Rings Of Power Finale: Showrunner Addresses If [SPOILER] Is Gandalf, And I’ve Got My Own Thoughts

Gandlaf looking at Bilbo in Fellowship of the Ring
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Massive spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Rings of Power are ahead, proceed with caution. 

One of the more mysterious characters among the Rings of Power cast is The Stranger. The theories surrounding the character that fell from the sky have run the gamut from good to evil, and some fans have gotten very creative with their theories, as The Stranger actor explained

After the Season 1 finale of the Lord of the Rings prequel, there is a chance that he could be one of the most iconic characters from the original fellowship. A certain wizard by the name of Gandalf. Although, nothing is truly confirmed, as the showrunner explained. Though it seems highly likely this theory will prove to be true.

The Mystics surrounding The Stranger in the woods on Rings of Power.

(Image credit: Prime Video)

How The Finale Possibly Sets The Stranger Up As Gandalf

Throughout Season 1 we know nothing about The Stranger. When he crash-landed in Middle-earth he had no idea who he was. As the season continued we learned that this mysterious meteor man had magical powers. This led some fans, and the Mystics on the show, to believe The Stranger was the evil Sauron (we also find out who Sauron is too in the finale, but that's a whole other story).

Then in the finale, when the Mystics show up we learn The Stranger is actually a powerful wizard. After defeating the Mystics, proclaiming that he is good, and saving Harfoot Nori Brandyfoot and company, the mystics say: 

He is not Sauron. He is the other. The Istar.

We later find out that “Istar” translates to “wise one” or “wizard.” As the finale comes to a close we find out The Stranger is headed to Rhûn as he tries to work out who he is. While all signs seem to point to Gandalf, the showrunners have remained tight-lipped on the mysterious man’s true identity. 

What The Showrunner Says About Gandalf Speculation 

Despite all this setup, the showrunners won’t confirm or deny if The Stranger is indeed this iconic Lord of the Rings Character. While chatting with NYT after the finale, Patrick McKay said:  

Nothing to confirm! One of the earliest ideas we had about the precursor to hobbits was that a being of incredible power lands in their backyard. It was less about who, and more about how this being disrupts this girl’s life. That’s an archetypal, universal and relatable story. He’s on his own journey of self-discovery. He has not yet discovered any name. He doesn’t know, and neither does Nori [Markella Kavenagh]. That’s going to be part of their story moving forward, if and when he does learn his name, or a name.

According to Mashable there are five Istari who make their way to Middle-earth. There’s "Saruman the White, Radagast the Brown, and two Blue Wizards.” It’s entirely possible we’ll meet a new wizard in Season 2, but it could also be one of the many we’ve already met. 

Daniel Weman in the finale of Rings of Power as The Stranger right after using magic.

(Image credit: Prime Video)

What I Think About It 

I think The Stranger is most definitely Gandalf. Toward the end of the episode when he is chatting with Nori about where he’ll go next he imparts some touching life advice that truly reminded me of something the wizard played by the great Ian McKellen would say: 

Oh, alone it’s just a journey. Now adventures, they must be shared.

Tell me that’s not something the great Gandalf the Grey would say. There’s also lots of other parallels fans have pointed out that I agree with. For example, as The Stranger traveled with the Harfoots it was reminiscent of the beloved wizard traveling and helping the hobbits in the original trilogy. He also loves nature in the same way Gandalf does. The other big connection that makes me think this is 100% the wizard we know and love is when he tells Nori: 

If in doubt, always follow your nose.

As many astute viewers have pointed out, McKellen's iconic character says this exact line to Merry in Fellowship of the Ring. This caused me to have an ah-ha moment, and then I promptly joined the Stranger is Gandalf bandwagon. 

However, nothing is confirmed so the theories about the Mystery Meteor Man will continue into Season 2, as he tries to figure out who he was before he landed in Middle-earth. 

As one of the biggest shows on the Fall TV schedule this year, millions have been left to wonder who The Stranger really is, as well as what is going to happen in Season 2. While we won’t know for a while you can go back and pick apart all the details, and draw your own conclusions by watching Rings of Power with an Amazon Prime subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.