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From Tolkien Gateway
"A Light in the Dark" by Matt Stewart
Maia (Wizard)
Biographical Information
Other namesOlórin Q
Mithrandir (S)
Incánus (H)
Tharkûn (K)
(See below)
TitlesGuardian of the Third Age
The Grey
The White
White Rider
White Pilgrim
LocationNo fixed abode
AffiliationFive Guardians, Order of Wizards, White Council, Thorin and Company, Fellowship of the Ring
LanguageValarin, Elvish, Westron, Hobbitish
BirthCreation of the Ainur
Timeless Halls
Sailed west29 September, T.A. 3021
Grey Havens
Physical Description
Hair colorLong white, silver beard[2]
Eye colorBlack that could become red
ClothingGrey robes (later white), blue hat, grey scarf, black boots[3]
GalleryImages of Gandalf

Gandalf was shorter in stature than the other two; but his long white hair, his sweeping silver beard, and his broad shoulders, made him look like some wise king of ancient legend. In his aged face under great snowy brows his eyes were set like coals that could suddenly burst into fire.

Gandalf was one of the five Istari sent to Middle-earth by the Valar in the Third Age. In Valinor he was known as Olórin. Gandalf was instrumental in bringing about the demise of Sauron in T.A. 3019, chiefly by encouraging others and dispensing his wisdom at pivotal times. He was originally robed in grey, and second to Saruman in the Order of Wizards. After his fall in Moria, Gandalf returned to Middle-earth as head of the Order, robed in white. He was noteworthy for his keen interest in Hobbits.


Early history

Olorin in the Gardens of Lorien by Kip Rasmussen

The wisest of the Maiar, Gandalf was created by Ilúvatar before the Music of the Ainur.[4] At the beginning of Time, he was amongst the Ainur who entered into .[5] In his "youth" he was known as Olórin and lived in Lórien. Yet his ways often took him to Nienna, from whom he learned pity and patience.[6] He became one of the Maiar who served Manwë, Varda, Irmo, and Nienna. He was associated with light and fire, much like Varda.

After the Valar discovered the primeval Elves at Cuiviénen, Olórin was sent there as one of the Five Guardians to guard the Elves from the forces of Melkor.[7] It is unclear how long he remained or if he accompanied the Eldar on the Great Journey. But it is said he loved the Elves, and throughout his early life, he walked Unseen among them, or wore a Fana that appeared like an Elf, and he sent them fair visions in their hearts that made them wiser. Throughout his existence, he followed the example of Nienna, taking pity on the sorrows of the Children of Ilúvatar and driving those who listened to him out of despair.[6]

Third Age

Arrival in Middle-earth

During the Third Age, while Sauron's 'dark spirit of malice' was increasing over Middle-earth, the Valar chose the Istari, missionaries from among the Maiar, to go to Middle-earth and help the peoples. Manwë selected Olórin, who, at first, did not wish to go, as he feared Sauron. However, Manwë said that it was all the more reason why he should go.[8] Furthermore, the One Ring, the location of much of Sauron's power, presumably still existed somewhere in Middle-earth.

Olórin submitted to the will of Manwë and departed Valinor to Mithlond in the year T.A. 1000.[8] He arrived shortly after two other Istari, Curumo and Aiwendil, at about the same time the Necromancer appeared in Mirkwood. Like the other Wizards, he took the shape of an old man. He was robed in grey.

At Mithlond, he was welcomed by Glorfindel, his friend from Valinor who was sent to Middle-earth earlier on a similar mission, and Círdan the shipwright, who possessed Narya, one of the Three Elven Rings of Power. Círdan divined in Olórin a sense of strength and power despite his appearance as a bent and aged old man. Círdan gave Narya to Olórin with a prediction of his future struggles with evil, and a promise that it would support and aid him in his labours. Then Círdan said "But as for me, my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores until the last ship sails. I will await you."[9]

Gandalf the Grey by John Howe

Gandalf then began his sojourn in Middle-earth, going about as a wanderer and counsellor. Unlike Saruman, Gandalf did not take up a single permanent residence. Gandalf never went to the east[10] and apparently restricted his activities to the Westlands of Middle-earth, where the remnants of the Dúnedain and the Eldar remained to oppose Sauron. He was known by many names during the long years he remained in Middle-earth: Elves named him Mithrandir, the Grey Pilgrim, while the men of Arnor named him Gandalf, which became his most common name. He was also known as Incánus in the south, and Tharkûn to the Dwarves.[8]

A legend says that Gandalf was given the Elfstone of Eärendil by Yavanna to bring to the peoples of Middle-earth; this was to be a token that the Valar had not forsaken them. He gave it to Galadriel, and remarked prophetically that she would in turn pass it to an individual who would also be called Elessar.[11]

Early vigilance

Around T.A. 1100,[9] the Istari and the Eldar discovered that some evil entity resided at Dol Guldur in Mirkwood. Dark shapes moved in the forest and evil began to multiply in the woods. Some thought a Nazgûl had returned to torment the world, or some new evil was arising. Gandalf was unsure, and feared that perhaps Sauron himself might have returned.[12]

Pass the Doors of Dol Guldur by John Howe

Over the next two hundred years the evil continued to grow, as well as the source directing it. Orcs were multiplying in the Misty Mountains and elsewhere. The Witch-king, the mightiest of the Nazgûl, had built a fortress in Angmar in the Northern wastelands and waged unending war against the Kingdom of Arnor. Meanwhile Moria and Minas Ithil fell under a shadow, while other wars, plagues, and catastrophes occurred across Middle-earth. Gandalf went to Dol Guldur in 2063 to discover its secret.[9] An entity known only as the 'Necromancer' fled before him preventing Gandalf from identifying him.[12] After Gandalf's incursion, the evil there seemed to desist, and its absence allowed for some centuries of calmness.

That peaceful period was known as the Watchful Peace and lasted for almost four hundred years. However, the Nazgûl had used this period to prepare for Sauron's return, which occurred in 2460.[9] Realising the returning evil, the Wise formed the White Council three years later. Galadriel, bearer of one of the Three Elven Rings and mighty among the Eldar, wished Gandalf to be the chief of the Council, but he refused the position wishing to set down no roots and to maintain his independence; Saruman took this place because of his vast knowledge.[12]

During his wanderings in Eriador, Gandalf met and befriended the isolated and secretive people of the Hobbits in their country, The Shire. During the Long Winter of 2758 Gandalf came to their aid.[9] It was then when he witnessed and admired the pity and courage the humble Hobbits reserved in their hearts.[13]

When King Thráin II, a dwarf of the royal line of Lonely Mountain, disappeared on a journey to Erebor, Gandalf looked for him. At some point after 2845 he entered the abandoned city of Khazad-dûm. After his vain search, the Wizard exited through the Doors of Durin; however this experience did not help him know how to open the doors from the outside.[14]

In 2850, his quest led him once more to Dol Guldur, this time in secrecy.[9] He found Thráin in the dungeons, who gave the Wizard his last possessions, the map and key to Erebor.[15] Most importantly, Gandalf found that the Necromancer was no Nazgûl, but was Sauron himself, and he had taken the last of the Seven Rings from the Dwarf King. Sauron was gathering the remaining Rings of Power and possibly searching for his lost One Ring.

Gandalf escaped Dol Guldur and returned to the White Council.[12] After relating his discoveries, he urged the council to attack Sauron while the One Ring was still lost and Sauron's power immature. But Saruman said that it was better to watch and wait, and that the One Ring had long ago rolled from Anduin to the Sea.[12] The majority of the council agreed with Saruman. Elrond Half-elven, a powerful member of the council, later privately told Gandalf he had a foreboding that the Ring would be found, and that the war to end the Age was coming. Indeed, he added, he feared that it would end in darkness and despair. Gandalf encouraged him, saying there were many "strange chances," and that, "help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter".[12] Gandalf did not yet realise that Saruman now wanted the Ring for himself and was secretly searching for it along the banks of the river Anduin.

