The Tolkien Universe is arguably the most distinguished pieces of literature in the fantasy genre. It’s the grandad of modern-day high fantasy and introduced many popular tropes to the genre. With Amazon’s announcement of a new The Lord of the Ring’s television series, the series is ripe for a return to the public conversation (remember it hit the big screen back in 2001). Although it has an exhaustive history of novels, not many know how deep the rabbit hole truly goes. Although the video games have done an excellent job (for the most part) of expanding the narrative of fantastic characters left untouched by cinema. The movies were grand spectacles, with characters who possessed immense powers. Yet, the movies only scratch the surface of the most powerful beings in Tolkien’s Universe.
We got extensive screen time with classic characters such as Legolas and Aragorn, but there were quite a few characters left out of the picture. Powerful characters. Beings so strong even Sauron with the One Ring doesn’t reach the top our list. One can only hope Amazon taps into the rich stories that lie within the novels. Many of which only (currently) exist in the genius of Tolkien’s manuscripts. Here's our list of the most powerful beings to exist within Tolkien's beloved universe.
You may know him as Treebeard, but we know him as the baddest tree in all of fantasy (Sorry Groot). This ancient tree takes the cake, being the oldest living creature in all of Middle Earth. Along with the other Ents, Treebeard strayed away from the conflicts of Men, Elves, and Orcs. It wasn’t until he learned of the ultimate betrayal from an old friend Saruman (who cut down and burned his fellow trees to fuel his war machines) that he joined the fray. In fact, Treebeard and his crew are so powerful they even have a special name for when they gather up called an "Ent moot".
Shelob's appearance in the movies is relatively brief, but her power is expressed through the tenacity of her pursuit of Frodo. Shelob resided in her lair in the Mountain of Shadow. She validated her position as a force to be reckoned with as a guard of the pass above Minas Morgul. Even Sauron was impressed by her prowess, paying no mind to her activities in his territory.
Any who fell foolish enough to enter her labyrinth was free game. That's not to say she didn't devour Orcs, as Shelob didn't discriminate against any of the races.
18 The King Of Eagles: Thorondor & Gwaihir
The King of Eagles was a title brandished by an Eagle worthy enough to possess it. Both Thorondor and Gwaihir prove their worthiness in both the First and Third age of Middle Earth. Towering over the other Eagles in size alone, Thorondor's accomplishments knew no bounds. Between rescuing survivors when Gondolin fell and giving the dark lord Morgoth a gashing scar across his face, he was more than capable as an envoy of the Valar Manwe. His descendant Gwaihir inherited the title "King of Eagles" becoming a crucial asset in the fight against Sauron's dark forces in the Third Age. It's no wonder curious fans wonder why the Eagles didn't just deliver Frodo to Mount Doom themselves (sorry believers, there's a solid case why they didn't). Their size and beauty alone were enough to both inspire and intimidate the inhabitants of Middle Earth.
Beorn was a fascinating creature known as a "skin-changer," which involves the power for a man to shape-shift into a mighty animal. The form he assumed was one of a powerful black bear. His agility and incredible strength made him capable of plowing through a Goblin militia to destroy the mighty Bolg, leader of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains. Despite his intimidating form, Beorn held a deep respect for all creatures residing in Middle Earth. So long as those creatures weren't of Warg, Orc, or Goblin origin.
The power of a Dragon wrought terror among inhabitants of Middle Earth for centuries. As the Dragons waned in numbers over time, they eroded to mythical status who surmounted into stories to scare children at bedtime.
Smaug was the last of these great Dragons, a hyper-intelligent but greedy creature who guarded his treasures inside the Lonely Mountain.
Smaug had elevated his greatness to the point of earning nicknames such as "The impenetrable" and "Smaug the Golden". His reign of terror met its end when the sole weakness of a black arrow was launched into the belly of the beast.
Radagast didn't care much about the conflicts of war, instead dedicating his time to the plants and animals of Middle Earth. In fact, the name Radagast translates into "tender of beasts" in Sindarin. Because of his passive nature, his power is often times understated, especially compared to fellow Istari (wizards) Saruman and Gandalf. Yet, even the lowest Istari possesses incredible power as they were granted their physical forms of the Valar (gods) themselves. Despite the massive innate power Radagast possessed, he preferred to keep away from the War of the Ring. Who knows what the combined strength of him and Gandalf could have brought upon the dark forces.
