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"Nine he gave to Mortal Men, proud and great, and so ensnared them. Long ago they fell under the dominion of the One, and they became Ringwraiths, shadows under his great Shadow, his most terrible servants. Long ago. It is many a year since the Nine walked abroad. Yet who knows? As the Shadow grows once more, they too may walk again."
Gandalf explaining the Nazgûl to Frodo[2]

The Nazgûl (Black Speech for "Ringwraiths") or Úlairi (Quenya[3]), also known as the Black Riders or simply The Nine, were the dreaded ring-servants of the Dark Lord Sauron in Middle-earth throughout the Second and Third Ages, who in the later years of the Third Age dwelt in Minas Morgul and Dol Guldur.[4]


Nine Kings of Men

Kings of Men with their Rings of Power, as seen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Nineteen Rings of Power were made in Eregion, forged by Celebrimbor. These were locked away in one of the safes of Eregion, but sixteen of them were captured by Sauron. He gave nine of them to great lords and warriors of Men, including three Númenóreans, and one Easterling king. Sauron succeeded in corrupting the powerful Nine through his dominance over the rings. These Nine used the rings to achieve great power, wealth, and prestige in life, but as time passed the Rings continued to exert a corrupting influence. The Rings eventually rendered their bearers invisible to all but those who could see into the wraith world, and enslaved them to the will of Sauron. Their lives and their powers became bound to Sauron's via the One Ring; as Sauron grew or diminished, so too did the Nazgûl.


A Ringwraith in the films

Three of the Ringwraiths may have been among the first and most powerful Númenóreans to be corrupted by Sauron, a thousand years before the Downfall: they revered Sauron, and became ensnared in his designs because of their lust for power or knowledge.

Only two of the Nine were ever named: the Witch-king of Angmar, and Khamûl the Easterling.

The Nine were first observed around 2251 of the Second Age, and soon became Sauron's primary servants. Despite their great power and position as instruments of Sauron's will, not much is known of their activities during the Second Age. They were temporarily dispersed after Sauron's downfall in SA 3434 in the War of the Last Alliance. Though no longer able to maintain physical form, just as Sauron was after losing the One Ring, both the Nazgûl and Sauron were able to endure as long as the Ring survived.

One of the Nine, Giancola

One of the Nine, imagined by Donato Giancola

Return of the Nazgûl[]

The Nazgûl re-emerged around 1300 of the Third Age, as Sauron at long last began to take shape after his defeat at the hands of the Last Alliance. It was around this time that the Witch-king established himself in Angmar (thus gaining his title) and began to launch attacks against the nearby kingdom of Arnor, which had fractured into three smaller kingdoms. His first target was the realm of Rhudaur. After suborning Rhudaur and replacing the Dúnedain king with one of the native Hill-men, in the year TA 1356 the Witch-king moved against Arthedain, resulting in the death of King Argeleb I.

But Arthedain was not yet defeated, and it managed to maintain a line of defense along the Weather Hills. In TA 1409 came the attack on Cardolan. Also during this time, the forces of the Witch-king burned and destroyed the watchtower of Amon Sûl. After the fall of Cardolan, Angmar's advance was slowed by resistance from the Elves of Lindon, Lothlórien and Rivendell. By TA 1974, Angmar attacked again and captured Arthedain's capital of Fornost, and with that, the last kingdom of Arnor was destroyed.

Grnazgul 021 Nazgul

The Witch-king's true undead appearance as depicted in Peter Jackson's films

A year later, Eärnur, prince of Gondor, arrived with the intention of aiding Arthedain. However, Eärnur arrived too late to be of help in defending Arnor's territories, and his army sought revenge against the Witch-king instead. His forces marched against the armies of the Witch-king and utterly destroyed them during the Battle of Fornost. With the destruction of his forces and his task in the north complete, the Witch-king fled. Despite the complete annihilation of Angmar, the campaign was accounted a tremendous success by Sauron: the territories formerly occupied by Arnor became essentially wilderness, and the remaining Dúnedain Rangers of the North were no threat to Sauron's plans.

By TA 1980 Gondor's watch on Mordor had failed and the Witch-king was able to return there and gather the other eight Nazgûl. In the year TA 2000 they attacked, and after a siege lasting two years they conquered the city of Minas Ithil (which then became known as Minas Morgul), acquiring a palantír for the Dark Lord in the process. It was from Minas Morgul that the Nine directed the rebuilding of Sauron's armies and the preparation of Mordor for their master's return. In TA 2942 Sauron returned to Mordor, openly declaring himself in TA 2951. He sent three of the Nazgûl to re-occupy his fortress of Dol Guldur in Mirkwood. They were led by Khamûl, the second most powerful of the Nazgûl behind the Witch-king.

