Gandalf vs. Sauron: Who Is More Powerful?

Sauron vs Gandalf

Gandalf is one of the strongest characters in The Lord of the Rings world, but is he more powerful than the second Dark Lord? In this article, we will go in-depth about their powers and see if Gandalf could have defeated the Sauron. So, who is more powerful between the two?

Initially, Sauron was much more powerful than Gandalf the Grey because he oriented himself toward amassing more power and combat in general, while Gandalf was merely wise and compassionate and took a more passive role in almost any conflict that he encountered. Sauron also had more resources and skills at his disposal, meaning that the fight between Gandalf the Grey and Sauron would be pretty much straight to the point going to Sauron’s favor. However, as Gandalf transformed into Gandalf the White he gained both more power and more wisdom, on the other hand Sauron was getting weaker due to his severed connection to the One Ring. This leads us to believe that Gandalf the White would ultimately prove to be strong enough to defeat weakened Sauron.

There are a couple of things at work here. We will give you a detailed look at both characters and explain why Sauron, in our opinion, was more powerful than Gandalf.

Sauron vs. Gandalf: Initial power comparions

Both Sauron and Gandalf were created as Maiar and even though all Maiar were created more or less equal Gandalf was always described as being the wisest of them all. Both of them likewise underwent changes and power development over time, but what’s interesting while Sauron sought power and dominance, Gandalf oriented himself toward wisdom, compassion, and inner growth.

So even though Gandalf and Sauron were among the most powerful Maiar their specific powers and inclinations differed. Gandalf was chosen and sent by Manwë, the leader of the Valar, while Sauron volunteered for his role as a guide and teacher, showcasing that something was special about Gandalf from the start.


Before they descended into Arda, the physical world, Sauron studied craftsmanship under Aulë, while Gandalf learned pity and patience from Nienna. During this time, Sauron was likely much more powerful than Gandalf because of his inclination toward hard skills, and he proceeded to increase his powers beyond his in-born limitations and abilities, while Gandalf oriented himself toward emotions and compassion.


Both Sauron and Gandalf likewise experience the diminishing of their powers,

Sauron, in particular, lost the advantage of being unfettered by a human-like form, which was the fate of the Istari, a group of Maiar that included Gandalf, sent to Middle-earth by the Valar to guide and assist its inhabitants. Sauron’s use of power from within, rather than relying on the ambient energy of Eru, contributed to his diminishing, rendering him less powerful over time.


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Gandalf was bound by his human-like form when he arrived in Middle-Earth like all other Istari. These forms made them less powerful than they were as pure spirits, a deliberate limitation imposed by the Valar to prevent a direct contest of power in Middle-earth.

With everything said, considering Gandalf’s and Sauron’s power developments in this era, Sauron has the upper hand because he actively sought more power, and the first point goes to him.

Gandalf (0:1) Sauron


As we’ve previously mentioned Gandalf spends a large portion of time in his human-like form which makes him subject to the exact physical rules as if he were a human. He could get damaged, he could hunger, thirst, and be slain ultimately. This is something that he didn’t have to worry about in his Maiar form.

Sauron did have more physical might and resilience but the longer his rebellion against Eru was going due to his misses of power the weaker he was ultimately becoming. After the loss of The One Ring, he was severely weakened and lost a significant amount of energy to create for himself a new physical body.

Gandal on the other hand, managed to face Balrog and lived to tell the tale, which proves that despite his human weaknesses, he was still extremely resilient and durable.

Based on everything, we would award this point to Sauron but as he was getting progressively weaker, Gandalf proved that he was becoming more stronger and resilient over them, this is why the point goes to both.

Gandalf (1:2) Sauron

Combat Skills

Gandalf was always more of a passive combatant, he was driven by a sense of duty and compassion and we were willing to look at the situation from several angles, always relying more on his wits than his abilities.

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Sauron was inherently more combat-orientated than Gandalf, his studies under Aule gave him more insight regarding weapons, strategies, and powerful artifacts that might unlock even more powers. Sauron actively forged the One Ring and raised armies to wage war. He had exceptional command over vast armies, creatures, monsters, and the Nazgul. Sauron had both better skills and more resources at his disposal.

Why did Gandalf let go 01

Yes, we can take Gandalf’s fight against Balrog into account, but truly Sauron took part in many more battles actively and was without a doubt a more dangerous opponent for anyone willing to face him on the battlefield.


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Gandalf (1:3) Sauron

Gandalf the White vs. the Second Birth of Sauron

Following Gandalf’s fight with Balrog, he returned as Gandalf the White. Tolkien confirmed that this form of Gandalf was much wiser and much more powerful than his Grey form and as such, he was able to take on both Saruman and Witch-King. Gandalf gained access to t all his abilities as the Maia Olorin.

gandalf the white

By the Third Age, Sauron has weaned considerably when compared to his earlier form as Mairon and the Dark Lord of the Second Age. This was all due to his spiritual diminishgn and the loss of The One Ring. He still had influence and many more resources but Sauron’s decision to withdraw despite his desperation to find the Ring was proof enough that he recognized Gandalf’s power.


Gandalf the White vs. Gandalf the Grey: Which Gandalf is Stronger

The fight between the two would still be quite uncertain, but the balance of power shifted in Gandalf’s favor, with Sauron becoming weaker as the time was passing by and Gandalf amassing more allies and resources.

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