J.R.R. Tolkien’s high-fantasy world of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion consists of a vast amount of creatures.
We’ve been lucky to glimpse many in the Percy Jackson trilogies and recently with Amazon’s The Rings of Power TV series.
No doubt many of you will recognize some of these from the on-screen adaptations of Tolkien’s legendarium, but the question is: Would Legolas be able to beat a Balrog? Where do these creatures come from?
Before we get down to it, let’s get one thing clear. The word “creature” may deceive you into thinking that Gods or other humanoid beings could not be included.
We have grouped beings/creatures rather than focusing on individuals. Also, our definition used for the ratings of each creature is a combination of individual combat ability, intelligence, magical power, and other factors.
Here is our ultimate list of the most powerful creatures in The Lord of the Rings universe.
Let’s start ticking off the ugly ones, starting with the Orcs. How could anyone forget these foul creatures? They make the bulk of Sauron’s armies throughout the Second and Third Ages.
Unseemly, repugnant beings scoured Middle-Earth and laid waste to the Southlands, now called Mordor. But it seems that during many battles, Orcs are cut down without much effort.
Sauron cared more about quantity rather than swordsmanship which made the Orcs inferior as compared to men with castle-forged swords and armor. Plus they burned in sunlight so they were most likely malnourished as well.
Despite that, they show up out of nowhere led by some of the fiercest warriors like Azog the Defiler (Manu Bennet in The Hobbit) and his son Bolg.
Both were slain in the Battle of the Five Armies, though led a strategic attack on Erebor and fought against those defending it.
Hobbits are the very epitome of good in the world of Arda. They may not be the best soldiers, but hobbits lead with the kindness of their hearts to defy evil. They are loyal, stealthy, and resilient to corruption and power.
Frodo and briefly Samwise Gamgee wore The One Ring all the way to Mount Doom. Only at the very end, when The One Ring was at its most powerful, did Frodo succumb to its will.
Perhaps no other beings in Arda could have resisted the temptation of The One Ring for so long. Not even Gandalf would dare touch the ring.
Not just Frodo and Sam, but Merry and Pippin fought in the war, and Merry even helped vanquish The Witch King of Angmar.
With nerves of steel, Bilbo went toe-to-toe with Smaug and emerged alive. He managed to steal the Arkenstone right under the spiky nose of Smaug and lived to tell the tale.
It’s for the actions and accomplishments in defeating Smaug and Sauron that we narrowly ranked them ahead of the Orcs.
Humans are ranked close to the end of this list due to their lack of any special abilities. Obviously, there were exceptions like Elendil, Aragorn, and Isildur.
They were gifted with prolonged lifespan because of their loyalty to the Elves. Elendil was known as the mightiest warrior of Dúnedain and started the line of Kings through his sons Isildur and Anárion.
He went toe-to-toe with Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance during the Siege of Barad-Dûr. Though he was killed by Sauron, Isildur picked his father’s broken sword hilt and cut off Sauron’s Ring finger.
That stunt vanquished the Dark Lord for 2,500 years in the Third Age, granting temporary peace to Middle-Earth before Frodo destroyed it once and for all in the War of the Ring.
When Aulë made the Dwarves, Eru gave them life and adopted them as His Children. The Dwarves of the Blue Mountains (Erebor in The Hobbit) fought with the Elves against Morgoth.
Dwarf Lord Azaghâl of Belegost thrust his sword so deep in the underbelly of Glaurung, that he tucked his tail and ran away. The Dwarves we know now are descendants of Durin I.
Dwarves were of strong will and granted the seven Rings of Power. Durin III was given the most powerful of Dwarven Rings. However, Sauron’s influence failed to sway them as they were resistant to evil domination, though the Rings increased their lust for gold.
Tolkien truly cherished craftsmanship because his Dwarves could create various weapons of incredible strength. However, their height is their weakness, and can easily be trampled by large foes, thus placing them near the end of this list.
Wargs may be ugly, but they’re useful to the Orcs, similar to what horses are to men, except they hunger for blood.
Great wolf-like beasts with razor-sharp claws, Wargs can take down a horse and its rider on their own. They are bred from wolves and believed to be one of Sauron’s many servants.
We first saw Wargs in The Hobbit films, chasing Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves. Gandalf starts throwing fiery pine cones at them, which drives them away momentarily.
In Fellowship of the Ring, the wargs attacked the Fellowship but failed though you’ve got to hand it to them for their horrible timing.
Tolkien fans have probably had enough of Morgoth’s evil creations. These aren’t your usual Lupin or Jacob kind of Werewolves; they had no lunar influence.
