The Rings of Power Showrunners Say The Stranger’s Identity is ‘An Open Question’

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power brought its first season to an end with two big names from Tolkien law being confirmed thanks to the reveal that Halbrand is actually Sauron, while The Stranger revealed himself to be a “good wizard,” leading to the belief that he is the future Gandalf. Of course, having already pulled the rug with Sauron’s reveals, is The Stranger’s identity really so simple? According to The Rings of Power’s showrunners, JD Payne and Patrick McKay, it isn’t. While appearing on The Official The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power podcast, the pair explained:

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PAYNE: Well, what I would say there is we know wizards can be good and bad. And wizards are of the same class as Sauron.

MCKAY: Yeah, they’re both Maiars.

PAYNE: So, the answer is, there is no point at which, “He’s a wizard, oh great, everything’s cool.” Because, wizards can be as evil and as dangerous, they can be rivals for Sauron, or allies of Sauron, and The Stranger’s journey will continue. So, I think that’s an open question still, though I do think by the end of the eighth episode, he sure seems like a force for good.

While many fans have theorized that The Stranger was Gandalf from his first appearance thanks to his grey clothes and beard, there could be another twist coming in The Stranger’s story. Gandalf isn’t the only Wizard on Middle Earth by the time The Hobbit comes around, and there is another that this grey and seemingly powerful but benign being could be.

Is The Stranger Actually Saruman Rather Than Gandalf?

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While all indicators currently point to The Stranger being an early Gandalf, especially with his “follow your nose” statement and his declaration of “being good,” the lore of Tolkien’s world means that his meandering, grey wizard could actually be Saruman the White in his grey form.

In The Lord of the Rings, following his battle with the Balrog, Gandalf is returned to Middle Earth as Gandalf the White. Although Saruman is only seen as “the White” during the events of The Lord of the Rings, at which point he has also been corrupted by the power of Sauron, he was clearly not always in that form, nor a partner with the evils of Middle Earth. This means that despite The Stanger’s bedraggled and friendly appearance in the first season of The Rings of Power, that could all change in the coming seasons.

However, The Rings of Power will probably be a long way from revealing the true identity of The Stranger, with its second season only now filming and not expected to air on Prime Video until 2024. That leaves plenty of time for fans to create and develop more theories about exactly who the grey wizard is and what trials await him later in the series.

Season 1 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is streaming in its entirety on Prime Video now.