- "He wore a tall pointed grey hat, a long grey cloak, and a silver scarf. He had a long white beard and bushy eyebrows that stuck out beyond the brim of his hat."
- —The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party"
Gandalf (Norse; IPA: [gand:alf] - "Elf of the Wand" or "Wand-elf") the Grey, later known as Gandalf the White, and originally named Olórin (Quenya; IPA: [oˈloːrin] - "Dreamer" or "Of Dreams"), was an Istar (wizard), sent by the West in the Third Age to combat the threat of Sauron. He joined Thorin and his company to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug, convoked the Fellowship of the Ring to destroy the One Ring, and led the Free Peoples in the final campaign of the War of the Ring.
Years of the Lamps
Originally called Olórin, he was accounted as the wisest of the Maiar (with the possible exception of Melian). He was a Maia of Manwë and Varda. He also served under two other Valar, such as Irmo and Nienna. When the Valar decided to send the order of the Istari (also known as Wizards) to Middle-earth, to counsel and assist all those in Middle-earth who opposed the Dark Lord Sauron, Manwë and Varda decided to include Olórin among the five who were sent.
At first, Olórin was nervous and described himself as too weak and too afraid of Sauron. Manwë understood, and told him that that was one main reason why he should go, to overcome that fear. Thus, he insisted that Olórin should go as the third, but Varda convinced him not to include Olórin as the third, but as the second. Olórin agreed, and prepared for his departure from the Undying Lands with the other four wizards.
Arrival in Middle-earth
When he arrived to Middle-earth, he received Narya, the ring of fire, from Círdan the Shipwright. Olórin, renamed Gandalf, spent many centuries walking among the elves as a stranger, learning from them and teaching them. He later revealed himself as one of the Istari, and eventually became known as the wisest of and most powerful of that order. He joined the White Council, which was formed to investigate a dark power in Dol Guldur, of which Galadriel wanted him to become the leader, yet Saruman came to lead the Council instead of him. Although Saruman was initially more powerful and more knowledgeable about many matters regarding Sauron and the Rings of Power, and was head of the White Council before the War of the Ring, he later grew jealous and afraid of Gandalf, which was the reason of his betrayal.
Reemergence of the Necromancer
Gandalf wandered for many years amongst the Free People of Middle-earth, but spent most of that time amongst the Elves, where he learned much and taught much. He also continued to gather such information about Sauron and his ilk as he could, and to that end, he began to suspect that the Necromancer of Dol Guldur was in fact Sauron taking shape once again. He entered Dol Guldur, but Sauron, still greatly weakened, fled from him and for a short time, the evil of Mirkwood was greatly reduced. However, Sauron quickly returned to Dol Guldur, and by 2850 of the Third Age, had rebuilt his forces there. In that year, Gandalf again entered the fortress and encountered Thráin II, father of Thorin Oakenshield, who was dying after having been horribly tormented. Before his death, the old dwarf king entrusted Gandalf with a map and key to the Lonely Mountain.
Gandalf became increasingly troubled by his knowledge of Sauron's resurgent strength. He knew that Sauron was already plotting war from Dol Guldur, and that as soon as he felt strong enough, he would attack Rivendell. Unfortunately, the only power left besides Rivendell to resist an attempt from Mirkwood to regain the lands of Angmar was the dwarves of the Iron Hills. Even worse, Gandalf knew that Smaug resided still in the Lonely Mountain, and that Sauron could and would use the dragon to devastating effect once he became strong enough to influence Smaug. However, Saruman seemed reluctant to engage Sauron's forces, though none of the White Council realized that he was already a traitor.
Conception of a plan
One night, while pondering the problem of the Free People's weakness in the North, Gandalf had a chance encounter in Bree with the dwarf Thorin II Oakenshield, who was also searching, without direction or much hope, for a way to reclaim the Kingdom Under the Mountain. Gandalf and Thorin then concocted a plan (more Gandalf's than Thorin's) to potentially draw the dragon out of the mountain and reclaim the kingdom.
