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The Dark Lord Sauron and his forces of evil in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.
Sauron, The Dark Lord of Mordor (a.k.a. The Necromancer)
Portrayed by: Alan Howard (voice in Lord of the Rings), Sala Baker (on-set actor in a suit in Lord of the Rings), Benedict Cumberbatch (voice in The Hobbit)
Appears in: An Unexpected Journey | The Desolation of Smaug | The Battle of the Five Armies | The Fellowship of the Ring | The Two Towers | The Return of the King
The eponymous Lord of the Rings and primary villain of the series. During the First Age, he was a servant of the dark lord Morgoth until his master was defeated and cast into the Void. In the Second Age, he took up the mantle of Middle-earth's resident Dark Lord, creating the Rings of Power, with his own ring being superior to all others. His reign came to an end when he lost the One Ring in battle against the united armies of men and elves.By the Third Age, he takes up residence in Dol Guldur, resurrects his fallen servants the Nazgûl, and attempts to regain power under the guise of the Necromancer. After he is driven out by the White Council, he returns to Mordor where he begins building a massive army and searching for his lost Ring, with which he will finally be able to hold dominion over Middle-earth.
- Adaptational Badass: In the novels, Sauron never fights unless he has to and always loses when he does. In the movies, he's seen wiping out soldiers by the dozen with every swing of his mace. In his shadow form, he breaks Gandalf's staff and imprisons him. Also, he kills Elendil in a fling immediately instead of duelling with him and Gil Galad, a duel in which the three died (which cinematographically makes more sense. It would become harder to make Sauron imposing and unstoppable if an elf and a man killed him just like that. Instead here, he is defeated in a "lucky" moment thanks to Isildur).
- Antagonist Title: He is the titular Lord of the Rings.
- Arch-Enemy: To Aragorn and Gandalf. The former because he's a direct descendant of Isildur who crippled him and the latter for being another Maiar who was sent to stop him.
- Art Evolution: His Great Eye in the first film looked more like an actual eye, but with red and yellow pigmentations. In the second and third films, it looks like a red dwarf star with a pupil. The third film then shows the eye being able to move around and adjust its pupil.
- Artifact of Doom: He did fill the One Ring with his malice. And there's all those ominous, black, spiky fortresses.
- Ascended Extra: In The Hobbit films. He's never actually seen in the book and, prior to the added relevance he's given in The Lord of the Rings, he's more of a plot device to keep Gandalf out of the story than an actual character, given how little is revealed about him. In the films, he plays a much bigger role as he's shown to be a benefactor of sorts to Azog's tribe.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: He's not the Dark Lord for nothing. He keeps his legions of orcs, trolls, and other foul creatures in line through fear.
- Badass Cape: To go along with his badass armor.
- Big Bad: He is the definitive main antagonist of the original trilogy.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Along with The One Ring, he is the overarching antagonist of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the two entities seeking to reconnect to take over Middle-earth.
- Big Bad Ensemble:
- With Gollum in The Return of the King. While Gollum is a more personal threat to Frodo and Sam, Sauron is the main threat the fellowship has to defeat.
- In The Hobbit trilogy he forms one with Smaug and Azog. While the latter two are immediate threats to the dwarves, Sauron clashes with Gandalf and Galadriel.
- Black Knight: His humanoid form was clad in black armor and wielded a mace. In The Hobbit, this form is also visible in the first two films, surrounded by flame and forming the pupil of the Eye of Sauron.
- Black Speech: He originally designed this language to be the lingua franca for his vast empire. It has fallen out of favor by the time of The Hobbit, and the only ones seen speaking it are the Nazgûl, Gandalf, Sauron himself, and the Gundabad orcs led by Azog.
- Break the Haughty: As soon as Frodo succumbs to the ring's temptations, Sauron finally shows fear.
- Can't Live Without You: The One Ring is a living thing and can even speak as shown in The Fellowship of the Ring. Sauron poured his own life-essence into the Ring, so he cannot survive without it. When the One Ring is destroyed in The Return of the King, Sauron ceases to exist moments later.
- Card-Carrying Villain: He makes statements like "There is no light that can defeat the darkness" and so forth.
- Carry a Big Stick: Took a mace with him into his last battle.
- Casting a Shadow: How he as the Necromancer fights Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. He also summons a great black cloud so his orc army can march against Minas Tirith in daylight.
- Classic Villain: Sauron represents Greed and Ambition.
- The Corruption: Spreads one over the Greenwood. The once healthy forest becomes sick and decayed, and overrun with Shelob's spawn, becoming "Mirkwood." Radagast is the first to notice his nasty effects on the wildlife.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Dishes one out to Gandalf in The Desolation of Smaug, overwhelming his light with waves of darkness before incinerating the wizard's staff and telekinetically slamming him into a wall. Later, Galadriel turns the tables on him and sends him flying over the horizon with a shockwave of light.
- Dark Is Evil: Sauron is not called the Dark Lord for nothing, and Casting a Shadow was one of his powers, as demonstrated in his duel with Gandalf. Before becoming the Eye, he manifests as a giant shadow.
- Dark Lord on Life Support: He poured most of his power into the ring, so when he lost it, he was severely weakened. By the time of The Hobbit he's powerful enough to summon his nine servants and give Gandalf the fight of his life, but manipulating the Nazgûl in their spectral forms leaves him stretched too thin to put up a fight against Galadriel.
- Death by Adaptation: In the book, Sauron was not killed by the Ring being destroyed, instead he was thoroughly depowered. In the films, he unambiguously dies when the Ring is destroyed, because it was his Soul Jar.
- Defeat Equals Explosion: Twice; in the prologue of Fellowship and the end of Return. The second time, he takes most of Mordor with him.
- The Dragon: In the First Age, he was this to Morgoth.
- Dragon Ascendant: After Morgoth was cast into the Void, he became the new Dark Lord.
- The Dreaded: Sauron is the most feared entity in Middle-earth. In The Hobbit trilogy, Azog breaks off his pursuit of Thorin because his fear of the Necromancer outweighs his hate of Thorin. Even in his weakened state, everyone is terrified of what Sauron is going to do next.
- Droste Image: In the last two Hobbit films, his manifestation as an Eye of Sauron-like, Wreathed in Flames version of his armored form pulls this off, with the armored silhouette expanding and a light emerging from it which re-forms the flames and then the silhouette, ad infinitum.
- Eagle-Eye Detection: Because Science did an experiment where figured what Sauron could detect and how far he could see if the "eye" worked as a regular eye. Because of the 1400 meter tall Barad-Dur and the 25m aperture of his eye, he could see 130km/81 miles. Because of the size of his eye, he would have an incredible resolution, he could perfectly read a seeing eye chart from 70km/43mi away. If Sauron's eye worked like an eye, he'd be able to see the writing on the One Ring when Frodo first entered Mordor from Cirith Ungol.
- Eldritch Abomination: His physical form is only ever shown fully armored. After he loses the Ring, he appears as a twisting, tendriled cloud of ever-shifting shadows and darkness. Finally, he takes on the form of a giant eye, wreathed in flame. However, the extended palantir scene briefly shows his physical form holding the palantir, implying that he might have a humanoid form as well.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: One of the reasons the whole gambit works. Sauron believes that anyone who possesses the Ring would wish to use it for themselves, leaving them susceptible to his corruption. It's too late when he realizes that someone intends to destroy it. He turns out correct in the end, as nobody actually has the resolve to destroy it willingly, and it gets undone by an accident. Still, Sauron heavily underestimated the willpower of many of the free peoples, as just about everyone in the Fellowship resisted its effects (other than Boromir, and even then his brother Faramir proved faithful in his stead), and the Ring would have never made it into Mordor had any of them fallen to it.
- Evil Genius: He's one of the smartest beings in Middle-earth from the very beginning, manipulating ally and enemy across the entire Second Age and guiding the events of the Third Age while hiding in the shadows..
- Evil Is Burning Hot: His physical form radiated enough heat to kill with a simple touch and his spirit usually appears wreathed in flames. When he broke Narsil in the backstory, smoke is seen rising from the hilt-shard.
- Evil Is Hammy: He sports this in his scenes from The Hobbit especially in his speeches.
- Evil Is Petty: Twice in The Return of the King. First, he Mind Rapes Pippin because he didn't answer his name, then he threatens Arwen's life after Aragorn shows him the sword Narsil which was used to defeat him back in the Second Age.
- Evil Overlord: The Trope Codifier for modern fantasy.
- Evil Sorcerer: As the Necromancer. Radagast is alerted to his existence when he figures out that the sickness in the forest is of magical origin.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Sauron has one of the deepest, if not the very deepest voice in Middle-earth. That's no mean feat when you contend with the likes of Christopher Lee.
- Evil Sounds Raspy: Cumberbatch's version is much raspier than Alan Howard's.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower.
- Faceless Eye: He is a flaming all-seeing Giant Eye of Doom sitting at the top of Barad-dûr.
- Fantastic Racism: Sauron has no love for any race, but his interactions with hobbits imply that he can't be bothered discerning individuals from the same race. He figured out that Frodo had his Ring from the moment he put it on, then when he encountered Pippin he assumed Pippin was also the ring-bearer, solely because both Frodo and Pippin were Hobbits.
- Fate Worse than Death: The destruction of his Ring strips him of his powers and leaves him a shadow of his former self.
- Fingore: Isildur managed to chop off several of his fingers with a desperate slash of his broken sword. Unfortunately for Sauron and luckily for the Last Alliance, one of those fingers was the one that had the Ring.
- Fisher King: While he rules Dol Guldur, Greenwood becomes Mirkwood, a twisted shadow of its former self. Later, when the destruction of the Ring removes Sauron from the world, Morder is reduced to ruins and his minions are swallowed into the earth, with the horizon viewed from Minas Tirith showing clear blue sky.
- Foe-Tossing Charge: Trope Codifier. In the intro scene, we see him fling soldiers left and right with his mace by the dozens at a time.
- Like Galadriel, Sauron is a ring-bearer who resides in his own corner of Middle Earth, which is maintained through the ruler's magic. Just as Sauron dressed his servants in black robes, Galadriel dressed the Fellowship in green robes. Unlike Galadriel who cares for nature, Sauron ruins all he presides over.
- Sauron is also a foil to Gandalf. While Gandalf lives a nomadic life providing guidance and learning about the world, Sauron hides in the shadows and seeks to bend all of existence to his will.
- Genius Bruiser: Before the ring was destroyed, he was a One-Man Army and one of the most intelligent beings in Middle-earth. Even without his physical form, he proves to be more than a match for Gandalf.
- Greater-Scope Villain: In The Hobbit. Azog and Smaug are the major antagonists, but Azog works for him, and Gandalf's reason for helping Thorin is to prevent Smaug from allying with Sauron.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: When he forged the One Ring, he poured a great deal of his power and malicious spirit into it, consequently making him bound to the ring's existence. Had he realized that some of his enemies were willing to destroy this great power rather than use it for themselves, he would possibly never made it in the first place or at the very least, made the entrance to Mount Doom inaccessible.
- Humanoid Abomination:
- Sauron's physical form during the War of the Last Alliance is a black-armored humanoid warrior, but he's anything but human. As a matter of fact, his armor is the only solid thing in his body. When Isildur cuts off his fingers, there is nothing inside of it.
- In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, he briefly takes a humanoid, shadowy form with vague eye-holes and a mouth when confronting Radagast.
- I Can Rule Alone: Gandalf tells Saruman that this is what will ultimately happen to anyone who tries to ally themselves with Sauron. In Sauron's eyes, no one is his equal, and as the only one who can use The One Ring, why should he share power?Gandalf: There is only one Lord of the Rings, only one who can bend it to his will. And he does not share power.
- Karmic Death: He has two to his name.
- His first "death" was the result of Isildur cutting his fingers to avenge his father, whom Sauron had killed before his eyes. One of those fingers had the One Ring, which causes the Dark Lord to explode as he cannot maintain a physical form without it.
- His second and final "death" is ultimately the result of two Hobbits, a race that he considers to be insignificant, fighting over the One Ring for selfish reasons, accidentally causing the Ring to fall into the Crack of Doom and be unmade. He's laid low by the humblest race of Middle-earth and the very corruption he thought would protect his Ring.
- Keystone Army: Raised and lost several due to the fact he's the only thing keeping his forces united.
- Knight of Cerebus: His mere presence is never a cause for anything but terror and dread.
- Large and in Charge: In the movie, he appears to be a good 9,8 feet tall, at least.
- Light 'em Up: Even in the finished product, his eye forms a spotlight of sorts.
- Light Is Not Good: In the deleted scene where he appeared as Annatar◊.
- Also in The Battle of the Five Armies. While he is fighting Galadriel, there is a brief moment of him as a golden yellow being illuminated by light. Since he is a Maia spirit, this appears to be his true form.
- Living Shadow: Initially in The Hobbit, he manifests as a shadowy figure or a shapeless sentient shadow, due to lacking a physical body.
- Load-Bearing Boss: His malign will was functioning as his Evil Tower of Ominousness' foundation, not to mention the primary motivating force of his armies.
