Lord Of The Rings: 20 Strange Things About Saruman’s Anatomy

One of the most unusual aspects of The Lord of the Rings is that the villain never actually appears in the story. Sauron is only able to maintain a stunted and broken form, which means that he spends the entire trilogy in Mordor, even though his presence is felt throughout the story. The absence of the main villain from the story meant that someone else had to pick up the slack and that role fell to Saruman.

Saruman was one of the five Istari who was sent to Middle-earth to help the mortals fight Sauron. Saruman would eventually become obsessed with the art of ringcraft and would seek out the One Ring for himself, turning his back on both his former allies and Sauron. Saruman is the most visible villain in The Lord of the Rings and many fans prefer him to Sauron. We see Saruman bring industrialization to Middle-earth, as he transforms nature into an engine through which he can breed an army.

The role of Saruman within the story of The Lord of the Rings is unique, as he is one of the oldest and wisest beings on the planet, yet he uses his knowledge to bring technology to Middle-earth. In many ways, Saruman is worse than Sauron, as Sauron was influenced by Melkor, while Saruman was simply consumed with greed and a lust for power.

We are here today to learn the secrets of the former leader of the wizards of Middle-earth - from the terrible fate that awaited him after Return of the King to the path that may have led to him becoming the true Lord of the Rings.

Here are the 20 Strange Things About Saruman’s Body In The Lord Of The Rings!

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20 He Was Prevented From Going To The Afterlife

Saruman did not perish until after the destruction of the One Ring, which meant that he managed to outlive Sauron. The fates of Saruman and Sauron were intertwined, as they shared the same terrible afterlife. Saruman wasn't allowed to return to the Halls of Mandos due to the crimes that he committed in his mortal form while on Middle-earth.

This meant that he was forced to remain a wandering spirit that was not permitted to return to Middle-earth.

There are many points in Saruman's story where he is offered a chance at redemption, but he refuses each time due to his pride. Frodo even offers Saruman one last chance at the end of Return of the King, even though Saruman had been responsible for taking over the Shire, but the former wizard still refused any forgiveness and thus met his fate at the hands of his former servant.

19 He Is Technically Older Than Middle-Earth

Saruman, like all of the wizards who arrived in Middle-earth, was secretly a Maia in a mortal guise. The Maiar were angelic beings who had a hand in the creation of the world. Their ability to use the full extent of their powers in Middle-earth was limited, which is partly why Sauron created the One Ring in the first place, as he too was a Maia and he wished to bring all of his might to bear in the physical realm so that he could rule the world.

In the days before his arrival in Middle-earth, Saruman was a Maia named Curumo who was clothed in the skin of a mortal so that he could match Sauron without having to reveal his true nature. This was true of the other wizards, meaning that Gandalf and Radagast were also Maia.

18 His Waning Power May Have Had Something To Do With His Mysterious Ring

The power of the One Ring was such that it held dominion over all of the other magical rings in Middle-earth, save for the three that were made by Celebrimbor's hand alone. It's for this reason why the art of ringcraft was abandoned in Middle-earth.

When Gandalf meets Saruman in Orthanc, he notices that Saruman is wearing a ring. Saruman later describes himself as "Ring-maker" when taunting Gandalf.

By the end of Return of the King, Saruman has lost his powers and has resorted to becoming a lowly criminal. It has been suggested that the reason why Saruman lost access to magic after the destruction of the One Ring was that he had placed his magical powers into a ring and they were lost when the One Ring was destroyed, along with the other Rings of Power.

17 His Spirit Was Shown To Physically Leave His Body (Which Mirrored What Happened To Sauron)

When the One Ring fell into Mount Doom, the power of Sauron was stripped from him forever. He could never create another physical form and was brought down to the level of a lowly spirit that could never influence Middle-earth again. Those within Mordor saw Sauron's dark spirit in the sky when the One Ring was destroyed... only for the wind to blow him away.

