×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The members of the Fellowship of the Ring ranked from weakest to strongest

J.R.R. Tolkien didn't mind balancing a loaded cast of characters throughout The Lord of the Rings. From multiple villains to kings, stewards, innkeepers, and so on, the story is absolutely brimming with familiar faces. But there's one group that stands above all of the rest. Dubbed "the Nine Walkers" by Elrond, this posse of heroes is commonly known to fans simply as "the Fellowship of the Ring" — the titular group from the first installment of the trilogy. Every member of this intrepid band serves an instrumental role during the War of the Ring. However, some of them tend to contribute in more powerful ways than others.

So which members of the Fellowship are the strongest? Well, never fear. We're here to figure that out. We've taken into consideration things like political prowess, muscle, leadership capabilities, raw charisma, and that deep yet quiet internal strength. And after factoring in some magical abilities, we've come up with our official rankings of the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, from the strongest to the weakest in the company.

The skinny on the Fellowship of the Ring

The Lord of the Rings story hinges on the fact that the Dark Lord Sauron is attempting to conquer all of Middle-earth. However, he lacks the one trinket that can truly help him crush all resistance. This is, of course, the One Ring that he himself forged and filled with unfathomable power. This ring is possessed by Frodo Baggins, who sets out on a quest to destroy the shiny bauble before its dark owner can reclaim it.

Not too far into the story, the Fellowship of the Ring is formed in the Elvish stronghold of Rivendell. Elrond Half-elven creates the group of "Nine Walkers" to help protect Frodo from the dangers on the road — particularly from the threat of the Nine Riders known as the Nazgûl. The Fellowship is designed to represent all of the major groups of the Free Peoples that are actively resisting Sauron's dominion. It includes the hobbits (Frodo, Samwise, Merry, and Pippin), the men (Aragorn and Boromir), Gandalf the wizard, Legolas the elf, and Gimli the dwarf.

They set out together, but no one is required to stay with the company for any predetermined amount of time. Only Frodo is bound to the ultimate ring-wrecking quest. While the group does eventually splinter, they go on to each perform critical tasks in the war before they (mostly) find each other once again at the end of the adventure.

Ground rules for the rankings

Okay, so we've gone over who it is that we're ranking, but how exactly are we going to rank them? After all, there are a lot of different factors that could go into considering "weakest to strongest." The "old man" Gandalf is a supercharged angelic being under the surface. Aragorn is a single, wandering dude, but he ultimately wields unprecedented political power. Boromir is a war hero. Sam Gamgee is a water-and-food-deprived gardener who carries his friend up a mountain when push comes to shove.

The point is, there are a lot of ways to come at this thing, and choosing just one benchmark would be a bit unfair. For instance, pure spiritual strength would easily set Gandalf above everyone else. Physically, everyone would beat out the hobbits, hands down. So while it's a tricky business, we're going to primarily rank each member based on four major categories — their raw physical prowess, their battlefield skill, their political power and reputation, and their inner spiritual strength.

All four of these are major factors at different times in the story. Tolkien includes plenty of head-to-head action scenes, reputations and politics dramatically affect how events unfold, and inner spiritual strengths and struggles are a deciding factor in more than one scenario. In addition, we're going to consider the entire career arc of each character, not just their actions during the primary narrative.

Alright, are we ready to do this thing? Let's rank the Fellowship of the Ring from weakest to strongest, shall we?

Peregrin Took is the weakest member of the Fellowship of the Ring

Starting off the list, we have Peregrin Took. The spunky hobbit is one of the last members to join the Fellowship and he doesn't even know where exactly it's headed. Still, there's no doubt that his friendship and loyalty to Frodo is unwavering. In addition, Pippin saves Faramir's life, helps convince the Ents to attack Isengard, and serves as both a knight of Gondor and the honorary Thain of the Shire later in life.

While he does some pretty important stuff, though, the Took doesn't do too much when it comes to fighting — with the notable exception of taking on a troll in the final battle in the book The Return of the King. He's also totally blindsided by Sauron when he looks in the Palantir (even if his hobbit innocence ultimately saves him), and he's unable to disconnect from the spell by his own willpower.

The plain fact of the matter is that everyone on this list is made of hero material in one way or another. That's why they're in the freaking Fellowship of the Ring. When push comes to shove, though, the Tookish halfling just isn't a "powerful" character in Tolkien's world. On the contrary, much of what his presence boils down to is a combination of small yet timely actions and some pretty great comic relief. While he's about as impressive as any hobbit that's ever lived, Pippin Took is hardly the strongest member of the Fellowship. On the contrary, we're going to officially put him in last place.

