“"You will serve ME for all eternity."”
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 the chief of Aulë's folk, the greatest servant of Morgoth, the second Dark Lord, the forger of the One Ring and the Enemy of the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. Denied the lordship and worship he so coveted, he built himself massive armies to establish his dominion over all life. While Sauron lived, he was feared throughout all of Middle-earth, even to the farthest reaches of Arda.
In the beginning he was among the greatest (if not the greatest) of the Maiar, serving under Aüle the Smith. His desire to impose order and coordination on Arda motivated his lust for dominion and he eventually joined the rebel Vala Morgoth, who taught him to affect his designs quickly and masterfully.
In the First Age, Sauron was counted as the greatest of Morgoth's servants and was given command of the fortress of Angband. When the First Dark Lord left to corrupt the newly-awakened Men, he left his lieutenant to wage war against the Elves. Sauron drove the Elves from the Isle of Tol Sirion and claimed the tower as his new foul domain. During the War of Wrath, he remained hidden and only revealed himself after Morgoth's defeat. Before the messenger of Manwë, he forsook his allegiance and seemed to genuinely repent, but refused to await judgement before the Valar out of pride and fear. Instead, he fled to Middle-earth and returned to his devices.
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 he sought to enslave all Free Peoples to his will.
Sauron commanded great armies during this Era, and Sauron declared himself as the 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. 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. He used the Seeing Stone from Minas Ithil to establish contact with Saruman, whom he compelled to serve him. The Dark Lord was aware, however, that while the Wizard wanted to become his greatest servant he had not abandoned all hopes of gaining the One Ring for himself if possible, and so did not put all his trust in him.
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 Saruman try sway Gandalf the Grey to their side. However, due to the Ring-bearer having already left the Shire, the Dark Lord was unable to regain the One Ring. Both the Ringwraiths and Saruman sent Orcs to capture the hobbits whom they suspected of having the Ring, but because of in-fighting between their servants and the unexpected attack from the Rohirrim near the eaves of Fangorn, neither was able to gain Sauron's prize and after the Battle of Hornburg, Saruman was defeated and Isengard occupied by the Ents. With the loss one of his most potent servants and an army of Orcs (Half-orcs and Uruk-hai as well), 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 Mordor army and Angmar's demise. Believing that Aragorn, the heir of Isildur, or Gandalf the White possessed his 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 a much-impotent spirit of malice, and his army disbanded without his evil will to drive them forth.
- 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. It can be assumed that he was able to manifest in Barad-dûr during the events of Shadow of War because it was constructed and held together using the Ring's dark magic