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Characters / Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - Antagonists

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The antagonists encountered in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

Beware of spoilers!

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Introduced in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor


As the Dark Lord
As Annatar
Voiced by: Steve Blum

The second Dark Lord to terrorize Middle-earth. Defeated long ago by the Last Alliance of Men and Elves, he has returned to Mordor after a two-and-a-half thousand year absence.

  • Adaptational Badass: Vastly more powerful than in the original books, and notably because he lacks a canon handicap. In the events of the books, Eru deliberately takes away his ability to assume an attractive form after the Downfall of Númenor. In the games, he still has it, and is apparently able to project telepathic messages to unwilling recipients from hundreds of miles away, and possibly also teleport. That being said, the Assimilation Backfire listed below provides a handy explanation as to why he doesn't have those powers by the time The Lord of the Rings rolls around.
  • Assimilation Backfire: A rather big one. In the end, Sauron absorbs Celebrimbor, but they both end up fighting for control over their fusion and it puts them in Mode Lock in the form of the Eye above Barad-dûr. This means he can't physically manifest and negates most of his best powers. The only thing he gets in exchange is some long range True Sight, an immense downgrade from the threat he was.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Sauron wins and triumphs over every opponent he meets face to face...unfortunately for him, he's often loathe to call them triumphs. Talion was corrupted by Isildur's ring and becomes one of the Nazgûl, but manages to resist him long enough to keep Sauron's armies off-balance until Frodo gains the One Ring, thanks in no small part to his nifty new Ringwraith powers. Sauron can't interfere directly, since his defeat and forcible assimilation of Celebrimbor ends up stripping him of most of his powers and trapping him in the form of the Lidless Eye. And way, way in the future, the One Ring finally overtakes Frodo's mind right on the slopes of Mount Doom, almost guaranteeing that Sauron will retrieve the Ring with no trouble...then Gollum accidentally destroys it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Shadow of Mordor made it pretty clear that Sauron was hunting Celebrimbor in order to absorb his power. At the end of Shadow of War, Sauron succeeds in absorbing Celebrimbor into himself, but as a result ends up (seemingly involuntarily) turning into an immobile giant flaming eye for his trouble, losing many of his more useful powers.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Averted spectacularly. Annatar is easily the prettiest character in the series, but has the blackest, most cruel of hearts.
  • Berserk Button: He does not like people playing with the One Ring.
  • Big Bad: Of the Bright Lord DLC and all of Shadow of War.
  • Bishōnen Line: Almost literally when he duels against Celebrimbor and Eltariel in his Annatar form during the first and third phase of the final Boss Battle.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: He presented himself as a friendly Elf who wanted to collaborate with Celebrimbor. Turns out he was actually using him for his own ends.
  • Carry a Big Stick: He wields the black blade-flanged mace his film counterpart does. In-game, it also sends victims sailing quite a distance away.
  • Casting a Shadow: He's often wreathed in a dark aura. Sometimes inverted in Shadow of War, where he appears as the dark pupil of a flaming eye.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: It's strongly suggested that fusing with Celebrimbor is what causes him to lose all the powers he demonstrated in The Hobbit film trilogy and the two Shadow games, essentially mode-locking him into the form of the giant flaming eye seen in The Lord of the Rings.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sauron's fight with Celebrimbor in the flashbacks doesn't last long after the One Ring returns to its master.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Sauron is very fond of doing this to people who press his Berserk Button. To wit:
    • Celebrimbor, who tried to steal the One Ring and use it against Sauron, was beaten to death with his own smithing hammer after being Forced to Watch the murders of his wife and daughter.
    • Isildur, who took the One Ring as a trophy of victory over Sauron, was killed in an Orc ambush after the Ring betrayed him, after which his corpse was taken to Barad-dûr, where Sauron turned him into one of the Nazgûl.
  • Dark Is Evil: He is normally clad in spiny black armor that makes his nature as an Evil Overlord blatantly obvious.
  • Evil Overlord: He's not known as the Dark Lord for nothing.
  • The Evils of Free Will: According to Shelob, Sauron believes freedom is a detrimental chaos.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: As befitting the Dark Lord of Mordor, he speaks in a notably deep voice. Inverted as Annatar, in which his voice becomes almost disturbingly gentle.
  • Faux Affably Evil: His Annatar form is an idealized regal Elf, which he uses for benevolent purposes as collaborating with Celebrimbor and sticking a Ring of Power on Helm Hammerhand. Even after he's exposed as an Evil Overlord, he still uses his Annatar guise on occasion, usually to mock Celebrimbor.
  • Final Boss:
    • Of the Bright Lord DLC, without any ambiguity. It's you and your Warchiefs versus him and a big mob of Uruks.
    • Played With in Shadow of War. He is the final major storyline opponent you fight, but you still have to survive five fortress defenses after defeating him.
  • Flunky Boss: In his boss fight at the end of The Bright Lord DLC, Uruk mooks constantly pour into the battlefield to attack you. As the fight progresses, he turns your Warchief flunkies against you too to spice things up further.
  • Fusion Dance: He absorbs Celebrimbor's soul into himself, and the two are turned into the flaming red eye at the top of Barad-dûr.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: When he uses more attractive appearances like the Annatar form or the Hand, his eyes have an evil red glare to them. Flashbacks indicate that he could hide it with occasional Glamour Failure in his Annatar form.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: For all the goings-on in Mordor. Subverted in that he could secretly be the Black Hand.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose:
    • In the Bright Lord DLC, after being defeated by Celebrimbor, he simply summons the One Ring back to his hand and completely curbstomps the Elf-lord.
    • History Repeats in Shadow of War: Celebrimbor actually manages to subdue and dominate him, but Sauron resists long enough to cut off the fingers of his host Eltariel and then absorbs Celebrimbor into himself.
  • Hoistby His Own Petard: Three-fold:
    • Via Foregone Conclusion, the One Ring, investing so much of his very being into it that its loss cripples him and its destruction renders him into a harmless entity.
    • His Fusion Dance with Celebrimbor costs him much of his powers, rendering him into the lidless Eye and unable to do anything other than use his True Sight.
    • In a more roundabout way, the murder of Celebrimbor, Talion, and their families not only sets the former two on a Roaring Rampageof Revenge, but through their bond they could easily take control of the Orcs. Even though Sauron still ends up victorious at the end of Shadow of War, Talion and Celebrimbor’s efforts kept Sauron from attacking and overrunning the rest of Middle-earth, and Gondor in particular, long enough for the One Ring to be destroyed.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Sauron is a corrupted Maia who — when able to manifest a physical body — takes the form of a towering humanoid figure clad in spiny black armor. He can change shape at will and in the past often assumed the form of a Vanyar Elf named Annatar, and Shadow of Mordor's final boss fight indicates he either possessed or was the Black Hand.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Referencing the Downfall of Númenor, Sauron capitulates to Suladân's invading army rather than bothering to fight. He offers a Ring of Power as a token of his surrender...
  • I Was Quite a Looker: In flashbacks, he looks like a handsome young Elf with red eyes. By the end of Shadow of War, he is a horrifying, gigantic flaming eye.
  • Kick the Dog: Even after his true nature is revealed, he seems to take sadistic pleasure in taking the form of Annatar when interacting with Celebrimbor.
  • Light Is Not Good: In flashbacks, he takes on the shape of a white-robed, fair-skinned and blond Vanyar elf named Annatar, the Lord of Gifts. He assumes Annatar's form during the fight between him and Celebrimbor and Eltariel.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Among other things, the Rings of Power were forged through his manipulations.
  • Mind Rape:
    • In a flashback, he does this to Celebrimbor by holding the One Ring in front of him and chanting "Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul." until Celebrimbor breaks and joins in..
    • Inverted in his boss fight in the Bright Lord DLC, where he delivers your Warchiefs from their brainwashing.
  • Necromancer: The Necromancer, as a matter of fact. And he shows it off in his Bright Lord boss fight by resurrecting his dead Warchiefs after you kill them once.
    • Taken further in Shadow of War, where Sauron explicitly brings dead Uruk captains back to life with necromancy, granting them dark curses that make them immune to branding.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Unleashes one on a major character in a flashback. To be specific, he beats Celebrimbor to death with a smithing hammer for stealing the One Ring.
  • No-Sell: In his boss fight at the end of the Bright Lord DLC, it's actually possible to try and combat-brand Sauron. He just throws you off, though, but it must take balls to even consider the idea. It's shown in Shadow of War that he is able to resist being dominated when Celebrimbor tries to dominate him, long enough to separate Eltariel from the New Ring.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Absorbing Celebrimbor into himself turned him into an immobile giant eye, and it took decades of throwing his best warriors against Talion before the latter finally succumbed to his power — by which point Middle-earth had long recovered from his first invasion and Frodo inherited the One Ring.
  • Reforged into a Minion: Has a talent for this, he did this to the Nazgul, then to Isildur, and then to Celebrimbor, and finally Talion. Everyone who opposed him has finally been conquered, bent, and corrupted by him.
  • Super OCD: Shelob's narration implies Sauron has this to some degree. She states he finds nature to be terrifying and has an overwhelming need for order in all things. She also speculates that this is why he chose a shell of metal as his physical avatar.
  • Tin Tyrant: He sports his armoured look from the films.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Its revealed that he took Shelob as his bride, before he decided to leave her to be killed by Sûladan's men.
  • Voice of the Legion: Sauron, in both his Annatar and armoured forms, possesses a deep, echoing voice. This is made particularly apparent when Celebrimbor and Eltariel confront him atop Barad-dûr after betraying Talion.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: In his final boss fight in "The Bright Lord" DLC for Shadow of Mordor, Sauron is limited to heavy attacks with his mace and occasionally countering you with a grab attack if you try to melee him. He has no ranged attacks or any magical attacks at all; even the Hammer could use a Sword Beam, use Force Push, and had an AOE spell attack in addition to smashing with his mace. However, his heavy attacks have massive AOE of their own (just like in the prologue to the films), so he doesn't really need it for close combat. He still has no defense against being sniped from the rooftops other than having an insane amount of health, though.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Murders Celebrimbor's wife and daughter in front of him for daring to steal the One Ring. He also doesn't hold back against Eltariel, nor does he hesitate to slice off her fingers.
  • Would Hurt a Child: As mentioned above, he murdered Celebrimbor's daughter.
  • Wreathed in Flames: He can manifest an eye-shaped aura of flames around himself, with his silhouette forming the pupil.

    The Black Hand 

The Black Hand of Sauron
"Come back to me, elf-lord!"
Voiced by: Nolan North

Leader of the Black Captains, this Black Númenórean performed the ritual that summoned the Wraith that bonded with Talion. According to the Wraith, defeating him is the only way to break the curse tying them together.