14 The Witch King
The manifestation of terror itself. The Witch-King of Agmar was Sauron's second-in-command and leader of the Ring-wraiths. Once a powerful king, he was corrupted by the Ring of Power, twisting into the form of an undead wraith.
He was nearly untouchable, for any weapon that struck him would be destroyed and the wielder rendered poisoned.
His capabilities only grew with the power of his master, as when Sauron's power grew, so did the Nazgul. Topped with the fact that his strength was enhanced at night, it was no wonder his name alone struck fear in the hearts of Men.
13 The Blue Wizards
Little is known about the Istari known as Alatar and Romestamo. Out of the five Wizards sent to Middle Earth, they were the most obscure — remaining a mystery to the world. The little details regarding the two Wizards are they were sent east on a mission to weaken Sauron's emerging forces. They were instrumental in the victories over several ages and proved themselves to be immensely powerful. It's even conceivable they could climb our ranks if we knew more about their abilities.
In his prime, he could have effortlessly become one of the strongest on our list. The chief of the Istari and the White Council, Saruman made it his obligation to study methods of defeating Sauron. With his obsession with The Dark Lord, he fell into a path of corruption, seeking to forge an alliance with the forces of Mordor. Yet, his ambition knew no bounds as he eventually betrayed Sauron as well, vying to rule Middle-earth for himself. It wasn’t long before his reign was brought to a halt with the help of the Ents. He then was exiled, to then become a small-time crook residing in the Shire. How far the mighty have fallen.
Gandalf the Grey was a formidable, yet passive Wizard who befriended hobbits and men alike. It wasn't until his rebirth as Gandalf the White when he became the mighty force leading the charge against the Dark Forces of Sauron. The most accomplished of the Istari, Gandalf was the first to identify his fellow Wizard Saruman's corruption, informing the Council of Elrond of the impending threat of both Mordor and Isengard.
Gandalf conquered many in battle but perhaps his greatest feat was eliminating the mighty Balrog Durin's Bane in combat.
At the height of his power, few in Arda could match the valor of Gandalf.
Although not technically a "supernatural" being, Galadriel's magical abilities were unrivaled. She was widely renown as the most beautiful, powerful, and intelligent elves in all the lands. Galadriel possessed the Ring of Power Nenya, which was the catalyst to many of her unnatural abilities.
This allowed her to achieve unbelievable feats such as foreseeing the future and telepathy.
The extent of her power remained a mystery, as not even Saruman or Elrond could understand them. If she had succumbed to the temptation of the One Ring, Middle Earth would have had far bigger problems than Sauron.
9 Gothmog (Balrog)
The Lord of Balrog's, there was none but Sauron who scourged the lands such as Gothmog did. For as devastating of power we saw from Durin's Bane, Gothmog was considered only equivalent to Sauron himself in the ranks of Morgoth. Much like the film adaptation of the Balrog, Gothmog wields a fiery whip in combat.
Even more terrifying was his weapon of choice, wielding a massive black axe.
He was feared by the elves of Beleriand, responsible for ending not one but two High Kings of Noldor. The horrors of Gothmog only met its end when Ecthelion, Lord of the Fountain of the King, made a noble sacrifice to quench the flames that gave Gothmog life. Who knows what atrocities Gothmog would have committed if he continued his reign of terror.
The Lord of the Rings himself, Arda (Earth) suffered hundreds of years of corruption under the malevolence of Sauron. After the overthrow of his master Morgoth, Sauron the Great became the second Dark Lord, vowing to carry on the will of Morgoth to conquer all of the lands. By deceiving the Elves, he was able to create 16 rings to spread across the great lords of the land while crafting his very own to demand control over them all, "One ring to rule them all." Although Dwarves and Elves were able to resist his corruption, the will of Men is far weaker, allowing him to transform them into the 9 Nazgul.
The Dark Lord of Mordor raged war against Middle Earth, driving it to the brink of annihilation.
It wasn't until the efforts of the free peoples of Middle-earth was he finally purged, along with the Ring of Power that bound him to the land.
