The Lord of the Rings is full of powerful forces, creatures, and beings. The world of the books and the films is built upon successive incarnations of the good and the wicked in conflict with each other. Those who strive to attain greater power for themselves at the expense of others always face brave resistance from the free peoples of Middle-earth and their leaders. The raw power in The Lord of the Rings tends to be held disproportionately by sinister forces as the two Dark Lords, Morgoth and Sauron threatened Middle-earth more than any other beings. But, there are plenty of great forces, beings, and creatures that fight for good, even if they cannot equal the Dark Lords in pure strength.
All throughout the films, we see powerful wizards, walking trees, and giant eagles. They do battle with colossal dragons, fire demons, and formidable wraiths, but there are plenty of powerful beings in Tolkien’s books that we never see in the films directly. The angelic Valar, a pantheon of higher spirits, watches over Middle-earth and the people within it. This brought the first light into the world and inspired the Elves, Men, and Dwarves to fight for the greater good. However, how does their power rank up against the more familiar wizards/creatures and Dark Lords? Who holds the greatest power in Middle-earth and beyond? And who among this series of fantastically magical beings can be considered the weakest of the bunch, even if their relative power is still considerable? Here are the 10 Strongest and 10 Weakest Supernatural Beings in Lord of the Rings, Officially Ranked!
20 STRONGEST: SARUMAN
Saruman was the leader of the Istari, a group of five Maiar spirits dispatched to Middle-earth to oppose Sauron. While taking the form of elderly, cloaked wizards, the Istari were meant to unite and lead the free peoples of Middle-earth against Sauron. Saruman was the wisest and most powerful wizard. He studied ancient magic, historical lore, and speech craft. Eventually, the lure of Sauron’s power influenced him and Saruman hatched designs on ruling Middle-earth alongside the Dark Lord.
Saruman easily overpowered Gandalf during their duel in the Tower of Orthanc and he also conjured mighty storms to impede the Fellowship’s progress. With the palantir, Saruman also took control of King Theoden of Rohan, crippling his kingdom while the forces of Isengard pillaged the country.
19 WEAKEST: SMAUG
Smaug was the last known fire-drake in Middle-earth by the time of the Third Age. Even though he was smaller and weaker than some of his kind, Smaug was still a fire-breathing dragon larger than most creatures in Middle-earth. The Dwarves of Erebor could not withstand Smaug’s first assault on the Lonely Mountain and the dragon forced the dwarves into exile, while none dared approach the mountain while Smaug lurked within it. When the company of Thorin Oakenshield tried to take back their home from Smaug, they faced the full brunt of his strength and fiery breath.
In revenge for their attack, Smaug let loose his wrath on the people of Laketown, eliminating hundreds and destroying the town before Bard ended the dragon with a well-placed black arrow.
18 STRONGEST: GANDALF
Gandalf was a much gentler and kinder wizard than Saruman. Although he steadfastly worked toward defeating Sauron, he always believed that friendship, courage, and love would win the day, not raw power. As Gandalf the Gray, he made friends and allies with people all throughout Middle-earth, but he had a special fondness for Hobbits. His appraisal was not misplaced after all, since four Hobbits played critical roles in the War of the Ring.
His own power was considerable, too. He stopped the Balrog from giving chase to the Fellowship in Moria and when he returned as Gandalf the White, his power became greater still. He banished Saruman from possessing Theoden and his staff could ward away the Ring Wraith’s Fell Beasts.
17 WEAKEST: DURIN’S BANE
The Balrogs were Maiar spirits that chose to follow Morgoth and took up dark powers of shadow and flame. Most of the Balrogs were defeated long before the Third Age, but the dwarves of Moria learned the hard way that not all the Balrogs were gone. In their avarice for mithril, they awakened the Balrog and it slew their king Durin VI.
From then on, the Balrog was known as Durin’s Bane, a great creature with wings, hooves, and horns. In battle, it could conjure giant, magical versions of ordinary weapons like whips and swords (except those made of fire), causing the Fellowship to flee from it. After Durin’s Bane and Gandalf both fell from the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, the two battled until they both perished.
16 STRONGEST: ANCALAGON
Morgoth was the first Dark Lord to rule over Middle-earth. With his great powers, he created dangerous beasts like the world had never seen before. In the final battle of the War of Wrath, Morgoth unleashed his most destructive servants, the winged dragons of Angband.
Ancalagon the Black, the largest and mightiest dragon, led these creatures, and although his exact size is not specified, it is still hotly debated by Tolkien fans (but he was at least several times larger than Smaug). The picture above is at least one artistic rendering. Eärendil, a half-elven mariner, battled against Ancalagon with a host of Eagles and ultimately ended him.
15 WEAKEST: THE KING OF THE DEAD
In the Second Age, an ancient race of men separated from the Númenóreans of Gondor, dwelt in the mountains. They swore fealty to Isildur and to fight alongside him when he called, but when they did not join Isildur in the first war against Sauron, Isildur cursed them. The Men of the Mountain roamed as phantoms, never to gain freedom from their curse until they fulfilled their oaths.
