One of the most prominent characters in JRR Tolkien’s writings is Sauron, who was the dark lord of Middle-Earth during the Second and Third Ages and was the primary antagonist in The Lord of the Rings. While Sauron is indeed a powerful entity that is as strong as anyone in Middle-Earth, the truth is that he had “died” a few times in the history of Middle-Earth. So, how many times has Sauron died?
Officially, Sauron has died three times in Tolkien’s writings. The first was when he was in Númenor during the Fall of Númenor. He was once again killed by Elendil and Gil-galad at the end of the Second Age. And finally, the destruction of the One Ring killed him at the end of the Third Age.
Those who haven’t read the books or any of Tolkien’s writings might get confused by the fact that Sauron has died quite a few times but has continued to “live.” This is in large part to the fact that Sauron actually cannot “die” in terms of his overall existence. As such, that is something that we will explain in this article as we proceed with our discussion regarding how many times he has died.
How Many Times Has Sauron Died?
Those who have been fans of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings are quite aware of the fact that Sauron has been in and out of commission, especially after the end of the Second Age when the One Ring was severed from his finger. However, in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, we actually heard Adar saying that he split Sauron apart and killed him.
At this point, we can take Adar’s word with a grain of salt because we all know that Sauron is still out there somewhere. Nevertheless, the truth is that, even in JRR Tolkien’s writings, Sauron has “died” quite a few times already. But how many times has Sauron actually died?
If we are to go with what Tolkien has written, then Sauron has died three times in the course of his existence in the world. Those deaths happened during the Second and Third Ages. There was an incident in the First Age when he was actually about to die, but he never died back then. This was when he transformed into a werewolf but was defeated by the large wolf named Huan.
However, he didn’t die at that moment but had actually just escaped in a vampire form. In that regard, Sauron only died three times in Tolkien’s writings. We can even give him four deaths if we were to include what Adar said when he split Sauron apart. However, as far as Tolkien’s Legendarium is concerned, Sauron has experienced three deaths.
Who Killed Sauron?
Sauron’s first death came in the Second Age when he was captured by the Númenoreans. This happened when Ar-Pharazôn, who became king of Númenor, decided to challenge Sauron’s forces on Middle-Earth because Sauron began calling himself the King of Men, a title that Ar-Pharazôn believed was his. As such, Sauron was defeated and held captive by the Númenoreans.
In his fair form, Sauron actually became one of the counselors of Ar-Pharazôn while he was in Númenor. He was the one who told the king to worship Melkor because he was the only one that was capable of giving him immortal life. And when Ar-Pharazôn and the Númenoreans became too aware of their impending mortality, they went to Valinor at the suggestion of Sauron so that they could demand that the Valar give him and his people immortal life.
But because the Númenoreans were banned from going to Valinor, the Valar sank Númenor back into the seas while allowing the earth to swallow Ar-Pharazôn and his host while they were on the shores of the Undying Lands. This caused Númenor to sink while Sauron was still on the island. As such, he died right then and there and was thoroughly weakened to the point that he could no longer assume his fair form.
After his first death in Númenor, Sauron returned to Middle-Earth and was able to regain his strength due to the power of the One Ring. However, he assumed the form of the dark lord that we have always been accustomed to as he began terrorizing Middle-Earth with his army of Orcs.
At the end of the Second Age, the Last Alliance challenged Sauron in an epic battle that allowed Elendil, the king of Gondor, and Gil-galad, the high king of the Elves, to fight Sauron. While the two kings died in that battle, they wounded and weakened Sauron enough that Isildur was able to take up his father’s broken sword and sever the One Ring from his finger. Because the One Ring had a huge portion of Sauron’s malice and power poured into it, he was killed when it was severed from his finger.
While Sauron was presumed to have been killed in the Last Alliance during the end of the Second Age, he slowly regained his strength during much of the Third Age until he was ready to wage war on the people of Middle-Earth once more. This was the War of the Ring, as Sauron’s forces wreaked havoc all over Middle-Earth. However, what Sauron didn’t know was that Frodo and Sam were tasked to enter Mordor and destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom.
So, when the One Ring was finally destroyed, Sauron was killed and defeated for the final time as the destruction of the One Ring weakened him to the point that he could no longer be a threat to Middle-Earth ever again because much of his power was contained in the One Ring.
Of course, if we were to count Adar’s word, when he killed Sauron, then he died during the Second Age when the Uruk split him apart after he could no longer bear to see his Orcs suffering at the hands of Sauron’s experiments.
Can Sauron Actually Die?
At this point, some people might be confused about the fact that Sauron had died a lot of times already but still continues to return and become a threat after regaining his strength. So, can Sauron actually die?
When we say that Sauron “died,” we are talking about his physical form. That’s because, in his most essential form, Sauron is an Ainur named Mairon, who is the greatest of the Maiar and is basically a divine spirit that doesn’t have a true physical form. It is only that he uses his energy to assume a physical form that he is allowed to “die” when this physical form is destroyed
However, the Ainur can never truly die as these spirits are truly immortal and will never cease to exist even after their physical forms are destroyed. In Sauron’s case, he merely became too weak to assume a physical form every time he died, as that was the reason why he needed to regain his strength before returning to Middle-Earth in a physical form again.
But when Sauron was killed at the end of the Third Age when the One Ring was destroyed, he could no longer assume a physical form ever again because much of his essence was contained within the One Ring. As such, the destruction of the One Ring caused him to lose a huge chunk of his spiritual essence, as Sauron was forced to wander in a weak spiritual form that could no longer assume a physical form that could threaten Middle-Earth ever again.