Top 10 Scariest Villains in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Fans of fantasy love The Lord of the Rings for many reasons. The heroes are courageous, the story is inspiring, and the world of Middle-earth captures the imagination of its viewers immediately. Heroes in stories however, can generally only be as good as their adversaries are wicked.

With that in mind, the forces of evil in The Lord of the Rings are a key part of the success of the trilogy. Here are our top 10 most frightening villains in The Lord of the Rings.

10. Mûmakil and the Haradrim

While not frightening in appearance, the giant elephants and the soldiers that ride them bear mentioning. Their footsteps boom across the Pelennor Fields as the Rohirrim watch in frozen horror. The sense of doom that washes over the Rohirrim in the wake of the Mûmakil and Haradrim as they join the battlefield is palpable.

It is only later, when Rohan’s soldiers begin to strike in targeted spots on the giant beasts and take out the soldiers steering them, that they begin to stand a chance in the battle once again.

9. Gothmog

Sauron and Saruman are a terrifying, ever-present force that the LOTR heroes contend with throughout the trilogy. Gothmog is a leader of Sauron’s forces striking the lands of Gondor. With jagged, sharp teeth, a snarling mouth, and hulking size, his appearance alone is intimidating.

Beyond his frightening visage, he is a skilled leader. He successfully sacks Osgiliath and leads a relentless assault on Minas Tirith. Gothmog is also cruel in his military pursuits, taking pleasure in his enemies’ dread and fear.

8. Cave Troll of Moria

One of the first imposing enemies that the Fellowship faces in their journey is a cave troll in Moria. After Pippin inadvertently alerts the Orcs of their presence, the hordes of Moria descend on Balin’s Tomb. Boromir sneaks a glance out into the corridor before telling his companions, “They have a cave troll.”

As the Fellowship members contend with the Orcs pouring through the door, the cave troll bursts into the chamber. Using his immense size and gigantic hammer, the cave troll proves to be a challenging adversary. Before he is felled by a well-aimed shot from Legolas, he manages to knock Aragorn unconscious and nearly kills Frodo with a spear strike.

7. The Army of the Dead

The ghostly troops that dwell in the mountain are not villains per se. With their initially antagonistic relationship with Aragorn and those ghastly visages, however, it would be remiss to not include them. The Army of the Dead was doomed to walk the earth for abandoning Isildur when he called on them.

Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli entered the Paths of the Dead to call on the cursed King and his soldiers to finally fulfill their oath to Gondor. Their green hue and various stages of decay create an altogether ghastly image. Despite seeing that Aragorn bore Narsil reforged as Andúril, the King of the Dead initially did not agree to come to Gondor’s aid. In the end, however, the army is crucial in saving Minas Tirith and granted their eternal peace.

6. Orcs of Moria

The Fellowship first encounters the Orcs of Moria in Balin’s Tomb. Foreboding drumbeats echoing through the halls herald their arrival. With their spiked armor, giant eyes, and spindly limbs, the Orcs of Moria are well-suited for life deep in the caverns of Moria. The Fellowship defeats the hordes that attack them in the tomb but more are still coming.

As they run through the halls of Khazad-dûm, Orcs chase behind them and spill out from the vaulted ceilings above. The Fellowship finds themselves surrounded, staring into the terrifying faces of countless enemies. The Orcs only disperse when a greater foe draws near.

5. Mouth of Sauron

The remaining members of the Fellowship and armies of Gondor and Rohan march on the Black Gate to draw Sauron’s gaze away from Frodo and Sam as they draw closer to Mount Doom. When they arrive, the Gate opens and a fearsome mounted figure emerges. The Mouth of Sauron, as his name would suggest, speaks for Sauron. As such, he is an expert in deception.

With his oversized, sharply toothed mouth, he tells Frodo’s companions that Sauron had intercepted the Ring and killed the Hobbit. He brandishes his Mithril shirt as proof. Aragorn sees through his lies, swiftly dispatching the Mouth of Sauron. Although his part in the story is brief, it certainly leaves an impression on viewers.

4. Shelob

Faramir warned Frodo and Sam about taking the Path of Cirith Ungol, telling the Hobbits that “a dark terror dwells in the passes above Minas Morgul.” Faramir doubts Gollum’s intentions in bringing the Ringbearer and his companion that way with good reason. Gollum abandons Frodo in the passage as Frodo sees spider webs and Shelob’s previous victims.

He recognizes that he is in danger as the gigantic spider descends on him. Shelob stabs Frodo with her stinger, paralyzing him, and wraps him in her web. She is interrupted by Sam bearing Sting and Galadriel’s phial. Sam hacks off one of her giant legs, blinds her in one eye, and forces her to retreat after gravely wounding her.

3. The Balrog

In the depths of Moria, the Fellowship is simultaneously confused and relieved as the Orcs that surrounded them flee. Gandalf quickly recognizes the cause of their retreat, telling the Fellowship about the Balrog. He tells them, “This foe is beyond any of you. Run!” The Fellowship races through Dwarven halls, crossing the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Gandalf remains on the bridge, facing off against the Balrog.

The Balrog is a giant, ancient demon made of shadow and flame. He has ram-like horns, bat-like wings, and wields a flaming whip and sword. Gandalf breaks the bridge and the Balrog falls. As he plummets, he wraps his whip around Gandalf’s ankle and pulls the Grey Wizard down with him. The two ancient beings fight from the depths to the peaks of the mountains, with the wizard eventually emerging victorious.

2. Lurtz and the Uruk-hai

Saruman describes his fighting Uruk-hai as Orcs “perfected.” The Uruk-hai can travel in the sunlight, tire less easily, and are larger and stronger than their Orc counterparts. Saruman commands his Uruk-hai to track down the Fellowship and bring him the halflings. The Fellowship first encounters the Uruk-hai at Amon Hen after they depart Lothlórien. Frodo and Sam escape their clutches as Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli fight them off.

Despite Boromir’s courageous efforts, Merry and Pippin are captured. Boromir, in the end is slain by one of the most frightening and intimidating villains in the entire trilogy: an Uruk-hai commander called Lurtz. Lurtz, wielding a crossbow, fires three arrows into Boromir, bringing him to his knees. Lurtz is ultimately defeated by Aragorn, who races in just in time to allow Boromir to die an honorable, quiet death with his brother, captain, and king at his side.

1. The Nazgûl

As Sauron’s foremost servants, the Nazgûl, or Ringwraiths, are foes that almost all the main characters face at one time or another. Disguised as riders in black cloaks, they strike fear into the hearts of all that meet them. They are the first enemies that Frodo encounters as he leaves the Shire.

Eventually, the Ringwraiths close in on the Hobbits once more at Amon Hen, where the Witch-king stabs Frodo with a cursed blade. They pursue Frodo and Arwen to Rivendell and are only temporarily incapacitated there by the loss of their horses. In The Two Towers, they trade their horses for winged fell beasts as steeds, allowing them to cover great distances and do Sauron’s bidding with greater efficiency and deadliness. In the end, the Witch-king is defeated by Éowyn, and the remaining eight Nazgûl are destroyed in the wake of the Ring’s destruction.

From the depths of Moria to the skies above Middle-earth, the Fellowship and heroes of The Lord of the Rings contend with frightening foes from the moment that Frodo steps foot out of the Shire. From their appearance to their power, the forces of Sauron and Saruman understandably terrify the people of Middle-earth and the audience alike.

Which LOTR villains scare you the most? Do you have a favorite? Share your thoughts with other fans at, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!