Many wiki entries, as well as many other sources about Shagrat (one of the Orc captains who captured Frodo outside Shelob's lair) say he was killed by Sauron shortly after Frodo's escape.

In the text, we hear Shagrat and Gorbag griping about their bosses, and reminiscing about old times. A little later, we learn that shortly after this conversation, Shagrat killed his old buddy Gorbag for trying to steal Frodo's stuff, and that is the last we hear about either of them.

According to the wikis, however, Shagrat took Frodo's mithril shirt and some other possessions to Barad-Dur, turned them over to Sauron, and was immediately killed for letting the prisoner escape. This would obviously explain how the Mouth of Sauron obtained these items, which he later presented to the Captains of the West in front of the Black Gate.

But I can't find any direct quotes from Tolkien himself on this subject. It certainly isn't surprising that Sauron, who isn't a very nice guy even on his best day, would kill his servants for allowing a supposed "spy" to escape. In fact, it almost seems inevitable that Sauron would have killed him for his perceived failure. But I want to know what Tolkien himself had to say about it.

So did Tolkien himself ever discuss Shagrat's ultimate fate?

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    Not as far as I can tell. He simply walks out of the scene and isn't mentioned again, nor did Tolkien mention him in his letters or supplementary stories; lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Shagrat. In the film he also suffers a similar fate, just basically forgotten.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 22:39
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    @Richard I know the wikis list The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion as their source, and that book is very highly regarded. I wonder where the authors got their information. Google "Sauron slays Shagrat" - you'll get tons of results.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 22:43
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    @Richard Google that phrase without quotes around it, and you'll get 283,000 results. Not saying they're all relevant, I just think that's what Wad meant.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 22:54
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    @Nerrolken - Yes, I used the quotation marks to show which words to google, I didn't mean Richard should include them in the search terms.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 22:56
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    Almost certainly. See the comments after this answer. For info, user8719 is a deleted account for a Tolkien expert. I have not seen the document he references, so I cannot be 100% sure, but I would be very surprised if he were to be wrong about this. Commented May 28, 2015 at 23:12

2 Answers 2



He wrote this in a time scheme, a device used to keep track of when events are happening relative to each other. The Tolkien Society of St. Petersburg hosts a picture of one page of the scheme:

Tolkien has horrible handwriting

In the circled cell, Tolkien appears to write:

Shagrat delivers [possibly "brings"] the Mithril coat and other [indecipherable; possibly "spoils"] to Barad-dûr, but is slain by Sauron.

The original document is most probably in the Marquette University collection, in Milwuakee, Wisconsin; either MSS-4 Box 2 Folder 17: "Time Schemes" or Folder 18: "Synoptic Time-Scheme and related mss.". Any SFF users in Wisconsin who are able to visit and see the original and confirm/improve my (shaky) transcription will have my eternal gratitude. BMWurm led an initiative to do so based on this image, so you can head over there if you're curious about the rest of the text.

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    For the record, this is most likely the "synoptic time scheme" referenced by Darth Melkor (user8719) in his comment, which was mentioned by Ian Thompson in a comment on the question Commented May 28, 2015 at 23:17
  • +1 and many thanks. I believe the indecipherable portion of the text is "other ------s". The second word is puzzling, because it seems to end with "ils" or "its". I would have thought that the second word was "objects", but the tittle is out of place.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 23:23
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    Page 37. researchgate.net/profile/Curtis_Carter/publication/…
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 23:44
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    "Shagrat brings the Mithril Coat and other -----s [specials?] to Barad-Dur, but is slain by Sauron". Aside from the indecipherable word, possibly "specials", I am certain that this is what the box says. It is actually very legible, compared to Tolkien's normal handwriting.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 23:54
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    The box directly below the one we're discussing is interesting too - "Rohirrim destroy the Easterlings on the North Road; Sauron withdraws all his forces and makes new plans". This lends credence to my belief that Sauron's plans were thrown into chaos when Aragorn used the Palantir.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 0:22

The first two sources that you linked to had cited The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion as their source, and even included a page number.

Looking up this reference will show the following entry in The Reader's Companion.

925 (III: 203). Not to your precious Shagrat. He won’t be captain any more. - Both The Tale of Years and Scheme state that on 17 March Shagrat brings Frodo’s cloak, mail-shirt, and (Sam’s) sword to Barad-dur. Scheme adds that he is slain by Sauron.
The Lord of the Rings - A Reader's Companion page 608

Elsewhere in the book, such as in the preface and index, "Scheme" is defined as a reference to Marquette Mss-4/2/18, the fifteen-page synoptic time-scheme, that Tolkien made of the entire book.

Hammond and Scull's decision to paraphrase from the scheme instead of quoting from it here was likely influenced by the fact that a facsimile of this page of the timeline was previously published a year before in The Invented Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: Drawings and Original Manuscripts from the Marquette University Collection.

enter image description here
The Invented Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: Drawings and Original Manuscripts from the Marquette University Collection page 37

Twelve years later, William Fliss, the archivist of the Marquette University Tolkien collection that includes this manuscript, discussed it in a paper, and included his transcription of the passage.

The time-scheme is a gem because it includes information that does not appear anywhere in the published story. For those of you wondering about the fate of Shagrat, Orc Captain of the Tower of Cirith Ungol, the scheme states that on Saturday March 17th, “Shagrat brings the mithril coat and other spoils to Barad-dȗr; but is slain by Sauron” (Tolkien MS. Mss-4/2/18).
Fliss, William M. (2017) "“Things That Were, and Things That Are, and Things That Yet May Be”: The J.R.R. Tolkien Manuscript Collection at Marquette University," Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature: Vol. 36 : No. 1 , Article 3.

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