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Shire… Baggins...
~ The Nazgul's most famous quote
They were once Men. Great kings of Men. Then Sauron the Deceiver gave to them nine rings of power. Blinded by their greed, they took them without question, one by one falling into darkness. Now they are slaves to his will. They are the Nazgul, Ringwraiths, neither living nor dead. At all times they feel the presence of the Ring, drawn to the power of the One. They will never stop hunting you.
~ Aragorn telling Frodo about the Nazgûl.

The Nazgûl, also known as Ringwraiths, The Nine, and even Black Riders, are servants of Sauron in J. R. R. Tolkien's classic Middle-earth writings, and are major antagonists in the epic novel The Lord of the Rings, as well as in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, alongside their leader, the Witch-King of Angmar.


The Nazgûl were originally were leaders of Men who were given the Nine Rings of Power by Sauron, which enslaved them. Over time, they changed into ghostly beings, their bodies invisible to the normal eye; they often wear visible dark cloaks and other garments, enabling other beings to see them. They are usually mounted, either on horseback or riding great winged beasts (though unnamed, they are often called "fell beasts", after a descriptive term used by Tolkien). They serve Sauron in various functions as scouts and spies, as well as leaders of his armies.

Only two Nazgûl are known as individuals:

  • The Witch-King of Angmar, the first leader of the Nazgûl. His name is unknown, and he is instead referred to by various epithets.
  • Khamûl, the Witch-king's second in command. He was a former Easterling lord, and is the only named Nazgûl. He became the second leader of the Nine after the death of the Witch-King at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.


The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

In Part I, The Fellowship of the Ring, the Nazgûl are sent to the Shire on horseback to retrieve the One Ring, and subsequently chase the Ring-bearer Frodo Baggins and his companions on their way to Rivendell.

Later, in Part II, The Two Towers, they appear at various times riding the winged fell beasts. One noticeable time was when a Nazgul flew over the Dead Marshes, and Frodo, Sam, and Gollum try to hide from him. Eventually, it leaves and rides back to Mordor.

In Part III, The Return of the King, the Witch-king of Angmar leads Sauron's armies in the Siege of Minas Tirith and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, but he is killed by Lady Éowyn of Rohan and the hobbit Merry Brandybuck. The other Nazgûl reappear at the Battle of the Black Gate, from where they speed to Mount Doom after Sauron becomes aware of the Ring's location. They burn in the flames of the erupting volcano after the One Ring is destroyed, and their deaths have freed the kings from Sauron's control.

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            Middle earth sbg-1-1024x257.pngVillains

Dark Armies
Leaders: Morgoth | Sauron (Conquest, Shadow of Mordor) | Saruman (Peter Jackson)
Nazgûl: Witch-King of Angmar | Khamûl | Helm Hammerhand | Suladan | Isildur | Nazgûl Sisters
Balrogs: Durin's Bane | Gothmog | Tar-Goroth
Dragons: Smaug | Ancalagon | Scatha | Drogoth the Dragon Lord | Glaurung
Great Spiders: Shelob | Ungoliant
Werewolves: Carcharoth
Goblins/Orcs: Gorkil the Goblin King | Great Goblin | Azog | Bolg | Brogg the Twin | Mogg the Other Twin | Yazneg | Grishnákh | Gothmog | Gorbag | Zog the Eternal | Gazmog
Uruk-hai: Ugluk | Lurtz | Shagrat | Hodhvarz
Black Númenóreans: Mouth of Sauron (Battle for Middle-Earth) | Agandaur | Black Hand of Sauron | Hammer of Sauron | Tower of Sauron
Olog-Hai: Brûz the Chopper
Men of Darkness: Ar-Pharazôn | Gríma Wormtongue | Bill Ferny | Lheu Brenin | Easterlings | Corsairs of Umbar | Dunlendings | Haradrim
Various Creatures: Barrow Wights | Trolls | Wargs | Fellbeasts | Gûlavhar | Watcher in the Water

Corrupted Elves
Fëanor | Celegorm | Caranthir | Curufin | Maeglin | Celebrimbor

Corrupted Hobbits
Gollum | Lotho Sackville-Baggins | Ted Sandyman

Alfrid Lickspittle | Master of Laketown | Old Man Willow