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"Moria had been taken by legions of Orcs led by the most vile of their race...Azog the Defiler. The giant Gundabad orc had sworn to wipe out the line of Durin. He began...by beheading the king."

Yet it is held true by the wise of Eressea, that all those of the Quendi who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes. For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Iluvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindale before the Beginning: so say the wise. And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery. This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Iluvatar.
—A description of how Melkor created the Orcs, The Silmarillion
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The works of J. R. R. Tolkien set in the world of Arda/Middle-earth are the Trope Maker for the High Fantasy genre. It's only fitting then that his battle between good and evil contains some particularly vile foes.

All spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!


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    Literature 
  • The Silmarillion:
    • Melkor, later known as Morgoth Bauglir, began life as one of the Valar, but his spite and arrogance precipitated his steady downfall into evil. Beginning by destroying the great lamps of Valinor and creating the pits of Utumno, Morgoth takes as many races as he can and personally enacts hideous, unspeakable tortures upon them until all that remains are grotesque perversions that he can use as his servants. Following his first defeat, Morgoth repays mercy with treachery, destroying the world trees, killing the king of the Noldor elves and stealing their treasures, leading to the deaths of thousands of elves when they pursue him, before setting up his base of operations in Middle-earth. He delights in corrupting men into darkness, manufacturing and playing off corruption in their hearts to set them against each other and their allies. His "crowning achievement" is tricking and beguiling the first men into swearing an oath of eternal fealty to him, meant to enslave the race forever in body and spirit; mortality is considered a gift for Man, as normally souls of Men leave Arda and Morgoth's grasp. Morgoth launches brutal campaigns of slavery and genocide, including the destruction of Gondolin, the most beautiful and proud elven city, whose citizens are saved solely by the heroism of the city's warriors. He also tries to rape the elven princess Luthien out of nothing more than cruel lust. At one point, he condemns a man to horrible torture and then enacts a curse to see his children grow, suffer horribly and be rejected by both life and death, solely because the man dared to defy him.
    • Sauron, Morgoth's Dragon with an Agenda, is a demonstration of how those who were once noble can fall to great evil. Sauron was once a noble Maia who was swayed to Morgoth's side. Over time, Sauron's noble intentions for the world were replaced with vanity and lust for power. In the First Age, Sauron convinced a man to betray his comrades, showing him a vision of his beloved wife. Once the man did what Sauron asked, Sauron revealed she was already dead and had his hapless pawn tortured to death as he had promised to reunite them. Upon capturing the hero Beren and his companions, Sauron placed them in his dungeons where he allowed his werewolves to slowly pick the group off, one by one, to torment the survivors. After the defeat of his master, Sauron fled to Numenor, assuming the fair form of Annatar, the Bringer of Gifts and seduced Numenor towards darkness and evil until it was a Morgoth-worshipping theocracy that practiced Human Sacrifice. This was an act so unholy, Eru Ilúvatar, the equivalent of God, stepped in to destroy Numenor. Even then, Sauron was not done, and tricked the other races with the Rings of Power, forging his One Ring to enslave all that lived. In the Third Age, he embarked on a genocidal war for conquest, seeking only to feed his lust for domination and megalomania
    • Glaurung, Father of Dragons, is one of Morgoth's prize commanders who slaughter and burn entire regions while battling the Noldor. After devastating the Noldor host, Glaurung leads the utter slaughter of the realm of Nargothrond, meeting Turin Turambar for the first time and manipulating him so he may have the elven princess Finduilas murdered to hurt the son of Hurin more. Later erasing the memories of Turin's sister Nienor, Glaurung manipulates the situation so the two fall in love and marry, using his dying moments to spitefully taunt Nienor about carrying her own brother's child thanks to his cruel machinations.
    • Ar-Pharazôn the Golden was the final King of Numenor. Forcibly marrying and raping his own cousin even before he fell under the sway of Sauron, Ar-Pharazôn became a monstrous tyrant in his alliance with the fallen Maia. Conducting Human Sacrifice in huge numbers to Morgoth, Ar-Pharazôn committed unspeakable atrocities on human kingdoms so terrible that even in the Third Age their descendants willingly sign with Sauron to revenge themselves upon Numenor's descendants, eventually attempting to invade Valinor to massacre the elves there and declare himself the ultimate ruler above even Eru Ilúvatar.