  • Adaptational Heroism: He is available as an ally in the mobile version of War. However, it's implied he is after the New Ring, downplaying this.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear who or what exactly the Black Hand was because of how rushed and suddenly the climax was. Was he Sauron's human host like Talion-Celebrimbor? Was he just another upper level minion like the Tower and the Mouth of Sauron? Were any of the presented backstories correct? We will likely never know.
    • If he had a Ring of Power, he could be one of the nine Nazgul pre-transformation, as his attire is very similar to that worn by Ringwraith-Talionnote  in the sequel. The spiky armor and glowing eyes also suggests this. However, this would still not explain Sauron's sudden appearance and as mentioned, he doesn't seem to have a ring.
  • BFS: He wields a large longsword.
  • Big Bad: The villain behind Talion and the Wraith's woes in Shadow of Mordor.
  • Black Speech: Says the incantation to summon the Wraith in the Black Speech.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: If he is meant to be a Nazgúl pre-transformation; like in the books, he has no visible ring on his finger, and thus his power presumably comes from Sauron himself. Shadow of War establishes that the Nazgúl of this series actually wear them.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • For the spoilers: "Come back to me, Elf Lord." Emphasis on the "me."
    • His eyes also glow a shade of orange, not unlike fire...
  • Humanoid Abomination: He looks like a man with lank black hair, but he's anything but.
  • In the Hood: He wears a hooded cloak and never takes the hood off, adding to his sinister appearance.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Rumours of his rise to power range from killing the two Blue Wizards to being an old ally of Sauron to even being the Dark Lord himself. The last one is possibly true.
  • Promoted to Playable: The Power of Shadow DLC gives the player access to a Black Hand skin.
  • Slashed Throat: Gives Talion and his family an Impromptu Tracheotomy as part of the Human Sacrifice ritual to summon the Wraith. He later does it to himself to extract Celebrimbor out of Talion and draw him into himself.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: He has red-rimmed yellow irises, which occasionally glow red.
  • Tin Tyrant: In the final boss fight, he reveals himself to either be Sauron himself, a Willing Channeler for Sauron's power, or able to conjure armour identical to the Dark Lord's.
  • Wreathed in Flames: When he assumes his true form, his body becomes wreathed in flame.

    The Hammer 

The Hammer of Sauron
"The ranger from the black gate..."
Voiced by: John DiMaggio

An immortal human, survivor of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, taken by the Dark Lord and made one of his greatest lieutenants.

  • Adaptational Heroism: Like all the main antagonists of Shadow of Mordor, he is available as a character in the mobile version of War, and goes against Sauron's armies.
  • The Ageless: While he doesn't look young by any stretch of imagination, he certainly doesn't show his true age of two and a half thousand years.
  • The Brute: The most physically imposing of the Black Captains who's not afraid to smash his enemies with his mace.
  • Co-Dragons: Both he and the Tower serve as this to the Black Hand.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: The Hammer cannot be vaulted or stunned, and immediately counterattacks with a telekinetic shove to break your combo meter if you throw a throwing dagger at him. He's still vulnerable to regular attacks, counters, and being shot in the head, but since his health is so high (he's got twice as much health as an Orc Captain) you're pretty much expected to kill him with combat finishers.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Only after defeating him does Talion get access to the second half of the game.
  • Drop the Hammer: Wields a mace with a skeleton motif, said to be the same one that Sauron used against the Last Alliance. The fact that the Hammer's mace looks nothing like Sauron's and that Sauron himself retains the use of his mace calls this into question.
  • Exact Words: The Tower stops him from killing Talion on the spot, pointing out the Black Hand wants him alive. The Hammer settles for pummelling Talion unconcious, pointing out that Talion will live from such injuries.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Exhibits much of this during his battle with Talion.
    Hammer of Sauron: The Dark Lord will RULE!
  • Evil Gloating: Does this to Talion just before their final fight. All it does, however, is slam down Talion's Berserk Button.
    Hammer of Sauron: Where was your bravery when we bled your wife, and gutted your son?!
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: He's one of Sauron's Black Captains now, but he used to be a stretcher-bearer for Gondor.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: His face is covered in scars of the evil variety.
  • Magic Knight: On top of smashing things with his mace, he has a few basic black sorcery moves as well.
  • Mirror Boss: He has a few magic attacks that mirror your basic Wraith abilities; his ground-slam area-of-effect attack is basically a black sorcery version of Wraith Flash, and he has a "Force Push" move that's functionally similar to your throwing daggers, dealing limited damaging but breaking your chain combo.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: He spitefully slams his mace onto Talion's hand, scarring it, before knocking him out. Said scar serves the focal point from which the Wraith uses its powers.
  • Not So Different: Before Talion kills him, the Hammer mockingly infers that the darkness the Ranger seeks to destroy has already begun to claim him.
  • Playing with Fire: He occasionally lobs a fireball at Talion during their fight.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Considers his Uruk minions useless and little more than fodder to slow Talion's blade in their boss fight. He's also incredulous about the fact the Warchiefs seemingly could do nothing to stop Talion's rampage.
    Hammer of Sauron: So the local Warchiefs did NOTHING to prevent this sacrilege?!
  • Sword Beam: He can slam the ground with his mace, sending a fireball at you at range.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: He mixes regular attacks that need to be countered and heavy attacks that need to be dodged, and has Contractual Boss Immunity against the more basic exploitable moves like vaulting and Wraith Stun. Some Orc Captains have one or two of these attributes but the Hammer is likely the first opponent you'll face that has them all.
  • Was Once a Man: His bio says this verbatim, elaborating that he was once a stretcher-bearer for Gondor that found Sauron's mace and succumbed to bloodlust.
  • You Have Failed Me: He unceremoniously executes Ratbag the Coward for failing to protect The Gorthaur from destruction.
  • You Don't Look Like You: His mace is said to be the same one Sauron once wielded, but looks quite different from the one seen in flashbacks. Justified by the fact that Sauron's gear is shown to shapeshift with him.

    The Tower 

The Tower of Sauron
"The Black Hand wants him alive!"
Voiced by: JB Blanc

One of the Dark Lord's lieutenants, cursed to never stop growing, but remain within armor that remains the same size. It slowly constricts him, and his only joy is in spreading pain to others.

  • Adaptational Heroism: Like the Black Hand and the Hammer, he is available as an ally in the mobile version of War.
  • Affably Evil: He's very polite and precise in his speech, but still clearly evil.
  • Body Horror: He's continually growing in armour that's increasingly too small for him.
  • Co-Dragons: Both he and the Hammer serve as this to the Black Hand.
  • Evil Knockoff: In the sequel, orcs with the title "The Pretender" wear armor identical to his but don't have his voice or skill in mind tricks, so they opt to have a gang of decoys follow them instead.
  • Facial Horror: His lower jaw looks downright necrotic.
  • Genuine Human Hide: The flesh of two human faces hang like banners from his Spikes of Villainy.
  • Kneel Before Zod: "Bow before me, and I will deliver you to the Dark Lord unspoiled."
  • Large and in Charge: He's the largest humanoid character in the game, standing well over 7 feet tall and being even larger than the Hammer.
  • Legacy Character: In Shadow of War, you can find an Uruk who bears his title, wears his armor, and, most worryingly, speaks in his voice.
  • Malevolent Mutilation: As he grows into his armour, it increasingly intersects with his skin, steel plates digging into his flesh, and the gorget over his lower face has cut away his lips, leaving him with a grotesque rictus.
  • Magic Knight: On top of being a black sorcerer, he carries a pair of Mordor swords on his back and will handily beat up Talion with his fists if he grabs him, suggesting this trope.
  • Master of Illusion: He seems able to affect the perceptions of those around him, seeming to force them to think he is where he is not. Even his speech seems to come from this, as he barely moves his mouth (and would have trouble forming words as well as he does with no lips anyway.)
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: As mentioned above, some orcs in War wear his armor and speak in his voice. However, an another orcs type, "The Pretender" doesn't have his distinctive voice despite wearing identical armor. So either the voice is a complete coincidence, or his armor does something to those it finds worthy of the title.
  • Me's a Crowd: During his boss battle' there are actually multiple copies of the Tower wandering the keep, though you probably wouldn't notice unless you use Wraith Vision to observe through the walls.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: His lore entry says this in regards to his moniker - Either he built a tower during his mortal life, or was locked away inside of one.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The Tower bellows that Talion will never see his family again in their final confrontation...and in doing so, goads Talion to throw off the Tower's sorcery, knock him down and start shanking him.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Has shown to be absent one moment and present when turning back around.
  • Puzzle Boss: You don't fight him directly. His boss fight consists of multiple stealth attacks.
  • Rasputinian Death: Talion stabs him multiple times in the chest with his dagger, then kills the Tower by pinning him to the floor by driving a sword through his throat.
  • Spikes of Villainy: He has several spike-like protrusions coming out from his back.
  • This Cannot Be!: The Tower seems genuinely shocked when Talion shrugs off his sorcery and overpowers him.
  • Vocal Dissonance: His hulking, monstrous appearance belies a surprisingly smooth, calm voice.
  • We Can Rule Together: Infers this when he invites Celebrimbor to cast Talion aside and take a place with them at Sauron's side.
    Tower of Sauron: The Dark Lord forgives you, Celebrimbor. Return to him, and cast aside this human corpse.
  • Wham Line: Reveals that Celebrimbor chose Talion as a host rather than being forced upon him.
    Tower of Sauron: Celebrimbor is your curse, Ranger. He chose you. And he can release you at any time.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Holds Ioreth at swordpoint to force Talion to surrender in the prologue, and later orders his Orc minions to torture Lithariel for information on Talion, then leave her corpse where he can find it once they're finished.
    Tower of Sauron: When you're done with her, hang her. High. Make sure the Gravewalker can find her.

    The Talons 

The Talons of the Black Hand

Five Uruk Captains who serve as the Black Hand's most senior enforcers and commanders.

  • And This Is for...: One of the Talons sometimes remarks that they'll kill Talion in revenge for what he did to the Tower of Sauron.
    Talon: It was an honour to serve under the Tower! You will suffer for what you did to him!
  • Occult Blue Eyes: They all have these.
  • Red Is Violent: All of them use blood-red armor and are the most elite of Black Hand's forces.
  • Super Soldier: Vat-grown to be the Black Hand's fiercest warriors and generals, not that they're more dangerous than any other mid-level captains.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: They're unlikely to all get a chance to introduce themselves to Talion before being slain during the final mission.
  • Wolfpack Boss: Individually they're not much tougher than a regular mid-level Orc Captain, but you fight all 5 of them at once in close formation. Then again, you have 5 Warchiefs of your own backing you up in the fight, so it's still not too much of a challenge.