GafferQuestioned Hickman

The Gaffer questioned by Khamûl as to the location of "Baggins", by Stephen Hickman

Hunt for the Ring[]

Search for the Shire[]

A few years before the War of the Ring, Gollum, a Stoor who had once owned the One Ring, was captured and tortured in Mordor. From him, Sauron learned the family name of the Ring's bearer and the fact that he lived in a land called the Shire. Sauron wasted no time in attempting to capture the Ring, sending all of the Nine to retrieve it on July 1, TA 3018. Gollum had claimed that the Halflings' homeland was in the Vales of Anduin. On this information, after Mordor had captured eastern Osgiliath from the Men of Gondor, the Nazgûl crossed secretly at night and passed through Anórien, up the Vale of Entwash, and into the Wold of Rohan, relatively unnoticed. They arrived at the west shore of Anduin, north of the Rapids of Sarn Gebir, and received horses and clothes on July 17. On July 22, they met the Nazgûl from Dol Guldur on the Field of Celebrant. From them they learned that no halflings had lived in the Vales of Anduin for many years and that Gollum, having been re-captured by Sauron's Orcs, had escaped them and the Woodland Elves. However, knowing no better counsel, they continued riding north in the land between Lothlórien and the Misty Mountains, but failed to learn anything and returned south. Upon their return to the Wold in September, messengers from Barad-dûr gave them terrible threats from Sauron, and also news that Saruman might have the location of the Shire. As ordered by Sauron, they rode to Isengard openly through Rohan at great speed, causing many to flee in terror.

The Black Rider, Velhagen

"The Black Rider", by Eric Velhagen

When they arrived at Isengard two days after Gandalf's escape, Saruman shut the gates and used his voice to claim that he did not have the Ring nor knowledge of its location, but that Gandalf knew. The riders then pursued Gandalf in Rohan, where they found and interrogated Gríma Wormtongue. From him they learned the location of the Shire, but let him go both because of his fear of them and his ability to do more evil against Saruman. Another account claims he only realized Gandalf's escape once the Riders arrived and he wished to seek pardon from him. Saruman revealed the Shire's location in hate, claiming Gandalf had been forced to tell him.[citation needed]

In all accounts, they divided into pairs, then crossed the Isen and rode north through the wastelands of Enedwaith. Near Tharbad, they captured a spy of Saruman who was purchasing goods from the Bracegirdles and had detailed maps and notes of important people. This spy they sent to Bree as their own agent. They crossed the Greyflood at the fords of Tharbad. When they arrived at Sarn Ford on 22 September, the Rangers guarding the ford knew they couldn't defeat the Nazgûl. Some fled to tell Aragorn on the East-West Road, but were pursued and slain or driven away, and those few who remained were soon killed during the night. The Witch-king sent 4 riders into the Shire, with Khamûl going straight to Hobbiton. He made a camp in Andrath and sent several riders to patrol the eastern borders, and himself went to the Barrow-downs for some days and roused the wights and other evil creatures there and in the Old Forest.[5]

Hunt for Frodo[]

After searching for Frodo Baggins, one of the Nine, Khamûl the Easterling, had his first encounter with him on the road to Stock. As Frodo and his friends, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck, and Peregrin Took, took Bucklebury Ferry to reach Crickhollow, Khamûl, who had narrowly missed them, was forced to go around to the Brandywine Bridge instead. Shortly after this, three Nazgûl arrived at Frodo's new home in Crickhollow but found it deserted. Shortly after the Horn-cry of Buckland was sounded and the Ringwraiths retreated.

Though Frodo had already left for Bree by the time the Nine arrived, they were soon given information regarding Frodo's whereabouts by Bill Ferny, a spy of Saruman. Consequently, the Nazgûl attacked the village of Bree, where Frodo was located. However, during the time it took the Nazgûl to reach Bree, Frodo and company, fortunately, encountered Aragorn himself, who had been asked by Gandalf to watch for the hobbits and aid them if he could.

Ringwraiths true appearance Matěj Čadil

Frodo's sight of the Ringwraiths when he put on the Ring on Weathertop, by Matěj Čadil


Unable to find the Hobbits, the Nine left Bree; on Weathertop Hill several days later they encountered Gandalf the Grey, who was scouting nearby on his way to Rivendell to meet up with Frodo. An all-night battle commenced at Weathertop between them and Gandalf. Though Gandalf was able to escape, four of the Nine pursued him, whilst the other five remained near Weathertop.

Several days later, Aragorn, Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry made camp at the base of the hill. Discovering them, the five Nazgûl attacked the group. As they confronted the four Hobbits, Frodo put on the Ring and attempted to resist the Nazgûl. Their leader, the Witch-king of Angmar, realizing the hobbit's folly, stabbed Frodo with a Morgul-knife, but the Nazgûl soon fled when Aragorn arrived, wielding firebrands.

