When we’re introduced to the Elves of The Lord of the Rings, they’re on their way out of Middle-earth. As several characters remind us, “the time of the Elves is over.”
At their height, the Elves accomplished some magnificent feats. They built kingdoms, they crafted unique and powerful jewelry, and they valiantly fought great evils.
From their creation during the First Age up to their decline in the Third Age, the Elves on this list were (almost) always there to champion good and help those in need.
That said, some of the Elves on this list are not without their faults. Some Elves were said to be greedy, and others partook in one of the biggest Elvish sins – kinslaying.
Still, most of the Elves on this list were heroic, and not just in the traditional sense.
These Elves exhibited power in a myriad of ways. Yes, some took on big-bads and defeated Balrogs, but others made costly, personal sacrifices or tore down millennia-old barriers – all of which are acts that require great power.
So, this list will be ranking the Elves based on all types of power, not just physical and magical.
With that said, here are The 15 Most Powerful Elves In The Lord Of The Rings, Ranked.
You might be saying to yourself that Figwit doesn’t sound like an Elvish name, and you’d be right. Figwit is actually a fan-created acronym for “Frodo is great… who is this?”
The acronym was created when, upon rewatching The Fellowship of the Ring, a fan noticed that after Frodo makes the heroic and selfless choice of offering to take the Ring to Mordor... before the camera cuts to a random elf.
That random elf is played by none other than Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords fame.
His character was brought back for a brief scene in The Return of the King and an even larger role in the Hobbit movies once Peter Jackson caught wind of Figwit’s popularity with the fans.
Figwit is last on this list because he has relatively no power.
For example, when he tries to urge Arwen to press forward towards the Grey Havens, Arwen barely acknowledges his presence and rides past him.
Haldir’s role in the Lord of the Rings movies is much larger than what appears in the books. In the novels, Haldir was tasked with guarding the borders of Lothlórien.
While he does an admirable job of that, intercepting the Fellowship as they enter the forests of Lothlórien, he was given more responsibility in the movies.
In The Two Towers, at the behest of Galadriel and Elrond, Haldir is asked to lead an army of Elves in defense of the Rohirrim who are being attacked at Helm’s Deep.
He fights valiantly, side-by-side with Aragorn, and while the Rohirrim suffer massive losses in the battle, Haldir’s presence and that of his fellow Elves help Theoden’s people make it through the night until Gandalf and his reinforcements show up.
Arwen’s role was considerably beefed up for the movies. In order to give her a more significant role in the narrative, the writing team decided to have her help Frodo escape the Ringwraiths.
In the novels, her role is much smaller, and her primary function is that of a love interest.
While that’s not as progressive as, say, Eowyn’s character arc, Arwen still exhibits a lot of strength, just a different kind.
It would have been easy for her to choose to sail to Valinor with the rest of the Elves and bury her love for Aragorn.
It was braver to stay behind while most of her people left Middle-earth. Yes, she chooses to stay behind for love, but taking that kind of risk shows tremendous courage.
Why is Thranduil so low on this list? After all, he is King of Mirkwood, he rides a majestic elk into battle, and he has perfectly frosted eyebrows.
While these are all admirable qualities, Thranduil is presented as a flawed father and ruler in The Hobbit. Under his rule, Mirkwood practices isolationism.
Despite the growing terrors just outside his kingdom’s borders, Thranduil stubbornly refuses to help those in need.
While it would be easy to dismiss Thranduil and call him a selfish individual, he suffered many losses that may have contributed to his increasingly isolationist ways.
Along with his father and many of his people, Thranduil fought against Sauron during the War of the Last Alliance. He lost his father and a third of his people during that war, which understandably, fed his fear of conflict.
Although Celebrimbor isn’t mentioned in the Lord of the Rings movies, his handiwork appears throughout it.
Celebrimbor was an Elf who gained great renown as an expert craftsman and jewel-smith.
With the help of the fair being Annatar (Sauron in disguise), he created sixteen of the twenty Rings of Power.
These were the Rings that found their way into the hands of Men and Dwarves. He also created the three Elven Rings of Power, but since he crafted these rings on his own, they were devoid of the corrupting power of the other Rings.
In addition to crafting a majority of the Rings of Power, he also helped the Dwarf Narvi create the Doors of Durin, one of the doors that led into the Dwarven kingdom of Khazad-dûm.
Prince of Mirkwood and rider of shields, Legolas’ talents are many. He’s an expert bowman, he can gracefully slide down the trunk of an Oliphaunt., and he can even flip himself onto a galloping horse, all while keeping his hair looking L’oreal perfect.
However, what are some of his non action-hero accomplishments?
Given his father’s hatred for Dwarves, a prejudice that Legolas inherits, Legolas’s ability to eliminate that prejudice is impressive. Not only does he begin to tolerate Gimli, but, eventually, he and Gimli form one of the most profound and ground-breaking bonds within Middle-earth.
Their friendship was so strong that once Legolas decided to leave Middle-earth for good and sail to the Undying Lands like most of his kind, he takes Gimli with him, making Gimli the first Dwarf to enter this sacred Elvish haven.
While Celeborn was a skilled warrior and thought to be one of the wisest Elves in Middle-earth, perhaps his greatest accomplishment was marrying Galadriel, who, in The Silmarillion, is cited as being the “mightiest and fairest” Elf in Middle-earth.
Even more impressive is his willingness to take on a supporting role while Galadriel slays in every possible way.
Whether or not this is how Tolkien intended the character to be interpreted is irrelevant.
This is how he appears in the narrative, and, for a story that doesn’t have many female characters, and even less stable romantic relationships, Celeborn’s depiction as a supporting husband who’s not threatened by the strength of his female partner, is significant.
