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Villain Overview


You cannot hide. I see you. There is no life in the Void. Only death.
~ Sauron to Frodo when he puts the One Ring on.
One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them; One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
~ The one ring inscription

Sauron, once a Maiar known as Mairon, is the main antagonist of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings, the secondary antagonist of mythopoeic novel, The Silmarillion, a supporting antagonist in The Children of Húrin, the Bigger Bad of The Hobbit, the secondary antagonist of The History of Middle-earth, and ultimately, the secondary antagonist of the Middle-earth legendarium (with Morgoth as the main villain) and the main antagonist of the Middle-earth film saga.

He is the titular main antagonist of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, serving as the main antagonist of the 2001 BAFTA winning film, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the secondary antagonist and Bigger Bad of the 2002 highly-acclaimed film, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and once again, the main antagonist of the 2003 Best Picture winning film, The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King.

He is also one of the main antagonists of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy, along with Smaug and his chieftain Azog, serving as a supporting antagonist in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and the secondary antagonist of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. Nevertheless, Sauron serves as the Bigger Bad of the entire The Hobbit film trilogy since he was the one behind Azog's crimes and even made a pact with Smaug.

Sauron was a fallen Maia, the Dark Lord of Mordor for the Second and Third Age, the Necromancer of Dol Guldur, the creator of the One Ring, and a former lieutenant of the fallen Valar, Morgoth, in the First Age.

During the First Age, Sauron served under Morgoth, but after his master's "banishment", Sauron then took up the mantle and title of Dark Lord, creating the One Ring to use as a tool for enslaving the free peoples of Middle-earth during the Second and Third Age.

At the end of the Second Age, a Last Alliance of Men and Elves marched upon Mordor to defeat Sauron and his armies. The Alliance was victorious and Sauron was physically destroyed by Isildur, after killing his father King Elendil the Tall. Isildur took the One Ring, only to later be killed by Orcs.

Sauron was not spiritually destroyed and took control of the abandoned fortress Dol Guldur disgised as a Necromancer in order to regain his former strength and summon his Ringwraiths to him, only to be vanquished by the White Council, sending him fleeing to the East.

Sauron then reclaimed his power over Mordor, taking the Form of a Great Eye, turning Saruman to his side and sending armies to conquer all of Middle-Earth. However, the One Ring was destroyed and thrown into the fires of Mount Doom by Frodo Baggins, destroying the Dark Lord Sauron as well and sending his armies fleeing and Mordor collapsing, finally freeing the peoples of Middle-Earth from Sauron's cruelty.

In the live action adaptations by Sir Peter Jackson, Sauron was portrayed and played by Sala Baker and voiced by the late Alan Howard in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and played by Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hobbit trilogy (who also played Smaug in the same trilogy).

Games

Lego Game The Lord of the Rings

Sauron also appeared in the new 2012 Lego Game: Lego The Lord of the Rings.

How to unlock Sauron as a playable character in the game, there will be a bonus level where the player gets to play as Sauron and his messenger, Mouth of Sauron.

After getting 1,000,000 studs (which is the only way to finish the bonus level), the level will be completed and then your reward will be to unlock the playable characters: Mouth of Sauron and Sauron.

Lego Game The Hobbit

Sauron is also featured in the 2014 Lego video game of The Hobbit as well, appearing as a collectable minifigure in both fiery form and necromancer form.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Sauron appears as one of two main antagonists, along with the Black Hand, in Middle-earth: Shadows of Mordor.

Personality and Characteristics

Despite being the title character of The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is notable in that he never directly appears during the events of the novel. Nowhere is any detailed description given of what he looks like, other than in vague terms.

However, in The Silmarillion, Sauron is described as being a shape changer, and took many forms, including that of a serpent, a vampire, and a great wolf. After Morgoth's fall, Sauron appeared in fair form as "Annatar", the Lord of Gifts, and maintained this appearance until the Fall of Numenor, in which he was unable to ever take fair form ever again. The History of Middle-earth include a passage describing (again, vaguely) how the Numenoreans saw him: "Upon that ship which was cast highest and stood dry upon a hill there was a man, but greater than any even of the race of Numenor in stature... And it seemed to men that Sauron was great; though they feared the light of his eyes. To many he appeared fair, to others terrible; but to some evil.".

A few clues are given as to Sauron's appearance as the Dark Lord, after he lost his ability to take a fair form: Tolkien described Sauron in one of his letters as having the form of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic, and as an image of malice and hatred made visible. He apparently gave off great heat so much, so that Gil-Galad was burned to death by his mere touch, and Isildur described Sauron's hand as black, yet burning like fire, suggesting that his entire body was blackened from fire and heat.