Roar of Bruinen, Velhagen

A Nazgûl overwhelmed by the Bruinen, by Eric Velhagen

The Ford of Bruinen[]

"Come back! Come back! To Mordor we will take you!"
The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford"

With Frodo wounded, Aragorn and the Hobbits made haste to Rivendell knowing that Ringwraiths were pursuing them. The Elf Glorfindel drove the four pursuing Gandalf off the Last Bridge and then found the Hobbits and Aragorn. Taking Frodo onto his white horse, Asfaloth, they headed to Rivendell at great speed. Regrouping, the Nazgûl chased after him and Frodo until they reached the Ford of Bruinen, where the Nine demanded Frodo give them the Ring. Frodo refused and defied them. Provoked, the Nazgûl crossed the river to take the Ring by force. However, by Elrond's command, the waters of the Bruinen rose, forming a great wave and sweeping the Nine away, killing their horses and rendering them shapeless. This postponed their hunt for the Ring, and they returned on foot to Mordor.[6]

War of the Ring[]

"Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
The Return of the King, the Witch-king at "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"
Fellbeast Robert Zigo

The new, flying steeds of the Ringwraiths, by Robert Zigo

Returning to Mordor in failure, the Nazgûl were forced to abandon their hunt for the Ring. They received new mounts to replace their horses. One of these was downed by an arrow from Legolas near the Rapids of Sarn Gebir. One Nazgûl circled above Frodo and Sam while they were crossing the Dead Marshes. Nazgûl passed over the wasteland before Mordor three times, making Gollum fear they knew about the ring.

After Peregrin Took looked into the palantír of Orthanc after the Destruction of Isengard, Sauron sent one of the Nazgûl to Orthanc to see what Saruman was doing. This same Nazgûl or possibly another then flew to Edoras, alighting on Meduseld and causing Gandalf to order the muster of Rohan be moved to Dunharrow.

With his new mount, the Witch-king attacked the ruined city of Osgiliath with an army of Orcs and secured it. After this, he launched an assault on Minas Tirith, leading Sauron's forces during the Siege of Gondor and Battle of the Pelennor Fields. During the battle, the Witch-king confronted Gandalf the White when attempting to enter the city. However, before the Witch-king could engage Gandalf in battle, the forces of Rohan arrived, making him leave immediately.

Nazg on steed Matěj Čadil

The Witch-king aloft, by Matěj Čadil

A few hours later the Witch-king attacked King Théoden on the battlefield. As Théoden was crushed by his horse Snowmane, the Lord of the Nazgûl prepared to finish him. However, Éowyn and Meriadoc Brandybuck found them on the field, and she confronted the Witch-king. Éowyn killed his winged mount, and the Witch-king attacked her with his mace. Injuring her arm, he prepared to kill her before Meriadoc stabbed his leg from behind with his Barrow-blade, of Westernesse make. At this the Witch-king screamed in pain and Éowyn stabbed her sword into his crown and body, slaying him and fulfilling the prophecy of Glorfindel.

Battle of the Morannon and Defeat[]

During Battle of the Black Gate the remaining eight Nazgûl, mounted on Fellbeasts, attacked the Army of the West. Eventually, however, the Nazgûl were confronted by the Eagles, led by Gwaihir.

Nazgul Mount Doom

Nazgûl caught in the firestorm and destroyed

Simultaneously, Frodo Baggins claimed the Ring for himself near the fires of Mount Doom. Sauron immediately became aware of him, as well as his own folly. Enraged and frantic, Sauron ordered the Nazgûl to fly with all possible speed to Mount Doom and seize the Ring.

However, the Nazgûl failed; the Ring was cast into the fires of Mount Doom when Gollum bit Frodo's finger and accidentally fell into the Cracks of Doom himself, bearing the ring. Sauron was immediately defeated by the loss of the Ring, Mount Doom erupted and all eight Nazgûl were destroyed. Their mounts were destroyed in the eruption whilst their form and power dissipated forever with the ending of the power of the Rings.

Weapons & abilities[]

"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
The Witch-king in The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields"
Angmar witch king

The Witch-king

The Nazgûl were sustained by the power of Sauron. The Witch-king in particular was difficult to slay, for any weapon that struck him would be destroyed. The Nazgûl's own weapons included long swords of steel and daggers. Their leader possessed a powerful black mace as well. Their arsenal of deadly armaments was not confined to physical means; they also had powerful voices, which brought terror into the hearts of mortals and a general aura of dread. They wore hauberks of silver mail and had enhanced senses of hearing and smell.

The Nine could not see during the day as mortals; instead they saw shadowy forms. At night they saw shapes and forms invisible to mortal eyes, and were to be feared the most at that time. Their presence could be felt as a troubling of the heart, and they could more keenly feel the presence of others. In their function, they particularly sensed the presence of the Ring at all times, and were drawn to it especially if it was put on.


