clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Three ships sailing out of a harbor in Rings of Power Image: Prime Video

Filed under:

Everything The Rings of Power revisits from the Lord of the Rings trilogy (so far)

The intro episodes to the show provide few glimpses of Peter Jackson’s movies

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

One of the appeals of a sprawling prequel series like The Rings of Power is in seeing the world you love from the Lord of the Rings movies (and the Hobbit trilogy, we see and appreciate those fans as well) in a very different form. This lets fans participate on another level entirely, making every new tidbit that the show reveals a puzzle in and of itself, a pocket mystery where we already know the end, but not the “how” or “why.”

To its credit, The Rings of Power isn’t overly familiar yet. In its first two episodes, there’s plenty of recognizable iconography — flora and fauna, armor designs and architecture — but very little direct transposition. For now, the show is taking us mostly someplace new. But there’s still some important stuff you might recognize.

With that in mind, here’s a brief run-through of everything shown in The Rings of Power that hearkens back to previous on-screen adaptations of Middle-earth so far.


A close-up of Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) in The Rings of Power Image: Prime Video

An early highlight of the show, Galadriel is perhaps the closest thing to a protagonist that can be found in The Rings of Power’s sprawling cast. That’s because she immediately has a clear and compelling journey: As the series’ sprawling story begins, Galadriel is on a quest for revenge, one that will ultimately result in a take on one of Tolkien’s most complex and unrealized characters that The Fellowship of the Ring merely hinted at.


Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Elrond kneels Image: Prime Video

The arrogant cutie here eventually becomes the stern leader of Rivendell played by Hugo Weaving in Peter Jackson’s films. He’s one of the few links between every screen adaptation of Tolkien’s work, as Elrond was there for it all. This makes it all the more sad to see him as such a chill elf lad in The Rings of Power — he’s going to see some stuff that makes him a significantly less fun person.


Lord of the Rings: Sauron looks at the One Ring on his finger Image: New Line Cinema

This one’s funny. Early on in The Rings of Power, we do get a glimpse of LOTR’s big bad as he appears in those movies, but he almost certainly will take on a different and surprising form in The Rings of Power. Part of the fun will be trying to spot him before he’s revealed.


Balrog attacks Gandalf in the mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings Image: New Line Cinema

One of the best locations in The Rings of Power is also one of the worst in the Lord of the Rings movies: Moria. Khazad-dûm, the majestic dwarven city that we get to see in The Rings of Power’s second episode, is what those ghastly mines looked like before its denizens delved “too greedily and too deep” and unearthed a dormant Balrog, a leftover soldier from the war against Morgoth. After the dwarves fled, goblins and trolls moved in, which gives the teeming city a tragic air.

Sailing west to the Undying Lands

A boat headed towards a sunburst on the tranquil horizon with elves gathered on the deck watching birds fly into the sunburst in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Image: Prime Video

One of the final images we see in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the first shown in The Rings of Power: elves sailing off to the Undying Lands in the West. Elven immortality, you may have heard, is weird — Elf heaven is an actual place on the map, west of Middle-earth, kind of. In both The Rings of Power and The Lord of the Rings, elves that wish to retire from the land of mortals can sail off to paradise in a very somber ceremony. According to Tolkien lore, things about this process change a lot in the time between The Rings of Power and The Lord of the Rings, and we might see some of that play out as the show goes on.


Megan Richards as a young Harfoot/hobbit girl in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Image: Prime Video

Harfoots are a type of hobbit. They’re not really deep Tolkien lore that you’re missing out on — according to the showrunners, it just didn’t make sense to do a Lord of the Rings show without hobbits, even though hobbits don’t really play a part in the story they’re adapting. So they brought in the harfoots, a nomadic group of little folk who stay out of sight but still get into trouble.


A close-up of an orc in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The creature has sallow skin and is wearing a rusted elven helmet as it snarls. Image: Prime Video

One thing that appears to have changed very little between then and now in Middle-earth is its orc problem. Still among the more problematic tropes in Tolkien lore, orcs have more or less existed for as long as there has been a fictional history of Middle-earth, a race of exclusively evil people that exist solely to give the bad guys an army. Thus far, the main difference in The Rings of Power’s take on orcs appears to be one of quantity: This is a time when Sauron was not trying to crush his foes, but deceive and corrupt them, and he doesn’t need an army for that. Thus, it makes sense that the first orc appearances are like the ones early on in the show — solitary, frightening boogeymen hinting at something wicked inbound.

They can still be hot, though.


A closeup on Isildur looking out at the horizon Photo: Prime Video

That’s him, that’s the guy! Isildur is mostly known to Lord of the Rings audiences as “the guy who wouldn’t throw the fucking ring into the fires of Mount Doom.” But in Rings of Power, he’s just a Númenórean who feels like he’s destined for greater things than being a member of the Sea Guard.

By episode 4 he’s officially on the boat that’s taking Galadriel back to the mainland, setting him on the path to being — well, certainly involved with how the war with Sauron goes.


Film viewers will recall that Frodo’s life is saved on at least one very notable occasion by a mithril shirt he inherits from Bilbo. “As light as a feather, and as hard as a dragon’s scale,” Bilbo tells him. And now we’ve seen the substance’s origin in Rings of Power as well, as Durin introduces us to Moria’s secret mithril mines in episode 4. Though he tells Elrond it’s tough to mine (even nearly losing four miners to a mostly off-screen collapse) seems like at some point the dwarves figured it out.


Magic: The Gathering’s new set is trying to capture the hope of The Lord of the Rings

The Rings of Power

Rings of Power had a ‘Ring Team’ making the show’s actual rings look good


Gollum has two personalities — I wish the Gollum game had any

View all stories in Lord of the Rings

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon