Sauron apparently imbued the One Ring with all of his evil.

"But they were all of them deceived, for another ring was made: in the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the dark lord Sauron forged, in secret, a master ring to control all others. And into this ring he poured his cruelty, his malice,and his will to dominate all life."


Why didn't he turn into a really nice guy afterwards if all of his evil was in the ring?

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    I don't know if you've ever dealt with an evil overlord, but it's not like they all have a secret side yearning for unicorns and kittens that will magically burst forth in sparkles and rainbows once they run out of Evil Gas. – Radhil Mar 2 '18 at 19:46
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    If I built an evil "movie-reviewing AI" and poured all of my hatred for the Transformers films into it, that doesn't mean I stop hating them, just that I've created something else that hates them the same amount. – Valorum Mar 2 '18 at 19:47
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    The ring corrupted him. – Cugel Mar 2 '18 at 19:47
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    Why can't he make the ring maleficent without having to get malice from some where to fill it? – JRE Mar 2 '18 at 19:47
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    You appear to be interpreting that line in a way as if Sauron has a bucket inside his being, which can hold only a specific quantity of cruelty, malice, and will to dominate. And when he crafted the One Ring, he literally (figuratively) poured this bucket into the Ring's being. I don't think that's how emotions work. – Ellesedil Mar 2 '18 at 20:42

Evil is not a zero sum resource in Tolkien's world that must be apportioned between individual beings. This is made evident throughout his work, for example by descriptions of really evil beings like Melkor/Morgoth or Sauron corrupting others. In fact, Sauron, once an angelic fire spirit (a Maia) in the service to Aulë back when the world was being created in Tolkien's legendarium (see "The Valaquenta" in The Silmarillion), was corrupted by Melkor.

Another example is the creation of the race of Orcs (as published in The Silmarillion, a subject Tolkien was torn about in later Letters):

So it came to pass, some years ere the coming of Oromë, that if any of the Elves strayed far abroad, alone or few together, they would often vanish, and never return… But of those unhappy ones who were ensnared by Melkor little is known of a certainty… Yet this is held true by the wise of Eressëa, that all those of the Quendi [i.e. Elves] who came into the hands of Melkor, ere Utumno was broken, were put there in prison, and by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved; and thus did Melkor breed the hideous race of the Orcs in envy and mockery of the Elves, of whom they were afterwards the bitterest foes. For the Orcs had life and multiplied after the manner of the Children of Ilúvatar; and naught that had life of its own, nor the semblance of life, could ever Melkor make since his rebellion in the Ainulindalë before the Beginning: so say the wise. And deep in their dark hearts the Orcs loathed the Master whom they served in fear, the maker only of their misery. This it may be was the vilest deed of Melkor, and the most hateful to Ilúvatar. (emphasis added)

—The Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor, The Silmarillion

Melkor was not made less evil, or more good by creating the Orcs, but their creation was a manifestation of his evil. Indeed, Tolkien described all evil in the world as having its origin ultimately in Melkor. Tolkien never describes such acts as redistribution of evil as a finite resource, but as the creation of new evil where it did not exist before.

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    Well, in all seriousness, the idea of evil as a finite quantity is a novel (ahem) one and goes against all common sense. It's an interesting idea for a novel, but it's not the one that Tolkein wrote. – Chris B. Behrens Mar 2 '18 at 23:55
  • I think this is why the question is being downvoted into oblivion. – Chris B. Behrens Mar 2 '18 at 23:55
  • I'm almost certain that it was before the Letters that he was torn about what races Morgoth corrupted but I know at one point he suggested both Men and Elves; but he wrote about it in the letters later on. – Pryftan Aug 9 '18 at 22:02

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