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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.
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
~ The Poem of the One Ring.

Sauron, once a noble Maia known as Mairon, is the main antagonist of the Middle-earth legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien. He is the titular main antagonist of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic high fantasy epic novel, The Lord of the Rings, the secondary antagonist of the mythopoeic novel The Silmarillion and The History of Middle-earth, a major antagonist in The Children of Húrin and the overarching antagonist of The Hobbit.

He is the main antagonist of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy adaptation and the overarching antagonist of The Hobbit film trilogy. He is also the main antagonist of the animated movie series, serving as the main antagonist in The Lord of the Rings (which is also the name of the original novel) and in Return of the King (also the name of Part III of the novel The Lord of the Rings). He does not appear in The Hobbit film in 1977 at all.

Once the greatest smith of Aulë, he joined with the 1st Dark Lord Morgoth in the First Age, becoming his principal lieutenant. During the Second Age, Sauron became the 2nd Dark Lord of Middle-earth who resided in Mordor and created the One Ring, which he lost upon his defeat. His goal was to reclaim the One Ring and rule Middle-earth in darkness, but the Ring's destruction would ultimately be his downfall. He was also the archenemy of Aragorn, the King of Gondor; Frodo, the Ring Bearer; and Gandalf, the Grey (later White) Wizard.

In the live-action adaptations by Sir Peter Jackson, he was portrayed by Sala Baker, who also played an adult Firefist in Deadpool 2 and voiced by the late Alan Howard in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In The Hobbit trilogy, he was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, who also portrayed Smaug in the same trilogy, Dormammu in Doctor Strange, Shere Khan in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, The Grinch in the 2018 film of the same name, William Ford in 12 Years a Slave and Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek: Into Darkness.


Sauron as the Eye.

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 shapeshifter 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 includes 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, to the point that the Elf king Gil-Galad was burned to death by his mere touch of him, 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.


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.

By the end of the Second Age he assumed the position of Morgoth's representative. By the end of the Third Age (though actually much weaker than before) he claimed to be Morgoth returned. If he had been victorious he would have demanded divine honour from all rational creatures and absolute temporal power over the whole world.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien regarding Sauron's personality in his letters.

Sauron forging The Ring.

Sauron was utterly malicious and cruel. He was merciless, extremely wrathful and aggressive, and happy to slaughter as many as he wished. He had the will to dominate all life, and rule Arda. He despised free will and wanted all life to be his slaves. Because he was so wicked, he had to be destroyed once and for all by the One Ring being cast into Mount Doom. He was so unsympathetic for human life that he wanted to kill the women and children of Minas Tirith, alongside the entire city's population. Those who he didn't want to kill were nothing but slaves who carried out his bidding without question, such as the Nazgûl and the Orcs.

He was a master of deception, taking advantage of the greed and corruptibility of others, such as the Nazgul whom he corrupted with the Rings of Power, and Gollum, who through the Ring was corrupted.

Sauron despised the race of Men most out of all races, waging war against the free kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor, wishing to destroy the world of Men. In addition to this, he greatly feared Aragorn, knowing that he would become the king of Gondor. He was also a real enemy of the Elves, with his presence alone in the third age leading them to leave Middle-earth out of fear of him. He would have also destroyed the Shire and all the Hobbits.

He was also psychologically cruel and sadistic, threatening Aragorn with Arwen's life whilst they confronted each other via the Palantir, telling a man his wife was already dead after lying she wasn't and then killing him to "reunite" them or ordering the Mouth of Sauron to lie about Frodo being dead and having endured great pain in order to break their spirits. He may have also been somewhat humorous due to "bidding them welcome" at the Black Gate.

Sauron was once a wise Maiar who valued order. He was then corrupted by Morgoth and became his first lieutenant wishing to assist Morgoth in order to create the world he saw fit. However, after Morgoth was banished, Sauron merely wanted power and domination, becoming just like Morgoth. While he wasn't as powerful as his master, he was more successful.

Powers and Abilities

Sauron was among the mightiest of the Maiar, possibly the greatest. However, the extent, nature, and specifics of Sauron's power are largely left to the imagination.


  • Necromancy: Sauron was able to deceive the 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.
  • Pyrokinesis: 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. Like his master Morgoth, he was capable of altering the physical substance of the world around him by mere effort of will. He could will the elements in the weathers surrounding his domain and will volcano of Mount Doom to do the same.
  • Vast "Scientific" Knowledge: 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 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.
  • Immortality/Enhanced Longevity: As one of the Ainur, Mairon/Sauron was functionally immortal; failing that, seemingly very long lived having existed with and without a physical form for the better part of several thousand years, Sauron was created before the physical realm of Arda and Middle-earth was established thus his age is unquantifiable. Assuming a consecutive lifespan, he is at least 50,000 years old.
  • Vast Physical Strength: Sauron was very physically strong with the One Ring on, able to kill multiple soldiers in a single hit. 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."


  • Shape-shifting: Among Sauron's chief abilities were shape-shifting, thus allowing him to easily engage in 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. 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. Sauron himself had the ability of disguise by changing shape and taking a fair form. But 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 One Ring to Rule Them All, an extension of Sauron's will.

Sauron's chief vulnerability was his ring. Having invested the majority of the energies and will of his personal being into his ring (in order to exert maximum influence over the other rings he created) the destruction of the ring led to the disillusion of his form. While the ring was for all intents and purposes indestructible by conventional means; it could be destroyed by its means of creation.

