In the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, there is a kraken-like creature found in lake front of the gates of Moria, both mentioned in the book and shown in the movies.

What I want to know is, who controls it? Is it an independent creature, or is it controlled by Sauron, or maybe by the Balrog of Moria?

The Watcher in the water.


5 Answers 5


In my opinion, It is independent of Sauron.

When asked what the watcher is, Gandalf says[tFotR, A Journey in the Dark, p.403 of 50th anniversary edition]

There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.

And later, when describing his battle with the Balrog in the deeps he says[tTT, The White Rider, p.654]

The world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he. Now I have walked there, but I will bring no report to darken the light of day.

There is no indication that Sauron controls or even has knowledge of the watcher. It could be a similar situation to Shelob, and he knows it's there and leaves it as it is useful.

  • 3
    Good answer, however, you need to give proper attribution to these quotes. I.e, what book(s), chapter(s), author, etc.
    – Möoz
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 3:03
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    I wonder what these nameless things just might be. It could possibly be fascinating.
    – Petersaber
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 9:04
  • Almost sounds like the Old Ones (H.P. Lovecraft), considering they are apparently older than one of the oldest beings in existence (unless Gandalf was referring to older than Sauron as an evil entity). Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:06

There is no suggestion in the book that it is controlled by anyone. All Gandalf says about it is:

Something has crept, or has been driven out of dark waters under the mountains. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
(Source: The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, chapter 4 "A Journey in the Dark")

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    ^good quote. That also likely means it isn't controlled by the Balrog, since the Balrog seems to be what drove it out
    – childcat15
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 19:57
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    @childcat15: what if the Balrog ordered it out? Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 19:18
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    Good answer, however, you need to give proper attribution to this quote. I.e, what book(s), chapter(s), author, etc.
    – Möoz
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 3:04

Well, we just don't know. However, what always made me curious is how the quote goes on:

‘Something has crept, or has been driven out of dark waters under the mountains. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.’ He did not speak aloud his thought that whatever it was that dwelt in the lake, it had seized on Frodo first among all the Company.

This indicates quite strongly that the Watcher was specifically picking the ringbearer. But I somehow don't think that those “old nameless things” would by themselves sense and fancy the ring as much as men, elves, orcs do. Saruman is the only Maia who succumbs to it, but he is IMO a special case (Maia of Aulë like Sauron, and so on). The other examples of ancient beings don't care much about the Ring:

  • Bombadil. Completely indifferent, though he knows quite well of the Ring's powers.
  • Durin's Bane. Not sure here, perhaps the Balrog was just too busy with Gandalf to focus on Frodo+Ring.
  • Treebeard. Well... he never gets near the Ring, but like old Tom he doesn't really seem bothered much by the whole Ring war business at all.
  • Smaug. Not sure here either. It is said that dragons devoured some of the Seven, but apparently that destroyed those rings. So much for Precious.
  • Perhaps most relevant: Shelob. Paralyses Frodo, but does she in any way go for the ring? No. Sure, Sam attacks before she has much time. But at least Gollum assumes that Shelob would ignore the Ring (and leave it for him to pick later) when eating Frodo. (Gollum may of course be mistaken here.)

I think that, if the Watcher is such an ancient creature, the only reason it would immediately grab Frodo with Ring is on Sauron's account (if not the Balrog's or – unlikely – Saruman's). Perhaps we can't say Sauron controls it, but I believe that he has at least some influence on it.

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    Good answer, however, you need to give proper attribution to this quote. I.e, what book(s), chapter(s), author, etc.
    – Möoz
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 3:05
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    @Mooz: trouble is, I forgot the author... Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 4:02
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    Actually this is just Gandalf's own thoughts..is he right, or just paranoid? Take your pick, depending how much you need conspiracy versus coincidence.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 0:13
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    Actually you're wrong when you say only Saruman of the Maia was susceptible to the ring,Gandalf was also which is why he refuses to even touch it and begs Frodo not to tempt him with it.As for Durin's Bane,he probably didn't even know Frodo was carrying it,I can't imagine Sauron telling a potential rival about the ring Gandalf himself at first sight of the Ring was unable to identify it.He had to go to Gondor and research Isildur's writings.
    – turinsbane
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 20:31
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    @JanusBahsJacquet: good that you didn't forget to provide a citation to that info... — I quite agree with strict citation requirements, even on a hopefully less fun-hating SE site like this. But there is something like common sense, and here I find it just too obvious that the quotes are all from the same passage. — I also consider it misuse of the comment feature if somebody goes around tapping on the subject, instead of spending the same efford to just edit the posts in dispute! Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 19:23

There are a few hints in Tolkien's books that the watcher in the water was under Sauron's control. Firstly, the following lines from The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power": "Now Sauron's lust and pride increased and he determined to make himself master of all things in Middle Earth, and he gathered again under his government all the evil things of the days of Morgoth that remained on earth or beneath it".Call me crazy but im pretty sure that the watcher in the water would be classed as an evil thing.I also believe it was alive or perhaps the spawn of a creature that existed when Morgoth had dominion of Middle Earth.Gandalf himself says the creature is old.

Secondly we have Gandalf, who suspects the creatures motives, Gandalf is the wisest of all the Maia who's instincts and suspicions usually turn out to be correct. An excellent example of this is when his instincts warned him for no apparent reason to keep the ring's whereabouts hidden from Saruman.

The final hint that Sauron may have controlled the watcher in the water can be found in Appendix B LOTR "The Return of the king" - "2480 Orcs make strongholds in the Misty Mountains, Sauron begins to people Moria with his creatures".

  • Sauron uses a number of creatures without outright control of them, Shelob, Smaug, the Balrog would all have been natural allies. One of Gandalfs reasons for the quest of Erebor (I.e. The Hobbit) was to prevent an alliance. Sauron definitely doesn't control Shelob and she's next door, I personally think it's just the malevolence of Sauron that influences and or wakens them.
    – user46509
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 20:15
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    Morgoth did not create all evil creatures. He did not create Ungoliant, for example. Nor did he create the elf Eöl. He did not even create the Balrogs, they being Maiar of a different order than Sauron, who he also did not create. So unless you have a quote attributing the creation of the Watcher to him?
    – Lexible
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 20:47
  • Tbf he corrupted most of the characters
    – turinsbane
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 8:28

No, there is no suggestion that anyone controls the Watcher. By all (known to me) accounts, it is an independant creature, perhaps possessing enough intelligence to feel the addictive power of the One Ring.

One speculation I can think of is that the Watcher was one of the monsters "created" by the first Dark Lord Morgoth in the First Age (along with trolls and dragons), and that the Watcher follows his instinct or deeply-buried purpose to guard the realm inhabited by orcs and the Balrog.


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