As we saw here, the Balrog of Moria was a fallen Maia, as was Sauron, a being on the same level as Gandalf and Saruman.

If he ever had captured the One Ring when he encountered the Fellowship in Moria, what would he have done with it? Would he bring it to Sauron because he is one of his minions, or would he overpower Sauron and rule as the new dark lord?

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    But how would he have got it to fit? Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 14:18
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    @JeremyFrench That would not be a problem, as the ring has been show reducing his diameter by himself to suit Isildur finger. We could safely assume it would be able to expand again to fit the Balrog's finger. As Konrad Rudolph commented here, at the beginning of LotR, Bilbo (?) mentioned that the ring became sometimes looser and sometimes tighter.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 14:26
  • @JeremyFrench Toothring anyone?
    – Zommuter
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 8:45
  • @DavRob60 the ring changed because it wanted to fit on Isildur's finger. It would not want the balrog to challenge it's master so why would it accommodate it? Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 10:02
  • @JeremyFrench This deserve his own question.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


Balrogs were Maiar, of which Sauron (and Gandalf) were also both examples. We do know that Gandalf, with the limitations imposed on him in his "mortal" form, could have defeated Sauron with the Ring (from Letter 246):

"It would be a delicate balance. ... If Gandalf proved the victor, the result would have been for Sauron the same as the destruction of the Ring. ... But the Ring ... would have been the master in the end."

Given we also know that the Balrog is roughly equivalent to Gandalf in power (after all both died in their confrontation, a nil all draw), it is reasonable to conclude that the Balrog could have defeated Sauron having claimed possession of the Ring.

With that conclusion, the question is now whether it would have. Early versions of the Lord of the Rings (from History of Middle Earth) indicated that this could have been the case:

"'A Balrog!' said Keleborn. 'Not since the Elder Days have I heard that a Balrog was loose upon the world. Some we have thought are perhaps hidden in Mordor [?or] near the Mountain of Fire, but naught has been seen of them since the Great Battle and the fall of Thangorodrim. I doubt much if this Balrog has lain hid in the Misty Mountains - and I fear rather that he was sent by Sauron from Orodruin, the Mountain of Fire.'"

However this was removed from later versions, including the final. As a counter example, we see the Orcs from Moria wanted to avenge their kin on Merry and Pippin, whereas those reporting directly to Sauron had other orders that were not taken as overriding orders by the Orcs from Moria. If Sauron had direct control of the Balrog and by extension Moria, these cross-purposes seem unlikely. All instances of the Balrogs serving with or under Sauron in the Silmarillion are consistent with them obeying Morgoth, not Sauron directly.

Overall I think the Balrog would have claimed the Ring for itself, and then had the potential to overthrow Sauron. There is no canon explanation though, only supposition from the above facts.

  • AFAIK Ugluk and his orks were reporting directly to Saruman, not Sauron. While Grishnak and other Orcs that wanted to harm Pippin and Merry were from Barad-Dur. There were no Orcs from Moria in that scene. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 10:23
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    The Orcs from Moria are the "Northeners" referenced a number of times of being with Ugluk's Isengarders and Grishnakh's troop from Mordor, i.e. the Isengarders gradually passed through the Orcs of Mordor, and Grishnákh's folk closed in behind. *Soon they were gaining also on the Northerners ahead.*
    – dlanod
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 21:02
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    As a Maia the Balrog is equal in rank to Sauron; it would definitely not serve him, and should be thought of as effectively a free agent so far as the Third Age is concerned.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 21:37
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    I don't think that can be excluded out of hand. There are different levels of Maia (re: power). Balrogs and Sauron both served under Melkor, but Sauron served as his lieutenant so outranked them. But all supposition still.
    – dlanod
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 21:53
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    @chewie - Gandalf the Grey, with Narya, was indeed more or less the equal of the Balrog. However, even after he was returned as Gandalf the White, the head of the Istari (with an attendant increase in power and authority), he still admitted that Sauron remained stronger than he. I think Sauron would have outranked the Balrog.
    – Adamant
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 7:44

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