A Nazgûl

They were surrounded by an aura of terror, which affected all living creatures; their aura called the Black Breath could be toxic to those hapless enough to come near them. This fear the Nine inspired was one of their greatest strengths. According to Gandalf, if Sauron regained the One, they would become vastly more powerful (in an unspecified way). However, as Sauron's strength grew in the course of The Lord of the Rings, the Nazgûl did become more powerful. In The Fellowship of the Ring, their cries were simply unnerving to the hobbits, and they appeared to be physically weak, as Aragorn managed to fend against five of them single-handedly on Weathertop. In The Return of the King however, their cries are powerful enough to send all but the most stout-hearted of Gondor's defenders into helpless terror, and the Witch-king in particular had become so powerful that he challenged the reborn Gandalf the White. Moreover, some or all of them practiced sorcery, using spells for wicked purposes.


Ringwraith set on fire

A Nazgûl set on fire at Weathertop

Though the Ringwraiths were among the greatest of Sauron's servants, they also had certain weaknesses that could be used against them. One of these was daylight itself. With the exception of the Witch-king of Angmar, none of them (especially Khamûl) could operate as well under the Sun and generally feared it.

All the Ringwraiths but the Witch-king feared water, although it seems this weakness was abandoned by J.R.R. Tolkien in the published version because it was an idea difficult to sustain.[5]

At Weathertop, Aragorn used fire to drive the Ringwraiths away from Frodo. Even the Witch-king feared fire. At the Ford of Bruinen, Aragorn and the hobbits that accompanied Frodo used it to assist Glorfindel and drive the Ringwraiths into the raging water.

If an enemy was strong enough so to resist their aura of dread, then the Ringwraiths (with the exception of the Witch-king) had little real power over them individually.

Heroes of Middle-earth such as Aragorn, Gandalf, and Glorfindel could single-handedly face a Ringwraith and defeat or at least elude them, provided that they were not confronted by multiple Ringwraiths or the Witch-king. However, only a few could resist them all at the same time. Glorfindel was able to in fact instill fear in the Nazgûl's hearts.


Witch King on fell beast

The Witch-king mounted on his Nazgûl-bird

At the start of the War of the Ring, the Nine rode black horses descended from horses stolen from Rohan, which they relied heavily on for transport. However, after the encounter with Glorfindel at the Ford of Bruinen, the Black Riders lost their horses, which were killed in the flood.

Returning to Mordor by foot to regroup, the Nazgûl received winged creatures from Sauron in addition to new horses. With these winged "fell beasts", the nine attacked the ruined city of Osgiliath in order to clear the way for a siege of Minas Tirith. Subsequently, the Nazgûl used the Nazgûl-birds to their advantage at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and the Battle of the Morannon, but most of all in attempting to seek and find the Ring-bearer, Frodo.


The term Nazgûl, which literally means "Ring-wraith," comes from the Black Speech words nazg ("ring") and gûl ("wraith").[7]

The rarely used Quenya name for the Nazgûl is Úlairi.[8]

Other titles[]

Individual titles[]

  • The Witch-king of Angmar was often referred to as Lord of the Nazgûl and The Black Captain.[17]
  • Khamûl, second-in-command, was called the Shadow of the East.


The Nazgul alone-greyscale-HV
A Nazgûl alone (greyscale)
The Nazgûl on their horses
Jackson Ringwraith
The Hobbits and a Nazgûl
LOTR78 beds Bree
The Nazgûl as they appear in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 version of Lord of the Rings
Ringwraith 1978
The Hobbits and a Nazgûl (1978 version)
The Nazgûl's armor as seen in Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings
Nazgûl of Dol Guldur - Escape from Dol Guldur
Nazgûl of Minas Morgul - The Morgul Vale
A Nazgûl from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Morgul Vale Adventure Pack
Nazgûl - The Black Riders
A Nazgûl from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Black Riders Expansion
Nazgûl - The Black Riders (Nightmare)
A Nazgûl from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Black Riders Nightmare Pack
Nazgûl - The Land of Shadow
A Nazgûl from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Land of Shadow Expansion
Nazgûl - The Flame of the West (Nightmare)
A Nazgûl from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Flame of the West Nightmare Pack
Nazgûl of Mordor - The Mountain of Fire
A Nazgûl from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Mountain of Fire Expansion
Nazgûl of Sauron - The Mountain of Fire
A Nazgûl from The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Mountain of Fire Expansion

In adaptations[]

Ralph Bakshi's Nazgul

Nazgûl (1978)

Ralph Bakshi version[]

The Nazgûl appear in the inn of the Prancing Pony to slash the beds of the Hobbits. After this, they remove their hoods, revealing black masks and armor underneath.