- Manipulative Bastard: He deceived the Elves, Dwarf-lords, and the nine Kings of Men with the Rings of Power, which were supposed to help them rule over each of their races. Unfortunately for them, Sauron hid that he was planning to create the One Ring to Rule Them All, and upon its creation in Mount Doom, he used it to conquer Middle-earth, with thousands of casualties in his wake. Eventually, he made the aforementioned Kings of Men into undead slaves to his will, the Nazgûl. There's a reason why one of his titles is "Sauron the Deceiver".
- Meaningful Name: See Names to Run Away from Really Fast.
- Merely a Setback: He bounces back from a number of failed plans for world domination:
- His master Morgoth's plans were foiled when he was cast into the Void, though Sauron managed to escape this fate.
- He attempted to corrupt Dwarves, Elves, and Men with the Rings of Power, but the latter two formed the Last Alliance and separated him from the One Ring, severely weakening him.
- 400 years later, he set up shop in Dol Guldur, resurrected the Nazgûl, and summoned a massive army of evil beings, who he sent to ally with the dragon Smaug, reconquer the kingdom of Angmar, and conquer Middle-earth. This failed when Smaug was killed, his armies were defeated, and he himself was banished to Mordor by the White Council.
- 70 years after that, he corrupted Saruman the White, dispatched the Nazgûl to find the One Ring, and planned to destroy the kingdoms of Rohan and Gondor, but this ultimately failed yet again when his armies were defeated, the One Ring was destroyed, and he was finally cast into the Void.
- Mind Rape: His specialty, as inflicted on Pippin at the beginning of The Return of the King.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Sauron" is Quenya for "abomination". His less-often-seen Sindarin name, Gorthaur, means "terrible dread". He's also known as "The Necromancer" throughout The Hobbit.
- Necromancer: This is his title during his time in Dol Guldur. He uses this power to resurrect the Nazgûl from beyond the grave. Radagast states that this power is rare in any magic practitioner.
- Obviously Evil: In humanoid form, he has Spikes of Villainy and leads an army of orcs. At one pont he was a Living Shadow who spoke in a diabolical-sounding tongue. Nowadays he's a flaming eye.
- Oh, Crap!: Gets this big time when Frodo puts on the Ring at Sammath Naur, realizing at once that he has been deceived and is on the verge of losing everything. When the Ring is destroyed, his Giant Eye of Doom begins frantically looking around as Barad-dûr crumbles beneath him.
- One-Man Army: When he took the field, he single-handedly turned the tide of the battle against the Last Alliance. He could very plausibly have won if not for Isildur cutting off his finger. Even in his shadow form, he's more than a match for Gandalf the Grey.
- Orcus on His Throne: He never engages anyone in physical battle after his previous defeat. Though, this isn't to say that he's inactive. His Eye is always on the move, as are his servants. That said, his status as this is less from not feeling like moving, and more from having no physical body.
- Out-Gambitted: He out-gambits everyone, and then is in turn Out-Gambitted by Gandalf. See Unwitting Pawn below.
- Playing with Fire: Sauron is heavily associated with fire. His physical form radiates intense heat, his spirit typically appears wreathed in flame and Mount Doom is bound to his will.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Rather, eye. It's red because it's on fire. Hard to get more ominous than that.
- Rule of Symbolism: Sauron is not meant to be a character in the conventional sense, but the very idea of evil given sentience. As such, even when he takes on a physical form his face is covered by a sinister helmet.
- Sadist: He has many scenes where he is shown to be one, as he taunts the heroes multiple times. Back when he was the Necromancer, he taunted Gandalf and Galadriel respectively about being unable to fight back against him; in Gandalf's case, he makes his point by murdering Thráin right in Gandalf's eyes, before imprisoning him in a cell where he could do nothing but watch as Sauron's armies march to Erebor. As the Eye sixty years later, he torments Frodo while saying that he is unable to hide from him and that death is all that exists in the Timeless Void. And finally, he sent his own messenger, the Mouth of Sauron, to taunt Frodo's allies by lying that he was tortured to his death, which was after Sauron had "bid thee welcome".
- Shadow Archetype: Of Gandalf and Galadriel. All three were tasked with being the benefactors of the mortal world, yet while Gandalf had boundless curiosity and Galadriel was content to preserve her realm, Sauron wanted to dominate everything.
- Sinister Surveillance: Sauron can focus his will on any part of Middle-earth to find what he wants and direct his forces as needed. But as Gollum says, "Sauron can see everything. But he cannot see everything at once." He's not The Omniscient and can be snuck past if his attention is elsewhere.
- Skull for a Head: His helmet vaguely resembles a skull with horns.
- Spikes of Villainy: Both his armor and anything made in Mordor.
- Taught by Experience: Originally, all Sauron had going for him was to Zerg Rush his opponents with large numbers of Orcs, which the Last Alliance of Men and Elves was able to fight back all the way to the slopes of Mount Doom. When Sauron rebuilds his armies in the Third Age, he takes more care to have a more flexible host capable of fighting in formation and corrupts a significant number of Men (in the films, the Nazgûl and the Haradrim are the two most prominent examples) to fight on his side.
- Take Over the World: Sauron wants world domination, a smaller and more practical goal than Morgoth's desire to destroy the universe.
- Tin Tyrant: Whenever we see Sauron's original form in the films, he's fully covered in plate armor. Unlike most examples, this isn't purely for the sake of looking scary but rather to maintain Tolkien's idea of Sauron as a faceless presence. However, Word of God says that his "armor" is actually his skin.
- Ultimate Blacksmith: Sauron is one of the most skilled craftsmen in all of existence, which is one reason the Ring is so incredibly hard to destroy. While there are smiths of similar or greater skill, most of them live in Valinor, outside the reach of Middle-earth.
- Unwitting Pawn: Marching up to the Black Gate was a trap, and he walked right into it.
- Wreathed in Flames: When utterly crushing Gandalf in The Desolation of Smaug, he appears as the Eye of Sauron with his humanoid form as the pupil, itself with a single flaming eye, repeating itself infinitely.
The One Ring
Voiced by: Alan Howard
Appears in: An Unexpected Journey | The Desolation of Smaug | The Battle of the Five Armies | The Fellowship of the Ring | The Two Towers | The Return of the King
The Ruling Ring forged in the fire of Mount Doom by the Dark Lord Sauron with the power to dominate the Nine (given to Men), the Seven (given to Dwarves), and the Three (given to Elves). Unknown to many, the Ring possesses a mind and will of its own, always seeking to return to its master by any means necessary including the corruption of any who even come too close to it.
- Affectionate Nickname: The Ring has been called "Precious" by Isildur, Gollum, and Bilbo. Even Smaug, who isnt a ring-bearer, refers to it as such as part of his Breaking Speech to get Bilbo to expose himself.Smaug: Something made of gold, but far more precious
- Amplifier Artifact: The Ring doles out power based on its wielder's capacity.
- Artifact of Attraction: Those who even so much as look at it will start to covet it.
- Artifact of Doom: It is the Soul Jar of the Evil Overlord Sauron.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: With Sauron, as the Ring has a will of its own and wishes to reconnect with him. It corrupts those who come into its possession and its destruction is the driving force of the plot.
- Black Speech: The inscription is written in Black Speech and it sometimes seems to be speaking it; the language is very harsh on the ears.
- Brown Note: If it's not speaking in a whisper, it's in a hideous deep voice.
- Clingy MacGuffin: Only two Ring-Bearers, Bilbo and Sam, have willingly given up the Ring - and Bilbo, at least, certainly wanted to hold on to it.* It doesn't simply refuse to leave either, actively feeding peoples' desire for it to the point of obsession, so they won't want to let it go.
- Compelling Voice: Its effect on the people around it is represented as sinister whispering.
- The Corruption: The Ring will corrupt anyone who holds it for a prolonged period of time both body and mind, even stretching their life far beyond its natural limit. Gollum used to be a hobbit before it had six hundred years to work on him.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Besides the deep voice speaking or whispering, the Ring is always depicted as seeming much heavier than its size and materials suggest. Whenever it is dropped, it always falls in slow motion and, when it strikes a hard surface, it makes a deep, resonating, ringing sound that is, once again, very much at odds with its real size. It also doesn't bounce.
- Happy Fun Ball: Boromir notes the irony that the fate of Middle-earth is bound up in a tiny, unadorned band of metal. The One Ring's design deliberately contrasts with those of the other Rings of Power, which are much more ornately adorned, in that it appears as a simple gold band unless its script is showing. However, it is unquestionably the most powerful of all the rings.
- Hate Plague: It engenders power-lust, malice, hatred, paranoia, and murderous envy in the people around it. Smeagol and Deagol only had to be near it for a minute before Smeagol's throttling the life out of his cousin.
- The Heavy: The reason for the whole quest is to destroy the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Its ability to tempt the bearer enough to prevent them from casting the Ring into Mount Doom always works. Unfortunately for Sauron, the Ring has no fail-safe when Frodo and Gollum, both corrupted by its influence, engage in a tug of war over it right next to the Crack of Doom.
- Invisibility Cloak: Wearing the Ring makes you invisible in the normal world, but you become visible in the Wraith-World, where you can be seen by Sauron and his Ringwraiths.
- Lust Object: Everyone is tempted by its power. Even Sam. Not even destroying it can guarantee that anyone will overcome their lust for it, as Bilbo showed some lingering interest in holding it once more even sometime after its destruction.
- Logical Weakness: It can only be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged. Obviously, if the fires of something are hot enough to forge something else, they are hot enough to melt the forged item once again.
- Made of Evil: Sauron poured some of his will and sheer malice into it.
- Magic A Is Magic A: It can grant you invisibility, but only send you into the Wraith-World, invisible to the naked eye. This means that beings that can see in Wraith-World, such as the Nazgûl and Sauron, will still see you. And it doesnt conceal you from being detected by means other than sight, as Smaug is still able to pinpoint Bilbos location through smell and hearing.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: The only thing that can destroy it is lava. Not just any lava, but specifically the stuff from Mount Doom.
- Ring of Power: The Ring of Power. Designed to subordinate all other rings of power to its will and the will of Sauron. In the right hands, it could burn entire realms to the ground with ease.
- Soul Jar: Sauron inserted the majority of his power into it, making himself effectively immortal so long as it exists. However, without it, he has drastically weakened to the point that his physical body exploded on losing it the first time, and he suffered various tactical errors because the lack of the Ring stopped him from fully understanding his enemies.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: The object equivalent of this. The One Ring looks exactly like a regular golden ring to the naked eye, which is why most people who find it at first don't really realize that it is the most evil object on Middle-earth until it's pointed out (or its thrown into a fire, which temporarily makes black speech markings on it visible). This was probably even by design by Sauron, as the One Ring is strikingly nondescript compared to the elven and dwarven rings of power we are shown.
- This Is Your Brain on Evil: Several people have compared its effects to those of drug addiction.
- Undying Loyalty: As noted by Aragorn, the One Ring answers to Sauron alone and has no other master. Anyone else who tries to use it will end up corrupted, and a pawn to the Ring in its goal to return to Sauron by any means necessary (theoretically someone powerful enough could use it against Sauron, but they would just become his replacement afterward due to the Ring's corruption).
Followers & Allies
Saruman the White
Portrayed by: Christopher Lee
Voiced by: Blas García (Latin American Spanish dub), Michel Le Royer (French dub)
Appears in: An Unexpected Journey | The Battle of the Five Armies | The Fellowship of the Ring | The Two Towers | The Return of the King
The leader of the Istari, an order of wizards sent by the Valar to Middle-earth to aid Men, Elves, and Dwarves in their struggle against the darkness. Unfortunately, Saruman was tempted by the power of the One Ring and turned to evil. Like Gandalf, he is in fact an angelic Maia spirit with the appearance of an elderly but vigorous man.
- Adaptational Badass: Somewhat. His power-level is roughly the same as his book counterpart, but the films' Saruman gets to show his chops a lot more often, such as besting Gandalf in a duel (in the book Gandalf apparently surrendered without a fight) and launching a magical storm at Caradhras (the book implies this was Sauron's doing, not Saruman's). He is also the sole non-Ringbearer fighting at Dol Guldur in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies but manages to put up just as much of a fight against the uncloaked Ringwraiths.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: In The Hobbit films, where he's seen as part of the White Council.
- Adaptation Expansion:
- Saruman only actually appears in four of the book trilogy's 62 chapters. His role in the films is greatly expanded (particularly in the extended edition of The Two Towers), and he is shown actually doing many of the things the books only said he did, giving him significantly more screentime.
- He doesn't appear at all in the The Hobbit, and there is only a brief mention in the book of "a great council of the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic" that retroactively alludes to him. The movies actually show us the council and the attack on Dol Guldur.
- Adaptational Heroism: In the films, he's still on the side of the angels by the time of the quest to Erebor, and his aid in the Battle at Dol Guldur seems genuine. In the books, he was already in league with Sauron by then and it's implied he helped Sauron escape Dol Guldur during the battle.
- Adaptational Nice Guy:
- He seems to be a genuine friend to Gandalf in the film, greeting him with warmth (though disapproving his taste for pipeweed), while the book Saruman makes sarcastic comments about him from the off. When Gandalf leaps from the pinnacle of Orthanc, Saruman even seems somewhat saddened as he says, "So you have chosen death," as though affirming that his former friend is now his enemy. The books also cover that Saruman has held resentment and jealousy towards Gandalf since basically the moment they were sent to Middle-earth and even before his fall from Grace, resenting Gandalf for being picked by Manwë and Varda to go to Middle-earth and the Elves' greater kinship with Gandalf than with himself.
- He's also less vain by the time of Fellowship. By this time in the book, he's taken to wearing multicolored robes to assert his superiority over the other wizards (and calling himself "Saruman of many colors"), while in the films he retains his standard white robes and never calls himself any new title.
- Adaptation Personality Change: In the books, Saurman only allies with Sauron because he believes the Dark Lord as the stronger side in the war while secretly harboring plans to claim the One Ring and to use it and his Isengardian warriors to overthrow Sauron right after the war is over. In the movies, Saruman is a genuine loyal ally of Sauron and even fancies himself as the Dark Lord's equal.
- Admiring the Abomination: In contrast with everyone else's sheer horror, Saruman seems almost fascinated by the lidless eye in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. It's hinted this fascination will lead to his fall.
- Agent Scully: Saruman is dead-set that Sauron's evil is gone from Middle-earth with the loss of the One Ring during the Quest for Erebor. Gandalf presents him with a Morgul blade coming directly from the Witch-king and he's still not convinced the blade came from Angmar.
- Animal Espionage: Saruman has spies everywhere, usually in the forms of animals. At one point the Fellowship of the Ring must hide from a flock of crows he's using to scour the land.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's the head of the White Council and kicks copious amounts of ass, such as when he delivered a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Gandalf.
- Badass Baritone: He has the deep, commanding voice of the great Christopher Lee.
- Beard of Evil: Well, he is a Wizard Classic. Just not a good one.
- Berserk Button: Two.
- Calling him mad. He tries asking Gandalf over to Sauron's side, but the minute Gandalf asks when he went mad, Saruman immediately attacks him in a screaming frenzy.
- Showing pity and / or mercy. He's all honey toward Théoden, asking if they can't all get along after Helm's Deep (though he gets pretty snide when Théoden spites him). Then Gandalf gets into the conversation, and Saruman tells him to shove it, before launching a fireball at him.Saruman: Save me your pity and your mercy! I have no use for it!
- Big Bad: Of The Two Towers, with Sauron serving as more or less a Greater-Scope Villain.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He sees himself as Sauron's equal, but to Sauron, nobody is equal.Gandalf: There is only one Lord of the Ring, only one who can bend it to his will, and he does not share power.
- Big Good: Initially, as the head of the White Council.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: Courtesy of the late Sir Christopher Lee. Became Evil Eyebrows after Saruman's FaceHeel Turn.
- Break the Haughty: The Ents decimate his forces and leave him trapped in his tower. Then his staff is destroyed by Gandalf and he gets knifed in the back by Wormtongue.
- Compelling Voice: It is Christopher Lee.
- Demonic Possession: In The Two Towers, it's implied that he is directly possessing Théoden, which prematurely ages him.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the book, Grima slits his throat. In the film, Grima stabs him in the back, causing him to fall from his tower onto a spiked waterwheel.
- Dies Wide Open: He had both his eyes open when he gets impaled on the wheel.
- Disc-One Final Boss: He is the primary antagonist of Fellowship and The Towers. By the beginning of Return of the King, his forces have been decimated and he himself is killed by the lowly Grima Wormtongue. Then the free folk still have Sauron and the might of Mordor to contend with
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: As Gandalf mentions, his belief that only a great power can destroy a great evil means basic human decency often sidestep him. This trait is present even before his turn to evil.
- Evil Counterpart: To Gandalf. He even says that he's what Saruman should have been.
- Evil Former Friend: Was Gandalf's friend before turning to evil.
- Evil Old Folks: Thanks to being played by an esteemed horror actor in his early eighties.
- Evil Sorcerer: Magic is his most potent weapon, as a wizard. He uses it to hinder the Fellowship, create the Uruk-hai, and weaken Théoden.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Casting Christopher Lee seems designed to invoke this trope.
- FaceHeel Turn: He spent most of his time on Arda as a heroic wizard fighting the forces of evil, but his obsession with studying them in order to combat them better led to a He Who Fights Monsters situation.
- Fallen Hero: A once noble wizard who falls into evil.
- Fantastic Racism:
- Saruman has a low opinion of hobbits, frequently calling them "halflings" and mocking their simple ways. It's only fitting then that two hobbits would undermine him at his most haughty.
- He's also not too fond of men, treating the denizens of Rohan as little more than uncivilised bumpkins and complaning that Grima carries the stench of horses on him.
- He's even a Boomerang Bigot to his fellow wizards, discrediting Radagast because of his fondness for magic mushrooms and Gandalf for smoking pipeweed. Then Merry and Pippin find out he's got a stash of weed.
- Fatal Flaw: Pride. Saruman holds himself as above everyone and everything, Saruman the Wise; this pride means he underestimates his enemies and forgets about the simpler things (like Gaia's Vengeance in the form of the Ents).
- Faux Affably Evil: He's quite charming and incredibly charismatic — at least until you make him seriously angry.
- To Gandalf. Both are wise and powerful Istari, but Saruman is proud and isolates himself in Orthanc. Gandalf, on the other hand, is still open to learning and travels widely.
- To Radagast. They are both wizards and members of the Istari who live in relative isolation (unlike Gandalf), but where Saruman lives in the grand and imposing tower of Orthanc, Radagast lives in the humble and ramshackle cottage of Rhosgobel in the forest of Mirkwood. Saruman is concerned with logic and industry whereas Radagast's concern is nature and the flora and fauna of Middle-earth.
- The Heavy: In The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Sauron is the Big Bad, but Saruman is the one who sends his forces after the Fellowship and wages war against Rohan, the latter of which makes up the majority of the main conflict in The Two Towers. The defeat of his army and the destruction of Isengard by the Ents by the end is a major win for the heroes by the start of The Return of the King, but also prompts Sauron to unleash his own vast army to correct this possible vulnerability.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Deforesting Fangorn to fuel his war machines was really not the best idea, especially since he knew the ents wouldn't be happy about it.Treebeard: A wizard should know better.
- Building a dam was also a bad idea, as the ents unleashed the built-up water to flood Saruman's catacombs and trap him in his tower.
- Humiliation Conga: Things do not go well for Saruman once Gandalf is upgraded to Gandalf the White, with him facing one humiliating disaster after another in rapid succession.
- Hypocrite: Rails against Radagast and Gandalf's smoking, but as Merry and Pippin learn, Saruman's got a small stash's worth of Longbottom Leaf, the very thing he claimed has "slowed" Gandalf's mind. He's probably ashamed that he actually enjoys it or even admits to doing it.
- I Fight for the Strongest Side!: One of his reasonings for fighting alongside Sauron.Saruman: Against the power of Mordor, there can be no victory.
- Insufferable Genius: He appears to enjoy insulting or belittling those around him, even questioning Galadriel herself at several points during the White Council. Gandalf is the most common recipient of his superiority complex and it makes a lot of sense considering the jealousy that Saruman has harbored towards him for millennia.
- In the Back: Where Gima stabs him, leading to his death.
- I Want Them Alive!: Says this word for word when he orders Lurtz to capture the hobbits, though everyone else is fair game. He also takes care to emphasize unspoiled, which proves prescient when some of the orcs try to eat Merry and Pippin.
- Karmic Death: He's killed by Wormtongue, almost immediately after smacking him around.
- Kill It with Fire: He tries to do this to Gandalf in the Extended Edition, but Gandalf just No-Sells it and snaps his staff.
- Large Ham: "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 WAAAAAAARRRRRR!!!"
- Let Me Tell You a Story: Apparently was prone to this before his corruption. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, he spends half his screentime on a tangent about how much he disapproves of Radagast's lifestyle (and his alleged mushrooms) whilst the Council are trying to discuss the Necromancer and the Witch-king. Gandalf and Galadriel are apparently quite used to this. He seems unaware that the others are continuing their discussions while he's speaking.
- Light Is Not Good: Dresses in white, and was once a noble figure, but by the time Sauron makes his move in Fellowship, Saruman's morals are lost in the face of arrogance, pride, and ambition..
- Mage Tower: Orthanc. From what little is shown of the interior, it contains numerous books on Middle Earth's history as well as the ingredients for explosives.
- Manipulative Bastard: One of the finest in the whole series. Saruman manipulates Théoden by way of a magical spell and Treacherous Advisor for years, driving the Rohirrim economy into the ground; he also attempts to prevent Thorin and his Company from destroying Smaug and reclaiming the Lonely Mountain, which would return control of the north to Erebor and Dale; and then after the Necromancer is driven out of Dol Guldur by Galadriel, Saruman insists that he be allowed to oversee the pursuit of Sauron. However, the latter seems to be done with good intentions, and it is hinted that it is due to this pursuit of Sauron that he became twisted in the first place.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Sure, Saruman. Slap your Dragon and insult him when he's the only servant you still have, right in front of the heroes. I'm sure he won't stab you in the back as soon as he decides he's had enough.
- More Than Mind Control: Even when he was a good guy he had a habit of looking down on others. Sauron played on this and convinced Saruman that they'd be equals if he turned on his allies.
- Non-Elemental: His specialty. While Gandalf is a fire specialist and Radagast is a Friend to All Living Things, Saruman has no obvious area of interest (except perhaps as a Gadgeteer Genius).
- Oh, Crap!: When the Ents storm Isengard and slaughter his forces. Particularly when they break the dam to flood the industrial works.
- One-Man Industrial Revolution: Part of the Green Aesop. He has "a mind of metal and wheels" and turns the lovely park of Isengard into a horrible arms factory that's constantly belching smoke and fire, and ruins the countryside around it. The way he goes about it, you'd swear it was done out of hatred for nature.
- Our Angels Are Different: The Wizards are really angels disguised as elderly humans.
- Pride: Saruman has clearly allowed his power and supposed wisdom to go to his head. By The Lord of the Rings, he's deluded himself into thinking he's an equal to Sauron, and he goes ballistic whenever his ego is challenged or if he's offered pity.
- The Quisling: His job was to stop Sauron, not join him.
- Rasputinian Death: Ends up stabbed, impaled(after falling), and drowned while being crushed under a mechanical wheel.
- The Rival: To Gandalf. While Radagast and the blue wizards have disappeared into the East by the time Lord of the Rings takes place, Gandalf is still around keeping an eye on things in Middle-earth, including Saruman's dubious actions around Isengard. This rivalry finally comes to a head when Gandalf discovers that Saruman has been in league with Mordor for decades.
- Shadow Archetype: After his FaceHeel Turn, he's this to Gandalf. He views power as the only thing that matters in the world while Gandalf values the simple things in life. It's why Gandalf travels with a small crew of specialists who get results while Saruman sends out waves of Uruk Hai that eventually get slaughtered.
- Spikes of Villainy: His dark tower, Orthanc, is crowned with four spikes, and his staff also has four spikes at the top.
- The Starscream: He has this trope in mind with his servitude towards Sauron, hoping to take the ring himself, but it never pans out.
- Start of Darkness: We get glimpses of it during the Hobbit trilogy. When the White Council is confronted with Sauron at Dol Guldur, Elrond and Galadriel seem horrified, but Saruman looks at the lidless eye with a fascination in his eyes, awed by the power of Sauron, a look that he maintains when he announces to the Council, "leave Sauron to me." The implication is that this ordeal has convinced him that, against the power of Sauron, there can be no victory, as he tells Gandalf in Fellowship.
- Smug Snake: Good job with the army of ten thousand and weakening Rohan, but maybe it wasn't such a good idea to use the magical forest full of Ents as your primary fuel source.
- Smug Straight Edge: He makes disparaging remarks about Radagast's fondness for mushrooms and Gandalf's use of pipeweed. Despite being a hypocrite who smokes pipe-weed himself, but doesn't want Gandalf to know this.
- Too Clever by Half: He is quite cunning when it comes to politics and strategy, but he runs into a brick wall whenever he's dealing with basic human decency.
- Treacherous Advisor: To most of Middle-earth before he reveals his true colors.
- Undignified Death: Well, being stabbed In the Back by Gríma Wormtongue definitely counts as undignified.
- Villain in a White Suit: "Saruman the White". Dresses accordingly. Especially as the movies phase out the "Saruman of Many Colors" aspect.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- Has a non-verbal one when the Ents storm Isengard, running out to his balcony and staring in utter shock and dismay as his remaining forces are literally crushed underfoot.
- After being trapped in his tower, he has difficulty holding it together. He makes a weak plea for peace, but soon enough he's frothing at the mouth and handing out nasty little speeches.
- Visionary Villain: He sees himself as the ruler of Middle-earth instead of Sauron.Saruman: A new powerrr is rrrising!!
- We Can Rule Together: Offers Gandalf the chance to rule with him.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Originally he wanted to learn everything about the Enemy so that he could defeat him, but his arrogance led to his downfall (for example, using the pálantir against Gandalf's advice).
