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Villain Overview

The world is changing. Who now has the strength to stand against the armies of Isengard and Mordor? To stand against the might of Sauron and Saruman and the union of the Two Towers? Together, my Lord Sauron, we shall rule this Middle-earth. The Old World will burn in the fires of industry, the forests will fall. A new order will rise! We will drive the machine of war with the sword and the spear and the iron fist of the Orc. We have only to remove those who oppose us…
~ Saruman's speech to Sauron.
There will be no dawn… for men.
~ Saruman.

Saruman the White is one of the two secondary antagonists (alongside Gollum) of the 1954 fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings​ by the late J.R.R Tolkien, and the secondary antagonist of Peter Jackson's live action film trilogy adaptation of the novels.

He is the main antagonist of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, before finally meeting his end as a minor yet pivotal antagonist in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In The Hobbit trilogy, Saruman appeared as a supporting character in both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

He is a powerful wizard and the leader of the Istari, as well as Gandalf's "superior", who is corrupted by Sauron and serves as his chief lieutenant during the War of the Ring. He commands Isengard and breeds the destructive Uruk-hai. He also attempts to destroy the kingdom of Rohan and control Théoden with the assistance of his henchman, Gríma Wormtongue. He is the archenemy of Gandalf.

In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, he was portrayed by the late Christopher Lee, who also played Dracula in Hammer Studios' Dracula films, King Haggard in The Last Unicorn, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With the Golden Gun, Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel films. In Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings from 1978, Saruman was voiced by Fraser Kerr.

Role in the story

Saruman is the head of the White Council, a group of elves and wizards formed to contest the return of the Shadow. Like his fellow wizard Gandalf, he is a Maia, an angelic being sent to Middle-earth by Eru, Tolkien's analog for God. He grows to covet the secrets of Sauron's power, being bewildered and fearful towards him. Using the palantir to communicate with the Dark Lord, the latter ensnares him and gains his allegiance. No longer opposing Sauron, Saruman envisions the future of Middle-earth under his new master's rule, certain of his victory against the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. Though subservient to Sauron, Saruman does not abandon all hopes of seizing the One Ring and cheating on him if the opportunity arises. If not, he shall at least be his master's great vassal and benefit from his favour.

He begins his part in Sauron's conquest of Middle-earth by having his ally Gríma Wormtongue poison the mind and body of Theoden, King of Rohan, rendering him weak and powerless; he then has Wormtongue influence Theoden to do Sauron's bidding. In his bid to crush the kingdom of Rohan, Saruman emulates his master by breeding an army of Orcs, with Uruk-hai among them, and fortifies Isengard in preparation for the assaults against the Men of the West. He employs in Bree-land to strengthen Sauron's spy network in the hunt for the Ring and secretly aids the enemies of Rohan, persuading the Dunleding to join his master.

When Gandalf discovers Saruman's treachery, Saruman imprisons him, but Gandalf manages to escape. Saruman then has his Orcs attack the Fellowship of the Ring and kidnap the hobbits Merry and Pippin, in hopes of eventually capturing the Ringbearer, Frodo Baggins, whether to obtain his precious burden or otherwise hand him to his master Sauron. When Gandalf helps Theoden overcome Wormtongue's (and thus Saruman's) influence, Saruman orders his Orc army to attack Rohan while he watches from his tower sanctuary. Saruman appears to be winning the battle at first, but then a herd of Ents (giant, tree-like beings) attack on the Free Peoples' behalf, angered by Saruman cutting down whole forests to supply his army with weapons. As the tide of battle has turned against him, Saruman locks himself within his tower, neither willing to sue for pardon out of arrogance nor futher betray Sauron's trust.

After Sauron is defeated, Saruman flees from Isengard, together with Wormtongue, intent on avenging both his and his master's downfall on the peaceful Hobbits. Thus, he chooses settle in the Shire, under the guise "Sharkey", and turns it into his own petty realm, with a ragtag company of Half-Orcs and evil Men as his main enforcers. Eventually, Frodo and his companions come back to the Shire and break Saruman's hold over it. As Saruman and Wormtongue are chased out of the Shire, the fallen wizard curses his minion and throws him down. Enraged, Wormtongue cuts Saruman's throat, killing him; moments later, Hobbit archers shoot and kill Wormtongue.


Saruman was cruel, uncaring, and treacherous. He would do anything to achieve greater power, even if it meant siding with Sauron, betraying his own allies, especially the White Council, and destroying the forests. Ultimately, his schemes and treachery would lead him to his defeat.

During the War of the Ring, he sided with Sauron, believing there was no way the Dark Lord could be defeated. Initially, he planned to use the One Ring to overthrow Sauron, and rationalized every evil thing he did as the means to a good end. By the time of Sauron's resurgence, however, Saruman had given in to his ambition and lust for power, and simply wanted to rule Middle-earth with or without Sauron. Ironically, Sauron was aware of Saruman's desire to overthrow him, and planned to dispose of him once he had served his purpose.

Saruman was arrogant, looking down on Gandalf as a "fool" and the men of Rohan as "peasants" living in "a thatched barn". He was highly manipulative, managing to win many to his side against Rohan and even manipulated Treebeard into releasing him merely with his voice. He was cunning and intelligent, managing to poison the mind of King Theoden, force Gandalf through the Mines of Moria and create weapons capable of breeching the wall of Helm's Deep. He hated the race of Men and wished to wipe them out, starting with the kingdom of Rohan. He has no problem killing women and children. He was also needlessly cruel to Grima Wormtongue, his most loyal servant, beating him in public and calling him a "cur".

Even when defeated, he was spiteful, cursing Gandalf and Theoden and gleefully telling them that Frodo would die.

Agents of Saruman

Saruman's Commanders

Allies and Armies


Your love of the halfling's leaf has clearly slowed your mind.
~ Saruman to Gandalf
You did not seriously think that a Hobbit could contend with the will of Sauron? There are none who can. Against the power of Mordor, there can be no victory. We must join with him, Gandalf. We must join with Sauron. It would be wise, my friend.
~ Saruman reveals his true colours to Gandalf.
I gave you the chance of aiding me willingly, but you have elected the way of pain!
~ Saruman to Gandalf
It is over. Embrace the power of the Ring, or embrace your own destruction!
~ Saruman threatens Gandalf
So you have chosen... death.
~ Saruman vows to kill Gandalf.
The power of Isengard is at your command, Sauron, Lord of the Earth.
~ Saruman speaks with Sauron.
Moria... You fear to go into those mines. The Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum... shadow and flame.
~ Saruman on Moria.
Do you know how the Orcs first came into being? They were elves once, taken by the dark powers, tortured and mutilated. A ruined and terrible form of life. Now... perfected. My fighting Uruk-Hai. Whom do you serve?
~ Saruman to Lurtz on the origin of Orcs.
Hunt them down. Do not stop until they are found. You do not know pain, you do not know fear. You will taste man-flesh!
~ Saruman ordering the Uruk-Hai hunting party.
It will begin with Rohan. Too long have these peasants stood against you... but no more
~ Saruman to Sauron on Rohan.
Rohan, my lord, is ready to fall.
~ Saruman to Sauron on Rohan.
If I go, Theoden dies!
~ Saruman to Gandalf through Theoden
Rohan is mine!
~ Saruman to Gandalf through a possessed Theoden.
Gandalf the White. Gandalf the Fool. Does he seek to humble me with his newfound piety?
~ Saruman curses Gandalf.
The world of men shall fall. It will begin at Edoras.
~ Saruman plans the attack on Rohan.
A new power is rising. Its victory is at hand. This night the land will be stained with the blood of Rohan. March to Helm's Deep. Leave none alive. To war!
~ Saruman's speech to the armies of Isengard.
Gandalf does not hesitate to sacrifice those closest to him. Those he professes to love. Tell me. What words of comfort did you give the halfling before you sent him to his doom? The path you have set him on can only leed to death.
~ Saruman taunts Gandalf on Frodo.
A man of Rohan? What is the house of Rohan but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek and their brats roll on the floor with the dogs? The victory at helms deep does not belong to you, Théoden, horsemaster! You are a lesser son of greater sires.
~ Saruman to Theoden
You withdraw your guard, and I will tell you where you doom will be decided. I will not be held prisoner here!
~ Saruman's last words.


  • The figure of Saruman is portrayed slightly differently in the cinematic version and the book version.
    • In the film trilogy, he is portrayed as being solely a loyal servant of Sauron. In the books, he is one of his master's greatest minions in the war, but he also entertains the idea of taking the One Ring for himself if possible.
    • His death is portrayed differently in the films than in the original books: in Peter Jackson's movie Saruman dies during his conversation with Gandalf and Théoden in the Orthanc tower, but in Tolkien's book he dies in the Shire where he set himself up. In both versions, however, he is killed by Grima Wormtongue.
  • In the animated film, Saruman wears a red robe rather than a white one despite his namesake.
  • In the film Return Of The King, the scene of his death was cut out from the final version since the film was already three hours long with the in-story explanation being that he is trapped in the Tower of Isengard.
    • However, the cut scene can be found on YouTube.

External links


            Middle earth sbg-1-1024x257.pngVillains

Dark Armies
Leaders: Morgoth | Sauron | Saruman
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 | 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