Introduced in Middle-earth: Shadow of War

    The Witch-king 

The Witch-king of Angmar
"I come for you, Talion of Gondor!"
Voiced by: Matthew Mercer

Formerly one of the nine kings of Men gifted Rings of Power by Sauron, the Witch-king and his fellows were corrupted by both the Nine Rings and their own greed and ambition until they were transformed into the Nazgûl or Ringwraiths, monstrous revenants enslaved to the will of the Dark Lord. He appears in Shadow of War alongside the rest of the Nine with orders from Sauron to track down the Bright Lord and take the New Ring.

  • Affably Evil: He's generally polite and civil to Tailon, often trying to just verbally coax him into giving up in a manner that doesn't involve gloating or taunting. After Tailon takes up Isildur's Ring and becomes a wraith, the Witch-king welcomes him at the start of the penultimate boss fight, calling him 'brother' and clearly not desiring (or seeing the point in) a fight. And when Talion finally gives into the ring's corruption, the Witch-king appears before him in a congratulatory friendly manner, placing a hand on his shoulder and sounding genuinely pleased that he's finally come around, but also sympathetic to his defiance, basically saying, "You fought the good fight, but it's over now."
  • Arch-Enemy: To Talion. Unlike the Tower and the Hand from the previous game, he focuses more on the ranger than Celebrimbor and is the final boss for Talion when he seizes Minas Morgul.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Like his book and film incarnations, the Witch-king's weapon of choice is a brutal looking mace similar to his master's.
  • Demonic Possession: Can do this to fallen Orcs in order to speak to Talion.
    Witch-king: I come for you, Talion of Gondor.
  • The Dragon: He's one of Sauron's highest-ranking lieutenants. Fittingly, he is the penultimate boss in the story mode fought just before Sauron.
  • Dragon Rider: The Nine usually go to war mounted on the back of Fell beasts, huge dragon-like reptiles. At the time of Shadow of War, they've traded up for drakes (infertile crossbreeds of dragon and fell-beast bred solely for war).
  • The Dreaded: While the Nazgûl as whole all have this status, it's the Witch-king that people fear the most.
  • Empty Shell: Being the first he's been so corrupted by the ring of power he received from Sauron for so long that none of his original human self remains, unlike other Nazgûl. Tallion can't even peer into his mind because of this.
  • The Faceless: The faces of the Nazgûl are hidden behind the cloaks and masks they wear.
  • Foil: To Talion. The Appendices notes that Sauron is to Celebrimbor as the Witch-king is to Talion.
  • Godzilla Threshold: From Sauron's perspective, unleashing all nine of the Ringwraiths to deal with Talion and Celebrimbor is a clear indication the Dark Lord is done playing around trying to eliminate the Gravewalker.
  • I Lied: General Castamir makes a deal with the Witch-king, offering to hand over the Palantir in exchange for his daughter's life being spared. You have to wonder how stupid Castamir was for thinking the Witch-king would actually uphold his end of the bargain.
    Castamir: You will hold to our bargain. My daughter's freedom...
    Witch-king: She is free to die with her people!
    • Invoked earlier during the Arena mission when the Witch-king's agents have seemingly taken Castamir hostage and will spare him if Talion faces the Witch-king's champion in single combat. The Gondorian defenders immediately start making plans to break their general out of captivity, not trusting the Witch-king to honour his word.
  • It's Personal: The Witch-king holds a special hatred for all of Gondor. According to the Appendices, he especially wants to enslave Talion as a Nazgul because of that animosity he's held against Gondor for over 4,000 years.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Hits like a truck, and is deceptively fast despite his size.
  • Spikes of Villainy: His armor comes with almost as many spikes as his master's.
  • Voice of the Legion: His voice has a menacing echo to it.
  • Was Once a Man: As is the case with all Nazgûl, he was once a human before being corrupted by one of the Nine Rings of Power.
  • You Cannot Fight Fate: Invokes this when confronting Talion.
    Witch-king: Submit to your destiny!
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once Castamir hands over the Palantir, the Witch-king wastes no time in killing him.

    The Nazgûl 

The Nazgûl
Their default appearance
Sauron's most powerful and feared enforcers. Spoiler Warning!
  • Adaptational Badass: Their rings give each one unique powers, such as Necromancy or the ability to control Mordor's beasts.
  • Adaptation Deviation: In the books they do not wear their rings. Sauron keeps the Nine (and the surviving Seven) in his own possession. Because of this their roles cannot be usurped, and the existing Nazgûl are still the original nine bearers. That being said, were they actually wearing them, it would likely work as it does in the game, with the rings ensnaring anyone foolish enough to claim them.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Their roles, personalities, powers and backstories come up more than they did in the films.
  • Adaptation Name Change: A variation, as their identities differ from the source material.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: When compared to their movie counterparts, at least. Instead of being practically the same character, each named Nazgûl here has their own unique personality and powers.
  • Cool Mask: The generic Wraiths all wear face masks fashioned of jagged metal. The more fleshed out of the Nine wear masks that bear hallmarks of the cultures they originated from.
  • Dark Is Evil: All of them wear black-concealing robes.
  • Evil Counterpart: Talion with Celebrimbor's powers is practically a heroic version of them.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Just like Sauron.
  • The Faceless: Not only are their faces covered by their hoods, they also now have metal masks covering them. The masks likely exist so we could tell them apart.
  • Fallen Hero: Several of them were great warriors that stood against Sauron, but succumbed to his influence and now are his most powerful minions.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Become a slave for the Dark Lord, for eternitynote , and lose your identity in the progress? Yep.
  • Flash Step: Their Signature Move involves flash-stepping to Talion, striking at him, and then flash-stepping back to their original position.
  • Flat Character: The unnamed Nazgûl. They aren't really important to the story, have only a handful of lines, and have the same basic mask design (seen in the image above).
  • The Ghost: An interesting variant. All of the Nine appear in the game, but while some (see individual entries below) are identified, the only Nazgûl who was named in the books (Khamûl the Black Easterling) is not.
  • In the Hood: They all wear black hoods.
  • Klingon Promotion: If one actually dies, whoever puts on the ring they drop takes their place.
  • Legacy Character: In this version of Middle-earth, several have actually been killed. However, their rings seem to always end on someone elses hand, either by coincidence, intentionally, or even because their killer felt it looked nice.
  • Mirror Match: Due to their powers being similar to Talion's, their boss fights have shades of this.
  • No-Sell: As they exist in both normal and wraith worlds, they can see Talion if he is invisible and are not slowed down if he uses ranged weapons. They also cannot be knocked down, and are immune to status effects.
  • Resurrective Immortality: As long as they still have their rings on them when they die, they simply wake up in Barad-dûr some time later. As Isildur's flashback shows, this also applies retroactively.
  • Spikes of Villainy: While not as spiky as Sauron's, their armor still sports them.
  • Super Empowering: Implied. After taking Minas Ithil, some of the Nazgûl perform rituals all over Mordor to turn selected Orc captains into "Chosen." It's unclear exactly what separates the Chosen from normal captains, since Talion and Eltariel violently disrupt any ritual that they come across.
  • Voice of the Legion: Their voices echo when they talk.
  • Walking Spoiler: Their identities and backstories, which are largely unmarked below. Especially one of them, the ranger Talion, who only appears in Acts III and IV.
  • Was Once a Man: Although their identities differ from the source material, they still were all human before their falls.


Click to see spoilers 
A ranger from Gondor, who took up the Ring of the recently killed Isildur to protect Middle-earth from both Sauron and/or his former ally Celebrimbor, after the latter betrayed him and left him to die. He and his army of orcs defended Middle-earth from Sauron's forces and resisted the Ring's influence for decades, before it finally won and he joined the Nine. His sacrifice would not be in vain, as his actions delayed Sauron's conquest of Middle-earth, allowing its residents to form a Fellowship and destroy the One Ring and Sauron.

See here for tropes about him.


Voiced by: Gideon Emery
A Haradian king, Suladân successfully waged war on Mordor to the point of marching his army right to the gates of Barad-dûr. Sauron surrendered to him and presented him with one of the Nine Rings as a gift. Suladân took Sauron as his captive and advisor, causing him to quickly fall under Sauron's influence.
  • Adaptational Badass: He actually managed to conquer Mordor, but fell under Sauron's influence when he made the mistake of accepting Sauron's gift of a Ring of Power as a token of surrender.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the strategy board game, he was a Haradian vassal of Sauron. Here, his kingdom was opposed to Sauron and he only came into Sauron's service after being deceived with one of the Nine Rings.
  • Bling of War: In the board game he's known for his Bling of War, which carries over into his appearance in Shadow of War. Even as a Nazgûl, his appearance is somewhat more ornate than the other Nazgûl, besides the Witch-king himself.
  • Composite Character: Suladân was a minor character in the Middle-earth strategy board game; here, he's also given a backstory similar to King Ar-Pharazôn from The Silmarillion as a king who defeated Sauron militarily onto to fall under his influence while the Dark Lord served as his captive and advisor.
  • Cool Mask: Wears one that evokes the crown he wore while still a human king.
  • Younger Than They Look: After falling under Sauron's influence, he eventually suffers the same rapid aging that King Théoden and Queen Marwen did while under Saruman's control.

