- See also Army of the dead
- "The dead do not suffer the living to pass."
- —King of the Dead
In the later years of the Second Age, he and his men also served and worshiped Sauron, until he and his army found Gondor. Isildur was the King of Gondor at that time. The King of the Dead made an oath to fight on Isildur's side when Isildur needed him. But when Isildur needed him most he did not come. Isildur cursed the King of the Dead and his army. Then the King of the Dead could not rest until his oath was fulfilled. In The Return of the King, the king and his army fought with Aragorn and the Grey Company at Pelargir. There they defeated the Corsairs of Umbar and an army of Haradrim. When the battle was over and Aragorn, as the Heir of Isildur, told the Army of the dead that the oath was fulfilled, the king broke his spear and threw it aside. Then he bowed to Aragorn, turned away, and, with the rest of his people, "vanished like a mist that is driven back by a sudden wind," never to be seen again.
Portrayal in Adaptations
- "The way is...shut. It was made by those who are dead...and the dead keep it. The way is shut."
- —The King of the Dead
The movie version is slightly different. The king first appears to Aragorn as a quick vision when he is looking at the Dimholt road. He later manifests to Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli when they are taking the Paths of the Dead. He spars briefly with Aragorn, resisting Aragorn's authority at first but he later agrees to fight. The king and his army attack the Corsairs, preventing them from entering Gondor, then accompany Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli to Minas Tirith. To complete the oath he helped defend Minas Tirith when it was under attack by an army of Orcs and Trolls and their leader the Witch-king of Angmar. After the battle the curse was broken by Aragorn, the new king of Gondor. So the King of the Dead and his army were finally able to rest.
In the console versions of the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King video game, he is the first boss on Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli's path. Other than wielding a large sword, he uses sorcery to create blasts of wind called "Wind of the Mountain", and chants spells to summon his undead army.