This fact had always bugged me. When Frodo finally goes to the Cracks of Doom he is met with practically no resistance. This seems uncharacteristic of Sauron which in my humble opinion makes it a tiny flaw in the plot. Just to be safe, Sauron could have heavily guarded Mount Doom to prevent the destruction of the Ring: why didn't he do so?

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    According to Gandalf the thought of trying to destroy the ring hadn't even crossed Sauron's mind, he couldn't conceive that people would rather destroy the ring than use it – IamVeryCuriousIndeed Jun 19 '14 at 5:25
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    You mean apart from the bazillion orcs you have to pass to get there? – Valorum Jun 19 '14 at 6:25
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    ...I realize there's some popular answers down there, but as @Richard is indicating, it was heavily guarded. At least with guards to prevent likely heroes, such as armies for example. The ring tries to preserve itself, and tries to get to Sauron, combine that with hordes of orcs, the ring was very well protected. This just doesn't work well against hobbits afflicted with heroism. – Gorchestopher H Jun 19 '14 at 11:21
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    @RamGAthreya Except that happened because all the orcs went to the Black Gate to fight with Aragorn & Co. In fact Frodo and Sam were found by one of the groups of orcs that were going there and managed to hid themselves using the orc armours they had found in the tower and managed to escape by luck. (I believe this is not mentioned in the movies...) – Bakuriu Jun 19 '14 at 12:49
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    @RamGAthreya As has already been mentioned, it did not occur to Sauron that the ring would be taken to Mount Doom. Had it occurred, he definitely would've kept a guard posted there. You can tell by how (in the movies, at least) he called his Nazgul back immediately to Mount Doom when Frodo put on the ring inside the volcano. Similarly, Saruman had scores upon scores of goblins remaining at Orthanc, not to mention he is a very powerful wizard (and an immortal demi-god as one of the Maiur). Likewise, he couldn't conceive of the possibility his 10,000 Uruk-hai would be defeated. – TylerH Jun 19 '14 at 17:22

It is quite simple: Sauron did not expect, and could not conceive, anyone would actually try to destroy the Ring instead of claiming it for themselves.

"He is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place.That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet entered into his darkest dream."

-The Two Towers, "The White Rider"

This complete lack of desire of any kind to master the Ring was the primary reason Frodo was chosen to be the Ringbearer. Even Gandalf refused to touch the Ring for fear of being consumed by it and not being able to destroy it.

Edit: During a re-read of The Fellowship of the Ring I have come across these other relevant passages:

Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.

And this account from Isildur who could not even bring himself to put the ring in a fire:

The Ring misseth, maybe, the heat of Sauron's hand, which was black and yet burned like fire, and so Gil-galad was destroyed; and maybe were the gold made hot again, the writing would be refreshed. But for my part I will risk no hurt to this thing: of all the works of Sauron the only fair. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.

Both excerpts from The Fellowship of the Ring: Book II: Chapter 2: The Council of Elrond.

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    More than simply not expecting anyone to destroy it, he simply could not conceive that anyone with the ring would want to do anything except wield it. And indeed that was the deception in the Palantir, to make Sauron think Aragorn had taken the ring. He was convinced he knew where it was, and what it would be used for and was utterly wrong on all counts. – stuffe Jun 19 '14 at 11:02
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    @ssell I wouldn't say that hobbits by themselves are resistant to the corruption: Bilbo and Frodo could resist it reasonably, but smeagol was almost immediatly in the Ring's grasp, killing his best friend the moment they found it. I think it's more of a character thing. – Andreas Jun 19 '14 at 12:44
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    Even so, Gollum was not turned to a wraith and wholly consumed byt it, so some part was still resisting it. And he could still bond with Frodo and fight the idea of the Dark Lord getting the Ring back. – Oldcat Jun 19 '14 at 16:24
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    But Frodo did fall to the ring, just as Isildur did because its effect grew exponentially more powerful the closer to Mount Doom. The only reason the Ring was destroyed was an accident during a fight that one of it's minor effects caused. – Gabriel Clark Sep 14 '16 at 23:31

This was a key point of Gandalf and Aragorn's strategy, and the whole reason they led the army of Minas Tirith to the Black Gate of Mordor. The hope was to draw not only Sauron's attention, but his armies as well, leaving Mordor itself unguarded.

Book 5, ch. 9:

[Gandalf]: ‘His doubt will be grow­ing, even as we speak here. His Eye is now strain­ing to­wards us, blind al­most to all else that is mov­ing. So we must keep it. Therein lies all our hope. This, then, is my coun­sel. We have not the Ring. In wis­dom or great folly it has been sent away to be de­stroyed, lest it de­stroy us. With­out it we can­not by force de­feat his force. But we must at all costs keep his Eye from his true peril. We can­not achieve vic­tory by arms, but by arms we can give the Ring-bearer his only chance, frail though it be.


In addition to all the other comments, guarding Mount Doom is difficult. It regularly erupts, so having soldiers on guard duty near to it presumably raises the very real risk of them being burnt to a cinder. The road to Mount Doom had to be regularly cleared and maintained at great effort according to the books, so the most likely group of Saurons servants you were likely to find there would probably be a highway repair crew...