Helm Hammerhand
"Of all the Nazgûl, his fall was the most tragic."
Voiced by: Fred Tatasciore
The namesake of Helm's Deep and the ninth king of Rohan. After he refused to let Prince Siric of Dunland marry his daughter, Helm was fatally injured in an assassination attempt by Siric and his men, who also kidnapped his daughter. On his death bed at Edoras, Helm was visited by Sauron and Celebrimbor who offered him a ring as a way to rescue his daughter and exact revenge on the man who took her. He accepted. After his recovery, he stormed Siric's castle with some of his own men, but in his rage he missed the killing blow and accidentally struck his own daughter dead. Furious about what had happened, Helm slaughtered everyone in the room, including his own men.
  • Adaptation Deviation: Other than the changes to the timeline, he is the subject to a smaller change as well. In the original lore, his name came from his skills in unarmed combat, as the sheer power of his punches was comparable to being hit by a hammer. Here he uses an actual hammer, though the fact he punches one of his soldiers hard enough to draw a decent amount of blood even with a helmet on suggest he still has great strength.
  • Adaptational Villainy: While only two Nazgul were ever named, there was no indication in the books or films that Helm Hammerhand was ever a Nazgûl, nor aligned with Sauron at all. Shadow of War includes him in their ranks, with his Tragic Villain status showing a descent from his deeds in life, to becoming one of the Nine.
  • Beast Master: Summons caragors, ghuls and drakes during Talion's battle with him.
  • The Berserker: Becomes this under the influence of the ring Sauron gave him.
  • Composite Character: The original lore does state that after his death, there quickly rose legends of him becoming an undead wraith who continued to protect Rohan against its foes. The game fuses this with him being one of the Nazgul.
  • Cool Helmet: Wears a horned mask, which calls back to a more impressive horned helmet he wore as a human king.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: The influence of the Ring of Power that saved his life after an attempted assassination exacerbated his rage and bloodlust during his attempt to rescue his daughter to the point that he accidentally murdered her, then in grief he killed her Dunlending husband and even his own captains when they tried to stop him.
  • Drop the Hammer: Both in life and in death, he uses the hammer that gave him his name.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: The strong hunter and warrior-king became an implacable undead.
    Celebrimbor: Hammerhand was known for his strength in life. If anything he has grown more powerful in death.
  • Foil: Word of God states that he is intended to be a parallel to Talion's story. invoked
  • Papa Wolf: How Sauron corrupted him; Sauron gave the dying Helm a Ring of Power with the promise it would give him the power to free his daughter from the man who had seemingly abducted her.
    Sauron: (placing the ring on Helm's finger) For your daughter's safe return.
  • Tragic Villain: Said to be one by Celebrimbor, the flashback Tallion sees during an encounter with him elaborates. His daughter was kidnapped by a Dunlending rival who wanted to marry her and become king, and Helm himself was ambushed and fatally wounded. On his deathbed, Sauron and Celebrimbor visited him and gifted him a ring of power, which restored him and enabled him to launch a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Unfortunately, Hammerhand eventually became so corrupted that he ended up killing his own daughter when she tried to stop him from getting at his rival.
  • Unwanted Rescue: It's strongly implied his daughter was in love with the man who "kidnapped" her.
  • Villain Has a Point: He's only a villain in light that he's a Nazgul, but back when he went after the man who took his daughter, he had a compelling argument for pursuing war with the Dunlanders: If they wanted peace, they really shouldn't have attempted to murder him in the first place.
  • Was Once a Man: As with the other Nazgûl.

Voiced by: Nolan North
Formerly one of the greatest heroes of Gondor, Isildur vanquished Sauron during the Battle of Dagorlad, but was corrupted by the One Ring which he had taken as a trophy of victory. He was killed after the Ring betrayed him during an orc ambush, but his body was recovered and brought to a still recovering Sauron, who then put one of the nine rings of power in Isildur's dead hand. This brought him back to life, but as Sauron's servant.
  • Adaptation Deviation: Like Helm Hammerhand, in the novels Isildur lived long after all of the Nazgûl came into existence. In this Alternate Timeline, Sauron turned him into one of the nine after he was killed in an Orc ambush and they brought his dead body before Sauron.
  • Climax Boss: Fighting him marks the Point of No Return and occurs just prior to the final duels against the Witch-king and Sauron himself.
  • Composite Character: Isildur and the Nazgûl he became were likely separate characters in the books.
  • The Corruptible: He defeated Sauron, but rapidly succumbed to the One Ring's influence, refused to destroy it, and claimed it for himself.
    Isildur: [wreathed in a Sauron-like aura of flames] I am the Lord of the Ring!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Presumably the reason Sauron turned him into one of the Ringwraiths was punishment for daring to take the One Ring as a trophy.
  • Fallen Hero: He won the Battle of Dagorlad by cutting off Sauron's finger and separating him from the One Ring.
  • In the Back: Like his book counterpart, Isildur is killed after Orc archers shoot him multiple times in the back.
  • Ironic Hell: The man who became hero after he defeated Sauron, is now forced to serve him.
  • Klingon Promotion: His permanent defeat leads to Talion being able to claim his minor Ring of Power.
  • Mercy Kill: After seeing his memories, Talion opts to put him out of his misery rather than dominate him as Celebrimbor intended.
  • Necromancer: He can summon and control the spirits of the dead to serve him in battle, similar to how Helm Hammerhand can control Mordor's wildlife.
  • No-Sell: While fleeing the orcs while wearing the One Ring, the arrows bounce off him. The moment it leaves him, however, they find their mark.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on his face when the One Ring slips from his finger, leaving him visible and vulnerable to Orc archers screams this trope.
  • Tragic Villain: He was once the great king and hero of Gondor, but his corruption by the One Ring made him squander the opportunity to destroy Sauron for good and resulted in his becoming Sauron's slave as one of the Nine.
  • Undeath Always Ends: In a unique fashion, Talion and the Wraith actually manage to Dominate him; but then Talion releases his spirit to death; cutting his ties to Sauron. This leaves an opening in the Nine.....
  • Wreathed in Flames: When he claims the One Ring as his own, he becomes surrounded by an aura of flames that make him look distinctly like Sauron.

The Nazgûl Sisters

A pair of female Ringwraiths originated from the Middle-earth's equivalent of Far East, who killed two Nazgûl and stole their Rings of Power for themselves before assassinating their father to take the throne from him. They ruled the region for some time, amassing a fortune in the progress, before Sauron visited to add them to his ranks.
  • Adaptation Deviation: There was no indication that the Nazgûl had female members and all of its members were said to be male. That said, they are shown to have taken their rings from male Nazgûl, so it technically still follows their idea as "kings of men" who took the Nine Rings.
  • All There in the Manual: Their names are Yan Wei and Yan Qi, according to their artist.
  • Ambition Is Evil: To the extent they were willing to use the Rings of Power from two of the Nine to advance their goals.
    • This continues even after they became Ringwraiths; the Sisters note that with Sauron distracted by his battle for supremacy with Celebrimbor and the Witch-king weakened by his defeat at Talion's hands, their plan is to raise an army of Orcs and conquer Middle-Earth for themselves.
      Rogue Nazgûl: The Dark Lord and the Ringmaker burn atop Barad-dûr. The Witch-king is diminished. We are ascendant!...You face the army we have assembled to dominate all of Mordor and you will have the honour of being its first triumph. And when your bodies lie broken on the battlefield, we will hack the Rings from your fingers and begin our conquest of Middle-Earth!
  • Arc Villain: They are the actual villains in the Blade of Galadriel DLC, even though Talion is the Final Boss fought right after they are defeated, he is an grudging ally for most of the expansion.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: They aim to rule Middle-Earth together.
  • Chain Pain: They are capable of summoning chains to restrain Eltariel in combat.
  • Contralto of Danger: They definitely sound just like the other Nazgul in the game, but are distinctive enough to tell they are female.
  • Creepy Twins: Specially after their fall.
  • Dark Action Girl: Notable in that they are the only explicit female enemies in the entire series.
  • Dual Boss: They fight as one against Elthariel.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Eltariel and Talion. Like the former, they are formidable female fighters that managed to defeat Ringwraiths in direct combat, however, they turned against their masters due to ambition and thirst for power. Like the latter, they are rogue Ringwraith themselves, but while Talion dedicates himself to safeguard Middle-Earth from the forces of darkness, the Sisters want to command this darkness to overthrow Sauron and rule Middle-Earth themselves.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: With the Witch-king diminished by his defeat, Sauron locked in a eternal duel with Celebrimbor's spirit on top of Barad-dûr, and Talion waging all-out civil war throughout Mordor, the Nazgûl sisters swoop right in to fill the gap...and hopefully go up from there.
  • Gender Flip: In the books, there is no mention of any queens among the fallen kings of men that fell to Sauron's corruption.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: They speak in this way, for added creepiness factor.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Sisters are encountered by Talion during the events of the main gamenote , but he deals with them with little difficulty. During the Shadow Wars, they conquer the fortress at Gorgoroth and give Eltariel — herself a veteran Nazgûl hunter — a hard time during their clash.
  • Off with His Head!: They kill their father by first stabbing his chest and back, then using the chains attached to violently garrote his head off.
  • Patricide: Culturally, the biggest crime they could commit.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Since they wear full-body concealing robes like their male counterparts, it should come to quite a surprise that they are actually women. Their voice sounds different enough that you can tell them apart.
  • The Starscream: They seek to steal any Rings of Power they can so that can usurp Sauron for control of Mordor, and eventually take over Middle-earth.
  • Stock Ninja Weaponry: Befitting their Wutai origins, they seem to wield kusarigama.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Even after being warned by the Ringwraiths they defeated that the Rings of Power would control them, not the other way around, the sisters still took and willingly wore the rings they claimed as trophies of victory.
  • Undying Loyalty: To each other. In life and in undeath, while backstabbing every authority figure in their way, they never turn against each other. They even share rulership of the fortress at Gorgoroth.
  • The Usurper: When their father and king demanded the Rings of Power they'd claimed as trophies, they instead chose to kill him and take his throne, ruling and slowly becoming more corrupted by the Rings until Sauron eventually came to claim them for the Nine.
  • Wutai: Their realm of origin looks distinctly Asiatic and draws visual cues from Chinese and Japanese cultures.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Like Talion, they are unique in that they obtained their rings by defeating the previous Nazgûl bearers in combat rather than actually being given them by Sauron. That doesn't stop "Annatar" from visiting when they're corrupted enough by the Rings.


Zog the Eternal
"The dead aren't dead. They're just waiting for someone who will listen."
Voiced by: Nolan North

A Cursed Mystic Trickster orc and a recurring antagonist in Shadow of War. When the forging of the New Ring awakens the dormant Balrog Tar Goroth beneath Gorgoroth, Zog and his cabal of acolytes emerge to try and harness the Balrog's power, as well as perfect a means to create an army of the undead.

