3. The secret identity of Tom Bombadil

tom bombadil

One of the most highly-debated mysteries in Tolkien lore revolves around its most curious inhabitant: Tom Bombadil, the strange impish figure who the Fellowship meets up with early on in their adventure. Though he seems to be obscenely powerful, Tom Bombadil ultimately serves no greater purpose for the story, which is why it was understandable when the movies cut out the character altogether

No one really knows what Tom Bombadil's deal is. He appears to be ancient, claiming to have been around for "the first acorn" and "the first raindrop." Tolkien kept Bombadil's true nature intentionally vague, which has only further spurred speculation. Some people think that Tom Bombadil is a Valar, one of God's first creations. Others think that Tom Bombadil is God (aka Eru Illuvatar), but Tolkien kinda shut that one down, explaining that there is no physical representation of God anywhere in his stories.

Maybe the wackiest theory out there: Tom Bombadil is none other than the Witch King.

witch king

It's really silly, but the information put forth is actually quite convincing. See, Tom Bombadil is one of but a few characters that can actually see Frodo while he's wearing the ring -- the others being the ringwraiths who are in the spirit world. And if Bombadil were to put on the ring, it would have no effect, again just like the ringwraiths.

There are lots of little cues during the his conversation with the heroes. Bombadil had "a glint in his eyes when he heard of the Riders," as though hearing his true identity gave him an involuntary nervous twitch. And then there was the part where the gang was set upon by some zombie barrow wights, and Tom Bombadil shooed them away without much effort, like someone who has experience with the ways of the undead.

Of course, if he's been lying all this time, someone like Elrond would know that Bombadil isn't as "old as the trees and rivers," as he claims. But this is also the same Elrond who refused to hand the ring over to Bombadil. It's a silly idea, but then again, so is virtually every other theory about Bombadil's true nature. It's one of those mysteries that was never meant to be solved. Tolkien is no longer around to correct us, but even if he was, he'd probably still be letting us sort it out amongst ourselves.


2. Gollum killed Frodo's parents

frodo gollum

Though it's not featured in a big way in the films, the books go into a little more detail about the death of Frodo's parents. Drogo and Primula Baggins drowning during a freak boating accident is tragic, but storywise, it gives Frodo less of a reason to be tied down to the Shire. But one fan theory suggests there's a darker undercurrent to this story, that Frodo's parents were in fact murdered. The culprit: Gollum.

We all know that creepazoid is capable of murder. It's arguably the first thing Smeagol ever did as Gollum.

gollum kills

After the events of the Hobbit, Gollum set about finding the his precious stolen ring. Problem was, Gollum really only had two things to go on when it came to finding the ring: "Baggins" and "Shire." It's not out of the question that he might come across the Brandywine River on his quest, and he would certainly kill any Bagginses he found there. The theory is propped up by the questionable circumstances of the deaths

'I've heard they went on the water after dinner in the moonlight,' said Old Noakes; 'and it was Drogo's weight as sunk the boat.' 'And I heard she pushed him in, and he pulled her in after him.' said Sandyman, the Hobbiton miller. 'You shouldn't listen to all you hear, Sandyman.' said the gaffer, who did not much like the miller. 'There isn't no call to go talking of pushing and pulling. Boats are quite tricky enough for those that sit still without looking further for the cause of trouble.'

There seems to be a question among the Hobbits as to just how Frodo's parents passed. Whatever the case, both Drogo and Primula were pretty experienced boaters, so it's more than a little surprising that they would just fall in the water and die. No, it makes more sense that an angry Gollum murdered them straight out, giving up on his mission once he found nothing on their person. 

The only real damper on this theory is Gandalf, who claims that Gollum never made it to the Brandywine

"Now we come to it. I think Gollum tried to. He set out and came back westward, as far as the Great River. But then he turned aside. He was not daunted by the distance, I am sure. No, something else drew him away. So my friends think, those that hunted him for me."

That would seem to put an end to this theory, but put yourself in Gandalf's old man shoes for a minute. You're talking to Frodo, the guy who is going to lug the world's most dangerous weapon across a continent, and he's pretty fragile as it is. Now imagine if Gandalf decided to tell Frodo that the same guy who guides him through Mordor is the one that deprived him of his parents -- he'd undoubtedly lose himself to rage at some point, and as a result succumb to the power of the ring itself. If Gandalf hadn't pulled off an Obi-Wan-tier lie, our story would be over before it began. To be fair, at least that one ending is preferable to like seventy.