When Saruman passed away, his mist-like spirit was also seen to leave his body. This is another link between the shared fates of Sauron and Saruman, as we see both of their spirits linger on in the physical world for a brief moment before they fade away, never to return.

16 He Wore Rainbow Colored Robes To Reflect His New Status As "Saruman Of Many Colors"

Saruman Gandalf Bakshi version

The five wizards who arrived in Middle-earth were all defined by a color that they used as part of their name, with their organization made up of Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown, Alatar the Blue, Pallando the Blue, and Saruman the White.

In The Lord of the Rings novels, Saruman willingly gave up his color and became "Saruman of Many Colors," which was meant to reflect his new status as someone who used all of the resources available to him in order to accomplish his goals.

Saruman changing his color was left out of the Peter Jackson movies and was only touched upon in the Ralph Bakshi movie. The reason for this was likely due to the change in Saruman's outfit, as he was described as wearing a robe whose hue was constantly shifting. This would have made Saruman look like he was wearing tie-dye robes, so it was probably for the best that this idea was shelved

15 His Most Powerful Magic Involved His Voice

Saruman Lord of the Rings

The wizards in Middle-earth aren't like the ones from Dungeons & Dragons or video games, as they used their magic sparingly and in subtle ways. It seems that they cannot use the full extent of their power without being faced with a foe who is deserving of such a show of strength, like when Gandalf faced the Balrog or the Nazgul.

Saruman possessed knowledge of many different spells and was a master of alchemy and engineering, which would go on to form the basis of his power. The most powerful ability Saruman possessed was his voice, as he had an unearthly ability to bend the wills of others to his with only his speech. Saruman was so persuasive that he even managed to trick the Witch-king of Angmar into leaving him be.

14 Christopher Lee Made Sure That Saruman's Passing Was As Authentic As Possible

Brad Dourif as Grima Worntongue in The Lord of the Rings Return of the King

Christopher Lee had a falling out with Peter Jackson when he discovered that he had been cut out of Return of the King, with the fate of Saruman being relegated to the extended edition of the movie. The movie version of Saruman's demise involves Grima shanking him in the back with a dagger.

Peter Jackson had originally wanted Saruman to scream when the blade struck him, but Christopher Lee refused to do so.

The reason for this is that people don't yell when they take a knife in the back - they don't make any sound at all. The reason Christopher Lee knew this was because he was involved in World War II as a member of the Special Operations Executive. Christopher Lee had first-hand experience of what Saruman endured, which is why he knew the most realistic way to play the scene.

13 He Became Addicted To Pipe Weed Because He Was Imitating Gandalf

Saruman had long been jealous of Gandalf, due to the fact that their peers held Gandalf in higher regard. Saruman was furious that Gandalf had been given one of the three Elven Rings and that other members of the White Council trusted Gandalf over him.

Saruman had been investigating the Shire in secret for a long time and had even managed to secure trade with some of the more unreputable residents of the region. This was how he came into possession of pipe-weed, which was later found by Merry and Pippin. The reason why Saruman had gained a taste for pipe-weed was due to the fact that he was imitating Gandalf, whom he was jealous of. Saruman didn't want anyone to think that he was copying Gandalf, so he maintained his bad habit in secret.

12 The Ralph Bakshi Version Of Him Performed One Of The Most Powerful Spells In The Lord Of The Rings

The Rohirrim were vastly outnumbered during the Battle of the Hornburg, but they had the advantage against Saruman's Uruk-hai due to the thick stone walls of Helm's Deep. Saruman's army was able to gain the advantage during the Battle of the Hornburg when they used the Fire of Orthanc to blast a hole through the walls. The books aren't clear on what the Fire of Orthanc exactly is, but the movies showed it to be a kind of bomb that needed to be ignited in order to work.

In Ralph Bakshi's animated version of The Lord of the Rings, the Fire of Orthanc is actually a spell cast by Saruman that takes the form of a mobile meteor swarm that crashes into the walls of Helm's Deep and devastates the defenders within the fortress.