Meriadoc Brandybuck might not be super strong, but he's faced down pure evil

When it comes to the weakest members of the Fellowship, it's almost a toss-up between Merry and Pippin. After all, both are hobbits, neither go with Frodo to complete the quest in Mordor, and both are fairly paralyzed by the thought of a tussle on the battlefield.

But there's one critical fact that helps to give Merry the edge over his slightly shorter companion — Merry is the only one of the two that has taken on a Dark Rider and won. Initially, both of the halflings are present (and sit there, petrified) when Frodo gets stabbed on Weathertop in The Fellowship of the Ring. However, Merry ultimately gets his shot at redemption during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in The Return of the King and fully exonerates himself. Sure, he doesn't give the killing blow to the Witch-King, but it's Merry's decisive stab in the leg that provides enough interference for Eowyn to finish the Nazgûl off.

On top of that, Merry is possibly the tallest hobbit to ever live, he's generally viewed as a wise fellow, and he ends up spending the bulk of his life as a knight of Rohan and the leader of his extended family. He even rules under the moniker "Meriadoc the Magnificent." Add it all up, and Merry just manages to avoid landing in last place on what is admittedly a highly competitive list.

Gimli, son of Glóin, is a mighty dwarf with a few shortcomings

Ah, Gimli, son of Glóin. The dwarf is the only member of his race to grace the ranks of the Fellowship, and he does so in style. From wise-cracking to ax-swinging, Gimli always lets his presence be known. Perhaps the dwarf's best "power moment" comes during the Battle of the Hornburg when he and Legolas have a violently friendly competition to see who can kill the most enemies. While Legolas starts with the massive advantage of emptying an entire quiver of arrows with deadly elvish skill, Gimli still manages to rack up 42 kills on the ground, besting his companion by a single Uruk-hai.

However, there are a few cracks in Gimli's armor that push him further down the rankings. For one thing, he does have some physical limitations. For instance, he can't manage to keep up with Aragorn and Legolas when they chase the hobbits across Rohan, in spite of the famous hardihood of his race. In addition, while he's certainly the son of a famous dwarvish hero and aristocrat, as far as we know, Gimli doesn't have much political power to speak of until later on in life. 

Eventually, he does set up a dwarvish colony on the edge of Rohan and becomes "the Lord of the Glittering Caves," but this doesn't happen until much later. To top it all off, the fellow can't even hold his own in a drinking contest. While he's an incredible warrior, his lack of other accomplishments pushes Gimli near the bottom of the Fellowship.

Samwise Gamgee has a whole lot of heart

Samwise Gamgee has very little trouble placing higher on the list then Pippin, Merry, and Gimli. First of all, while he may not be as doughty a warrior as Gimli, Sam certainly does his part in the war-waging department. He wields swords and frying pans on multiple occasions and even kills a few orcs in the process. He also, critically, takes on Shelob and sends her packing.

Along with his fighting feats, Sam also valiantly helps Frodo get through some of the absolute worst parts of the story, often by sheer force of will. Heck, Sam even serves as a ringbearer for a short period and, as fans of the books know well, he even wears the overpowered piece of jewelry for a while. After the War of the Ring, Sam continues his meteoric rise by angling into politics and becoming the mayor of the Shire. Despite his humble horticultural beginnings, Samwise Gamgee ultimately becomes one of the most powerful hobbits to ever live.

Doubtless, Sam superfans will be upset to see the hobbit gardener so far down the list, but when it comes to pure power metrics, it's hard to rank him much higher than the middle of the pack. Even with all of his accomplishments, there's certainly a ceiling when it comes to Sam's raw power, especially when compared to some of the people that land in the upper tier.

Boromir, son of Denethor, is a flawed but mighty warrior

Boromir earns most of his position on the list simply from his battlefield reputation. Right from the first moment that he enters the scene, the warrior is the epitome of the jock that thinks they can force every issue through straightforward, unadulterated physical strength.

Boromir is also just plain a powerful guy. In the novel The Fellowship of the Ring, he's described as just a tad shorter than Aragorn but "broader and heavier in build." In other words, Boromir is a hulking dude. When the Fellowship is trapped by a malevolent snowstorm high up in the mountains, it's Boromir that leads the effort to beat a path through the snowdrift with sheer brute force. He's also a hearty soldier who single-handedly kills a ton of Uruk-hai before they fill him with arrows and leave him for dead. Even before the story begins, Boromir is already renowned as a mighty warrior that has led armies and won victories. He's also the heir to the highest position in Gondor for most of his life, giving him a solid dose of political power to boot.

