Barliman Butterbur owned the Prancing Pony for an unknown period of time in the late Third Age. He was fond of Hobbits and had two hobbit employees: Bob, who worked in the stables, and Nob, a servant. He knew Gandalf very well as he frequently came and stayed at the inn from time to time over the years. During the War of the Ring, he forgot to send Gandalf's letter to Frodo, leaving Frodo uncertain as to Gandalf's fate and causing him to start his journey much later than the letter indicated. He did not remember it until Frodo and his companions arrived to stay at the inn, and even then it was long before the connection was made.
When Gandalf found out he threatened to burn up Butterbur but forgave him in light of his memory problems. He did, however, remember in time to produce Strider's credentials. Gandalf then blesses his beer for seven years after he learns that Frodo and companions are alive and well and with Strider.
In The Return of the King after the War of the Ring, Butterbur was amazed to learn that Strider, a former patron of his inn and for whom he thought was a mere Ranger from out of the wild, had become a King. When the hobbits visit The Prancing Pony in the third book, Nob went home after dark everyday, which Butterbur kept on forgetting.
Barliman was a good-hearted fat man but notorious for his very bad memory, "One thing drives out another" he says.
Portrayal in Adaptations Edit
Butterbur appears in both Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson's film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, but in both adaptations most of his scenes, including the references to Gandalf's letter, are cut. Alan Tilvern voiced Butterbur (credited as "Innkeeper") in the animated film, while David Weatherley played him in Jackson's live-action film. James Grout played Butterbur in BBC Radio's 1981 serialisation of The Lord of the Rings.
Butterbur also appeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game) and The Lord of the Rings Online as non-playable characters.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, "Strider"
- The Complete Guide to Middle-earth