This is one of the most powerful uses of magic ever seen in any adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. 

11 He Was Able To Buff The Endurance Of His Soldiers & Weaken The Resolve Of His Enemies

The bulk of Sauron's forces were made up of orcs, which meant that his army was severely weakened during the day, as orcs hated sunlight and mainly lived underground. The Uruk-hai were far superior as a fighting force, as they weren't as adverse to operating in the day, which is why Saruman used them in his army.

Saruman was also able to bolster the will of his soldiers with the use of magic, as it was suggested in The Two Towers that it was Saruman's influence that kept the company of Uruk-hai ahead of Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas. This was because his magic provided them with the endurance and strength to keep going, and also weakened the resolve of their pursuers.

10 His Weather Controlling Spell Was Originally Performed By Sauron

The Fellowship of the Ring was forced to enter the Mines of Moria due to the harsh weather that plagued its journey as it attempted to cross the Redhorn Pass. The movie version of Fellowship of the Ring revealed that it was Saruman who was responsible for the weather turning on them, as he was using his magic to awaken the mountain of Caradhras.

Saruman's awakening of the mountain was an invention of the movies, as it was suggested that Sauron himself was responsible for awakening Caradhras in the books.

It actually makes more sense for Saruman to have performed this magical feat instead of Sauron, as Sauron never knew the location of the One Ring, nor that a company of adventurers was trying to sneak it across the land.

9 The Fear Of Becoming Like The Nazgul Almost Made Saruman Seek Redemption

The story of Saruman is one of succumbing to pride, as he was given many different chances to atone for his crimes, yet he refused each time due to his inability to admit that he was wrong and needed to seek redemption. The closest that Saruman came to turning his back on evil was detailed in Unfinished Tales and happened during the imprisonment of Gandalf on top of Orthanc. The Nazgul came to Isengard in order to seek information about the One Ring, but they came in peace as they lacked the strength to overcome Saruman in his domain.

The appearance of the Nazgul filled Saruman with fear over what would become of him if he became a servant of Sauron. Saruman rushed to the top of Orthanc to seek Gandalf's assistance so that he could repent for what he had done. It was too late, however, as Gandalf had already been carried off by Gwaihir.

8 He Created Rings Of Power For His Servants In The Lord Of The Rings Online

Saruman was able to breed an army of fighting Uruk-hai in a short period of time, but he still lacked the power to face Sauron, as he couldn't muster a fraction of the forces that Sauron kept in Mordor, nor had elite warriors that could face the might of the Nazgul on the battlefield.

In The Lord of the Rings Online, Saruman was able to forge five lesser rings that he gave to prominent servants so that they could gain magical powers of their own.

The player has to face these five servants and claim their rings, before facing Saruman himself in battle. Those who are successful can earn a powerful ring called Aradhrin and wear it to earn a major stat boost.

7 He Possessed The Queen Of The Nurn Tribes As Part Of His Plan To Weaken Sauron

Saruman had been playing on both sides for a long time, as he didn't want Sauron to be totally removed from the equation, since he felt that the One Ring would present itself when Sauron emerged from Mordor. However, he also had to aid his allies and make sure that Sauron didn't become too powerful too soon.

In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, it was revealed that Saruman had been possessing Queen Marwen of the Tribesmen of Nurn in order to lure out Celebrimbor, as Saruman had hoped to use the spirit of the ancient elf to learn the whereabouts of the One Ring or use Celebrimbor's knowledge to forge his own. Saruman used the same method of possession that he would later use on King Theoden and it was only due to the intervention of Queen Marwen's daughter that he was foiled.

6 He Performed Magical Spells That Combined Humans & Orcs Together

The movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring showed Saruman breeding Uruk-hai in underground pits, which is a reference to Tolkien's early assertion that orcs were bred like maggots in the Earth.

