in the battle between good and evil.

Tom Bombadil Is “The Reader”

Several meta theories exist arguing that Tom Bombadil is the literary depiction of Tolkien himself (which the author has denied), one of Tolkien’s friends (somewhat tenuous) or, more plausibly, the reader. The Fellowship of the Ring‘s Tom Bombadil chapters move the tale of the One Ring from a light-hearted jaunt through a fantasy world to a more serious journey of death, darkness, and corruption. Tom’s magical house is the final refuge for Frodo and his fellow Hobbits before they reach Bree and things get exponentially more serious. If Tom Bombadil were the reader, he might depict this very move from the childish to the mature. Like the reader, Tom supports Frodo, but can’t do his job for him, and is limited to watching the events of Middle-earth from a place of relative safety, whether that be the Old Forest, or a comfy chair in the 21st century.

Tom Bombadil Is A Being Unto Himself

Despite the plethora of Tom Bombadil theories out there, it’s possible that there is no hidden identity behind the character – that Tom Bombadil is simply an entity unto himself, unlike anything else within Tolkien’s world. The great Elrond, who lived in the Second Age, suggests as much when he refers to Tom as a “strange creature.” Elrond’s knowledge of the Ainur suggests he would’ve recognized Bombadil if he were one of them, so it’s strange that even the wise old elf can’t guess at Bombadil’s nature. Tolkien is known for his commitment to minute detail, from maps and family trees to languages and dates, so it’s odd that the nature of Tom Bombadil would go entirely unexplained in the iconic author’s canon. The lack of a straight answer strongly suggests there is no answer. Part of Tom Bombadil’s appeal in The Fellowship of the Ring is his irreverent, enigmatic nature, fading out of the story as easily as he slips in. With this in mind, Tom Bombadil is possibly an unexplained, inimitable curiosity in the Lord of the Rings world.

Could Tom Bombadil Be In Rings Of Power?

Lord of the Rings’ The Rings of Power could provide more clues regarding Tom Bombadil’s true identity or nature. Set thousands of years before the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Rings of Power happens in the Second Age, and will be focused around the creation of the twenty Rings of Power, including the One Ring. As The Rings of Power is expected to take liberties with the source material, there’s a real chance that Tom Bombadil could make an appearance in the Amazon series. This would be a highly risky move for showrunners, as the mystery surrounding the question of Tom Bombadil’s true identity really is a major part of the character’s appeal. Long-time fans might not take kindly to Amazon shaping the lore of one of classic fantasy’s most beloved characters. On the other hand, while fans hope that The Rings of Power sticks to what’s in The Silmarillion, deviating from the source material could enable The Rings of Power‘s timeline to contribute compelling connections between Tom Bombadil and Middle-earth’s twenty magical rings.

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Lord of the Rings: Every Theory About Who Tom Bombadil Is

Though he’s not mentioned in The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, Tolkien’s world is presided over by a God known as Eru. This primordial entity shares many traits with the monotheistic gods of the real world, and was responsible for creating all life with the help of his first children, the Ainur. Predictably, Eru doesn’t involve himself in the day-to-day events of the world. Despite his omniscience, Eru only intervenes directly on a handful of occasions throughout Tolkien’s entire history – one example (potentially) being Gollum tripping in Mount Doom.
Since Tolkien’s Eru is as mysterious as Tom Bombadil, it’s only natural that fans would connect the two. Bombadil boasts seemingly unlimited power, and a deep connection to nature. The character also aids Frodo without directly joining his quest, which fits Eru’s detached relationship with Middle-earth. Tom describes himself as the “eldest” who remembers the “first raindrop,” and the ancient elf Elrond labels him as “fatherless,” which some have interpreted as meaning he was the first being in existence – the fabled Eru. Unfortunately, Tolkien rejected the notion that Eru might have a physical presence in Middle-earth, but theories of Tom Bombadil’s divine nature have continued nonetheless.
Tom Bombadil Is One Of The Ainur

If Tom Bombadil isn’t Eru himself, he could be one of the Valar – who are to Eru what archangels are to God. The Valar dwell in the Undying Lands, watching over the world of men and taking action when necessary, and while Eru isn’t known to walk among his creations freely, the Valar certainly do. These beings loved the creations of their father, and gravitated towards a specific element of nature for which they were responsible. Some of the Ainur befriended elves in the distant past, and took physical forms in order to approach the children of Eru. Since Tom Bombadil’s power is restricted to the Old Forest, he could be a Valar, as both possess influence over aspects of nature. Some Valar are more proactive than others, which may explain Tom’s power being limited to his borders, and the Valar were also known to marry, which accounts for Goldberry’s presence better than if Tom were Eru.
More likely than a Valar, Bombadil may also be a Maia – a less powerful being, comparable to an angel. Since the Maiar were far greater in number than the Valar, Bombadil could more easily escape to the Old Forest for a quiet life, and plenty of Maia were left unnamed by Tolkien, giving some narrative wiggle-room. Interestingly, Tom Bombadil’s powers appear somewhat similar to those of Melian, a Maia who featured in Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.
Tom Bombadil Is A Wizard

