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NOTE: This article is about the version of Saruman from the film saga by Peter Jackson. You may be looking for information on his original book counterpart.
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. It will begin with Rohan. Too long have these peasants stood against you, but no more. Rohan, my lord, is ready to fall.
~ Saruman's speech to Sauron.
There will be no dawn… for men.
~ Saruman.

Saruman the White is a fictional character and the secondary antagonist of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth live action film saga. He served as the secondary antagonist of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, appearing as the main antagonist in both The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, as well 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 and wise Wizard and former head of the Wizard Order who rules over Isengard. During the War of the Ring, he sided with Sauron, bred an army of Uruk-hai, and assisted in the war for conquest of Middle-earth. He is the archenemy of his former friend Gandalf.

He was portrayed by the late Sir Christopher Lee, who also played Frankenstein's Monster in The Curse of Frankenstein, Count Dracula in Hammer Studios' Dracula films, Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man, Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, King Haggard in The Last Unicorn, Cushing Catheter in Gremlins 2: The New Batch and Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequel films.

History

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Saruman appears as the leader of the White Council. When Gandalf meets with him in Rivendell, he discusses the threat posed by Smaug, suggesting that if the Enemy ensnares him, "a dragon could be used to terrible effect". Saruman demolishes the theory, arguing that Sauron has been vanquished. But Gandalf presents the Morgul blade of the Witch-King of Angmar to the council, before revealing that there was a Necromancer residing in Dol Guldur. Saruman denies the nature of the evil there, telling the others that it is just a mortal man conjuring dark sorcery (it is possible that he suspects that the Necromancer is Sauron and is trying to allow him to regain his strength to form an alliance with him or it may be due to Saruman's own jealousy of Gandalf that he feels the need to stop his plans).

In the extended edition, Gandalf brings up the matter of the Rings of Power wielded by the Dwarf-lords, several of which were destroyed by Dragon-fire, others taken by Sauron before his defeat and the last one on the hand of Thráin II, who has mysteriously vanished in the Battle of Azanulbizar. Saruman counters that to command the Rings, the Dark Lord would need the One (showing his vast knowledge of such devices). He fleetingly assures the others that it must have been taken into the sea by the waters of the Anduin (possibly a lie, as Saruman might have already began searching for the One Ring in the river and attempts to conceal his actions from the Wise; or hopes that Sauron's growing in power might result in its reemergence in the vicinity).

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Saruman in Dol Guldur

Saruman appears to assist Galadriel while rescuing Gandalf in Dol Guldur. The White Wizard, along with Elrond, takes on the Nine Nazgûl, with him fighting the Witch-king himself on several occasions. When Sauron himself emerges, Saruman appears to be paralyzed with both awe and fear at the Dark Lord's power (he may as well be acting or pleading). After Galadriel banishes Sauron from Dol Guldur, draining much of her reserves in the process, Saruman appears to have a taken a serious decision. He dissuades Elrond from pursuing Sauron, feigning concern for Lady Galadriel's weakened state and assuring the Elf-lord that the Dark Lord should be left with him (it is now apparent that Saruman intends to pledge himself to Sauron and prepare his conquest of Middle-earth)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

When Gandalf came to Saruman at Isengard, seeking his counsel, Saruman seemed unmoved by the former's concerns. He further revealed that he had sworn fealty to Sauron and urged his friend to join them. Gandalf refused and mocked the former White Wizard's descent into desperation, Angered, Saruman initiated a fight with the other, which ended in Saruman trapping Gandalf on the top of the Tower of Orthanc.

Soon, Saruman's allegiance to Sauron required him to summon his servants in Isengard in preparation for the War of the Ring. After the trees were cut down and the gardens destroyed, the Orcs began forging weapons in the underground watery caverns and breeding Uruk-hai that could travel long distances and travel daylight. As work went on, Saruman confronted Gandalf on the rooftop of Orthanc, trying to discern the whereabouts of the One Ring and force the latter to submit to Mordor. Gandalf instead warned him that Saruman would be only a tool to Sauron, as the other is the only Lord of the Rings and does not share power, before jumping and being picked up by Gwaihir the Windlord. As Gandalf flew on the Great Eagle's back out of Isengard, Saruman seemed unfazed by the revelation and unmoved in his intent to become Sauron's chief servant and perhaps even his equal.

Crebain spies watching over the Pass of Rohan forced the Fellowship of the Ring to take the dangerous Pass of Caradhras on their way to Mordor. Informed by his agents, Saruman used his dark sorcery to make the spirit of the mountain cause avalanches and snowstorms over Caradhras. He reveled in how he was now forcing Gandalf's hand to either choose the Gap of Rohan or go through the mines of Moria.

