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In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, when Gandalf is walking alongside the Elven king Thranduil, I noticed some similarities between the two, like their height and their hair.

Gandalf seems too naive to expect honest help from the Elven king in such a spooky neighborhood and don't seem to share Thorin's concerns. Could Gandalf be an elf?.

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    No he's not an elf. – user8252 Feb 3 '13 at 10:30
  • So anyone with similar height and hair must be of the same race? – phantom42 Feb 3 '13 at 15:29
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    Nope,i see my error in judgment,you don't have to rub it in. – Gandalf Feb 3 '13 at 15:50
  • I may be wrong but I don't think @phantom42 was trying to rub it in but rather to identify where your question is an oversimplification of a very complex fantasy world. Generally the users of this site expect that the people asking the questions have done some leg work toward answering the question before posting. Given the vast amount of information about Gandalf on this site and others, your question doesn't show much effort and was therefore voted down. Generally it is good practice for downvoters to leave a comment with some feedback. – KennyPeanuts Feb 4 '13 at 13:57
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    Downvoters: even when the answer to this question is obviously "no", it's still a valid question. The right path here is to post an answer explaining why Gandalf is not an Elf. It's ok to post questions where the answer is "no, you are mistaken because of this..." – Andres F. May 9 '13 at 20:33
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No, Gandalf is not an Elf. While Elves are the Firstborn, the first creatures to be created on Arda, the world of Middle Earth, Gandalf is one of the Maiar, beings somewhat comparable to angels, that were the servants of the Valar, the sort-of gods in the Middle Earth cosmology. The Valar created the world, while the Maiar were their helpers and assistants, and in some cases heralds, standard bearers, messengers or captains.

There is a reason they seem similar, though. The Maiar are spirits, not locked into a single mortal body. When Gandalf, who was originally known as Olórin, went into Middle Earth, he chose a form that is similar to that of the Elves, to fit among them.

Here is how he is described in the Valaquenta, the second part of the Silmarillion, wherein the Valar and Maiar are described:

Wisest of the Maiar was Olórin. He too dwelt in Lórien, but his ways took him often to the house of Nienna, and of her he learned pity and patience [...] for though he loved the Elves, he walked among them unseen, or in form as one of them.

  • This answer implies, though not certainly, that elves have pointed ears -- and of course they're portrayed that way in the movies. Does that imply that Gandalf has pointed ears? – Keith Thompson May 9 '13 at 20:00
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    @KeithThompson: "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" (the last section of the Silmarillion) says of the wizards that they appeared "in the likeness of Men... old but vigorous." This would imply that the body Gandalf was wearing at the time of Lord of the Rings did not have pointed ears (though -- as Avner's answer points out -- he would have assumed a pointy-eared body at earlier points in his life). – Micah May 10 '13 at 7:11

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