I know he isn't perceived as "canon" to many fans. But the movies also take liberties from the novels themselves so I thought it would be fair to count the fearless wraith ranger. After the return of the Dark Lord's forces, he and his family were brutally ended by Sauron's faithful: The Black Captains.
Fueled by vengeance, his spirit was bound to the ancient ring forger Celebrimbor, who shared a similar fate at the hands of Sauron.
With the combined power of the two, Talion was able to defeat The Black Captains, dominate Sauron's army, and went toe-to-toe with the Dark Lord of Mordor. Celebrimbor's vengeance caused him to slip into madness, causing the two to separate. The collapse of the Wraith left a void of power in Middle-Earth yet allowed the Free People enough time to prepare for a final battle against Sauron.
We have now arrived at the deity territory, as the powers of these divine beings are unattainable by anyone lower on the list. The most beautiful of the Valar, Varda was the being responsible for outlining the stars in heaven above Arda. Known as "Queen of the Stars", she used her celestial skills to create the stars and established the courses of both the Sun and Moon. As with her fellow Valar, she was worshiped by the elves, however, they loved her the most.
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like if Hercules was in the Tolkien Universe? Well, wonder no more, because Tulkas is the hero most resembling the son of Zeus. Tulkas loved nothing more than displays of vast strength and wrestling contests. Being the last of the Valar to descend upon Arda in the conflict against Morgoth, Tulkas rallied his brethren causing Morgoth to flee the battle.
Tulkas’ astronomical power was proven when he wrestled Melkor and bound him with a colossal chain.
It was this very reason that among the Valar, Melkor feared Tulkas most of all.
Even among the Valar, there had to be a defined authority, and that title was one possessed by Manwe, King of Arda. In all of existence, his only superiors in power were the all-creator Eru and his brother Melkor.
For a man of his stature, a domain fit for a king was essential.
Mount Taniquetil in Valinor was such a dwelling, being atop the highest mountain in the world. A man literally devoid of evil, Manwe could not comprehend the existence of wicked actions. His tainted brother Mergoth took advantage of this fatal flaw, poisoning the two holy trees and ending Finwe, King of the Noldor. Still, Manwe was not one to trifle with. When Melkor fell to the Valar, Manwe cast him into the void. A place where life is non-existent, and one even the Dark Lord may never return from until the end of time.
Even the lord of the rings had a master, and that master was The First Dark Lord Morgoth. Created under the name of Melkor, Morgoth was the first of the Ainur shaped by Eru. He defied his creator and became the original source of evil in existence. His wrath ignited brutal conflicts in Arda and could only be stopped with the collective forces of 14 Valar.
There were none who could match his strength for he could split oceans, destroy large mountains, and create massive thunderstorms.
Morgoth was as cunning as he was treacherous, he used deceit to fool even the wisest of the Valar. Even in defeat, the imminent threat strikes terror across Middle-earth, for he will return for the ultimate showdown at Dagor Dagorath (The end of times).
2 Tom Bombadil
Tom Bombadil is a wild card. We don't exactly know what he is capable of. Yet even the most influential inhabitants of Middle-earth respect Tom. It's even hinted he could have destroyed the One Ring himself if he cared to take a stand against the dark forces of Sauron. But he didn't and instead preferred to live a peaceful existence in the Old Forest, living happily with his wife Goldberry. When the Hobbits were in danger against Wights in Barrow-Downs Tom saved them, overwhelming the creatures with little effort. When Tom put on the One Ring it had no effect on him. He also could still see Frodo when the Hobbit wore the ring, demonstrating how truly powerful his supernatural abilities were. It's a shame he didn't make an appearance in the movie adaptation, but one could understand given his power could make Sauron himself look diminutive.
1 Eru Ilúvatar
The strongest being to exist in The Lord of the Rings universe is the single creator Eru Ilúvatar. Eru was the supreme deity in existence known for creating all things in Arda. In the beginning, he created the mighty Valar and later gave life to the Elves and Men.
He also is the reason the One Ring was finally destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, triggering Gollum to trip and fall into the fiery abyss.
When Gandalf the Grey passed in the fight against Durin's Bane it was Eru who resurrected him, bringing him back as Gandalf the White. None, not even Morgoth, came close to matching Eru's abilities, being capable of creating anything with a mere thought.