I know Gandalf was worried Smaug would have joined Sauron, but was that just him being cautious? Would Smaug actually join up with Sauron? How does he benefit from that? All it does is bring more attention to himself and gain more enemies. And if Smaug was able to be killed by Bard, I doubt he would be able to survive against an entire army, all it takes is one lucky shot, and he knows this. From what we know about Smaug, I can't see him caring for the War of the Ring either. I don't see why he or any of the winged dragons would answer to anyone outside of Morgoth.

If Smaug isn't willing to answer to Sauron, would Sauron be able to force Smaug to join him? I'm not so sure he could...I mean Sauron was taken down by Gil-Galad and Elendil, who were of course incredibly powerful in their own right, but I highly doubt they could have contended with the destructive force of Smaug.

So why would Smaug join with Sauron? Is there anything I'm overlooking here, or would he have told Sauron to take a hike while he relaxed some more.

  • 12
    You don't need "force" when you can "bribe" Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 15:29
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    In the book, the black arrow may have been enchanted by the dwarves when it was forged (it was not explicitly said to be magical, but Bard had never failed with it nor ever failed to retrieve it; these are not properties common to arrows). In the movie, the black arrow was practically a ballista bolt. I don't think Smaug could have been slain by a lucky shot from a random soldier if deployed in war by Sauron.
    – Brian S
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 16:18
  • 17
    "All it takes is one lucky shot, and he knows this." Actually, I don't think he does. He is pretty confident of his hide's impenetrability. In the movie, he seems almost offended that a mere human would even try to hurt him, and is surprised and confused when Bard succeeds. In the book, iirc, he directly boasts about it, which is how Bilbo gets him to reveal his weak spot.
    – KSmarts
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 20:58
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    I mean Sauron was taken down by Gil-Galad and Elendil, who were of course incredibly powerful in their own right, but I highly doubt they could have contended with the destructive force of Smaug. - on the contrary, dragons were killed in that manner before - don't forget that elves from First/Second Age were like Greek heroes, almost as powerful as Maiar.
    – user24069
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 13:43
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    "I don't see why he ... would answer to anyone outside of Morgoth." Why do you think he would answer to Morgoth? I mean, I think he would too, but why would he? Power? Promise of profit? Malicious sadism? Because whatever that reason is, it probably applies to following Sauron too.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 23:38

10 Answers 10


The passage in question comes from Appendix A to Return of the King:

Among many cares he was troubled in mind by the perilous state of the North; because he knew then already that Sauron was plotting war, and intended, as soon as he felt strong enough, to attack Rivendell. But to resist any attempt from the East to regain the lands of Angmar and the northern passes in the mountains there were now only the Dwarves of the Iron Hills. And beyond them lay the desolation of the Dragon. The Dragon Sauron might use with terrible effect. How then could the end of Smaug be achieved?

None of this actually implies that Sauron had to force or compel Smaug to do anything; in order to destroy Rivendell, for example, all that's needed is for Smaug to be pointed in the right direction and left to do his own thing.

The Hobbit notes that rumour of the wealth of Erebor was probably what had brought Smaug there in the first place:

...So my grandfather's halls became full of armour and jewels and carvings and cups, and the toy-market of Dale was the wonder of the North.

Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon...

So in order for Sauron to destroy Rivendell, or Lórien, or any other kingdom he wished, it would have been sufficient to spread rumour of wealth there too.

Despite all of this, the probability is that Sauron actually would have been able to command Smaug.

We must not forget (from the Silmarillion) that Sauron was Morgoth's second-in-command, he commanded Angband before the Chaining of Melkor, and "kept the seat warm" for Morgoth while he was in captivity in Valinor.

And Melkor made also a fortress and armoury not far from the north-western shores of the sea, to resist any assault that might come from Aman. That stronghold was commanded by Sauron, lieutenant of Melkor; and it was named Angband.

