Are Gandalf and Sauron in The Rings of Power?

Will the iconic duo return?

The eye of Sauron and Gandalf in the Lord of The Rings trilogy
(Image credit: Alamy/Future)

They were central to the series’ predecessors - will they show up this time around?

Gandalf has to be one of the most unforgettable wizards of all time. His nurturing nature and iconic lines belied a strength both fearsome and awesome. As a disembodied eye, Sauron managed to become one of the most fearsome antagonists ever seen on screen. After a 5 year wait, The Rings of Power release date is confirmed. With the series finally upon us, there's two questions everyone is are asking - from whether The Rings of Power is a prequel or sequel - to whether Gandalf and Sauron will appear? We uncover the answer to the all important second question here.

Not the only spinoff getting everyone talking, it’s been hard to miss the release of House of The Dragon set years before the events of Game of Thrones. The feuding House Targaryen take centre stage, along with newly introduced noble House Velaryon. And what would the show be without the expected grisly antagonists - episode 2 had viewers asking who is the crab feeder - who enjoys watching his captives die in unusual ways.    

Is Gandalf in The Rings of Power? 

It remains unconfirmed whether Gandalf will appear in The Rings of Power, but it’s widely speculated that “The Stranger” from the trailer and episode 1 - is him. The unnamed man who appears to be a wizard, crashes into Middle Earth on a meteorite. 

Some die-hard fans think that the inclusion of Gandalf in the series is a slight on the work of Tolkien, who they feel wouldn’t allow the timeline to happen this way. However, as it’s based on the appendices appearing following Tolkien’s trilogy of stories, there is no firm timeline. This is also big budget entertainment - new characters have been written for the series, suggesting there’s no reason why the writers couldn't have a storyline where Gandalf shows up. 

Ian McKellan as Gnadalf in Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers

(Image credit: Alamy)

According to Polygon, the first 2 episodes have now proved that the stranger is very unlikely to be the Dark Lord, or Mithrandir. The Gandalf theory still stands for a lot of people, as showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne all confirmed in an interview with Vanity Fair that the mysterious figure would be of similar status to Gandalf. However, they refused to expand on this, saying “the mystery and the journey of it is all of the fun, I would say”, which is easily interpreted as “wait and see”.

It’s likely the stranger is a Maiar spirit - which Gandalf is. One fan took to Twitter to convince others of the theory the man arriving on a meteor is Gandalf. He said “The Stranger is 100% Gandalf. His appearance, those deep, wise eyes, the way he treats animals, the sign which reminds of the one on Bilbo's door. Plus the person he comes across, a Brandyfoot, a direct ancestor of Merry Brandybock”.

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It’s also been pointed out that the other Istari such as the Blue Wizards and Balrogs, are also Maiar spirits, meaning the stranger could also become one of those characters. However, whether it be wishful thinking or not, the majority of fans believe the man is Gandalf. There is evidence for and against, but time will tell.  

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 Is Sauron in The Rings of Power? 

Yes, it’s been confirmed that Sauron will appear in The Rings of Power. However, it hasn’t been confirmed which form he will take in the show. 

The series is set during the Second Age where one of the focuses is the creation of the One Ring. As Sauron forged the One Ring during the second age - to gain power over the free people of Middle-earth - it appears inevitable he would be part of the story. Disguised as Annatar or the Lord of Gifts, he tricks the Elven smiths of Eregion into making the Rings of Power.

Speaking to Total Film, showrunner JD Payne confirmed the character’s inclusion in the show by saying "We can say that when he appears, it might be in a way people aren't expecting". Fans on social media continue to speculate which form the character will take. One suggested it was a good idea to show him in varying forms to keep audiences guessing and tuning in for more.

Who is playing Sauron in The Rings of Power?

The actor playing Sauron in The Rings of Power remains unconfirmed, however, it is widely speculated to be a character played by Bridie Sisson.

There was initial been widespread confusion over this portrayal, which has only just been cleared up by the show’s producers. When the trailer for the show landed, a mysterious fair haired hooded character was revealed - fans immediately believed this to be Sauron. No confirmation was given regarding this, or the actor in the part. Sleuths went on to reveal the actor to be Anson Boon - it was then widely reported that this was definitely the case. 

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In an interview with Time Magazine, the producers then set out to put everyone straight - fan speculation and investigation had been wrong. Executive producer Lindsay Weber said “We are enjoying all the speculation online and can tell you Bridie Sisson is an incredible actor. We also thought fans might like to know that her character is traveling from far to the east - from the lands of Rhûn.” The actor is not Anson Boon at all, but actress Bridie Sisson.

Bridie Sisson as unknown character in The Rings of Power

(Image credit: Prime Video)

Rhûn is known to be one of the lands Sauron once lived, offering confirmation Sisson’s character could be him. Sauron is also a shapeshifter, meaning he could show up in any form before revealing his true self. As well as making him difficult to spot, it also covers his ability to show up in different genders. As with Gandalf, time will also tell if Sisson is an early incarnation of Sauron. 

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Lucy Wigley
TV writer - contributing

Lucy is a multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ experience writing about entertainment, parenting and family life. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and telling you why you should watch them.