Who Is “The Stranger” in “The Rings of Power?”: Here’s My Prediction

Spoiler Warning for the First Two Episodes of The Rings of Power

Introduction: The Stranger

After the first two episodes of The Rings of Power, one of the major mysteries for viewers is the identity of a character currently known only as “the Stranger” (or, well, “Meteor Man” as a joke among fans). He comes to Middle-earth in a meteor, crashes, and is found by the Harfoot Nori. He seems to have no memory of his own name or other mundane things like what food is or how to eat, and he only gives Nori (and viewers) a glimpse of his purpose/plans when he shows Nori and Poppy a constellation; Nori guesses he wants to go somewhere on Middle-earth where he can see it.

So . . . who is he?

My personal guess is Gandalf, though he’d probably go by the name Olórin in the Second Age.

Why the Clues Suggest the Stranger Is Gandalf

Nori and Poppy clearly establish for viewers that the Stranger is not of any the races they are familiar with: Men, Elves, Dwarves, or Harfoots. He survived crashing from a meteor and possesses some type of magic, and the Harfoots describe him as “giant,” apparently meaning he’s taller even than the Big Folk they’re used to seeing. This would imply the Stranger is probably one of the Maiar.

And there are several hints that he’s specifically Gandalf:

  • Gandalf has a particular affinity for heat and light, displayed in his love of fireworks in LotR, and the Stranger seems to control the fire around him after the meteor crash.
  • Nori talks about how she believes she was “meant to find him,” a line reminiscent of when Gandalf tells Frodo in LotR that Frodo was “meant” to find the One Ring.
  • The scene where the Stranger speaks to the fireflies calls to mind the scene where Gandalf speaks to a moth in LotR.
  • Gandalf has a soft spot for and interest in Hobbits that no one else in Middle-earth seems to, so the writers could be creating a situation where his love for them originates with the Harfoots saving him upon his arrival in Middle-earth.

But Is Gandalf in Middle-earth in the Second Age?

Both the Valar and the Maiar are spiritual beings and can take various physical forms as they choose (though Sauron eventually cannot assume a beautiful shape), and according to some writings from Tolkien, it’s possible Gandalf was in Middle-earth earlier than the Third Age, simply not in a form that anyone recognized him in. (Which may explain why the Stranger is described as “giant,” when Gandalf in the Third Age is never described as notably tall.)

See the quotes from tweets below:

Could the Stranger Be One of the Other Istari?

Sure, he could be. I’ve seen fans hoping it’s Radagast or one of the Blue Wizards, but I think this would be a bit strange considering all the connections to Gandalf that I pointed out above. The only connection I really see to Radagast is that he’s good with animals, and the Stranger spoke to fireflies, but that’s a bit tenuous. And we don’t know much about the Blue Wizards in general, so I don’t know what clues would point to one of them.

But Could It Be Sauron???

I don’t think this theory makes sense. I’ve seen people suggest the Stranger is Sauron because early in the first episode, Galadriel says one of Sauron’s old hideouts is a place so evil that it sucks the heat from the Elves’ torches — and then fires around the Stranger aren’t actually hot, so it’s as if the heat is being sucked away. This is an interesting point, but I don’t think it’s enough.

There’s no reason Sauron would be in a meteor. Certainly it’s kind of ridiculous anyone is in a meteor, but I can see it as a weird way of transportation between Valinor and Middle-earth. There’s no reason I can think of at all that Sauron would have been in a meteor when the whole premise of the show seems to be that Sauron is hidden away in Middle-earth actively building an orc army and planning world domination.

I also don’t think it works narratively for Sauron to be the Stranger. Tolkien’s work is generally not about crazy plot twists. So, even though this point of the plot was created entirely by the showrunners and not by Tolkien himself, I take it at face value when Nori says the Stranger is important and she feels she was meant to help him. I believe, because of this, that the Stranger is someone good, and these Second Age Hobbits are not accidentally enabling Sauron.

What’s your theory?


10 thoughts on “Who Is “The Stranger” in “The Rings of Power?”: Here’s My Prediction

      • Krysta says:

        Yeah, I think it was also indicated that Radagast is interested primarily in animals and not in fighting Sauron. It would be weird for me to see a Radagast really involved in political affairs, rather than one just going about and mostly doing his own thing.


  1. Gemma says:

    I tend to agree mostly on the history of big Hollywood adaptations… they’re gonna want the Gandalf connection.

    I am still kind of hoping for Radagast though. We’ll have to see how the story develops.


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