Who LOTR’s King Of The Dead Was When He Was Alive


  • The King of the Dead was originally the ruler of a mountain kingdom and worshipped Sauron before swearing allegiance to Isildur and Gondor.
  • Isildur cursed the King of the Mountain Men and his army after they ignored his summons to aid Gondor, causing them to become the Dead Men of Dunharrow.
  • Aragorn, the rightful King of Gondor, freed the King of the Dead and his ghostly people after they fulfilled their long-awaited oath to aid Gondor.

The Lord of the Rings introduced the King of the Dead, but who had he been back when he was alive? This spirit was valuable in Aragorn’s victory at Pelennor Fields since his army of dead men defeated the Corsairs of Umbar, ensuring they could not join the enemy in the battle. After this, the rightful King of Gondor freed the King of the Dead and his ghostly people, deeming their oath fulfilled. Of course, this was the end of this Lord of the Rings character’s story but there was a lot more that happened before that Return of the King didn’t cover.

A great deal of the foundation for Tolkien’s works goes back far further than Frodo’s story, and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies only grazed the surface. A great example of this is the King of the Dead. The Return of the King movie reveals that the spirits of this haunted mountain owed a debt to Isildur’s line since they did not fight for Gondor’s king as promised. The Lord of the Rings books went into more detail about these events, detailing who the King of the Dead and his people had been and how they became the Dead Men of Dunharrow.


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LOTR’s Dead King Lived In Gondor’s White Mountains & Fought For Sauron

King of the Dead in the Lord of the Rings

Back during the end of the Second Age, over 3000 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, the Dead King was the living ruler of a mountain kingdom. Though his name was unknown, his home was located near Dwimorberg, a peak of the White Mountains. Like most Men of Middle-earth at this time, the Mountain Men worshiped Sauron. However, when Elendil and Isildur set up shop in the newly established kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, the King of the Mountain Men knew he had no choice but to swear allegiance. Sauron still hadn’t reappeared, and these High Men were a more immediate threat.

The King of the Mountain Men swore an oath to Isildur at the Stone of Erech, the same place Aragorn would later summon him in Lord of the Rings.

Why Isildur Cursed The Dead King & His Men

Isildur Gondor Lord of the Rings

The King of the Mountain Men maintained his independence and rule after swearing himself to Gondor, but he was bound by this oath to support Isildur with his army were he ever to be called upon. This finally happened leading up to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men (the battle seen at the start of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), which Isildur knew would decide the fate of Middle-earth. Since the Mountain Men had worshiped Sauron during the Dark Age, they were unwilling to turn against him. So, they ignored Isildur’s summons.

Before heading out for war, Isildur cursed the Mountain King and his men, stating that there would be no king after the man’s death and that he and his people would have no rest until they answered a call to aid Gondor. Of course, Isildur’s eventual downfall meant the Mountain Men had quite a long wait. Eventually, the king and his army died, but their spirits lingered, becoming the Dead Men of Dunharrow and their King of the Dead. Finally, thousands of years later, in Lord of the Rings, Isildur’s air, Aragorn, called on them, and the Dead King’s oath was finally fulfilled.

lord of the riings

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King concludes the epic saga of the Fellowship’s quest to destroy the One Ring and put an end to Sauron’s reign of terror. As Frodo and Sam continue on their way to Mordor and Mount Doom, accompanied by Gollom, the rest of the Fellowship work to defend Minas Tirith from Sauron’s forces. The film’s ensemble cast includes Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Vigo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, and Dominic Monaghan. 

Release Date
December 3, 2003

Elijah Wood


$94 million

New Line Cinema

New Line Cinema

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