In the world of Lord of the Rings, it really doesn’t get much worse than Sauron. The iconic J.R.R. Tolkien villain’s presence hangs over the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, questing to enslave all of Middle-earth for ... what? Power? His own gain and pride? Or is there something more?
One popular Lord of the Rings fan theory offers up an alternate explanation for why Sauron wanted to take control of Middle-earth.
The Theory — Some Lord of the Rings fans think that Sauron wanted to enslave the free peoples of Middle-earth not for himself, but for his former master, Melkor a.k.a. Morgoth. The theory argues that Sauron sought to enslave everyone on Middle-earth so that he could use them as a bargaining chip in exchange for Morgoth — who was defeated at the end of the First Age of Middle-earth — to be released from his imprisonment.
Sauron and Morgoth — Morgoth, originally known as Melkor, was essentially the first Dark Lord of Middle-earth. One of the most powerful beings in all of Tolkien’s world, Morgoth strove for many years to take over Middle-earth and waged wars in order to do so. Sauron became a servant of Morgoth during this time, but Morgoth was eventually defeated at the end of the First Age.
In punishment of his many evils and wrongdoings, Morgoth was even bound in chains and cast into a space outside of Middle-earth known as The Timeless Void.
While Morgoth was defeated in the First Age, Sauron eventually returned and sought to conquer Middle-earth on his own in the Second Age. At one point, Sauron even managed to corrupt some of his enemies by convincing them to worship Morgoth, promising that his former master could save them from their own mortality.
In other words, Morgoth was definitely on Sauron’s mind during, at least, some of the time he spent trying to conquer Middle-earth in the Second Age.
The Inverse Analysis — If accurate, it would make sense for Sauron to want to bring his former master back. Taking over Middle-earth himself would theoretically be the best way to make that happen. On the other hand, however, it’s difficult to imagine that Sauron would want to give up control of Middle-earth to Morgoth after fighting for it so hard and conquering it himself.
Either way, the theory adds an interesting new possible layer to Sauron, a character whose motivations and methods have already made him one of the best villains of the entire fantasy genre. And if he did really want to bring Morgoth back, then Sauron’s plans may have been even more insidious than we previously thought.