Where The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power Fits In The Franchise Timeline, According To The Creators

Those of us who are anxiously anticipating the premiere of the ultra-expensive Amazon Prime series "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" may be wondering where exactly in the "Lord of the Rings" timeline the show will be taking place. The short answer is that it takes place during the Second Age of Middle-earth, but if you're not exactly an advanced Tolkien aficionado or Middle-earth historian, that understandably means nothing to you. Luckily, we're here with a far more comprehensive explanation.

Way before the movies

Using the six movies that take place in the Tolkien cinematic universe (which is technically a thing, if you think about it) as a point of reference, it's easy enough to see that "The Rings of Power" is set far before the events of the "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" trilogies, as they each take place primarily during the Third Age of Middle-earth. Using the power of advanced mathematics, we can deduce that "second" comes before "third," to conclude that we're gonna see all sorts of cool stuff that happened before Bilbo Baggins even existed. Of course, the fact that "The Rings of Power" takes place thousands of years before the adventures in the movies unfold means that we won't be seeing many familiar faces in the series, save for a few key players.

A balance of fresh and familiar

In an interview with Empire Magazine, showrunners JD Payne and Patrick McKay revealed that the choice to have the show take place much earlier in the "Lord of the Rings" franchise timeline was an intentional one, as they didn't want to just rehash things that fans have already seen. In the words of Payne, 

"We had to ensure we were bringing something fresh to it and expanding the map. We weren't interested in a sequel or prequel or a rehash or nostalgia. It had to stand on its own two feet as something that felt faithful — but also its own thing."

Similarly, McKay had this to say concerning the decision to create something new rather than rely solely on preexisting characters and storylines, "We didn't want to do the TV version of Lord Of The Rings," says McKay. "We wanted to do a story in Middle-earth that deserves its own space on the shelf, alongside the novels and films."

The devil's in the details

This doesn't mean that "The Rings of Power" will consist of completely made-up storylines that aren't consistent with the established lore, however. In fact, the fantasy series will draw heavily upon Tolkien's written works, using the extensive histories laid out in the appendices of his novels as a foundation upon which to build the narrative we'll see in the show. Basically, this means that while the show isn't based on any particular novel, it is still very much going to be a depiction of the world Tolkien created, adding flesh to the bones, in a sense.

Specifically, those who tune in for "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" will be able to see key events that had only been alluded to in the films and movies, such as the forging of the 19 Rings of Power, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, and the destruction of the kingdom of Númenor. Perhaps most interesting of all will be the first on-screen appearance of the Dark Lord Sauron in human form, as the villain has only ever been seen as a large flaming eyeball that hovered menacingly over Mordor — or as an entity desperately in need of dental work and wearing imposing suit of armor if you watched the extended edition of "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" as an imposing figure in dark armor. The impending reveal of Sauron's physical form has been a topic of interest for some time, with some fans saying it may ruin the dark mystique surrounding the character, while others are likely eager to begin creating screen-accurate NSFW fanfic the moment we finally see his face.

"Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" will debut on Amazon Prime Video on September 2, 2022. Until then, you can check out the trailer and be sure to follow SlashFilm for more updates.