J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings series are classic high fantasy works that are celebrated by fans around the world. The books have inspired generations of readers with their incredible fantasy characters, terrifying monsters, and themes of perseverance, loyalty, and friendship.
Though not without their problems, the films adapted from the beloved works have also captured imaginations around the globe, inviting in new fans of all ages and making "One does not simply go into Mordor" into one of the most widely-used memes of all time. From Jack Black's MTV sketch to the jokes about Sean Bean's inability to survive any production he's in, the series has become ingrained into modern culture.
The films have also highlighted some of the most powerful beings in the history of literature, bringing to life both wildly inspiring wizards and elves as well as living nightmares. Audiences have also witnessed a series of weaker beings who either succumbed to those in power by choice, by force or even by accident.
While our heroes Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee with their enormous hearts and heroic journey aren't among the most powerful, they should still be acknowledged for their courage and sacrifice in the quest to save Middle Earth. From there we can easily see who wielded the most power in the realms and who proved to be the weakest among elves, dwarves, men, and more.
Here are the 10 Most Powerful Beings (And 10 Weakest) In The Lord Of The Rings, Ranked.
20 Weakest: Boromir
He's the reason why we make Sean Bean memes. Boromir was Bean's Macbeth curse and it's because, although he seemed to be among the strongest of men, he proved to be one of the weakest in the series.
While he may have left Middle-earth as a hero, his path toward his fate emerged from his own greed and inability to see what the rest of his party could easily discern: the pure evil of the Ring.
As Galadriel noted, "The hearts of men are easily corrupted."
At least Boromir wasn't as weak as the men who joined forces with Sauron, but his inability to keep his hands to himself when it came to the One Ring when others, including his own younger brother, demonstrated greater self-control makes him one of the weakest characters in the films.
19 Powerful: Shelob
Long before there was Pennywise, Aragog, and Madam Octa, there was Shelob. She's a giant spider who has Orcs, Hobbits and anyone else who ventures near for literal dinner.
What's not to admire about the monster Shelob, to whom Gollum attempts feed Sam and Frodo?
Shelob's power is especially impressive because she is serving no one but her own hungry self.
She's supposed to be the malevolent offspring of Ungoliant, an evil spirit in the form of a spider, but how evil can we truly dub her if she's only trying to survive in her own lair? She's not exactly bothering anybody and she's not even on Sauron's side.
We'd like to think that Shelob still hangs around, trapping things and eating them, long after Sam scared her away with the star-glass given to him by Galadriel.
18 Weakest: Mouth Of Sauron
Although he did gift us with the moment of the trilogy in which we all wondered, gasping, "Was Guillermo del Toro involved in this?" the Mouth of Sauron is a pretty pathetic character.
Not only did the Lieutenant of Barad-dur forget his own name after entering Sauron's service, but he abandoned his post until Sauron rose to power again, proving that the only cause he served was the one that was most likely to win.
Arrogant and blasphemous, the Mouth of Sauron is said to represent the False Prophet of the Bible, and given that his only power is to mouth off, so to speak, he's one of the weakest creatures in Middle-earth.
17 Powerful: Elrond
Cool and calculating, the Lord of Rivendell was no slouch during the War of the Last Alliance, but his lack of real involvement in Frodo's quest during the Third Age gave us pause.
Is he truly as powerful as he once seemed? Yes, the Half-Elven father of Arwen Undomiel is not only a member of the White Council but a gifted healer and the savior of Middle-earth, as he reforged Narsil in order to give Aragorn the zombie army he needed to defeat Sauron.
Even so, Elrond nearly even passed on that opportunity, having thrown up his hands against the evil of men after all of their shenanigans throughout his long life. Can we blame him, after Isildur's betrayal?
Luckily, his daughter's love for Aragorn prompted him to follow through with his power to save everyone.
16 Weakest: Isildur
He started off so strong that we're sure if we were at War of the Last Alliance we'd be waving a pennant with his name on it. He destroyed Sauron long before anyone else ever did, by chopping off the Ring of Power from Sauron's hand, which should have earned him a spot on the opposite list of powerful beings.
It's too bad that Isildur proved to be weaker than hobbits, succumbing to the lure of the ring and meeting his own end soon enough after claiming it as his own.
Even in the moment that Elrond implored him to destroy it, Isildur's weakness led him to adorn himself with the ring and vanish, which not only demonstrated his own feeble mind but also served as the greatest foreshadowing in LOTR history.
15 Powerful: Smaug
You're fire, you're destruction. We get it, Smaug. The thing about the most powerful beings is that they don't have to tell us how important they are. Actions speak louder than words, even for dragons, but Smaug likes to brag, which is fortunate for the fans who've created memes from his arrogant proclamations.
