Meriadoc Brandybuck, usually referred to as Merry, is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth world, appearing as a main character in The Lord of the Rings.
Merry was a Hobbit from the Shire. He was born in T.A. 2982 as the only child of Saradoc Brandybuck, Master of Buckland, and Esmeralda Took. This made him a first cousin of Peregrin Took, and also a more removed cousin of Frodo Baggins, both of which were also close friends to him. In the books, Merry is often described as one of the smartest of the hobbits - indeed, he is a great lover of history, cartography and seafaring.
Merry was one in the small group of Frodo's friends knowing about the One Ring and Frodo's departure for Rivendell, and the one in charge of organising said secret departure. He later became part of the Fellowship of the Ring. At Amon Hen he and Pippin were kidnapped by Saruman's Orcs. At the border of the Fangorn Forest they managed to free themselves and escape into the wood, where they met the Ent Treebeard. They went with him on the Last March of the Ents, and witnessed the destruction of Isengard. There they met Gandalf and the remaining members of the Fellowship who came with King Théoden of Rohan.
He was separated from Pippin when he went with Gandalf to Gondor. Merry remained with Théoden and became his esquire. Although Théoden intended to leave him behind when riding to the aid of Gondor, he was approached by the warrior Dernhelm who offered Merry to ride with him on his horse. At the Battle of the Pelennor Fields he saw Dernhelm, now revealed to be the King's niece Éowyn, confront the Witch-king of Angmar, leader of the Nazgûl. Merry struck the Witch-king with his Dúnedain blade forged for use against the forces of Angmar, which enabled Éowyn to make the fatal stroke and kill the Witch-king. This fit with a thousand year old foretelling, that the Witch-king would not be killed "by the hand of man": Éowyn was a woman, and Merry a Hobbit.
After the war he is made a Knight of the Mark by King Éomer, and given a small horn by Éowyn. He would also remain known in Rohan by the Rohirric name Holdwine, which he had been given by Théoden. After his return home, he played a leading role in the Scouring of the Shire. He later became known as Meriadoc the Magnificent, and succeeded his father as Master of Buckland. Merry married Estella Bolger, sister to his friend Fredegar Bolger, with whom he had at least one son. In his old age he and Pippin went back to Rohan and Gondor, were they died a short time after the year F.A. 64, upon which they were laid to rest among the Kings of Gondor in Rath Dínen.
- "There seemed to be some understanding between Dernhelm and Elfhelm, the Marshal who commanded the éored in which they were riding. He and all his men ignored Merry and pretended not to hear if he spoke. He might have been just another bag that Dernhelm was carrying." - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Book V, Chapter 5 "The Ride of the Rohirrim".
- '...the Witch-king turned to flight and passed into the shadows. [...] but Glorfindel, looking into the gathering dark, said: "Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall."' - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, I, iv Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion
- "1484 [...] Then he and Thain Peregrin went to Gondor and passed what short years were left to them in that realm, until they died and were laid in Rath Dínen among the great of Gondor. [...] 1541 [...] It is said that the beds of Meriadoc and Peregrin were set beside the bed of the great king." - J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B The Tale of Years