Is the Stranger in The Rings of Power Gandalf? (& Why He Doesn’t Remember)

the stranger gandalf

We all remember Gandalf as one of the most prominent characters during The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. He was always one of the good guys that tried to help other people when it came to fighting the armies of darkness under Sauron’s command during the Third Age. Of course, there are some theories that point to the possibility that he might already be in the Second Age during the events of The Rings of Power because we have a mysterious character called the Stranger, who doesn’t remember a thing. So, is the Stranger actually Gandalf?

It is possible that the Stranger is Gandalf. That’s because Gandalf was specifically sent by the Valar to Middle-Earth along with the other Maiar that became Wizards so that they could guide the people against Sauron. But there is also a chance that the Stranger is an entirely different person.

While the books do say that Gandalf only arrived during the Third Age, let’s not forget that none of the live-action adaptations of JRR Tolkien’s writings have ever been 1:1 in terms of how accurate they are. In that regard, the showrunners must’ve changed things up a bit by introducing a fan-favorite character this early in the storyline. That said, let’s learn more about the Stranger and Gandalf.

Is The Stranger Gandalf In The Rings Of Power?

At this point in the storyline of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, there are plenty of things that we don’t understand yet, as the series has done a good job of keeping mysteries quite mysterious. Although the biggest mystery is still related to the identity and whereabouts of Sauron, another mystery includes our favorite meteor man in the form of the Stranger.

When he landed near the temporary settlement of the Harfoots, the Stranger showed that he was capable of amazing power because he could control the flames that came from his meteor. He could also manipulate fireflies. And as seen in the events of episode 5, he was strong enough to defeat a warg using nothing but his bare hands in what seemed to be a showcase of his magical powers.

stranger meteor

Of course, we all know that there is another bearded old man that has always been quite friendly with the halflings of Middle-Earth. That man is Gandalf, who met during the events of The Lord of the Rings. We know how powerful Gandalf is as he was able to singlehandedly take on a Balrog, who he said was beyond the capabilities of any of his companions, which were the strongest warriors that the Third Age had to offer. So, does that mean that the Stranger is Gandalf?

At this point, it is tough to say that the Stranger is indeed Gandalf, even though they already have a lot of similarities. We all know that Gandalf is a Maia that was sent to Middle-Earth during the start of the second millennium of the Third Age because the Valar wanted to send aid to the people in the form of Wizards that were there to assist them in their fight against Sauron. There were five Wizards in total, and Gandalf was the most prominent among them because of his many travels and feats.


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Meanwhile, The Rings of Power takes place thousands of years before Gandalf’s actual arrival. So, if the Stranger is indeed Gandalf, then that means that the showrunners decided to make a huge change to what is canon in the writings of JRR Tolkien, as Gandalf was never in the Second Age. 

Still, the Stranger could be Gandalf as he was probably sent by the Valar via the meteor so that he could help fight the forces of evil on Middle-Earth. The fact that a halfling was the first to make friends with him could be the reason why Gandalf is so drawn to Hobbits in the events of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

gandalf and frodo

Of course, there’s also the fact that both of them are capable of immense power. The Maiar are second only to the Valar among the different creations of Eru Ilúvatar, and that is also the reason why Sauron, a Maia, is so powerful. Considering that the Stranger could also be a Maia, he might be Gandalf or, at the very least, the early stages of what Gandalf used to be before he became the famous wandering Wizard.

Nevertheless, there is still a possibility that the Stranger isn’t Gandalf but is someone else entirely. His identity is still something that we are yet to find out, and this is one of the biggest mysteries of the entire series so far.

Why Doesn’t The Stranger Remember Who He Is?

If the Stranger is indeed a Maia, who was named Olórin, and was sent by the Valar to Middle-Earth to aid the Elves and Men against Sauron, why is it the series seem to show that he doesn’t remember who he is?

Well, for starters, it is possible that he knows who he is. That’s because, in the firefly scene with Nori, he was seemingly telling her where he needed to go. As such, it is possible that he knows who he is and what he’s supposed to do. It is only that he can’t speak the common speech that the people of Middle-Earth speak, considering that he did live in Valinor his entire life and never had to learn the language of the people of Middle-Earth.

the stranger 1

There is also the fact that he actually doesn’t remember who he is at all. It could be related to the fact that Gandalf also forgot most of who he was before he became a Wizard. He explained in the books that the fact that he was transformed from a spirit to a physical being made him forget a good part of what his life used to be. But he eventually regained those memories when he “died” and was brought back as Gandalf the White.

In that regard, the fact that the Stranger was sent crash-landing to Middle-Earth via a meteor could have affected his memories as well. His transformation from a spirit to a human being might have made him forget who he was and what he needed to do in Middle-Earth. And he might eventually recall those memories as the series progresses.

Who Could The Stranger Be?

At this point, we are unsure who the Stranger is, even though there are already clues that point to the possibility that he could be Gandalf. Nevertheless, here are some of the other theories in relation to the Stranger’s identity:

1. Sauron

This is the most obvious one because both Sauron and the Stranger are the most mysterious characters in The Rings of Power so far. We don’t know a lot about who Sauron could be and where he could be hiding. And the fact that he is also a Maia could suggest that he and the Stranger (who could also be a Maia) are one and the same. 


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But we all know that Sauron never left Middle-Earth, and the fact that the Stranger crash-landed on Middle-Earth could suggest that the latter came straight from Valinor. Meanwhile, Sauron has always been hiding in plain sight.

2. A Blue Wizard

The Blue Wizards are two of the five Maiar sent by the Valar to Middle-Earth during the Third Age. However, after arriving in Middle-Earth, they immediately went east and were hardly ever heard of again. Considering that Tolkien hardly wrote about the Blue Wizards, it is possible that The Rings of Power will talk more about them by bringing one into the series in the form of the Stranger.

3. Tom Bombadil

One of the characters that were never explored in Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies is Tom Bombadil, who is a spirit that lives in Middle-Earth and has been around since before the First Age. Nevertheless, Tolkien didn’t write anything about what he did during the First and Second Ages, but he was a recurring character in the Third Age.

Still, Tom Bombadil was a mysterious fellow that had immense power. No one knew exactly who and what he was, and that could be the reason why he could be the Stranger in The Rings of Power. Of course, Tom Bombadil is also a friend of the Hobbits, and his relationship with Nori in The Rings of Power could be the reason why he is so close with the halflings. 

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