The Rings of Power showrunners explain why they deviated from Tolkien lore for Sauron’s reveal

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

So the cat is out of the bag – we finally know who Sauron is in The Rings of Power. However, his reveal in episode 8 went slightly differently from how he appears in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. The showrunners have now addressed this, and why exactly they changed things up for the Amazon Prime epic.

However, before we go any further, take this as your big spoiler warning. We’ll be getting into detailed third-act reveals of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power below – so if you’ve not yet seen the season finale, proceed with caution!

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

If you’re still here, you’ll know that Halbrand was Sauron all along. In the season finale, he begins to influence the Elves to forge Rings of Power, before it's confirmed he is actually not the King of the Southlands but the Dark Lord himself. After a tense confrontation with Galadriel, he disappears to Mordor before Celebrimbor forges three rings for the Elven lords.

However, in Tolkien’s novels, Sauron appears slightly differently as Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, who is disguised as a beautiful elf rather than a mortal man. There was an allusion to this in the final episode when Celebrimbor thanked him for his gifts, but the decision to steer clear of both this name and appearance was a purposeful one from the showrunners.

"We were concerned about a situation where the part of the audience steeped in lore is six or seven episodes ahead of the characters," co-creator Patrick McKay told Vulture. "If deception is an important part of the journey, we wanted to preserve that experience for book readers too. The idea that the shadow can take many forms was part of what we were attracted to. The reference to gifts is a nod to the Annatar of it all, but also, at the end of season one, three rings have been crafted, and as you know from the song Fiona Apple sings at the end of the season, there are still seven for the dwarves, nine for the men, and one for the Dark Lord to come. There are more gifts yet to come."

With The Rings of Power season 2 already in production, we hopefully won’t be waiting too long to see more of Sauron’s story. For more dissection of the finale, check out our guide to The Stranger’s identity and what else the showrunners had to say about Sauron’s reveal.

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.