Quest for Erebor

Gandalf would visit the Shire occasionally and participate in the Midsummer-eve parties of the Old Took where he impressed young Hobbits with his fireworks, and his stories about Dragons, Goblins and princesses.[13] He was thus known to be "responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures". He also met a relatively adventurous Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins although he was far from "adventuresome."[3]

Gandalf was concerned about the weak state of the North. Smaug the Dragon had destroyed both the Kingdom under the Mountain and the town of Dale, and Gandalf feared that Sauron might use the desolation around Erebor to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar. Gandalf knew that exiled Dwarf King of Durin's Folk Thorin Oakenshield planned to battle against Smaug, but he knew that it would not be enough. In 2941,[9] while staying the night in Bree, Gandalf happened across the Dwarf King.[13] Thorin initiated conversation; he had been having a strange feeling urging him to seek Gandalf. Gandalf was intrigued, for he had thought to seek Thorin as well. They found they were taking the same road for a while (Thorin passing through the Shire on his way to the Ered Luin), and they agreed to travel together. Thorin wanted advice, and Gandalf in turn wanted to discuss the Dragon Smaug with Thorin.

Good Morning Mr. Baggins by David T. Wenzel

Ultimately, Gandalf concocted a plan wherein Thorin could destroy Smaug and recover his family fortune, albeit with a "burglar" of Gandalf's own choosing. Gandalf had a feeling that a Hobbit should be involved, and he remembered Bilbo Baggins. At first he found only Holman Cotton as Bilbo had left on the occasion of the Elven new year, something that persuaded Gandalf that Bilbo was the right person for the job.[13] He visited Bilbo later, bringing along the kinsmen of Thorin.[3] In the end Gandalf convinced the reluctant Baggins to become a burglar for Thorin.

Gandalf accompanied Thorin and Company to Rivendell. Gandalf saved them from a trio of Stone-trolls, and later obtained the legendary sword Glamdring from their Troll-hoard; Gandalf bore it thenceforth.[16] He also helped Thorin and Company through the Misty Mountains. When they unknowingly camped in the Front Porch of the Goblin-town, the Goblins captured the whole company except Gandalf, who surprised them much later by killing the Great Goblin and then rescuing the Dwarves and leading them to the exit.[17] It was during this time that Bilbo obtained a "magic ring".[18] The hobbit initially claimed he "won" it from the creature "Gollum" while the company was under the Misty Mountains,[19] and he kept it secret from Gandalf for some time.

The Lord of the Eagles by Darrell Sweet

On their escape out, the Company was saved by the Eagles of the Misty Mountains; Gandalf once had healed the Great Eagle from a poisoned wound,[19] and thenceforth they became friends. The Eagles picked them up and flew them to their eyrie. The next day, they dropped them to the other side of the Mountains.[19]

Gandalf then sought the hospitality of Beorn, persuading him to welcome and host the whole Company in his hall. But then he left the quest prior to its completion; after leading the Company to the outskirts of the Forest Gate, he gave them some final advice (but little did he know that the lands had changed by then) before they entered Mirkwood, and went to attend other obligations.[20] The White Council had met under the gravest of circumstances: Sauron's vast power was returning, even without his Ring. Gandalf at last convinced the Council to attack Dol Guldur, to which even Saruman agreed (as by now he feared Sauron as a rival, and wished to delay his search for the Ring). Gandalf joined his peers in assailing Dol Guldur, ridding Mirkwood of the Necromancer's presence, who fled to Mordor.[9] When he was about to finish his task, news about what happened to Thorin's Company in Mirkwood reached him, and he realised that the instructions he gave them did not help; they had lost their way, and then vanished from the imprisonment of the Wood-elves, who had captured them. He was anxious to get back to them as soon as possible.[21]

Meanwhile Thorin's quest was successful: Erebor was retaken and Smaug was killed,[22] but when Gandalf finally arrived to the area, he found the Dwarves of Erebor and the Iron Hills preparing for an attack by the Lake-men and the Elves of Mirkwood. He was with Bard and Thranduil and revealed his presence trying to reason with Thorin. When the attack was beginning, Gandalf halted them, to warn that the Orcs and Wargs were coming to claim the treasure. He invited Dáin Ironfoot for council, and soon Dwarves, Elves and Men formed an alliance, and defeated the Orcs of the Misty Mountains in the Battle of Five Armies.[23]

King Thorin was mortally wounded and after his funeral and the reestablishment of Erebor under Dáin, Bilbo and Gandalf left Erebor for the Shire; on the way, they celebrated Yule at Beorn's, and then returned to Rivendell, where Gandalf discussed with Elrond the events of Dol Guldur and the Lonely Mountain. Gandalf had accomplished his immediate goal, which was to destroy Smaug, who could have been used to disastrous effect by Sauron. A large number of Orcs and Wargs also were killed in the North, removing threats to Rivendell and Lothlórien.[13] But they both agreed that it would be better if the Necromancer were banished from the world altogether.[24]

As Gandalf and Bilbo passed by the site of their former encounter with the stone-trolls, they recovered the gold of the troll-hoard they had buried.[24]

Gandalf was amazed by the hobbit; until then he had paid no attention to hobbits and knew little of them. For the rest of his sojourn in Middle-earth, Gandalf took a special interest in hobbits, and particularly in the Baggins family. Years later, he and Balin paid a visit to Bilbo, discussing the news from Erebor and Dale.[9][24]

Return of the Shadow

Despite the Council's hopes, Sauron was not weakened by this attack. He had foreseen the move that drove him from Mirkwood, and his retreat was but a feint. Ten years after the attack, Sauron declared himself openly in Mordor in 2951 and rebuilt Barad-dûr. The White Council met for one last time in 2953 to debate about the Rings of Power. Saruman quieted his peers, claiming to have knowledge that the One Ring was lost in the Belegaer. After their meeting, Saruman, jealous and afraid of Gandalf, set spies to watch all his movements; this would affect the peaceful Hobbits, as from this, Saruman discovered their existence and noted Gandalf's interest in the Shire. As a result, he started sending agents to Bree and the Southfarthing.[9]

Gollum had come to Gandalf's knowledge, having left his hideout. He was looking for the thief of his ring: Bilbo. The Elves of Mirkwood had informed Gandalf that Gollum was traversing the forest. Then, coinciding with Sauron's declaration, Gollum apparently turned towards Mordor and was lost. Gandalf neglected the matter because he "had much else to think of at that time" and still trusted Saruman's knowledge. Later, Gandalf would regret this.[25]

Meanwhile, Sauron began reassembling his forces for the final blow against the West. Easterlings from Khand and beyond the Sea of Rhûn, joined by men from Harad reinforced his stronghold in Mordor; Orcs, trolls, and other foul beasts were multiplying while his minions were searching the Anduin for any sign of his precious One Ring.

Gandalf met Aragorn, the hidden Heir of Isildur in 2956, and soon became friends with him.[9] From that point on, Aragorn and Gandalf often worked together towards a common end - the defeat of Sauron.