  • Arc Villain: For the Carnán quests.
  • A Villain Named "Z__rg": His name fits the convention.
  • Back from the Dead: Using his necromancy, he can resurrect orcs as revenants, including slain captains. In the final chapter of Carnán's questline, his acolytes succeed in bringing him back from the dead as well, and it seems to be a perfect resurrection - he can revive repeatedly even from decapitation, and he's in full possession of his mental faculties (wereas most revenants are groaning, wretched monsters).
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Invokes this in regards to using undead mooks to fight an undead protagonist.
    Zog: You're the inspiration for all of this! What better army to defeat a dead man than a legion of undead orcs?
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Zog is overly ambitious for an orc to presume he could enslave a Balrog and overthrow the Dark Lord, an indestructible Maiar. To his credit Celebrimbor does mention he can pull off the first objective, and he does prove to be a very persistent opponent.
  • The Cat Came Back: After his story missions, he'll cheat death and join the Nemesis roster, and he'll continue to come back over and over, even when decapitated or dismembered. He'll brag he's a Necromancer and that Talion is too stupid to understand that cheating death is fairly simple for someone like him.
    Zog: Look at you; that teeny mind of yours, struggling to understand what's happening. "B-b-but, I killed him!" NO!! Death was but a minor inconvenience, and always will be. I am your better, Talion. You will never see the end of Zog!
  • Catchphrase: "Dimwit!"
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Zog is an orc with several invulnerabilities: he is Unbreakable for one, meaning he can't be weakened, branded or shamed. He can also possibly develop immunities to stunning, ranged attacks, executions or being jumped over. After becoming a revenant, Zog gains Resurrective Immortality that, among other things, allows him to recover from decapitations.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Has a brief Early-Bird Cameo during the mission "The Fall", where he and Talion briefly stare at each other from a distance as he and other uruks ride past on caragors to prepare for assault.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: In the final major encounter with him, his acolytes resurrect several orcs that died during the battle for Minas Ithil. This results in each necromancy totem in the area being guarded by various zombified captains, each of which you killed during the first act of the game.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: During the final mission of Minas Ithil, Talion will lock eyes on a green-eyed Uruk, who turns out to be Zog later.
  • Hate Sink: Zog is specifically designed to make players absolutely hate his guts.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: Zog seeks to ensorcel Tar Goroth and use him as a weapon to usurp control of Mordor from Sauron. Carnán and Celebrimbor indicate that he would be able to control Tar Goroth with dark magic, but whether he could use the Balrog to overthrow Sauron is another question.
  • Invincible Villain: A downplayed example: once Zog joins the nemesis roster after his missions, no amount of killing him will put him down for good. Apparently he’s just that good at necromancy that he can revive himself. However, he can still be defeated in combat.
  • Necromancer: He can use dark magic to resurrect dead orcs and himself too.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: He uses an army of dead orcs and even dead captains, including himself.
  • Plot Parallel: Zog trying to dominate Tar-Goroth mirrors Celebrimbor trying to dominate Sauron. Both plans fail.
  • Resurrective Immortality: After becoming a revenant, Zog can return to life as many times as he wants and can even survive decapitation - normally the one thing that can certainly kill off most orcs.
  • The Starscream: He seeks to use Tar-Goroth to overpower Sauron and rule Mordor himself.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Subverted, Trying to raise a Balrog for your own ends just reeks of a bad idea and unsurprisingly, Tar-Goroth straights up kills his servants upon being raised. But Zog is clever enough to not be anywhere near the action as he sends his minions to take risks like this he is unwilling to take. Using his dark magic, it was also implied that he would be able to gain control of the weakened Balrog.
  • Villainous Breakdown: After Talion and Celebrimbor end his quest to raise Tar Goroth as his minion, he loses his composure altogether and just tries to outright kill them.
    Zog the Eternal: I was about to pull life from death, and you ended it! He was to be my masterwork, and you ended it! This is how you die, Gravewalker.

    Baz, Gaz, and Daz 

Baz, Gaz, and Daz

Baz and Gaz are a pair of Olog-hai who identify themselves as Brûz the Chopper's Blood Brothers. They ambush Talion after he has Shamed Brûz into inconsolable misery, seeking to avenge him. Daz is Brûz's oldest friend, and appears after the Blood Brothers have been dealt with.

  • All in the Manual: Much of the Back Story of Baz, Gaz and Daz can only be found in the online Appendeces.
  • And This Is for...: They'll occasionally spout lines about avenging Brûz's death in combat dialog, whether or not the player actually killed Brûz. Justified, since in their eyes, the Brûz they knew is long gone.
  • Avenging the Villain: They only show up after Brûz has been shamed into madness, with the explicit intent of killing Talion to avenge his fall.
  • Blood Knight: According to the Appendices, "whatever scheme or stratagem Brûz devised, Baz could be found in the middle of it, blood on his hands and a smile on his face."
  • Consummate Professional: Gaz is considered the more serious-minded soldier of the two.
  • Dual Boss: Baz and Gaz will likely show up to fight you at the same time.
  • Fantastic Racism: Gaz hates Men even more than Brûz.
  • Loss of Identity: Deranged Gaz will think he is Brûz, even trying the Australian accent.
  • Madness Mantra: If Baz goes deranged he will keep repeating that Brûz is fine.
    Baz (on his last chance ability): Better me than Brûz, he is fine, all that matters.
  • Red Baron: Baz and Gaz both have the title of "the Ocker", which is Austrailian slang for agressive people. Daz has the more intimidating title of "the Ripper".
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Ologs want to destroy Talion for Shaming Brûz into ruin.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: The Shaming of Brûz makes them go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    Gaz: War's war; but what you did to Brûz, you took it past all that.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Brûz the Chopper, even after he's been reduced to an insane wreck, and after all of his other followers have presumably abandoned him.

    Tar Goroth 

Tar Goroth

A Balrog that previously laid quiescent, until Celebrimbor's creation of the New Ring imbalanced the world enough to awaken and free him to menace the world again. Oops.

  • Advertised Extra: Despite being featured heavily in the promotional material, Tar Goroth is not a major antagonist, but merely a secondary villain in the sidequests he is featured: he only appears in two missions and the very start of Carnán's questlines before being disposed of, while Zog is the actual Arc Villain.
  • Arch-Enemy: Of Carnán, due to the fact his fire is burning her forest.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: In the first fight, he has areas on his lower back and chest that can be damaged by arrows. However, when you catch up to him later, he has covered those places with armor.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The first encounter with him ends this way — after taking a pounding from Carnán and Talion, he tricks them into a point where he can ambush them by giving Carnán's Graug form a headbutt and slinking off while she regenerates. In the second, it uses its own flaming trail of footprints as a trap, doubling back when it enters an ice cave and trapping Talion inside when he goes in to follow them.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The result of leaving Carnán's Graug form to fight him without Talion's intervention.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: A Mystic Tribe Warchief by the name of Zog the Eternal is the one who provides the final push to unseal Tar-Goroth, planning to present him to Sauron in expectation of great acclaim for himself. Sadly for him, the Balrog has no interest in his schemes, and wipes out several members of his cult before engaging Talion and Carnán and then taking off to work some havoc of his own.
    Celebrimbor: They are summoning Death. But it will be Death for all.
  • The Juggernaut: Talion's attacks don't affect him unless they hit his weak point, which Talion can't reach without Carnán's help. When he manages to separate Talion from Carnán, he's an Invincible Villain.
  • Implacable Man: A fight with Carnán, which also had Talion shooting at his weak point, failed to killed him. In his second encounter with Talion and Carnán, he takes giant icicles getting dropped on his head, gets blasted with intense cold from Carnán, and gets pushed into the water of frozen lake. He's only beaten when Carnán forces him far below the water.
  • It Can Think: Tar Goroth is far from a mindless monster, and is quite adept at turning the tables. In their first encounter, Tar-Goroth ambushes Talion and Carnán as they try to climb out of his pit, ripping the head off Carnán's Graug form and forcing Talion to concentrate his efforts on staying alive, allowing Tar Goroth to make his getaway. On their second encounter, Tar Goroth leaves a trail of tracks luring Talion and Carnán into a cave, then doubles back, waits until they have taken the bait and then launches his attack, forcing the pair to run for it.
  • It's Personal: With Carnán as she buried him back in the Second age. In fact, during his otherwise unintelligible Boss Banter in the first fight, you can hear him say Carnán's name if you listen carefully.
  • Lightning Bruiser: He's bigger than a Graug, but despite that he's very, very fast.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: He flees when he senses he can't win.
  • Our Demons Are Different: As far as can be seen, he's like any other Balrog, apart from the fact that his actual name is known and that he wears a skull-like helm.
  • No Indoor Voice: While you can never understand what he's saying, he is always shouting it at the top of his..lungs?
  • Playing with Fire: He shoots absurd amounts of fireballs in his second fight and he can ignite wood just by being near it.
  • Really 700 Years Old: One of Morgoth's minions, some in-game dialogue hint that he was the very first Balrog.
  • Roar Before Beating: He does this frequently. He actually does this literally when he roars at Carnán, then starts repeatedly punching her in the face after charging at her.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Previously slumbered deep beneath the earth, but Talion and Celebrimbor unknowingly awoke him. He gets trapped once again after being defeated by Talion and Carnán, this time in a lake of ice.
  • Time Abyss: As a Balrog, it would have served Morgoth many thousands of years ago, and technically is older than the universe.
  • The Unintelligible: Tar Goroth speaks some form of twisted and guttural Black Speech that appears in subtitles, but goes untranslated (unlike Ranger's lines). Talion actually asks what he is saying, but Celebrimbor replies, "Does it matter?".
  • Whip It Good: Uses a flaming whip as a weapon. He also swings it around to fling Fireballs.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Celebrimbor thinks that Zog can enthrall him after being frozen in the lake by Carnán. Before, Celebrimbor said that waking him up would cause death to all, and Tar Goroth kills his acolytes the moment he wakes up.

    Ratak the Lawless 

Ratak the Lawless

The Final Boss of the Fallen Blades legendary gear Side Quest in the Blade of Galadriel DLC, aligned to no tribe.

  • Always Chaotic Evil: Ratak believes that orcs should be this, and that tribes and other organizational structures are imposed by the higher-ups as a deliberate tactic to weaken them and keep them in line.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: He brags that he is the "ultimate orc" because no tribe could ever contain his greatness. He aspires to rule Mordor, but is actually easier to defeat than many of the Captains whom Eltariel had to finish off to get to him.
  • Dual Wielding: He comes armed with two giant cursed axes.
  • I Work Alone: In that he's the first Orc in the game to belong to no tribe at all.

    Takra the Sandspider 

Takra the Sandspider

The main antagonist of The Desolation of Mordor DLC, Takra the Sandspider rules Lithlad from the fortress of Shindrâm and has hired the Vanishing Sons Mercenary Company to guard his treasure caravans against bandit raids.

  • An Arm and a Leg: Baranor detonates a barrel of grog next to him, and it blows his hand off.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When Baranor enters Takra's throne room, he snarls that he'll tear off all of Baranor's limbs as payback for Baranor blowing his arm off earlier. Serka promptly lampshades it.
  • Final Boss: As soon as he is dead, the DLC finishes and calculates your score.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Takra hired the Vanishing Sons to guard his treasure caravans, although neither side (including Takra himself) particularly likes the arrangement.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: He is Dazed by Executions, probably so his fight wouldn't be too difficult to avoid player frustration.

The Nemesis System

    Nemesis Orcs 

Nemesis Orcs

The officers of Orc society, from Captains all the way to the Overlord. Aside from names and fancy titles, these orcs have a number of strengths that make them much, much more dangerous than your rank-and-file grunts. However, they also have weaknesses you can exploit to great effect.

