The first season of The Rings of Power is drawing to a climactic finish. For seven weeks, audiences have watched as Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) and company attempt to warn and unite Middle-earth against the impending return of Sauron. Trying to defend the entire world from evil incarnate is no small task, and The Rings of Power was always going to be a series that needed several seasons to adequately tell its story. Luckily for fans, the showrunners confirmed that they have a particular number of installments in mind for The Lord of the Rings prequel series.
The Rings of Power is not a show constantly overshadowed by the threat of cancellation. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon invested a total of $465 million into the show’s first season, which is why it’s no surprise that series showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay started their journey with an ending in place. Along with the help of executive producer and director J.A. Bayona, the trio meticulously mapped out where the series would go. “We even know what our final shot of the last episode is going to be,” Payne told Empire in June 2022. “The rights that Amazon bought were for a 50-hour show. They knew from the beginning that was the size of the canvas – this was a big story with a clear beginning, middle and end. There are things in the first season that don’t pay off until Season 5.”
Fans should expect The Rings of Power to run for five seasons. The show’s first season has eight episodes, and a “50-hour” Rings of Power series could easily mean that Season 2 and beyond might have more episodes — or at least longer episodes.
In the Empire interview, both Payne and McKay spoke about their ambition to weave together a story that portrays the history of Middle-earth. The stories of the elves, dwarves, harfoots, and men will remain in focus, ultimately leading to the rise of Sauron. While they admitted that some of the character plot lines are original creations, the overall narrative story is ripped straight from the source material. “It was like Tolkien put some stars in the sky and let us make out the constellations,” Payne said. “In his letters [particularly in one to his publisher], Tolkien talked about wanting to leave behind a mythology that ‘left scope for other minds and hands, wielding the tools of paint, music and drama.’ We’re doing what Tolkien wanted.” As for whether the creators feared they might be veering off the path, McKay said, “As long as we felt like every invention of ours was true to his essence, we knew we were on the right track.”
Despite the pressures of trying to fulfill a multi-season contract, the creators explained that any creative constraints were largely absent. “The pressure would drive us insane if we didn’t feel like there was a story here that didn’t come from us,” McKay explained. “It came from Tolkien and we’re just the stewards of it.” He later added, “We’re custodians, at best.” With so much deference towards the source material’s author, it seems as though the future of The Rings of Power will its best to align with Tolkien’s vision.