Merry and Pippin are some of the most popular characters to come from the expansive Lord of the Rings franchise. Providing some much-needed comic relief in times of trouble, the mischievous pair are a welcome addition to the story and a staple of the property.
Though everybody who’s familiar with the series knows of Pippin and Merry, there is much that the more casual fans would be shocked to hear. For instance, did you realize the pair are record breakers? Do you know what came of them when the Lord of the Rings series came to an end, or did you leave them behind without thinking of their history? The two are actually a lot more interesting than you would have ever imagined!
So without further ado, let’s go through some of those lesser-known facts. Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Merry And Pippin.
15. They became some of the tallest Hobbits in history
While in Fangorn Forest, Merry and Pippin drink heartily from Treebeard’s Ent-draught which makes them both grow taller over time. While in the movie, the two drink water from a spring, in the books the decision to gulp down the mystical drink ends up with Merry and Pippin making history. At four and a half feet tall, they become the tallest Hobbits in the history of the Shire, surpassing Pippin’s ancestor Bullroarer Took who had previously held the title at four feet and five inches.
Though not much is known about the magical properties of Ent-Draught, Gimli did hint as to its mysterious workings in the pages of The Return of the King. He said: “Mortals cannot go drinking ent-draughts and expect no more to come of them than of a pot of beer.” Made with river-water but given unique flavorings, the drink smells of a distant wood brought from afar by a cool night breeze; at least if we’re to believe Merry and Pippin.
14. Merry was almost called Marmaduke
Tolkien went through quite the writing process for his Lord of the Rings series, as one would imagine for something so expansive and detailed. Of course with that comes a huge number of different drafts, and in recent years it’s come to light that Meriadoc Brandybuck hasn’t always gone by the same name. In fact, in early drafts his name was Drogo Took. Later he would be renamed Vigo, with the name Drogo then instead assigned to Frodo Baggins’ father. Later still, Vigo would be changed to Marmaduke, but that name didn’t last long either before Tolkien finally settled on Meriadoc Brandybuck.
Vigo would of course be a name that stuck with the franchise, but in an utterly different way and by a stroke of coincidence. Actor Viggo Mortensen stepped into the role of Aragorn, the eventual King of Gondor, who helped to unite the kingdom with that of Andor for the first time since Isildur’s reign.
13. The name “Peregrin” was derived from the Latin word for pilgrim, “peregrinus”
As revealed in the book An Introduction to Elvish (written by Jim Allan), the name Peregrin was actually derived from the Latin word for pilgrim, ‘peregrinus’. More elaborate definitions of the name ‘Peregrine’ (with the added ‘e’) say the word means somebody from abroad, whether they be a foreigner, traveler or pilgrim. Upon learning its meaning, it’s clear why the name was chosen for the Hobbit by Tolkien; somebody now famous for always being very detailed and particular when it came to naming his characters.
At its very core, the English noun ‘pilgrim’ is “a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons” – and after reading about and seeing the events that take place throughout the Lord of the Rings series, the moniker was one that was clearly chosen very wisely! It’s hard to calculate exactly how far the group in the series have journeyed, and though the adventure the Fellowship went on wasn’t one primarily forced due to religion or spirituality, Pippin and the rest of the group were at their hearts a group of pilgrims with one main ambition; ridding the world of its most dangerous evil.
12. Pippin’s son married Samwise Gamgee’s daughter
Remaining close friends for the years that came after their adventures, the four Hobbits integral to the Lord of the Rings story formed an unbreakable bond, but none as close as the generation that came after them. When Pippin’s son Faramir – named after Pippin’s good friend and the Prince of Ithilien – met the third daughter of Samwise Gamgee, Goldilocks Gardner, the pair fell in love and got married, cementing the two family’s close ties in a way that their parents had never been able to. It’s a heart-warming story, but unfortunately not one we know much else about.
If Peter Jackson or somebody else who could do a sequel justice is looking for a jumping pad for inspiration, this could be exactly what they need. Without so much lore already set in stone, there’s a lot of wiggle room for various scenarios that could play out. Not every Lord of the Rings tale needs a Sauron!
11. Merry married Estella Bolger
Love was also in the air for Merry when the Lord of the Rings tale came to an end, with the Hobbit spending much of his days before his life in Gondor married to Estella Bolger of the Shire.