Centuries later, Aragorn called on the Oathbreakers to fight against Mordor, and once they agreed, their fury was relentless. The King of the Dead could not be harmed by normal weapons, yet he and his army could rush like the wind and scatter their opponents like dust. Not even a Mumakil could resist their onslaught.
14 STRONGEST: SAURON
Sauron started as a Maiar spirit learning the ways of craftsmanship. When Morgoth started his own campaign to warp and conquer Middle-earth, Sauron joined him and became his top lieutenant. After Morgoth fell, Sauron went into hiding until he built up enough power and armies of his own to threaten Middle-earth. While embodied, Sauron was an imposing, formidable foe in battle.
His greatest gambit was tricking the Elves into forging Rings of Power, while secretly creating a ring for himself that could influence the bearers of the lesser rings: the One Ring to rule them all. Even if Sauron was defeated, the Ring itself contained his indomitable will to seize all life. Only those of the purest of hearts could hope to resist the Ring’s influence.
13 WEAKEST: THE WITCH KING
The Ringwraiths were Sauron’s servants. Originally, they were all men of great renown in their times, but the influence of Sauron’s rings of power corrupted them until they turned into spectral beings ready to perform the Dark Lord’s bidding.
The leader of the Ringwraiths was known as the Witch King. He had all the dangerous powers of his fellows including a mighty-winged stead and voice that immobilized the hearts of mortals with despair. The Witch King also wielded great melee weapons like a spiked mace that was larger than any man could hold. In a confrontation with Gandalf near the top of Minas Tirith, The Witch King’s flaming sword broke Gandalf’s staff. In the end, he was beaten by the precise blows of Meriadoc Brandybuck and Éowyn of Rohan.
12 STRONGEST: TULKAS
Tulkas is the most combative of the angelic Valar, who watch over the light and the free peoples of Middle-earth. They each have their own domains of power and influence, and Tulkas lives to fight. When the Valar fought against Melkor for the first time, the battle seemed lost until Tulkas showed up. He burst forth onto the scene with such speed and strength that he needed no stead or weapon, which is where Melkor witnessed the wrath and strength of Tulkas and fled.
Tulkas may have been stronger than Melkor at that point, but Tulkas was not wise or patient. As a result, Tulkas urged his fellow Valar to pursue and punish Melkor to the ends of the world, but they could not find Melkor while he weaved his treachery among the mortals in Middle-earth.
11 WEAKEST: GWAIHIR
The Giant Eagles are messengers of Manwë, Lord of the Valar. Eagles are swift, strong, and capable of speech, and throughout the history of Middle-earth, the Eagles have flown to the aid of the good guys multiple times. By the Third Age, the swiftest and greatest of all the Eagles was Gwaihir, who was very close with Gandalf and Galadriel. When Saruman held Gandalf captive atop the tower of Orthanc, Gwaihir flew in during one autumn night to free him and carry Gandalf to safety.
Thanks to their size and speed, Eagles could knock over whole hordes of orcs like dominos and they can also go talon-to-talon with the Fell Beasts of the Ringwraiths.
10 STRONGEST: YAVANNA
Yavanna is one of the Valar spirits who holds domain over all the growing flora found throughout the world. All trees, plants, fruits, and fungi originate from her. When the Valar began shaping the world through song, Yavanna sang of great branches that would make the world green and provide aplenty.
Yavanna’s greatest creations were the Two Trees: silver Telperion and Golden Laurelin, which shone bright enough to light the entire world. However, Melkor and the spider progenitor Ungoliant destroyed the trees, but Yavanna and the Valar managed to collect a single flower from Telperion and a single fruit from Laurelin, creating the Moon and the Sun, respectively. Yavanna also inspired Eru Iluvatar to create the Ents, so that some beings would watch over her creations in Middle-earth.
9 WEAKEST: TREEBEARD
Treebeard is the leader of the Ents, and as gigantic, arboreal creatures, they inhabit and watch over the forests of Middle-earth. Ents are slow and deliberate in their words and their actions, but if any threaten their domain, they can wield tremendous strength. In the earliest ages of Middle-earth, Ents roamed all over the lands through interconnected forests, but as the kingdoms of men grew, and dark creatures fueled their war machines, the forest dwindled. Eventually, the Ents came to reside only in Fangorn Forest just north of Isengard.
Merry and Pippin found themselves in Fangorn Forrest after getting separated from the Fellowship and they convinced Treebeard and the Ents to rise up against Saruman and stop the destruction of their home.
8 STRONGEST: VARDA
Varda is the Queen of the Valar and the wife of Manwë, Lord of the Valar. She knows all light that exists in all the world. No words, verse, or song can sufficiently describe her beauty, for they say that the light of creation itself shines from her face. Varda distrusted Melkor immediately and Melkor was most wary of Varda in turn since her power of light was inaccessible to him. No matter how many times Melkor destroyed the sources of light that she created, she kept finding new ways to bring light to the world.