The only major slam that has to be brought up against the son of Denethor is the simple fact that he ultimately gives in to the lure of the One Ring. In spite of all of his valiant contributions, at the end of the day, Boromir caves internally and almost ruins everything — although he does acquit himself admirably afterward by defending Merry and Pippin to the death.

Legolas has some impressive elven abilities

At this point, we're starting to get into some of the real heavy hitters. Legolas is the only elven representative in the Fellowship of the Ring, and as such, he automatically gets some pretty sweet power advantages. For instance, his elven abilities allow him to see farther and hear better than most of his companions. He's also light-footed, which allows him to escape the snows of Caradhras, and his extensive practice with a bow and arrow makes him extremely deadly on the battlefield — just ask the Oliphaunt he takes out without breaking a sweat during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

In Peter Jackson's films, in particular, Legolas is depicted as an incredible elven warrior. However, in the books, he also makes a significant impact as a wise elder within the Fellowship. This is partly due to the fact that Legolas is incredibly old compared to most of the group. While his exact age isn't known, at one point — in reference to the foundation of the kingdom of Rohan — he says, "Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then ... and but a little while does that seem to us."

In other words, Legolas is centuries old at the least, which adds an essential "wise man" element to his considerable warrior contribution. He's also a prince of Mirkwood, as his father and grandfather were both kings of the forest realm, giving him political power similar to Boromir.

Frodo Baggins is the most important member of the Fellowship of the Ring

While most of the hobbits naturally fall fairly low on a list based on power level, there's one that absolutely must go higher up: Frodo Baggins. The thought of Frodo in third place may cause most fans of the Peter Jackson trilogy to roll their eyes, and we get it. Elijah Wood's performance hardly gave off Superman vibes.

Nevertheless, the original source material paints Mr. Baggins as quite a different hobbit. Sure, Frodo is quiet, and most of the story that involves him is narrated from the perspective of Samwise, but that doesn't change the fact that Frodo has a spirit of iron, grit, and determination unparalleled in Middle-earth. No other character in the entire story is able to carry the One Ring — an object so powerful even Gandalf won't touch it — so far and so long with the sole purpose of destroying it.

The truth is, Frodo Baggins isn't big or strong or a warrior or a politician. In fact, there's almost nothing about the little hobbit from the Shire to vault him so far up the list ... with the one major exception that he literally does what no one else on this list could do. He carries the One Ring all the way to the Cracks of Doom. While he fails to finally throw it in — thanks, Gollum! — the sheer act of being the Ringbearer for so long is one of the most incredible displays of power demonstrated by anyone in the entire story.

Aragorn, son of Arathorn, is a warrior-king with no equal

In second place, we have the one, the only Aragorn, son of Arathorn. It doesn't matter if you're talking about his latent political power, his heirloom weapons, his battlefield chops, or his raw charisma, Aragorn is the cream of the crop — even when it comes to the most powerful members of a group as prestigious as the Fellowship of the Ring.

By the time of the War of the Ring, Aragorn is in his late 80s, and he's already helped to free both Gondor and Rohan from invasions while fighting under a secret identity. When the Lord of the Rings story rolls around, he proceeds to lead the forces of the West into fight after fight, proving that no one can take down this Ranger of the North.

Fighting considerations aside, Aragorn is also descended from uber-royalty and, once the dust settles, he ends up becoming the king of not one but two kingdoms. He also marries the mighty Elrond's daughter and proceeds to rule as king for well over a century. On top of all of that, he's able to dig deep and defeat Sauron mano a mano through the Palantir in a direct contest of wills. Even Gandalf willingly defers to him on more than one occasion, and he defaults into the leadership role when Gandalf goes down with the Balrog. Whether you're on or off the battlefield with this guy, there's no doubt that he's going to be one of, if not the, most powerful people in the room.

Gandalf is the strongest member of the Fellowship of the Ring

Finally, we have Gandalf. Who else could headline a list like this? While everyone else in the Fellowship is intimately tied to an earthbound body, Gandalf's spiritual nature means he only needs to rent one. It doesn't matter if you're talking about Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White. Either way, the Maiar is one of the most powerful people in Middle-earth, let alone the Fellowship of the Ring.

There are so many examples that it's hard to narrow down which one to use to showcase the wizard's powerful skillset. He conjures fire at will, takes down a Balrog in single combat, liberates Théoden from his bewitchment, demotes Saruman by force, steps in to lead Gondor in a pinch, scares off all of the Nazgûl on his own, and his fireworks shows put the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks celebration to shame. While all of the other members of the Fellowship play critical roles at one time or another, there's no doubt that Gandalf's unwaveringly powerful presence boosts the group's power rankings through the roof. Sure, every character plays an integral role in the story, but none can compare to the might of Gandalf.