Smaug is so powerful that the makers of The Hobbit had to cast one of the most powerful voices of our time, that of Benedict Cumberbatch, in order to do him justice.
The Desolation of Smaug gets its title from just that: Smaug's power to destroy.
Smaug's greed almost sorts him into the weak list given that it truly controls him, but the fearsome dragon actually uses his jewels as armor. Combined with his sheer ferocity and strength, it just doesn't get much more powerful than that.
14 Weakest: Pippin
Although loved by many, Peregrin Took is sometimes seen as the Jar Jar Binks of the LOTR world, and it's not without reason.
Pippin is one of the youngest of the fellowship, but he still makes such enormous gaffes that it causes us pain to watch. Between catching the eye of Sauron, swearing his life to Denethor II, and generally not catching onto anything until the last minute, Pippin has spirit but his innocence makes him far too vulnerable.
That's not to say that Pip is entirely innocent, by any means, as he's known to get himself into trouble frequently. He's such a hobbit at heart that he almost can't help but expect everything will turn out for the best.
13 Powerful: The Balrog
The ability to take on Gandalf the Grey alone renders any creature fairly powerful, and the Balrog, formerly a primordial spirit known as Maiar who was seduced by the power of Morgoth, is a prime example of what it takes to take down one of the most powerful beings in Middle Earth.
He's a monster on fire. What's more powerful than that?
After giving us one of the most visually stimulating scenes in Fellowship of the Ring, the Balrog took out Gandalf over the Bridge of Khazad-dum and deep into its recesses onto the peak of Zirakzigil.
Neither survived the exhausting battle, but unfortunately for Durin's Bane, he wasn't a wizard nor did he possess the favor of the Valar, so he should have just minded his own business instead of chasing after the fellowship.
12 Weakest: Thandruil
The Elvenking Thandruil is such a haughty brat that several Internet memes have linked him to Draco Malfoy's equally lustrously-locked father, Lucius, from the Harry Potter universe.
Making decisions that only benefit himself, Thandruil is vain, callous, and blase with power.
Witnessing Thandruil's willingness to lock Thorin Oakenshield up for 100 years if necessary when his company entered Mirkwood, it's difficult to think kindly upon him even after he leads the Battle of the Five Armies.
It's no wonder that Bilbo refused to remain in Mirkwood at the behest of the Elvenking. Though he had power, Thandruil's selfishness and refusal to act without personal gain make him one of the weak links. His son Legolas has much more class.
11 Powerful: Gandalf The Grey
He's good for much more than fun and fireworks. Gandalf the Grey is the person we all wish we had as our wizard buddy. Handy in a fight, knowledgeable about everything, and as protective as a parent, Gandalf is the first source of hope we have in winning against Sauron, which is why losing him is so painful.
Part of what makes Gandalf the Grey so incredibly powerful is that he has no need to demonstrate his prowess unless the situation calls for it. He befriends hobbits -something that other powerful beings might scoff at - and between his counsel and contemplation, he never acts violently unless it's absolutely necessary. Gandalf the Grey for president!
10 Weakest: Smeagol
Smeagol is the creature we all pity, deep down. Corrupted by the One Ring from the first moment he encountered it, Smeagol proves to be one of the weakest creatures in the saga as he offs his own best friend in order to keep it for himself.
It's difficult to muster any empathy for the depraved Gollum who will do anything to nab his precious from the "filthy fat hobbit" and his "master" Frodo.
Glimpsing at how tortured the Ring has rendered him through the split presences of Gollum and his former self, Smeagol, shows us that a tiny portion of good remains in the creature after all of this time. We feel sorry for him, even after he finally obtains his desire in the end, resulting in his own disturbingly ecstatic demise.
9 Powerful: Saruman The White
When it comes to the most powerful individuals in Middle-earth, many of them aren't people we'd like for neighbors. Saruman the White is much more powerful than Gandalf the Grey, and as the head of his Order, he holds more political power in his hand, too. Saruman is a complex wizard who could be considered one of the weakest characters since he gave up serving the side of good, and as Aragorn said, ceased to be "as great as his fame made him."
His own greed and desire for power led him toward serving Sauron in the end, which proved unfortunate for the former Head of the White Council.
The fact that Saruman defeated Gandalf, starred in one of the best Istar battles of all time, and nearly helped destroy mankind lands him on the most powerful list.
8 Weakest: Orcs
Remember in Rocky III when Rocky kept poking Mr. T around the ring, taunting, "You're not so bad!" We need someone to make a video of Aragorn doing this to Orcs who believe themselves to be so tough when a single arrow from Legolas or a blow from Gimli's axe can bring one of them down quite quickly. They're also quite stupid.
Orcs are like ants: they're really not that threatening on their own.
