Who Is Adar on THE RINGS OF POWER? A History of LORD OF THE RINGS’ Orcs

On The Rings of Power, the orcs, following their mysterious leader Adar, searched for a powerful weapon. We were curious about the weapon, itself, but also wondered, just who is The Rings of Power‘s Adar? In the sixth episode of the show, Adar and his orcs get their wish. But, while Theo’s sword hilt may have given Adar’s children a dark new home on Middle-earth, the episode also revealed more than the creation of Mount Doom. It revealed Adar no longer serves Sauron, as we initially thought the mutilated elf might. Throughout The Rings of Power, we’ve slowly uncovered Adar’s true identity. The show has offered us insight into the one-time elf, his origins, and why the otherwise hateful orcs adore Adar as they do.

Adar with his scarred face from The Rings of Power
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But why would Adar “split” from the path Sauron and Morgoth laid out? The Lord of the Rings‘ history of orcs, the meaning of the word “adar” in Elvish, and the elf’s own past all came into play to explain why he’s one of the most infamous figures in all of Middle-earth… And why he wants to free orcs, evil as they may be, from a life of servitude. But also how Adar inadvertently has given Sauron everything he wants on The Rings of Power.

Jump to: Who Are the Orcs? // The Orcs’ Tolkien History // Adar as the First Orc Created by Morgoth // The Meaning of the Word Adar // Why Did Adar Turn on Sauron? // Adar’s Future // Adar Recast on Rings of Power and His Season 2 Story

Who Are Lord of the Rings’ Orcs?

The Lord of the Rings the Rings of Power race of Orcs
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On The Rings of Power, the orcs follow Adar. And so, first understanding these creatures helps us to understand their leader. Orcs, called goblins in The Hobbit, have loomed large in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world since the beginning. The Lord of the Ringsorcs served Morgoth during the Years of the Trees before the First Age. And they continued as soldiers of evil until the end of Middle-earth’s Third Age.

Ugly, violent creatures, orcs hate almost everyone and everything. That includes themselves. This is why it’s so interesting that The Rings of Power‘s orcs do not hate Adar. They also abhor natural beauty and handcrafted works. But that doesn’t prevent them from making things themselves. From weapons and tools, to torture devices and machines of war, Lord of the Rings‘ orcs are crafty.

Arondir looks at at orc in the sun on The Rings of Power
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Orcs live in darkness, most notably deep inside mountains. They are excellent tunnel builders who shun the sun whenever possible because the light burns them. That’s why on The Rings of Power, Adar and the orcs had elves and humans digging for that missing sword hilt. And why the orcs wear robes if forced to go out during the day. They cannot go into the light.

While it’s unclear exactly how long orcs live, one infamous orc was at least 150 years old. And though they lack anything resembling culture, orcs are also much smarter than they look and have great stamina and strength.

The History and Origins of Middle-earth’s Orcs and The Rings of Power‘s Adar

An orc holds a knife to an elf's throat on The Rings of Power, the Orcs are lead by Adar
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J.R.R. Tolkien himself changed the origin story of orcs during his lifetime. At one point, he said Morgoth created orcs through sorcery from “the heats and slimes of the earth.” But the author later wrote that only the supreme being Eru Ilúvatar could create life. (Well, minus when the Valar Aulë created dwarves.)

Morgoth’s inability to make life was one of the things that made him jealous of Ilúvatar in the first place. That’s why he needed one of the supreme being’s own “children” to bring orcs to the world. So if Morgoth didn’t create orcs, where did they come from? From Ilúvatar, just not the way he made them. And it is that very The Lord of the Rings tale from which The Rings of Power draws Adar’s origins.

An orc snarls
Prime Video

The accepted origin of The Lord of the Rings orcs is the one found in The Silmarillion. It says Morgoth kidnapped some elves when they first awoke in Middle-earth, before the Valar could find the first “children” of Ilúvatar. He then used dark magic to transform them into horrible creatures who served him, just as they would eventually serve the next Dark Lord, Sauron.

The Rings of Power confirms that this history is actually Adar’s own. The truth comes out in a scene between Galadriel and Adar.

Adar as the Elf Who Became the First Orc, Created by Morgoth

Adar speaking to his orcs, who is Adar?
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Galadriel more or less reveals exactly who Adar is in The Rings of Power‘s sixth episode. She tells us that she heard stories about elves like Adar. He is one of the elves Morgoth “tortured” and “twisted” into “a new and ruined form of life.” She called those elves, the first orcs, “the Moriondor, the Sons of the Dark.”

But Adar says they prefer another name: Uruk. And he defends his children’s right to live and have a home by saying orcs are creations of “The One, Master of the secret fire.” According to Adar, orcs have names and hearts, just the same as Galadriel, and by extension, Adar, who links them all together. In one scene, The Rings of Power confirms both Adar’s identity, an elf turned to evil by Morgoth, and the origins of orcs, once and for all.

Why The Rings of Power‘s Orcs Call Their Leader Adar, The Elvish Word for Father?

A dying orc smiles at Adar as he holds the orcs head on The rIngs of Power
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Now we know that Adar is literally the orcs’ father on The Rings of Power. So it thus makes sense that the elves call him “Adar.” In Sindarin Elvish, “Adar” is the word for “father.” (The Sindar spoke their own version of Elvish because they never made it to the land of the Valar like other elves. After awakening in Middle-earth, they never left, same as the kidnapped Moriondor.) Pretty obvious if you think about it.

