Lord of the Rings has long been considered the ultimate high fantasy trilogy, but the older it gets, the more we start to question J R R Tolkien’s masterpiece. Some of it just doesn’t age too well (like the stunning imbalance when it comes to male and female heroes), but other things have been leaving fans with raised eyebrows from the beginning.
Obviously, we can still look past some of the inconsistencies and just enjoy this epic journey to save the world, because they are part of what makes the story great. In fact, many of the things that make the least sense in the series are pretty vital to keeping things interesting (think how dull it would have been had the Eagles simply flown Frodo to Mordor, like a high-fantasy Uber).
Recently, though, the big bad of the Lord of the Rings universe has been on our minds, as we wonder exactly how this uber-powerful villain actually works.
Recognized primarily as the giant glowing eye in the film series, Sauron does have quite an extensive history throughout Tolkien's works, but this means that there are a lot of things about the creator of the One Ring that just plain don’t make sense, from his servants to his evil master plan.
Here are the 15 Things About Sauron That Make No Sense in Lord of the Rings.
15 Sauron 'Becoming' The Ring
The whole point of Frodo’s journey is to destroy the One Ring, because it is only by destroying it that they can rid Middle Earth of Sauron once and for all (and prevent him taking over, of course).
The Ring is so closely linked to Sauron and his powers, that he has essentially become the ring… which makes no sense. Sauron originally forged the One Ring, meaning that he existed long before it did-- so why would the destruction of his evil craft-project kill him?
This is usually explained away by claiming that Sauron’s use of the Ring involved pouring his power into it, and slowly becoming one with the object, but why on Earth would Sauron choose to do that, if it meant that he was essentially creating his own kyrptonite?
14 So Few RingWraiths
After creating the Rings of Power with the elves, Sauron gave nine to Kingdom of Men, and those who wore them became utterly corrupted and turned into the Nazgul.
These Ringwraiths were strange shadows of their original selves, riding on black steeds and almost impossible to kill. The Nazgul became the faithful servants of Sauron, and in The Lord of the Rings, they are sent to hunt the ring down.
However, there seems to be no real reason that Sauron stopped at nine rings for men, rather than making dozens of the things to create an army of quasi-immortals.
The elves did much of the forging themselves, but as the creator of the One Ring itself, Sauron clearly had the power to make more… yet he stopped at a handful and then turned to the Orcs for his actual army.
13 Disappearing Ringwraiths
Another key issue with the Nazgul is that they seem to be very inconsistent servants of such a powerful Dark Lord, and certainly aren’t used as much as one would expect, given their power and connection to the Ring.
In the Second Age, when Sauron created the RingWraiths, it would make sense to then use them at every opportunity, but instead, not a whole lot is known about what they did beyond their initial creation as Sauron’s servants.
When they reappear for the War of the Ring, they still seem a little… underwhelming. They fail to find the Hobbits, despite being literally on top of them at one point, and after that, they are more of a threatening presence than anything. Why weren’t these guys taking point at every battle?
12 A Ring Forged To Make Other People Invisible
The only power that the Ring has that Frodo finds useful, rather than horrifyingly damaging, is its ability to make the wearer invisible.
This is a particularly helpful thing, more than once, but begs the question: why did Sauron give it this ability in the first place? He forged the One Ring to control the others and corrupt the races of Middle Earth-- why would he need it to also act as an Invisibility Cloak?
From scenes where he had a body and wore the ring, we know that it didn’t make Sauron himself invisible, so why would he choose to give it the ability to only make other people disappear? There is no possible advantage to that, and it makes it much easier for someone else to steal his most prized possession.
11 Gandalf & Co Let Him Recover And Build An Army
After losing the Ring, Sauron was dormant for many years, and finally reappeared as the Necromancer of Dol Guldur. Gandalf managed to discover the true identity of the Necromancer, however, and he and his powerful friends were able to storm Dol Guldur and drive him off.
Without the ring, Sauron was weak enough that they could do this reasonably easily, and Sauron took refuge in Mordor. But given how weak he was, and that Gandalf & Co knew where he went, there’s no reason that the wizard wouldn’t have hunted him down and destroyed him-- or hunted down the ring and destroyed it.
Perhaps Gandalf didn’t know how to kill him, but at the very least they could have figured out a way to trap him, or to keep him weak, instead of leaving him alone to build an enormous army.
10 Release The Fellbeasts
For most of their history, the Nazgul ride black horses, which are vaguely threatening and suit the style of Middle Earth. However, when their horses are destroyed, Sauron breaks out the big guns with his fellbeasts-- massive winged monsters that look a lot like dragons.
Given that Sauron breeds these himself, why did the Nazgul bother with horses in the first place? Surely, with Sauron wanting them to make it to the Shire as fast as possible, he would have suggested leaving the horses at home and simply flying over there to grab the ring, rather than relying on the far less frightening and slower horses?
What kind of evil overlord keeps the really useful, deadly, terrifying stuff in reserve until the situation is getting really dire, instead of just using them to win at the start?
9 Sauron Can’t Sense His Own Soul
If we assume that Sauron willingly poured so much of his very essence into the One Ring that its destruction would mean his ultimate demise, and that he cannot be killed while the Ring exists, he seems shockingly unaware of this powerful magic object.
Frodo strolls almost all the way to the center of the volcano with the Ring before Sauron notices, ostensibly because Aragorn is pulling the high fantasy war version of shouting "what’s that over there" at the big bad.
This works if Sauron is having to look for a Hobbit, but a magical object that contains the majority of his soul? His inability to sense his own power source and the physical counterpart to his own magical being makes him look like someone searching for the glasses that are perched on their head. Not very all-powerful-villain.