Elves hold Varda in particularly high regard. When they first awoke in Middle-earth, they witnessed spectacular starlight in the heavens, which Varda had placed there just to inspire the Elves.
7 WEAKEST: SHELOB
Shelob was a gigantic arachnid creature descended from the first great spider Ungoliant. Shelob’s ancestors fought for Morgoth during his dominion over Middle-earth, and although Shelob was not quite a servant of Sauron, they made natural allies. From her lair in the pass of Cirith Ungol, Shelob made an effective deterrent to any intruders into Mordor for Sauron. For Shelob, Sauron’s behavior meant that she would occasionally receive gifts of fresh meat.
Shelob had all the speed and strength of spiders blown up to her own proportional size, meaning she could chase down any prey that entered her lair and encase them in webs within seconds. But, she was vulnerable to injury from regular weapons and she could not stand light from the phial of Galadriel.
6 STRONGEST: MANWË
Manwë is the Lord of the Valar and King of the physical realms in the Lord of the Rings series. As a spirit, his purview includes the winds and the sky with the Great Eagles serving as his messengers and agents. Manwë is closest to the mind of Eru Iluvatar and best understands his divine vision for the world.
Melkor and Manwë are like brothers, and because of their connection, Manwë repeatedly underestimated Melkor’s drive to attain greater power and twist the world. Melkor convinced Manwë of his penitence, only to sew further chaos in the world once he was free, but Manwë did not shy away from confronting Melkor when the time came to stop his wicked schemes.
5 WEAKEST: RADAGAST
Radagast is a member of the order of Wizards. Even though the Valar had separated their realm from Middle-earth by the Third Age, they worried over the fate of the free peoples with Sauron returning. Gandalf, Saruman, and Radagast all came to Middle-earth to help the free peoples.
Radagast is perhaps the most humble of the wizards in Middle-earth and he has the greatest kinship with plants and animals. In The Hobbit films, he relies on herbal concoctions to perform healing magic on injured creatures. Radagast travels over land by sled, pulled by a troop of Rhosgobel Rabbits. On this sled, Radagast outran and outmaneuvered a pack of wargs that were giving chase to Thorin’s company.
4 STRONGEST: MELKOR
Melkor was the first and most powerful spirit created by Eru Illuvatar. Eru wanted Melkor to contribute to his music and help shape the world, but Melkor quickly hatched his own, discordant designs on Middle-earth and the beings that would populate it. Melkor may have even held power equal to all of the Valar combined.
Wherever the Valar toiled to bring light and order to the world, Melkor marred their efforts with darkness and chaos, he even created all the original orcs, Balrogs, and dragons. Towards the end of the First Age, all of Middle-earth and the free peoples therein became servants and oppressed by Melkor. For his crimes and treachery, the Elves renamed Melkor “Morgoth,” and it took the combined might of all the Valar, Elves, Men, Dwarves, and Eagles to finally defeat him.
3 WEAKEST: TOM BOMBADIL
Tom Bombadil is a very mysterious figure in Middle-earth. Although legends claim that he existed in the world even before Melkor and the Valar arrived, no one knows how he came into being, but he did bear witness to all the struggles and changes that came to Middle-earth.
Tom appears as a stocky man with a blue coat and hat who dwells in the Old Forest. Unfortunately, no screen adaptations of The Lord of the Rings books have included him, yet. However, in the first book, Tom has the Hobbits Frodo, Samwise, Merry, and Pippin as guests in his house. Tom doesn’t wield much overt power, but he was the master of the Forest. When he convinced Frodo to show him the One Ring, the Ring had no effect on Tom whatsoever.
2 STRONGEST: ERU ILUVATAR
In Tolkien’s tales of Middle-earth, Eru Iluvatar is the Supreme Being from which all things originated and he is transcendental, having always existed beyond any physical, tangible realm. His thoughts created the race of spirits called the Ainur, including Melkor, Manwë, and the other Valar. Together, Eru and his brain children sang the Music of the Ainur and brought the universe to life as the characters know it.
Eru intended to populate the world with sentient beings, the Elves and the Men. He created these people himself and awakened them in Middle-earth when they were ready. He also holds unique knowledge of the ultimate destinies of Men and Elves and what the End of the Universe will be like.
1 WEAKEST: BEORN
Beorn was one of the last race of beings known as Skin-changers and appeared as a tall, broad man, but he could also transform into a great bear. No one knows exactly where his people came from, but their numbers and territory are greatly reduced today from ages past.
Beorn is slow to trust and dislikes orcs and goblins in general: he’s not very fond of dwarves either and thinks them greedy. However, he agreed to shelter and help Gandalf and the company of Thorin Oakenshield. After Thorin took back Erebor, Beorn came to his aid and fought against the goblins and wargs in the Battle of the Five Armies.
Which other supernatural beings from Lord of the Rings should have made the list? Let us know in the comments!