He visited Minas Tirith and was welcomed by Faramir, the son of the Ruling Steward Denethor, and taught him from his wisdom. This displeased Denethor, who didn't trust Gandalf.[26]

"Gandalf" by Michele Mantoani

During this period Gandalf visited the Shire frequently, especially his friend Bilbo Baggins, and his younger cousin, Frodo Baggins. He noted Bilbo's unusual youthfulness, despite his advancing age; the suspicious "magic ring" that Bilbo had acquired during his adventure began to weigh on his mind. Gandalf recalled the deceit Bilbo used in originally claiming it for his own — Bilbo had later admitted to stealing it from Gollum. Gandalf could see that Bilbo was very preoccupied with the ring. Such un-hobbitlike behaviour aroused his suspicions. In 3001 he organised Bilbo's Farewell Party, and before leaving the Shire, he convinced Bilbo to leave the Ring for Frodo. He then emphatically warned Frodo not to use it; Gandalf had begun to suspect that the "magic ring" was indeed a Ring of Power.[27] Around that time, Gandalf became unpopular in the Shire; he was blamed for Bilbo's disappearance, and was even accused of plotting with Frodo to get a hold on Bilbo's wealth.[25][27]

Gandalf was keen to find out more about Bilbo's ring, so he left the Shire,[27] and resumed his search for Gollum. In this, he sought the help of Aragorn. The Rangers of the North were put to guard the Shire more closely.[9] Gandalf showed up only three years later to check on Frodo and the Shire, and continued for the next four years always turning up unexpectedly and disappearing before dawn. In 3009 he renewed the hunt for Gollum with Aragorn, searching in the vales of Anduin, Mirkwood, Rhovanion, and even to the edges of Mordor. The search lasted eight years, for Gandalf did not know that Gollum had been captured by Sauron.[9] Gandalf regretted ignoring Gollum for so many years, as his trail had become cold, resulting in many dark and dangerous days for Gandalf.[25]

Studying the records in Minas Tirith, Gandalf found the Scroll of Isildur in 3017, and from this, pieced together the missing history of the One Ring. On his way back to the Shire, he got word from the Galadhrim that Aragorn had finally captured Gollum[9] and so he went to Mirkwood to meet him. For days he interrogated him in order to verify what he already knew. A great fear came over him when he learned that Gollum had been to Barad-dûr. Sauron had tortured Gollum and learned of the "magic ring", as well as the names "Shire" and "Baggins". The effects that Gandalf had seen on Gollum and Bilbo convinced him that Bilbo's Ring was not simply one of the Rings of Power: it was the One Ruling Ring of Sauron. Gandalf then returned in haste to the Shire.[25][28]

War of the Ring

The Shadow of the Past by Alan Lee

Gandalf returned to the Shire on 12 April T.A. 3018 and proved to Frodo that Bilbo's ring was the ancient One Ring which the Dark Power of Mordor was looking for. He told Frodo that he gathered much of this information by interrogating the creature Gollum. Frodo exclaimed that Gollum should have been killed, however Gandalf speculated that perhaps Gollum would have a part to play before the end, and in any case, it was not for Frodo to decide who should live and who should die.[25]

Gandalf suggested that he should leave the Shire soon and take the Ring to Rivendell. Frodo decided to leave on his next birthday, pretending to be moving to Buckland, to which Gandalf agreed. The wizard stayed in the Shire for over two months,[29] during which time, on 1 May he went to Sarn Ford and met again Aragorn, informing him of Frodo's plans.[30] He had a sense of foreboding and heard disturbing news about war in Gondor and a Black Shadow.[28] He decided to leave for the South and left Frodo, promising to return for his birthday-farewell party in autumn, so that they would go to Rivendell together.[29]

He wandered around Eriador hearing news from the refugees who had a fear they could not speak about, until he met Radagast who brought a message from Saruman that he must seek him at once, and a warning that the Ringwraiths were looking for the Shire.[28] Gandalf went to the Prancing Pony at Bree. Believing that he would not be able to return to Frodo in time, he wrote a letter,[28] urging him to move as soon as possible for Rivendell, and seek someone named "Strider", whose real name was Aragorn, with a riddle to identify him; Gandalf would then try to catch up with them when he could. He instructed Barliman Butterbur to send the letter to Hobbiton and to expect a Mr. Baggins to arrive at the inn under the name of "Mr. Underhill". He left the inn, but Barliman would forget to send the letter.[30]

Treachery of Saruman
Gandalf Escapes Upon Gwaihir by Ted Nasmith

Soon thereafter, Gandalf arrived at Isengard. At their meeting, Saruman at last revealed his desire for the One Ring.[28] He offered to his "old friend and helper" that they take the Ring for themselves and seize power from Sauron. Gandalf rejected this with horror, and was imprisoned by Saruman on the pinnacle of Orthanc. Gwaihir, chief of the Eagles, soon arrived and helped Gandalf escape.[28] Gandalf knew he needed to return quickly to the Shire, as Frodo (and the Ring) were in grave danger from both Sauron's Nazgûl and Saruman's treacherous desire for the Ring.

Gandalf hurriedly went to Rohan, desiring to find a strong steed; there he obtained Shadowfax from King Théoden, who later resented the gift.[28] This lord of horses and Gandalf forged a special bond, and Gandalf made quick use of Shadowfax's incredible strength and endurance.

Gandalf sped to the Shire. Fortunately, Frodo had already left the Shire without waiting for Gandalf,[28] and was seeking Rivendell. Upon his arrival, Gandalf learned that the Nazgûl, arrayed as Black Riders, had been searching the area. Dismayed, he set out for Bree; Barliman apologised to Gandalf for forgetting to send the letter, and was worried that the hobbits had left with Strider, the suspicious Ranger. But for Gandalf, this was a hope which far exceeded his expectations. After congratulating a puzzled Barliman, Gandalf slept the night at the inn and in the morning left for Weathertop, a high point in the region, to observe the surrounding area.[28]

Fire on Weathertop by Ted Nasmith

There he was assaulted at night by the Nazgûl, but drove them off after a great battle of light and flame.[31] These phenomena were seen by Aragorn and the hobbits from afar, although they were unaware that Gandalf was involved.[32] Before leaving Weathertop, he marked some stones with the certh G for them to find. The next day he escaped to the north, followed by four Riders.[28]

He then went directly to Rivendell, arriving a few days sooner than Aragorn.[31] But when they arrived, Gandalf and Elrond joined their powers to cause a flood in Bruinen to drown the Riders, allowing Frodo some time to reach Rivendell.[28] Then they welcomed Glorfindel, Aragorn and the hobbits upon their arrival. Frodo was sick with a Morgul-wound, but was still in possession of the Ring.

Fellowship of the Ring

Elrond called a Council after Frodo was healed to consider the momentous decision of what would be done with the Ring. By chance, representatives of most of the free peoples were in Rivendell for various reasons. Elrond and Gandalf advised that the Ring should be destroyed in the fires of Orodruin, where it was made. Others dissented or objected, but they eventually submitted to Gandalf's plan. Ultimately, Elrond appointed the Fellowship of the Ring as nine walkers, numerically set against Sauron's nine Nazgûl. The relatively small number reflected the realisation by Elrond and the other council members that the quest of Mount Doom would not rely upon strength of arms, but on stealth and good fortune. Gandalf was chosen to lead the company, which included Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas the Elf, Gimli the Dwarf, and the hobbits Frodo Baggins, who was named the Ring-bearer, and Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, and Meriadoc Brandybuck.[28]

Several obstacles stood in the company's way. The vast Misty Mountains had to be crossed, for Gandalf was determined not to lead the company near Isengard. Gandalf decided to take a southern route to the Redhorn Pass and there to cross the Misty Mountains near Caradhras, thereby traversing the mountain range and avoiding Isengard.[33] When this attempt failed due to a terrible storm, he decided to take the Fellowship through the ruins of Moria, where the remains of the great Dwarven city of Khazad-dûm were now a labyrinth of tunnels under the mountains. Others in the company were loath to enter the maze, as it was now the lair of orcs and something known only as "Durin's Bane".

