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'Lord of the Rings' on Amazon Prime Video — will we see Gandalf, Sauron, and other familiar faces?

Lord of the Rings
Don't expect to see Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) and co. showing up in Amazon's new series. (Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV Series is one of the most anticipated shows right now, and fans are desperate to know whether they’ll be seeing some of their favorite characters when it premiers next year.

One of the things we know about the show is that it's set thousands of years before Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, which makes it seem unlikely that many of the heroes will make a return. The official synopsis of the series said:

“Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.

"Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.”

Is Gandalf in Amazon's Lords of the Rings TV series?

This synopsis makes it sound like we'll meet some old faces, but it is unlikely that we'll see the return of Aragorn, Legolas, Frodo, and the rest of the hobbits as none of them were born until the Third Age. And what about Gandalf?

Well, Gandalf had an exceptionally long lifespan, but even he probably won't show up during Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series as he first set foot on Middle Earth in his wizard form during the Third Age. However, if Amazon really delves deep into the mythology of Middle Earth then we might see Gandalf appear as he was one of the Maiar (spirits that helped the gods to shape the world of Middle Earth) before he appeared as Gandalf the Grey.

Is Lady Galadriel in the Lords of the Rings TV series?

Yes, the only character we know is definitely making a return is Lady Galadriel. Morfydd Clark features in Amazon's Lord of the Rings TV series as a much younger version of Lady Galadriel, the character originally played by Cate Blanchett in Peter Jackson's movies. This suggests that, even if other characters do reappear during the show, they'll be at very different points in their lives.

Morfydd Clark.

Morfydd Clark in Saint Maud. (Image credit: Film4)

Is Sauron in Amazon's Lords of the Rings TV series?

The other character who is likely to reappear is Sauron. This is because Sauron re-emerged as a major threat in Tolkien's work during the Second Age. It was during this time period that he started gathering power and establishing his kingdom and forces in Mordor, leading up to a climactic battle with the races of Middle Earth at the end of the Second Age.

During this time, he tried to bring the elves under his control and taught some of the craftsmen the knowledge necessary to forge the Rings of Power, whilst he secretly forged the One Ring that would control them all in Mount Doom. 

As if that wasn’t enough, the Dark Lord himself was also instrumental in the downfall of the kingdom of Númenor, which seems to be a prominent setting in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series. In Tolkien's books, Sauron was brought to Númenor as a hostage but used this as an opportunity to break the kingdom from within by corrupting the people and making them into followers of his dark god, Morgoth.

Since he played such an important role in the books, it seems incredibly likely that Sauron is this same great evil that’s set to return during Amazon’s prequel series.

Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series premieres on Prime Video on September 2, 2022.