Morgoth and Sauron infused evil spirits into wolves, thus creating the Werewolves. Draugluin was the first and his notorious descendent, Carcharoth, was the greatest of them.
As if being a Werewolf wasn’t enough, Morgoth decided to magically enhance Carcharoth’s hunger. He grew in size, with a poisonous bite, and slew many of Morgoth’s enemies.
Eventually, he came to be known as the Red Maw or the Jaws of Thirst.
No doubt many of you may think Elves deserve to be much higher on this list. However, we’d argue that not all Elves possess strength to the likes of Galadriel, Fëanor or Gil-Galad.
Elves are undoubtedly one of the mightiest race to exist in Tolkien’s world. Their skill comes from various attributes; craftsmanship, healing, archery, and swordsmanship are just a few of them.
Celebrimbor was a master smith yet he had remarkable strength that even Sauron could not break him. Though Celebrimbor died of the torture, he managed to keep the location of the three Rings of Power secret.
Folk that haven’t read Tolkien’s books may not be familiar with the legendary Elves that lived in the First and the Second Ages. Fëanor battled several Balrogs, including Gothmog on his own.
Fingolfin fought Morgoth one-on-one and struck him seven times. His last act was cutting into Morgoth’s heel, crippling him forever.
The Valar gifted Elves with immortality for aiding in the fight against Morgoth. Elves are inherently peaceful and well-known for their righteous and loyal conduct.
Add to that their heightened senses make them one of the best archers. Look no further than Legolas, a Lord of the Rings fan favorite, and for good reason.
You don’t want to mess with a monstrous black bear who would rip you apart without batting an eye. Skinchangers are mortal men who could turn into large black bears.
It seems the list of frightening creatures dwelling in the Misty Mountains is endless. We first saw Beorn in The Hobbit, when Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, and the Dwarves sought refuge from the Wargs in his cabin.
While Beorn had no love for dwarves, he agreed to aid them because of his hatred towards the Orcs. Even the Orcs feared him because they refused to attack the dwarves while Beorn, in bear form, was keeping guard.
Later, he joins the Battle of the Five Armies and helps the dwarves defeat the Orcs where he killed Bolg, the Orc leader.
Tolkien mentions Were-worms in mythical tales told by hobbits. When Bilbo decides to join the dwarves on their quest, he says “Tell me what you want done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert.”
We don’t know much about them, but it’s not rocket science. Giant worms in a desert? They’d most likely eat you alive, and we see as much in Jackson’s The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.
Our imagination comes to the silver screen when Azog the Defiler uses Were-worms to bring Sauron’s armies to the front, ambushing the Elves, men, and dwarves. Basically, the giant earth worms, create tunnels by consuming the Earth.
400 ft long and 75 ft wide nightmares that were, luckily for us, not interested in anything but boulders to munch on. All-in-all, we would not want to be caught in their path.
You may remember mammoth sized creatures similar to elephants in Jackson’s Return of the King. These Mûmakil, better known as Oliphaunts, were used by Sauron’s army during the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
These Mûmakil were enhanced with mounted towers (filled with Haradrim archers) and their tusks wrapped in deadly spikes. They possessed a natural bloodlust, trampling over their foes and swatting at whatever was left of them with their large trunks.
To avoid getting bulldozed, it was best to fight them from a distance, though their skin was impervious to most weapons. However, this doesn’t apply if you’re Legolas with weapons of Elfish make or have an Army of the Dead with you.
Obviously the terrifying Nazgûl need a special kind of nightmare to mount. Black as a raven, they had featherless wings and emanated a nauseating stench.
If you thought you could kill them without a nose plug, well think again. Much like the Nazgûl, these Fellbeasts had a high-pitched scream that caused fear and panic into nearby beings so they could pick them off easily.
Luckily for us, being on the good side meant you have a lot of Light, and that was their main weakness. In Return of the King, we see Gandalf casting the Light of his staff at the Fellbeasts to save Faramir and his soldiers fleeing from Osgiliath to Minas Tirith.
14. The King of the Dead
How do you kill someone who’s already dead? The King of the Dead and his Army were once great (known as Men of Dunharrow in life) who were coerced into praising Sauron.
When Isildur became King of Gondor, they swore to fight for him, but when the time came, they refused and were cursed by Isildur. They fled to the mountains where they died off, though their souls lingered on account of an unfulfilled oath.
In Return of the King, Elrond guided Aragorn to their location, and he forced them to fulfill their oath. The King of the Dead and his Army felled the giant Mûmakil like nothing and glided across the plains effortlessly, turned the tide at the Siege of Minas Tirith.
