The Lord of the Rings is home to many great wizards. If you are here, you have probably been wondering, who are the most powerful wizards in The Lord of the Rings. We’ve found 10 wizards (or beings that use magic that can loosely be considered wizards) from Middle-earth and ranked them, from least to most powerful. Let’s take a look at our list of most powerful The Lord of the Rings wizards.
Who Is the Most Powerful Wizard in The Lord of the Rings?
If we’re going by status, Saruman was the most powerful wizard in The Lord of the Rings until Gandalf the White replaced him. If we’re going by powers alone Galadriel once alluded that Gandalf was more powerful than Saruman even in his grey form. But if we’re going by raw magic power output alone (unrelated to the title of Istar) the first place goes to Sauron. The following is a ranked list of the most powerful wizards in the TheLord of the Rings:
- Gandalf the White
- Saruman of Many Colors
- Saruman the White
- Gandalf the Grey
- Radagalf the Brown
- Blue wizard Pallando
- Blue wizard Alatar
- Melian the Maia
The Most Powerful The Lord of the Rings Wizards Ranked
Melian the Maia was the wife of Elu Thingol, mother of Lúthien, and Queen of Doriath.
She was such a strong being that she could maintain a force field around their whole kingdom. It is not certain she is a wizard, but she surely had wizard-like powers.
9. Blue Wizard – Alatar
Little is known about those two wizards, except they were two of the five Istari (two blue wizards, Radagast, Gandalf, and Saruman), that arrived on Middle-Earth together. They were sent to Middle-Earth to help fight against Sauron.
Their names are also not so certain, but it was mentioned that they were called Alatar and Pallando. It is not much known about them, but it is said that they got their names because of the color of the clothes they were wearing.
We can’t say which one of them is stronger, we just ranked those two alphabetically.
8. Blue Wizard – Pallando
Unlike the other three wizards, these two blue ones were sent to resist Sauron in the East, while others were sent West. We don’t know almost anything about their journey, except that they failed miserably.
We find that in Unfinished Tales when Tolkien wrote that, “indeed of all the Istari, one only remained faithful.” He of course thinks about Gandalf.
7. Radagast the Brown
Radagast the Brown (Aiwendil, a Maia of Yavanna) also failed in his mission. It is widely believed that his failure is not as severe as that of Saruman or that of the Blue Wizards.
Radagast, the fourth Istari, fell in love with the beasts and birds of Middle Earth and forgot the elves and the humans. He resided in Rhozgobel, in the southern part of Mirkwood, and spent his days caring for wild, forest creatures.
He certainly never became evil even though his birds brought information to Saruman the White as the supreme wizard of their order, which he used for treason. The eternal accuracy and intelligence of the Gwaihir Eagles was probably the merit of Radagast.
It is not known what happened to Radagast after the end of the Third Age, but it is assumed that he was allowed to return to Valinor after the War of the Ring. He was clearly powerful, but not as much as some other wizards on this list.
6. Gandalf the Grey
Gandalf (Olórin, a Maia of Manwë and Varda) is a character from J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels and their imaginary mythology. He appears in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, as well as movies and games.
Gandalf was one of the older wizards who was sent to Middle Earth to resist Sauron. During his two thousand years in Middle Earth, Gandalf began to understand the way these inhabitants lived, especially in The Hobbit. Gandalf was constantly working on plans to counter Sauron himself, and he himself launched a chain of events that eventually resulted in the fall of the Lord of Darkness.
Gandalf was one of the Maiars, incarnations at the service of the Valars. When he lived in the Undying Land he was known by the name of Olórin and was among the wisest of Maiare. He used to know how to walk among the Elves, unnoticed or as one of them, and shared the acquired wisdom with one another. He spent most of his time in Lothlórien – the gardens by which the Lothlórien Forest in Middle Earth was named.
Olórin also frequently visited Nienna at her home in the far west. It was said that Olórin learned from her compassion and patience. However, the name Olórin was most associated with Valar Manwe and Ward – they were the ones who sent Olórin to Middle Earth around 1000 AD.
The Maiars who were sent from Valar to Middle Earth were given the form of elderly people and were known as the Istars, that is, the wizards. Their task was to assist the inhabitants of Middle Earth in the battle against Sauron, but without seeking power and domination for themselves. Olórin was the last of the five wizards to arrive at the Gray Ports in the northwest of Middle-earth.
There, Círdan handed him Narya, one of the Three Elven Rings, explaining that difficult temptations were awaiting him and that the Ring would help him in his endeavors. Namely, Narya had the power to light a fire in the hearts of people in difficult times.
He is one of the wizards most committed to the mission of stopping Sauron, so even at this early stage, he is still at work wandering around and trying to accomplish this mission. He is clearly very powerful, but nowhere near his full potential.
5. Saruman the White
Saruman the White (originally Curumo, a Maia of the people of Aulë the Maker) was the chief of the five Istars sent from Valinor to help the free peoples of the Middle Earth oppose the evil that remained after Morgoth.
He was from the Maiars and was particularly interested in the Ring. Over time, this obsession distorted his actions and he betrayed the White Council and partnered with Sauron.
He resided in the former city/fort of Gondor, Isengard, where he captures Gandalf. Gwaihir lord of eagles in Middle Earth rescues Gandalf. Saruman raised an army of mighty Uruk-hai stronger than ordinary orcs so they could walk in daylight. He attacks Rohan and loses in the battle in Helm’s Deep, then he retired to Isengard where he was captured by the Ents under the leadership of Treebeard.
After some time he was released because he lost his powers. To get revenge on the hobbits who participated in the War of the Ring he did many bad things in the Shire by the power of his malice, until the fellowship came back and defeated him. He dies in the Shire at the hands of a longtime helper Gríma Wormtongue.