Still, you'd definitely take out any single one you saw in your house in order to prevent the hoards from coming. Their true threat lies in their numbers.
The Uruk-hai, the strongest species of Middle-earth, were much more impressive, but still not powerful enough to pit a single one of them alone against any of the most powerful beings here.
7 Powerful: Gandalf The White
After losing Gandalf the Grey to the Balrog in Fellowship of the Ring, all hope seemed to be lost. Many newcomers to the series had no idea that Gandalf the White was waiting in the wings.
Although he proved to be a bit less jovial than his previous incarnation, he was the Wizard that Middle-earth. Gandalf the White is the powerful leader of the army of the West and member of the Istari Order.
We can pinpoint several moments in the series when, without Gandalf, our heroes could have certainly lost everything.
Wise, brave, and powerful, Gandalf the White is everything we hope for in a wizard, making him one of the most beloved characters of all time.
6 Weakest: King Theoden
As much as we wish that we could love King Theoden of Rohan as dearly as his devoted niece Eowyn does, we just can't.
His mind is so weak that Grima Wormtongue, one of the weakest characters in the entire series, was able to control him and his kingdom, resulting in destruction and ruin.
He even perished in battle while his niece, whom he forbade to fight, not only almost saved him, but proved to be quite competent.
Had Gandalf never come to the king's aid, he surely would have perished at the hands of Saruman through Wormtongue's administrations. Even his own nephew, the warrior Eomer, abandoned him, and if we know anything it's that Karl Urban doesn't abandon anyone for no good reason.
5 Powerful: The Witch-King Of Angmar
He's so powerful that no mere mortal man can end his life. Thankfully we've got headstrong and heart-strong Eowyn to take care of that problem, but the Witch-King of Angmar is an enormous problem for our heroes throughout the series. The leader of the Nazgul is not only Sauron's second-in-command, but a former king of men who succumbed to the corruption of his ring.
He's an undead monster who is immortal, the Black Captain of Sauron's forces in the War of the Ring, and the almost-ender of Frodo Baggins, who would have been a goner long before he reached Mount Doom due to the Witch-King's attack had it not been for the aid of the elves.
4 Weakest: Denethor II
He's the father we're all glad to not call our own.
Denethor II, the 26th Ruling Steward of Gondor, may have been a decent man once, but given his treatment of his son Faramir, we doubt it. Denethor II had a huge case of Favorite Son-itis that made him praise Boromir and reject his younger brother - even though it was Faramir who proved to be stronger against the One Ring. Faramir nearly gave his life on his cruel father's orders, even though he knew it was for a lost cause, and never stopped trying to be a good son.
Denethor II's obvious madness led to his own fiery end when he almost burned his wounded son alive.
Had he been strong enough to accept Faramir and love him, he might have enjoyed a better life.
3 Powerful: Galadriel
She's not a villain by any means, but she's so powerful that she is at the helm of one of the most terrifying moments of the entire series.
Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlorien, is one of the entrusted Guardians of the Golden Wood for a reason. She is so powerful that even demonstrating what she could do with the One Ring rendered us all shocked in our seats.
As tempted as Gandalf even thought he might be by the Ring, Galadriel's power demonstrated in those few seconds proved to us all that she might be the most powerful person to wield it in Middle-earth. It's also made clear that she is the most powerful of the Eldar, which makes her a force to be reckoned with.
2 Weakest: Grima Wormtongue
Grima Wormtongue is so pathetically weak that we are meant to pity him, but it's quite difficult to do when he's pardoned and returns to Saruman the White anyway.
Adviser to King Theoden of Rohan, Wormtongue was Rohan-born but turned traitor in order to spy on the kingdom, poison Theoden's mind, and generally cause the kingdom to suffer while the king descended into madness,
He's also the character who gives us the worst creepy vibes as he stalks Eowyn, hoping to be her suitor even as he destroys those she loves most.
Wormtongue is weak in the way that Peter Pettigrew of Harry Potter is weak: he'd rather betray his own and save his own skin.
1 Powerful: Sauron
If he weren't the most powerful being in Middle-earth, it wouldn't have taken multiple battles, countless characters and three films to defeat him. Frodo could have soared over Mount Doom on an Eagle, popped that ring into the fiery pit below, and been home sometime between elevenses and supper.
Sauron, the owner of the All-Seeing Eye, is not one to be trifled with, and we have over a dozen hours of footage to prove it.
Not only was Sauron originally an extremely powerful Necromancer, but the very immortal soul who crafted the One Ring at Mount Doom. This ring controlled all 19 of the Rings of Power, and Sauron couldn't have crafted it had he not been more powerful than the Elven-smiths who made the rings, as well as the Elves, Dwarves, and men who wielded them.
Who do you think is the most powerful character in the Lord of the Rings movies? Share your thoughts in the comments!