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Where’s Gandalf in Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?

What about Aragorn or Frodo?

Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey making a “huh?” face in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Image: New Line Cinema
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Even though Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power won’t premiere until September, its media blitz already has fans with their ears pricked. The first teaser for the series set in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien aired during the Super Bowl and had plenty of visuals to look at — but a lot less story.

And it’s got even fewer recognizable characters. So you could be forgiven for wondering...

Are Aragorn or Frodo or any of my other faves in Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show?!?

Frodo smiles like a goof while looking up at Gandalf who is steering the cart and smoking weed in The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings Image: New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures

The short answer is: No. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power may take place before the time period of The Lord of the Rings — which Peter Jackson adapted into a famous trilogy of films — but the show is not a direct prequel to that story. The War of the Ring took place at the end of the “Third Age,” while this story is set during the “Second Age,” and each age covers thousands of years of history.

In fact, we see the final moments of the Second Age in the very first scenes of Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring — the big battle where Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron’s hand, just before everything skips forward thousands of years to when Frodo’s story began.

So, we can’t reasonably expect to see Frodo, Bilbo, Aragorn, or even Legolas in the series.

That said...

Elrond and Galadriel are definitely in the show

Vanity Fair’s first look at Lord of the Rings: The Power of the Ring: Morfydd Clark as Galadrial Photo: Ben Rothstein/Amazon Studios

Elves can be very old. And two of the most powerful elves in the War of the Ring appear to have much more active roles in The Rings of Power. Elrond is played by Robert Aramayo, who played a young Eddard Stark in Game of Thrones. Galadriel is played by Welsh actor Morfydd Clark. She’s got armor and a sword now!

Now let’s talk about Gandalf in The Rings of Power

There’s one more possibility for major characters who appeared in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy who were also alive in the time in which The Rings of Power is set. And the answer to that is: Gandalf and Saruman.

To condense a longer, wild explanation, Tolkien’s wizards are essentially demigods clothed in the forms of old men, and their purpose on Middle-earth was to observe and combat the rise of Sauron. As immortal beings born shortly after the beginning of time, all the wizards were definitely alive during the time period of The Rings of Power. That said, most of them were on a completely different continent.

Middle-earth’s gods only began to send wizards to combat Sauron’s return during the Third Age — but that’s according to Tolkien’s canon. If showrunners Patrick McKay and JD Payne felt tempted to bring a wizard to their Lord of the Rings party, they don’t have to find one who’s alive, they just have to get one to where all the other characters are.

We won’t know much more until The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres on Sept. 2, but in the meantime, check out our trailer breakdown — there’s a lot of Tolkien lore packed into its brief runtime.

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