So in the Jacksonverse movies we see Gandalf losing his staff tons of times.

I believe, in the movies, he loses his staff to the Necromancer (The Hob.), and Saruman (LOTR-1st), and the Witch-King (LOTR-3rd). I don't remember any more movie instances where Gandalf loses his staff but I'm not asking about that. I could use a quote in the novels if Gandalf does lose his staff.

1. 1st
2. 2nd
3. 3rd

In canon... is there evidence to show that Gandalf loses his staff while in middle-earth, or is the whole 'losing-a-staff' thing a Jackson invention?


2 Answers 2


He loses his original staff (by breaking it) in his fight with the Balrog.

At that moment Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog's feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter V, The Bridge of Khazad-Dum

That's it, really. He gets a new one after he's resurrected and doesn't lose that one. The movies feature many of his staffs breaking, but in the books, it happens only one time.

So Peter Jackson didn't invent Gandalf's staff breaking.

Gandalf's new staff after the fight with the Balrog in the books:

Well met, I say again!' said the old man, coming towards them. When he was a few feet away, he stood, stooping over his staff, with his head thrust forward, peering at them from under his hood.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book III, Chapter V, The White Rider

  • 3
    Then he left it behind! Although this is peculiar. I believe Alan Lee's drawing of Balrog v Gandalf atop Zirakzigil had Mith carrying a staff. Never mind a complete and utter lie
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 11:58
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    I gave you a +1, but your last line in bold kind of contradicts the rest of the answer. Perhaps better to say that in the books his staff was broken/destroyed only that one occasion, not the numerous times we see on film.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 12:20
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    he would't be able to perform spells if he had taped it back together. He would risk his charms backfiring and loosing his memory. I am sure sure he bought a new one.
    – user13267
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 12:32
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    @user13267 we never get an indication that Gandalf's staff is any more than just a stick of wood that he uses to channel his power. It may not have any special properties.
    – Neithan
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:00
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    I'll add that it was pretty climactic when Gandalf broke Saruman's staff, so a wizard losing his staff seems to be a pretty big deal.
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 15:44

Pulling from memory, when Gandalf confronts Saruman at Orthanc after the Ents drown Isengard, Gandalf holds out his hand and says "Saruman, your staff is broken" at which point Saruman's staff does indeed break. This seems to indicate that the staff is at least a symbol of their power, if not a channel for it. I therefore conclude that the loss of the staff is a seriously big deal for the Istari, and would not be a commonplace occurrence.

Again, drawing from memory, I believe there is an essay on the nature of the Istari in Unfinished Tales that says they arrived in Middle Earth in the guise of elder men, bent with age and carrying staves. If so, they wouldn't have been able to roll around to the nearest walking stick shop for a replacement, leading to my general perspective that they would avoid losing their staff even to the cost of their physical form.

The only referenced loss of Gandalf's own staff is during the confrontation with the Balrog. I can recall no other.

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