- We Used to Be Friends: Due to his power and influence, he was friends with some of the oldest denizens of Middle-earth; Elrond, Galadriel, Treebeard, and most notably Gandalf.
- White Hair, Black Heart: Although his white hair is largely due to being an older gentleman, his heart is most certainly given over to darkness.
- Willfully Weak: The Istari (like Saruman, Gandalf, and Radagast) are in the form of old men to discourage them from attempting to oppose the forces of evil with raw power, relying instead on inspiring mortals to battle evil. Notably, he is still under this restriction after openly allying with Sauron (betraying his original, Out of Focus superiors) in The Lord of the Rings: so perhaps 'willfully' is the wrong word.
- The Worf Effect: He was able to overpower Gandalf the Grey, but his most powerful magic is a complete No-Sell against Gandalf the White, who breaks his staff with words.
- Wrecked Weapon: Gandalf the White makes his staff explode just by saying it.
- You Are Too Late: Just before he reveals the Nazgûl have been sent on the hunt and properly reveals his alliance to Sauron, he tells Gandalf "the hour is later than you think" after Gandalf covers the pálantir and sees the vision of the Eye.
Species: Man (Human)
Portrayed by: Brad Dourif
Voiced by: Jesse Conde (Latin American Spanish dub), Jean-François Vlérick (French dub)
Appears in: The Two Towers | The Return of the King
Once a Man of Rohan, Gríma entered the service of the evil wizard Saruman and acted as the agent of his dominance over Rohan before the Fellowship's arrival in Edoras. After being freed from Saruman and Gríma's joint mind control, Théoden spared him, and he returned to Isengard and betrayed the Hornburg's sole weakness to Saruman.
- Abhorrent Admirer: To Éowyn, who does little to hide her contempt for him.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Whenever things start to go south for him, Grima quickly resorts to pathetic begging.
- Ambiguous Situation: It's left up in the air whether or not he poisoned Théodred or just let him die of his injuries.
- Blatant Lies: His claims that he "only ever served [Théoden]" and that Saruman is a "trusted friend and ally" of Rohan.
- Creepy Blue Eyes: He has very pale blue eyes that add to his unsettling appearance.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the book, he's shot by hobbit archers as he tries to flee after killing Saruman. In the film, he's shot by Legolas.
- Dirty Coward: When Gandalf begins healing Théoden, Grima tries to make a discreet getaway but is stopped by Gimli. When Théoden prepares to kill him, Grima crawls away while begging desperately for his life.
- The Dog Bites Back: After enduring mistreatment from Saruman and full of regret for his betrayal of Théoden, he stabs his master to death.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: In contrast to all the tall blond not-Vikings, Wormtongue looks like he'd sunburn from the torchlight.
- Establishing Character Moment: Wormtongue's introduction in Edoras shows that he is manipulative, creepy, and nevertheless a little pathetic.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He genuinely loves Éowyn, but he clearly has no idea how to express this without resorting to villainy. His attempts to woo her come across as hopelessly inept at best and extremely creepy at worst. It's even indicated that one of his main motivations for joining Saruman was that he promised him Éowyn.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Implied, seeing how horrified he is once he sees the army Saruman plans to unleash against Helm's Deep.
- Evil Chancellor: To Théoden.
- He Knows Too Much: His reason for getting rid of Éomer. "You see much, Éomer, son of Éomund. Too much."
- HeelFace Door-Slam: Théoden offers him amnesty and he does appear to want to accept it but he then has enough of Saruman's crap and ends up dying in the resulting altercation.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Has a subtle one with Éowyn after his attempt to seduce her fails, and he points out how alone she is.
- Manipulative Bastard: His poisonous words combine with Saruman's enchantments to turn Théoden into a weak old dotard, and Wormtongue convinces him to exile his beloved and loyal nephew Éomer.
- The Mole: Saruman uses Wormtongue to weaken Rohan by weakening its king.
- My God, What Have I Done?: He possibly has a moment of this when he sees the sheer size of Saruman's Uruk-hai army, shedding a Single Tear. He later seems willing to abandon Saruman when his plans fall apart.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Who in their right minds would trust a guy named Wormtongue? (Even more in Spanish, where grima actually means "disgust".)
- Obviously Evil: Lampshaded in the extras. A hall full of handsome, blond-haired warriors in armor and one pale scrawny guy with greasy black hair? Gosh, who could the bad guy be?
- Oh, Crap!: He has a few moments of dreaded realization:
- Realizing that his men failed to confiscate Gandalf's staff.
- Seeing Théoden restored to sanity and strength.
- The full scale of Saruman's army being revealed to him.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He gives an especially cruel one towards Éowyn when his attempt to seduce her fails, declaring her as alone and cold. Even more twisted is the fact that some of it comes across as if he's trying to compliment her.
- Smug Snake: At the end of the day, he's a tool of Saruman and shouldn't be nearly so confident in his role as advisor to Théoden. Gandalf quite easily puts him in his place.
- Stalker with a Crush: Very much so, to Éowyn.
- Sycophantic Servant: To Saruman, especially towards the end.
- Treacherous Advisor: He presents himself as Théoden's trusted advisor and confidante when in reality he's working for Saruman and actively assists him in keeping Théoden under a magical spell. This hasn't helped Rohan in the slightest, either.
- Ungrateful Bastard: How does he thank Aragorn, who just saved his sorry hide from being executed by Théoden? With a Spiteful Spit.
- Villainous Crush: Toward Éowyn. He saw no hope of winning the proud and beautiful niece of his king until Saruman made him an offer
- Villains Want Mercy: From Théoden, whom Grima begs for his life. But not from Aragorn, who actually gives it to him, whose extended hand Grima spits on before fleeing.
The Witch-king of Angmar
Species: Wraith (Formerly Man)
Portrayed by: Lawrence Makoare, Bret McIntyre, Ben Price and Andy Serkis
Voiced by: Alejando Mayen (Latin American Spanish dub), Kiyoshi Kobayashi (Japanese dub), Saïd Amadis (French dub)
Appears in: An Unexpected Journey | The Desolation of Smaug | The Battle of the Five Armies | The Fellowship of the Ring | The Two Towers | The Return of the King
Indubitably the greatest of Sauron's servants, the Witch-king of Angmar holds the greatest of the Nine Rings of Power given to Men and is the Lord of the Nazgûl. The Witch-king was previously king of the evil realm of Angmar in Northern Eriador, which destroyed the fortress-city of Fornost (and with it, the northern Dúnedain kingdom of Arnor). Soon afterward, Angmar was itself destroyed by a combined force of Elves and Men of Gondor and (the remnants of) Arnor, after which the Witch-king was imprisoned in a tomb until Sauron (as the Necromancer) resurrected him.
- Adaptational Badass: In the film, he's able to shatter Gandalf the White's staff and knock him off Shadowfax, and it was suggested he would have had the upper hand before flying off with the arrival of the Rohirrim, whereas in the books the power gap between the two goes on the opposite direction and is implied to be rather vast. Gandalf is a Maia, who killed another incredibly strong Maia in his weaker form, and the Witch-king is just a Black Numenorean wraith with a Ring. Gandalf mentions at the time of the Weathertop encounter it would have taken all of the Nine together to seriously threaten him, and here the Witch-king is facing Gandalf the White. Additionally, Gandalf wields Narya, one of the Three, which are greater in power than the Nine carried by the Nazgûl. Supplemental material explains that the Witch-king got a power boost at Pelennor Fields due to Sauron's presence.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: Chronologically speaking, he first shows up in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, where he attempts to backstab Radagast with a Morgul blade only for the wizard to successfully fend him off. In the book version, he has no such role in The Hobbit.
- Badass Boast:Do you not know death when you see it, old man? This is my hour!Do not come between the Nazgûl and his prey!
- Beard of Evil: The form of the Witch-king who appeared in the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring had a beard (he's the one who is front and center).
- Black Eyes of Evil: His eyes are jet black.
- Black Knight: He leads the siege of Minas Tirith wearing extra armour, with his spiky helmet ans oversized flail standing out.
- Carry a Big Stick: Though it's a nasty-looking flail in the Movie.
- Continuity Nod: In An Unexpected Journey, he appears as the Pale King seen by Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Maximally undignified for a character fond of boasting that no man can kill him: after Merry's stabbed him in the leg and broken his enchantment, Eowyn stabs him in the face, and he basically implodes, his helm collapsing in on itself until he's just a cloak and a piece of twisted metal.
- Demoted to Extra: Compared to his role in the books in The Return of the King, especially in the theatrical cut where you could be forgiven for not knowing he was the commander of the enemy forces. His actions and role in the battle are generally downplayed compared to the novel, with Gothmog being the much more prominent antagonist and main battle commander.
- The Dragon: To Sauron. The Witch-king is his chief servant and goes abroad to do the dirty work.
- Dragon Ascendant: After Sauron's initial defeat, the Witch-king was briefly the highest-ranking individual in what remained of Sauron's empire. He and the rest of the Nine were quickly finished off and their corpses were buried in the high fells of Rhudaur.
- The Dreaded: Terror is his first and greatest weapon, and he has many others. His mere presence breeds panic in the weak.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": We just know him by one of his former titles (Angmar has been a shattered ruin for a thousand years.)
- Evil Sorcerer: He's not called the Witch-king for nothing. In the third film, he even manages to destroy Gandalf's staff with his magic.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He's not much of a talker, but his voice is sepulchral when he does.
- Evil Sounds Raspy: As fitting his emaciated spirit form, the Witch King has a voice that sounds positively ancient.
- Evil Takes a Nap: Him and the other eight Ringwraiths before the events of The Hobbit (see the below character folder for details).
- Exact Words: On the receiving end of how this might screw someone over. He boasts that "No man can kill me", as, at least in the books, per a prophecy saying that "not by the hand of man should he fall". He is bested by Merry (a Hobbit), and Éowyn (a woman).
- The Faceless: In the normal world he has no form except that which his clothes (and crown) give him. We do see his face in the shadow world when Frodo wears the Ring.
- Flaming Sword: He makes flames emanate from his sword when he challenges Gandalf in the Extended Edition.
- Geas: It has been noted that while it is not referred to as such, the prophecy that he shall not fall by the hand of Man is functionally a geas.
- Giant Flyer: His later mount, the Fell Beast.
- Implacable Man: He and the other Nazgûl can't be truly killed while the One Ring exists.
- I Have Many Names: Witch-king, Lord of the Nazgûl, Last of the Nine.
- Knife Nut: Once again wields a Morgul blade.
- Large and in Charge: In the third film, he's played by 7-foot, 300-pound bodybuilder Lawrence Makoare, and wears a tall pointed helmet.
- Light Is Not Good: When attacking Radagast, he appears as a pearly white, glowing, undead king, much as he appeared in The Fellowship of the Ring, when Frodo saw his true face.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: He and the other Nazgûl. The movie uses their nightmarish wail more often than the books did: it's an audible indicator that the Witch-king is using his power to inspire terror.
- Mysterious Past: His past was never fully revealed. We only get hints of who he used to be. Which is a lot more than we get of his lieutenant, Khamûl the Black Easterling, and the rest of the Nazgûl. He gets a bit of exposé in The Hobbit that differs significantly from what Tolkien wrote, due to Jackson not being allowed to utilize several of the books that contain the Witch-king's past.
- Necromancer: Junior level.
- The Necrocracy: Founded two, the country of Angmar and the city of Minas Morgul, itself the corrupted remains of the Gondorian fortress of Minas Ithil.
- No Man of Woman Born: Tolkien's answer to this trope was to have him undone by a woman and a hobbit. Merry gets him in the knee to break the protective enchantmentnote and Éowyn stabs him in the face.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Was once a mortal Man corrupted by the Ring of Power he received.
- Our Liches Are Different: So long as the Nine Rings and the One Ring still exist he cannot be destroyed. There's also the prophecy, but that's another trope.
- Pre Mortem Oneliner: "Fool...no man can kill me! Die now..."
- Teleport Spam: He and the other Nazgûl teleport rather liberally during the fight against the White Council in The Battle of the Five Armies.
- Tin Tyrant: He appears dressed in full armor in The Return of the King and The Battle of the Five Armies.
- Was Once a Man: Used to be a king, but like mentioned above, he was corrupted by one of the Rings of Power he received.
- The Worf Effect: The fact that Radagast beats him with ease establishes how powerful the brown wizard really is, no matter how silly he appears. Elrond, Saruman, and Radagast make quick work of him and the other Nazgûl during their rescue of Gandalf.
Species: Wraith (Formerly Men)
Portrayed by: Bret McIntyre, Lawrence Makoare, Andy Serkis, Victoria Beynon-Cole, Lee Hartley, Sam La Hood, Chris Streeter, Phil Grieve, Jonathan Jordan, Semi Kuresa, Clinton Ulyatt, Paul Bryson, Lance Fabian Kemp, Jono Manks & Ben Price
Appear in: An Unexpected Journey | The Desolation of Smaug | The Battle of the Five Armies | The Fellowship of the Ring | The Two Towers | The Return of the King
The Nazgûl (also known as Ringwraiths, sometimes written Ring-wraiths, or as the Black Riders, the Nine) were the dreaded ring-servants of the Dark Lord Sauron in Middle-earth throughout the Second and Third ages, and in the later years of the Third Age, they dwelt in Minas Morgul and Dol Guldur.
