10 Most Powerful Characters In The Lord Of The Rings & The Hobbit Movies Ranked

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Summary

  • The Lord of the Rings movies revolve around the theme of power, with characters fighting for either the power to conquer or to protect.
  • Characters like the Witch-King of Angmar, Treebeard, Elrond, Smaug, Durin’s Bane, Galadriel, Radagast, Saruman, Gandalf, and Sauron all display immense power in different ways.
  • Gandalf, with his command of magic and intelligence, plays a crucial role in defeating Sauron and bringing peace to Middle-earth. Sauron’s reign of terror and his creation of the Rings of Power make him a formidable and powerful antagonist.

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The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies are filled with powerful characters, whether they draw their power from magical abilities, impressive brawn, or exhaustive inner strength. Given the extensive roster featured in both trilogies, it’s difficult to know who’s the strongest. Every Lord of the Rings character exhibits strength in different ways. Gandalf uses magic and wisdom to get by, while Frodo proves that fortitude goes far, even without physical prowess.

Power is an extremely important factor in The Lord of the Rings, and it’s essentially what the entire story boils down to. Each of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creations is fighting for power, whether it’s the power to conquer the world or the power to protect it. The heroes and villains from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit often combine forces to bring down their enemies. However, Peter Jackson’s films make it clear that some characters’ strengths surpass the others’.

10 The Witch-King Of Angmar

The Lord of the Rings The Witch-King of Angmar

Also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl, the Witch-King of Angmar is Sauron’s closest advisor and most-trusted ally. Little is known about his true identity, but thanks to Sauron’s support and his own combat skills, he manages to survive the Second and Third Ages of Middle-earth. That’s no small feat, and his lengthy tenure at Sauron’s side proves he’s a force to be reckoned with. Eowyn is ultimately able to kill the Witch-King in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. However, he conquers several cities and slaughters countless leaders during his time as Sauron’s right-hand man. Clearly, he’s earned his reputation as one of The Lord of the Rings’ strongest fighters.

9 Treebeard

Treebeard looking serious in Lord Of The Rings

In The Lord of the Rings books and movies, the ancient Ent Treebeard assists the Fellowship in their fight against Sauron and his army. Ents’ power doesn’t lie in combat skills or deadly magic, but they’re extremely intelligent and have a deep-rooted connection with nature, which they can exploit to their own benefit. Treebeard, specifically, is described by Gandalf as “the oldest living thing” in Middle-earth. Much like Gandalf, he’s seen a lot and learned from it, granting him knowledge that far exceeds the other characters from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It’s obvious Treebeard doesn’t like to use his wisdom and power.

8 Elrond

Elrond leads the Council to decide the fate of the One Ring in Fellowship of the Ring

Elrond is another hugely important figure from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Lord of Rivendell, Elrond plays a prominent role in Elven history, from the beginning of the First Age all the way to the events of The Lord of the Rings. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and experienced in combat. He also displays advanced healing abilities. The latter makes him more powerful than most Elves. Elrond has direct contact with the Rings of Power and understands their full potential. Elrond is an extremely old character who’s lived through much of Middle-earth’s history. His strength is visible in his wisdom and his ability to protect his people.

7 Smaug

Smaug in The Hobbit

Smaug is the primary antagonist of The Hobbit trilogy, and he’s a powerful foe to contend with. The ancient dragon dwells in the depths of the Misty Mountains, and he’s seemingly indestructible. He chases the Dwarves out of their home, and he prevents anyone from reclaiming the land for almost 200 years. In that time, no one even comes close to defeating him. Ultimately, it’s his own anger and vengeance that leads to his demise, as he leaves the safety of his mountain to lay waste to the city of Dale. It’s hard to say if Smaug would be defeated otherwise, and that highlights what a strong villain he is.

6 Durin’s Bane

A Balrog with his mouth open in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RIng.

Durin’s Bane is the Balrog the Fellowship encounters during their journey through the Mines of Moria in The Lord of Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. A giant creature composed of fire and rock, Durin’s Bane is capable of surviving extreme temperatures and depths. Though he only appears in one scene, the Balrog immediately displays the heights of his powers by killing Gandalf — a feat that no villain has managed for several centuries. The wizard ultimately returns from death, but this doesn’t diminish the extent of the Balrog’s abilities. He’s the first creature to truly pose a threat to Gandalf and his companions.

5 Galadriel

Cate Blanchett as Galadriel in Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring.

While Galadriel doesn’t appear in many scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies, her reputation among the Elves and other characters is enough to prove how dangerous and mighty she is. Galadriel is one of the very first Elves, hailing from the realm of Valinor before the First Age. She fights alongside her people for centuries after her arrival in Middle-Earth. Galadriel is involved in the creation and protection of the Rings of Power, and she even keeps one for herself, using it to enhance her magic. Although she only offers a glimpse of her powers in The Lord of the Rings movies, it’s enough to give viewers an idea of how powerful she is.

4 Radagast

A closeup of Radagast In The Hobbit

Like Gandalf and Saruman, Radagast is a wizard who was initially sent to Middle-earth in order to challenge Sauron’s power and bring peace to the land. He begins his life as a Maia (an ethereal spirit that can help shape the universe), giving him a huge power advantage over the rest of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit characters. He’s essentially a God. However, he chooses to remove himself from Middle-earth’s wars and focus on protecting its nature and wildlife. This is where Radagast is during The Lord of the Rings. Had he decided to assist the Fellowship in their fight against Sauron, he would’ve been a huge asset.

3 Saruman

Christopher Lee as Saruman in Lord of the Rings

Another wizard sent to Middle-earth to defeat Sauron at the height of his power, Saruman is known for his immense magical aptitude. Saruman is the leader of the first wave of emissaries known as the Istari. His powers are substantial when he first comes to Middle-earth, and they’re heightened further when he joins Sauron. This gives the wizard a huge advantage over the other Istari, like Gandalf and Radagast. It also enables him to conquer Rohan during the uprising against Sauron. Saruman’s ambition and greed ultimately prove his downfall. However, his power never falters during The Lord of the Rings movies.

2 Gandalf

Gandalf in Lord of the Rings.

Gandalf is the one responsible for bringing the Fellowship of the Ring together, and it’s principally because of him that Sauron is defeated and peace is brought to Middle-earth. The extent of his magic is explored in both the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, particularly following his transformation into Gandalf the White. Gandalf boasts a strong command of magic that few other Lord of the Rings characters have displayed. Even his most basic spells cause serious damage to his enemies. The wizard is also incredibly intelligent, which is a kind of power in itself. He’s always one step ahead, even if nobody realizes it but him.

1 Sauron

Sauron with his sword in The Lord of the Rings The Rings of Power

Although Sauron faces defeat at the end of The Lord of the Rings, there’s no denying the damage he inflicts during his time in power. Originally fighting alongside Morgoth during the First Age, Sauron is a dark force that haunts Middle-earth for centuries. Plus, he’s responsible for the creation of the Rings of Power in the first place. His reign of terror lasts much longer than the events of the movies (and even the books). It’s difficult to imagine any other character being able to accumulate the strength and power he does.