- "... all that were left fled to the hills at the rumour of the coming of the King of the Dead."
- —The Return of the King, Chapter II: "The Passing of the Grey Company"
The King of the Dead, originally "King of the Mountains", was king of the Dead Men of the Mountains in Dwimorberg, and before that had been a living Man. His spirit resided along with that of his kin in the Paths of the Dead.
In the later years of the Second Age, he and his men also served and worshiped Sauron, until he and his army swore allegiance to the realm of Gondor. Isildur was the King of Gondor at that time. The King of the Dead made an oath to fight on Isildur's side when needed, but when that moment of need arrived in the War of the Last Alliance he did not come. Isildur cursed the King of the Dead and his army. As a result, the King of the Dead and his followers could not rest until his oath was fulfilled.
In the late Third Age, the king and his army joined with Aragorn and the Grey Company during the War of the Ring, after Aragorn passed through Dwimorberg and summoned them at the Stone of Erech. The Army of the Dead then followed Aragorn to Pelargir, where they defeated the Corsairs of Umbar. Aragorn, as Heir of Isildur, subsequently declared the oath of the Army of the Dead as fulfilled. Upon hearing this, the king broke his spear and threw it aside then bowed to Aragorn, turned away, and with the rest of his people "vanished like a mist that is driven back by a sudden wind," never to be seen again.
Portrayal in adaptations
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The way is...shut. It was made by those who are dead...and the dead keep it. The way is shut.
—The King of the Dead
In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, several details are changed from the book. This king first appears to Aragorn as a quick vision when he is looking at the Dimholt road. He later manifests to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli when they are taking the Paths of the Dead. He spars briefly with Aragorn, resisting Aragorn's authority at first but later agreeing to fight. The king and his army attack the Corsairs, preventing them from entering Gondor, after which they accompany Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli to Minas Tirith. To complete the oath he helped defend Minas Tirith when it was under attack by an army of Orcs and Trolls and their leader the Witch-king of Angmar. After the battle the curse was broken by Aragorn, putting the Oathbreakers at rest.
In the console versions of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King video game (for instance, the PlayStation 2 version), he is the first boss on Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli's path. Other than wielding a large sword, he uses sorcery to create blasts of wind called "Wind of the Mountain", and chants spells to summon his undead army including undead archers and swordsmen. If one listens closely, it appears and sounds as if he is reciting part of the first line of the inscription on the One Ring, specifically "Ash nazg durbatulûk". He was voiced by Jairon Monroe.
The King of the Dead appears as a non-playable character in The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest. In the Wii and PS3 versions, he appears in the penultimate story level and is fought as an optional boss in the Shire overworld, after that level is completed. This optional boss fight is the culmination of a particular Side Quest where Frodo Gamgee goes into Mushroom Woods to re-enact Aragorn's journey into the Path of the Dead to recruit the Armies of the Dead, fighting him and his men along the way to convince them to join him to save Minas Tirith.
In The Lord of the Rings Online The King of the Dead is named Rioc. Although his men were unwilling to fight Sauron because they had worshiped him, his excuse for not honoring the oath given to Isildur was because his daughter Bravantel had an out-of-wedlock child with one of his Númenórean warriors. He leads his people after joining Aragorn's host and is freed after the liberation of Pelargir.
Voice dubbing actors
|Foreign Language||Voice dubbing artist|
|Spanish (Latin America)||Gonzalo Curiel|
|Spanish (Spain)||Gonzalo Dúran|
|Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD)||Wellington Lima|
|Italian (Italy)||Nino Prester|
|French (France)||François Siener|
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Afrikaans||Die Koning van die Dood|
|Albanian||Mbreti i të Vdekurve|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Кароль Мёртвых|
|Bengali||মৃত রাজা ?|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Краля на мъртвите|
|Catalan||El Rei dels Morts|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||亡靈之王|
|Danish||Kongen af Døde|
|Dutch||De Koning van de Doden|
|Fijian||Na tui mai na mate|
|French||Le Roi des Morts|
|Frisian||De kening fan 'e Deaden|
|Galician||O Rei dos Mortos|
|German||König der Toten|
|Greek||Ο βασιλιάς των νεκρών|
|Gujarati||ડેડ ઓફ કિંગ|
|Hindi||मृत के राजा|
|Hmong||Tus huab tais ntawm cov neeg tuag|
|Hungarian||A halottak királya|
|Icelandic||Konungur af Dauðum|
|Igbo||Eze nke ndị nwụrụ Anwụ|
|Irish Gaelic||An Rí na Marbh|
|Italian||Il Re dei Morti|
|Kazakh Cyrillic||Өлгендердің патшасы|
|Korean||죽은 자의 왕|
|Kyrgyz Cyrillic||өлгөндөрдүн Кинг|
|Luxembourgish||D'Kinnek vun den Doudegen|
|Macedonian Cyrillic||Кралот на мртвите|
|Malay||Raja yang Mati|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Үхсэн хаан|
|Norwegian||Kongen av Døde|
|Pashto||د وژل پاچا|
|Portuguese||O Rei dos Mortos|
|Scottish Gaelic||Tha righ de na Marbh|
|Serbian||Краљ мртвих (Cyrillic) Kralj od Mrtvih (Latin)|
|Sindhi||مردار جو بادشاهه|
|Somalian||Markaasaa boqorkii dalka Dhimatay|
|Spanish||Rey de los Muertos|
|Swahili||Mfalme wa Wafu|
|Swedish||Kungen av Döda|
|Tajik Cyrillic||Подшоҳи мурдагон|
|Telugu||కింగ్ ఆఫ్ ది డెడ్|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||король Мертвих|
|Urdu||مردار کے بادشاہ|
|Uzbek||Ўлик Қироли (Cyrillic) O'lik Qiroli (Latin)|
|Vietnamese||Vị vua của cái Chết|
|Welsh||Brenin y Meirw|
|Yiddish||דער מלך פון די דעד|