    Films (both animated and live-action) 
  • The Lord of the Rings: Saruman/Aruman the White joins forces with Sauron in order to rule Middle-earth as "Saruman of Many Colors". Imprisoning Gandalf on Orthanc, Saruman later sends his forces after the Fellowship to kidnap Frodo, resulting in Boromir's death. With his servant Grima Wormtongue caught and exiled from Rohan, Saruman sends his forces to Helm's Deep to destroy the entirety of Rohan, while proclaiming that the rest of Middle-earth is to follow.
  • The Return of the King: The Lord of the Nazgul, Sauron's right-hand, is a supernatural phantom leading Sauron's armies on the field to overrun Middle-earth. Overseeing the attempted slaughter of countless innocents, the Nazgul Lord personally leads the charge to Minas Tirith and the collapse of the gates to have everyone within killed, before personally confronting Gandalf and causing the death of King Theoden.
  • Peter Jackson's trilogies have Sauron and several members of his forces:
    • Sauron himself is the dark "Lord of the Rings", an ancient, power-hungry being who seeks nothing less than the subjugation of all life on Middle-earth and the annihilation of everyone and everything that doesn't yield to his rule. Ages ago, Sauron created the "One Ring", using it to hollow out and corrupt the nine kings of Men into his Nazgûl and wage war on the kingdoms of Elves and Man. Though his destructive march was halted and the One Ring stolen, Sauron continues to plague Middle-earth as "the Necromancer", unleashing monstrous beasts onto the land, dictating Azog in his war on Erebor, and tormenting Gandalf the Grey by murdering Thrain before his eyes. Sauron later sways Saruman to his side and uses him to carry out slaughters of all kinds against Rohan, hoping to eventually annihilate Minas Tirith and countless innocent lives to bring in his reign of darkness. Throughout the Third Age, Sauron uses his influence over the One Ring to corrupt and turn the wielders against their friends in an attempt to restore the One Ring to himself, Sauron often reaching out and mentally tormenting any who make direct contact him, his evil so strong as to agonize those who he turns his gaze upon.
    • The Hobbit trilogy: Azog the Defiler, leader of the Orcs, pledged to wipe out the line of Durin even though they had done nothing to him. In the ensuing battle, Azog murdered King Thrór and beheaded him, and then severed Thráin's finger. When Thorin Oakenshield cut off his arm, Azog vowed to gain revenge on the Dwarf by any means necessary, putting a bounty on his head, and when Azog finally corners him, he lies about killing his father to goad Thorin into attacking him. It is eventually revealed that Azog slaughtered the Skinchangers by raiding their lands and then caging and torturing them for his own amusement, leaving Beorn as the Last of His Kind. Upon taking command of Sauron's armies, Azog decides to target innocent civilians in order to distract his enemies and gain an advantage, intending to exterminate the races of Elves, Men, and Dwarves all at once. When Thorin rides to Azog's command center to kill him, Azog has Thorin's nephew Fili brought to him and then kills him in front of Thorin, taking sadistic glee at the moment.
    • The Lord of the Rings trilogy:
      • Saruman the White is a former Istari who, upon believing Sauron cannot be stopped, joins the forces of evil and embraces darkness entirely. When the Dark Lord invades the rest of Middle-earth, Saruman acts as his right hand, securing an alliance with barbarian tribes and sending them with his Orcs to sack the kingdom of the Rohan. Attacking the Westfold, Saruman orders the extermination of every village and the deaths of everyone therein as his servant Grima Wormtongue keeps King Theoden too enfeebled to come to their defense. Upon Theoden being freed, Saruman tries to have the refugees massacred during a flight to the fortress of Helm's Deep, dispatching his army there to slaughter every soldier and civilian within the walls. In one of his darkest crimes, Saruman orders the forest of Fangorn burned, knowing the trees are sapient, living things with their own wills, all to feed the industrial flames of his war machine.
      • The Return of the King: Gothmog is the hulking, deformed Dragon to the Witch-king of Angmar, and one of the cruelest members of his entire Always Chaotic Evil species. Gothmog captures Osgiliath, kills everyone who can fight back, then decides to execute the prisoners he's taken from Faramir's brigade and rain their severed heads down onto Minas Tirith as a form of horrific psychological torture. In the battle of Pelennor Fields, Gothmog attempts to slay every living soul within Minas Tirith, and throws away the lives of hundreds of his own Orcs by refusing to let them break formation during the retaliatory attacks.
