It’s still unclear what the central story of Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series will be. The streamer released a general synopsis for the project earlier this year, but it mostly spoke in vague terms and focused on establishing that the show takes place during the Second Age of Middle-earth.
The lack of concrete information hasn’t stopped J.R.R. Tolkien fans from speculating about the show’s plot though, and specifically, the likely arrival of these classic villains from the original Lord of the Rings trilogy.
The Theory — The leading theory right now amongst Lord of the Rings fans is that the Amazon series will, at least at the start, focus on the forging of the Rings of Power and the conflict that followed. If that theory proves to be true, then it seems likely that the series will also show Sauron giving 16 of the Rings of Power to the Dwarves and Men.
That would, in turn, open up the possibility for the TV series to show the origins of some of Lord of the Rings’ greatest villains: the Nazgûl (The Ringwraiths).
Servants of Sauron — After the Rings of Power were created, Sauron managed to acquire and distribute the 16 rings that he forged with the Elves. He gave seven of the rings to the Dwarves — who remained fairly uncorrupted by their power — and then the remaining nine rings to a select few Lords of Men. Three of the nine were said to be men of Númenor, while one was an Easterling king.
As Sauron predicted, the nine men proved to be the most corruptible of all the ring bearers, as they used the rings to grow their prestige, wealth, and power all while the rings gradually took more and more from them. The rings extended the lives of the nine men but eventually corrupted them to the point where they became wraiths and servants bound to Sauron’s power. From then on, they became known as the Nazgûl.
Given their connection to the forging of the Rings of Power and Sauron’s rise during the Second Age, it’d make sense for the Nazgûl to show up in the Amazon series — especially if it also touches on Sauron’s corruption of Númenor.
It’s possible that the series could also give an actual identity to the leader and most feared of the Ringwraiths, the Witch-king of Angmar. The character, who is killed in epic fashion by Éowyn during Return of the King, is a mysterious figure in the Tolkien lore, one whose pre-wraith identity has never fully been revealed. If Amazon’s Lord of the Rings deals with the creation of the Rings of Power and the Nazgûl, then it could very easily provide a long-awaited answer to the mystery of their leader.
The Inverse Analysis — Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series being set during the Second Age of Middle-earth gives it the chance to do a whole lot. It can show events that were only passingly referenced in previous Tolkien adaptations and bring to life backstories for certain familiar characters and locations for the first time. That includes the Nazgûl.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series does not yet have a release date.