The only wraiths to outmatch them would be the Nazgûl because they bear the Rings of Power. Their power was stemmed only when Aragorn released them from their oath after the battle.
Don’t let their gentle appearance fool you into thinking they’re without might. Yavanna, a Queen of the Valar, requested to give the forests protection, thus the Ents were given life.
Their ability to speak was taught by the Elves, so, naturally their vocabulary ranges further than “I am Groot”.
In the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Merry, and Pippin are captured by Orcs. However, Treebeard, the oldest Ent, and their leader, saves them by crushing the orc in one step.
Later, Saruman instructs the Orcs to burns the Forest of Fangorn in preparation of war. As a result of the calamity, Treebeard and the Ents awaken in anger to seek revenge.
They destroy Isengard by breaking the dam and flooding the area which forces the Orcs to retreat. In gratitude, Aragorn gifts them Isengard to keep watch over the land.
12. Giant Spiders
Darkness in the shape of a spider the size of a U-Haul are the monsters that dwell on the borders of Mordor. Shelob was the most powerful of them, spawn of Ungoliant, an evil ancient being unhindered by Sauron’s influence.
We see the Giant Spiders of Mirkwood in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when they attack Radagast the Brown. In the Desolation of Smaug, they attack the dwarves, before Bilbo Baggins defeats them, hidden with the One Ring.
Shelob first appeared in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King when Gollum misleads Sam and Frodo right into Shelob’s lair hoping to steal the One Ring back once they were dead.
With the help of Galadriel’s Phial (infused with the Light of the Silmarils) and Sting, Frodo and Sam manage to injure her and escape. Ungoliant does not appear in this category as she is not a spider-like Shelob, but a manifestation of the void, and her origin is unknown.
The Misty Mountains are home to a variety of mysterious creatures. We’re very thankful that we do not know them all or else none would dare go near. Giants, mountains that move, grunt, walk and talk, are mainly seen in the Misty Mountains.
One stumble and an entire city would be crushed under a Giant. Luckily, they care very little for the petty rivalries around them, or else Bilbo, Thorin, and his dwarves would be no more.
Their origin is unknown as Tolkien mentions them fleetingly though it’s not difficult to imagine the destruction they could bring should somebody anger them.
10. The Eagles
The Great Eagles deserve the tenth spot as they are the best form of resistance against foul airborne beasts like Fellbeasts and Dragons.
Their King, Thorondor, battled the largest dragon in Middle-Earth and came out alive. They may look peaceful but make no mistake, they fight for the good, and fiercely so.
Thorondor’s son, Gwaihir, saved Gandalf from the evil clutches of Saruman and carried Frodo and Sam to safety after they’d destroyed the One Ring in Mount Doom. We’re definitely partial to their impeccable timing.
A feeling of terror seeps into hearts before laying eyes on the menacing Nazgûl. They were nine Ringwraiths led by the Witch-King of Angmar, who were influenced by Sauron.
The Nazgûl were neither living nor dead, who succumbed to the power of the Rings given to them by Sauron which bound them to the One Ring. They became the manifestation of Sauron’s will.
The nine Nazgûl take the ninth spot, for some poetic justice just as the end of the Witch-King came at the hands of a fierce woman and a Hobbit, defying the prophecy that he would not “die by the hand of man”.
8. Nameless Things
Gandalf spoke of ancient Things that dwell deep in Moria that were older than even Sauron. The Dark Lord has no knowledge of the creatures abiding beneath the ground, specifically the Misty Mountains.
The tentacled creature we see attacking the fellowship outside the gates of Moria is theorized to be one of these Nameless Things, though it’s never confirmed in lore.
In Episode 2 Adrift of the Rings of Power TV series we see another potential Nameless Thing, a massive sea monster that was addressed as “the worm”, attack Halbrand and Galadriel. Their only defense was to swim away as fast possible, though not all of Halbrand’s company survived.
Gandalf, as ever, was right “There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.” Let’s not disturb the Things who take their rightful place as the eighth most powerful creatures in Tolkien’s world.
The lesser order of the Ainur were the Maiar, and the greatest among them was Sauron, the Dark Lord of the Second and Third Ages.
Sauron’s affiliation with Morgoth and Aulë granted him unerring skill as an evil mastermind with a love of crafting things, like the Rings of Power. His mind control and shape-shifting abilities enabled him to manipulate Elves and men to his will.
Another Maia with ferocious strength and unrelenting wisdom is none other than our dear Gandalf. He was wise enough to assist Thorin to retake his kingdom in The Hobbit films.