Gollum, having apparently seen Sauron directly, described him as having only four fingers on his black hand, suggesting that Sauron was unable to regenerate the finger from which Isildur took the One Ring, similar to how the wounds Morgoth took from Fingolfin never healed.

In addition to his physical appearance, Sauron also apparently had an aura of incredible malevolence. A passage in The Silmarillion describes him as having a "dreadful presence", and daunting eyes. Furthermore, his mere presence could bend all but the strongest wills.

Regarding Sauron's personality, Tolkien had this to say from his letters:

"In my story Sauron represents as near an approach to the wholly evil will as is possible. He had gone the way of all tyrants: beginning well, at least on the level that while desiring to order all things according to his own wisdom he still at first considered the (economic) well-being of other inhabitants of the Earth. But he went further than human tyrants in pride and the lust for domination, being in origin an immortal (angelic) spirit. Sauron desired to be a God-King, and was held to be this by his servants, by a triple treachery:

  1. Because of his admiration of Strength he had become a follower of Morgoth and fell with him down into the depths of evil, becoming his chief agent in Middle Earth.
  2. When Morgoth was defeated by the Valar finally he forsook his allegiance; but out of fear only; he did not present himself to the Valar or sue for pardon, and remained in Middle Earth.
  3. When he found how greatly his knowledge was admired by all other rational creatures and how easy it was to influence them, his pride became boundless.

Abilities and Weapons

Sauron was among the mightiest of the Maiar. Originally of Aulë's people, he acquired great "scientific" knowledge of the world's substances and how to use them. He would retain this knowledge throughout his tenure as the Dark Lord in Middle-earth, using it to forge the One Ring and construct his fortress of Barad-dûr. Sauron also seemed primarily linked to the use of fire, and as Morgoth's chief lieutenant, his ability to tap into the fires in the earth was of great value.

Among Sauron's chief powers were deception and disguise: In the First Age Sauron took on many forms. His battle against Luthien and Huan in The Silmarillion has him taking on no less than four separate shapes: his "normal" shape, presumed to be that of some kind of terrible dark sorcerer, a great wolf, a serpent, and finally a vampire "dripping blood from his throat upon the trees" ("Of Beren and Lúthien", The Silmarillion). At the end of the First Age, Sauron took on a fair form to appeal to the Captain of the Hosts of the Valar and ask for pardon. In the Second Age, Sauron took up that fair form again and used it under the alias "Annatar" to deceive the Elves into creating the Rings of Power. The level of deception required to fool the Elves of Eregion must have gone beyond simply taking on a fair form. Sauron was literally instructing the Elves to make artifacts that while capable of great good, were ultimately purposed for his own domination and were imbued with power to arrest the natural order of the world. The Elves were unaware of who they were dealing with until the eleventh hour, and only narrowly escaped his trap. Centuries later, Sauron was able to deceive the Black Númenóreans and steer them directly to their own destruction under promises of eternal life. Such destruction is a testament to Sauron's manipulative nature and ability to twist the perceptions of his enemies.

An interesting dichotomy is set up between his deceptive nature and his symbol. While rarely appearing personally and deceiving all but the most wary, he represented himself as an all seeing eye that could pierce all disguises. Consistent with Tolkien's theme of evil being finite, wasteful, and self-destructive, Sauron's powers gradually decreased as time went on. After the Fall of Númenor he was incapable of taking physical form for many years, and then later became a horrific Dark Lord. After losing the Ring it took even longer for him to regain physical form, although by the War of the Ring he had regained it.

The extent, nature, and specifics of Sauron's power are largely left to the imagination. Like his master Morgoth, he was capable of altering the physical substance of the world around him by mere effort of will.

In The Bestiary under the section "Wolfhounds," it is said Huan "took the greatest of the Maiar by the throat," referring to his fight with Sauron. However in the section Maiar it says "the mightiest of the Maiar is Eönwë."