At the Doors of Durin on the west side of the mountains, Gandalf, after some delay, spoke the password and led the company into the dark. Having been in Moria on an earlier perilous errand, he was somewhat familiar with the underground passages. Eventually the party came to the Chamber of Mazarbul, where Gandalf read the Book of Records, which revealed the fate of Balin, the leader of an ill-fated attempt to re-colonise Moria. Soon after, the party was attacked by orcs, and forced to flee the chamber. By then, Gandalf was well aware of their location and he led the party quickly towards the eastern exit.

Gandalf Falls with the Balrog by John Howe

However, Durin's Bane caught up to the group at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Gandalf and Legolas immediately realised what it was: a Balrog of Morgoth. Gandalf faced the demon and broke the bridge upon which they both stood, leaving the beast to fall into a seemingly bottomless chasm. But the Balrog's whip lashed out, and grasped Gandalf by the knees, causing him to fall into the pit. While falling, Gandalf shouted "Fly, you fools" and vanished into the abyss.[34]

Yet Gandalf did not die; he and the Balrog fought long in the bowels and deep places of Arda. After restless pursuit over the course of eight days, Gandalf and the beast finally came to the summit of the Endless Stair upon the peak of Celebdil. There, he fought the demon for two days and nights. The Balrog had burst into flame anew when it exited the stairs; ice, wind, and smoke swirled about them as they duelled. Gandalf used his last measure of strength to slay the Balrog, throwing him down the mountainside in ruin. Gandalf's spirit then left his body, having sacrificed himself to save the Fellowship.

Gandalf the White

But Gandalf's spirit did not depart Middle-earth forever. As the only one of the five Istari to stay true to his errand, Olórin was sent back to mortal lands by Eru, and he became Gandalf once again. Yet, as he was now the sole emissary of the Valar to Middle-earth, he was granted the power to "reveal" more of his inner Maiar strength. This naked power that lay within him was seldom used during the remainder of his time in Middle-earth, as his mission was essentially the same: to support and succour those who opposed Sauron. Nevertheless, when Gandalf's wrath was kindled his "unveiled" strength was such that few of Sauron's servants could withstand him.

Gandalf Returns by Ted Nasmith

As he lay on the mountaintop, the great eagle Gwaihir came up and bore him to Lothlórien, where he was clothed and replenished, and given a new staff by Galadriel. Gandalf soon learned that Frodo had left the Fellowship and was travelling to Mount Doom. As Frodo was beyond his assistance now, Gandalf promptly went south to Fangorn Forest, where he met the Three Hunters: Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, and gave them messages from Galadriel. From them, he learned that Sam went with Frodo, and he was pleased with this.[35]:496 Then he called forth Shadowfax, and rode with them to Edoras. There he found that Saruman's spy Gríma Wormtongue had deceived King Théoden into hopeless impotence. Gandalf quickly deposed Wormtongue and encouraged Théoden to ride west to war against Saruman. By now, Gandalf was keenly aware that the great war to end the age was beginning; if Saruman conquered Rohan, then Gondor would be alone with enemies on all sides.

At Gandalf's encouragement, King Théoden went west to Helm's Deep where he was quickly besieged; Gandalf then searched for Erkenbrand and the forces of the Westfold, which he later found and led to the Deep, thus breaking the siege. Meanwhile, the Ents, along with the hobbits Merry and Pippin, moved against Saruman and sent Huorns against the orcs, resulting in the utter ruin of the outer walls of Isengard and the complete annihilation of Saruman's orcs. After the battle, Gandalf went to Orthanc with Théoden, Aragorn, and a small group. There Saruman rejected Gandalf's offer of forgiveness with contempt. Gandalf then broke Saruman's staff and cast him from the Order and the Council.[36]:583 Gandalf imposed a strict watch on Isengard by the Ents and then advised King Théoden to ride to Gondor's defence as soon as possible. The wizard's mind had already turned to Gondor and the coming climactic battle in the east.

Siege of Minas Tirith
The White Rider by Donato Giancola

As a 'reward' for Pippin, who had foolishly gazed into a palantír, Gandalf took the Hobbit with him to Minas Tirith, the last bastion of the west. Soon after arriving, Gandalf confronted Denethor II, the Ruling Steward, and learned that he was near despair over the death of his eldest son, Boromir. Pippin entered the Steward's service in payment of the debt that he and Merry owed: the death of Boromir. Ostensibly they were allies, but the Steward treated him with disrespect and suspicion. When Faramir, the Steward's younger son, returned from Osgiliath and was attacked by Nazgûl, Gandalf upon Shadowfax drove them away by revealing the power within him. Later, Faramir told him that Frodo and Sam were still alive and headed towards Mordor.[37]:812

The city was soon besieged by a vast force from Mordor, led by the Witch-king. An ill-advised counterattack resulted in Faramir receiving a wound from a poisoned dart; he lay near death inside the Tower. Still, Gandalf encouraged the men of Minas Tirith to have hope, and dispelled the fear of the Ringwraiths by his very presence. But Sauron's catapults hurled flaming bolts upon the city; soon the first circle of the city burned unchecked. Denethor then lost all heart as the city burned and his only remaining son hovered near death. He abandoned his leadership of the city, and Gandalf then took it upon himself to direct the defence of the city. When the gigantic battering ram Grond destroyed the ancient entrance to the city, Gandalf placed himself alone at the ruined gateway. The Witch-king then appeared in the midst of the blasted gate upon a black horse and threatened Gandalf with death; but Gandalf did not move — seated upon Shadowfax he defied the mightiest of Sauron's minions. However, the stand-off ended inconclusively, as the morning arrived along with the host of the Rohirrim. Hearing the horns of the Riders of Rohan, the Witch-king departed.

However, Gandalf did not pursue his foe, for Pippin brought him news that Denethor was about to burn himself and his son Faramir to death on a pyre like the heathen kings of old. Gandalf rushed to stop this, and was able to save Faramir, but not Denethor, whose despair and grief had overcome his mind. Gandalf then learned how it was that Denethor's will had been broken: the Steward clutched a palantír in his hands as he burned.

Nevertheless, and against all hope, the siege was broken. Éowyn of Rohan and Merry defeated the Witch-king, whose last wail was heard by many as he was reduced to impotence. Soon after, Aragorn arrived with a large host of men from the southern fiefs upon a captured pirate fleet from Umbar. The forces of the men of the west then utterly defeated Sauron's attack against Minas Tirith, relieving the city and killing virtually all of the invaders. Gandalf's carefully laid plans and words of wisdom, along with acts of heroism not seen since the Elder Days, had defeated Sauron's first move.

Last battle

But the attack against Minas Tirith was only a part of Sauron's plan to devastate the West and make himself the ruler of Middle-earth. Other armies moved in the north against Erebor and the Kingdom of Thranduil, as well as against Lothlórien and other points along the Anduin. Still commanding vast armies of orcs and men, the Dark Lord soon would move against Gondor again; the remnants of the Edain and their allies had little hope against his almost limitless resources.

In Minas Tirith, Gandalf was selected by Aragorn, Imrahil, and Éomer (the remaining lords of the west) to be their leader in the coming final battles. This would be the culmination of Gandalf's efforts in Middle-earth. Fully aware that the West would stand or fall on the outcome of Frodo's mission, he advised the lords to drive north to the Morannon, thereby drawing Sauron's eye away from Frodo's likely location. This plan would likely result in a catastrophic loss for the outnumbered army, but it gave Frodo a chance to achieve the quest of Mount Doom.