He was more powerful than Gandalf at these stages, but his study of dark magic turned him to support Sauron. However, before he turned to the dark forces, he was a very powerful wizard. His magic is best seen during his duel with Gandalf, where he defeats him in one on one wizard combat.
Ilmarë (Quenya; IPA: [ˈilmare] – “Starlight”) was chief amongst the Maiar and the handmaiden to Queen Varda.
Ilmarë was the handmaiden of Varda, thereby a guardian spirit of the stars, and one of the chiefs of the Maiar, along with Eönwë, the Herald and Banner-Bearer of King Manwë.
She is only mentioned briefly in the Valaquenta, where Ilmarë is described along with the Maia Eönwë who was the banner-bearer and herald of King Manwë.
The mythology of Middle-Earth is very complicated and contains a lot of powerful beings (not only wizards). While the Istari were some of these powerful beings, they certainly were not the only ones.
The Varda were basically the gods of the Middle-Earth, and they had many servants and helpers. The Istari were one kind of servant. Ilmare was another kind. She was the handmaiden of Varda and a guardian of the stars. She was also one of the chiefs of the Maiar (a group to which the Istari also belong).
Her powers are really not so known, and seen from these quotes from The Silmarillion, she could be stronger than the next two wizards on this list, but, because their powers are much more known, we will put them above her. I would say the number one is untouchable.
3. Saruman of Many Colors
Saruman’s change from Saruman the White to Saruman of Many Colours signifies power spoiling pure intentions. For Saruman, it is a rejection of the role that was set out for him. Everyone exists as part of Eru’s plan and the Istari were sent to Middle-Earth with distinctive roles and assigned colors in the fight against Sauron.
Saruman was the leader of the Istari, wise in ring lore and powerful. White represents purity and Saruman rejects his mission and believes he is showing wisdom with the breaking of white into many colors. White has been split like a prism and many colors are revealed in its place:
“For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!”
‘I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colors. and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
‘ “I liked white better,” I said.
‘ “White! ” he sneered. “It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten, and the white light can be broken.”
‘ “In which case it is no longer white,” said I. “And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”The Fellowship of the Ring – The Council of Elrond
This exchange demonstrates the lack of a good sense of Saruman. He has managed to break something that is pure, but in doing so he has broken its purity forever. He has left the path of wisdom due to hubris and now believes he is far beyond the task that was given to him. No longer constrained by being Saruman the White, he has forged his own path and no knowledge is beyond his reach.
Gandalf is of course completely correct and this rejection on the part of Saruman is his downfall.
2. Gandalf the White
In the second part, The Two Towers, the story continues in parallel in two books, and in the first, it tells us the story about the remaining members of the Fellowship who assist the country of Rohan in the war against traitor Saruman, a former leader of the Order of the Wizard, who wants the Ring for himself.
At the beginning of the first book, the Fellowship is scattered, Merry and Pippin are captured by Sauron’s and Saruman’s orcs, Boromir is mortally wounded defending them, and Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas chase after them. The three meet Gandalf, who returned to Middle Earth as Gandalf the White. They learn that he defeated Balrog and even though he himself was killed then, he was sent back and reborn as an important character.
When Gandalf the Grey died, he returned to the timeless Halls of Eru, the creator-God of Middle Earth. It seems that while there, he regained his previously lost memories. As Saruman lost his place as the white wizard by turning to the dark, Gandalf was to take his place as the white wizard.
Upon returning to Middle Earth as Gandalf the White, his previous life as Gandalf the Gray must have seemed like a short and distant memory. In the movies, he recalls his past life and says (paraphrasing) “Oh yes, that’s what they used to call me… Gandalf the Gray. I am Gandalf the White.”
He says he is the same person, with his previous memories, but draws the distinction that he has changed greatly from the wizard the Fellowship once knew.
Gandalf the White was and wasn’t the same person as before, he is the same Maia spirit, but without the doubts and instabilities that clouded his mind in the past when he was Gandalf the Grey. His limitations as one of the Istari have been lifted (maybe not completely) and he is now a greater version of Gandalf the Grey. As he puts it:
‘Yes, I am white now,’ said Gandalf. ‘Indeed I am Saruman, one might almost say, Saruman as he should have been.‘
The Two Towers, Book III, Chapter 5: The White Rider
He became the leader Saruman was not, leading the efforts of the resistance as Saruman should have, having him not betrayed them all. So he was Gandalf, with either enhanced wisdom and power, or lifting part of his limitations, allowing him to use more of the might he already had within himself. You may say that he passed to be just a counselor to take a more active role in the defense of the Free Peoples, but he didn’t make anyone submit to his command, respecting the first rule of not becoming chieftain of Men and Elves.
Gandalf was a powerful wizard before, but he goes from somewhat powerful to the height of his power (in human form) after he battles the Balrog.
Sauron is an evil wizard from the work of J. R. R. Tolkien. He appears in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Silmarillion.
In the Third Age of Middle-earth, he resided in the land of Mordor. Sauron is the Lord of the Rings because with his One Ring he could rule the rest of the Rings of Power. Sauron was finally destroyed by the little hobbit Frodo Baggins by throwing One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom which was forged because Sauron was tied to the Ring.
Sauron was one of the mighty spirits of Maiar, a creature of great knowledge and power, but still of lower deities, so he was a servant of the great gods of Valar. He was good at first, but it was corrupted by Morgoth, evil Valar, and Sauron become the second in the chain of command.
He has a lot of abilities that appear magical but is not technically a wizard or Istari. While he might not technically fall under the wizard category, his magic and might are vast.
In many ways, he functions as an extremely powerful dark lord and that dark magic definitely falls into the wizardry category in one sense.