In The Lord of the Rings, there are five main wizards who get talked about the most. For fans of the movies, they are likely most familiar with two of them: Gandalf and Saruman. Plus, there is some introduction of Radagast the Brown. While the wizards in Middle-Earth are actually ancient beings known as Istari, meaning they were servants and powerful beings of the gods of Middle-Earth, they took the form of wizards.
While there are technically only five wizards in the series, there are other beings that function similarly to wizards and how we think of them.
We’ve put together a list of the most powerful wizards from the series and ranked them leading to the most powerful.
While it’s true that Wormtongue is not really a wizard, there are clearly things about him that point to him having some connection to dark magic. As the spy and agent of Saruman, he was up close to all of Saruman’s wizardry, and he was often used to help aid in this.
He was essential in helping Saruman with the possession spell he placed over Théoden. So, while he might not be a wizard in the traditional Middle-Earth sense, it’s not that unlikely that he would have tried to learn from Saruman.
9 THE FIRST BLUE WIZARD
All of the five wizards, or Istari, arrived in Middle-Earth together in T.A. 1000. Although, the exact date changes a little depending on the book and the source. They were sent to Middle-Earth to help fight against Sauron.
There were two blue wizards who were briefly mentioned in the series. Their names aren’t super clear, but there is one mention that names them Alatar and Pallando. Not much known about these two wizards but they get their names because of the color of robes they were said to wear.
8 THE SECOND BLUE WIZARD
Unlike Radagast, Gandalf, and Saruman, the two blue wizards were sent to resist Sauron’s forces in the east instead of the west. Each of these wizards had a certain mission and part they were to play in fighting Sauron. However, it’s heavily implied that the blue wizards did not complete their mission but failed instead.
The biggest evidence for this is in Unfinished Tales when Tolkien wrote that, “indeed of all the Istari, one only remained faithful.” This was about Gandalf. Tolkien also suggested that they were likely founders of magic cults with followers.
7 RADAGAST THE BROWN
Radagast the Brown is one of the five wizards who came to Middle-Earth on a mission to oppose Sauron. He was a friend of Gandalf in the series.
Instead of focusing his energy on helping the humanoid creatures of Middle-Earth, he turned instead to helping plants and animals. Because of this, although he did have powers, he didn’t do much to help in the War of the Ring. He was clearly powerful, but he not as much as some of the others.
6 GANDALF THE GREY
When readers of the series first meet Gandalf, whether in The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, he is known as Gandalf the Grey. While he clearly is powerful and is also rather adept at hiding a lot of his power, he hasn’t reached the full height of his powers yet.
He is one of the wizards who is most committed to the mission of stopping Sauron, so even at this early stage, he is still at work wandering around and trying to accomplish this mission.
5 SARUMAN THE WHITE
Most of the time that Gandalf knows Saurman he is known as Saruman the White. He was originally the chief of the wizards as well as the White Council that was formed to fight against Sauron.
He was more powerful than Gandalf at these stages, but his study of dark magic turned him to support Sauron. However, before he turned to the dark forces, he was a very powerful wizard. His magic is on display especially during his duel with Gandalf.
Now, the mythology of Middle-Earth is rather complicated and includes a lot of powerful beings. While the Istari were some of these powerful beings, they were not the only ones.
The Varda were basically the gods of the world of Middle-Earth, and they had many servants and helpers. The Istari were one kind of servant. Ilmare was another kind. She was the handmaiden of Varda and a guardian of the stars. She was also one of the chiefs of the Maiar (a group to which the Istari also belong).
3 SARUMAN OF MANY COLORS
As far as being powerful is concerned, it’s not always light magic that is the most powerful. While Saruman might have been the most powerful wizard when he was still on the good side, he grew in might and power as he followed the teachings of Sauron.
Of course, this ultimately leads to his downfall, but even still, he is powerful in this form. As Saruman of Many Colors he had abandoned his mission in Middle-Earth and turned instead to trying to gain as much power as possible.
2 GANDALF THE WHITE
The transformation from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White can easily be read as a resurrection story of sorts. Gandalf was a powerful wizard before, but he goes from somewhat powerful to the height of his power after he battles the Balrog.
This transformation also marked Gandalf essential taking Saruman’s place as the chief wizard. As Gandalf is the only one left who is still seeking to end Sauron, this transformation gave him even more power than before.
Sauron is another extremely powerful character who has a lot of abilities that appear magical who is not technically a wizard or Istari. He is, however, one of the Maia. While he might not technically fall under the wizard category, his magic and might is vast.
In many ways, he functions as an extremely powerful dark lord and that dark magic definitely falls into the wizardry category in one sense.