  • Accidental Truth: Some of their taunts indicate that either they know about Talion's bond with the wraith or took a wild guess:
    "Back from the dead, eh? Did you learn that from your elven friend?"
    (After Talion is killed) "In a hole! In the ground! Both of you!"
  • Acrofatic: A pudgy Uruk can still have the "fast runner" trait.
  • Affably Evil: Some Captains will run after and kill runaway slaves, and just as quickly turn around and give you a genuinely pleasant greeting before attacking.
  • The Alcoholic: You might stumble across a captain who really loves his grog.
  • The Anticipator: some Uruks will be vigilant against stealth making them immune to all Stealth attacks.
  • Ascended Extra: Should Talion be killed by just another nameless Uruk, then that Uruk will get a promotion to Captain, complete with a unique name, personality and traits. Given the right sequence of events, the Uruk who happened to get in the last lucky blow against the Gravewalker can end up becoming an elite Warchief or even the Overlord.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Their combat level measures both their personal skill and the amount of sway they have over other Uruks.
  • Ax-Crazy: Some Uruks are motivated by nothing more than a lust for violence and bloodshed.
  • Berserk Button: A trait for Uruks is a hatred of something specific (Caragors, burning, their masters getting hurt, etc.) that, when triggered, causes them to be become stronger in battle.
  • Blood Knight: Olog-hai's with the title "Warborn" will do Punctuated Pounding, saying "I LIKE IT!" each time.
  • Blood Upgrade: Present via the Hate of Pain and Hate of Mortal Wounds traits, which will send a Captain into a frenzy when they take certain amounts of damage.
  • Body Horror:
    • In Shadow of Mordor, Uruks can come in two flavors of grotesque. Either they're just naturally covered in tumors, growths, mutations or scars...or they collect new ones as Talion kills/defeats them and it doesn't quite take. Do enough damage to one enough times and he'll be almost unrecognizable from the first time you met.
    • In Shadow of War, we can add "born with two malformed faces" and "host to a Morgai fly hive" to the list.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Zig-zagged all over the place.
    • Played Straight (and quite literally) by certain captains who look virtually identical to run-of-the-mill grunts, which can be a nasty shock if you're not constantly checking the Wraith World. Pro tip: if a grunt has a flaming weapon, poisoned weapon, or weapon that's dripping blood, he's not a grunt. (This is much more prevalent in Shadow of Mordor; in Shadow of War, all captains are denoted with rings under their feet, even if you haven't identified them in the Wraith World yet.)
    • Inverted with other early-game captains, who are so vulnerable and/or easily shaken that there's not much separating them from grunts other than a few special abilities.
  • Butt-Monkey: An Uruk who gets killed by Talion repeatedly will usually come back with horrific wounds, referring to how much pain they have to constantly suffer through. An Uruk who has been killed multiple times and has an easily-exploitable fear on top of that? They suddenly become an utter joke.
  • Came Back Strong: Any Uruk that undergoes an Unexplained Recovery comes back with a few extra levels in power, meaning they're (theoretically) stronger than before. Uruks who are Shamed into becoming Maniacs will leap beyond level 60, regardless of their level.
  • Came Back Wrong: In Shadow of War, Uruk brought back by Necromancers have the 'Undead' tag instead of a Tribe tag, are pallid, black-haired and green-eyed, and have their dialog replaced by gibbering moans or mutism.
    • Talion can get the ability to do this himself in Act IV. In addition to the aforementioned cosmetic changes, undead orcs can no longer level up, and gain a weakness to fire. On the plus side, they can't be poisoned and can never betray you.
    • This can also happen in some of the ways that Uruks cheat death, frequently in different flavors of Body Horror. For instance, an Uruk that was severely mutilated by Talion, such as losing most of their limbs, can return with the "Machine" tag, becoming the closest thing the setting has to a Hollywood Cyborg, while another is the "Poisoned" or "Blighted" tag. An Uruk you kill with poison has a chance to come back covered in leaking sores and boils, with half of their face melted.
  • Captain Obvious: Quite literally — one Orc Captain is labeled "The Obvious".
  • Cast of Snowflakes: All Uruks are randomly generated with different looks, personalities and traits.
  • The Cat Came Back: Some of these captains can have skills called Tracker, Sneaky, and Ambusher. Any combination of these traits makes a captain who will appear out of nowhere, no matter the time or the place, and will never stop chasing you. Teleport to the other side of the map? They're already there. Hide on top of a tower? They're waiting for you to come down. Bonus points if the captain gets the Unkillable title and takes a lot of effort to kill permanently.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: While some Uruks are Ax-Crazy, others are just... nuts, exclaiming things like "beetles don't like peoples" or referring to Talion as "Buttons!"
    • Minstrel Uruks are Exactly What It Says on the Tin, coming into battle with weaponized lutes and singing in verse to describe your doom. They are no less powerful than any other Uruk captain despite their silly nature, and can kill Talion just as dead as any other Uruk.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: There are Uruks who speak in perverted innuendos, talk to Talion like they're planning to have their way with him afterwards, treat their wounds like a result of a lovers' spat, and introduce themselves while posing in suggestive flourishes. It's exactly as disturbing and wrong as you think it is.
  • Cool Helmet: Many Uruks sport an array of headwear, ranging from ornate metal helmets to caragor heads to ninja-like masks to small head-mounted braziers.
  • Cursed with Awesome: In Shadow of War, some captains are equipped with Cursed weaponry, which drains Talion's Wrath and Focus and temporarily replaces the minimap with the Eye of Sauron.
  • Death Seeker: Some Captains are relieved when Talion slays them. This happens chiefly with old Uruks.
  • Decapitation Required: The only reliable way to avert an Unexplained Recovery is to lop the Uruk's head off. Subverted in Shadow of War, they can come back as Frankensteins with their heads stitched back on, or as undead.
  • Defiant to the End: Certain Uruks will express an I Can Still Fight! mentality when they reach the prone "brand or kill" stage.
  • Degraded Boss: Arguably averted and even inverted with regards to Warchiefs in Shadow of War; while they're no longer the regional top dogs due to the introduction of fortresses and their Overlords, they actually serve a story purpose now, as each Warchief is assigned to guard a specific sector of the fort in the event of a siege. (This also serves as an In-Universe justification for Warchiefs' absence from the open world.) You're still required to play a mini-mission to draw them out, or you can encounter them all during a siege. Also, infiltrating a follower as a Warchief weakens the fort's defenses.
  • Dirty Coward: Uruks with titles like "The Coward", "The Fearful", "Who Flees", etc. have numerous fears and will retreat at the drop of a hat.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: An Uruk Captain may mutter after killing Talion, "There. Maybe now my Uruks will do what I tell them to."
  • Elite Mook: Low-level captains can feel like these, as they're not much more difficult to defeat than your average grunt. However, they can gain strengths and/or lose weaknesses as they level up, potentially turning them into true Boss Battles. Taken Up to Eleven if they manage to become a Warchief, and taken Up to Eleven again in Shadow of War if they manage to become the region's Overlord.
    • In Shadow of War, captains can have Elite Gangs that are this trope played straight. Elite gang members inherit their boss's immunities, elemental weaponry, and certain other traits; for example, an Olog captain with Fire Thrower and a gang of elite Ologs gives his gang Fire Throwers as well.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Once you defeat The Tower, one of the Uruk's idle dialogue is about how much of a cruel bastard he was and that they're glad he's dead. Although, they could just be talking about how cruel he was to THEM, and not care about his cruelty to others.
  • Evil Knockoff: Shadow of War has Orcs who fashion themselves "The Tower" and wear armor just like The Tower from the first game. Taken Up to Eleven with Outlaw Defenders named the Pretender, who also wear armor similar to that of the Tower but do not speak with his voice.
  • Face Death with Dignity: A very small number of Captains and Warchiefs will take their defeat this way, one of them even thanking you for granting him "a good death".
    Uruk : Didn't see this coming. No matter. Just finish it.
    Uruk : Good brawl in front of a cheering crowd? Can't think of a better way to go.
    Uruk: A good death, in Sauron's name. Thank you, Ranger.
  • Facial Horror: Orcs whom Talion has killed might come back wearing a sack or metal plating to cover this... but others don't. Captains who return from poisoning in Shadow of War can have molten faces.
  • A Father to His Men: Some Uruks can somewhat be seen as this, especially those who become enraged if their bodyguards are attacked when they take the field. Though it could be down to their Blue and Orange Morality.
  • Flaming Sword: And other weapons as well. Some Uruks wield armaments that are on fire, which increases the damage they do.
  • Friendly Enemy: The occasional Uruk Captain will say how happy they are to see you, give you compliments or invite you to join in on the hunt/party you found them in. It doesn't stop them from attacking you, though.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Can potentially happen if a rank-and-file orc gets a lucky kill on Talion to become a captain, and survives long enough to get promoted to be a Warchief or even the Overlord of his native region.
  • Genuine Human Hide: Captains known as "The Skinner" and "The Tailor" make it very clear that they want to turn Talion's skin into clothing.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Some Uruks have the rage trigger Enraged by Everything, which causes them to get Enraged at random.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: A cleaved orc can still come back with his lower half being stapled.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Later on in the games, the Wraith gains the ability to brand orcs, turning them and all those who follow them to his side.
  • Hero Killer: In Shadow of War, rank-and-file Uruks who manage to kill Talion will sometimes declare themselves "Tark-Slayer" and gain that as their sobriquet.
    • Other orcs style themselves as the Ranger-Killer, and they back it up by using a Ranger sword as their weapon.
  • Hulk Speak: Some orcs talk like this, and it's much more common among Olog-hai.
  • I Love the Dead: Some orcs mention during duels that they'll keep their enemy's corpse for play time.
  • Instrument of Murder: In Shadow of War, Uruk bards and minstrels will wield lutes with axe-blades attached as weapons.
  • King Mook: Each class of Uruk promoted to the nemesis lineup keeps their associated equipment. Combine this with the 'Gang Leader' trait, and you can end up with a Defender Captain surrounded by a squad of regular Defenders.
  • The Klutz: Uruks with the Clumsy trait can be grabbed (or mounted, in the case of Olog-hai) without needing to be weakened first.
  • Laughing Mad: Some Uruk have no dialogue but a creepy laugh, even when at Talion's mercy.
  • Legacy Character: One of the Uruks in Shadow of War is "The Tower". An orc who put on The Tower's armor after Talion killed him, and now fancies himself as the Tower.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Defenders carry large shields that block frontal assaults. While grunt defenders' shields can be broken, captains' shields are unbreakable.
  • Made of Iron: There are Uruks who can take a lot of punishment.
  • Madness Mantra: Deranged Uruks will suffer a Cool and Unusual Punishment in which they forsake their former desires. Famously with Brûz, who will constantly moan, "I don't want the fort! It's his/your fort! It was always his/your fort!"
    The Glutton: So full! No more eating! So stuffed... SO STUFFED!
    The Glutton: Cannot eat! So full. Stomach HURTS. SO FULL!
    The Glutton: (after killing Talion) Would eat you, but so full... so stuffed... so full...
  • The Magnificent: Every Uruk ranked captain and above has some form of sobriquet. Most pertain to a specific trait, but a few are based on profession or accomplishment.