Leading the company
To that end, Gandalf visited Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit of the Shire, to convince him to go with Thorin and Company to Erebor and aid them. At the time, Bilbo thought of him as little more than a vain, fussy old conjurer who entertained children with fireworks during festivals and parties, but soon discovered his true nature. Gandalf accompanied the Company from the Shire through the Trollshaws, where Gandalf found his sword, Glamdring and Bilbo found Sting, to Rivendell where they were given shelter by Lord Elrond. It was in their attempt to cross the Misty Mountains by the High Pass that the Company was captured by goblins, and though Gandalf rescued the dwarves and aided them in escaping, it was here that Bilbo encountered Gollum and discovered the One Ring (though at the time it was mistaken for a lesser ring).
After staying at the house of Beorn, Gandalf led the dwarves to the edge of Mirkwood, where he left them to try to convince the White Council (particularly Saruman) to oust Sauron from Dol Guldur. He only told the dwarves, however, he had to "attend to other pressing business", and refused to disclose the nature of his departure. This would be the second time during the quest that Gandalf would leave the dwarves, the first being to "scout ahead" in the Trollshaws.
Ultimately, during Gandalf's absence from the Company, he convinced the White Council of the eminent danger of Sauron, which led to the Council's assault on Dol Guldur. The attack appeared to drive out the Necromancer (Sauron), though he immediately retreated to his long-prepared stronghold of Barad-dûr.
The Battle of Five Armies
Meanwhile, Thorin and Company had reached the Lonely Mountain, although the dwarves unintentionally provoked Smaug into attacking Lake-town, where the dragon was slain by the bowman Bard. In the absence of the dragon, the Wood-elves and men of Laketown came to the mountain to claim their share of the treasure within, though the dwarves refused, and as a result became besieged. Gandalf rejoined Thorin's company shortly before the Battle of Five Armies broke out, bearing news of the arrival of a goblin and warg army. Gandalf fought in the battle, and helped destroy the goblin threat. Thorin himself was slain during the battle, but Gandalf's primary aim was achieved; with the destruction of Smaug and the ousting of the goblin army, Dáin II Ironfoot became King under the Mountain and restored the Lonely Mountain to a powerful kingdom. This, along with the strengthening of the Kingdom of Dale, allowed the Free People of the Northern region of Middle-earth to have considerable preparation against Sauron's forces during the later War of the Ring, where before they had virtually none. Following the battle, Gandalf accompanied Bilbo back to the Shire.
Before the War
Return to the Shire
Gandalf spent the years between TA 2941 to TA 3001 travelling Middle-earth in search of information on Sauron's resurgence and Bilbo's mysterious ring. When Bilbo first found the One Ring, Gandalf was immediately suspicious of the Hobbit's story of how he acquired it. He privately confronted Bilbo and forced the truth out of him, and was deeply troubled by the Ring's powers, as they seemed eerily familiar. Perhaps even more troubling to him was that Bilbo, a proper, honorable hobbit, would uncharacteristically lie about his story. He spent as much time as he could in the Shire, however, strengthening his friendship with Bilbo and befriending Bilbo's nephew, Frodo, while simultaneously becoming suspicious of Saruman and his allegiances.
In TA 3001, around the time of Bilbo's "Eleventy-First" (111th) birthday party, Gandalf returned to the Shire, bringing along many fireworks for the occasion. After seeing Frodo and visiting Bilbo again, Gandalf attended the party.
During Bilbo's speech, he put on a mysterious ring and disappeared, as a joke on his neighbours. Later as he was bidding farewell to Gandalf, who had known about his plans to leave, Bilbo began to change his mind about leaving his ring to Frodo, as he had earlier agreed. When Gandalf tried to persuade him to leave it, Bilbo became hostile and accused Gandalf of trying to steal the ring for his own benefit, which he referred to as his "precious." Horrified by Bilbo's outburst, Gandalf stood to his full height and projected his power, frightening the hobbit. This brought Bilbo back to his senses; he apologised, admitted that the Ring had been troubling him lately, and left it behind. Bilbo and Gandalf bid each other goodbye before Bilbo left the Shire for his journey.
Gandalf, troubled by this, mulled over Bilbo's aggressive behavior. Before finally leaving the Shire, Gandalf gave the ring to Frodo, advising him to keep it safe. Over the next seventeen years, Gandalf traveled extensively, searching for answers. Having long sought for Gollum near Mordor, he met Aragorn, who had captured the creature in Mirkwood. Gandalf interrogated Gollum and learned that Sauron had forced Gollum to tell what he knew about the ring under torture. Gandalf left Mirkwood soon after, and left Gollum with the wood-elves of Northern Mirkwood.