We also know (also from the Silmarillion) that Balrogs remained in Angband during the captivity:

Far beneath the ruined halls of Angband, in vaults to which the Valar in the haste of their assault had not descended, Balrogs lurked still, awaiting ever the return of their Lord; and now swiftly they arose, and passing over Hithlum they came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

Putting two and two together here, we see that Sauron quite likely had (at least some) authority over Balrogs during the First Age, so commanding a mere dragon should have been well within his capability (yes, I know there are some that believe that dragons are Maiar, but there's absolutely no evidence in Tolkien's writing to support that belief).

Finally, Gandalf as a Maia evidently believes that Sauron would have been able to use the dragon, and we must assume that Gandalf is in as good a position as any to know what the capabilities and limitations of another Maia are.

  • 3
    Relevant: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/36327/8719
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 15:59
  • 6
    Thanks for the answer. Forgot that Sauron was in control of Angband for a time, says a lot more about his stature under Morgoth and the level of authority he had in his army.
    – Demarini
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 16:54
  • 8
    FWIW - Here's what I read the first time through - "...the toy-market of Dale was the wonder of the North. Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon..." :D
    – user23715
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 23:12
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    @user23715 - the things a dragon will do for some rare collectibles.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 0:15
  • 7
    300 year-old Durin figure mint in package.
    – Yorik
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 16:37

I'm not sure that Smaug could have been compelled to work for Sauron. Sauron was powerful, but he was no Morgoth. There's no evidence in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings that Smaug (or any other dragons in the Withered Heath) was receiving any directives from Sauron, or felt the presence of Sauron. For that matter, the Balrog in Moria wasn't under the control of Sauron, either. I think Sauron would have been hard-pressed to convince Smaug to leave his vast hoard unguarded to attack Rivendell.


Melkor/Morgoth persuaded or seduced Sauron, Gothmog and other Maiar (Balrogs) with greater rank, influence or level of power then they would of had under the Valar. He persuaded Ungiliont to attack the Two Trees in Valinor with the sap that could end her undying thirst and hunger. What's important though, is did not create them which is important. He could only influence thier motivation.

He did however create the Dragons, trolls, orcs (goblins), and other fell beasts. So I would think that Sauron being his leutenent would of had influence and command over these before he lost his power in the destruction of Numenor'. He lost even more power at his defeat at the end of the second age to the last alliance.

So, War of The ring, Sauron would of only had the power to seduce Smaug with promises of greater fortune and power. He wouldn't of been able to physically or mentally command him. To command the Balrog would have been even harder since it was a Maiar of the same level as Sauron. It would have been an alliance if anything with each looking out for thier own interests. They might have even came into conflict between them sooner or later. A good example would be three different crime families with three different bosses, but all wanting wealth and power in the end.


Smaug's vanity is too strong for him to side with anyone. He is more compelled by fear of loss than hope of gain. Besides he only has his biding in mind when he exacts anything upon anyone. Quoting Tolkien is creating allegories which he despised. We should focus on applicability and find inner meanings by our selves and not enforce them on others. My reading is that Smaug if he lived would likely be forced into a position where it would be impossible for him to stay neutral.


Melkor/Morgoth created or loosed the dragons to do his bidding in the Silmarillion, Sauron is basically his successor after his banishment to the void, it is highly logical that Smaug's taking of Erebor was at Sauron's request to begin with and that Gandalf was trying to prevent a dragon lead assault on Rivendell which Smaug would relish since Eärendil, Elrond's father, killed Ancalagon the Black, chief dragon during the war of wrath, which turned the tide of that battle.


Yes Sauron would win, he was a top class Maia, way above all others Maia we knew in the books, there is a reason Gothmog was a Balrog and not a leader of Balrogs that could do what he wanted and be what he wanted! Sauron was the greatest Servant of Morgoth, Smaug himself talks about Sauron knowing that he will dominate all the land, Smaug knows, the only doubt is if Smaug will serve him or flee because he cannot face him alone, people see Galadriel banning him and think that makes him weak, but let's remember that Morgoth would not try to kill Fëanor, that tells a lot, Maia and even Valar respect a lot ancient elves.