8 Why Did Mount Doom Erupt
The big finish at the end of the final battle is the moment when Gollum falls into the fires of Mount Doom, taking with him the One Ring, destroying it utterly and Sauron with it.
However, this obviously isn’t going out with enough of a bang, as this actually causes the volcano to erupt - even though it is a literal mountain that has no real connection to Sauron. M
ount Doom is the seat of Sauron’s power, but that is only because he chose to set up shop there. He forged the Ring in it, but beyond that, it is a geographical location… yet it responds like a sentient thing to Sauron’s actions. It’s obviously symbolic, but in practical terms, this just doesn’t make sense.
7 The Palantiri Aren’t Cell Phones
While attempting to take over Middle Earth during the War of the Ring, the main way that Sauron keeps up to date on what is happening is by communicating via Palantiri; stones of power that allow magic wielders to communicate through them.
The lore emphasizes their power and complexity, revealing that they must often be specially positioned, and that those who use them must have "great strength of will and wisdom." This makes sense… until Pippin stumbles across one and manages to connect with Sauron entirely by accident.
The ability of a random Hobbit to essentially direct dial the Dark Lord through a powerful magical object may help forward the plot, but it doesn’t line up with the lore at all.
6 Sauron Takes Too Long To Realize Saruman Fell
Sauron corrupts the White Wizard Saruman, turning the formerly good mage into his servant, and using him to build machines of war and raise armies of wildmen to attack Rohan.
However, when Saruman is taken down by the Ents (with Merry and Pippin’s help, of course), it takes Sauron a ridiculously long time to figure it out. After the battle at Saruman’s tower, the Palantir that they used to communicate is taken by the hobbits-- so this evil being thinks that Saruman must have captured Hobbits.
Despite hearing nothing from his servant, who knows that he is searching for Hobbits who might know where the ring is, and despite there being no reason for a Hobbit prisoner to use the orb, Sauron still doesn’t figure out that Saruman is done until Aragorn actively chooses to ‘tell’ him.
5 Frodo and Bilbo Have Different Reactions To The Ring
The Ring seems to have a connection to Sauron once someone puts it on… depending on who that person is. When Frodo first puts on the ring to attempt to escape on Weathertop (which was a terrible idea to start with), there is an immediate connection to Sauron, and it is used to help him find Frodo.
This happens a second time, suggesting that the Ring somehow activates a homing beacon when worn… yet when Bilbo wore the Ring, nothing like this happened. He used it as a party trick, and Sauron couldn’t sense him at all, needing to find and torture Gollum just to get a hint as to its whereabouts.
This is, admittedly, explained somewhat in the books, but in the movies it seems as though the Ring has different rules for different wearers.
4 I Am No Man (And Make No Sense)
Another plot point that makes a lot more sense in the books is the eventual destruction of the Witch-King of Angmar thanks to Eowyn. The Lord of the Nazgul, it is said that he is so powerful that no man can kill him-- which is a statement about his strength, not about gender.
However, in the movie, Eowyn destroys him in battle simply by revealing her long blonde hair and yelling "I am no man" before stabbing him in the face.
There’s no doubt it’s an epic moment, but it’s totally nonsensical. What part of the rings’ magic specify the gender of the person who can kill the wearer? Why would that be forged into the magic rings’ fine print in the first place?
3 Elrond Is An Idiot
In addition to Gandalf and friends deciding to sit back and relax while Sauron built an army at Mordor, another man decided to simply let an opportunity to destroy the Dark Lord pass him by: Elrond.
At the end of the battle where Isildur chopped of Sauron’s finger and the Ring with it, Isildur and Elrond went to the fires of Mount Doom to toss it in. However, Isildur gives in to the power of the ring and walks away… and Elrond just stands there and calls after him helplessly. Except that he isn’t helpless.
As an elf, he is faster and lighter of foot than almost all men, and has a degree of magic of his own-- especially foresight. There is no reason that he wouldn’t run after Isildur, force the ring out of his hand, and throw it in himself.
2 Sauron Takes A Break At A Vital Moment
This one is a common issue with big bad villains throughout all stories; the tendency for the villain to avoid striking a killing blow as soon as they have the chance. In Lord of the Rings, this happens when Sauron sees Aragorn in the Palantir, and the most powerful evil being of Middle Earth reacts by essentially freaking out and acting like an idiot.
He moves one attack forward in a panic, losing that battle as Aragorn and his ghosts win the battle for Ministirith. He actually had the armies to strike a second time, and win, but instead hung back and just kind of… waited in the hope that Aragorn would mess up.
This, of course, Aragorn didn’t do, giving the Hobbits just enough time to get to Mordor, and leaving Aragorn alive to distract Sauron so that Frodo could get to the Fires.
1 Sauron’s Body (Or Lack Thereof)
One of the most confusing things, especially to movie fans, is the question of whether or not Sauron actually has a body. Originally, of course, he was as corporeal as anyone else in the series.
When he lost the ring his body was destroyed, yet he lived on. He then returned as the Necromancer, who was pictured as a kind of shape of a man in the films, and then seemed to have a full form when Gollum was tortured (as he described Sauron as missing the fingers that Isildur cut off).
Despite this, however, he is seen as mostly incorporeal during the War of the Ring, never coming out to do battle despite being theoretically more powerful than anyone, and seeming to exist partially in the form of the Eye. It’s not really clear what he is at this point, other than "bad."
Can you think of any other things about Lord of the Rings' big bad that don't make any sense? Sound off in the comments!