Upon returning to the Shire, Gandalf immediately went to Frodo and confirmed his suspicions by throwing the Ring into Frodo's hearth fire, which revealed, in Black Speech, the inscription upon the ring. Gandalf then told a dumbfounded Frodo about the One Ring and its history, and how Sauron would seek to regain it. Instructing Frodo to go to Rivendell with the ring, Gandalf told him to make arrangements to leave the Shire quietly.
Riding near the Shire, Gandalf encountered Radagast the Brown, another Wizard, referred to as "his cousin", who asked him to seek out Saruman the White, as the Nazgûl had come forth and crossed the River Anduin. Before he left, Gandalf instructed Radagast to alert all the 'birds and beasts' that were friendly to the latter to convey messages about the Nazgûl to Saruman and Gandalf at Orthanc.
Leaving a note for Frodo with Barliman Butterbur, an inn-keeper in Bree, Gandalf left for Isengard to speak with Saruman. Once there, however, Gandalf discovered that Saruman wanted the One Ring for himself and declared himself Saruman of Many Colours. He tried to convince Gandalf to either join with him in service to Sauron, so that they could eventually control the Dark Lord and thus achieve good ends, though through evil means, or to help him find the One Ring so they could take power from Sauron. Gandalf refused, and was held prisoner at the top of the tower Orthanc.
Journey to Rivendell
After spending a while as Saruman's prisoner, Gandalf was eventually rescued by Gwaihir the Eagle. Gwaihir's real purpose for visiting Orthanc was to report a sighting of the Nazgûl, as Radagast had appealed to him to do so earlier on. The great Eagle set Gandalf down in Rohan, where he appealed to King Théoden for a horse.
King Théoden allowed Gandalf to take any horse he desired, but only to do so quickly. There, Gandalf chose the horse Shadowfax. Riding for the Shire, Gandalf arrived too late for Frodo; he had already set out.
Knowing that Frodo would be heading for Rivendell, Gandalf began to make his own way there. Shortly after arriving in Bree, Gandalf learned that the Hobbits had already began traveling to Rivendell with Aragorn. Subsequently, Gandalf was confronted one night by Sauron's Nazgûl at Weathertop. After a prolonged battle with the Ringwraiths, Gandalf was able to eventually escape, though four of the nine Nazgûl pursued him.
Several days later, Frodo, Aragorn, and company stayed at Weathertop and were confronted by the remaining five Nazgûl. Despite their escape, Frodo was stabbed in the process by the Ringwraith leader with a Morgul-blade. Gandalf was able to evade the four Nazgûl and successfully reach Rivendell. However, several days later, an injured Frodo arrived at the Ford of Bruinen, though the Nazgûl pursued him all the way there. Gandalf, along with Elrond, saved Frodo from the Nazgûl by enchanting the water and sweeping them away.
Forming of the Fellowship
At Rivendell, Gandalf, along with Frodo, Bilbo, and many others, attended the secret Council of Elrond. There Gandalf explained to the others how Saruman had imprisoned him and how the White Wizard was creating his own army of orcs to rival Sauron's.
As everyone at the Council debated over the ring, Frodo offered to be the ring-bearer and take it to Mount Doom to be destroyed. Gandalf volunteered to help and protect Frodo on his quest, along with Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli. Sam snuck in and was allowed to go because of this.
With this the Fellowship of the Ring was formed. Gandalf later convinced Elrond to allow Frodo's cousins, Merry and Pippin, to join the Fellowship. Subsequently, after preparing for the journey, the Fellowship left Rivendell. Gandalf took leadership of the Fellowship, leading the group south after leaving Rivendell. He and Aragorn led the hobbits and their companions on an unsuccessful effort to cross Mount Caradhras.
War of the Ring
Mines of Moria
They then took the "dark and secret way" through the Mines of Moria, much to Aragorn's discomfort; though he had passed through the Mines once before, he had no desire to go through them again, and he feared for Gandalf if they did so. As they tried to leave the mines, at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, Gandalf faced a balrog, known commonly as Durin's Bane. It was one of the Maiar corrupted by Melkor in the early days of Arda.
You cannot pass," he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.