When The Fellowship of the Ring was released in theaters, many fans took to the forums and lamented the loss of the Elf Glorfindel, a character who had perhaps one of the most memorable scenes in the novel.
That scene was the Ringwraith chase in which an injured Frodo is swiftly escorted to Rivendell for treatment.
The scene is relatively unchanged in the movie, except it’s Arwen who helps Frodo escape the Ringwraiths, and she’s the one who summons the torrent of water that tramples the Nine.
Apart from escaping the Ringwraiths, Glorfindel has a number of heroic acts to his name. He fought against the forces of Sauron’s master, Morgoth.
He battled and defeated a powerful Balrog – a fight that cost him his life. His actions in life were so noble that, upon his death, he was brought back to life and given even greater power.
To say that the character of Tauriel wasn’t well-received would be an understatement. The addition of a non-canon character to the Hobbit upset a lot of Tolkien purists.
Still, without her, the Hobbit trilogy would have been even more male-dominated than the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so the addition of a female character made sense.
As captain of the Mirkwood Elven Guard, Tauriel repeatedly demonstrated her skill with her bow and her daggers, but her greatest strength was her ability to realize the need for change.
Long before Legolas was able to look past his own prejudices against Dwarves and decades before Elrond realized he couldn't completely forsake the race of Men, Tauriel opened her heart to the Dwarves and demanded that the Elves take an active role in the fight against the growing evils in Middle-earth.
Gil-Galad was the High King of the Ñoldor in Middle-earth and has many accomplishments to his name. He was one of the few Elves who was able to see past Sauron’s attempt to earn the trust of Gil-Galad’s people by appearing to them in the form of a fair being.
He was also entrusted with the safe-keeping of two of the three Elven Rings of Power, one of which he gifted to Elrond.
While he doesn’t have a speaking role in the Lord of the Rings movies, Gil-Galad does appear briefly in the prologue scene fighting against Sauron’s forces.
He, along with Elendil, Aragorn’s ancestor, formed the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. This alliance temporarily defeated Sauron until he regained power and returned during the events of The Lord of the Rings.
Fingolfin’s journey to Middle-earth was fraught with hardships. His half-brother, Fëanor, had grown suspicious of Fingolfin after Morgoth, Sauron’s master, fed the Elf lies about his younger brother. Fëanor did everything in his power to sabotage his brother and his followers.
However, although Fëanor made it difficult for him, Fingolfin made it to Middle-earth.
It was in Middle-earth that Fingolfin performed his most heroic act -- engaging Morgoth in single combat.
Morgoth was a powerful being, more powerful than Sauron, and perhaps one of the most powerful beings in Tolkien’s universe.
Fingolfin was able to hold his own against Morgoth for an impressive amount of time and even got a few licks in. He also struck Morgoth with a powerful blow that left him with a lasting limp.
Although Fëanor was, at times, selfish, paranoid, and a terrible brother, he accomplished some magnificent things during his life.
For one, he created the Silmarils, which were undoubtedly the most precious gems in all of Arda. The Silmarils were priceless because they were made from the Two Trees of Valinor, two powerful trees that blessed and empowered any being who gazed upon them.
The trees were destroyed by Morgoth, a more evil and powerful version of Sauron, so the Silmarils were one of the few ways the gifts of the Two Trees of Valinor lived on.
Fëanor was unique among Elves, as he was born with a greatness of spirit-- his mother chose to literally pass on much of her spirit to her son during childbirth, presumably making him more powerful than other Elves.
In The Lord of the Rings, Lúthien is often referenced in relation to Arwen. She was considered to be one of the most beautiful Elves to exist, and Arwen, being one of her descendants, bore a strong resemblance to Lúthien.
Not only that, but like Lúthien, Arwen fell in love with a mortal being, a romance that caused both women much heartache.
However, Lúthien’s deeds are far more interesting than the parallels between her and Arwen.
When Beren, the man she loved, was captured by Sauron, Lúthien rescued him and, using her powers, the pair was able to sneak into Morgoth's fortress.
There, Lúthien enchanted Morgoth and his entire court into a deep sleep, which gave Beren the opportunity to cut one of the precious Simarils from Morgoth's crown.
Elrond is a stand-up Elf who is always there to help. When Aragorn’s father was slain, Elrond took the future king in and raised him like his own son.
When the One Ring was found, he called for the Council of Elrond, encouraging beings from across Middle-earth to decide the Ring’s fate together. It is no surprise that he is considered to be a wise leader, not just among his own people, but by others as well.
In addition to having tremendous strength of character, he’s also skilled in battle, playing a significant role in the first war with Sauron.
He’s also the keeper of Vilya, the Ring of Air, which grants him many powers, including, it’s theorized, the power to preserve and heal.
According to the Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, "Galadriel was the greatest of the Noldor, except Fëanor maybe, though she was wiser than he, and her wisdom increased with the long years."
Her wisdom granted her the power of perception, as she was able to perceive Sauron’s deceitfulness when he appeared to the Elves in a different form.
She’s performed many selfless and heroic deeds, such as aiding the Fellowship on their quest to destroy the ring, as well as bringing down and purifying Sauron’s fortress, Dol Guldur.
On top of that, she was able to resist the pull of the One Ring.
As the keeper of Nenya, the Ring of Water, Galadriel already had considerable powers. With her ring, she was able to protect Lórien from attacks. With the One Ring, she, undoubtedly, would be a force to be reckoned with, as she herself proclaims, “All will love me and despair!”
Which Lord of the Rings Elf do you think is the most powerful? Let us know in the comments!