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A Bold Fan Theory About Sauron Emerges Ahead Of The Rings Of Power

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" is going to have an interesting time coming up with the characters for its story. Tolkien's original material from the Second Age is woefully sparse and there aren't many characters to begin with. Showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have already shown that they're willing to make up for this by working in their own characters — but there's another option available: beefing up storylines for the individuals who already exist but are underdeveloped.

For instance, Tolkien's Blue Wizards are famously mysterious. He wrote almost nothing about them, but enough exists to know that they could be around during "Rings of Power" and could play an important part in a story that goes to the "furthest reaches of the map" that the show promises to visit. Other characters, like Elrond and Galadriel, have a solid chunk of source material, but there are still gaps and inconsistencies that need to be filled in or rectified.

Another character who needs no introduction yet, and whose Second Age story remains in a semi-nascent state, is Sauron. The Dark Lord is around in both the First and Second Ages, but there isn't a ton of information about him as a character. Remember, this is all before he returns to power — first as the Necromancer, then as the Dark Lord — in the Third Age, which ends with "The Lord of the Rings" story. While there are some facts out there about Second Age Sauron, the hints and pieces that we learn early on about his character leave a few options open — including one that many fans on Reddit have worked into a not-too-shabby character arc.

Sauron ...the good?

Back in early 2022, Reddit user u/bgnz85 started a thread titled "What will Sauron's [characterization] be like?" The following text broke down the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we could get a Sauron in "Rings of Power" ...who is initially a good guy.

This theory hinges on Sauron's position at the end of the First Age — the point where the "Rings of Power" story would presumably begin. It suggests that Sauron could start by trying to redeem his previous bad actions. Perhaps he uses his influence to encourage people to act in unison and generally improve the world.

The Redditor references an unspecified letter that Tolkien wrote as the basis for their theory. While we couldn't locate the letter, we did find a portion of the Middle-earth book "Morgoth's Ring" in which it says that Sauron "still had the relics of positive purposes, that descended from the good of the nature in which he began: it had been his virtue (and therefore also the cause of his fall, and of his relapse) that he loved order and coordination, and disliked all confusion and wasteful friction" (per Tor). In other words, while the original Dark Lord Morgoth loved to corrupt and destroy, Sauron was more interested in control and coordination. 

The fan-theorized character arc, then, centers on a Sauron that has repented from his wicked acts before the time of the "Rings of Power" story and who initially tries to bring healing and order to the broken world.

Sauron goes from good, to bad, to good ... to bad again

The theory goes on to suggest that when his efforts fail, perhaps Sauron gets frustrated. Eventually, something goes seriously wrong and it pushes the future Dark Lord to try to control things a different way — a way that his old master had perfected: by force. In the theory, this "might makes right" mentality leads to the forging of the titular Rings of Power, and, in the words of the Redditor, "Sauron begins his long ruinous path back to evil."

Of course, all of this is pure, subjective fan theorizing at its best. None of the details come from Tolkien's writings — and to be fair, the poster makes that clear, ending with the clarification that "Ftr, I'm not saying that this the right way to go. Sauron is an iconic villain and the show runners may well decide that if it ain't broke don't fix it."

Even so, the thought of a Sauron arc that features the future Dark Lord trying to heal and help those around him — many of whom he directly hurt — is fascinating. The guy literally kills Galadriel's brother, for goodness' sake. Imagine them rubbing shoulders while the "repentant" Sauron goes around trying to make up for his sins. If it were to happen, it would mean Sauron literally starts as a good guy (when he's created), goes bad when he joins Morgoth, turns over a new leaf and becomes good again after Morgoth is defeated, and finally goes bad one last time when his redeemed perspective fails to be effective. 

This good to bad to good to bad arc could be confusing, compelling, and dramatic as heck. But is it realistic based on Tolkien's own writings about the Lord of the Rings?

Is a redeemable Sauron realistic?

It turns out that the theory of a "good Sauron" is worth considering. In fact, there's source material to both back it up ... and undermine it.

On the plus side, "The Silmarillion" does clarify that when Morgoth is overthrown in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age, Sauron doesn't just become top dog and start ruling as the new Dark Lord. He surrenders to his victorious enemies and is sorry for his past evil deeds. It even says that "some hold that this was not at first falsely done, but that Sauron in truth repented, if only out of fear ..." When he realizes how humiliating the whole ordeal will be, though, he hides, slips back into evil, and eventually reappears as the Dark Lord several centuries later. 

Yeah ... for all the repentant potential, when the rubber hits the road, it's hard to picture a truly sorry Sauron. Even the above quote points out that a lot of his change comes from fear. On top of that, earlier in "The Silmarillion," we get a quick summary of Sauron, in which it says, "In all the deeds of Melkor the Morgoth upon Arda, in his vast works and in the deceits of his cunning, Sauron had a part, and was only less evil than his master in that for long he served another and not himself." The description ends with the damning line "But in after years he rose like a shadow of Morgoth and a ghost of his malice, and walked behind him on the same ruinous path down into the Void." 

One way or another, this guy's story doesn't end well. The question is, how will he get there? Only time will tell.