In The Lord of the Rings, a wizard is a Maia incarnated in human form. Tolkien’s known wizards are comprised of Gandalf, Saruman, Radagast and two blue wizards who are only mentioned in passing. Since Bombadil wears a blue coat and little is known about the movements of the blue wizards, some fans speculate that he could be one of these absent sorcerers in disguise, though this is highly unlikely due to Tom residing in Middle-earth long before the wizards arrived. Alternatively, Bombadil could be another Maia-turned-wizard from an earlier age, whose existence was not widely known. With that said, Tom’s resistance to the Ring perhaps dispels any notion of him being a wizard. Both Gandalf and Saruman were tainted by Sauron’s influence, but Bombadil was unmoved by dark power, suggesting his true form ranks higher than wizard. Tom Bombadil’s powers also seem to eclipse what the likes of Gandalf the Grey are capable of.
Tom Bombadil Is The Embodiment Of Middle-earth/Father Time

A more out-of-the-box theory suggests Tom Bombadil is a physical embodiment of the world itself. Tom’s abilities are largely based around nature. The living world responds to Tom’s commands – a power that even the Ainur don’t possess. Bombadil also remains neutral in the War of the Ring, and it could be said that his only concern is preserving the natural order. Moreover, The Lord of the Rings suggests that Tom’s power only extends as far as the Old Forest, where nature is particularly bountiful. In a town like Bree or the desolate landscape of Mordor, Bombadil’s influence would likely fade, which wouldn’t be a problem if he were Eru or one of the Ainur. A major clue in this theory comes during the Council of Elrond, as the concerned attendees contemplate using Tom as the Ring-bearer for the journey to Mordor. During the discussion, Galdor the elf states “the power to defy our enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the earth itself,” which hints that Tom and nature are one and the same.
For similar reasons, some have suggested Tom Bombadil could be the manifestation of time due to his carefree personality, immortality and command of nature. The “eldest” and “fatherless” adjectives support this theory, as does Tom’s resistance to the One Ring. The passage of time rules over all things, diabolical magic rings included.
Tom Bombadil Is The Song Of The Ainur

Tolkien’s Genesis story is told in The Silmarillion, in which Eru and his host create a piece of music that weaves the tapestry of all time and existence. It has been theorized that Tom Bombadil is the physical representation of this music in Middle-earth. This would make sense as Radagast the Brown already represents nature in Lord of the Rings. Moreover, Tom’s love of song is used as evidence in this argument, as the character exerts his power over other creatures through music, almost singing them into submission. If Tom were indeed the song of creation, this would effectively explain his status as the first ancient living being in a land full of ancient living beings. The song of creation simply is, with no will or mind of its own, merely flowing with the passage of existence. This perfectly describes Tom’s personality, and his lack of interest in the battle between good and evil.
Tom Bombadil Is “The Reader”

Several meta theories exist arguing that Tom Bombadil is the literary depiction of Tolkien himself (which the author has denied), one of Tolkien’s friends (somewhat tenuous) or, more plausibly, the reader. The Fellowship of the Ring‘s Tom Bombadil chapters move the tale of the One Ring from a light-hearted jaunt through a fantasy world to a more serious journey of death, darkness, and corruption. Tom’s magical house is the final refuge for Frodo and his fellow Hobbits before they reach Bree and things get exponentially more serious. If Tom Bombadil were the reader, he might depict this very move from the childish to the mature. Like the reader, Tom supports Frodo, but can’t do his job for him, and is limited to watching the events of Middle-earth from a place of relative safety, whether that be the Old Forest, or a comfy chair in the 21st century.
Tom Bombadil Is A Being Unto Himself

Despite the plethora of Tom Bombadil theories out there, it’s possible that there is no hidden identity behind the character – that Tom Bombadil is simply an entity unto himself, unlike anything else within Tolkien’s world. The great Elrond, who lived in the Second Age, suggests as much when he refers to Tom as a “strange creature.” Elrond’s knowledge of the Ainur suggests he would’ve recognized Bombadil if he were one of them, so it’s strange that even the wise old elf can’t guess at Bombadil’s nature. Tolkien is known for his commitment to minute detail, from maps and family trees to languages and dates, so it’s odd that the nature of Tom Bombadil would go entirely unexplained in the iconic author’s canon. The lack of a straight answer strongly suggests there is no answer. Part of Tom Bombadil’s appeal in The Fellowship of the Ring is his irreverent, enigmatic nature, fading out of the story as easily as he slips in. With this in mind, Tom Bombadil is possibly an unexplained, inimitable curiosity in the Lord of the Rings world.
Could Tom Bombadil Be In Rings Of Power?

Lord of the Rings’ The Rings of Power could provide more clues regarding Tom Bombadil’s true identity or nature. Set thousands of years before the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Rings of Power happens in the Second Age, and will be focused around the creation of the twenty Rings of Power, including the One Ring. As The Rings of Power is expected to take liberties with the source material, there’s a real chance that Tom Bombadil could make an appearance in the Amazon series. This would be a highly risky move for showrunners, as the mystery surrounding the question of Tom Bombadil’s true identity really is a major part of the character’s appeal. Long-time fans might not take kindly to Amazon shaping the lore of one of classic fantasy’s most beloved characters. On the other hand, while fans hope that The Rings of Power sticks to what’s in The Silmarillion, deviating from the source material could enable The Rings of Power‘s timeline to contribute compelling connections between Tom Bombadil and Middle-earth’s twenty magical rings.

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