- Adaptational Badass: Mildly. In the books, they're weakened by sunlight. Since that'd be kind of difficult to get away with in a live-action film, there's no mention of it, and they can get about just fine and dandy. Same with their weakness of crossing running water, though one noticeably refuses to attempt to jump onto Bucklebury Ferry with the hobbits (which would likely sink it) and they're put out of commission for the duration of Fellowship following Arwen's Kill It with Water attack, which seemingly wipes out their horses.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: Chronologically speaking, the Nine's appearance in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is this, as they had no role in the book version of The Hobbit.
- An Axe to Grind: One of them wields an ax when they appear in The Battle of the Five Armies.
- Black Cloak: They disguise themselves in dark, tattered robes astride massive black steeds. They honestly look like Grim Reaper incarnates (and might as well be too) riding the Headless Horseman's horse.
- Blade on a Stick: Several of them wield spears and glaives adorned with several other spikes when they fight Elrond and Saruman.
- Carry a Big Stick: The one wearing an Easterling helmet (to Saruman's right when he arrives at Dol Guldur) wields a giant mace.
- The Corruptible: They weren't exactly good people, to begin with. Galadriel describes them as having been power-hungry, and Aragon states they were so blinded by greed they took Sauron's rings without thinking. They certainly paid for that one.
- Dark Is Evil: Their whole theme is darkness.
- The Dividual: They are pretty much the same character, with little distinction provided, which isn't different from the books. Mainly because whatever individuality they had is long gone.
- Dumb Muscle: What with being long undead, aside from the Witch-King they don't seem to have a whole lot going on upstairs, being easily fooled by some pillows even after several seconds of concentrated stabbings.
- Evil Takes a Nap: The body of the Witch-king and all his possessions were sealed by Northmen (implied to be Dúnedain of Arthedain or the Éothéod) inside a dark tomb in the High Fells of Rhudaur after Angmar's fall, as were the bodies of the other eight Nazgûl — this is different from the books, where the Witch-king fled to Mordor after Angmar's fall at the Battle of Fornost, and he and the other Nazgûl went on to capture Minas Ithil (Morgul) and cause the ruination of Osgiliath. It seems the Northmen who buried the Nine in Rhudaur were attempting to make the Nine a Sealed Evil in a Can, but the wraiths had no problem breaking out of their tombs when Sauron summoned them in The Hobbit.
- Giant Flyer: After their horses are presumably destroyed by water, they reappear riding Fell Beasts: massive Wyvern-like creatures.
- Hellish Horse: Their steeds.
- Hell Is That Sound: Give off a horrific wailing sound. It also makes people feel overwhelming pain and despair (elves seem to be immune, but it's probably still rough on their ears).
- Implacable Man: They exist solely to do Sauron's bidding, and know nothing else besides service to him. Even if they are defeated, they cannot be killed until the One Ring is destroyed.
- Light Is Not Good: Their true forms are glowing spectral beings, although the effect is massively creepy.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: They have very distinctive shrieks.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Unlike in the books where they're invisible except for their eyes under their hoods, and in the Ralph Bakshi film where they're portrayed as ghostly suits of armor; in the Jackson version of Lord of the Rings, we never see with the naked eye what would be under the Nine's cloaks if someone removed them in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. We do however see the Nine's true forms in the shadow world and see them manifest in Bakshi-like forms in The Hobbit.
- One-Winged Angel: When Sauron summons them to Dol Guldur, they appear as armoured phantoms with enhanced physical abilities. This power seems to be dependent on their proximity to their master, as every other time they're shown to be no more powerful than a regular human.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: They were once mortal Men who Sauron corrupted through the rings of power that he bestowed upon them. After death, they continue to serve him as evil wraiths bound to the power of the One Ring.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The black hoods are supposed to be a disguise. The effort is foiled by the fact they're blatantly inhuman even at a glance (and that's assuming you didn't hear the inhuman wailing a mile off).
- Sssssnake Talk: On the occasion they do speak, it's a lot of sinister hissing.Nazgul: Sssssshhire. Baginnssssss.
- Teleport Spam: They do this in their fight against the members of the White Council in The Battle of the Five Armies.
- Tin Tyrant: They all appear in their full armored regalia in The Battle of the Five Armies.
- The Undead: As explained by Aragorn in the quote above, the Nazgûl are neither living nor dead, in that their spirits are unable to rest as long as the evil of Sauron and the One Ring endures.
- Weakened by the Light: They seem to be able to function fine in daylight, but are terrified by and shy away from fire.
- Was Once a Man: They were once great kings of Men before they fell under Sauron's influence.
- The Worf Effect: While in Dol Guldur they're much faster and carry larger weapons, yet it still takes all 9 of them to fight evenly against Elrond and Saruman, with Galadriel banishing all 9 of them in one stroke.
Monsters originally created by Morgoth as mockeries of the Ents. Now they serve Sauron and other evil beings and exist in many variations/subspecies, including the deadly and intelligent Olog-hai, the exceptionally strong but awesomely stupid Cave Trolls, and the large, fast, and darkly cunning Mountain Trolls.
- Adaptational Badass: Individual trolls are much more of a threat than their book counterparts. The one in Moria was driven off by Frodo stabbing its hand in the book. In the movie, it takes the combined efforts of the Fellowship to kill it, and Frodo slashing its hand just makes it angry.
- All Trolls Are Different: Tolkien's trolls are giant-like monsters with rocky hides and beast-like intelligence. They permanently turn to stone when exposed to sunlight. The exceptions are Sauron's Olog-hai, more intelligent trolls that are immune to sunlight.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted with the cave troll in Moria. After it's mortally wounded, it comes off as almost childlike and you're left to wonder about the chain it was wearing and what its life was like.
- Played much straighter with the heavily armored Attack Trolls that attack during the siege of Minas Tirith, which are almost certainly inspired by (if not outright ARE) the Olog-hai, the most powerful trolls that were said to be imbued with Sauron's malice and will.
- Dumb Muscle: Trolls are barely capable of speech and are used simply to crush large numbers of enemies.
- Elite Mook: The Attack Trolls followed by the Olog-hai.
- Evil Counterpart: Apparently intended as Morgoth's answer to the Ents, but nowhere near as strong or wise.
- Giant Mook: They dwarf even the Witch-king.
- Implacable Man: The troll faced in Moria shrugs everything thrown at it, sword swings, arrows to the back of its head, and getting impaled with a spear until Legalos shoots through the roof of its mouth.
- Made of Iron: They die hard.
- Mighty Glacier: They are big, slow, but very, very strong.
The Mouth of Sauron
Species: Man (Human)
Portrayed by: Bruce Spence
Voiced by: Arturo Mercado (Latin American Spanish dub), Thierry Mercier (French dub)
Appears in: The Return of the King
A Black Númenórean who serves as Sauron's mouthpiece to the Captains of the West. Unceremoniously decapitated by an enraged Aragorn.
- Asshole Victim: Aragorn chops his head off. Bad form for negotiation, but voluntarily serving Sauron and taunting the heavily-armed men about torturing and killing one of his friends doesn't win you any sympathy.
- "Ass" in Ambassador: After meeting with Aragorn, he essentially demands his surrender.
- Black Speech: An interesting form of it. His mouth is so horribly damaged and disfigured because the words of Sauron that he speaks are so evil he gets damaged by them.
- Body Horror: His mouth does not move naturally, and is distorted and grotesque. His movements in general are a bit jarring and jerky. His LEGO minifigure in the Black Gate set reveals that his mouth is his only facial feature left, with folds of skin and warts where eyes should be. The designers for the film envisioned him blind, but it didn't matter since being the mouthpiece of Sauron was his only purpose, but deterioration to the point of only having a mouth adds to the horror.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: From his dialogue, one gets the impression that he's the one in charge of actually doing this to people who have offended Sauron in some manner.
- Death by Adaptation: In the books, he concludes negotiations by turning tail and running back to the Black Gate after Gandalf rejects the terms and the rest of the Free Folk give him a Death Glare. In the extended cut of the film, he mocks Aragorn and is swiftly decapitated.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Speaks in a deep, distorted baritone to fit his personality.
- Eye-Obscuring Hat: Or helmet, in this case. His helmet covers his eyes and nose except for his mouth.
- Faux Affably Evil: He bids the Fellowship welcome upon arriving at the Black Gate. From then on he resorts to belittling and tormenting them.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: His teeth. Egads, his teeth
- Hate Sink: He tries to break the Fellowship's morale by showing them Frodo's mithril vest and gleefully tells them how he suffered, knowing full well that Frodo was someone they deeply cared about. When Aragorn decides to shut him up for good, the Mouth's last words are a taunt over his ancestry. Even Gothmog - the leader of the orc army - isn't as loathsome as this guy.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: At this point in the film, the antagonists include orcs, the undead, a troglodyte, and a devil. For the most part, they're only as villainous as you'd expect their archetypes to be. The Mouth of Sauron meanwhile uses psychology to shatter his foes' resolve.
- I Shall Taunt You: Pretty much his whole "negotiation" with Gandalf.
- Karmic Death: He was seriously asking for this.
- Mouth of Sauron: Duh.
- Off with His Head!: Courtesy of Aragorn in the extended cut. As a matter of fact, since the films only show orcs getting decapitated and have humans beheaded offscreen, the Mouth of Sauron is the first human to be shown getting beheaded on-screen.
- Oh, Crap!: When Gandalf rejects his terms, he starts raving, but when the other representatives of the Free Folk give him a Death Glare, he turns tail and rides breakneck back to the Morannon. In the extended cut of the film, he taunts Aragorn and is swiftly decapitated.
- One-Way Visor: His helmet leaves only his mouth exposed (although as stated above, this hides his Nightmare Face).
- Slasher Smile: He flashes his pearly things in a horrific leer at everyone.
- Smug Snake: Okay, so the army Aragorn brings is horribly outnumbered and basically doomed from the get-go. That doesn't mean it's a good idea to keep gloating about how you murdered a friend of theirs while their leader, who is wielding the blade that did for your master in the last age, is riding towards you looking curiously calm.
- Was Once a Man: Implied. See Body Horror above.
- Would You Like to Know How They Died?: He taunts Gandalf and the Fellowship by throwing them Frodos mithril armor and gloating about how the orcs killed the hobbit.Mouth of Sauron: The halfling was dear to thee, I see. Know that he suffered greatly at the hands of his host. Who would've thought one so small could endure so much pain? And he did, Gandalf. He did.
A race of savage humanoid creatures who serve as the foot soldiers of Middle-earth's major villains.
- The Ageless: Like the Elves, they were supposedly created from, but it isn't fully clear.
- Adaptational Badass: They're considerably larger and stronger than they were in the books. Their novel counterparts were considerably shorter, weaker, and more cowardly than humans, not that much bigger than Hobbits.
- Always Chaotic Evil: They're murderous brutes who thrive on destruction.
- Bad Boss: Any given Orc in a position of power will probably be one of these.
- Black Blood: Their blood is oily and dark, which presumably delighted Peter Jackson because he could indulge in his B-movie gore-lovin' sensibilities without worrying too much about censors.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Those Orcs who aren't Blood Knights are really into this.
- Creatures by Many Other Names: The words Orc and Goblin refer to the same species, though some groups such as the Uruk-Hai are only ever called orcs.
- Dirty Coward: "Standard" Orcs, who will happily mutilate and murder helpless or outnumbered victims, but balk the instant their foes come at them with equal or superior numbers or don't show any fear. This is why whip-wielding superiors and/or Nazgûl stand behind them.
- Enemy Civil War: The only thing keeping the orcs held together is the will of Sauron. Whenever that slackens for whatever reason, they remember that they hate each other almost as much as they hate the other races and almost immediately go for each other's throats. Unless there are people of other races nearby, in which case different tribes of orcs will band together to kill them, then turn on each other.
- Evil Minions: Some of the most iconic evil minions in fantasy.
- Fantastic Racism: Against Elves, Men, and even other Orcs (there is a rivalry between the Orcs of Mordor, the 'Northerners' from the Misty Mountains who are used to running their own affairs, and Saruman's Uruk-hai).
- I'm a Humanitarian: They're not very selective in their diet.
- Mooks: The primary minions of the dark forces. Incredibly numerous and treated as completely expendable by their masters.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Actually, to a degree, they are, despite being the trope namers. Tolkien's actual orcs are much more advanced and intelligent, and not as physically powerful, than the crude barbarians Always Chaotic Evil orcs are generally portrayed as.
- Torture Technician: Just about any orc with brains will be one of these.
- Was Once a Man: According to Saruman, they were once Elves, tortured into vicious servants of evil by dark forces. The dark forces now breed new orcs with all the attributes of the originals, minus the elven past.
- Worst Aid: Orc medicine is both remarkably effective and horrifyingly unpleasant. Prosthetics are literally stabbed into the stump of an amputated limb, skull fractures are protected by nailing an iron plate into the still-conscious patients head, you get the idea. Thats assuming the injured orc in question isnt simply hacked to pieces and devoured by his own ravenous brethren instead, though some might consider that outcome preferable to finding yourself in the care of an orc sawbones.