But as strange as it sounds for orcs, the love Adar shows for them is reciprocated. The orcs are all Adar’s offspring, and he cares for them, just as he is the only figure orcs truly care for in all of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. The use of the word “Father” when it comes to Adar thus feels more emotional than just a factual title. Through Adar, we get a whole new look at orcs on The Rings of Power.

Are There Female Orcs on Middle-Earth?

Adar holds a human boy for sacrifice in front of some orcs on The Rings of Power
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If orcs are made from elves, do they replicate like elves, too? Some believe that Morgoth’s creatures (which include orcs, werewolves, trolls, dragons, and more) self-reproduce. However, we’re going to meet some female orcs on The Rings of Power, a fact Adar confirmed when he spoke of “brothers and sisters” among his orcs.

For now, though, the specifics of orc reproduction is unknown. (Which is almost certainly for the best.) But it’s not unreasonable to think it is a slow one since Sauron sometimes hid for thousands of years while gathering and reinforcing his army. The forces of evil always needed more orcs because, unlike elves, they don’t live forever. And the further removed from their father, Adar, the less like him they become.

Why Are Orcs So Different From Adar on The Rings of Power?

Adar looks sad on The Rings of Power
Prime Video

Adar has lived for thousands of years and remembers Beleriand (a land that went under at the end of the First Age) because he’s an ageless elf. That’s also why, unlike his children, the sun does not burn him. Adar can still feel the warmth from the sun of the Valar, which he says he will miss when it’s gone. But despite Adar and his past, The Rings of Power‘s orcs are not elves.

The orcs get uglier and more twisted the further removed they are from their elf ancestors and Ilúvatar. That’s also why the orcs of the show’s Second Age don’t even look as hideous as their ancestors of the Third Age. Those differences and vulnerabilities are a big reason why Adar turned on Sauron, who saw his children as disposable.

Why Did Adar Turn Against Sauron?

Adar stands in the sun on The Rings of Power
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Adar had his orcs digging for the sword hilt Theo possesses, but he wasn’t doing it for Sauron. In fact, Adar believes he killed Sauron. The one-time elf was doing it for his orc children whom he loves, many of whom Sauron had sacrificed in his quest to rule Middle-earth. Adar wanted to give The Rings of Power‘s orcs a new home, one where they would not only be safe from light but safe from Dark Lords who treat them as disposable. Neither Morgoth nor Sauron ever loved orcs. They were slaves in service of evil.

Adar thinks he not only stopped serving Sauron, but that he also stopped the Dark Lord forever. Adar tells Galadriel that he killed Sauron himself. But the history of orcs says his desire to take care of his children guaranteed them another age of servitude. Adar brought Mount Doom from the depths of the earth. It will be orcs’ new home, free from the sunlight that plagues them, as he desires, but Sauron will be the one to rule over it. Sauron needs the fires of Mount Doom to forge the Rings of Power, a fact that Adar could not have known. But in seeking solace, Adar has given Sauron everything he needs to bring his evil down on Middle-earth.

Adar’s Future on Season Two of The Rings of Power

Halbrand who is Sauron nearly Killing Adar on the Rings of Power
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It would seem that Adar even christened the new land with the name Sauron will use, Mordor. But there’s unlikely to be a place in Mordor for an Adar that orcs will love more than they fear Sauron. In the final episode of The Rings of Power, Halbrand, who we now know to be Sauron, seems to refer to Adar as his enemy. And we then see Sauron on his way to Mount Doom, which feels like trouble ahead.

Charlie Vickers who plays Sauron, has given us some insight into what will transpire between Adar and Sauron in season two of The Rings of Power. In an interview Vickers offers more about the interaction between himself and Joseph Mawle, who plays Adar:

Joseph and I worked really hard in creating that story and it’s something we see more of in the second season. We see Adar and Sauron’s time and how they first connected. Adar’s going to have to do some saying sorry at some point though [for what he did in season one].

It sounds like Vickers is already alluding to Sauron threatening Adar’s existence. Well, we know who Adar is now, but he also may have just sealed his fate on The Rings of Power.

Adar Recast on The Rings of Power Season 2—Sam Hazeldine Replaces Joseph Mawle

Joseph Mawle has been recast as Adar in The Rings of Power season two (1)
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In bittersweet news, we learned that Sam Hazeldine would replace Joseph Mawle as Adar in season two of The Rings of Power. Recasts can be tricky, but we hope that the character will continue his journey and evolution into the next season of the show. It certainly sounds like there will be a lot in store for Adar. In the meantime though, we have our first look at the newly recast Adar, and we feel pretty good about what we see.

Joseph Mawle and Sam Hazeldine as Adar
Prime Video

Sam Hazeldine previously acted in Peaky Blinders and appears on The Sandman. While we have no doubt he will do a great job in the role, we will miss Mawle’s version of Adar. We hope Hazeldine can capture the same balance of tragic and antagonistic that Mawle did.

The Rings of Power season two is already hinting at some of this. Showrunner JD Payne recently noted to Vanity Fair, “You’ve got Sauron, who is not cloaked behind the guise of [the human refugee] Halbrand anymore. The audience knows he’s Sauron, so now we’re watching him maneuver as he’s manipulating [the burn-scar covered dark elf] Adar, who’s another big villain of the season.”

The Lord of the Rings the Rings of Power season two Sam Hazeldine as recast adar (1)
Prime Video

We’ll have to tune into The Rings of Power season two to see what becomes of the father of orcs.

Originally published on September 12, 2022.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at  @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.

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