“"Only you could accomplish such art, Celebrimbor."”
Sauron, also known as the Dark Lord, is the main antagonist of the game series, he serves as a central background antagonist in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, the main antagonist and final boss in The Bright Lord Story Pack, and the main antagonist of Middle-earth: Shadow of War. He was Morgoth's greatest of servants, the second Dark Lord, the Enemy of all Free Peoples of Middle-earth and the forger of the One Ring. While Sauron lived, he was feared throughout all of Middle-earth, even to the farthest reaches of Arda.
In the beginning he was a Maia of Aüle and was said to be among the greatest of them, if not the most powerful Maiar, being of far higher order than Gandalf the Grey or Saruman the White. He greatly admired Morgoth, but he desired order for he disliked anything worthless and chaotic. However, after seeing in the latter the power that would help him accomplish his goals, he joined with the fallen Vala and fled to Middle-earth. In the First Age, he is said to have been "less evil than his master in that for long he served another and not himself". However, later after the latter's fall, he initially appeared as Morgoth's regent and coerced Men into worshipping the Vala, but between the late Second Age and Third Age, he came to believe that his former master would never be able to resurface so he then claimed to be Morgoth returned and later demanded that his servants worship him and not Melkor as "King of the World" and "God-King", forsaking any allegiance that he had kept to Bauglir.
As the Servant of Morgoth, he became known as "Sauron" or "Gorthaur the Cruel" and rose as Melkor's chief agent: "While Morgoth still stood, Sauron did not seek his own supremacy, but worked and schemed for another, desiring the triumph of Melkor whom in the beginning he had adored" and the mastermind behind many of his master's schemes: "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". During the Quest for the Silmaril, he had established himself within the former Tower of Tol Sirion and had also captured Beren and the Elven King Finrod Feleagund. The half-Maia Luthien and Huan the Hound of Valinor were able to defeat Sauron, who then fled. After the War of Wrath which saw the defeat of Morgoth, the fallen Maia apparently repented, but was unwilling to return before the Valar and be humilliated by bowing and begging forgiveness.
After hiding and lying dormant for 500 years, Sauron started to reveal himself during the Second Age. By the year of SA 1000 he had grown powerful enough to establish himself in Mordor in eastern Middle-earth, where he started building the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr close to Mount Doom. Sauron began assembling armies of Uruks, Graugs and other creatures, and started to corrupt the hearts of Men, giving them delusions of wealth and power. In the Second Age, Sauron took on a fair form and used it under the alias "Annatar", or the "Lord of Gifts", to deceive the Elves into creating the Rings of Power, for unlike Morgoth he did not seek to destroy Arda, but enslave all of the Free Peoples to his will.
Sauron commanded great armies during this Era, and Sauron declared himself as Dark Lord, and his fortress was completed. He managed to conquer most of Middle-earth during the War of the Elves and Sauron, but was defeated in SA 1701 by the Numenoreans, Elves of Lindon and Lorien and Dwarves of Khazad-Dum. Sauron then retreated to Mordor to regroup. Toward the end of the Second Age, Ar-Pharazon, King of Numenor captured Sauron and returned him to Numenor. Sauron rose from prisoner to the King's advisor and managed to convince him to invade the Undying Lands which led to Numenor being promptly sunk by the Valar. Sauron then retreated back to Mordor and began his preparations. At this time it is said that Sauron was more powerful than Morgoth near the end of the First Age, for he had not fallen so low as the fallen Vala did just yet. After amassing his armies, the Dark Lord sent his forces against the newly founded kingdom of Gondor. Sauron was finally defeated in SA 3440 in the War of the Last Alliance, with Isildur cutting The Ring from Sauron's hand. But he was not vanquished for the One Ring was not destroyed. Instead, it corrupted the king of Gondor, and thereafter the Ring was known as Isildur's Bane. Sauron retreated to the far East, a shadow of his former self.
In TA 1000, Sauron grew more powerful and started to rise again, taking the stronghold Dol Goldur in the forest of Mirkwood. He disguised himself as the "Necromancer", a dark sorcerer who could summon the dead. The Maia Olórin (Gandalf) entered the fortress to investigate the dark presence, after which Sauron fled east to hide his identity. The wizard's motives for investigating were that he suspected that the Nine Ringwraiths were being guided by the Dark Lord and that Sauron might compell the dragon Smaug into his service, if he hadn't done it already. After entering Dol Guldur for a second time in TA 2850, Gandalf confirmed that the Necromancer was indeed Sauron. The White Council assembled and permanently drove the Dark Lord from Dol Guldur in TA 2941. He returned to Mordor once again, where he announced his presence in TA 2941, where he started preparing himself against a final war against the Free Peoples of Middle-earth.
In TA 3019, Sauron openly declared himself once more and after interrogating the creature Gollum he learned of the Ring's whereabouts. To this end he sent the Nine Ringwraiths to reclaim his lost possession, while also having the wizard Saruman, whom he had slowly put under his control through the use of the Seeing Stone of Minas Ithil, direct war against Rohan. However, due to the Ring-bearer having already left the Shire and Saruman's spies having misguided his servants, the Dark Lord was unable to regain the One Ring. Both Sauron and Saruman sent Orcs to capture the hobbits whom they suspected of having the Ring. Due to the conflict between their respective agents and the unexpected attack from the Rohirrim near the eaves of Fangorn, neither was able to gain the desired prize and after the Battle of Hornburg, Saruman was defeated and Isengard destroyed. With the loss of his most potent ally and his army, Sauron sent the Witch-king of Angmar to lead the forces of Minas Morgul in an attempt to bring down the kingdom of Gondor. The Battle of Pelennor Fields ended with the defeat of the Morgul army and the Ringwraith's demise. Believing that Aragorn the heir of Isildur had the One Ring, the Dark Lord prepared his forces once again for a final strike. But during the Battle at the Morannon, the hobbits used the distraction to cast the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. With this, the Dark Tower fell and Sauron was defeated, rendered an impotent spirit of malice, and his army was disorganized and easily disbanded without his evil will to drive them.
- Despite being the titular character of The Lord of the Rings, Sauron never directly appears during the events of the trilogy. Nowhere is any explicitly detailed description given of what he looks like, other than in vague terminology. In the film series directed by Peter Jackson, Sauron is depicted in the prologue to Fellowship of the Ring as a giant, wielding a large demonic mace, and wearing a suit of black armor similar to that of Morgoth; the in-game depiction of Sauron, both in flashbacks and near the end, show a similar version.
- It is speculated that Sauron's soul was residing in the body of the Black Hand since Talion's sacrificial death. Another prevalent theory is that the Black Hand was another of his illusionary forms, alongside that of Annatar, Lord of Gifts.
- In order for Sauron to assume his physical form and strength, he must either re-acquire the One Ring, or be merged with the wraith of the ring-maker, Celebrimbor.