- Zerg Rush: The greatest advantage that the orcs have over their enemies are their sheer numbers.
Azog the Defiler (a.k.a. The Pale Orc)
Portrayed by: Manu Bennett
- "I don't want excuses. I want the head of the Dwarf-king!"
Orc King of Moria and slayer of Thrór (Thorin's grandfather), Azog is a powerful Orc chieftain with a vendetta against Dwarves, Durin's line in particular, which he has sworn to exterminate. He turns out to be a servant of Sauron, and, at his master's behest, leads a large force of Orcs to claim Erebor during the Battle Of the Five Armies.
- Actor Allusion: Azog's overall appearance and demeanor, Blood Knight status, and Large Ham way of speaking is very reminiscent of Manu Bennett's most famous role at the time, Crixus in Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
- Adaptational Badass: Azog's more of a hands-on villain in the films, surviving the battle where he originally died and chasing after Thorin for revenge. In the lore of the books he's a lesser example of Orcus on His Throne (after Sauron), as he moved into Moria after the Dwarves abandoned it and triggered war with the dwarves after he beheaded a wandering Thrór for "trespassing."
- Arch-Enemy: To Thorin. Azog's entire life seems to be have been consumed by his bloodthirsty search for him.
- Ascended Extra: He's only briefly mentioned in the book, and was killed in battle years ago. In the films, he is shown to have survived the battle (losing an arm instead), and his rivalry with Thorin is set in motion as he becomes one of the main antagonists.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: As is typical for Orcs, he leads because he's strong enough to keep them in line.
- Badass Baritone: He only speaks in the Black Speech, with a very deep voice.
- Badass Family: With his son, Bolg.
- Badass in Charge: Of the orc warband he leads. And in The Desolation of Smaug, Sauron's whole army.
- Bad Boss: He executes one of his hunters for failing to capture Thorin and Company by throwing him against a wall, and setting a group of Wargs upon him.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Of a sort. Yes, Azog is slain, but in the end, he did succeed in his personal goal of wiping out Thorin's bloodline.
- Bald of Evil: Much like most orcs.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Although Smaug is the guardian of the treasure sought by the dwarves, Azog is the most frequent threat to their group and in The Battle of Five Armies Smaug dies early in the movie, taking the Master of Lake-town with him, and Sauron retreats to Mordor which leaves Azog as the highest-ranking villain left and the main threat for the rest of the movie.
- Black Speech: In contrast to the usage of Common Tongue by the other Orcs and Goblins featured in Jackson's films, Azog and his band of hunters instead speak a variation of Orkish that's modeled after the Trope Namer.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: In The Battle of the Five Armies, he trades his claw in for a sword. He uses it to kill Fíli and fatally wound Thorin.
- Body Horror: The orc version of a prosthetic limb is apparently shoving a clawed spike through the stump of the severed arm. If you look carefully, you can see that his loincloth is made out of skinned dwarf faces.
- Carry a Big Stick: He wields a mace, not unlike Sauron's at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Combat Pragmatist: Since Thorin managed to cut off his arm in their first encounter, he doesn't hesitate to use every advantage he has the second time they meet, rather than just rush head-on like an average orc. He also hides in wait for the perfect chance to sneak attack Gandalf as he searches Dol Guldur.
- Commuting on a Bus: Is largely absent in the second film due to being called back to Dol Guldur by Sauron in order to lead the Orc army.
- Covered with Scars: They look vaguely tattoo-like.
- Creepy Blue Eyes: Combined with his pale white skin, they give Azog an unsettling, almost colorless appearance.
- Creepy Souvenir: If you look carefully, you can see that his loincloth is made out of skinned dwarf faces.
- Demanding Their Head: He very literally puts a price on the heads of the entire company of Thorin Oakenshield—but especially with Thorin himself, who cut off Azog's left arm in the Battle of Azanulbizar. The Great Goblin later lampshades it when confronting Thorin.
- Does Not Speak Common: All of his dialogue is in subtitled Black Speech.
- Dragon-in-Chief: To the Necromancer, evidently. Though he still has his own goals.
- Dragon with an Agenda: He's notably the first orc character in the Jackson films to act on his own initiative instead of taking orders from Sauron or Saruman. In the second film, it's revealed that he does in fact serve Sauron, but his pursuit of Thorin and his Company is a purely personal vendetta that Sauron considers completely irrelevant.
- The Dreaded: His brutality made him feared by his enemies and his minions, and it's one of the reasons why he is known as "the Defiler".
- Dual Wielding: Wields a sword in his right hand and had his claw exchanged for a sword in The Battle of the Five Armies. He later uses a Epic Flail with his sword arm during the final fight with Thorin.
- Epic Flail: In addition to his sword arm in The Battle of the Five Armies, he swings around a chunk of masonry attached to a chain.
- Establishing Character Moment: The first time we see Azog in flashback, he beheads Thrór. When we next see Azog in the main story's timeframe, he feeds his own henchman to his Warg pack. Clearly, his title of "The Defiler" is by no means strictly honorary.
- Evil Sounds Deep/Guttural Growler: He has a deep, growling, and quite intimidating voice. Speaking exclusively in Black Speech helps emphasise this quality.
- Faking the Dead: After Azog falls below the ice, he pretends to have drowned by allowing his body to float beneath the ice as Thorin is walking above him. He then uses this to make a surprise attack and gives Thorin a fatal blow to his chest.
- Familial Foe: Azog the Defiler has sworn to wipe out King Thrór, of Durin's line. In the Back Story he killed Thrór and drove Thrór's son insane, and is currently out for the blood of Thrór's grandson and two great-grandsons.
- Family Extermination: Though the origin of his grudge is mysterious, Azog has vowed to systematically wipe out the royal bloodline of Durin. To that end, he beheaded Thorin's grandfather in view of the latter, and Thorin has reciprocated Azog's enmity ever since — and later, he and his son respectively succeed in killing both of Thorin's nephews, and finally Thorin himself is killed by Azog in a Mutual Kill.
- The Family That Slays Together: His son, Bolg, serves as his second-in-command.
- Fangs Are Evil: And he shows them off frequently.
- Final Solution: In The Desolation of Smaug, it's revealed that he wiped out the entire Skinchanger race, exercising horrific cruelty on them for sport. By the time Azog finished it, Beorn was the only one to survive.
- For the Evulz: According to Beorn, Azog enslaved and tortured his family solely for his own amusement.
- Four-Star Badass: He is this especially in The Battle of the Five Armies, directing entire battalions into combat against the Elves, Dwarves, and Men, and doing a pretty good job of it.
- Genius Bruiser: He's very strong, but he's also capable of coordinating his band of Orc and Warg hunters into an ambush when he has caught up with his enemies. The final film really plays up both halves of this trope.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: His scars are not only evil, they're symmetric. They look deliberately inflicted, possibly as a ritual of some kind.
- Gotta Kill Them All: Intends a three-way genocide on the races of Elves, Men, and Dwarves upon taking control of the Lonely Mountain in the name of Sauron.
- Handicapped Badass: Thorin cuts off his hand in the Battle of Azanulbizar. Later, he's seen with a metallic claw that has apparently been directly shoved into his stump with a spike. It gets upgraded in The Battle of the Five Armies into a massive blade.
- The Heavy: While Smaug is the Big Bad of the overall story, Azog is the most direct threat in the first film, and for all practical purposes can be seen as its main antagonist. He fills this role again in the third film, leading the Orcs in the titular Battle of the Five Armies and serving as the main villain in place of the absent Necromancer and the now-dead Smaug.
- Hero Killer: Was the one who beheaded Thrór at the Battle of Azanulbizar. He then kills Fíli and Thorin during the Battle of the Five Armies.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: By Thorin, via Orcrist.
- Interspecies Friendship: As noted by Word of God, he shares a "Lone Ranger and Silver" kind of bond with the Warg Matriarch (the albino Warg that Azog uses as his personal mount).
- It's Personal with the Dragon: Azog is Thorin's Arch-Enemy, with whom the Dwarf-king has a deep, mutual enmity. By contrast, Throin never even seems aware of Azog's master, the Necromancer.
- Kick the Dog: Pretty much every one of his acts is another Kick the Dog moment. Taunting Thorin about his grandfather's death certainly qualifies. And then there's his cold-blooded murder of Fíli right in front of Thorin.
- Knight of Cerebus: Most of An Unexpected Journey is pretty lighthearted, barring scenes involving him, and things related to the Necromancer.
- Large and in Charge: He's more than a head taller than the normal orcs
- Lightning Bruiser: and much more agile.
- Literal Disarming: This is how his first fight with Thorin ended and was believed to be the injury that killed him. In the present, he Inverts the trope with a gruesome-looking prosthetic that can best be described as a two-way Hook Hand.
- The Magnificent: "The Defiler".
- Mutual Kill: He manages to fatally wound Thorin, but leaves himself open for a killing strike in doing so.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Azog "the Defiler".
- Not Quite Dead: Believed to have died from his injuries during a failed attempt by the Dwarves to retake Moria. Turns out he didn't.
- And also in the third film when he is dragged under the ice while fighting Thorin.
- Oh, Crap!:
- He has this reaction twice when the Eagles show up to wreck his plans; firstly in An Unexpected Journey to rescue the Company from him, and again in The Battle of the Five Armies where the Eagles decimate his army along with Radagast and Beorn.
- His reaction when Thorin buries Orcrist in his chest.
- Outliving One's Offspring: While both meet their end at the Battle of the Five Armies, Azog lasts slightly longer than Bolg, his son.
- Plot-Irrelevant Villain: He has pretty much nothing to do with the dwarves' quest for Erebor, and even his personal connection to Thorin comes from an entirely separate incident. On the other hand, he's closely connected to the larger plot concerning the fate of Middle-earth that the dwarves' quest only plays a small part in.
- Averted in The Battle of the Five Armies, where he plays a direct role.
- Pragmatic Villainy: When one of the Orcs suggests killing the Dwarves in their sleep, Azog decides against it because Beorn is guarding his house, so he has his Orcs hunt them down on the road.
- Psycho Prototype: Ever wonder why he looks so radically different from the other orcs? According to supplementary material Azog's look is supposed to Call-Back to the orc origin given by Saruman: that of tortured elves corrupted into shoddy imitations. Thus his look holds more of an animalistic elvish look than his brethren, and his competence gains some explanation as well.
- Pyrrhic Victory: He actually succeeds in wiping out Thorin's bloodline, but he himself expires a few minutes before the last one after they fatally injure each other in a Mutual Kill.
- Relative Button: Hits Thorin's when he taunts the dwarf about his grandfather's death.
- Sadist: Beorn recalls how Azog would shackle and enslave Skinchangers solely for his own amusement, and in The Battle of the Five Armies, he murders Fíli right in front of Thorin to emotionally torture the latter.
- Screaming Warrior: He's constantly roaring in combat.
- Serkis Folk: He's a completely computer-generated character played and voiced by Manu Bennett.
- Slasher Smile: His fangs and violent behavior make any of his smiles this by default.
- Smug Smiler: Azog's Slasher Smiles demonstrate his confidence as much as his bloodlust.
- Spared by the Adaptation: It's mentioned in the previously mentioned appendix that he died in the Battle of Azanulbizar. Here, he's in much better shape.
- The Strategist: His clever generalship at the Battle of the Five Armies is what allows the orcs to almost carry the day, and his death is what finally defeats them since they cannot organize themselves.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Azog is notably bare-chested in the films, in contrast with his novel counterpart, who wore a full set of iron armor. As is explained in the documentary, the final design of Azog was subject to constant changes until one or two weeks prior to the deadline. Some of which ended up being used for his lieutenants, e.g. Yazneg and his son, Bolg. This gets subverted in the third movie, where he wears a cuirass and greaves, though still doesn't wear a helm or any other type of headgear.
- You Have Failed Me: When one of his minions, Yazneg, comes back empty-handed and says he barely escaped with his life, Azog says it would have been better if he had paid with it, then throws him to the Wargs.
- Zerg Rush: Their greatest asset is their numbers.
Portrayed by: Conan Stevens, Lawrence Makoare, John Tui
Appears in: The Desolation of Smaug | The Battle of the Five Armies
Son of and second to Azog, Bolg is, like his father, a powerful Orc chieftain.
- Ascended Extra: Although he was an antagonist in the novel, he didn't actually enter the story until near the end, and he died right after being introduced. He has a much more prominent role in the films, where he is introduced into the story much sooner. Early on in The Desolation of Smaug, he takes over hunting the dwarves from Azog, who has other business. He later shows up in Lake-town in his pursuit of the dwarves and gets into a duel with Legolas. In The Battle of the Five Armies, he arrives leading a second army of Orcs from Gundabad.
- Badass Family: With his father, Azog the Defiler. Even acknowledged in the third movie, when Legolas recognizes him by name and refers to him as "the spawn of Azog the Defiler". Considering that Azog actually entrusts him with a decades-old grudge against Thorin, he's probably the only one he respects. Where Azog fights Thorin with significant help, Bolg fights first Tauriel, then Tauriel and Kíli together before he kills Kíli and beating the snot out of Tauriel. Then he has a lengthy fight again with Legolas after that and would have killed him without Thorin's intervention, likely making him a better fighter than his father. His father sends waves of mooks after Thorin before they kill each other, but Bolg fights them without help.