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    Video Games, by release date 
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II's Evil Campaign: The Mouth of Sauron is one of the chief commanders of Sauron's army, who aggressively expands the Dark Lord's influence across Middle-earth. Starting off by gathering an army of goblins and Mountain Giants, the Mouth commands them to destroy the Elven city of Lorien, murdering nearly all the Elves there. Later conquering Mirkwood, annihilating the Elven Kingdom in the process and slaughtering countless Elves and their ruler, the Mouth leads Sauron's army in convincing Drogoth the Dragon Lord to join his cause, murdering hundreds of Dwarves to appease him. Afterwards, destroying the city of Dale and laying waste upon the Dwarven Kingdom, killing thousands of Men and Dwarves, including Dwarven King Dain, the Mouth assists the other generals of Sauron's army in slaughtering the remaining opposition at Rivendell, killing off the Fellowship of heroes and helping to spread Sauron's tyrannical rule across the world.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online's "Allies of the King" (Volume 3): Lheu Brenin is the treacherous chieftain of the Falcon Clan of Dunland and the greatest threat faced by the Grey Company in their journey to find Aragorn. Starting out as a reasonable man, the Brenin quickly shows his true colors when he sells out the Rangers to Saruman as trophies and slaves. When the player and the Rangers escaped, Lheu, in order to flee from them, sends his loyal clansmen, including his only daughter, on a suicide mission to distract the Rangers. During their exile, Lheu has anyone that questions his decisions and any he deems weak thrown into pits to be devoured by monsters in the mountains. Finally confronting the player, Brenin reveals his true plans of sneaking into the Glittering Caves and murdering the defenseless women and children of Rohan as a tribute to Saruman.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Conquest ("Rise of Sauron" campaign only): The Dark Lord Sauron sends the Nazgul to Mount Doom to kill Frodo and deal with Orc rebels wanting to take the One Ring for themselves. Upon killing the Orc rebels, Sauron uses their blood to resurrect the Witch King of Angmar, who kills Frodo and retrieves the One Ring for Sauron. Upon regaining the One Ring, Sauron overruns Gondor, destroying Minas Tirith and forcing Aragorn to flee to Weathertop; the population of Gondor being cannibalized by his Orc armies. He then resurrects Durin's Bane in Moria and sics it on Gimli. After conquering Moria, Sauron attacks Weathertop and Rivendell, killing Aragorn and Legolas and taking Elrond's ring for himself. With all of Middle-earth under his control, Sauron attacks the Shire, with his forces and Durin's Bane killing a large number of Hobbits to lure out Gandalf and Treebeard so he can kill them, the corpse of the latter being set on fire and used to burn any Hobbit that dares resist Sauron's rule.
  • War in the North: Agandaur is a powerful Black Numenorean sorcerer and self-proclaimed right hand of Sauron. Building an army for his master to assist him in his conquest of Middle-earth in exchange for the lands of the North, Agandaur intends to make Sauron's Forces more deadly and destructive by trying to make a Stone Giant and the dragon Urgost join him, so that they could slaughter and subjugate the Free Men of Middle-earth. Ordering a Spider Queen to devour a heroic wizard Radagast, Agandaur moves his forces to attack the Dwarven Kingdom of Nordinbad, slaughtering most of the Dwarves there. Reducing his prisoners—who were driven mad by the study of the dark sorcery, which Agandaur actively spreads through the world—to barely-sapient husks, Agandaur intends on wiping out all of the Elves and enslaving all the survivors of the ensuing war.
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor & Shadow of War: The Dark Lord Sauron leads campaigns of terror and brutality that kill countless innocent beings, beginning in the Second Age when he personally murdered Celebrimbor after murdering the Elf Lord's wife and daughter. Ingratiating himself to great kings of men, Sauron also presented them with rings of power that slowly corrupted and destroyed them, making them his undead slaves, the Nazgul. In present, Sauron, in the guise of the Black Hand, murders the ranger Talion and his family to enslave the soul of Celebrimbor, which backfires when the wraith fuses with Talion. Sauron sends his forces to slaughter the population of Gondor, conquering the city of Minas Ithil before intending to move on to all of Middle-earth until everything that lives is destroyed or kneels before him as his slave.

Alternative Title(s): The Lord Of The Rings

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