Merry is certainly a hero – a Hobbit pulled from the peace of The Shire into war, fighting for kings of lands he’s never seen before. But the movie gets his shining moment wrong, wrong, wrong.

Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took holding swords looking frightened in a still from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Still from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Oh, and it should probably go without saying, but I’ma have spoilers below. If spoilers for 60-something-year-old books and 20-something-year-old movies are an issue for you, you have been warned.

But let’s start a little further back in Middle Earth’s history. We need to know more about the blades that the Hobbits are given near the start of their journey to know what went wrong, as the blades are very special indeed.

Part 1: The War with Angmar

The Barrow-Blades or “Daggers of Westernesse” were forged by weaponsmiths of Arthedain in the Third Age for the wars with Angmar (Westernesse is another name for Númenor, where the Dúnedain originated). They were enchanted with magic that would allow them to hurt the Witch King, which is really useful in a war against him. They were buried with the last prince of Cardolan, who died in the wars and was laid to rest in a barrow in the Barrow-Downs between the Old Forest and Bree. The Barrow-Downs, or Tyrn Gorthad, had existed since the First Age and was the final resting place of many of the Dúnedain and northern men. That is, until the Witch King called a bunch of evil spirits, the Barrow-wights, to inhabit them for a long, long time.

Part 2: The Book

In the book, Tom Bombadil rescues the Hobbits from the barrow they are being held in after being captured by wights, and after dispatching the Head Wight in Charge of the barrow he finds the Barrow-Blades. He tells the Hobbits of their history and, seeing as there are four daggers, each Hobbit takes one (You get a magic dagger! And you get a magic dagger!). 

Frodo’s blade broke at the Ford of Bruinen in the encounter with the Nazgûl (ring wraiths). That’s what you get for trying to be brave, Frodo. Not to worry, though – Bilbo gifts him Sting after he recovers at Rivendell.

Merry and Pippin have their blades taken from them when they are captured at Amon Hen by the Uruk-Hai. The uruks discard the blades, which are later found by Aragorn and returned to Merry and Pippin at Isengard. In his bravest moment, Merry uses his dagger to stab the Witch King, the greatest of the ring wraiths, in the knee, spelling its doom by distracting the wraith and breaking the spell that allowed the Witch King to move, letting Eowyn take the opportunity to introduce her sword to the inside of his head. “Not by the hand of man shall he fall,” indeed (thanks Glorfy 🩵). They both got a face full of the Black Breath for their troubles but were healed by Aragorn after they were found alive on the battlefield and brought to the Houses of Healing. 

Sam left his blade with Frodo after he was stung by Shelob. Sam’s dagger and Frodo’s mithril shirt were both taken by the orc Shagrat to Barad-dûr and shown to the remaining members of the fellowship by the Mouth of Sauron. Gandalf retrieves both and returns them to their rightful owners. 

Part 3: The Movie

One of the more glaring omissions of the Lord of the Rings movies is Tom Bombadil and the Barrow-Downs. Say what you want about Ol’ Tom, but he’s an absolutely fascinating character, and there are loads of fan theories out there around who or what he actually might be (here’s my favorite, although not the one I actually agree with). But I digress.

In the movie, it is Aragorn who gifts the four daggers to the Hobbits. And in the movie, Merry and Pippin’s blades are never recovered, as they’re presumed to be at the bottom of a dead and burning pile of orcs, and ain’t nobody got time to dig through that. Instead, Merry receives a sword from King Théoden at Edoras… right before Théoden tells him he can’t go to war with them. Like, my dude, why give him a sword if you don’t want him to fight? Our favorite shield-maiden Eowyn Dernhelm sneaks him onto her his horse and off they ride to the Pelennor Fields aid Gondor in battling the forces of Sauron.


It was infuriating to me when I realized that in the movie Merry doesn’t actually have his Westernesse sword with him at the battle of Pelennor Fields. He’s got some random sword from Rohan… but proceeds to hamstring the Witch King anyway even without the magical power of the enchanted weapon. WUT. How, exactly, did that work?

It would have been such a small thing for Aragorn to have found the daggers when he was tracking the Hobbits, but noooooooo. Instead we have a plot hole big enough to fly a fell beast through. 😒

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