Led by Gandalf and Aragorn, the army of the West crossed the Anduin and marched north, pausing occasionally to announce their coming, and to dispatch small numbers of men to lesser tasks. Upon arriving at the Black Gate, the forces halted and prepared for battle. As they ordered their companies, the foul Mouth of Sauron rode forth to parley with them; he revealed Frodo's mithril coat and Arnor-blade and implied that their owner was captured and tortured. The emissary of Sauron then proposed that the forces of the west surrender; Gandalf however was undaunted, and, seizing his friend's belongings, rejected Sauron's offer. In shock, the Mouth of Sauron turned back towards the Black Gate, which slowly opened to reveal a vast army of orcs and trolls advancing on the lords of the west. Sauron's trap was sprung.

Yet Sauron himself became the victim of Gandalf's trap. Unbeknownst to all, Frodo and Sam had succeeded in scaling Mount Doom. Even as the Battle of Morannon began, Frodo stood at the Crack of Doom. But the power and lure of the Ring finally overcame his will and he placed the ring upon his finger, claiming it as his own. Immediately the Nazgûl were summoned by their lord, as he in terror realised his blunder: his enemies intended to destroy his Ring.

The Shadow of Sauron by Ted Nasmith

But Gandalf's foresight proved accurate again as the creature Gollum, who had been doggedly following the Ring-bearer, seized the Ring from Frodo, and, while celebrating his reunion with "his precious," unwittingly fell into the fires of Orodruin. The ring was unmade as the fiery mountain erupted. The tower of Barad-dûr and the Towers of the Teeth began to collapse, their foundations crumbling. The Ring-wraiths burned out like shooting stars, and Sauron was reduced to a mere shadow of malice, never to torment the world again.

With Sauron gone, his forces scattered; the Men of the West now set upon them with fury. Gandalf announced the success of the Ring-bearer and the end of Sauron; the quest had been fulfilled. Seeing that victory was achieved, Gandalf then mounted Gwaihir the Eagle for the third time, and set out for Mount Doom in search of Frodo and Sam. To his great relief, the two were found on the slopes of Orodruin, clinging to life amid the volcanic eruptions.[38]:948–51 The great quest was over.

End of the Order

In Minas Tirith, Gandalf and the remaining members of the Fellowship reunited. At the coronation of King Elessar, Gandalf, at Aragorn's request, set the crown upon the King’s head, and declared "Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!". Thus Gandalf ushered in the new age of men.

After the coronation and wedding of Aragorn to Arwen, Gandalf left with the rest of the remaining Fellowship on the journey home. For Gandalf, it was his last long journey in Middle-earth. His errand to Arda had been fulfilled; Sauron had been defeated. He said farewell to his friends one by one until at last only the four Hobbits remained at his side. At the borders of the Shire he, too, turned away. He left the Hobbits to settle the affairs of the Shire themselves, for the shattered pieces of evil still remaining in the world were no longer his concern, and went to talk to Tom Bombadil.[39]:996

What Gandalf did during the next two years is unknown; it is possible that his "long talk" with Bombadil was just that. At any rate, on 29 September 3021, he met Frodo at Mithlond, ready to take the White Ship over the sea to Aman. He wore Narya openly on his finger, and Shadowfax was beside him (perhaps even to take ship with him). His mission was over, and his homecoming after more than 2000 years was nigh. He bade farewell to Samwise, Merry, and Pippin (the later two of whom he had forewarned of the passage), then boarded the ship beside Frodo, Bilbo, Elrond, and Galadriel. The ship passed west upon the sea,[40] and then took the hidden straight path to Valinor. Gandalf became Olórin once more. There, presumably, he dwells still in the gardens of Irmo. Olórin, the wisest of the Maiar and the sole Istar to remain true to his mission, had successfully kindled the hearts of the free peoples of Middle-earth to overcome the evil of their time.



The Grey Pilgrim relaxing. Art by Roger Garland

Gandalf is often described in The Lord of the Rings as quick to anger, and equally quick to laugh.[41] He had great pity and patience, even extending to the servants of his enemies. He is said to have learned both from Nienna in Valinor.[6]

Gandalf's signature, the rune "G".

Keen observers of Gandalf often detected a veiled power, usually revealed in his eyes, which appeared deep and wise.[42]:757 He was alternately affectionate and brusque; he often surprised others with his bluntness when time was of the essence. Gandalf consistently upbraided foolish behaviour, but also richly rewarded those who acted with good intentions.

Hobbits appealed to him more than to the other Wizards, and he often went to the Shire for respites from his errands. It may be that he was amused by their nature. It may also be because they were untouched by the great evils of the world, and were more in touch with nature than Men; perhaps their agrarian lifestyle appealed to Gandalf's innate spirit and reminded him of the gardens of Valinor.

Círdan the Shipwright divined in him "the greatest spirit and the wisest" out of all of the Wizards that came from the West, and so he entrusted the care of Narya, one of the Three Rings of the Elves, to Gandalf rather than to Saruman.[8]


Gandalf the Grey by John Howe

The first description of Gandalf is preserved in the initial pages of The Hobbit, written in the early 1930s. Gandalf's fame is alluded to even before his physical description ("Tales and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the most extraordinary fashion"), while the protagonist's ("unsuspecting Bilbo") impression is that of: old man with a staff. He had a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over which a white beard hung down below his waist, and immense black boots.

Later, Tolkien wrote:

...a figure strongly built and with broad shoulder, though shorter than the average of men and now stooped with age, leaning on a thick rough-cut staff as he trudged along... Gandalf's hat was wide-brimmed [...] with a pointed conical crown, and it was blue; he wore a long grey cloak, but this would not reach much below his knees. It was of an elven silver-grey hue, though tarnished by wear - as is evident from the general use of grey in the book... But his colours were always white, silver-grey, and blue - except for the boots he wore when walking in the wild...Gandalf even bent must have been at least 5 ft. 6... Which would make him a short man even in modern England, especially with the reduction of a bent back.[1]

Although some of the Wise knew his true nature, his "wizard-like" appearance caused many to mistake him for a simple conjurer. After his return, his "signature colour" changed from grey to white, for he had been sent back to replace the corrupt Saruman as the chief of the Wizards. In the book, he claimed that, in some ways, he now "was Saruman", or rather Saruman as he should have been.[35]:495

Powers and abilities

Gandalf the Grey by Roger Thomasson

Gandalf demonstrated extensive knowledge of the land and an assortment of magical abilities from trivial to essential.

Gandalf was the bearer of Narya, the Ring of Fire, and described himself as the "servant of the Secret Fire" and "wielder of the flame of Anor".[34] Many of Gandalf's displays of power were related to fire in some way. It is not known, though, whether or to what extent his possession of Narya affected his abilities.

He created blinding flashes and other pyrotechnics to distract the goblins of the Misty Mountains during Thorin and Company's escape from Goblin-town. On the eastern slopes, he turned pine cones into flaming projectiles that threw hot sparks and started fires that would not easily go out.

When the Fellowship was attacked by Wargs in Hollin, Gandalf spoke words of power to inflame the trees on the hillock where the company had camped. While crossing the Misty Mountains with the Fellowship, he was able to start fires under blizzard conditions. On the journey through Moria he created lights of varying intensity, magically secured doors, and broke the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. He fought and killed the Balrog of Moria, although he did not himself survive the battle.[34]

Sent back to Middle-earth as Gandalf the White, he possessed greater charisma and a limited degree of clairvoyance, although he was unable to peer into the land of Mordor to see the progress of Frodo and Sam. His power and authority had increased so that he could break Saruman's staff with a spoken command, throw the treacherous wizard out of the order.[36]:583 He also prevented Sauron's Eye from locating Frodo.[35]

He frequently used his powers for entertainment. He blew glowing smoke rings that moved around the room at his direction, and was known among Hobbits for his fireworks displays,[13] for example at Bilbo's Farewell Party.[27]

When angered or aroused for battle, he seemed to grow in height and assume a terrifying aspect.[27]:34

Though not as keen as Elves, his eyesight was sharp enough to see in darkness, and into the Unseen.