Sauron and Smaug would have fit perfectly as allies: Smaug wants gold and riches but he is not interested in ruling over something or someone. Sauron wants to rule over all of Middle-earth but cares little if anything for riches and treasures. Even if Sauron wasn't strong enough to bend Smaug to his will with or without the ring, all he'd have to would have been to offer Smaug plenty of gold to buy his services.

  • Do you have any textual evidence that Smaug would even be interested in joining with Sauron. Smaug doesn't share his gold.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 23:58
  • Yes. Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings books explicitely say that if Smaug was alive, he would have surely join with Sauron. Smaug doesn't share his gold but Sauron is not interested in gold. Which is what would make those two a perfect match. Smaug want gold but he is not interested in ruling people and countries. Sauron want to dominate other lifeforms and countries but he doesn't care about riches.
    – pikppa
    Commented Jun 2, 2021 at 23:28

I don't believe that Smaug had any reason to side with Sauron off the strength of his at one time being designated as 2nd in command from over 8 thousand years ago. Even during the 1st age....Sauron's authority was at the end of the day a product of and designated by Melkor......at this point I doubt the Balrog or Smaug could offer a hair about whatever "commands" a weakened former "captain" issued them after ~8000 years of experiencing relative peace and consumption....without offering something substantial in return.

Essentially, I don't believe that either particularly cared what was going on outside of Erebor or Khazadum.....if Melkor returned....maybe....but Sauron?

  • Just to underscore my point...The entirety of the 2nd age happened to nearly 3000 years into the 3rd age....was full of Sauron's shenanigans....all of which (at least those recorded did not involve a Balrog or a Dragon...despite Sauron definitely knowing the existence of not only Smaug but of Scatha...and the rest of the extant Dragons of the Withered Heath). I would put forth the reasons as to why is because he held no weight worth mentioning with them....despite there being a possibility that they may have made common cause with him for some reason.
    – user405887
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 18:08

well, i think most of you are forgetting that sauron was at least trying to achieve what morgoth tried, and on top of that there where no forces wich could rival a full grown fire-drake, not anymore since the second age! also, morgoth created dragons, balrogs, orcs, and fell beasts. sauron took over the orcs, and let's not forget that he was the leader of at least nine fell beasts, wich are simmiliar to drakes. so there is alot of chance that sauron would simply take dale with no resistance, then deceive smaug into attacking sauron's targets and maybe also help him cover up his one weak spot. basicaly if sauron managed to AGAIN try to take erebor, there would be no need to enslave smaug. he just would have done some damage, at least directed by sauron. i think sauron could easily harness smaugs's power, not to mention smaug did attack laketown out of anger and malice. sure, he wasnt evil, but that's only for the books, and even in the books gandalf was worried about sauron gaining smaug's aid. plus smaug said in the movies that he knew an offense wouldn't do anything since a darker evil was already coming.

  • 1
    Could you edit this to include some evidence to back up some of the points you make? You allude to several quotes from the films and books so the answer would be a lot better if you included them in it directly.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 14:22

Tolkien wrote, as already quoted that Gandalf thought Sauron would use Smaug to great effect. Tolkien wrote it, he knew whether Sauron had power over Smaug as it was his story, his writings - so what is the debate? Tolkien said through Gandalf that it would happen, so it would happen, or are there people here who know Tolkien's writing. Tolkien's world, Tolkien's mind better than the man himself?

In any case it is clear that Sauron is considerably more powerful that Smaug, Sauron is (was) on an entirely different level and Sauron has command over Morgoths subjects, so why would he not command the Dragon?

  • 3
    Yeah, but use to great effect and control aren't the same things. I can use the laws of physics to great effect, not command them. Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 10:11
  • Actually, @Gallifreyan, I think the analogy is very apt in this case. I expected Sauron to use Smaug to great effect without controlling him, just like we can use physics to make a steam engine, but can't make it into a perpetual motion machine. Commented Jul 12, 2023 at 22:16

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