By the time the Fellowship was about to depart Lorien, Saruman summoned Lurtz and had him and a war-band of Uruk-hai be armed and tasked with retrieving the hobbit carrying the One Ring (though ensnared by Sauron, Saruman might still retain a desire for it if possible). In an ensuing ambush at Amon Hen, his servants took Merry and Pippin, since they thought the two were the hobbits who had the Ring, though Lurtz himself was killed by Aragorn in the process.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Saruman bought Gríma Wormtongue into his service and had him help possess King Théoden's mind, rendering Rohirrim leadership useless. Through the Palantir, Saruman conversed with his lord Sauron and assured him that "Rohan is ready to fall" and they "shall rule this Middle-earth". While his servants cut down trees from Fangorn and finalized preparations for the war, Saruman allied himself with the Wildmen of Dunland and convinced them to band together with the Orcs and pillage Rohirrim villages, plundering for riches and killing the peasants who had long stood against Sauron. However, Gandalf, now Gandalf the White, and more powerful than Saruman, broke the wizard's control over Théoden. Wormtongue returned to Saruman, who had by that time amassed a whole army of 10,000 Uruk-hai to bring down Rohan. The Orcs attacked the Rohirrim at Helm's Deep, but were defeated when Gandalf, Éomer, the Rohirrim, and the Huorns arrived. The Ents, meanwhile, attacked Isengard and flooded it, destroying all of Saruman's machines and drowning the Orcs in the caverns. With his fortifications shattered, his servants vanquished and unable to carry out Sauron's will in the West, Saruman sealed himself within Orthanc.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Théoden, and Éomer came to talk to Saruman and ask him where Sauron was going to attack next. Saruman shot a fireball at Gandalf, but Gandalf was unaffected and destroyed Saruman's staff. Théoden offered Wormtongue a chance to rejoin the Riders of Rohan. Wormtongue was clearly going to accept in order to escape Saruman's poor treatment, but Saruman slapped him. As Saruman was about to reveal Sauron's next plan, an enraged Wormtongue stabbed him in the back with a knife, twice. Saruman fell over the edge of Isengard and was impaled in the spike of a wheel that was once part of one of his own machines.

This is only shown in the Extended Edition, as it was cut from the final picture, and he is never even seen in the theatrical cut.

Personality

Saruman was once a wise and moral Wizard who fought against the evil of Sauron alongside the rest of the White Council. He believed only great power could vanquish evil, unlike Gandalf. However, he would eventually join a darker power and serve Sauron, due to believing he would inevitably emerge victorious and desiring power which Sauron would grant him.

He was incredibly knowledgeable, cunning and even arrogant. He was willing to commit any vile crime with no remorse, such as burning entire villages and wiping out the entire race of Men, showing he had shed any morality he originally possessed. He had no problem killing women and children, to the point of sending 10,000 Uruk-Hai to Helm's Deep for the sake of completing exterminating everyone from Rohan without mercy. However, this combination of ruthlessness and arrogance ended up being his undoing, because due to sending his entire army of strongest warriors there, he left Isengard thinly defended when Treebeard led the Ents in attacking him for callously having many of their kin cut down and/or burned. Due to only having average Orcs left to defend him and the tower, they were overwhelmed and defeated very easily.

Following his defeat, Saruman was also shown to be bitter and spiteful, cursing Gandalf and Théoden in the aftermath of his defeat. He was also sadistic as he cruelly gloated to Gandalf that Frodo would die.

Quotes

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.
If I go, Théoden dies!
~ Saruman to Gandalf through Théoden.
Rohan is mine!
~ Saruman to Gandalf through a possessed Théoden.
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 Théoden
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.

Trivia

  • In the film The Lord of the Rings: The 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 in the Extended Edition.
  • Christopher Lee was the only member of the cast to have met J.R.R. Tolkien in person.
  • Interestingly, Christopher Lee originally wanted the role of Gandalf, but was cast instead as Saruman due to his age.
  • Saruman's scourging of the Shire was cut from the Peter Jackson movies and instead, he was defeated before Sauron.
  • When reading about the Dwaves in the Mines of Moria unearthing the Balrog, there is a picture of the gates to the mines. This picture was drawn by Tolkien himself.

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Dark Armies
Leaders: Morgoth | Sauron (Peter Jackson, 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

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Alfrid Lickspittle | Master of Laketown | Old Man Willow

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