—The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter 5: "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
Gandalf stopped on the bridge, standing in the middle of the span, allowing the others to escape. He leaned on the staff in his left hand and held the sword Glamdring, gleaming cold and white, in his right. The Balrog stepped onto the Bridge, facing Gandalf, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised its whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm and declared that the Balrog could not pass. They clashed, and the Balrog's sword was shattered. Then the Balrog leaped full upon the Bridge, and Gandalf lifted his staff and smote the span. His staff broke, but the Bridge cracked at the Balrog's feet. The stone beneath the Balrog broke and fell, taking the Balrog with it into the abyss, but the thongs of its whip snared Gandalf about his knees, and Wizard and Balrog plummeted together into the darkness below. Galdalf cried, "Fly, you fools!" and was gone.
Gandalf and the Balrog fell for a long time, and Gandalf was burned by the Balrog's fire. Then they plunged into a deep lake in the depths of the mountain, which Gandalf later said was cold as the tide of death and almost froze his heart. They fought in the water until finally the Balrog fled into dark tunnels, where the world is gnawed by nameless things, older even than Sauron. Gandalf pursued the creature until it led him to the spiraling Endless Stair, and they climbed it until they reached Durin's Tower in the living rock of Zirakzigil, the pinnacle of the Silvertine above the clouds. There they fought, until at last Gandalf threw down his enemy, and the Balrog broke the mountain-side as it fell. Then darkness took Gandalf, and he passed away. His body lay on the peak. The entire battle, from the confrontation on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm to the mutual demise of the Balrog and Gandalf, had taken ten days.
Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.
—Gandalf the White
Twenty days later Gandalf returned to life, and lay in a trance.
Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done. And naked I lay upon the mountain-top. … There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over, and each day was as long as a life-age of the earth.
—The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Three, Chapter V: "The White Rider"
Three days later he was found by the windlord Gwaihir, the Lord of the Eagles, who had been sent by Galadriel to find him. Gandalf was carried to Caras Galadhon in Lothlórien, where he was healed, and clothed in white, and thus became Gandalf the White.
In Fangorn forest he encountered Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas while they were tracking Pippin and Merry, who had been captured by orcs in Gandalf's absence.
Keep well the Lord of the Mark, till I return. Await me at Helm's Gate. Farewell!
—Gandalf to Aragorn and Éomer and the men of the king's household
Revealing himself to the three, he explained how he had survived and returned. There, Gandalf tried to persuade Aragorn to go to Rohan instead, insisting there are other pressing matters, such as the War coming to Rohan and the impending attack on Edoras by Saruman.
Arriving in Rohan with Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, Gandalf discovered King Théoden, weakened by Saruman's agent, Grima Wormtongue. However, Gandalf quickly broke Wormtongue and Saruman's hold over Théoden.
While Théoden and the Rohirrim rode to Helm's Deep to do battle with the hordes of Isengard, Gandalf rode to Orthanc and asked Treebeard to encourage the Huorns to Assist him in defeating Saruman and his Uruk-hai. He also rode to find Erkenbrand and his men and persuaded them to ride to Helm's Deep.
Siege of Gondor
After overthrowing Saruman, Gandalf broke his rival's staff and banished him from the Order of Wizards. Then, against his counsel, Pippin glanced into the Palantír of Orthanc that he recovered from Saruman and made contact with Sauron. He then took Pippin with him to Gondor to aid in the defense of the city. Along the way, Gandalf gave Pippin a brief history of Palantír, mentioning Feanor, and how it was fortunate that Pippin made contact with Sauron instead of himself, since he was not yet ready for a meeting with Sauron. Arriving at Minas Tirith, he met with Denethor II and tried to give him counsel.
After Faramir's charge, the Morgul host assaulted the city. Gandalf provided valuable aid to the White City and bought precious time allowing the Rohirrim to save Gondor during The Battle of the Pelennor Fields. When the battering ram Grond breached the gates of the city, numerous trolls rushed through, attacking the defenders. However, Gandalf rode in and helped kill a few. Gandalf alone stood in defiance of the Witch-King, however Gandalf's power was never tested. With the timely arrival of Rohan, the Witch-king left to deal with the new threat. With the arrival of Rohan, and the pleas of Pippin concerning Denethor's intention to kill Faramir and himself, Gandalf rushed to Faramir's aid. Gandalf took Faramir from the pyre and tried to deter Denethor from suicide. However, driven mad by his grief and Sauron's messages via the Palantír of Minas Tirith, Denethor set the pyre aflame while looking into said Palantír. In grief, Gandalf closed the doors of the chamber. Denethor later gave out a cry and said no more. Soon afterward, Gandalf delegated the control of the city to the Prince of Dol Amroth.
