Balrog Appearing in 'The Rings of Power' Is a Massive Retcon… Or Not

Balrog Appearing in 'The Rings of Power' Is a Massive Retcon… Or Not
Image credit: Legion-Media

Amazon's latest series 'The Rings of Power' has taken fire from many LOTR fans for considerably adapting aspects of Tolkien's original vision of Middle-Earth.

From beardless women dwarves to its inclusion of black actors, the show has not been afraid of sharing its own interpretation of how their story should be told. This has also meant altering the established Middle-Earth timeline. Introducing characters and events out of order and opposing the continuity of the novels. Therefore the teasing of the Balrog in episode five has fans wondering how the show's producers can justify including the creature so early into the story which directly conflicts with the lore. Will Amazon attempt to re-establish the events as prescribed by the lore, ignore the lore altogether, or is the Balrog just a ruse?

Anyone who has ever seen anything to do with The Lord of the Rings knows of Gandalf's battle against the formidable Balrog deep within the mines of Moria. It seems obvious then that for this most vital peril to take place, the Balrog cannot yet emerge from the depths of what is currently depicted in the series as 'Khazad-dûm'. To do so would greatly throw the events and timeline of the franchise out of order. Even for a show with an original story merely based upon the works of Tolkien, this would be more than a substantial change. So how could the series introduce such an alteration without disturbing the sanctity of the books?

One Reddit fan has suggested that the inclusion of the Balrog within the series may in fact be a precursor to its return in The Fellowship of the Ring. What if the creature's appearance is the cause of mithril mining; a plot that has been heavily featured within the series so far? Or maybe it is sent by Sauron, as his first attacks against the races of Middle-Earth. The dwarves with help from the elves then possibly trap the Balrog deeper down within the mines. Passing on a warning to future generations not to disturb the creature below.

This could fit nicely into the plot of both the series and complement the lore as set by the books. We know that the elves and dwarves forged an alliance during the second age, but the specifics of their cooperation were never revealed by Tolkien. It would then make sense that this tale of the Balrog deep below is forgotten over time. Dismissed by Gimili when they enter the mines of Moria on their quest to destroy the ring. Yet remembered by Gandalf, someone who would have studied the records of the dwarves and elves thoroughly, to have some notion of what may be waiting for them beneath the mountain.

It begs the question, how much can The Rings of Power alter the backstory without disrupting the lore? Either way, fans will be critical of Amazon's direction going forward with how they introduce the Balrog into the series. Like Gandalf himself, facing the creature at the pass of Moria, guarding the franchise against any careless tampering.