Gandalf is one of the most critical characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe. He is a wizard, a leader of the Fellowship of the Ring, and a bearer of one of the Three Rings. He was almost a central figure in both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which makes fans question how old is he.
There are little to no mentions of Gandalf’s age in the Lord of the Rings fantasy novels but we know that wizards or Istari are in fact immortal beings, Maiar, who took the physical form to intervene in the events of the Third Age. He possesses excellent knowledge and abilities which came in handy during dark times.
Ever since Gandalf has been introduced to readers and movie buffs alike, the question of how old he really is pops up. Now, without further ado let’s explore this age-old curiosity.
How old is Gandalf in Lord of the Rings?
This question isn’t a simple or straightforward one to answer as Tolkien’s work doesn’t reveal his exact age. However, in the second book of the trilogy The Two Towers, Gandalf famously says: “300 lives of men I’ve walked this earth, and now I have no time.” The average age of a human is approximately 70-80 years. With the help of simple calculations, we can assume that Gandalf is around 24,000 years old.
However, we all know that he is one of the five immortal Maiar who was sent to Middle-earth at the beginning of the Third Age and left to Valinor at the end of it. From the history of Middle-earth, we know that the Third Age lasted for 3021 years, so in his physical form rather than spirit, this would make Gandalf approximately 3,000 years old when he was left back to the Undying Lands.
It is more likely that in the Two Towers Gandalf was talking about himself in a spiritual form, as an angelic and supernatural being Maiar.
Can Gandalf die?
This question is in fact a lot easier to figure out. The answer is yes. It is possible for Gandalf to die but only in his physical form. Since he is Maiar, a spirit from Valinor, he is in fact immortal. We witness this in the Fellowship of the Ring when Gandalf the Grey, once killed by Balrog, was given by the God creator Eru a new physical body and returned as Gandalf the White.
“Behold, I am not Gandalf the Grey, whom you betrayed. I am Gandalf the White, who has returned from death.” (J.R.R Tolkien, The Two Towers)
Does Gandalf appear in the Rings of Power?
In the Lord of the Rings prequel, Rings of Power, there was the question of whether the Stranger, who had fallen from the skies at the end of the first episode, might be an Istari, or wizard. Fans were very quick to come to the conclusion that this was in fact Gandalf the Grey.
However, we can’t be sure that this is necessarily him, as it would cause a severe crack in the main timeline. Let’s not forget that the events described in Rings of Power take place at least 5,000 years before The Hobbit, and also The Lord of the Rings as it was set in the second age of Middle Earth, so that would almost rule out the possibility that Gandalf could be seen – and as we have figured out, Gandalf’s human form is only 3,000 years old.