The Fall of Sauron
Gandalf, alongside Aragorn, led the final battle against Sauron's forces at the Black Gate, waging an all-out battle to distract the Dark Lord's attention away from Frodo and Sam, who were at the very same moment scaling Mount Doom to destroy the Ring. Though the forces of good were heavily outnumbered, they were able to hold back the enemy until the hobbits reached the peak of Mount Doom.
On the precipice within, looking over the fires of Mount Doom, Frodo finally succumbed the power of the Ring, slipping it onto his finger. However, Gollum, unable to bear the thought that the Ring would be destroyed, lunged at Frodo, biting off his ring finger, and the Ring, in the process. Gollum and the Ring fell into the fire, and the Ring was finally destroyed. Without Gandalf's efforts, Sauron might have learned where the two hobbits were and killed them before they could have completed their task.
Four years after the ring was destroyed, Gandalf spent some time with the "moss gatherer" Tom Bombadil, then, after having spent over 2,000 years in Middle-earth, departed with Frodo, Galadriel, Celeborn, Bilbo, Elrond, (and presumably Shadowfax) across the sea to the Undying Lands, and was never seen again in Middle-earth.
The name Gandalf means "Elf of the wand" or "Wand-elf", from old northern Mannish.
Within the Tolkien Legendarium, "Gandalf" translates an unknown name of the meaning "Wand-Elf" (alternatively cane/staff) in old northern Mannish. Most denizens of Middle-earth incorrectly assumed Gandalf was a Man (human), although he was really a Maia spirit (approximately equivalent to an angel). However, a less common misconception that occurred during the beginning of his career in Middle-earth was that for someone to be immortal and use as much magic as he did, he must have been an elf, although it soon became apparent to all that he couldn't be an elf, as he was old and elves don't generally age. Even because of this, the nickname stuck with him. He later gave it as his name to others he met who didn't know its original meaning.
- Olórin, his name in Valinor and in very ancient times. It comes from the Quenya olor or olos ("dream"). The name could also be spelled as Olorion.
- Mithrandir, his Sindarin name, used in Gondor and by the Elves. It means "Grey Pilgrim", from the Sindarin mith ("grey") and ran ("wander") or rhandir ("pilgrim").
- Tharkûn, given by the Dwarves), which means "Staff man".
- Incánus, a name of unclear language and meaning. He must have acquired the name from one of his many travels in the south, near Harad. Tolkien several times changed his mind about it, varying between the Latin word incanus (meaning Grey and a possible Westron invention meaning "Greymantle"), a word Ind-cano (meaning Cruel Ruler), or even a form of Southron meaning "Spy of the North".
- Old Greybeard, by the Mouth of Sauron when they meet at the Morannon.
- The White Rider (when mounted on the great horse Shadowfax)
- Stormcrow (a reference to his arrival being associated with times of trouble), often used by his detractors to mean he is a troublesome meddler in the affairs of others.
- Lathspell, by Grima Wormtongue
- Gandalf Greyhame
- The Grey Pilgrim
- Gandalf the Grey, and later Gandalf the White after he was reborn as the successor to Saruman.
- Gandalf the Wandering Wizard
Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
—The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter 2: "The Shadow of the Past"
The Old Norse name "Gandalfr" appears in the list of dwarves in the Völuspá of the Elder Edda; the name means "cane-elf," or "wand-elf." J.R.R. Tolkien took the name along with the dwarves' names when he wrote The Hobbit in the 1930s. He came to regret the creation of this "rabble of eddaic-named dwarves, [...] invented in an idle hour" (The Return of the Shadow, pg. 452), since it forced him to come up with an explanation of why Old Norse names should be used in Third Age of Middle-earth. He solved the dilemma in 1942 by the explanation that Old Norse was a translation of the language of Dale. The figure of Gandalf has other influences from Germanic mythology, particularly Odin in his incarnation as "the Wanderer", an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff. Tolkien states that he thinks of Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer" in a letter of 1946.
Gandalf is also similar to Väinämöinen, a Bard in Finnish mythology.
Gandalf's equivalence to Merlin the Magician, of English Mythology, is discussed in episode two of the 2014 documentary Looking for the Hobbit, featuring French Arthurian expert Nicholas Mezzalira and Medieval specialist Leo Carruthers.