In video-games

The Lord of the Rings: Conquest

Sauron appears as the main antagonist in The Lord of the Rings: Conquest in the Good campaign, and the main protagonist of the same game in the Evil campaign.

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, the 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 collectible mini figure 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.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War

Sauron appears as one of two main antagonists, along with the Witch-King of Angmar, in Middle-earth: Shadows of War.

In Sir's Peter Jackson's films

In the Jackson trilogy, Sauron is originally portrayed as a black armored knight carrying a huge black mace. He's represented there in human form when the Ring is forged and so until it loses the latter, then it is represented in the limited form of an eye dissociated from any body in the rest of history. Sauron loses this body after Isildur cuts his fingers with a piece of Narsil. In this version, the Dark Lord seems to be more or less unharmed until he loses his ring since at that moment, his body disintegrates by exploding. After its defeat, it is represented in the form of an eye, acting as a body. Later in the first film, Saruman points out to Gandalf that Sauron cannot yet take physical form, implying that Sauron's fiery Eye is his bodyless mind. This eye dominates Barad-dues. In the book, Sauron is inside the tower, spying through "the window of the Eye in his shadowy fortress." The humanoid form of Sauron appears one last time when Aragorn looks in the palantír in the long version of the Return of the king. Pippin makes a brief and terrifying encounter with the Eye after looking into the palantír of Orthanc.

Servants of Sauron

Sauron's Commanders

Allies and Armies


In J.R.R. Tolkien's books

Said by Sauron

I hear now that thou wouldst barter with me. What is thy price?
~ Sauron interrogating a man named Gorlim and asking him what his price is.
That is a small price for so great a treachery. So shall it surely be. Say on!
~ Sauron after discovering Gorlim's price.
Nonetheless I will grant thy prayer, and thou shalt go to Eilinel, and be set free of my service.
~ Sauron before cruelly putting Gorlim to death.
(Ar-Pharazôn: Who is the Lord of the Darkness?) It is he whose name is not now spoken; for the Valar have deceived you concerning him, putting forward the name of Eru, a phantom devised in the folly of their hearts, seeking to enchain Men in servitude to themselves. For they are the oracle of this Eru, which speaks only what they will. But he that is their master shall yet prevail, and he will deliver you from this phantom; and his name is Melkor, Lord of All, Giver of Freedom, and he shall make you stronger than they.
~ Sauron deceiving Ar-Pharazôn by lying that Eru Ilúvatar is evil and Morgoth is good.

Pertaining to Sauron

Now the Elves made many rings; but secretly Sauron made One Ring to rule all the others, and their power was bound up with it, to be subject wholly to it and to last only so long as it too should last. And much of the strength and will of Sauron passed into that One Ring; for the power of the Elven-rings was very great, and that which should govern them must be a thing of surpassing potency; and Sauron forged it in the Mountain of Fire in the Land of Shadow. And while he wore the One Ring he could perceive all the things that were done by means of the lesser rings, and he could see and govern the very thoughts of those that wore them.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien on Sauron forging the One Ring in The Silmarillion.
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.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien about how the Númenóreans saw Sauron in The History of Middle-earth.

In Sir Peter Jackson's films

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.
There is no light Wizard, that can defeat darkness.
~ Sauron to Gandalf (while speaking in Black Speech).
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 (speaking in Black Speech).
Build me an army worthy of Mordor!
~ Sauron orders Saruman to bring forth a Great Army of Orcs.
Ash nazg durbatulûk. Ash nazg gimbatul. Ash nazg thrakatulûk. Agh burzum-ishi krimpatul!
~ Sauron speaking the One Ring's inscription in Black Speech in the Extended Edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. (Gandalf speaks the same thing at the same time.)
I see you!
~ Sauron to Pippin through the Palantir.
Aragorn Elessar!
~ Sauron as he faces Aragorn.


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 jewelry." 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". WatchMojo ranked him as the #1 greatest fantasy movie villain.

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. He is portrayed as extremely stupid and often says “The 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.
  • 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 apologizes, Sauron knocks him unconscious and takes over his body.
  • In the Marvel Comics, X-Men villain Sauron was 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. His goal here is to kill Batman and his gang, which he failed.


  • Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, John Goodman, John Cleese, Alec Baldwin, Hugo Weaving, Alan Tudyk, Will Ferrell, Harry Shearer, Liam Nesson, the late Ian Holm, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman, Sean Bean, Benjamin Bratt, Eddie Izzard, Alfred Molina, and John Malkovich were all considered for the role of Sauron.
  • Despite being the main antagonist and having the novel and film trilogy named after him, Sauron doesn't have many appearances, and only appears in the novel three times (two appearances in his Eye form, though he still has a physical form, and one appearance in his shadow form).
    • However, his presence is there throughout the entire story, and in the film trilogy, his Eye form is constantly seen. In the film trilogy, his shadow form is never seen after the One Ring is destroyed, and he remains in his Eye form.
  • 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 original novel 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.
    • Interestingly, Sauron never appears in physical form in the novel, and only appears twice in the form of his own insignia, the Eye. However, he is still able to take physical form.
  • The character is spoofed in My Life As A Teenage Robot as the eye villain Infrared Ivan.

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

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