The refelections of two regal figures in water.

Hot Sauron From ‘Rings of Power’ Has Taken Over The Internet

"...and in the darkness bind them," IYKYK

One does not simply thirst into Mordor. Have you heard the word about Hot Sauron on Rings of Power and how everyone is shipping him and … well … you’ll see. While other fandoms fight over whether it’s appropriate to like a villain, TROP fans are quietly falling for one of literature’s biggest baddies. Spoilers for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power ahead, definitely for Season 1 and perhaps for some upcoming seasons as well.

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Sauron’s hotness is canon.

While the series has condensed the canon and events in Middle-earth history as presented in J. R. R. Tolkien’s books, stories, and appendices, one thing we know is this: Sauron was a hottie. This is something that even the most rigid Tolkien fans cannot deny. In Tolkien’s biblical Middle-earth text The Silmarillion, at the start of a chapter titled “Of The Rings of Power and the Third Age,” Tolkien says this:

When Thangorodrim was broken and Morgoth overthrown, Sauron put on his fair hue again and did obeisance to Eönwë, the herald of Manwë, and abjured all his evil deeds. And some hold that this was not at first falsely done, but that Sauron in truth repented, if only out of fear.

(I know the chapter says Third Age, but I believe that passage describes events in the Second Age that lead up to it.) The appendices to The Silmarillion also specify that “Annatar,” the name that Sauron uses when he is the “Lord of Gifts” and the titular rings of power are in production, took a “fair form.” The good looks are only temporary, however. When Numenor ultimately falls and Sauron creates the One Ring, The Silmarillion notes:

In the midst of the Land of Mordor [Sauron] had fashioned the Ruling Ring. There now he brooded in the dark, until he had wrought for himself a new shape; and it was terrible, for his fair semblance had departed for ever when he was cast into the abyss at the drowning of Númenor.

The execution from page to screen was still a surprise.

So we knew that Sauron would be easy on the eyes in The Rings of Power and we knew that he would be seductive in some kind of way. That’s how he gained the trust of the elves, dwarves, and men before stabbing them all in the proverbial back with the One Ring. That said, I don’t know about y’all, but I assumed that Annatar—or whatever calls himself—would be one for the Legolas girlies, a.k.a. hot in an Elven way. I didn’t expect him to be hot in a rugged, unwashed, Aragorn way. RIP me, I guess.

Enter Halbrand, played by Australian actor Charlie Vickers, who we now know was (sing it with me) Sauron all along. Hoo, boy. Handsome and sad and dark and smirking up a tempest. Galadriel meets him on a raft in the sea. She’s on a quest to find and defeat Sauron after he murdered her brother in service to Morgoth, the Big Bad before him, and ends up not only befriending him but clearing a path for his return. Oops!

Shortly after they meet, Galadriel makes a costly assumption and projects a backstory onto him that is immensely appealing to both her and to fans: a reluctant hero and heir to the Southlands—an exiled king, just like Aragorn, right? Wrong! Halbrand will technically rule over the Southlands, but only because that area of Middle-earth is destined to become Mordor. Still, the hero’s journey that Gal and unsuspecting viewers were sold on had us looking at Halbrand and the things he did in a particular way.

Sauron has been manipulating Galadriel, but is also at a crossroads.

One of Tolkien’s letters that likely inspired Vickers’ take on the character states that “when Morgoth was defeated by the Valar finally [Sauron] forsook his allegiance; but out of fear only; he did not present himself to the Valar or sue for pardon, and remained in Middle-earth. When he found how greatly his knowledge was admired by all other rational creatures and how easy it was to influence him, he became prideful.”

Technically, The Rings of Power cannot directly adapt The Silmarillion for legal reasons, so these letters are actually important. Vickers also alluded to using Tolkien’s letters as inspiration in an SDCC interview with ScreenJunkies prior to the Big Sauron Reveal.

That passage alludes to Sauron making an attempt at a normal life, and maybe even feeling some private remorse before ultimately going down the path to becoming not just Morgoth’s servant, but his second coming. That makes him complicated. And complicated characters are very, very, very hot—especially when they’re tempted by a Dark Side.

Swooning over a hot villain is not exactly a new concept.

Anakin Skywalker, Kylo Ren, Loki, Killmonger, Draco, Harley Quinn, the Darkling, the Goblin King, Regina Mills … need I go on? We know they’re bad, but they’re not real. We don’t owe fictional heroes our loyalty. They can’t see us. In fact, we can even cheer for the hero while being attracted to the villain. Fans contain multitudes!

As long as you don’t bully others for not sharing your opinions or headcanons, or start using fictional characters to justify your actions or the actions of abusers IRL, it’s chill. Stories, especially in fantasy and science fiction, help us work through our fears, anxieties, and dreams in a safe space.

He even survived a shower—which I know sounds wrong, but fans were not happy when greaseball Aragon got a wash and blowout in Return of the King. Think Steve Rogers shaving in Endgame, but so bad it had us rooting against basic hygiene.

We know he’s the villain even though he might not necessarily realize it.

If you were less familiar with Hot Sauron as a concept before The Rings of Power, this might make you look at Peter Jackson’s films in a whole new light.

What has really pushed Halbrand a.k.a. Sauron thirst over the edge, however, is shipping him with Galadriel, played on The Rings of Power by Morfydd Clark. The two of them flirted, in that intense but chaste way we expect from Lord of the Rings, and he basically asked her to be his Queen in the finale. There was arm touching. There was staring. Is it wrong? Absolutely. There are dozens of red flags. He’s the once and future Dark Lord. He becomes the embodiment of evil. Galadriel is also married, though in Season 1 she believes herself to be a widow. I ask you this: And????

We know for a fact that this ‘ship is not the endgame.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun, appreciate the time they had, or maybe hop over to an AU in the meantime. Galadriel can have fun too. Strong, confident, zealous, smart female characters like Galadriel in The Rings of Power are boring as Entmoots if they aren’t allowed to make mistakes. Bring on the ‘shipping manifestos, fic, Tumblr posts, gifsets, and many fancams set to Taylor Swift songs.

Let me be abundantly clear: I want someone to look at me like this. I do not want to be deceived by the Dark Lord and under the control of the One Ring he made behind my back and won’t even let me wear in our engagement photos. I don’t actually want to see Galadriel to become a Dark Elf Queen at Sauron’s side, but I want to see her think about it and wrestle with her feelings and/or Halbrand. When Celeborn returns, I want him to be part of a love triangle. There’s a difference!

Too grossed out by the inevitable flaming eyeball of it all to be attracted to Sauron? That’s your prerogative. To be fair, there are a lot of hotties on Rings of Power. But Hot Sauron isn’t in competition with Hot Elrond, Gilgadaddy, or ElenDILF as far as I’m concerned. I love ’em all. The more the merrier! I’ll just be over here with the other dark and twisted devotees.

(image: Amazon Studios)

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Leah Marilla Thomas
Leah Marilla Thomas (she/her) is a contributor at The Mary Sue. She has been working in digital entertainment journalism since 2013, covering primarily television as well as film and live theatre. She's been on the Marvel beat professionally since Daredevil was a Netflix series. (You might recognize her voice from the Newcomers: Marvel podcast). Outside of journalism, she is 50% Southerner, 50% New Englander, and 100% fangirl over everything from Lord of the Rings to stage lighting and comics about teenagers. She lives in New York City and can often be found in a park. She used to test toys for Hasbro. True story!