‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’: When Did Gandalf Come to Middle-Earth?

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power just made its debut on Prime Video, and the series is bringing fans back to Middle-earth. Despite the major time difference between the events of the show and the original trilogy, it’s also reuniting them with a few familiar faces. Given some of the extraordinary lifespans in Middle-earth, that’s probably no surprise. And some fans are wondering if Gandalf could make an appearance in The Lord of the Rings show. So, when exactly did Gandalf come to Middle-earth?

How old is Gandalf in ‘The Lord of the Rings’?

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is set thousands of years before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies take place. However, several of the beings residing in Middle-earth during Frodo’s (Elijah Wood) journey are alive during the events of the show. Galadriel (Morfydd Clark) plays a prominent role in the Prime Video series, and a young Elrond (Robert Aramayo) makes an appearance as well.

Gandalf, played by Sir Ian McKellen in the films, would also have existed when The Rings of Power takes place. As Screen Rant notes, the source material places the character somewhere around 24,000 years old. However, much of that time is spent in his spirit form. Gandalf was first created as a Maiar (spirit) with the name Olórin. He only physically appeared in Middle-earth for around 2,000 to 3,000 years, taking on the identity of Gandalf the wizard.

As such, Gandalf’s exact age is difficult to place. He certainly would have existed in some form during The Rings of Power. However, he wouldn’t have been present for the events that took place.

When did Gandalf come to Middle-earth?

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf in 'The Lord of the Rings' for our article about when he came to Middle-earth. He's standing in a Hobbit house and touching the ceiling.
Ian McKellen as Gandalf | New Line/WireImage

Although Gandalf would have existed when The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power takes place, he wouldn’t have been in Middle-earth at the time. According to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, wizards didn’t arrive on the continent until the Third Age, which begins with Sauron’s first downfall.

It’s during the Third Age that the Valar — the higher beings that created the Maiar — sent five of them to Middle-earth to deal with the threat of darkness there. Gandalf was among the Istari (wizards) asked to help. And The Lord of the Rings fans know where his story goes from there: directly into the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But while the character appears in both those stories, his absence from Middle-earth during the Second Age likely means we won’t see him in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The wizard probably won’t appear in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’

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Because Gandalf doesn’t arrive in Middle-earth until the Third Age, it’s unlikely he’ll appear during The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The series will cover prominent events from the Second Age — events the wizard wasn’t present for and had no part in. It will likely conclude with Sauron’s first downfall, which marks the transition from the Second Age to the Third Age.

Of course, Amazon could take liberties with J.R.R. Tolkien’s backstory — but that would likely result in backlash from longtime fans. And with the show shifting its focus to Galadriel — and a host of new characters — there’s really no need to bring Gandalf in. The only purpose it would serve would be as a nod to fans of the original trilogy.

New episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power stream every Friday on Prime Video.