Gandalf vs. Saruman: Who Is the Strongest Wizard in The Lord of the Rings?

Gandalf vs Saruman

Gandalf and Saruman are both extremely powerful wizards and as such are perfect for any imaginary stand-offs. Both exist in the Middle-earth world and have faced off a few times. Due to different outcomes, there is one question still hanging in the air. Which of these two legendary wizards is the strongest in The Lord of the Rings universe? Is Gandalf stronger than Saruman?

Gandalf is stronger than Saruman. Although it is quite hard to answer this question. After careful consideration, we can reach the conclusion that Gandalf is more powerful. It is said by Galadriel that he is even stronger than Saruman even in his weaker, grey form. As Gandalf the White, he defeated Saruman and showed his real strength.

If that is so then how come was Saruman able to capture Gandalf? Saruman also had greater status than Gandalf. If you would like to learn the answer to this question and find out some interesting facts about the powers and abilities of both of these weapons keep reading the article. Let’s see under what terms is Gandalf stronger than Saruman.

How strong is Gandalf?

What Is Gandalf's Reputation?

Gandalf is one of the most powerful, oldest, and wisest wizards in all of Middle-earth. He is often underestimated because of his status as a grey wizard and because he refused to fight Sauron and Saruman directly.

Despite this, he is still one of the most powerful wizards and is regarded as the strongest member of the fellowship of the Ring.

Gandalf has an extensive base knowledge of the history of Middle-earth. This is in part due to the fact that he was around pretty much before Middle-earth itself, though not in his Gandalf the Grey form.

He also has the ability to use many systems of communication. He is able to use many different written and spoken languages.

He was a part of many different journeys throughout Middle Earth. During his adventures, he met a lot of powerful people with whom he created close bonds.

Another one of his assets is his vast intelligence. Due to this many consider him to be the Architect of Sauron’s defeat although he did not directly contribute to the destruction of the One Ring.

Gandalf also has excellent sight, in both magical and literal senses. He has the ability to see over great distances as well as increased sight in the darkness. His sight abilities also allowed him to see the effects of the Morgul-blade on Frodo once he was stabbed.

Although Gandalf primarily uses magic he is also a vigilant fighter. He is able to fight while riding a horse. The weapon of choice is either his staff or the elven blade he possesses.

He was also known to use the Narya ring. Narya is one of the three elven rings and it has the power to make its wearer resist tyranny, domination, and despair. It also has the power to conceal its wearer similar to the effect the One Ring had with Frodo and Bilbo. 

The other way Gandalf fight is while using his magic. He is skilled in a wide range of spells. Since Gandalf refers to himself as a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor it is no surprise that most of his spells are light and fire-based.

Most of Gandalf’s spells are performed through his staff he later shows that he possesses the ability to destroy magical objects with the power of the word.


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This is the power level of Gandalf the Grey. This is where we run into a bit of a problem. Gandalf, despite his wizard form, is actually a Maya. As such his power is almost unlimited, but because Gandalf chose to live physically on Middle-earth, the powers he originally possesses were restricted.

Once he transforms into Gandalf the White his power grows exponentially. This was possible because before his return to the physical world he was granted more of the power he originally has.

This allowed him to use telekinetics during his fights. He also exhibited the ability to blind his enemies. His reaction speed was increased making him in turn more agile in the fighting environment.

This was first proven when Gandalf encountered Legolas, Aragorn, and Gilly. With his new powers, Gandalf easily overpowered all three of them.

He effortlessly disarmed Aragorn and Gilly. He caused Aragorn’s sword to burst into flames and he effortlessly took away Gilly’s sword with a single wave of his staff. 

He also displayed enhanced reaction time as he was able to burn an elven arrow mere seconds after it was shoot.

He also gained the ability to destroy things with the power of the word. His endurance grew as well. After his transformation, he could only be harmed by the magical object, magical damage, or the damage caused by the word.

How strong is Saruman?


Saruman was the chief of wizards and the head of the White Council. However, many powerful magical figures believed he did not deserve to hold that position.

He was very mighty and was at least as powerful as Gandalf. However, he did have a higher status than Gandalf since he was a white wizard. At the peak of his power, he managed to defeat Gandalf in a direct duel and imprisoned him.

He was described as very knowledgeable, cunning, and skilled. He was aided in his causes by his many spies. He had extensive knowledge of the ring lore and its mechanics. This obsession eventually led him to join the Dark Lord.

He was extremely skilled in the field of magic. His most known spells involve creating powerful explosions. He also displayed the ability to increase the speed and strength of orcs that kidnapped Mery and Pippin.


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Another rare trait Saruman was good at was breeding his own Uruk-hai. The name is used to describe all Urks bred in Isengard to differentiate them from Black Urks which are Urk from Mordor.

One of his most important powers is his speech. Saruman was able to break almost anyone through his speech. He was recorded breaking almost all wills through this skill. 

Only the most powerful and strong-willed character was able to resist this power. Among those are Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond. Although, Gandalf was recorded to resist this power he was careful of it even after he defeated him and took away most of his power.

This power extends to his ability to read other people’s minds and use his powers to tell his opponents exactly what they want to hear.

Gandalf vs Saruman: Who is more powerful?

This question is actually quite hard to answer. In contrast to other works of fantasy that involve magic, Tolkien does not have a sharp line that divides magical and nonmagical forms of power of magic users.

This is why it is a bit harder to compare these two wizards. While Gandalf uses magic in obvious ways, such as making things burst into flames, or performing acts that defy the laws of physic, Saruman performs less obvious acts of magic. As a matter of fact, one of his most powerful forms of magic is not as literal and that is his magic-enhanced persuasion power. 

At the beginning of the story, Saruman is more powerful than Gandalf. Although this is never explicitly stated, Galadriel alluded to the fact that Gandalf, even in his grey form is more powerful than Saruman.

The power of a wizard is usually determined by his status. Following this Saruman was more powerful than Gandalf judging by his status alone. Later throughout the story, after his resurrection, he ascended to the level of a white wizard.


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Once Gandalf died and was got resurrected Valar allowed him to regain more of his Maiar power and transfer it back to his physical body. This allowed him to come back more powerful as Gandalf the White.

Due to being a Maya, he could never transfer all of his almost unlimited power into his physical body. Most of his power and abilities were restricted when he was not in his spirit form, for example, shape-shifting. Due to this Gandalf and Sauron could never face off in a situation in which both of them were at the peak of their power. 

Once he returned Gandalf and Sauron did actually face off. Gandalf had an upper hand all throughout the fight. He easily defeated Sauron proving that he is in fact more powerful.

However, Gandalf did prove his powers even further. He was able to use the power of the word to destroy Saruman’s white staff. He also managed to strip Saruman of his divine power. 

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