- Bald of Evil: Much like his father, though, unlike Azog, Bolg has at least a few strands of hair on his head.
- Black Speech: Speaks the same language as his father.
- Body Horror: Almost as much as his father. He's got strips of iron bolted to his skull holding it together after some unexplained injury. And if you look closely at his armor, you can see it's not armor. It's pieces of metal driven into his flesh.
- The Brute: He's big, tough, and fights well enough to put Legolas on the defensive.
- Carry a Big Stick: The films give him a large spiky mace modeled on a vertebral column.
- Choice of Two Weapons: Mace and bow with Morgul arrows.
- Combat Pragmatist: He's not above shooting Kíli with a poisoned arrow, siccing his mooks on Legolas in what seemed to be a one-on-one confrontation or throwing Legolas at them to make a getaway.
- Combat Sadomasochist: In the third film, Legolas impales his palm with a dagger. Bolg looks at it, grins, balls his hand into a fist, and proceeds to beat Legolas up, all the while the dagger is still embedded in his palm (of the same hand with which he punches Legolas).
- Does Not Speak Common: All of his dialogue is in subtitled Black Speech.
- The Dragon: To his father, Azog. When the Pale Orc is recalled to Dol Guldur, Bolg takes up the hunt for Thorin and Company.
- The Dreaded: When Azog calls for him, other orcs turn away as if afraid to look Bolg in the eyes. He's also infamous enough for Legolas to recognize him on sight.
- Early-Bird Cameo: He's briefly seen in the first movie at the Battle of Azanulbizar.
- The Family That Slays Together: He's second-in-command to Azog, his father.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has a very ugly scar through half his face and across his scalp.
- Hero Killer: Kíli is slain by him in front of Tauriel's eyes.
- Implacable Man: He gets stabbed, slashed, falls off a cliff, gets buried in rocks in The Battle of the Five Armies, none of which slows him down. It takes Legolas stabbing him in the head to kill him, and the fact that he then falls a massive distance and has a boulder land on him seems to be the filmmakers letting the audience know that he really is dead this time.
- Interim Villain: Takes Azog's place hunting the Company in The Desolation of Smaug, while Azog is busy leading Sauron's forces.
- Large and in Charge: Seems to be a few inches taller than even Azog.
- Made of Iron: He takes a lot of punishment before finally going down in the third film, it's also could count as being literal since if you look closely his armor is actually pieces of metal driven into his flesh, which is one of the reasons he is so tough, only dying when Legolas stabs him in the head. The fact that he then falls a massive distance and has a boulder land on him seems to be the filmmakers letting the audience know that he really is dead this time.
- Our Orcs Are Different: Of the Tolkienian sort, naturally.
- Poisoned Weapons: Shoots Kíli in the leg with a poisoned arrow.
- Serkis Folk: Lawrence Makoare performed the motion capture.
- Rasputinian Death: He's impaled through the brain and his body falls several hundred feet off a cliffside. Then he gets crushed by falling debris.
- Red Right Hand: Has a damaged eye.
- The Rival: To Legolas. Bolg is the first character in the series to fight him to a standstill and make him bleed. The Desolation of Smaug ends with Legolas in hot pursuit of him.
- Spikes of Villainy: His armor is studded with spikes.
- Tin Tyrant: Wears a set of iron armor, and even has pieces of metal strapped to his head.
- Unflinching Walk: One of his noticeable traits is a steady, powerful stroll, most prominently in his introduction and after his fight with Legolas. Especially noticeable since most other Orcs limp, hop, waddle, slink, etc.
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Attempted at the end of Desolation of Smaug with Legolas in pursuit. Battle of Five Armies reveals he got away when he got up to his warg pack, which forced Legolas to break off.
The combined group of Orcs, Goblins, and Wargs that assist Azog in his hunt for Thorin and Company. See also the descriptions of the general species in the character pages of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Here are tropes that represent notable individuals in the group, and the group in general.
- Composite Character: The Warg Matriarch appears to be a gender-swapped version of the wolf-chieftain mentioned in the original novel, but her role also fulfills a unique one created for the films.
- Likewise, the group, in general, combines the elite guard of Azog from the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings with the Goblins and Wargs present in the "Out of the Frying Pan" chapter of The Hobbit.
- Also in a more literal sense, as is explained in the commentary. The designs for Yazneg and Narzug were early versions of Azog that the crew didn't feel would make the character justice, but also apparently were too good to be forsaken entirely.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Yazneg is subjected to one at the hands of Azog; choked with Azog's prosthesis before being thrown to a pack of wargs, who proceed to tear Yazneg apart and eat him.
- Defiant to the End: When captured by the Silvan elves during the attack on their realm, Narzug mocks the Elves in the clear knowledge he'll never escape their halls alive.
- Elite Mooks: Are notably much more competent than the Goblins residing in Goblin-town.
- Evil Counterpart: Are more or less this to the Company.
- Evil Gloating: Narzug gloats about Kíli being wounded. Despite losing around 100 orcs in the process.
- Horse of a Different Colour: Wargs serve as mounts to the orcs and goblins.
- Large and in Charge: All of Azog's lieutenants are noticeably taller than regular orcs.
- Monster Is a Mommy: The albino warg that Azog uses as his personal mount is identified as the Warg Matriach, and she happens to be the mother of most of the Wargs in Azog's hunting party.
- Mook Lieutenant: Yazneg, later followed by Fimbul.
- Never Mess with Granny: The Warg Matriarch is considerably older than the rest of the Wargs in the group, but she's still extremely fierce in combat all the same.
- Praetorian Guard: In a manner, the Hunters also serve Azog in this sort of manner.
- Savage Wolves: The Wargs that the orcs ride.
- Spikes of Villainy: Yazneg's armor.
- Would Hurt a Child: Being Orcs, they had no issue attacking Bard's children during their assault upon Bard's home.
- You Have Failed Me: Yazneg is subjected to this by Azog himself for failing to hunt down Thorin and Company, and getting most of his hunting party killed by the Elves of Rivendell.
Portrayed by: Lawrence Makoare, Craig Parker (voice)
Voiced by: Saïd Amadis (French Dub)
Appears in: The Return of the King
The Lieutenant of Minas Morgul who serves as the Witch King's second in command during the siege of Minas Tirith.
- Adaptational Badass: He doesn't fight anyone in the books. As a consequence, he doesn't last as long.
- Adaptation Expansion: In the books, the name "Gothmog" was mentioned a grand total of once and the only information on him was that he was the Witch-king's lieutenant.
- All There in the Manual: His name is never stated in the movies, we only know he's supposed to be Gothmog due merchandise.
- Ascended Extra: In the book, he gets mentioned exactly once as "the Lieutenant of Minas Morgul" who led Mordor's reserve into the battle after the Witch-king's death - his species isn't even disclosed. The movies make him a far more imposing commander.
- A Sinister Clue: Played with. The left side of his body is grossly misshapen, which means his right hand is dominant.
- Badass Boast: "The age of Men is over. The time of the Orc has come!"
- Bad Boss: Like all Orc leaders, Gothmog does not give a damn about his troops. His reaction to seeing them die by the droves in the gates of Gondor is shouting at their incompetence.
- Berserk Button: Anything regarding his numerous deformations is guaranteed to anger him. When a dying Madril stares at his crippled arm, Gothmog spears him in the gut in retaliation.
- Body Horror: His numerous deformations basically make him look like a giant walking tumor.
- The Determinator: His effort to kill Éowyn is quite remarkable.
- Dirty Coward: Notable aversion. While basically, all non-Uruk-hai Orcs seem to be cowards, Gothmog is the exception.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: When he dismounts his warg he stumbles slightly, and another orc tries to help him walk only for Gothmog to angrily push him away and walk by himself.
- The Dragon: Serves as one for the Witch King.
- Dragon Their Feet: Tries to finish off the badly wounded Eowyn and Merry after the two slew the Witch-king.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He was hoping that a volley of arrows and a wall of spears would be enough to discourage a charge from the Rohirrim. To his shock, the Rohirrim rode through both with absolutely no fear of death.
- Evil Cripple: The entire left side of his body is completely deformed, making his arm useless and his leg limp.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Alongside Guttural Growler.
- Four-Star Badass: Leader of the troops at Pelennor Fields.
- Gonk: One of, if not the ugliest orc in the series, which is no small achievement.
- Guttural Growler: He sounds a lot like Doctor Claw.
- Handicapped Badass: Despite being a cripple, he is by far the most competent Orc in the third movie. He's able to match Éowyn in combat despite a limp and one useless arm.
- The Heavy: While Sauron is the Big Bad and the Witch-king is the latter's right hand, Gothmog is the villain with the most screentime in Return of the King.
- Horse of a Different Color: Rides a warg.
- Kick the Dog: Beheading an entire battalion of soldiers and launching their heads against the terrified citizens of Minas Tirith.
- Nonchalant Dodge: Upon noticing a rock being launched in his direction, Gothmog stays perfectly still and calm until the last possible moment, then he dodges and follows up with a Spiteful Spit in the rock. Also counts as Hypocritical Humor; he had earlier told his troops to hold their ground even as they were being bombarded with rocks, and only when one is about to hit him does he go back on his own word.
- Not So Stoic: He keeps his cool during all but a few moments. The first is when he struggles to dismount his warg and lashes out at the orc who tries to help him. Then when the Rohirrim overpower his troops, he becomes little more than a snarling savage with a fixation on Éowyn.
- Oh, Crap!: The look on his face as the Riders of Rohan bear down on the orc forces. It's the only time he's ever fazed by anything the forces of Men can throw at him.
- One Steve Limit: He shares his name with the most powerful Balrog in Morgoth's forces, though the two of them are distinct, thanks to living in different ages.
- Rasputinian Death: Wounded in the leg, has his arm chopped off, then impaled with an ax, then slashed in the back. Only in the extended edition, though (the theatrical version leaves his fate ambiguous).
- Red Right Hand: The grossly misshapen lieutenant to the Witch-king.
- Slasher Smile: "Bring up the Wolf's Head!"
- Spiteful Spit: See Nonchalant Dodge above.
- The Strategist: The main Orc strategist in the movies.
- Uncertain Doom: In the theatrical cut, he's last seen about to face the Rohirrim.
- The Worf Effect: To Eowyn, he is a deadly opponent. While he loses the initial fight with her, he keeps her on her toes, and he then ends up trying to finish her off after the Witch-king's demise. To Aragorn and Gimli, he is just another Orc, and they cut him down in seconds.
Portrayed by: Stephen Ure
Appears in: The Return of the King
An orc captain from Minas Morgul, who gets into a disagreement with his comrades over Frodo's Mithril vest.
- Adaptational Intelligence: A mild example: Gorbag in the books was fairly intelligent, but Shagrat had to explain to him how Shelob entraps her victims. In the film, Gorbag explains this to Shagrat.
- Adaptation Personality Change: In the books, Gorbag was rebellious and evidently coveted Frodo's Mithril shirt, in spite of his orders to turn it over to Barad-dûr. In the film, he is the exact opposite, and he and Shagrat have reversed roles in the films.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: The "Little Guy" to Shagrat's "Big Guy."
- Composite Character: He also takes on ROTK Snaga's role in the film as a lone orc survivor at Cirith Ungol, who intends to torture Frodo before Sam kills him.
- Conservation of Competence: As captains, he and Shagrat had a very simple job: strip Frodo and send everything to Barad-dûr. Gorbag is happy to comply. Unfortunately, Shagrat gets greedy and starts a fight that gets everyone at Cirith Ungol killed, resulting in Frodo escaping to Mount Doom.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: He survives his fight with Shagrat, unlike the books, but then gets killed by Sam not long after.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Caught off-guard, Sam impales him In the Back with Sting.
- Made of Iron: Despite being kicked down a full flight of stairs, he is able to get back up and, apparently, kill a roomful of Uruks (all of whom are much bigger than he).
- The Napoleon: One of the shortest Orcs in the movies.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Despite his size, he single-handedly fights off fifteen or so Uruks, mostly off-screen, save for a shot of him drop-kicking an Uruk out a window.
- Race Lift: In the books, he was a Black Uruk. In the films, he's a small, green orc.
- Sadist: It's implied he's witnessed Shelob preying on his comrades, yet sports a wicked grin as he describes how she prefers to feed. Further evidenced when he decides to spitefully "bleed" Frodo after the skirmish at Cirith Ungol.
- Undying Loyalty: Unlike Shagrat, which is why they end up fighting.
- Wrestler in All of Us: He dropkicks an Uruk out of a window.
Portrayed By: Stephen Ure
Appears in: The Two Towers
- Adaptational Wimp: In the books, he was an exceptionally cunning agent of Mordor, who understood far more of Sauron's designs than someone in his position was supposed to, even knowing a great deal about the One Ring. In the film, he's just a hungry old orc in Saruman's service.
- Death by Looking Up: He isn't actually killed until he has his Oh, Crap! moment and starts turning to look just as Treebeard's Giant Foot of Stomping comes down on him.