Rankin-Bass Nazgul

Nazgûl (1980)

Rankin and Bass version[]

The Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Return of the King also featured the Nine, but with drastically altered appearances. With the exception of the Witch-king, all the Ringwraiths appear as hideous, skeletal humanoids riding black horses with red eyes and bat wings. They notably wear black cloaks and brown tunics that bear the red eye insignia of Sauron, with black crowns atop their heads. The Witch-king shares this outfit save that he initially appears hooded, and upon removing his hood a crown and glowing red eyes are visible but no head. The Witch-king initially appears riding a winged horse, but later rides in atop a Nazgûl-bird to attack the body of Théoden before being slain by Éowyn.

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy[]

"They are the Nazgûl, Ringwraiths, neither living or dead. At all times they feel the presence of the ring...drawn to the power of the one..they will never stop hunting you."
-Aragorn explaining the Nazgûl to Frodo, Pippin, Merry and Sam[18]

The Ringwraiths

The Nazgûl portrayed in Peter Jackson's films are emphasized with their deafening shrieks, provided by Jackson's wife and co-screenwriter Fran Walsh. Andy Serkis voices Khamûl, who briefly speaks in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Khamul's true apperance.

The model for Khamûl's true appearance as seen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Storywise, the Nine are largely unchanged from their novel roles, with the most notable changes taking place in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and centering on the Witch-king. Here he is only seen riding his winged mount, and never without his hood; he is also established in the film's extended edition as being more powerful than Gandalf the White, shattering his staff during a brief confrontation.

According to IMDB, the Nazgûl were portrayed by the following actors throughout the trilogy: Victoria Beynon-Cole, Lee Hartley, Sam La Hood, Chris Streeter, Phil Grieve, Jonathan Jordan, Semi Kuresa, Clinton Ulyatt, Paul Bryson, Lance Fabian Kemp, Jono Manks, and Ben Price. Thomas McGinty and Kate O'Rourke are uncredited.

The Hobbit film trilogy[]

The Witch-king of Angmar appears in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in Dol Guldur, where he briefly fights Radagast, dropping his Morgul-blade. Radagast shows the blade to Gandalf, and Gandalf shows it to the White Council in Rivendell. Galadriel and Elrond are alarmed by the dagger's appearance, knowing it was buried with the Witch-king in his tomb which they believed could not be opened.

In The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Galadriel sends Gandalf to the Ringwraiths' tombs in the High Fells, and find each of them has been broken open from the inside. This is enough to convince Gandalf that the Necromancer of Dol Guldur is, in fact, Sauron in disguise, as the Nine only answer to him.


The Nazgûl in Dol Guldur

In The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the nine Ringwraiths appear in armored, ghostly versions of their mortal selves after Galadriel rescues Gandalf from his cage in Dol Guldur. The Nine fight against Galadriel, Saruman and Elrond and are seemingly banished by them. Radagast arrives to take Gandalf to safety. But after a few moments, Sauron appears with the Nine hovering before him. The Witch-king floats forward to stab Galadriel, but she quickly takes the shape she did in The Fellowship of the Ring and banishes the Nine, leaving only Sauron. After a short duel Sauron flees towards Mordor together with the Ringwraiths.

In Video Games[]

  • J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Volume 1, features Ringwraiths as enemy units which will Ambush Frodo, Sam, Pippin if they cross the Brandywine Bridge, they are nearly impossible to kill and will easily kill your party members, the player will have to avoid them. Strangely, the Ringwraiths do not appear at Bree or at the Weathertop section.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game) (2002) Frodo must avoid being seen from the Ringwraith rider, later on the Ringwraiths are seen attacking the Inn at Bree, also at Weathertop, Aragorn must fight the Ringwraiths who stab Frodo in the shoulder. After they are defeated it is followed by a cutscene of the Ringwraiths chasing after Frodo but they get washed away from the river flood.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (video game) (2002) Aragorn must fight the Ringwraiths who stab Frodo in the shoulder.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game) (2003) The Nazgûl play a bigger role in this game, Frodo and Sam must avoid being seen by the Ringwraith on a dragon in the city Osgiliath, in the City of minas tirith Gandalf will fight the Ringwraith, also at the battle of the Pelennor fields Aragon, Legolas, Gimli must fire their arrows and axes at the Witch King before Eowyn kills it in the cutscene.

Non-canonical Nazgûl[]

Since the Witch-king and Khamul are the only named Nazgûl, the other seven remain unidentified. Several non-canon adaptations of Tolkien's work have given identities to them.

The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game[]

The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game, which is based on the film trilogy, gave the Ringwraiths other than the Witch-king titles consisting of the word Úlairë, which is another term for Ringwraith, and an ordinal number. Thus, the other eight wraiths are identified as Úlairë Attëa (second), Nelya (third), Cantëa (fourth), Lemenya (fifth), Enquëa (sixth), Otsëa (seventh), Toldëa (eighth), and Nertëa (ninth).

