In the books, it doesn't explicitly describe Gandalf's staff being taken or broken during his imprisonment in/on Orthanc, but in the film, Saruman is shown with Gandalf's staff, and Gandalf is shown to be without it during his escape. Later, during the fellowship's journey from Rivendell, Gandalf has his staff again.

Possible explainations:

  • A mistake in the movie, and his staff should never have been shown to be taken from him.
  • He made a new one (I'm not sure how the Wizards get/make their staffs in the first place)
  • He reclaimed it somehow (unlikely as this would have been described)
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    I think you would be well advised to take anything you see in the movie with a grain of salt, and instead read the books if you want the real story.
    – TLP
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 22:22
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    @TLP, you do mean the original story. Adapting it to film doesn't make the adaptation any less "real", only different. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 18:06
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    @IlariKajaste I think you are confusing "a real story" with "the real story". Top Gun is a real story, but it is not "the real story" of Lord of the Rings. The movie version of Lord of the Rings is very different from Tolkien's version; hence, it is not "the real story".
    – TLP
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 18:30
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    @TLP I disagree. There is no "real" story of "Lord of the Rings". There's Tolkien's original version, and a few adaptations, including the movie. None of them are the real story. But since this seems to be a point of some discussion, it fits better to chat. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 20:49
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    "Surely you wouldn't deprive an old man of his walking stick?"
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 17:43

7 Answers 7


Talking specifically about the movie, I think Gandalf had a total of 3 staffs:

  1. The one that housed his pipe;
  2. The one with a sort of crystal in it;
  3. The White one.

This is confirmed by this FAQ on IMDb.com. In the book there seem to be no direct reference to this fight (I checked the book and didn't find anything), so I think it is simply a difference in the movie.

  • Very cool! So does he make them?
    – xdumaine
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 20:39
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    Ok I checked in the book, and also as dlanod confirms, there seems to be no direct/straight mention of this.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 20:58
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    The book DOES make direct/straight mention of the status of Gandalf's two staves. It is described in detail right here scifi.stackexchange.com/a/12940/1591 Where the staves came from, and who made them. I didn't remember either ;o) until I read that other answer though! Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 8:02
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    @FeralOink You didn't sound grumpy at all! You did well to point that out. I don't like having flaws in my answers. :D
    – Alenanno
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 8:58
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    "Fans of the Lord of the Rings movies have mistakenly stated that the staff Gandalf inherits from Radagast is the stave he uses in Moria. If one looks closely at the crown of the staff, the shape of the shaft and the symbol plastered onto the staff it is clear to the viewer that the first staff Gandalf weilds in the Fellowship of the Ring is the Staff of Radagast the Brown. He is seen with Radagast's staff until he loses it after his duel with Saruman at Orthanc. He acquired a slightly different looking staff in Imladris that held a powerful crystal which he illuminated in the Mines of Moria"
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 1:17

In the books, Gandalf has 2 staves.

The first one which he has all the way up to the encounter with the Balrog. This is broken at the Bridge of Khazad Dum when he breaks the bridge. That staff was presumably created in Valinor as part of his incarnation as a wizard.

The second one is created by Galadriel for him (along with his new white robes) after he returns from death and Gwaihir flies him to Lorien.

Staves are clearly very important receptacles/focuses of power. Saruman is significantly de-powered after Gandalf breaks his staff for example.

In the books, his staff wasn't taken from him. This may not have been in Saruman's power to do. When Gandalf later breaks Saruman's staff, it is clear it is not a trivial event to do it, but rather a ceremony or spell. Saruman can use the power of Orthanc to hold Gandalf, but not "defeat him" as such, unless he gets the One Ring.