Not much is known about Estella, but for those who have incredible memories, her sister was Fredegar ‘Fatty’ Bolger; the companion that Merry, Pippin, Frodo and Sam left behind in Crickhollow at the start of The Fellowship of the Ring. Bearing at least one son for Merry, she is expected to have died at some point before Merry left to live his final years in Gondor.
Her mother’s maiden name was Rosamunda Took and yes, that does mean she was in some way a close relation of Pippin! Of course, the Took family tree is an increasingly complicated one, with Gerontius Took and Adamanta Chubb parenting (at least) 12 children, many of whom then started their own families before inadvertently taking over the Shire and becoming one of the most powerful families around. What’s that catchphrase about ‘keeping it in the family’?
10. Pippin became the 32nd Thain of the Shire
Military leaders of the Shire have traditionally been referred to “Thain of the Shire,” and this title was eventually bestowed upon Pippin himself. Pippin claimed the mantle in the Fourth Age, when he was also granted the title of Counsellor of the North-Kingdom. Clearly respected by his peers, it was a position he held for 50 years before retirement, but the title is one that remained in the family as his son, Faramir Took became the 33rd Thain after his father left for Gondor.
In fact, ever since Isumbras Took became the 13th Thain of the Shire, taking the monopoly away from the Oldbuck family. the mantle remained within the Took family forever more. That line of Thains would go on into the Fourth Age of Arda, until the end of the Shire; an event which isn’t detailed too greatly in any form and would again serve as great inspiration for any future, original spin-off.
9. Merry became the Master of Buckland
Not one to be outdone, Merry would become the head of the Brandybuck family, taking the official title of the Master of Buckland. The position would see whoever sat in it become one of the officials of the Shire, but like the Thain (which Merry enjoyed) and the Warden of Westmarch, Merry would only gain nominal authority through the role.
Founded by Gordenhad Brandybuck, whoever served as the Master of Buckland would be tasked with also looking after the Brandwine into the Marish of the Eastfarthing, thanks to the close proximity of the locations and the amount of business that was conducted between the two areas.
It’s hard to imagine the Hobbit in such a powerful position when we first meet him in Fellowship of the Ring, but during and after the events of Return of the King, it’s clear the incredible evolution that he and his fellow comrades have gone through. Matured and cultured, we imagine he did a fine job.
8. Their Barrow-downs tomb daggers were made during the war against Angmar
Also known as the Daggers of Westernesse, the daggers wielded by Pippin and Merry were actually originally made during the war against Angmar by the Dunedain of Cardolan. Created and enchanted with the power to harm the Witch King of Angmar, they were one of the only weapons that could do harm to the evil entity. Unfortunately the Witch King would later make a return, when the daggers were locked away in the tomb of the last prince of the realm.
Fortunately for our Hobbits, when they were captured by a wight they happened upon a stroke of luck, finding the daggers in the Barrow-downs after being imprisoned in the tomb where they remained. Also owned by Frodo and Sam (before Frodo’s dagger was broken at the Ford of Bruinen by the Witch King himself), they appeared leaf-shaped, longer than the usual dagger and showcased a gorgeous serpent-form design in both red and gold.
7. Merry was aware of the Ring’s existence long before the LOTR journey began
Merry has always been known as a Hobbit who got up to no good before the events of Lord of the Rings. Cheeky and unafraid to get his hands dirty to find out the local gossip doing the rounds at the Shire, he was actually made aware of the One Ring’s existence long before his journey started in The Fellowship of the Ring.
One day he saw Bilbo slip on the piece of jewellery before ‘disappearing’, and so made it his mission to find out exactly why. Later secretly getting his hands on and reading a part of Bilbo’s journal – which documented everything that went on in the series The Hobbit – he found out what was going on, but seemed to keep it to himself. Then again, even if he had opened his mouth and shared the information with those closest to him, who would believe such a story?
6. Pippin was assumed to be important and powerful due to his informal conversations
Pippin earned himself a nickname while in Minas Tirith; Ernil I Pheriannath, which roughly translates to Prince of the Halflings. Assumed by all there to be one of the most important and powerful beings within the Fellowship, Pippin would gain instant respect simply because of the informal conversations he held with King Denethor and Gandalf. Little did they know that he was talking to them without the respect they thought the figureheads deserved simply because of his laid back personality and approach to life in general!
In fact, it wouldn’t take long for rumors about this strangely confident Hobbit to do the rounds, with the people of the city talking about how he may be there to offer allegiance to Gondor, along with 5,000 Hobbits to work in defense of the city. Able to talk in a familiar form with anybody simply because of the peculiarity of the Hobbitish dialect, it’s unclear if Pippin ever learned exactly how much power he could have wielded during his time in Minas Tirith.