Games Workshop models[]

The Games Workshop model company give each Ringwraith a particular title, as well as backstory and personality. The seven Ringwraiths unnamed by Tolkien are listed as follows:

The Dark Marshall - The most black-hearted and unrelentingly cruel of all the Nazgûl, his name is a byword for misery and death. Where the Dark Marshall passes, evil creatures fight harder, fearful of their lives whilst good warriors feel the icy touch of death upon their hearts. By his armour it is guessed that he is one of the three Númenórean Ringwraiths. Moreover, he is considered as nearly a match for Aragorn in combat.

The Knight of Umbar - The third of the Númenórean Lords to become one of Sauron's servants, the Knight of Umbar's past is shrouded in mystery. If the rumours pertaining to him hold any truth, he was once one of the great Númenórean kings who ruled the Southlands prior to the days of the Last Alliance.

The Betrayer - Cursed long ago for yielding the Southlands to Sauron's rule, the Betrayer is driven by malice and self-hatred that knows no bounds. Of all the Nazgûl, the Betrayer is amongst the lowest of Sauron's lieutenants, for even the Dark Lord is wary of placing trust in one who betrayed his kin so readily. The Betrayer was once one of the Haradrim, as seen by the ancient turban that he still wears.

The Shadow Lord - The Shadow Lord was once the king of a small and insignificant kingdom. When Sauron offered him one of the Nine Rings, the promise of its power proved irresistible. Now, his physical being all but gone, and his will enslaved to Sauron, the Shadow Lord wears his dark pride like a cloak, blotting the sun from the sky and dimming the sight of his foes.

The Undying - Originally a great sorcerer, The Undying endured longest when others fell under Sauron's sway. He is said to be the oldest of the Ringwraiths, and the last to succumb to the wasting influences of the Rings of Power. Through an obsessive mastery of evil magics, the Undying has learnt to draw sustenance from the magics of others, fortifying himself with the magical energy that flows around him.

The Dwimmerlaik - The Dwimmerlaik is possibly the most mysterious of all the Nazgûl, for scant record of his past deeds exist in the tomes of the Wise. Yet in Rohan, this particular Ringwraith is feared beyond all others, for he has been a blight upon that realm for centuries untold, directing the Dark Lord's minions against the Sons of Eorl. Because of him a person is quite possible to be blinded by greed.

The Tainted - Where the other Nazgûl were slowly swallowed by the taint of their rings, the Tainted gave himself wholly and willingly to Sauron. Now all natural things rebel in his presence, vegetation withers, animals sicken and bold warriors cower. He is an abomination whose merest presence is poison to life, honor and hope.

Image (180)
Khamul the Easterling
Dark Marshal
The Dark Marshall
Knight of Umbar
The Knight of Umbar
The Betrayer
Shadow Lord
The Shadow Lord
The Undying
The Dwimmerlaik
The Tainted

Forge World Miniatures[]

Forge World is a subsidiary of Games Workshop which produces specialist miniatures cast in resin instead of plastic. Forge World has released a set entitled "Nazgûl of Dol Guldur Collection" which depicts the Nine as they appear in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies film. In this series, the Nazgûl (other than the Witch-king and Khamûl the Easterling) are named differently than in the Games Workshop series. Their names and distinctions are:

  • The Dark Headsman "clutches an executioner’s axe with a wicked curved point."
  • The Witch-king of Angmar "wields a brutal sword."
  • The Slayer of Men "holds an enormous wood and iron spear, taller than each Nazgûl."
  • Khamûl the Easterling "clutches a mace."
  • The Slayer of Men "wields an enormous, brutal barbed spear." (Note: this is a repeated name; but they are separate characters.)
  • The Lingering Shadow "holds not 1 but 2 swords."
  • The Forsaken, "who holds a bizarrely-shaped trident."
  • The remaining two are simply "2 Abyssal Knights"

Middle-earth Roleplaying[]

The Ringwraiths each received unique names and backstories in MERP, though Khamul remained as "the Black Easterling" known as Komûl I originally. The Witch-king is identified as the Black Númenórean prince Er-Mûrazôr, while the other seven unnamed Ringwraiths are named Dwar of Waw, Ji Indûr Dawndeath, Akhôrahil the blind Sorcerer, Hoarmûrath of Dir, Adûnaphel the quiet, Ren the Unclean, and Ûvatha the horseman. Akhôrahil and Adûnaphel were also Black Númenóreans, with the latter surprisingly being a woman.[19] The fan-written lore of Mordor at also uses these eight names.

These names were also used for their appearances in the Middle-earth Collectible Card Game.

The Lord of the Rings Online[]

The Lord of the Rings Online - Nazgûl

The Nine in 'The Lord of the Rings Online

All the Ringwraiths are given one or more titles (but there names are not 'remembered', lost in time, and they are now known by their most common of many nicknames). Some of their backstory and the name of their rings are revealed. The Nazgûl were 'corrupted' by use of their rings, but did not choose to join Sauron out right.

