The Most Powerful Characters In 'Lord of the Rings' And ‘The Hobbit’

List Rules
Vote up the characters that the rest of Middle-earth should look out for.

J.R.R. Tolkien's expansive and wondrous world of Middle-earth is host to some unimaginably powerful beings. From legendary heroes and wizards to flame-wreathed Balrogs and dragons, there is no shortage of epic fights in the series. Though fans have already decided who reigns supreme amongst the series' beloved hobbits, there is room for debate on who would win in a battle royale among the most powerful LotR characters as well as The Hobbit.

We will be leaving out the almighty Valar and the supreme deity Eru Ilúvatar as well as a few other characters from The Silmarillion for the sake of fairness. Who do you think is at the top of the ranks when it comes to the strongest Middle-earth characters?


  • Gandalf the White
    Photo: The Return of the King / New Line Cinema

    Who He Is: Gandalf is known by many names (Mithrandir and Olórin, to name a few), and he is a Maia who first lives in the Undying Lands among the other heavenly beings and elves. He was sent to Middle-earth as an Istar - or wizard - by the Valar to aid those who would fight against Sauron and put an end to the Dark Lord's evil deeds. Gandalf acts as a guide to Thorin and company in The Hobbit, helping Bilbo and the dwarves through numerous perils on their journey. Along with the White Council, he is also responsible for vanquishing Sauron when he appears in the form of the Necromancer in Dol Guldur. The wizard plays a vital role in the War of the Ring, overcoming even death itself to transform into Gandalf the White.

    What He Can Do: In addition to being deeply wise and knowledgeable, Gandalf can perform fearsome magic and is particularly gifted with light and fire-based spells. He is capable - with a word - of shattering Saruman's staff and banishing the dark wizard's spirit from the body of King Théoden. In addition, he is also an adept swordsman and wields the famed blade "Glamdring the Foe-Hammer."

    Memorably Powerful Moments: In the depths of Khazad-dûm, the Fellowship encounters a demon-like beast known as a Balrog, which was once a Maia like Gandalf but became twisted and warped by Melkor's evil. Gandalf single-handedly does battle with the creature, and even while plummeting through the chasms of Moria, he struggles valiantly against the Balrog and its flaming whip. The wizard is eventually victorious, but it costs him his life. Yet, even death cannot stop Gandalf, and he rises again to rejoin the battle for Middle-earth.

  • The Dark Lord Sauron
    Photo: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    Who He Is: Known as the Dark Lord, Sauron is the scourge of Middle-earth. He begins as a Maia who serves Melkor, the being who brought all evil into existence. After Melkor is banished to the void by the Valar, Sauron rises as the second Dark Lord and, over the ages, seeks to dominate all of Middle-earth. Across many centuries of Middle-earth's history, Sauron foments many wars and is the source of much treachery and cruelty.

    What He Can Do: Sauron once was the student of the Vala and master-smith Aulë. This is where he learned the subtle art and mastery of forging magic rings and gained the ability to create the Rings of Power. He is also a skilled liar and is able to use his cunning to persuade people into believing his falsehoods. Before Sauron's defeat by Lúthien and Huan, he has the ability to shift into many forms, including those of a vampire and a werewolf.

    Memorably Powerful Moments: In the disguise of the benevolent Annatar "Lord of Gifts," Sauron infiltrates elvish society and instructs them in the arts of magic-ring making. This is a trap; he secretly forges the almighty One Ring and uses it to gain power over all the other ring-bearers. He is able to bend them to his will and corrupts their spirits in a plot to take control of all Middle-earth. He also plays a huge role in orchestrating the downfall of Númenór. Even after he is obliterated by Isildur, his spirit cannot be destroyed. He remains a powerful and dangerous entity in the form of an all-seeing eye, gathering armies and commanding the Nazgûl until Frodo finally destroys the One Ring.

  • Lady Galadriel of Lothlórien
    Photo: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema

    Who She Is: Lady Galadriel is the ruler of the woods of Lothlórien, where she reigns with Lord Celeborn, her husband. She is the grandmother of Arwen, and the niece of Fëanor, who created the legendary and bewitching gems known as the Silmarils. She played a large role in the rebellion of the Ñoldor and forsook the land of Valinor along with her kin, desiring to travel to Middle-earth and rule there. She bears one of the three greatest magic rings gifted to the elves, Nenya, and is a member of the White Council.

    What She Can Do: Galadriel has a great command of magic and is rumored to be an enchantress. She is able to communicate through thought alone and can resist Sauron's influence, even though she bears a Ring of Power. Through the use of her mirror, she seems to have the ability of future sight and bears extensive knowledge of the past.

    Memorably Powerful Moments: Along with the other members of the White Council, she drives Sauron, in the form of the Necromancer, away from his fortress at Dol Guldur. Perhaps even more impressive, however, is the strength she displays in refusing Frodo's offer of the One Ring. In this moment, she masters her desire for power and realizes that she needs to return to Valinor.

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    Who He Is: Tom Bombadil is a figure who is shrouded in mystery - no one is actually sure what he is or where he came from, but he claims to remember a time before the Valar came into the world. He rules a small, tucked-away land called the Old Forest alongside his beautiful wife Goldberry, a magical spirit of the river. He sings, dances, and lives a life of woodland whimsy, but he seems to foster a power beyond anything others have ever known, holding sway over the land and the forces of nature itself. Despite his unfathomable strength, he chooses to remain as a neutral force during all the clashes of Middle-earth.

    What He Can Do: Older than all else, except perhaps Ilúvatar himself, Tom is even immune to the powers of the One Ring; Frodo offers it to him, and it has no effect on him whatsoever. Inside of his forest, Tom's power to control the land seems practically unlimited, and he is called "master of wood, water, and hill" by his wife. Along with being impossible to capture or imprison, Tom easily takes control over the deadly Old Man Willow when he tries to crush Merry and Pippin.

    Memorably Powerful Moments: Tom's shining moment comes when he rescues the four hobbits from the wights in the Barrow-downs. The terrifying phantom-like creatures haunt the burial grounds and lure in unsuspecting victims to a gruesome end. The halfling companions are captured by these frightful specters and nearly become the victims of a dark, sacrificial ritual. Frodo interrupts this by cutting off one of the wights' hands and calling for Tom Bombadil's help. Tom appears in an instant and sings a song that banishes the wights in a glorious demonstration of his power.