Tolkien had a postcard labelled Der Berggeist ("the mountain spirit"), and on the paper cover in which he kept it, he wrote "origin of Gandalf" at some point. The postcard reproduces a painting of a bearded figure, sitting on a rock under a pine tree in a mountainous setting. He wears a wide-brimmed round hat, and a long cloak and a white fawn is nuzzling his upturned hands.
Humphrey Carpenter in his 1977 biography said that Tolkien had bought the postcard during his 1911 holiday in Switzerland. However, Manfred Zimmerman (1983) discovered that the painting was by German artist Josef Madlener and dates to the late 1920s. Humphrey Carpenter concluded that Tolkien was probably mistaken about the origin of the postcard himself. Tolkien must have acquired the card at some time in the early 1930s, at a time when The Hobbit had already begun to take shape.
The original painting was auctioned at Sotheby's in London on July 12, 2005 for 84,000. The previous owner had been given the painting by Madlener in the 1940s and recalled that he had stated the mountains in the painting's background were the Dolomites.
Gandalf is described as an old man with a pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, and a silver scarf. He had a long white beard and bushy eyebrows that stuck out beyond the brim of the hat.
After he is resurrected, the change of his signature colour from grey to white is significant, for he was sent back to replace the corrupted head of the Order of Wizards and leader of the White Council Saruman as the Chief of the Order of Wizards. In the book, he says that he has himself become what Saruman should have been.
Powers and Abilities
Gandalf is one of the wisest and most knowledgeable beings in Middle-earth, and believed by Galadriel to be more worthy of Saruman of leading the White Council. He has extensive knowledge of many languages and writing systems used in Middle-earth, as well as in the history and customs of several of its peoples. He considers himself the greatest scholar of Hobbit traditions. His long journeys have allowed him to meet many influential and powerful individuals and form lasting bonds with them. The Hobbits know him as a masterful crafter of firecrackers.
Outside of the Shire, however, Gandalf the Grey is revered as one of the most powerful and wisest beings to tread Middle-earth, although he was wary of confronting Saruman and Sauron directly, the latter also after his rebirth, as well as of the influence of the One Ring. He was considered the most powerful member of the Fellowship of the Ring, as well as, according to Aragorn, its leader, not in small part thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge. His vast intelligence allows him to accurately guess the thoughts of others, and makes him perhaps the preeminent architect of Sauron's defeat. He is often noted to have extremely sharp eyes which can see not only into darkness, but also into the dimension of wraiths, such as when he perceived the lingering effects of the Morgul-blade on Frodo as part of his body having become almost transparent. He also has a degree of extrasensory perception, which he demonstrated by feeling Durin's Bane while casting a spell.
Armed with an Elfin blade, Gandalf is as valiant a fighter as the other swordsmen in the Fellowship, in no way hindered by his elderly appearance when fighting or riding. He is rendered even more formidable by his magic. Gandalf the Grey has command over a great array of spells for all situations, such as to enhance Elrond's flood spell, giving the water the appearance of galloping knights, and seal doors shut or open them, although it should be noted that he was unable to open the Doors of Durin prior to remembering the password. He stated that Durin's Bane nearly overpowered him with its counter-spell, forcing him to rely on a word of Command that resulted in a blast which caused the ceiling of the room beyond the door to collapse.
Gandalf described himself as "a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor". Coincidentally, many of his spells are based on light and fire. He was able to light a faggot of wet wood simply with a touch of his staff, which he considered distinctive enough that any onlooker would recognize his handiwork. He can cause the tip of his staff to glow with bright white light so as to see in the dark and increase the radiance at will, as demonstrated in Moria. He later displays the ability to focus this light into a beam. When fighting a pack of wolves, he set fire to all treetops on a hill with a single blazing branch, and the air became so hot that an arrow burned mid-flight. At the cost of shattering his staff, he was able to conjure a sea of white flames that caused the bridge under Durin's Bane's feet to crumble. Similar spells he displayed are:
• Heating fire
• Manipulating sparks
• Creating massive pillars of smoke
Gandalf the White displays these same powers but more advanced. When he first met Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas in his new form, he shocked and quickly overpowered them with his agility and magic: he effortlessly disarmed the former two, one by causing his sword to burst into flames, the other by pulling the axe from his hands with a wave of his staff, and burnt the Elf's arrow into nothing when the latter loosed it. Shortly afterwards, he said that he had recently battled Sauron's eye to prevent him from locating Frodo, and although successful, the confrontation left him spent. He also displayed the ability to communicate with horses, and was able to reach Shadowfax with his mind.