In the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, he fell to his death but managed to defeat Durin’s Bane, the Balrog residing in Moria. Eru intervened and resurrected him as Gandalf the White.
Also read: Galadriel vs Sauron: Who Is More Powerful?
Morgoth had some nasty results from his lab experiments. Balrogs were Maiar that were corrupted by Morgoth into blazing beasts of ferocious power.
Gothmog, Lord of all Balrogs was, like Sauron, Morgoth’s lieutenants in the First Age. He became known as a king-slayer, having slain two of the five High Kings of the Noldor, the esteemed Fëanor and Fingon.
Twice the height of an average Elf, Balrogs towered over their opponents wielding a fiery whip. Gothmog, on the other hand, felt a whip was insufficient so he added a dreadful, black axe that was feared by Elves throughout Beleriand.
His end came at the hands of Ecthelion, Lord of Gondolin, where he pushed his helm into Gothmog’s chest. Both of them fell into the Fountain which quenched Gothmog’s flames and drowned him.
We’ve seen a Balrog in the on-screen adaptations of Tolkien’s world. Durin’s Bane was seen in Fellowship of the Ring when Gandalf defeated him, and in Episode 7 The Eye of the Rings of Power series, we see him awakening deep in the bowels of Khazad-dûm.
As far as dragons go, it’s safe to say they’re one of the most powerful creatures in Arda, the world consisting of Middle-Earth and other continents.
The most powerful of them were Ancalagon the Black and Glaurung. Ancalagon was the first and largest winged dragon to ever exist. His fire was the hottest, but even that could not destroy the One Ring.
Glaurung on the other hand was a worm-like beast of ungainly power, which took Morgoth a thousand years to breed. He alone had the strength to beat Ancalagon because of his ability to cast spells and hypnotic gaze.
Other dragons like Smaug, as seen in The Hobbit films, were not nearly as powerful as Ancalagon and Glaurung. But dragons, for the most part, take the fifth spot mainly for their size, fire-breathing ability, being able to fly, and their wrath that could burn cities to the ground.
4. Tom Bombadil
To those who only watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tom Bombadil would be a new name. He comes fourth only because his powers are so mysterious that nobody really knows the true extent of them.
In the Fellowship of the Rings, Frodo and the other Hobbits took refuge in Tom’s cabin, in the depths of the Old Forest. Tom tried on the One Ring, but nothing happened. He made the Ring disappear, and he could still see Frodo when Frodo wore it in front of him.
He tells them many tales while they ate and slept in his cabin, “Eldest, that’s what I am… Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn.” Even though Tom could have ended the War of the Ring in the blink of an eye, he didn’t because he only cared about his wife, Goldberry.
When Fëanor refused to give up the Silmarils, the beautiful jewels crafted by him, Morgoth retreated and sought out Ungoliant. Ungoliant, mother to Shelob, was a dark spirit that once served Morgoth but had disowned him.
She grew into a nightmarish beast after drinking the sap of the Two Trees of Valinor. Her hunger became so great that she devoured all the gems of the Noldor which Morgoth gave her.
None could match her power, and in the end, she who devoured herself when her insatiable hunger became overbearing.
The first beings created by Eru were the Ainur, of which there were two orders: Valar and Maiar. The Valar were the stronger of the two, and the second most powerful creatures in Tolkien’s legendarium.
You can say there were akin to Gods for the people of Middle-Earth. Eru created fourteen Vala, and of them the strongest was, as you very well know, Melkor (aka Morgoth).
Each Vala had different abilities and gifts granted to them by Eru. But Morgoth rebelled against Eru and brought his might down on the Valar, and sought to dominate Middle-Earth.
Only the combined might of the fourteen Valar and the Elves could vanquish him to the Timeless Void. However, many of the demons that Morgoth created had escaped, chief among them was his lieutenant, Sauron.
Also read: Morgoth vs Sauron: Who Was More Powerful?
1. Eru (Ilûvatar)
Eru Ilûvatar is the omnipotent being of Tolkien’s lore and the most powerful being in The Lord of the Rings and Arda.
Eru is the strongest being to exist because he is the Creator of everything in Arda. He is also the reason many things happened the way they did.
For instance, Gandalf the Gray was resurrected by Eru when he died defeating the Balrog. He was also responsible for the One Ring perishing in the fires of Mount Doom along with Gollum.
He is capable of creating anything with a mere thought, not even Morgoth could overpower Eru. But then again, he’s the boss so he calls the shots.
Do you agree or disagree with our rankings? If so, let us know why in the comments below.