The Lord of the Rings novels were less clear on the matter, however, as Treebeard speculated that Saruman was using black magic to crossbreed humans and orcs to create the Uruk-hai.

This was due to the fact that Uruk-hai are closer to the size of humans than orcs are and they aren't as affected by sunlight. Saruman also used half-orcs as servants, as they were more easily able to pass for humans when performing secret tasks for their master. It's not stated whether the half-orcs were created using regular breeding methods, with the Uruk-hai being made through magical means.

5 His Fate In The Movies Was An Intentional Homage To Dracula

Christopher Lee as Count Dracula

Christopher Lee played many famous roles throughout his long career, but his most iconic part was Dracula, which he played in many different movies.

In the extended edition of Return of the King, Saruman falls from the top of Orthanc and slams into one of the water wheels near the base of the tower. Saruman's chest is pierced by one of the spikes on the wheel, which then rolls under the weight of the fallen wizard. Peter Jackson intentionally added the spiked water wheel in order to give Saruman the same fate as Dracula, who ended most movies with a wooden stake through his heart.

4 His Parasitic Possession Of King Theoden Was An Invention Of The Movies

Gandalf frees Theoden in Two Towers

Saruman controlled the realm of Isengard, which mainly consisted of empty lands and the tower of Orthanc. When Saruman fell to evil and began his plan to take control of the region, he realized that the Kingdom of Rohan was the biggest threat to his schemes, so he turned his focus to destabilizing their army from within. In the movie version of The Two Towers, it's revealed that Saruman was controlling King Theoden with the power of magic, which took the form of possession that drained the vitality from Theoden's body.

Saruman lacked the ability to possess the bodies and minds of mortals in the books.

It was due to the conniving speech of Grima Wormtongue that King Theoden lost his heart and was content to watch his realm crumble around him.

3 His Longevity Was Broken During The Last Moments Of His Life

Christopher Lee as Saruman in The Hobbit

The Maia are meant to be immortal in both body and spirit, which is why Saruman and Sauron were unable to pass on after their physical forms had been destroyed. The wizards of Middle-earth were given powerful bodies that aged at a much slower rate than mortals, but they still physically aged. When Saruman arrived in Middle-earth, he was described as having black hair, but this turned white over time.

When Saruman was slain by Grima Wormtongue in the book version of Return of the King, his body rapidly ages in a matter of seconds, suggesting that the magic that was extending his life had been broken and all of the wasted years caught up to him in a few moments.

2 Christopher Lee Was Never On The Same Set As The Other Actors In The Hobbit Movies


Saruman never appeared during the events of The Hobbit, though Tolkien's other writings confirmed that he was involved in the events surrounding the Necromancer that occurred during the same period of time. The Hobbit movie trilogy covered the events of the White Council facing Sauron (in the guise of the Necromancer), which meant that we were given a chance to see Saruman before he turned evil.

Christopher Lee was approaching ninety when An Unexpected Journey entered production, which meant that he wasn't able to travel to New Zealand to film.

All of the scenes involving Saruman were shot separately from the main cast, with Christopher Lee performing close-up scenes from a studio in London, while his physical presence was filmed using a stunt double in other scenes.

1 Tolkien Confirmed That Saruman Had The Power To Create His Own One Ring

There are many people who believe that the events of The Lord of the Rings were meant to mirror those of the two world wars, with the One Ring reflecting the nuclear bomb. J. R. R. Tolkien denied that the two world wars influenced the outcome of the War of the Ring as if they did, then the One Ring would have been used to enslave Sauron and Mordor would have been occupied.

Tolkien also claimed that Saruman would have learned the secret of ringcraft within Mordor and would have forged his own version of the One Ring with the power to challenge the original. A version of Tolkien's idea was actually used as the basis for the Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War games, with Celebrimbor taking Saruman's role as the one who created a new ring to challenge Sauron.


Are there any other interesting facts about Saruman's body in The Lord of the Rings? Let us know in the comments!

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