  • Sure, so what's your answer? He must have reclaimed it, or it was never taken from him?
    – Anthony
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 4:02
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    In the books, his staff wasn't taken from him. THis may not have been in Saruman's power to do. When Gandalf later breaks Saruman's staff, it is clear it is not a trivial event to do it, but rather a ceremony or spell. Saruman can use the power of Orthanc to hold Gandalf, but not "defeat him" as such, unless he gets the One Ring.
    – WOPR
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 7:14
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    Ummm, @anthony-arnold the answer right above says: In the books, his staff wasn't taken from him. The first staff broke. The second staff was in Gandalf's possession until the very end, when he crossed back over the sea to the West. Gandalf's staff was never taken from him. Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 7:56
  • I always thought it a conceit on Saruman's part, that he didn't take Gandalf's staff when he captured him at Orthanc. Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 19:58
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    @FeralOink Yeah, thanks. I think it's been updated since my comment.
    – Anthony
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 23:16

His staff isn't taken from him in the books, so any definitive answer is purely movie-based. Whether that's a mistake or just unexplained would depend on your opinion of the movies.

While only a secondary source albeit a very well-researched and well-accredited one, Ted Nasmith's artwork shows Gandalf retaining his staff as he escapes Isengard on Gwaihir's back.

Gandalf escaping with Gwaihir


In the books we have no detailed account how Saruman was able to imprison Gandalf (most likely as a head of the order and known mind manipulator Saruman used some of his power to prevent Gandalf from fighting back, so he had no reason to take the staff from him, later orcs or Dunledings in his service took him through the stairs to the Orthanc's roof, where he remained until Gwaihir's rescue). The proof that Gandalf had his staff with him all the time could be taken from very realistic dream of Frodo:

In the dead night, Frodo lay in a dream without light. Then he saw the young moon rising; under its thin light there loomed before him a black wall of rock, pierced by a dark arch like a great gate. It seemed to Frodo that he was lifted up, and passing over he saw that the rock-wall was a circle of hills, and that within it was a plain, and in the midst of the plain stood a pinnacle of stone, like a vast tower but not made by hands. On its top stood the figure of a man. The moon as it rose seemed to hang for a moment above his head and glistened in his white hair as the wind stirred it. Up from the dark plain below came the crying of fell voices, and the howling of many wolves. Suddenly a shadow, like the shape of great wings, passed across the moon. The figure lifted his arms and a light flashed from the staff that he wielded. A mighty eagle swept down and bore him away.

Of course dreams may seem not the most reliable source but in this case it's rather certain (dreams of Frodo are often prophetic, this one was retroactive, as the event it concerned happened earlier).

In the movies it may be that Gandalf just made a new one.


As you say, Gandalf losing his staff (during his capture in Orthanc/Isengard by Saruman) is not mentioned in the book.

As for the movie:

comparison of Gandalf's staff in the films before and after capture

And again, in Orthanc, about to lose it: enter image description here

After Orthanc, with replacement: enter image description here

Gandalf seems to have a somewhat different staff after losing the one in Orthanc. Presumably he replaced it.

  • Exactly. I don't understand why people think they are the same staff
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 1:15

If memory serves me correctly,chronology in Peter Jackson's motion picture adaption Gandalf acquired a new staff in Rivendell,the house of Elrond, as his first staff(Radagast) was taken by Saruman,in a flashback when he is at Frodo's bedside long before uses the replacement staff that illuminates with a crystal he puts into the crown of it to guide the fellowship through Moria

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    This doesn't answer the question. OP is asking how he acquired the staff. Saying that he "acquired a new staff" is not helpful.
    – amflare
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 21:42
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    @amflare I believe the question how did Gandalf get his staff back after being captured by Saruman. This answer takes the position that he did not get it back, but instead acquired a new one.
    – Blackwood
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 22:07
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    Radagast is the name of another wizard, not the name of any staff.
    – xdumaine
    Commented Sep 23, 2019 at 17:24

It was mentioned in the book and movie that the staff was taken from him by Saruman. Gandalf didn't get his staff back but he has another. A Staff is just a tool. The new staff was given provided to Gandalaf when he got back to Rivendel according to the book. Thus, we can see he has a staff again.

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    If you could edit in some relevant quotes from the books, it would improve your answer greatly
    – fez
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 16:14
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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! This contradicts the existing top-rated answer, which claims that Saruman taking Gandalf's staff didn't happen in the book. As fez suggested, if you can provide evidence that it did happen, and that he procured a replacement while in Rivendell, that would be a great answer.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 16:28

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