Mount Doom and Mordor in The Rings of Power explained: origins, significance, and future of the Lord of the Rings location

Adar in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
(Image credit: Amazon)

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has revealed the creation of one of Middle-earth’s most famous landmarks: Mount Doom. Now, the most recent episode has christened the ashen, dead Southlands as 'Mordor'. It's a name that carries great significance in the series, but what impact will it have going forward?

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels – and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy – will know the importance of Mount Doom and Mordor in Sauron’s plans. For those of you who are newcomers or just wanting a refresher, we’ve got you covered on Middle-earth's 'newest' location. Before we go any further, just a quick spoiler warning. We’re diving into what’s happened so far in The Rings of Power as well as the events of Tolkien’s books. That even includes quotes from showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay.

Is that really Mount Doom in The Rings of Power? 

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

First thing first, we need to point out that it’s not yet been confirmed that the erupted volcano is Mount Doom. However, given that the Southlands are now officially Mordor in the world of the show and the closing shot of episode 7 focuses on the volcano, it seems likely.

Mount Doom has never been given a specific origin story by Tolkien. The author previously shared that it was created by Morgoth during the First Age. The Rings of Power changed the story slightly, moving the formation to the Second Age. 

In The Rings of Power, the volcano is formed in the wake of Adar's defeat in the Southlands. After Galadriel and the Númenóreans seemingly stopped Sauron’s sword from falling into the evil Uruk’s hands, Theo notices the sword is missing. The old man Waldreg then plants the blade into a stone that bears Sauron’s mark, which in turn unlocks the dam, sending waters coursing through the tunnels that the Orcs had been building, and causing a flood through the Southlands. Then, as the water rushes into a nearby dormant volcano called Orodruin, it causes a huge eruption that covers the Southlands in molten lava and ash – and forms Mount Doom.

Where is Mordor?

Earlier in the Rings of Power, Galadriel discovered the fate of the Southlands. Speaking to Elendil in the Hall of Lore, she realized that Sauron’s symbol – the one he used to mark her brother – is actually a map of the Southlands. The volcano’s eruption marks the beginning of its transformation into Mordor. 

Mordor will one day be Sauron’s dwelling. By the Third Age (when the main Lord of the Rings story is set), it's a black, volcanic plain is surrounded by mountains. Sauron chose the location as the ranges acted as a fortress, guarded by the Black Gate of Mordor, which made it perfect for defense. At its southwest lies Mount Doom, which was also a key reason he chose the location.

Showrunner J.D. Payne told an audience, including Total Film, at a recent screening that they wanted to glimpse into a pre-Mordor, pre-Mount Doom world before blowing it to bits.

"We said, 'Mordor is this iconic place, what if we could actually take something that's like beautiful Switzerland, a gorgeous Alpine territory, and watch it evolve into the horrible hellhole that we know so well?'"

What is the significance of Mount Doom? 

Sauron in The Lord of the Rings

(Image credit: New Line)

Mount Doom is the place where Sauron created the One Ring. In Tolkien’s books, Sauron – in Annatar form – tricked Celebrimbor to create a series of Rings of Power for Men, Elves, and Dwarves. Meanwhile, in secret, Sauron used the tunnels in Mount Doom’s core to craft his own ring, which would rule all of the others. He forged it in the Cracks of Doom, located in Orodruin’s heart, in the middle of the Second Age. The One Ring would go on to give Sauron huge strength and power, as it bound his life to it. 

As for Mount Doom, it lies dormant until almost the end of the Second Age when it erupts before Sauron attacks Gondor. After Sauron’s disappearance, Mount Doom once again lies dormant until his return in the Third Age. In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s also the destination where Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee must head to be able to destroy the One Ring. 

The creation of Mount Doom has likely signaled Sauron’s imminent arrival into the series – for more on the character, check our guide to who could be playing Sauron and the theory that Halbrand could be Sauron in disguise.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.