In addition the series establishes lesser wraiths the Cargûl ("Red Wraiths", forced into servitude by Morgul-blades), and Gúrzyul (disciples, those who chose to become immortal lieutenants of Sauron), many of which 'survive' the fall of Sauron, but in a weakened state.

  • Witch-king of Angmar, originally a great Númenórean king. In the Second Age, he received Un (Heart-stopper)
  • The Cursed Rider (Lieutenant of Dol Goldur, Black Easterling), an Easterling King, recipient of Orôm (Warmonger)
  • The Bane of Rhûn, once an Easterling King, recipient of Sâkhla (The Cruel One)
  • The Black Blade of Lebennin, once a Numenorean king, recipient of Sapthân (Foolstone)
  • The Forsaken Reaver, once a Southron king, recipient of Khânto (Pain-giver)
  • The Gloom of Nurn, once a Numenorean king, recipient of Nitîr (Terror's Sting)
  • The Grim Southron, once a king of the Southron people, recipient of Jûru (Herald of Mourning)
  • The High Sorcerer of Harad, once a king of Southron, recipient of Mêbat (Mirth-eater)
  • The Woe of Khand (aka The Reaver of Khand), he was an Easterling King, recipient of Adâsh (Foe-maker)

Middle-earth: Shadow of War[]

In the video game Middle-earth: Shadow of War, three of the Nazgûl Talion faces as bosses are given identities and a sense of individuality in order to provide more variation to the fights and more depth to the story. It is shown that the role of being a Nazgûl can be passed on to other Ring-bearers following the 'true death' of their predecessor.

Suladan taking Annatar's ring

Suladân taking one of the Nine from Sauron

Suladân - A Númenórean king who besieged Sauron's fortress, Sauron surrendered and offered Suladân one of the nine rings of power, Suladân accepted and due to the ring's influence slowly became corrupted by it, making Sauron his most trusted advisor before becoming fully corrupted and turning into one of the Nazgûl. It is likely that Suladân was based on Ar-Pharazôn, the last king of Númenor who took Sauron captive in canon, with "Suladân" being King Ar-Pharazôn's birth name as opposed to his ruling name.

Helm Hammerhand - After Helm refused to allow a warlord named Siric to marry his daughter Bernwyn, Siric ambushed the pair, kidnapping Bernwyn and mortally wounding Helm. On his deathbed Sauron and Celebrimbor appeared and gave him one of the nine rings. With the help of the ring Helm recovered and besieged Siric's fortress. He accidentally killed Bernwyn when she stepped between him and Siric. In a blind fury Helm proceeded to slaughter everyone else in the room including his own men.

Isildur as Nazgul

Isildur shown as one of the Nazgûl

Isildur - After Isildur was killed in the Disaster of the Gladden Fields his killers took him back to where Sauron's heavily weakened spirit was residing where Sauron revived and enslaved Isildur by placing one of the nine rings on his finger. Once Talion and Celebrimbor manage to dominate Isildur's mind and break Sauron's control, Talion refuses to let him exist as their slave and kills him in order to free him.

Isildur is skilled in necromancy, being capable of raising the dead to fight for him.

The Nazgûl Sisters - Like Talion the two Nazgûl sisters were not the original owners of their rings of power. They were the daughters of a ruler from a distant land who were sent to Mordor in order to recover rings of power. They were able to slay two Nazgûl and take their rings, but by the time they had returned to their father the rings had corrupted them, leading them to murder him and take his throne. Eventually Sauron brought them under his service.

After Sauron and Celebrimbor were trapped in the form of a flaming eye and the Witch-king was defeated by Talion, the sisters took advantage of their master's weakened states by attempting to take Mordor for themselves. After their defeat at the hands of Eltariel and Talion they returned to serving Sauron.

Talion - After Talion kills Isildur and subsequently discovers Celebrimbor wants to replace Sauron rather than kill him Celebrimbor betrays Talion and possesses the Elf Eltariel. Talion's throat wound then reopens without having Celebrimbor or a ring of power to keep him alive. Choosing to survive in order to contain the forces of Mordor for as long as he can, Talion places on Isildur's ring, keeping him from dying and slowly corrupting him into becoming one of the nine. Talion subsequently uses the power of the ring to conquer Minas Morgul and drive the Nazgûl from it. After decades of keeping Sauron in a stalemate Talion becomes fully corrupted and joins the Nazgûl.

After Sauron's defeat, Talion and his fellow Nazgûl are released from their slavery, and he dies free.


The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king dubs one of the Ringwraiths as "Morgomir".

The One Ring also gave titles to the three wraiths sent to Dol Guldur by Sauron: the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur (note: this a title given to Khamul in several sources), the Ghost of the Forest, and the Messenger of Mordor.[20][21]

In the mobile game The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War: the name "Lathar" is given to one of the Nazgûl.


