In The Lord of the Rings, there are five main wizards who are mentioned, but fans of the movies are most likely familiar with only two of them: Gandalf and Saruman. While the wizards in Middle-earth are actually ancient beings known as Istari, meaning they were servants and powerful beings of the gods of Middle-earth, they took the form of wizards. While there are technically only five wizards in the series, there are other beings that function similarly to wizards and how they’re thought of, in terms of power, and they rank quite interestingly in terms of power.

The most powerful wizards in The Lord of the Rings, as well as other powerful magical beings from Tolkien’s works, are a fascinating group of characters who all find different uses for their magical capabilities. While some are pure of heart, others are corrupted by power and choose a dark path. There’s much mystery surrounding magic and wizards in The Lord of the Rings, and fans have devotedly pondered on the power levels and histories behind the magic users of Middle-earth.



9 Wormtongue

Wormtongue scowling in The Lord of the Rings

While Wormtongue is not really a wizard, there are clearly things about him that point to him having some connection to dark magic. As the spy and agent of Saruman, he was up close to all of Saruman’s wizardry, and he was often used to help aid in this. He was essential in helping Saruman with the possession spell he placed over Théoden. So, while he might not be a wizard in the traditional Middle-earth sense, it’s not that unlikely that he would have tried to learn from Saruman.

8 The Blue Wizards

The two blue wizards walk side by side in a snowy forest in a painted illustration of The Lord of the Rings.

All of the five wizards, or Istari, arrived in Middle-Earth together in T.A. 1000. Although, the exact date changes a little depending on the book and the source. They were sent to Middle-earth to help the fight against Sauron. There were two blue wizards who were briefly mentioned in the series. Their names aren’t super clear, but there is one mention that names them Alatar and Pallando. Not much known about these two wizards, but they get their names because of the color of robes they were said to wear.

Unlike Radagast, Gandalf, and Saruman, the two blue wizards were sent to resist Sauron’s forces in the east instead of the west. Each of these wizards had a certain mission and part they were to play in fighting Sauron. However, it’s heavily implied that the blue wizards did not complete their mission but failed instead. The biggest evidence for this is in Unfinished Tales when Tolkien wrote that, “indeed of all the Istari, one only remained faithful.” This was about Gandalf. Tolkien also suggested that they were likely founders of magic cults with followers.

7 Radagast The Brown

A closeup of Radagast In The Hobbit

As one of the most powerful beings in The Lord of the Rings, Radagast the Brown is one of the five wizards who came to Middle-earth on a mission to oppose Sauron and was a friend of Gandalf in the series. Instead of focusing his energy on helping the humanoid creatures of Middle-earth, he turned instead to helping plants and animals. Because of this, although he did have powers, he didn’t do much to help in the War of the Ring. He was clearly powerful, but he not as much as other magical beings.

6 Gandalf The Grey

Close up of Gandalf the Grey in the Lord Of The Rings

In both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf is introduced as Gandalf the Grey. As the Grey Wizard, he’s clearly powerful, defeating a Balrog before succumbing to his wounds, and is also rather adept at hiding a lot of his power. However, by this point, he hasn’t reached the full height of his powers yet. He is one of the wizards who are most committed to the mission of stopping Sauron, so even at this early stage, he is still at work wandering around and trying to accomplish this mission.

5 Saruman The White

Saruman and his staff, shaped to resemble the tower of Orthanc

Most of the time that Gandalf knows Saurman he is known as Saruman the White. He was originally the chief of the wizards as well as the White Council that was formed to fight against Sauron. He was more powerful than Gandalf at these stages, but his study of dark magic turned him to support Sauron. However, before he turned to the dark forces, he was a very powerful wizard. His magic is on display during his duel with Gandalf, and it says a lot that Gandalf loses and even appears to fear Saruman.

RELATED: How Old Is Saruman In The Lord Of The Rings?

4 Ilmare

Sauron in a deleted scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The mythology of Middle-earth is quite complicated and includes a lot of powerful beings. While the Istari were some of these powerful beings, they were not the only ones. The Varda were essentially the gods of Middle-earth, and they had many servants and helpers. The Istari were one kind of servant. Ilmare was another kind. She was the handmaiden of Varda and a guardian of the stars. She was also one of the chiefs of the Maiar a group to which the Istari also belong and as such ranks among the most powerful wizards in The Lord of the Rings.

3 Saruman Of Many Colors

Christopher Lee as Saruman in Lord of the Rings

As far as being powerful is concerned, it’s not always light magic that is the most powerful. While Saruman might have been the most powerful wizard when he was still on the good side, he grew in might and power as he followed the teachings of Sauron. Of course, this ultimately leads to his downfall, but even still, he is powerful in this form. As Saruman of Many Colors he had abandoned his mission in Middle-earth and turned instead to trying to gain as much power as possible.

2 Gandalf The White

Gandalf charges in battle in The Two Towers

The transformation from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White can easily be read as a resurrection story of sorts. Gandalf was a powerful wizard before, but he goes from somewhat powerful to the height of his power after he battles the Balrog. This transformation also marked Gandalf effectively taking Saruman’s place as the chief wizard. Gandalf is the only one left who is still seeking to end Sauron and this transformation gave him even more power than before, ultimately leading him to victory.

1 Sauron

Close up of Sauron in The Lord Of The Rings

Sauron is another extremely powerful character who has a lot of abilities that appear magical who is not technically a wizard or Istari. He is, however, one of the Maia. While he might not technically fall under the wizard category, his magic and might is vast. He is an extremely powerful Dark Lord and that dark magic can’t be discounted when thinking about the most powerful wizards in The Lord of the Rings.

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