    • This is also inverted, as other orcs sport Embarrassing Nicknames like the Coward, Who Flees, the Weak, and so forth.
    • In Shadow of War, orcs can gain new titles based on their deeds. An Olog who kills his pit fight opponent can gain the title Pit Fighter. An orc who flees from a Nemesis Mission may become known as the Gutless.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Gorath from the "Spirit of Mordor" mission. When you find him, he's constantly bragging about how badass he is when hunting caragors. He's actually terrified by them, and the mission requires to release the caged caragors in the surrounding area before attacking him while he's fleeing.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: You may come across an Uruk with rather... grotesque tastes in food.
  • Mook Promotion: Sometimes, a random grunt can become a captain, either by killing Talion or just through random events.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Some Orcs lack lips and/or cheeks, giving them unnaturally-wide fang-studded mouths.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: If you make an orc kill their blood brother in a duel, they will immediately turn on you afterwards.
  • That Man Is Dead: A Captain who has been Shamed (and possibly killed) by Talion may return as "the Nameless One", giving a What the Hell, Player?, saying he's fighting for all of the other Captains Talion has Shamed. The Captain will still keep his proper name, though.
  • Name's the Same: In War, an orc can have the moniker of Gravewalker, his motivation for killing Talion amount to Clear My Name.
  • Neck Lift: Uruks with the "throat grab" ability can do this.
  • Nemean Skinning: The head of a caragor is the helmet of choice for certain Uruks.
  • The Nose Knows: A skill for Nemesis uruks is Sniffer, which works almost like Tracker in that uruks use it to track Talion down. The difference is that captains with Sniffer can only notice Talion when he's somewhat near them, no matter if he's standing on a building or hiding in a bush.
  • No-Sell: Different Uruks have different invulnerabilities. Three common ones are invulnerability to ranged combat (rendering any bow-related attacks useless), invulnerability to stealth takedowns (rendering a stealthy approach with the dagger useless), and Combat Master (rendering combat finishers useless).
  • Not Worth Killing: Orcs with the Humiliator trait won't kill Talion, and just walk away. One would think it would be a relief for players, but oddly, it usually pisses them off. So, job well done, Humiliator.
    • In Shadow of War, Talion can turn the tables by Shaming broken captains, informing them that he considers them to not be worth killing. As Shaming occurs on a supernatural, Mind Rape level, it has the potential to drive its victims insane.
  • Old Soldier: One of the personalities these greenskins can have is that of the grizzled old veteran. They usually have a title like "the Wise" or "the Old", and call Talion a "young man", often stating that the Ranger has nothing left to teach them as the years have taught them war.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The final Zog mission will have him resurrecting all of the Captains Talion killed into zombie-like soldiers. They will have their old traits, but aren't able to speak, gargling incoherently. They also cannot be recruited or shamed.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Some Uruks liberally use the term "shrakh", which appears to be their word for "shit". One particular pre-duel quote functions as a Cluster F-Bomb for this reason:
    "Eat shrakh and die, you shrakh-eating shrakh!"
  • Poisoned Weapons: Some Uruks carry poisoned weapons that disable the button prompt for Talion to counter incoming hits and drain his health.
  • Relative Button: Some Uruks like to point out that Ioreth and Dirhael will stay dead no matter what Talion does.
  • Revenge:
    • If an Uruk comes back after being killed by Talion, he might try to avenge his own death by killing the ranger. In Shadow of War, orcs who have been Shamed by Talion will also express a desire to kill the ranger in revenge for their humiliation.
    • Also in Shadow of War, Orcs can have Blood Brothers who will come after you if you take one of them down.
  • The Silent Bob:
    • Some Uruks are The Quiet One, only vocalizing maybe a few grows, snorts, or giggles instead of words. Yet they seem to be understood well enough when communicating with other Uruks, for example during a recruitment event:
      Nemesis: "..."
      Random Uruk: "I'd rather die!"
    • In Shadow of War, some Orcs will call out to Talion only to silently glare at him and have a random background Orc speak on their behalf.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Those with the Tracker trait, naturally, will be able to follow your trail until they find you. They can keep tracking you even if you leave the ground and go over a buildingnote . They'll even boast that they've been following the Ranger's trail all over Mordor when they find him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Some Uruks will attempt to retreat when they find themselves outmatched. If you exploit a Fear (Terror in Shadow of War), they'll start running for the hills in a blind panic.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Some Uruks adorn themselves in the bones of animals, ranging from a ribcage cuirass to using a goat-like skull as a helmet.
  • Single-Issue Wonk: Ologs with the title "Dwarf-Hater" will only speak about how much they despise Dwarves. They hate Talion because he's friends with a Dwarf. They compare his fighting to a Dwarf's. Every one of their lines brings up Dwarves. Talion hits them? He hits like a dwarf. He dodges? He's a coward like a dwarf, etc. They often drop this habit after being branded, however.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Ologs might look more monstrous than their Uruk allies, but they're no less intelligent. For example, you might run into an Olog Captain titled "the Bore" who drones on and on about his and Talion's motives for fighting and compares them to those of other soldiers throughout history.
    • There's even a conversation between mooks where an Uruk laments that the Ologs aren't any dumber despite being huger and stronger than Uruks.
  • Smoke Out: Trickster class orcs in the sequel can use smoke bombs to teleport around the battlefield.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: As Yahtzee pointed out, Orcs and Ologs seem to have quite the education, since they throw around terms like "metaphor" around while making grisly threats.
  • Speak of the Devil: In War, sometimes Talion's actions will attract a related Captain. For example, slice off the limbs of a Captain when killing him, an Uruk named "The Mutilator" will pop up to critique Talion's work before attacking. Explode a campfire to cause spiders to erupt from it, and a Captain named "The Spider" will be upset at you for defiling Shelob before attacking.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Rather common attire for captains, especially higher-ranking ones.
  • Suddenly Voiced: In the last mission of the game, your nemesis shows up guarding the gate in a last-ditch effort to stop you. He gives a speech to his warriors and attacks. Yes, this even applies to the aforementioned mute captains.
    Nemesis: "Burn... Maim! Kill them all!"
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: Captains with the Ambusher trait love to appear apropos of nothing the second you finish doing something else, no matter how mundane it is.
  • Terse Talker: Uruks with the epithet "One-Word" generally only say one word at a time.
  • Throw the Mook at Them: Ologs can pull this off, snatching up a hapless uruk to chuck at Talion as a crude ranged attack. They're not particularly picky about whose side their improvised projectile is on, either.
  • Tin Tyrant: A common form of attire for Uruk warchiefs is intimidating armor.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Orcs that return from the dead are usually a bit more powerful. Exploiting their fears in War has a chance of improving them, as shamed orcs might take the punishment in pride and captains who ran away from Morgai flies can turn into a walking hive.
  • Turns Red: Invoked by any Nemesis with the "Hate of Defeat" strength, they will become enraged on low health.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Some Uruk captains can come back after being apparently killed, albeit with some form of wounds. If it happens to the same uruk more than once, their bio changes to how they fear that they have become cursed by Talion. A Justified Trope, as the canon shows that Uruk medicine is very good, albeit also Harmful Healing.
  • Unfortunate Names: There are Uruks named "Dûsh" and "Kâka." To a lesser extent, "Barfa"note , "Bagga" and names that have "dûsh" as a syllable (like "Feldûsh", "Azdûsh", and "Dûshrat"). One of the many titles that an Uruk can get is "Bag-Head", which can result in a Captain being named Dûsh Bag-Head. Shadow of War also adds "Shag" and "Fûbar" to the list of names.
  • The Unfought: Because Uruk society is so volatile, in addition to Mordor's violent wildlife, it's not uncommon for a captain you've never fought (or even met) to be killed by a third party.
  • The Unintelligible: Some Uruks "speak" in little more than growls and snarls, but other Uruks seem to understand them just fine. Shamed Uruks can lose their ability to speak when they go deranged.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Uruk Nemeses who are Shamed in Shadow of War have a chance of becoming Deranged as a side-effect. This ranges from being driven mad to ending up outright lobotomized. Deranged Uruks and Ologs immediately counter the loss in Power Level from Shaming by instantly gaining a whole new swath of combat bonuses and rage triggers. It's also possible to have them become Maniacs instead, which boosts their level instead of decreasing it. Averted in the case of a few Uruks who become Unashamed, boasting about their shaming as a mark of pride and taunting Talion about it.
  • Villainous Crush: Unfortunately, this is actually an attitude some captains can have in regards to Talion. It's a messed-up ball of lust and maybe love, where the Uruk seesaws between all but stating they'll be taking their prize from Talion's (currently) dead body, to nearly romantic last requests before they die. Uruk romance is very dysfunctional. In Shadow of War, Orcs with "the Obssessed" takes it a step further as their first line if they kill you is how lovely your corpse is.
  • Villainous Glutton: There are captains who really love their food. They might complain about being hungry, wonder about their next meal, or even consider eating Talion after killing him.
  • The Voiceless: Some Uruks don't actually speak and instead communicate with chomps, grunts, and shrieks.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rarely, you can run into a Captain who states they're trying to protect their fellow Uruks from the Gravewalker, or calling Talion out for being a butcher with their dying breath.
    • One humorous example will occur after Sauron and Celebrimbor have been fused, with the occasional Uruk complaining to Talion it's all his fault there's a gigantic eye staring down on Mordor and invading everyone's privacy.
  • Worthy Opponent: Some Uruks will tell Talion what a worthy opponent he is at the beginning or at the end of a fight. Best exemplified with these 3 possible quotes your Nemesis will give you in the Arena fight.
    Nemesis : "We've been at this for a long time, you and I, going all the way back to Udun. And in all that time I've realised two things. A Man like you deserve a proper challenge. And what you don't deserve is a quick death."
    Nemesis : "Here we are again. Last time we mixed it up was a good while back, and a long way from here. But this is the place you've chosen to meet your end. And me? I respect that."
    Nemesis : "Been a long time, Ranger. Last time I bloodied you was back in Udun, yeah? Well, this seems as good a place as any to end you good and proper. Come on, let's give the crowd a good show!"
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Some Uruks might also have a specific crippling fear, such as fire or certain animals, that will cause them to run for it and be vulnerable to grabs when triggered.
  • Why Won't You Die?: A captain who manages to kill Talion repeatedly will actually start getting annoyed at the Ranger coming back. It can get to the point where they complain at having to put down an unkillable wraith every day.
    • Inverted with other captains, who eagerly look forward to Talion's resurrection so they can kill him again; their Game-Over Man speeches basically amount to, "See you soon!"