Finally, he also shattered Saruman’s staff, and stripped him of his divine power.
As his unrestricted form, Olorin, he had all his previous powers massively boosted, and the ability to shapeshift. However, even this form seems to have restrictions, as the Ainur were said to have their power restricted upon descending to earth. If so his true form would be enormously beyond his other forms, possibly capable of destroying entire universes.
Gandalf primarily used his staff, but also carried a sword in combat. Sometimes during combat, Gandalf would be seen wielding both weapons against his enemies.
- Main article: Wizard Staff
Gandalf utilised his staff for various spells and abilities. He didn't use it just as a weapon; he also utilized a staff as if it were a walking stick. He initially had an old wooden staff which he lost in the Mines of Moria while fighting the Balrog. He used a new one upon becoming Gandalf the White.
- Main article: Glamdring
This was an Elven sword Gandalf found in a troll cave. From that point until the resolution of the War of the Ring, he used this as a weapon to complement his staff, wielding them with equal skill. In many cases, he fought with both weapons at once.
Appearances in the Books and Films
In the books
- The Hobbit
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Silmarillion
- Unfinished Tales
- The History of Middle-earth
In the films
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
- The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Two Towers
- The Return of the King
Portrayal in adaptations
Hobbit and Lord of the Rings film trilogies
I gave you the chance of aiding me willingly, but you have elected the way of pain!
—Saruman to Gandalf.
Sean Connery was originally considered for the role of Gandalf, but turned it down because he didn't want to spend so long in New Zealand, where the film was shot; Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame, Patrick Stewart, Christopher Plummer, and David Bowie were also considered or approached. McKellen's interpretation of the role was widely praised. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, making him the only individual cast member to be nominated for his performance. Christopher Lee, a lifelong fan of the books, had hoped to be cast as Gandalf, but due to his advancing age, he instead opted for the role of Saruman, as Gandalf required more horse riding and more sword work.
Ian McKellen reprised his role of Gandalf the Grey for the three-part adaptation of The Hobbit, noting in early interviews that he preferred portraying Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White, as Gandalf the Grey required a more nuanced performance. He maintains, however, that he enjoyed playing both Gandalf's, but felt Gandalf the Grey was easier and calmer to portray.
Voice Dubbing actors
|Foreign Language||Voice dubbing artist|
|Spanish (Latin America)||José Lavat|
|Spanish (Spain)||Pepe Mediavilla|
|Czech (Czech Republic)||Petr Pelzer|
|Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD)||Hélio Vaccari / Luiz Carlos Persy (The Hobbit trilogy)|
|German||Joachim Höppner † / Eckart Dux (The Hobbit trilogy)|
|Italian (Italy)||Gianni Musy † / Gigi Proietti (The Hobbit trilogy)|
|French (France)||Jean Piat|
|Polish||Wiktor Zborowski (The Hobbit trilogy)|
|Slovak||Leopold Haverl (The Lord of the Rings)
Marián Slovák (The Hobbit trilogy)
Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings
In the 1978 animated film of The Lord of the Rings by Ralph Bakshi, Gandalf was voiced by William Squire. (It is not known whether Squire played him in the live-action recordings used for rotoscoping.)
In the BBC radio dramatisations, Heron Carvic played him in The Hobbit (1968), Norman Shelley played him in The Lord of the Rings (1956 radio series), and Sir Michael Hordern played him in The Lord of the Rings (1981).
- It is unclear whether Gandalf, being a Maia, did or did not participate in the War of Wrath in the First Age since he knew about Ancalagon the Black.
- Wells the Grey is a homage to Gandalf from the TV Show The Flash
- Thranduil had a habit of calling Gandalf "Mithrandir".
- He has been determined to be a member of the INTP personality type.
Translations around the world
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||甘道夫|
|Georgian||განდალფი Gandalpi (Latin)|
|Kazakh||Гендальф (Cyrillic) Gendal’f (Latin)|
|Serbian||Гандалф (Cyrillic) Gandalf (Latin)|
|Uzbek||Гандалф (Cyrillic) Gandalf (Latin)|
|The Fellowship of the Ring|
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