  • The Nazgûl are the subject of the song "The Wraith Of The Rings" from the album "Middle Earth" by Bob Catley.
  • They are also the subject for the song "Shadows" by the Swedish Power metal band Sabaton.
  • They are also the subject for the song "Nazgul" by the Polish gothic metal band Artrosis.
  • They are mentioned in the song "Battle of Evermore" by Led Zeppelin "The drums will shake the castle wall, the ring wraiths ride in black, Ride on."
  • They are the focus of the song "Flight of the Nazgûl" by the Austrian Black Metal band Summoning. They are also the subject of the songs "Die Schwarzen Reiter" by the German New Age group E Nomine and "Todesschwadron Ost" by the German Pagan Metal band Minas Morgul.
  • It is important to note that the Witch-king's appearance in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first time that one of the Nazgûl can be seen in their true form without wearing the One Ring.
  • The Dementors in the Harry Potter series are often compared with the Nazgûl of Middle-earth.
  • The electric guitar pickup and effects company, Seymour Duncan, named their Nazgûl pickup line after the group.


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ኛዝጉል
Arabic نازغول
Armenian Նազգուլ
Belarusian Cyrillic Назгўл
Bosnian Nazgûli
Bulgarian Cyrillic Назгул
Chinese (Hong Kong) 戒靈
Croatian Nazgûli
Czech Nazgûlové
Danish Nazgûl (Ringånder)
Estonian Nazgûlid
Finnish Sormusaaveet = Ringwraiths

Mustat ratsastajat = Black Riders

Georgian ნაზგული
German Nazgûl,

Ringgeister (Ringwraiths), Schwarze Reiter (Black Riders)

Greek Νάζγκουλ
Gujarati ણઝ્ગુલ
Hebrew נאזגול
Hindi णज़्गुल
Hungarian Nazgûlok
Italian Nazgûl,

Spettri dell'Anello,

Japanese 指輪の幽鬼
Kannada ನಜ್ಗುಲ್
Kazakh Назгүл (Cyrillic) Nazgül (Latin)
Korean 나즈굴
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Назгул
Latvian Nazgûli

Gredzena Rēgi - Ringwraiths Melnie Jātnieki - The Black Riders

Lithuanian Nazgûlai
Macedonian Cyrillic Назгул
Marathi नाझगुल
Mongolian Cyrillic Назгул
Nepalese णज़्गुल
Pashto نازګول
Persian نازگول
Polish Nazgûle
Portuguese (Brazil) Nazgûl

Espectros do Anel (Ringwraiths), Cavaleiros Negros (Black Riders)

Punjabi ਣਜ਼ਗੁਲ
Russian Назґул
Serbian Назгул (Cyrillic) Nazgûli (Latin)
Sinhalese නාස්ගුල්
Slovak Nazgûlovia, Prsteňové prízraky (Ringwraiths)

Čierni jazdci (Black Riders)

Swedish Ringvålnader (Ringwraiths)

De svarta ryttarna (The black riders)

Tajik Cyrillic Назгул
Tamil நஸ்க்குள்
Telugu ణాజ్గుల్
Thai นาซกูล
Ukrainian Cyrillic Назґули
Urdu ںازگول
Uzbek Назгул (Cyrillic) Nazgûl (Latin)
Vietnamese Ma Nhẫn, Nazgûl
Yiddish נאַזגול


  1. The Nature of Middle-earth, Part Three: "The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants", XXI: "From The Hunt for the Ring", pgs. 374-5
  2. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Ch. II: "The Shadow of the Past"
  3. "Those who are of Unnatural Shadow" as suggests by Michael Martinez, "What is the Literal Translation of Úlairi?" dated 15 August 2014, (accessed 16 August 2014)
  4. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Appendix B: "The Tale of Years"
  5. 5.0 5.1 Unfinished Tales part 3 - The Third Age, The Hunt for the Ring part 2.
  6. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter XII: "Flight to the Ford"
  7. Parma Eldalamberon 17, Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. The Silmarillion, Index of Names
  9. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter I: "Minas Tirith"
  10. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter III: "The Black Gate is Closed"
  11. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter XI: "The palantír"
  12. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter VI: "The Forbidden Pool"
  13. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter VIII: "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol"
  14. The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter III: "Three is Company"
  15. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter II: "The Land of Shadow"
  16. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter II: "The Passage of the Marshes"
  17. The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Chapter IV: "The Siege of Gondor"
  18. The Fellowship of the Ring
  19. The Encyclopedia of Arda. "What were the names of the nine Nazgûl?" Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  20. The Heart of the Wild. Sophisticated Games Ltd and Cubicle 7 Ltd, 87, 103, 106. ISBN 9780857441430. Retrieved on 2014-02-18. 
  21. The Darkening of Mirkwood. Sophisticated Games Ltd and Cubicle 7 Ltd, 24, 128–9. ISBN 9780857441348. Retrieved on 2014-02-18.