5. Merry was presented The Horn of Rohan
Also known as the Horn of the Mark, the Horn of Rohan was a gift given to Merry from Eomer and Eowyn when the Hobbit was leaving Rohan to deal with the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
The ancient dwarven-made horn was silver, engraved with horsemen riding in a line from the tip to the mouth. The runes embowed within it gave the person blowing it the ability to bring their enemies fear and their friends joy, allowing Merry to rouse his friends whenever he needed them with just one blow.
Following the War of the Ring, Merry used the horn to bring the Hobbits of Bywater to Frodo, Sam, Pippin and himself. When the four went to visit Lotho Sackville-Baggins in Hobbiton it was also used, and thereafter it would be blown on every November 2; the anniversary of its first use in the Shire. There it would mark a celebration, followed by feasting and bonfires in Buckland.
4. Pippin was still a child when in the Fellowship of the Ring
Not many people realize this, but Hobbits only consider themselves adults once they’ve turned 33-years-old. This means that when Pippin first joined the Fellowship of the Ring at 28-years-old, he was still considered a child! Quite an odd adventure to send a child on who was widely renowned as a fool, but Gandalf the Grey was so convinced by the young Halfling that he did so anyway.
Despite bringing ‘fun and games’ to the trip as part of the Fellowship, Pippin did at times realize the scale and importance of the journey he was on. At one point he even doubted his own importance, noting that “there is not enough of the breed of Bandobras the Bullroarer in me”, but throughout his time he of course proved that was good enough to be a part of the life-changing adventure. In fact, he was one of the integral parts to ensure its success.
3. Merry wrote the book ‘Old Words and Names in the Shire’
Merry turned his attentions to writing after the War of the Ring, writing his first (and as far as we know only) book, Old Words and Names in the Shire. Recognizing words in Rohan’s language during his travels to different lands, the piece was likely inspired by his different adventures and the intel he gained during them. Collecting all of his knowledge together, this would probably prove to be one of the most useful musings of a Hobbit in existence.
Unfortunately, J.R.R. Tolkien never made the book a reality by bringing it to fans, so for now we’ll just have to wonder exactly what was put down in its pages. With close confidante Pippin known to have one of the most extensive libraries available to Hobbits after the War of the Ring, there are likely a fair few copies waiting for any eager Hobbits to read there!
2. Pippin would have died if it wasn’t for Gimli
Pippin would in his adventures become the only Hobbit taking part in the assault of the Black Gate of Mordor during its final parley with the Mouth of Sauron, becoming an official soldier of Gondor. Alongside members of all races including the Elves, Dwarves and Humans who opposed Sauron, he would do battle with a nasty troll officer whom he swiftly slayed, using his newly-learned set of fighting skills. Unfortunately for the Hobbit, the dying troll fell on top of him, knocking him unconscious. The troll would have likely smothered him to death if he wasn’t found by a certain other member of the Fellowship before the battle drew to a close…
Gimli was that savior, recognizing the Hobbit’s hairy and unusually large feet beneath the troll before dragging him out of the battle.
It’s worth noting that in Tolkien’s original text, Pippin actually died during the Battle of the Black Gates. C.S. Lewis was the man who pled with the author to let Pippin live, and so this is why Gimli’s heroic save was brought to the story.
1. The pair were laid to rest together in Gondor alongside Aragorn
When the two did eventually pass away, as all of us must, they were laid to rest together in Gondor alongside Aragorn, proving that even in death they would remain in each other’s company. This was revealed as part of the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, in an entry named Later Events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien really went above and beyond when it came to fleshing out his characters.
Pippin died at 95-years-old, though not much is known about the reasons why, so we must assume it was due to his age. Merry, meanwhile, managed to reach the ripe old age of 103 before passing away, but again not much is known about his death. Both died in Rohan and Gondor, and looking back at all of the trials and tribulations they went through during their adventures, it’s a wonder they managed to live out the rest of their days peacefully!
Though the Lord of the Rings story has seen its end, we did discover towards the end of 2016 that Downton Abbey director James Strong was working on a biopic of J.R.R. Tolkien. We’ll keep you updated on that project, titled Middle Earth, as more information comes in.
In the meantime, let us know if you’ve got any more Pippin and Merry trivia to share in the comments!