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    This is actually a very good and pragmatic answer – Ram G Athreya Jun 21 '14 at 8:18
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    While true, I don't think that would dissuade Sauron. He is more than willing to throw his servants into the meat grinder and has plenty to spare. – Travis Christian Aug 6 '14 at 14:11
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    Sauron encourages evil and self-interest amongst his troops. He does not encourage needless waste. He wants his armies to grow in size, not be buried under magma. – vogomatix Aug 7 '14 at 8:52
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    @vogomatix - this leads to the question of why he maintained a usable road up the mountain and kept the road, and the crack itself, open and passable. He was almost asking for someone to destroy the Ring. – Wad Cheber May 27 '15 at 2:54
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    @WadCheber: As noted elsewhere, Grond was created at Mount Doom during the War of the Ring. And one does not simply walk out of Mordor with a giant battering ram, save by usable roads. – Codes with Hammer Aug 22 '16 at 18:21

Mordor itself was actually heavily guarded, with legions of Orc troops occupying it, as we learn in The Land of Shadow:

Frodo and Sam gazed out in mingled loathing and wonder on this hateful land. Between them and the smoking mountain, and about it north and south, all seemed ruinous and dead, a desert burned and choked. They wondered how the Lord of this realm maintained and fed his slaves and his armies. Yet armies he had. As far as their eyes could reach, along the skirts of the Morgai and away southward, there were camps, some of tents, some ordered like small towns.

The fact is that Frodo and Sam had taken a little-known back-door into Mordor; the main entrance (via the Black Gate) was effectively impassable (from The Black Gate is Closed):

Across the mouth of the pass, from cliff to cliff, the Dark Lord had built a rampart of stone. In it there was a single gate of iron, and upon its battlement sentinels paced unceasingly. Beneath the hills on either side the rock was bored into a hundred caves and maggot-holes: there a host of orcs lurked, ready at a signal to issue forth like black ants going to war. None could pass the Teeth of Mordor and not feel their bite, unless they were summoned by Sauron, or knew the secret passwords that would open the Morannon, the black gate of his land.

And even the back-entrance they took was also well-guarded (The Tower of Cirith Ungol):

Since his return to Mordor, Sauron had found it useful; for he had few servants but many slaves of fear, and still its chief purpose as of old was to prevent escape from Mordor. Though if an enemy were so rash as to try to enter that land secretly, then it was also a last unsleeping guard against any that might pass the vigilance of Morgul and of Shelob.

In order to actually do anything useful at Mount Doom, you obviously have to get into Mordor first, which is something that one does not simply do.


Recall that that was why the host of men challenged Sauron in open battle, knowing full well that Sauron is too greedy to not want to commit his forces to defeating Isildur's heir. This led Sauron to take the bait by emptying his land to fight Aragorn and the armies of men.

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    If I'm not mistaken, at that point Sauron was led to believe, Aragon had the ring. That's some reason to go after Aragon: Why protect mount doom, when the ring is at the gates of Mordor? – Einer Jun 19 '14 at 5:21
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    @OmnipotentEntity When Pippin "used" the palantir Sauron believed that Saruman had the palantir and that Saruman had presented Pippin to him for questioning - via named Palantir. At least that's what Gandalf speculated. On this one I'm pretty sure - though also without the book at hand to back it up... – Einer Jun 19 '14 at 10:37
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    It's confusing, but bear with: Pippin looked into Saruman's palantir, leading Sauron to think Saruman had the Ring. Then the Nazgul reported the destruction of Isengard. Then came his loss at Minas Tirith. Then Aragorn challenged Sauron's control of the palantir - and won (he's just that good). At that point, Sauron had no choice but to assume Aragorn had the Ring. – Joe L. Jun 19 '14 at 13:36
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    @Chris: Sauron believes that Saruman still has the palantir. Sauron therefore believes that if there is a hobbit looking in the palantir, then Saruman has captured the ringbearer. Recall that Sauron says to Pippen through the palantir "this is not for you" -- Sauron here is speaking to Saruman, not knowing that Saruman is not on the line, so to speak. Later, Sauron learns that Orthanc has fallen; in fact, it has fallen to the extent that Aragorn now holds Saruman's palantir. If Saruman could lose the palantir, he could lose the ring as well. Therefore Sauron believes Aragorn has the ring. – Eric Lippert Jun 19 '14 at 16:10
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    @Chris: From Sauron's POV, the only reasons Saruman could have for showing Pippin (or any Hobbit) would be either to show subservience (Look, Boss - ain't I done good!) or as a taunt (Guess what I have, nyaa nyaa nyaa!). Either way, Sauron has to assume Pippin is THE hobbit. After all, Saruman is one of the few people who could, realistically, wield the full power of the Ring. – Joe L. Jun 19 '14 at 17:36

Sauron believed not only that no one would want to destroy the Ring, but that no one could destroy it. That is, that no one could summon the willpower to destroy the Ring at the very Cracks of Doom where it was created and where it would be at its greatest power; and he was right.

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    Although you're not wrong, this answer is very terse and merely repeats what's already been said, except with nothing to back it up. – Valorum Jul 27 '19 at 5:15

A thief steals your 10 million dollars from you. You are busy searching for him. He comes back and burns it at your home’s Chimney. Why didn’t you place guards to prevent that is beyond me.

You got my point.

Destroying the ring was easy to think about for us readers. But that alone was a stroke of genius from Gandalf/Tolkien nobody will ever fully grasp.

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    Your analogy doesn't really work because AFAIK the ring could only be destroyed in Mount Doom. That money could be destroyed anywhere. – TheLethalCarrot Feb 12 at 14:05

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