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Lore Details About Saruman The 'Lord of the Rings' Movies Don't Tell You

May 27, 2021 386 votes 61 voters 13.6k views12 items

List RulesVote up the most interesting tidbits about Saruman the White.

Saruman is the secondary antagonist of The Lord of the Rings who plotted to become primary. No, we're not misremembering. If you only watched the movies, you probably didn't know Saruman tried to usurp Sauron, or that he's a Wizard of many colors, or that his original name is Curumo. All these facts and more are divulged below, as we present lore details about Saruman that are exclusive to the books.

  • 1

    He Planned To Betray Sauron By Swiping The One Ring For Himself

    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers / New Line Cinema

    Ironically, Saruman the White is considered one of the only morally "gray" characters in the LOTR books, meaning he doesn't have a side. Yes, he allied with Sauron, but only as a means to an end - the end being sole ownership of the Ring of Power.

    Saruman's tactics, like sending spies to the Fellowship and building an Uruk-hai army, were done with the intention of intercepting the ring for himself. The films portray him as a devoted agent of Sauron rather than a reluctant ally.

  • 2

    Despite Being Gandalf's Superior, Saruman Was Always Jealous Of Gandalf

    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    Saruman's jealousy of Gandalf started way back when the Istari were formed. He volunteered for the Middle-earth mission, whereas Gandalf was chosen by the Valar and designated Saruman's second in command.

    Gandalf was later cited by the legendary elf Círdan as being the greatest Wizard of all. Saruman's jealousy was so great, it likely contributed to his turn toward Sauron and the ring.  

  • 3

    He Studied The Dark Arts Of Sauron To Oppose Him But Was Corrupted By The Magic

    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    Saruman was the foremost scholar of Sauron. He spent eons studying his fellow Maia, who had fallen to Middle-earth after betraying the Valar. Sauron's Ring of Power, which made him the most dangerous being in the world, became the main subject of Saruman's fascination and, ultimately, desire.

    After Sauron's location was discovered, Saruman convinced the White Council not to strike, as he secretly hoped that by strengthening the Dark Lord, the ring would reveal itself. That didn't happen, of course, but his Seeing-stone eventually connected with Sauron's, and the allyship was forged.

  • 4

    After He Perished, Saruman’s Spirit Was Banished From Middle-Earth

    Photo: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King / New Line Cinema

    Although Saruman can't truly perish, his Wizard form can and did at the hands of his servant Wormtongue, which can be seen in the extended edition of The Return of the King.

    As explained in the books, post-death Saruman tried to go west, presumably to seek forgiveness, but was blown out of Middle-earth. From J.R.R. Tolkien's Unfinished Tales:

    Whereas Curunir [Saruman] was cast down, and utterly humbled, and perished at last by the hand of an oppressed slave; and his spirit went whither-soever it was doomed to go, and to Middle-earth, whether naked or embodied, came never back.