In the movies, it is clear that Gandalf suspects, in An Unexpected Journey and even more so in The Desolation of Smaug, that Sauron has begun his return (especially when Sauron captures Gandalf in Dol Guldur). On the other hand, in The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf seems to be completely oblivious to the possible return of Sauron when he's at Bilbo's 111th birthday party when they're discussing the ring and it's history.

Can anyone explain this? Are we to suspect that Sauron is in some way considered to be forever destroyed in The Battle of Five Armies and that's why Gandalf forgets about Sauron in The Fellowship of the Ring? Or was it just a detail that was overlooked when Jackson filmed The Fellowship of the Ring?

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    Thoroughly depressed now at the thought of Sauron showing up for the Battle of Five Armies!
    – TGnat
    Oct 23, 2014 at 14:05
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    this is simply a fault of the movies, in reality gandalf new that sauron was in dol guldur in the hobbit, and leaves for a time to take care of him, sauron really has no hand in what happens in the hobbit, despite what the movie says, now after he was removed from dol guldur gandalf and the white council figured they had more time before he again could gain a foot hold, but in reality dol guldur was just a distraction since he had already been amassing his power back in mordor. so again they were upset at the suddenness of saurons movement in the fellowship, but they knew it was coming.
    – Himarm
    Oct 23, 2014 at 14:11
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    essentially the hobbit movies are taking great liberties with the book, as well as having complete shit added that makes no sense whatsoever, while generally the lotr trilogy follows the book closly with its flaws being more to what was left out of the movies rather then extra crap thrown in.
    – Himarm
    Oct 23, 2014 at 14:13
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    Isn't this question functionally impossible to answer without seeing the third Hobbit movie? I recall a great many "plot holes" that were addressed by Revenge of the Sith. Oct 23, 2014 at 15:25
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    probably since the last movie is heading to deviate extremely from the book, its hard to even speculate what will happen.
    – Himarm
    Oct 23, 2014 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


Actually, Gandalf showed no surprise that Sauron might be returning - only that the ring was indeed the One Ring and that his friend Bilbo had possessed it all this time.

Here is a transcript of the conversation that he had with Frodo after they put it in the fireplace, thus confirming that it was The One Ring:

Gandalf sits smoking at Frodo’s table, staring intently at the ring sitting in the middle of the table. Frodo pours hot water into the teapot on the table. Both of them watch the ring as if it might scamper away.

Gandalf: This is the One Ring, forged by the Dark Lord Sauron in the fires of Mount Doom, taken by Isildur from the hand of Sauron himself.

Frodo: Bilbo found it. In Gollum’s cave.

Gandalf: Yes. For sixty years the Ring lay quiet in Bilbo’s keeping, prolonging his life, delaying old age. But no longer, Frodo. Evil is stirring in Mordor. The Ring has awoken. It has heard its master’s call.

Frodo: But he was destroyed. Sauron was destroyed.

Gandalf: No, Frodo. The spirit of Sauron endured. His life force is bound to the Ring, and the Ring survived. Sauron has returned. His orcs have multiplied, his fortress of Barad-dur is rebuilt in the land of Mordor. Sauron needs only this ring to cover all the lands in a second darkness. He is seeking it... seeking it... all his thought is bent upon it. And the ring, it yearns above all else to return to the hand of its master. They are one... the Ring and the Dark Lord. Frodo... he must never find it.

Frodo picks up the Ring from the table and moves quickly into the next room, looking about wildly for a possible place to hide it. Gandalf follows more slowly.

Indeed, if anything, Gandalf's words indicate that he already knew Sauron was back and amassing power in Mordor. Perhaps he thought they would have more time since the ring was lost, but he now finds that it was hidden almost in his own pocket all this time.

  • I don't believe he would've been chilling at a birthday party acting like everything is hunky dorey. Furthermore, when he discovers that Bilbo has a magic ring, he races off to look through old documents to find out if it's the one ring and has been on the run ever since he realized it truly was the ring of Sauron's. The mood and Gandalf's attitude definitely change after he discovers what the ring actual is. I believe Gandalf would have been doing everything he can to rally forces to oppose Sauron's if he knew Sauron was rebuilding an army in Mordor, not shooting fireworks at a birthday party Oct 23, 2014 at 16:23
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    he doesn't race off in the book, theirs like YEARS between the birthday and when he sends frodo off on the quest, in the movie they do this in a mater of weeks/months instead of years.
    – Himarm
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:50
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    Yeah, there were years between Bilbo's departure and Frodo's. Also worth noting, there were over SIXTY years between The Hobbit and Fellowship, so even though Gandalf knew that something was up with Sauron, he was very capable of relaxing at the party because it was all a vague, distant fear, not a clear and present threat.
    – Nerrolken
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:57
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    @Toproller777 He's known since at least the Battle of Five Armies that Bilbo has a magic ring that makes him invisible, which he suspects is one of the magic rings created by Sauron in the Second Age (Although he obviously doesn't know which one). It's understandable that he'd want to keep tabs on Bilbo, and seeing as he's neither discrete nor entirely welcome in the Shire, being invited to a birthday party is as good a way as any. Once he's there, it makes sense that he'd put on airs so as not to put off the hobbits. But the situation is much different once he realizes that the One was found Oct 23, 2014 at 17:01
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    @Toproller777 - you're mixing two things up here. (1) by the time of Bilbo's party everybody knew that Sauron was back. But (2) until much later everybody thought that the One Ring had been destroyed or lost forever. It was Gandalf's discovery that (2) was false that led him to go rushing off; (1) has nothing to do with it.
    – user8719
    Oct 23, 2014 at 17:38

Gandalf knew about Sauron in the back of his head all the time in the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring but his surprised behavior was due to the fact the Bilbo kept the ring all this time and lay quiet in keeping it. Like said in the movie there were many magic rings in middle earth but that was the one dark ring of the dark lord Sauron and other magic rings weren't to be used lightly anyways.

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