Special equipment

It is unknown whether Gandalf required his staff to exercise certain powers. At times it appeared to focus or extend his powers, such as its emanation of light. Gríma Wormtongue tried to forbid Gandalf from bringing it into Edoras in a clear attempt to limit his powers.[43]:514

When he arrived in Middle-earth, Gandalf received the Elven ring Narya from Círdan.[8] Gandalf wore it from that time to the end of the Third Age but how he used its powers is not known.

In T.A. 2941, Gandalf acquired the Elven sword Glamdring from the treasure hoard of a band of trolls.[16] He continued to wield this weapon throughout The Lord of the Rings, in particular during his fight with the Balrog in Moria.

Throughout his time in Middle-earth Gandalf often was seen with a pipe which he used to smoke Old Toby.


Within the legendarium, Gandalf translates an unknown name of the meaning "Elf-of-the-wand (or cane/staff)", or more literary "Wand-elf", in old northern Mannish. Most denizens of Middle-earth incorrectly assumed Gandalf was a Man, 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 could not be an Elf, as he was old and Elves do not generally age, the nickname stuck with him. He later gave it as his name to others he met who did not know its original meaning.

Other names

Many are my names in many countries. Mithrandir among the Elves, Tharkûn to the Dwarves; Olórin I was in my youth in the West that is forgotten, in the South Incánus, in the North Gandalf; to the East I go not.

  • Greyhame: Used in Rohan,[44] it was the equivalent in Rohanese of ""Greycloak" which would have been grēg-hama.[45]
  • Incánus: Gained during his long travels "in the south" (likely meaning no further south than Gondor or the Near Harad[8]) of Middle-earth in the mid-Third Age.[46] Although Incánus seems to be of unclear language and meaning, a note in the Thain's Book says it is a Quenya form simply adapted from a word in the tongue of the Haradrim: Inkā-nūsh (or possibly Inkā-nūs), meaning "North-spy".[8]
    Incánus in Latin means "grey-haired". However, Christopher Tolkien has noted that the "coincidence in form" might be an "accident",[8] his father wrote "Incánus Latin" in a later published manuscript,[47] suggesting that the similarity was perhaps more than a coincidence.
    Tolkien also changed his mind several times about the meaning of Incánus, besides the etymology given above his other variations were:
    • An archaic Quenya word meaning "Mind-ruler", from in(id)- ("mind") and cáno ("ruler, governor, chieftain").[8]
    • An adaptation from Quenya incānus(se), meaning "mind mastership".[48]
    • A possible Westron invention meaning "Greymantle".[8] In a draft manuscript of The Lord of the Rings, different names used were Forlong>>Fornold>>Incânus.[49]
  • Láthspell: The name given to Gandalf by Gríma Wormtongue when the former arrived at Meduseld. It means "Ill-news".[50] It is a modernized form of Old English lad-spell ("a painful grievous story") from lad ("causing hate, evil, injury") and spell ("story", "message").[51] In earlier drafts, it is actually Théoden who refers to Gandalf as Láthspell.[52]
  • Mithrandir: His Sindarin name ([miˈθrandir]), used in Gondor and meaning "Grey Pilgrim" or "Grey Wanderer", from mith ("grey") + randir ("pilgrim, wandering man").[53][54]
  • Stormcrow: The name given to Gandalf by King Théoden in Rohan, a reference to his arrival being associated with times of trouble.[50]
  • Tharkûn: The name given to Gandalf by the Dwarves.[46] Tharkûn is Khuzdul, meaning either "Grey-man"[55] or "Staff-man".[8] The word possibly derives from the unattested word thark ("staff") + a nominal ending -ûn.[56] In a draft manuscript of The Lord of the Rings, occurs the spelling Sharkûn.[49]
  • The White Rider: The name given to him by Aragorn when he rides the great horse Shadowfax.[57]

Other versions of the legendarium

In early manuscripts of The Hobbit, the name Bladorthin was used by Tolkien for the character who later would be named Gandalf. The name Gandalf was instead used for the character known as Thorin in the published works.[58]


Oden som vandringsman (Odin the Wanderer) by Georg von Rosen
Der Berggeist by Josef Madlener

Gandalfr appears in the list of dwarves in the Völuspá of the Elder Edda, the name means "Cane-elf". Tolkien took the name along with the other 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",[59] since it forced him to come up with an explanation of why Old Norse names should be used in Third Age 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.[60]

Tolkien had a postcard labelled Der Berggeist ("the mountain spirit"), and on the paper cover in which he kept it, he wrote "the 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 discovered that the painting was by German artist Josef Madlener and dates to the late 1920s.[61] 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.

Portrayals in adaptations

Gandalf in adaptations


1967: The Hobbit (1967 film):

Gandalf's role is drastically reduced. He lives in a tower, where Thorin, the princess and the guard meet him to discuss the killing of Slag. He introduces them to Bilbo, but does not go on the quest.[62]

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

The voice of Gandalf was provided by John Huston.

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

Gandalf was voiced by William Squire. John A. Neris played him in the live-action filming used for rotoscoping.[63]

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

John Huston reprised his role as Gandalf. In this adaptation, the tale is told by a minstrel of Gondor, yet in the story, Gandalf serves as the narrator. Gandalf the White is portrayed without difference from Gandalf the Grey, in The Hobbit.

1985: The Fairytale Adventures of Mr. Baggins, the Hobbit (1985 film):

Ivan Krasko played Gandalf.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Ian McKellen was cast as Gandalf. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:

Perhaps the most striking difference from all other adaptations is the difference between Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White. Where earlier no visible or audible difference was made, Gandalf the White is portrayed as much more virile, and with a shorter (and whiter) beard.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

Because Imrahil had been cut from the film, it was up to Gandalf to lead the troops after the madness and death of Denethor.

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

Sir Ian McKellen reprised his role as Gandalf the Grey.[64] A description of Gandalf in The Hobbit films was released by the studio:

One of the most powerful Wizards in all Middle-earth, Gandalf the Grey joins the quest to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor and the great treasure that lies within its stone halls from a fire-breating dragon, Smaug the Terrible. Along the way, Gandalf finds evidence that an ancient evil may have found its way back into the world. In order to uncover the truth, Gandalf must leave his companions to fend for themselves – a journey that will take him into the darkest corners of Middle-earth where his worst suspicions are confirmed.


1993: Hobitit:

Actor Vesa Vierikko played both Gandalf the Grey and Gandalf the White. He appeared in 6 of 8 episodes.

Radio series

1955: The Lord of the Rings (1955 radio series):

The voice of Gandalf was provided by Norman Shelley.[66]

1968: The Hobbit (1968 radio series):

The voice of Gandalf was provided by Heron Carvic.

1979: The Hobbit (1979 radio series):

The voice of Gandalf was provided Bernard Mayes.

1979: The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series):

Bernard Mayes reprised his role as Gandalf.

1980: Der Hobbit (1980 German radio series):

Gandalf is played by Bernhard Minetti.

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

Michael Hordern read the part of Gandalf. He had not read the book, and thought his agent made a mistake in telling him how many episodes he had to do. He did not know Gandalf's early death would prove only temporarily.[67]

1989: Hobit (1989 Slovak radio series):

The voice of Gandalf is provided by Karol Machata.

1992: Der Herr der Ringe (1992 German radio series):

Gandalf is played by Manfed Steffen.

2001-2003: Pán prsteňov (2001-2003 Slovak radio series):

The voice of Gandalf is provided by Martin Huba.