Sauron's commanders

Servants of Sauron

Quotes

Build me an army worthy of Mordor
~ Sauron orders Saruman to bring forth a Great Army of Orcs
Aragorn Elessar!
~ Sauron as he faces Aragorn
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone...
~ Sauron chanting the One Ring Poem
We grow in number. We grow in strength. You will lead my armies.
~ Sauron to Azog
War is Coming. Death will come to all!
~ Sauron dismisses Azog as he discusses Thorin Oakenshield
You cannot fight the shadow. Even now you fade. One light...alone in the darkness.
~ Sauron to Galadriel
It has begun. The East will fall. So shall the Kingdom of Angmar rise. The time of the Elves is over. The Age of the Orc has come.
~ Sauron (in Black Speech)

Reception

Sauron is often ranked as one of the greatest and most iconic villains, in movies, in literature and of all. He was ranked as #12 on Wizard's "Top 100 Greatest Villains" list. Complex ranked Sauron as #37 on their "50 Best Villains in Movie History" list, saying "Without him, there'd be no long-### trek to a get rid of a piece of jewellery." WatchMojo ranked him, alongside Saruman, as #7 on their "Top 10 Iconic Movie Villains" list and, individually, #1 on their "Top 10 Fantasy Villains" list. The Telegraph ranked Sauron as #25 on their "50 greatest villains in literature" list. Shortlist listed Sauron as one of the "40 Greatest Villains Of Literature". IGN ranked Sauron as #22 on their "Top 100 Villains" list. MTV ranked Sauron as #31 on their "Top 50 Villains Of All Time" list. Stylist ranked him as one of the "Top 30 Villains in Literature".

Allusions in other works

  • Sauron appeared in a Family Guy episode as the Eye of Sauron, having lost his contact lens.
  • Sauron is the main character of Legendary Frog's parody series of flash videos, One Ring to Rule them All. In the first video, he hires Wayne the goblin as his evil henchman, receives some evil pizza he ordered, and hears from Wayne that the union of orcs are on strike. The second video follows the plot of Frodo and Sam going to Mordor to destroy the One Ring, but Sauron stupidly attempts to lower them into the fires of Mount Doom with the ring, oblivious to the fact that the ring will be destroyed, and it eventually is during the battle with Gollum, who spits the ring into the lava, but Sauron and Wayne survive. In the third video, Sauron receives a visit from his old master (or college roommate) Melkor, who steals his spices and seasonings for Legolas, who ironically is hired by Sauron to steal Wayne's girlfriend, a hippie elf chick, back from him. Sauron is portrayed as extremely stupid and often says "The One Ring... TO RULE THEM ALL!"
  • In an episode of Supernatural, Season 7, a character refers to Dick Roman as the Eye of Sauron.
  • Sauron is confirmed to have inspired My Little Pony antagonist King Sombra, who looks slightly similar in appearance and is stripped of his physical form by Celestia and Luna, leaving him in shadow form. Meghan McCarthy said he is meant to be a "dark presence". Ironically, his horn looks similar to Sauron's spikes in Legendary Frog's videos.
  • Lord Darkar, the main villain of Season 2 of Winx Club, shares some similarities to Sauron before he lost his power, and may have been inspired by him.
  • The Ore Club from the Kid Icarus series (also featured in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U) resembles the Eye of Sauron.
  • The Eye of Sauron has a cameo appearance in Gravity Falls.
  • In A Study In Fear, Atmos insults Sauron and similar villains, as they are the cause of him being overworked to study the secretly dark and macabre in film. Sauron sends down the Hand of Sauron, a basic minion of darkness, to threaten him with a wooden sword. After Atmos apologises, Sauron knocks him unconscious and takes over his body.
  • X-Men villain Sauron (Marvel) is named after the titular lord of the rings.
  • Sauron appeared as a supporting antagonist in The LEGO Batman Movie, where he was voiced by Jemaine Clement.

Trivia

  • Despite being the main antagonist and having the series named after him, Sauron doesn't have many appearances. However, his presence is there throughout the entire Trilogy, and his Eye Form is constantly seen.
  • He was originally intended to somehow return to physical form and fight Aragorn at the tail end of the Battle of the Black Gate, but the filmmakers decided against it and replaced Sauron with a powerful troll. Sketches of the intended battle were shown in a bonus feature on one of the disks of the Extended Edition, under "Abandoned Concept: Aragorn vs. Sauron."
    • The reason why the scene was cut was because it was not in the novel, and Peter Jackson felt it would take the focus away from Frodo and Sam. Furthermore, he believed that it would take away from Aragorn's act of sacrifice.
  • Another difference from the book is that while Sauron takes the form of a great eye in the film, unable to take physical form without the ring, Gollum implies in the books that he still has a physical form and the Eye is only his battle symbol; he says Sauron has only four fingers on one hand.
  • The character is spoofed in My Life As A Teenage Robot as the eye villain Infrared Ivan.
  • Sauron is the main antagonist in Fellowship of the Ring ​as the story is about him, and he is the main antagonist of Return of the King ​as well as it too is about him and his final attack on Middle-Earth. However, Saruman is the main antagonist of The Two Towers ​as he has a bigger role in it.

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