- The Determinator: Only being stepped on by Treebeard saves Merry and Pippin from him. Prior to this, he chases them over some distance through Fangorn Forest despite being badly wounded.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: Instead of getting speared through the back by the Rohirrim in the books, he gets stomped on by Treebeard here.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Doesn't participate in the Uruk-hai's cannibalism, instead continuing to focus on trying to eat some juicy Hobbit legs. Though this may just be Skewed Priorities.
- Evil Old Folks: He's noticeably older than the other orcs accompanying Uglúk's party.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A rider of Rohan throws a spear into his back, although it doesn't kill him.
- Made of Iron: Pursues Merry and Pippin through Fangorn forest despite having taken a spear straight to the back.
- Not Quite Dead: Survives a spear through the back in order to pursue Merry and Pippin for quite some distance.
- Oh, Crap!: He has a momentary look of uncertainty directly before being crushed by Treebeard.
- Pragmatic Villainy: His attempt to compromise with Uglúk on whether or not to eat the Hobbits: he argues they don't need their legs to be taken to Saruman and suggests they can eat those.
- Skewed Priorities: With a dash of Too Dumb to Live. Even after one of his comrades is decapitated and cannibalized, he still tries to eat Merry and Pippin, even though the rest of the orcs, including Uglúk who explicitly told him not to, are right there eating the guy who first suggested doing it. And then after being one of, if not the, only survivor of the Rohirrim's attack against the Uruk-hai, he still pursues the Hobbits.
- To Serve Man: Wants to eat Merry and Pippin. Their legs in particular. "Oooh, they look tasty!" Apparently draws the line at eating his own, though.
Portrayed by: Jed Brophy, Andy Serkis (voice only)
Appears in: The Two Towers
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: While the Rohirrim probably would have won anyway, since they were attacked from two sides, his decision to ask about eating the Hobbits almost provokes a fight in the camp, and his resulting cannibalization by the Uruk hai leaves them all in a single area and completely exposed to a shock cavalry charge, whereas if the band was more alert, it probably would have put up more of a fight.
- Off with His Head!: Uglúk chops off his head when he won't stop trying to eat Merry and Pippin.
- Oh, Crap!: Has this expression on his face right before he is beheaded.
- Too Dumb to Live: Even after his leader explicitly forbids eating the Hobbits (to the point that a fight almost breaks out over him drawing his sword against Grishnákh), he still tries to slice a piece of Hobbit flesh off to eat. So a fed-up Uglúk kills him.
- To Serve Man: He is the first to suggest eating Merry and Pippin. "Just a mouthful!"
Portrayed by: Jed Brophy
Voiced by: Eduardo Fonseca (Latin American Spanish dub)
Appears in: The Two Towers
The leader of the Warg riders sent by Saruman to harass the Rohirrim refugees.
- Defiant to the End: Even as he lays dying at the mercy of Legolas and Gimli, he taunts them about Aragorn's fate.
- Die Laughing: He laughs at Aragorn's presumed death before expiring.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has a distinctive Warg-inflicted claw scar across his face.
- Meaningful Name: All There in the Manual, but his name (which in the books was the orcs' nickname for Saruman) means "old man", and he's an old orc.
Torturer of Dol Guldur
Portrayed by: Conan Stevens
Appears in: An Unexpected Journeynote | The Battle of the Five Armies
An orc warden who works for Sauron in Dol Guldur.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: He's notorious for torturing Gandalf during his time in Dol Guldur after Gandalf witnessed Azog's armies march to Erebor.
- Defiant to the End: In the Extended Edition of The Battle of the Five Armies, Galadriel tells the Torturer that she will leave the fortress with Gandalf and warns the Torturer that she'll destroy him if he tries to stop her. He doesn't listen and instead prepares for an attack, prompting Galadriel to blast him into millions of pieces.
- Fingore: Attempts to cut off Gandalf's finger wearing the Ring of Fire in the Extended Edition.
- Too Dumb to Live: He really should've known better than to try to stop Galadriel from rescuing Gandalf.
- Adaptational Badass: Similar to their generic orc/goblin brethren. The Uruk-hai in the novel were, at best, on par with uncorrupted humans, which still made them noticeably superior to the other Orcs. As the films buffed the power of orcs/goblins to around that level themselves, the Uruk-hai in turn are now superhuman monsters. Lurtz, for example, easily overpowers the Aragorn and uses a bow with 300-pound draw weight.
- The Ageless: Like the Elves, they were supposedly created from, but it isn't fully clear.
- Always Chaotic Evil: Like the rest of their race.
- Bad Boss: Not necessarily to their own kind, but to normal Orcs.
- Band of Brothers: Compared to their Orc cousins, The Uruk-hai seems to be this, as they at least treat each other with respect, and when they suffered their first casualty at the Battle of Helm's Deep, their reaction went from threat display to Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Barbarian Longhair: In contrast to most orcs who alternate between being bald and having lank hair, every Uruk-hai has a full head of hair.
- Black Blood: They bleed the same as normal Orcs.
- Blood Knight: They love fighting and are rallied by the promise of man-flesh.
- Composite Character: While it is not fully clarified, the film implies Uruk-hai are half-Orc, half-human hybrids, as they look and behave much more humanlike than regular Orcs. In the books, half-Orcs and Uruk-Hai are not the same thing.
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: A single or "small" group of Uruks are a dangerous force. A large army falls like wheat.
- Elite Mooks: Compared to the average Orc, they're much more dangerous.
- Enemy Civil War: Sauron and Saruman's alliance is the only thing keeping the Uruk-hai and the normal Orcs from killing each other. The Uruk-hai consider themselves to be a better class of mook.
- Fantastic Racism: They hate anyone who isn't an Uruk-hai, even normal Orcs.
- I'm a Humanitarian: They're just as happy to eat their own as your average Orc.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Perhaps as a result of being stronger and more intelligent, they seem to have a comradeship born from love of war.
- Super Soldier: Mass-produced specifically to be larger, stronger, and more resistant to sunlight than baseline Orcs. They also seem to be only used as warriors - no Uruk-hai is seen performing menial tasks like their smaller kin.
- Zerg Rush: 10,000 of them would have taken over Helm's Deep if reinforcements led by Gandalf and Eomer did not arrive in time.
Species: Orc (Uruk-hai)
Portrayed by: Lawrence Makoare
Voiced by: Alejandro Illescas (Latin American Spanish dub)
Appears in: The Fellowship of the Ring
The firstborn of Saruman's Uruk-hai who is given the task of hunting down the fellowship in order to retrieve the One Ring.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Saruman makes him the leader of his first breed of Uruk-hai because he's the strongest and smartest one, plus the first thing he did was slaughter the orcs who helped pull him out of the breeding pits.
- Badass in Charge: Of his Uruk-hai scout's squadron.
- Blood Knight: Being dismembered and impaled does not stop him from continuing the fight.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: He's deadly with both, taking down Boromir with arrows and matching Aragorn blow for blow in a swordfight.
- The Brute: As if mortally wounding Boromir wasn't enough, Lurtz is incredibly dangerous in close combat too. He can match swords with Aragorn and the brutal punches he delivers leave Aragorn dazed, while he himself shrugs off anything Aragorn throws at him (including the knife through his leg) until Aragorn manages to hack off an arm.
- Canon Foreigner: He has no literary equivalent, although he isn't markedly different from the books' assorted nameless Mook Lieutenants.
- Combat Pragmatist: He throws an Uruk-hai shield to pin Aragorn against a tree in order to decapitate him. He also killed Boromir by firing arrows from range while wearing him down by throwing Uruks at him.
- Combat Sadomasochist: When Aragorn throws a knife into Lurtz's leg. Lurtz pulls the knife out of his leg, flashes Aragorn an evil smile, and proceeds to lick his own blood off the knife before he throws the knife back at Aragorn.
- Defiant to the End: When Aragorn sticks his sword through Lurtz's gut (after literally disarming him), Lurtz grabs the sword and drags himself closer while growling in Aragorn's face (possibly intending to bite it off).
- Determinator: Even after getting an arm cut off and being impaled by a sword, he still tries to get closer to Aragorn.
- The Dragon: To Saruman in The Fellowship of the Ring.
- Establishing Character Moment: Step one, get "born." Step two, strangle the guy who delivered you.
- Evil Gloating: Although he growls instead of delivering some kind of Breaking Speech, he takes obvious relish in Boromir's demise, drawing his bow slowly and delaying the actual kill shot while Boromir is kneeling helplessly which allows Aragorn to interrupt with a flying tackle.
- Hero Killer: He kills Boromir, and very nearly kills Aragorn (something which is very difficult to do). Admittedly, he was kind of cheating with Boromir; he sent his Uruks in ahead, and shot Boromir with arrows.
- Hidden Depths: Notably, during the scene when he's listening to Saruman exposit about the origins of orcs, when the wizard describes them as "a ruined and terrible form of life" his eyes widen and he lowers his head as if to look at himself clearly for the first time. The moment quickly vanishes when Saruman then calls the Uruk-hai "perfected".
- Knight of Cerebus: Partially by definition and partially by coincidence. In the first case, he's the most powerful and skilled of Saruman's Uruk-hai, being proficient enough to give Aragorn a good fight. In the second sense, his arrival coincides with the Fellowship splitting up.
- Monster Progenitor: The very first bred Uruk-hai.
- Mook Lieutenant: His character can be summed up as the biggest, strongest, smartest Uruk who commands the others.
- Off with His Head!: This is how Aragorn finally kills him.
- Pull Yourself Down the Spear: Actually Aragorn's sword, but he's enough of a badass to do it anyway; Aragorn pulls the sword out of him and chops his head off.
- Super Prototype: He's considerably stronger and smarter than the scouts he commands, seemingly due to his status as the first Uruk-hai.
Species: Orc (Uruk-hai)
Portrayed by: Nathaniel Lees
Voiced by: Gerardo Vásquez (Latin American Spanish dub), Benoit Allemane (French dub)
Appears in: The Two Towers
Uglúk was the leader of the Uruk-hai scouts and was highly trusted by Saruman.
- Decapitation Presentation: The Rohirrim stick his head on a pike next to a burnt heap of burned Uruk-hai corpses.
- Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the book, he was killed personally by Éomer, while in the movie he is killed offscreen by a random soldier.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: He's very quick to spout cruel jokes and dark quips, such as his offer to give Merry "medicine", and his infamous "menu" line.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He has a very commanding baritone.
- I'm a Humanitarian: The Mordor orcs grow increasingly eager to eat the hobbits, and the squadron is starving, so what does he do? He beheads the most vocal troublemaker and feeds the body to his troops.
- I Want Them Alive!: He prevents the Mordor orcs from eating the hobbits because he believes Saruman commands it.
- Killed Offscreen: By Éomer's Rohirrim squadron.
- Mook Lieutenant: Within the Uruk-hai, he holds a position of leadership.
- No Party Like a Donner Party: Squad starving for meat and the Hobbits looking pretty tasty? Well, all you have to give them a substitute, like that annoying orc who won't let the issue drop.Uglúk, after decapitating Snaga: Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!
- Pragmatic Villainy: Why he saves Merry and Pippin from Snaga, as he is under strict orders to bring them alive to Saruman rather than out of genuine care.
- Remember the New Guy?: Was part of the Uruk-hai party who attacked the Fellowship at the end of the first film, but only appears in the second.
- Undying Loyalty: As is fitting for an Uruk-hai, who are Saruman's Orcs and not Sauron's, he's very obedient to his master. He adheres rigidly to Saruman's orders without flinching or questioning.
Species: Orc (Black Uruk)
Portrayed by: Peter Tait
Appears in: The Return of the King
Shagrat was the captain of the garrison at Cirith Ungol, who gets into an argument with Gorbag over Frodo's Mithril vest.
- Adaptational Dumbass: A minor case: In the books, he's the one who explains Shelob's feeding process to Gorbag, which he should know, being the captain of Cirith Ungol. However, in the film, Gorbag has to explain this to Shagrat.
- Adaptation Personality Change: In the books, Shagrat was fiercely obedient to Sauron and tried to hand over Frodo's belongings to Barad-dûr, as ordered. In the film, he's the exact opposite: he decides to take the shirt for his own out of sheer greed, which is a role reversal with Gorbag.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: The "Big Guy" to Gorbag's "Little Guy."
- The Brute: A larger black Uruk given to brawling.
- Dirty Coward: He first kicks Gorbag down a flight of stairs and orders his men to kill him rather than continue fighting him. Later, while attempting to leave the tower with three other Uruks, he flees from Sam while the other three stand and fight.
- Greed: He breaks his orders and starts a deadly fight at Cirith Ungol over Frodo's Mithril shirt.
- Sole Survivor: Is most likely the only orc or Uruk to survive the skirmish at Cirith Ungol.
- Uncertain Doom: It's not shown what happened to him after escaping Cirith Ungol. While fairly ambiguous in the books, it's almost certain that he was executed in the film for trying to steal Frodo's shirt.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: In the theatrical cut, he's last seen on the stairs with his fellow Uruks, before turning away to retreat into a connecting passage when he notices Sam's shadow. In the Extended Edition, he's actually shown escaping from the tower with the Mithril shirt.