1982: The Hobbit (1982 video game):

Gandalf can be met on several moments of the game's story line.[68]

1990: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I (1990 video game):

Gandalf can be "recruited" by Frodo Baggins as a playable character.

1990: J.R.R. Tolkien's Riders of Rohan:

Gandalf is one of the main characters of the game and one of the several heroes of the Rohan faction.

1994: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I (SNES):

Gandalf can be acquired as a playable character.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

Tom Kane provided the voice of Gandalf. He is a playable character in several levels, including the fight with Durin's Bane.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (video game):

The voice of Gandalf is provided by Ian McKellen. Gandalf the Grey appears at the campsite of the fellowship in The Gates of Moria and during the fight of Balin's Tomb in Balin's Tomb. He latter reappears in the game as Gandalf the White at the start of the mission The Plains of Rohan, where he leaves Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to search Éomer and his army. He also appears in some cutscenes.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Game Boy Advance):

In the Game Boy Advance version of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Gandalf is a playable character. Gandalf's story starts with a conversation between Gandalf and Théoden, after which the story goes back to the Caradhras, where the Fellowship tries to travel over the Misty Mountains. When that road fails, the Fellowship goes back and travels through Moria. In Moria Gandalf and the other member of the Fellowship are separated. After finding Frodo, Aragorn and Gimli the fellowship is attacked by a Cave-troll and Goblins. After Gandalf defeats the Cave-troll the Fellowship has to flee for the Balrog. When they reach the Bridge of Khazad-dûm a cutscene is shown, in which Gandalf destroys the bridge and falls with the Balrog in the depths. After the fall Gandalf has to follow the footsteps of the Balrog through the depths of Moria and the Endless Stair until he reaches Durin's Tower, where he has to defeat the Balrog.
After being revived he returns as Gandalf the White in Fangorn, where he defeats several Trolls and Crebain. After defeating a stronger Forrest troll, named Fangorn troll, Gandalf meets Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. After a cutscene, the game moves to Edoras. Gandalf heals the corrupted Théoden in Edoras, and then travels through Rohan in search of Éomer. Gandalf convinces Éomer to lead his army to Helm's Deep.
The game ends with the Battle of Helm's Deep, in which Gandalf and Éomer fight alongside Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Éowyn while protecting the wall, the Hornburg and the Glittering Caves. In the final level Gandalf has to destroy the siege weapons that bombard the Hornburg. The game ends with a conversation between Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Théoden.

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

Jim Ward provided the voice of Gandalf. He is shown with actual magic: he can shoot blue bolts of lightning from his staff.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (video game):

Gandalf is the narrator, and a playable character. The game is built around him; the cut scene narration shows how he planned for the War of the Ring. He has several missions, collectively called the "Path of the Wizard". The first is the Battle of Helm's Deep, which serves as a training mission. He has to fight Uruk-Hai in the forest of Huorns and Ents in "The Road to Isengard". After that, the missions move to Minas Tirith: the first mission, "Top of the Wall", has Gandalf warding off ladders and siege towers. In the second, "Courtyard", he has to protect civilians from the invading Orcs. His last playing mission is the Battle of the Black Gate.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Game Boy Advance):

Just like on the console version of the game, Gandalf is a playable character. He has many missions, collectively called the "The Journey of the Wizard". He starts in a flooded Isengard, where he has to kill several Uruk-hai and Crebain before he confronts Saruman. After the defeat of Saruman he travels to Minas Tirith through Rohan and the Misty Mountains. At the Pelennor Fields Gandalf has to protect the beacons, so Rohan can be warned. During the Battle of Minas Tirith he has to protect the gate, before making his way to the Steward's Tomb. Here Gandalf has to kill Denethor, before he burns Faramir. After the battle Gandalf travels through Ithilien to the Black Gate, where he confronts a Nazgûl.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age:

Gandalf, voiced by Ian McKellen, is a character in EA's "alternative fellowship" game. In his battle against Durin's Bane, he is aided by the main characters.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring:

Gandalf is voiced by Steven M. Kramer, renowned for playing older mentor types.

2004: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth:

In non-storyline skirmishes Gandalf is the hero of the Gondor faction, who possesses several magical abilities. At first, he appears as Gandalf "the Grey", and becomes "Gandalf the White" after reaching level 5 (out of 10). Gandalf also narrates the prologue scene, repeating almost word for word the lines said by Galadriel in the The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
His involvement in the storyline is notable for major differences from the original tale. First of all, Gandalf survives his encounter with Balrog, defeating him at the Bridge of Khazad-dum and continues the journey with the Fellowship - by the time of arrival in Lothlorien he already appears as Gandalf the White. He is present during the ambush at Amon Hen, where thanks to his involvement Boromir is saved from certain death. Merry and Pippin are captured regardless and Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Boromir give chase, while Gandalf departs them to see to dealings in Rohan, including freeing of King Théoden from the spell. Following the Battle of Helm's Deep he travels to Minas Tirith along with both Pippin and Boromir, where they participate in the Siege of the city.

2006: The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II:

Gandalf is a hero for the "Men of the West" faction. Similar to the first game, he appears as Gandalf the Grey initially and Gandalf the White after level 5. He plays no part in the main storyline, but appears in the alternate "evil" campaign: after Sauron reclaims the Ring and lays waste to southern lands, Gandalf and few other survivors meet their end during a last stand in Rivendell.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Gandalf is a non-playable character voiced by Harry Chase, who narrates cutscenes and instances throughout the original game, before the first expansion. He first meets the Dwarven characters in Ered Luin in T.A. 2941, shortly before the Quest for Erebor. Later, characters of all races meet him in Bree in October of T.A. 3018, but he is too busy with concerns for Frodo and the Ring and merely sends them away to find Radagast. Finally, the players have a chance to have a proper conversation with him in Rivendell, following the Council of Elrond. During that time, Gandalf is involved in several quests, including helping the player wreck havoc among the Goblins stirring at the High Pass. After the Fellowship leaves Rivendell, players are able to retrace many of their steps, including the marks left by Gandalf such as the Burnt Top in Eregion and the remains of his fire at the pass of Caradhras. Later, Lady Galadriel bids the player to find the signs of Gandalf following his fall from the Bridge of Khazad-dum - said signs include his burnt hat at the Foundations of Stone in Moria and the signs of his struggle with the Balrog at the Endless Stair - those allow Galadriel to discern that Mithrandir is not truly dead. Players later meet him as Gandalf the White in Caras Galadhon shortly after the Fellowship has departed Lothlorien. During that time, he engages into a spiritual battle with a Gaunt-Lord Gortheron the Doom-Caller; his display of his new abilities encourages the band of Free People players and allows them to defeat the servant of Sauron.
Gandalf is also present in several historic "session plays", during which players witness the important events their characters were not present for. Such events include Gandalf infiltrating Dol Guldur with the help of an Elf named Raddir, first meeting between Gandalf and Aragorn on the outskirts of Lothlorien and Gandalf's imprisonment atop Orthanc by Saruman.

2009: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest:

Martin Jarvis provides the voice of Gandalf. He is a playable mage hero and has three special powers: "Healing Wisdom", "You Shall not Pass!" and "Cleansing Fire". In the good campaign he appears at the end of the Isengard mission, where he has to kill Saruman in Orthanc. In Moria he can be played to destroy the Balrog and in Minas Tirith he has to defend the gates of the second ring. He is also one of the four playable heroes in the last mission, the battle of the Black Gate. He appears as well at the end of the last mission, the Shire, of the evil campaign, in which he is defeated by Sauron.
He is also playable in the Shire, Isengard, Minas Tirith and Moria with the Conquest Mode, in Isengard and Minas Tirith in the Team Deathmatch mode, the citadel of Minas Tirith in Capture the Ring mode, and at the Black Gate, Minas Morgul, Mount Doom and the Shire during Hero Team Deathmatch mode.

