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NOTE: This page is only about his Peter Jackson incarnation as the original book and Ralph Bakshi incarnations of Saruman were not voted Pure Evil, and thus only the Peter Jackson version of Saruman's info and crimes should be put here.

I gave you the chance of aiding me willingly, but you have elected the way of PAIN!
~ Saruman while battling Gandalf in Orthanc.
So you have chosen… death.
~ Saruman as Gandalf escapes from Orthanc.
One of the Halflings carries something of great value. Bring them to me alive, and unspoiled. Kill the others.
~ Saruman orders Lurtz to hunt down the fellowship.

Saruman the White is the secondary antagonist of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth live-action film saga. He served as the main antagonist in both The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, as well as a minor yet pivotal antagonist in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In The Hobbit trilogy, Saruman appeared as a supporting character in both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

He was portrayed by the late Sir Christopher Lee, who also played Count Dracula in the Hammer Dracula movies.

What Makes Him Pure Evil?

  • While he was once a force for good, and one of Gandalf's best friends, his lust for power consumed him, and he betrayed Gandalf because he believed that Sauron would be unstoppable. This led him to join forces with Sauron so he can be on the winning side of the War of the Ring, subverting all redeeming qualities.
  • While technically working with Sauron and believing Sauron to be unstoppable, the movie makes it clear that he had plans to take the ring for himself, as shown when he created the Uruk-hai to be loyal directly to him and look down on the other orc breeds.
  • He tried to convince Gandalf to join his side, claiming that it would be a wise decision to make. When Gandalf refuses, Saruman attempts to kill him in Orthanc while telling him that he has chosen pain instead of victory and then tortures him out of spite on top of the tower.
  • He has Sauron's orcs raze all of the flora from within Isengard, replacing it with massive caverns where Saruman would breed the Uruk-hai and build weapons of war.
  • He creates a snowstorm over the Pass of Caradhras to kill the Fellowship of the Ring on their journey to destroy the One Ring. When Gimli mentions the Mines of Moria, Saruman warns Gandalf of Durin's Bane, and though this may have been twisted care for Gandalf, it's more likely that this was only so that the Fellowship would fail on their quest, and he attempts to kill Gandalf anyway when he is locked in Orthanc and is defeated, making it dishonorable.
  • He ordered Lurtz and a pack of Uruk-hai to bring him the One Ring and therefore the Hobbits in the Fellowship to him alive and unspoiled and told them to kill the others. This led to the death of Boromir, for which he is indirectly responsible.
  • He has the Uruk-hai burn down many of the Ents in the Fangorn Forest close to Isengard to fuel his machinery and weaponry, despite knowing that the Ents were sapient beings, an action that prompts Treebeard and other Ents to attack Isengard later on alongside Merry and Pippin.
  • He convinces the Dundenlings to burn Rohan's villages by lying to them that Rohan took over their lands and forced them to live under the rocks, even having their chief cut the palm of his own hand as an oath of loyalty. To make things worse, manipulating the Dundenlings means he started an armed conflict between two human factions, which makes him the only villain in the film saga who manipulated humans into massacring each other. The burning of the Westfold results in thousands of deaths, including children.
  • He is responsible for the death of King Théoden's son, Théodred, and later on possesses Théoden to make Rohan much more vulnerable to his forces from Isengard. He even uses Théoden to sign a treaty that banishes Éowyn's brother Éomer from Rohan under penalty of death.
  • He cares nothing for his second-in-command Gríma Wormtongue, seeing him as nothing more than a pawn to advance his own goals. He even slaps him in the face while calling him a cur, which shows that he only sees Gríma as beneath himself.
  • As the women and children escape from Edoras, Saruman has his Uruk-hai kill all of them, and when they fail and the women and children flee to Helm's Deep, he unleashes an army of 10,000 Uruk-hai to breach Helm's Deep and slaughter everyone there, down to the last child. This makes him responsible for the deaths of Haldir and the countless other casualties of the Battle of Helm's Deep.
  • When he is ultimately defeated and Gandalf offers him a chance at redemption by telling him that he can save the free people by telling him the next location that Sauron was going to strike, Saruman refuses to redeem himself out of spite, and after Gandalf destroys his staff, Saruman makes it clear that he was only going to tell him said information because he doesn't want to remain a prisoner in Isengard.

Trivia

  • He is one of four Middle-earth villains from Peter Jackson's films to be Pure Evil, predated by Sauron from across the entire series and Azog from The Hobbit trilogy, and followed by Gothmog.
  • While Sauron is also Pure Evil in the film series, Saruman's actions such as the burning of the Westfold and attempted genocide against the people of Rohan are comparable to his.
  • The book version of Saruman does not count as Pure Evil due to being overshadowed by Sauron's actions in The Silmarillion.
    • There's also the fact that the book version of Saruman is somewhat tragic considering he was corrupted by Sauron via the palantír-which also brings his moral agency into question.
  • Saruman's actions of burning the Westfold and attacking Helm's Deep were considered so vile in-universe that even Théoden, who often made peace with his enemies after wars, wanted him to be executed for his crimes.
  • Christopher Lee described Saruman as the "most evil of […] all" the enemies of the Fellowship.

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Live-Action Films
Freddy Krueger (original | remake) | Shredder | It | Doc Hawkins | Shang Tsung | John Doe | Elizar Kane | Shinnok | Dr. Zachary Smith | Deacon Frost | Jack Shepard | Sauron | Saruman | Eli Damaskinos | Alex | Gothmog | Leland Jones and Billy Orser | Eddie Kim | Azog | Lord Roderick | Bathsheba Sherman | Annabelle the Doll | Valak | Diana Walter | Claire Wyden | Sub-Zero | Isla the Occultist | Gabriel

See Also
Middle-earth Pure Evils | Mortal Kombat Pure Evils | The Conjuring Pure Evils | Warner Bros. Pure Evils

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Ainur
Sauron (Peter Jackson | Conquest | Shadow of Mordor) | Morgoth | Saruman

Orcs
Azog | Gothmog

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