‘Rings of Power’: Who Is Halbrand Really?

Is the ‘Rings of Power’s Halbrand really Sauron in disguise? We’re breaking down some of the best theories about who this man from the Southlands really is.

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Halbrand, The Rings of Power

Amazon Studios’ The Rings of Power has given us a new look at familiar characters and even characters from the books that we’ve only briefly seen in flashbacks from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But it’s also introduced original new characters like Halbrand, a mysterious man from the Southlands.

But who is Halbrand really? Sure, he could be a harmless new original character, but what if he’s something more? Ever since his introduction in episode two of The Rings of Power, fans have been theorizing his true identity like crazy, and we’d be lying if we said these theories aren’t convincing.

We’re breaking down three of the most prominent theories posed by fans so far about who Halbrand could really be.

DISCLAIMER: While I have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit multiple times and watched the movies an unhealthy amount of times, I am in no way a Tolkien expert. I went to great lengths to research and dive into Tolkien lore when writing this, and owe a lot of thanks to the writers who laid these theories out before me. In other words, if I got something wrong in here, go easy on me.

Halbrand: What We Know So Far

Halbrand and Galadriel in The Rings of Power

We first meet Halbrand aboard the wreckage of a ship on the Sundering Seas, plagued by a sea worm. Galadriel, fresh from her refusal to enter Valinor, reluctantly joins him, and together the two survive the sea worm and a raging storm. Without him, it’s likely that Galadriel would not have survived.

The two are rescued and taken to Númenor, where Galadriel is met with a chilly reception at the royal court. Galadriel is eager to leave the legendary kingdom and get back to Middle Earth, but Halbrand seems pretty content with staying and trying to make a life for himself there.

What we know about Halbrand’s past is scarce. He claims his people have no king or even a home — he and his people were driven from the Southlands by orcs. Halbrand also wears a necklace with a pouch and metal tag attached.

Halbrand's necklace in The Rings of Power

The symbol on the tag is a mystery until Galadriel sees it again as a drawing in Númenor’s Hall of Lore. She believes it’s a symbol of the Southlands’ king and, when confronting Halbrand about it, says the reason he claims he “has no king” is because he is the lost king.

Halbrand doesn’t deny any of this, but he does tell Galadriel that he is “not the hero” she seeks because his ancestors swore an oath to Morgoth. He also mentions that he stole the trinket off of a dead man.

What’s Halbrand hiding?

While in Númenor, Halbrand lands himself in a jail cell after brutally beating up a few men that he attempted to steal from. The sudden aggression and violence from him are surprising, given that he saved Galadriel from drowning and defended her in the royal court, and seemed pretty keen on making a peaceful life for himself in the city.

Is Halbrand’s ferocity in that scene a product of his frustration at being treated like a lowly peasant when he’s really a lost king, or is there a darker, more evil side to him that hasn’t fully been revealed yet? Whatever the case, the Internet has its theories. Let’s dive in.

Theory 1: Halbrand is Sauron in disguise

Sauron in The Rings of Power

The theory that Halbrand is Sauron in disguise is arguably the most popular one circulating on the Internet right now. To understand the theory, we need to dig into some Tolkien lore.

Why it’s possible:

Sauron is a shapeshifter. In the Second Age, he disguises himself as the “Lord of Gifts,” or Annatar. As Annatar, Sauron helped the Elven blacksmiths create the Rings of Power and secretly forged the One Ring. In episode three of The Rings of Power, we see Halbrand pleading with a blacksmith at Númenor’s forges to let him join them, but he’s denied. This denial leads him to steal from some locals, getting into that fight we mentioned earlier. Is Halbrand’s immediate fascination with the forges some clever foreshadowing?

In Tolkien’s Appendices, Sauron is taken prisoner by the King of Númenor but uses his influence to become an advisor to the King, leading to the destruction of the great city. Could this possibly explain why Halbrand is so keen on staying in Númenor? If anything, his actions give off the vibe that he has some kind of business to attend to on the island.

Technically, this theory doesn’t coincide with the timeline established in The Lord of the Rings. But, given that The Rings of Power is condensing parts of it, many fans believe the idea that Halbrand is Sauron in disguise is still plausible.

What do you think? Read a more detailed account of this theory over on GamesRadar.

Theory 2: He’ll become the Witch-king of Angmar OR a Ringwraith

Witch-king of Angmar in The Lord of the Rings

Another popular theory making its rounds among the fanbase is that Halbrand will eventually become the Witch-king of Angmar or one of the nine Ringwraiths.

Why it’s possible:

Halbrand seems to be just a mortal man. If he is, maybe he could end up being one of the Nine Men who become corrupted by the Rings of Power. Little is known about who the Men were before they became Ringwraiths, or Nazgûl, but what we do know is that they once were warriors and kings.

Since The Rings of Power depicts the events leading up to the forging of the Rings, it’s safe to assume that we should meet the Nine Men who receive them. Halbrand is obviously a skilled warrior, and if he is the lost king of the Southlands, this theory looks pretty good.

The precise identity of the Witch-king of Angmar, the leader of the Nazgûl, is unknown — he could be one of the three lords of Númenor that were given Rings. He also doesn’t necessarily have to have been a king during his pre-Witch-king days (though it would make sense if he was), but he would most likely have been a skilled warrior and leader. So far, Halbrand is shaping up to be just that.

At the very least, should Halbrand survive this series, his determination to survive could make him a prime candidate for a Ring.

Learn more about this theory in detail over at Den of Geek.

Theory 3: He’ll become the King of the Dead

The King of the Dead in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

This theory isn’t as long and detailed as the previous two, but it’s still very interesting. Many believe that Halbrand could eventually become the King of the Dead, who we meet in Return of the King.

Why it’s possible:

The King of the Dead originally made an oath to Elendil and Gil-galad to fight against Sauron but switched sides when the time came to fight. For this, he and his men were cursed to not rest until that oath was fulfilled.

Halbrand is, if we take his word for it, from the Southlands, where the people used to be loyal to Morgoth. Right now, he’s in Númenor with Elendil and Isildur, but eventually, they’ll most likely make their way to Middle-Earth. Who’s to say he won’t unite the peoples of the Southlands as a king, swear an oath to Elendil, and turn on him?

Halbrand is a tough character to get a read on so far. He hasn’t explicitly done anything to suggest he’s lying about something, but he definitely hasn’t given Galadriel and the audience the whole truth. Many fans believe this shiftiness could manifest into a major betrayal against the forces of good later in the series.

Read more about this theory over on Reddit and The Gamer.

What’s in store for Halbrand?

The ultimate fate and identity of Halbrand is a mystery, but it sure is fun to go down the rabbit hole of theories. Will he take a darker, more tragic turn as events unfold in The Rings of Power, or will he end up being just some guy from Middle-Earth fighting against Sauron? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Until then, keep watching The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, streaming Fridays on Amazon Prime.

Want more Rings of Power content? Check out our breakdown of the hidden meaning behind the series’ opening credits or see how some of the actors are fighting for good outside of the show.