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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 the secondary antagonist 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 RingThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, before finally meeting his end as a minor antagonist in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In The Hobbit trilogy, Saruman appeared as a minor character in 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.

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.

Role in the story

Saruman is the head of the White Council, a group of elves and wizards formed to contest the power of Sauron. Like his fellow wizard Gandalf, he is a Maiar, an angelic being sent to Middle-earth by Eru, Tolkien's analog for God. He grows to desire Sauron's power for himself, and begins communicating with him via a palantir, a crystal ball that all but the most powerful beings in Middle-earth are forbidden to use. He plans to use Sauron as a means to an end; his plan is to help Sauron conquer Middle-earth and then overthrow him; he is unaware that Sauron is planning to use him in the exact same way. He sends spies all over Middle-earth to look for the One Ring, hoping to eventually take it from Sauron and wield its power for himself.

He begins his conquest of Middle-earth by having his minion 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. Saruman then breeds the Uruk-hai, a race of incredibly strong, vicious Orcs, as his personal army. from his base at Isengard, he slowly but surely grows his empire.

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 seizing the Ringbearer, Frodo Baggins. 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 Rohan's behalf, angered by Saruman cutting down whole forests to supply his army with weapons. As the tide of battle turns against him, Saruman flees, along with Wormtongue.

He settles in the Shire, disguised as the criminal "Sharkey", and turns it into his own personal kingdom, with Wormtongue as his main enforcer. After Sauron is defeated, 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 is cruel, uncaring, and treacherous. He would do anything to achieve greater power, even if it means betraying his own allies, especially the White Council.

In the books, Saruman is even deceptive toward Sauron, pretending to be his ally, when in reality, he wants to take the One Ring for himself and overthrow Sauron as the Dark Lord. In the movies, however, Saruman was a hero in The Hobbit film trilogy, but after deciding to face Sauron alone, he allowed the latter to corrupt and influence him. Eventually, in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, he became very loyal to Sauron and would do anything to help him; he even told Gandalf to join Sauron as he believed it was a wise decision.

In both cases, his schemes and treachery would lead him to his defeat.

Agents of Saruman

Saruman's Commanders

  • Lurtz
  • Uglúk
  • Sharku
  • Móg

Allies and Armies


  • The figure of Saruman is very different between the cinematic version and the book version.
    • In the film trilogy, he is portrayed as a loyal servant of Sauron and wishes to extend the Dark Lord's dominion over the Middle-Earth but in the book original version, Saruman pretends to be an ally in order to take the ring for himself, defeat Sauron with it and rule all the Middle-Earth.
    • 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.


            Middle earth sbg-1-1024x257Villains

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 | 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

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