    Orc Tribes 

Orc Tribes

Introduced in Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Uruk and Olog society is divided into a number of tribes unified under the rule of Sauron the Dark Lord. Each tribe possesses its own customs, regalia and behavior, and the native tribe of an uruk officer can drastically affect his strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Additionally, overlords customize their fortresses and outposts based on their tribe's aesthetics and specialties, and even the region's sky is affected by its overlord's tribal affiliation. There are nine tribes, the latter two of which are available as DLC: the Dark Tribe, the Feral Tribe, the Machine Tribe, the Marauder Tribe, the Mystic Tribe, the Terror Tribe, the Warmonger Tribe, the Slaughter Tribe, and the Outlaw Tribe.
  • Animal Motif: About half of the Feral tribe are either named after some kind of beast, or wear armor styled after or made of a beast. Examples include Orcs and Ologs with titles like "The Dragon", "Of The Beasts", "Caragor-Fang", or "The Rat Lord".
    • Some Mystic Tribe Uruks have a bird theme to their names and attire, with epithets such as "The Raven" or "The Crow" or "Hell-Hawk", armor that includes a helm with an extended, tapering visor that comes to a beak-like point over the nose, and a collar covered in black and dark red feathers.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Slaughter Tribe is basically the Serial Killer tribe, with a blood-and-entrails motif to their Forts.
  • Badass Creed:
    Terror Tribe: This fort is a monument to the enemies of Sauron!
    Machine Tribe: You aren't the enemy! You're grist... for the Machine!
    Marauder Tribe: Grog. Guts. Glory.
    Dark Tribe: We will swallow your souls!
    Feral Tribe: Tear down our banners if you can! We will replace them with your head!
    Mystic Tribe: Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul...
    Warmonger Tribe: We bring Fury. We bring Doom. We. Bring. War.
    Slaughter Tribe: Tenderize the meat!note 
    Outlaw Tribe: Mordor belongs to the Outlaw!
  • Bling of War: The Marauder Tribe, of course. Their promotional trailer even parodies rap videos.
  • Blood Is the New Black: Slaughter Tribe orcs smear blood all over their bodies, clothes, armor, and structures. In a livestream, the devs even pointed out that it was fresh human blood, since it's red (orcs bleed black).
  • Bright Is Not Good: The Marauder Tribe is fond of ornate gold decorations, with pristine fortresses of white stone and even more gold under sunny blue skies. Needless to say, they're still uruks, and Word of God says all of their swag comes from invading other lands.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: A good chunk of the Mystic Tribe are just raving lunatic.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Terror Tribe are mentioned to frequently indulge in torturing their enemies, with most of the second half of their pre-fortress battle speeches mentioning how they plan on torturing the survivors once they win.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Terror Tribe fortresses prominently feature the corpses of graugs strung up over the gates and towers.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Slaughter Tribe Overlords decorate their forts by cutting off the heads of the Ologs, Caragors, and Graugs they butcher and tying or skewering them onto the sides of their towers and walls.
  • The Exile: The Outlaw Tribe have been effectively shunned by the other Tribes.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Outlaw Tribe is effectively the Mordor equivalent of a US militia group.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: The two Downloadable Content tribes, the Slaughter and Outlaw tribes, are implied to be this. Upon instillation, several missions will appear that show orcs in the region rallying together to fight off a group of Slaughter/Outlaw captains. Considering the Slaughter Tribe's status as Serial Killers, and the Outlaws' Fantastic Racism, it's not too hard to believe.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The Slaughter Tribe are turning out not only to be man-eaters, but cannibals. Whether you are Man, Dwarf, or even Orc, enemy meat is meat to them.
  • Industrialized Evil: A Machine Tribe Overlord peppers his territory with smokestacks and furnaces, and Machine fortresses are full of pipes, grates and other industrial decorations.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: A few tribes have some intimidating helmet designs as part of their standard equipment.
    • The Mystics are fond of skull-like masks.
    • The Outlaws have full head helmets made from fossilized bone and rusty metal.
    • Some Slaughter Tribe captains have masks made from their victims' flesh.
  • National Weapon: Downplayed. Each Tribe has an associated sidearm that every Nemesis officer (except Ologs) carries on their belts that they can use as a special attack/execution option in some circumstances.
  • Necromancer: While Captains of all tribes are capable of performing necromancy, the Mystic tribe specializes in it. Mystic Fortresses typically have several necromancy totems scattered around, raising dead orcs to fight again.
  • Nightmarish Factory: The trappings of a fort controlled by the Machine Tribe.
  • One-Hit Kill: A variation. As with Assassins (see Orc Advanced Classes below), certain Dark and Terror tribe membersnote  possess the No Chance skill, which means they can immediately kill Talion the moment he's been downed, with no opportunity for a recovery unless something interrupts the killer (getting locked in another animation, or an allied captain swooping in for a Big Damn Heroes moment).
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Warmonger Tribe, according to Word of God. They were designed with Samurai and Vikings in mind. They're less into grog and more into weaponry and tactics.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: The Mystic Tribe wear armor and masks evocative of bones and skulls, and a Mystic Overlord's territory and fortress is covered in chilling skeletal idols.
    • The Feral Tribe and some Beastmasters also get in on this, with the dirtied, and in some cases partially-fossilized, remains of the quarry being outfitted by them as armor.
    • Outlaw tribe armor is typically made of half fossilized bone and half metal scraps.
  • Torture Technician: The Terror Tribe's schtick.
  • Undying Loyalty: Though all Orcs are first and foremost followers of Sauron, the members of the Dark Tribe are described as some of his most fanatical followers, constructing statues to the Dark Lord in their fortresses.

    Orc Advanced Classes 

Orc Advanced Classes

In addition to the tribes, orcs in Shadow Of War always belong to a specific advanced class, which determines their skills. There are ten advanced classes: Assassins, Beastmasters, Berserkers, Commanders, Destroyers, Marksmen, Slayers, Tanks, Trackers, and Tricksters.

  • Animal Motif: Several Beastmasters have titles based on the animals they summon or care for, like "The Dragon" or "Of The Spiders".
  • Annoying Arrows: Very, very much averted when it comes to Marksmen.
  • Cold Sniper: As of the Blade of Galadriel update in February 2018, all Marksmen have the Sniper Shot trait, which allows them to pull off extremely accurate shots from extreme distances — they can even damage Talion mid-somersault. And those attacks hurt!
  • Confusion Fu: A staple of orcs with the Agile trait, namely Assassins and Tricksters. Aside from being able to dodge any and all of Talion's sword strikes, they tend to slide all over the place and even vault over him. Tricksters take it Up to Eleven, with their smoke bombs facilitating short-range Teleport Spam and possibly even stunning the enemy as well.
  • Flunky Boss: Commanders specialize in this. They are surrounded by mooks, and those mooks can plant a flag that boosts everyone's attack speed and power when it's nearby. They also tend to summon replacement mooks using a horn.
    • Beastmasters are similarly capable of summoning caragors, and most come with caragor (or dire caragor) packs. Some Beastmasters can summon other types of beasts, from spiders to drakes.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Tricksters, who dodge Talion's attacks like Assassins, have a chance of escaping a Quick Time Event execution, and drop bombs while fleeing. Sometimes, if you follow a retreating Trickster long enough, he might taunt Talion before disappearing with the help of a smoke bomb; alternatively, he might reveal that he lured Talion into an ambush.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Berserkers tend to have a long list of hate triggers. Sometimes, Enraged by Everything will be just one of those triggers.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Marksmen typically possess the Quick Shot trait (which enables them to shoot three bolts in rapid succession), and their champion epic trait is Epic Quick Shot, which enables them to shoot multiple targets at the same time. Also, see Cold Sniper above.
  • It Only Works Once: Slayers often possess the Fast Learner trait, which causes them to rapidly adapt to attacks and become immune to them for the duration of the fight. (Tricksters and other orcs can also have Fast Learner, but it's most commonly found in Slayers.)
  • Life Drain: Berserker attacks heal them even as they damage their enemies.
  • Made of Iron: Tanks can take a lot of punishment, and they can get up and keep fighting after their health is depleted once.
  • Multi-Melee Master: Slayers are better at melee than other orcs. For example, they can perform small combos and adapt to Talion's moves faster than others.
  • Multishot:
    • Epic Throwing Knives, the Assassin champion epic trait, enables an Assassin to throw five daggers in a fan in front of him.
    • Epic Quick Shot, the Marksman champion epic trait, enables a Marksman to shoot multiple targets simultaneously.
  • No-Sell:
    • Beastmasters are almost always immune to attacks from beasts, and typically deal double damage to them in return.
    • Slayers with the Slayer Counter champion epic trait take this Up to Eleven, as the trait is basically an Anti-Sell; not only do they block Execution attempts from the front, the counter maneuver also injures Talion. At the higher difficulty levels, this injury can be critical.
    • Trackers and Tricksters have Vault Breaker, which prevents Talion from vaulting over them. Notably, this trait does not appear in the captain's trait lists.
  • One-Hit Kill: A variation. All Assassins possess the No Chance trait, which means they can immediately kill Talion the moment he's been downed, with no opportunity for a recovery unless something interrupts the Assassin (getting locked in another animation, or an allied captain swooping in for a Big Damn Heroes moment).
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Trackers will detect Talion from a distance and rapidly zero in on his location, even if he's high above ground, in an unreachable spot or hidden in a bush. They also have a high chance of ambushing Talion, and can even follow him between zones to do this (often while complaining about how far they had to travel just to have a showdown).
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Destroyers pack tons of explosive charges to throw around, and frequently have the Final Blast trait that causes them to scatter a ton of bombs upon death. Ranged Destroyers (and some other ranged captains) can gain the Explosive Shot trait that allows them to fire exploding arrows or hurl exploding spears.
    • Tanks are also often equipped with stun bombs to discourage enemies from getting too close.
  • Teleport Spam: Well, dodge spam. Trickster and Assassin captains can dodge your basic melee attacks, and they are good at it. Tricksters can also pull a Smoke Out to teleport away from Talion.

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