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North:

Gandalf is voiced by Tom Kane, who also narrates the introduction of the game. He tells that heroes like "Aragorn the King", "Frodo the Ringbearer" and "Gandalf the Wizard" are rightly honoured, but that without a few heroes - Eradan, Andriel and Farin - the north of Middle-earth would have been lost.[69]
He also appears in Rivendell later in the game. Players can interact with him and learn of various important events, yet the conversations do not unlock any side-quests and do not affect the main story in any way.

2012: Guardians of Middle-earth:

Gandalf is a mage-type "guardian" with four abilities: Narya's Power, Flame of Anor, Fireworks and Gandalf's Might.[70]


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  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Window on the West", p. 670
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  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark"
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire"
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  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Warm Welcome"
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
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  28. 28.00 28.01 28.02 28.03 28.04 28.05 28.06 28.07 28.08 28.09 28.10 28.11 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  29. 29.0 29.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Three is Company"
  30. 30.0 30.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Strider"
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  32. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark"
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Maia of Manwë & Varda
Born: Creation of the Ainur Died: Sailed west on 29 September, T.A. 3019
Preceded by:
Chief of the Istari
5 March, T.A. 3019 - 29 September, 3021
Position abolished
Preceded by:
Keeper of Narya
c. T.A. 1000 - after 29 September, 3021
Presumably, still Gandalf
Position established
Leader of the Fellowship of the Ring
25 December, T.A. 3018 - 15 January, 3019
Followed by:

Valar Lords Manwë · Ulmo · Aulë · Oromë · Mandos · Irmo · Tulkas · Melkor
Valier Varda · Yavanna · Nienna · Estë · Vairë · Vána · Nessa
Maiar Arien · Blue Wizards · Eönwë · Gandalf · Ilmarë · Melian · Ossë · Radagast · Salmar · Saruman · Tilion · Uinen
Úmaiar Sauron · Balrogs (Gothmog · Durin's Bane) · Boldogs
Concepts and locations Almaren · Aratar (indicated in italics) · Creation of the Ainur · Fana · Máhanaxar · Ainulindalë · Order of Wizards (indicated in bold) · Second Music of the Ainur · Timeless Halls · Valarin · Valinor · Valimar
Members of Thorin and Company
Thorin · Balin · Dwalin · Fíli · Kíli · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Gandalf · Bilbo Baggins
Route of Thorin and Company
Bag End · Green Dragon · The Shire · Lone-lands · Last Bridge · Trollshaws · Trolls' lair · Rivendell · High Pass · Front Porch · Goblin-town · Goblin-gate · Eagle's Eyrie · Carrock · Beorn's Hall · Wilderland · Forest Gate · Elf-path · Mirkwood · Elvenking's Halls · Forest River · Lake-town · Long Lake · River Running · Desolation of the Dragon · Ravenhill · Back Door · Lonely Mountain · Great Hall of Thráin
Attendees of the Council of Elrond
Aragorn · Bilbo Baggins · Frodo Baggins · Boromir · Elrond · Erestor · Galdor · (Samwise Gamgee) · Gandalf · Gimli · Glóin · Glorfindel · Legolas
Members of the Fellowship of the Ring
Frodo · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Legolas · Gimli · Boromir
Route of the Fellowship of the Ring
Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Rohan · Edoras · Hornburg · Isengard · Dunharrow · Paths of the Dead · Gondor · Hill of Erech · Lamedon · Linhir · Lebennin · Pelargir · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen
Frodo and Sam
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Emyn Muil · Dead Marshes · Black Gate · Ithilien · Henneth Annûn · Cross-roads · Morgul Vale · Stairs of Cirith Ungol · Cirith Ungol · Shelob's Lair · Tower of Cirith Ungol · Mordor · Morgai · Plateau of Gorgoroth · Mount Doom · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Celebdil† · Lothlórien · Fangorn Forest · Edoras · Hornburg · Isengard · Rohan · Anórien · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Cair Andros · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Parth Galen · Amon Hen · Emyn Muil · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Wellinghall · Derndingle · Isengard · Hornburg · Dunharrow · Drúadan Forest · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Rivendell · Eregion · Caradhras · Moria · Lothlórien · Caras Galadhon · Anduin · Amon Hen · Parth Galen · Emyn Muil · Eastemnet · Fangorn Forest · Wellinghall · Derndingle · Isengard · Rohan · Anórien · Gondor · Minas Tirith · Osgiliath · Cross-roads · Ithilien · Dagorlad · Black Gate · Field of Cormallen · Gondor · Cair Andros · Minas Tirith · Anórien · Rohan · Edoras · Isengard
Ring-bearers of the One Ring
Sauron (S.A. 1600 - 3441) · Isildur (S.A. 3441 - 25 September, T.A. 2) · Déagol (c. 2463) · Sméagol (c. 2463 - 2941) · Bilbo Baggins (2941 - 22 September, 3001) · Frodo Baggins (22 September, 3001 - 13 March, 3019) · Samwise Gamgee (13 March, 3019 - 14 March, 3019) · Frodo Baggins (14 March, 3019 - 25 March, 3019) · Gollum (25 March, T.A. 3019)
Also briefly held the Ring: Gandalf (13 April, T.A. 3018) · Tom Bombadil (27 September, T.A. 3018)
The Hobbit film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films An Unexpected Journey (extended editionThe Desolation of Smaug (extended edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (extended edition)
Music An Unexpected Journey (Special Edition) · The Desolation of Smaug (Special Edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (Special Edition) · "Song of the Lonely Mountain" · "I See Fire" · "The Last Goodbye"
Tie-in books An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2013 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Creatures & Characters · The World of Hobbits
The Desolation of Smaug Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2014 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers · Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon · Activity Book · Sticker Book · Ultimate Sticker Collection
The Battle of the Five Armies Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2015 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: The Art of War · Activity Book
Video games Kingdoms of Middle-earth · Armies of The Third Age · Lego The Hobbit
Characters Bilbo · Thorin · Gandalf · Balin · Fíli · Kíli · Dwalin · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Smaug · Radagast · Elrond · Galadriel · Saruman · Azog · Bolg · Thranduil · Legolas · Tauriel · Bard · Bain · Tilda · Sigrid · Master of Lake-town · Alfrid · Dáin Ironfoot · Necromancer · Bert · William · Tom · Beorn · Thráin · Thrór · Goblin King · Gollum · Frodo
The Lord of the Rings film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films The Fellowship of the Ring (extended editionThe Two Towers (extended edition) · The Return of the King (extended edition)
Music The Fellowship of the Ring (The Complete Recordings) · The Two Towers (The Complete Recordings) · The Return of the King (The Complete Recordings) · "May It Be" · "Gollum's Song" · "Into the West"
Tie-in books Official Movie Guide · The Making of the Movie Trilogy · Complete Visual Companion · Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic · There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale · Weapons and Warfare · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Sketchbook
The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion · The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers Visual Companion · Photo Guide · The Art of The Two Towers
The Return of the King Visual Companion · The Art of The Return of the King
Video games The Two Towers · The Return of the King · The Third Age · Tactics · Conquest · Aragorn's Quest · Lego The Lord of the Rings
Characters Frodo · Bilbo · Gandalf · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Boromir · Legolas · Gimli · Elrond · Galadriel · Théoden · Éomer · Éowyn · Saruman · Sauron · Witch-king · Denethor · Faramir · Gollum · Gríma · Treebeard · Celeborn · Haldir · Lurtz · Sharku · Grishnákh