We know that for hobbits, the One Ring makes them invisible. But, at least according to the movie, Sauron was not invisible when he was wearing the ring. What effects would the ring have on other types of people: Dwarves, Elves, magic users, or any other interesting category one might have.

4 Answers 4


When Frodo and Gandalf were discussing the Ring in Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf said that all of the Rings of Power granted power proportional to the ability of the wearer. A simple proto-hobbit like Smeagol got invisibility and little else; Frodo got a little more initially, probably due to his experience with the Elves, and gained more abilities as his experience expanded (whereas Samwise, on his one use of it, got only invisibility just as Smeagol did). Someone like Gandalf, a Maia on a par with Sauron, would have control over his visibility; in fact, we know he did, because in the end it was revealed that he wore one of the Elven-rings (likewise Galadriel who also wore one).

  • Yes, but remember at the end of the Return of the King, he (or maybe it was Sam) sees a vision of him sweeping it all away, casting down Sauron, and ruling as a good ruler. Implying he could indeed have ruled
    – The Fallen
    Commented Jun 23, 2012 at 1:17
  • @ssumner it is Sam thinking about that for some (short) time. But hobbits are too tough to crack even for the One Ring, and once again, like Bilbo and Frodo before him, he's able to resist the temptation. You can be weak and strong at the same time... In any case, it probably is just an illusion inspired by the Ring and so he wouldn't be able to control it.
    – Francesco
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 16:22
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    Maybe, but hobbits I don't think are "too tough to crack"...they are indeed hardy folks, but Bilbo and Frodo were unique hobbits, not representative of the greater population. I think a different hobbit (one of the unscrupulous Sackville-Baggins, for example) might have cracked.
    – The Fallen
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 17:26
  • @Francesco Even Frodo cracked in the end. He wasn't willing to toss the ring into the mountain. He tried to claim the Ring for himself. It was lost only because Gollum fell in with it. Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 12:34
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    Having recently re-read LoTR, I did wonder whether the One Ring had anything to do with Smeagol suddenly developing a conscience. Since Frodo is kind and wants to help Smeagol, perhaps the Ring is acting on his will, allowing him to subconsciously force some of the malice and madness from Smeagol's mind. Doing small things to endear itself to its bearer doesn't compromise Sauron's ultimate mastery - but the game's up when it's about to be destroyed, and the 'Gollum' switch flips again. Just me, or did anyone else notice this?
    – Tom W
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 18:06

In the book, Tom Bombadil (A creature of uncertain origin, but high power,) Wears the ring, and does not disappear. Frodo says that "He has power over the ring," but Gandalf corrects him, saying rather, "the ring has no power over him."

Dwarves are stated to be resistant to being changed from outside, and thus do not become invisible.

  • 3
    Can you show us any quotes for that dwarf bit?
    – MadTux
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 13:46
  • Can you give a reference? I quite certain Tom does not wear the ring.
    – John
    Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 13:24
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    He's right - Tom does try on the Ring when Frodo is there. The same about the Dwarves - I can't give you a reference as I am away right now.
    – Jack
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 13:03
  • Frodo does not say that Tom has 'power over the Ring'. That's Erestor. And @MadTux As for the Dwarves: it inspired instead greed for the Dwarves; they were too solid. I want to say it's in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age and I don't have a quote available. It's also in The Return of the Shadow (said differently in more than one version): Of Gollum in the Ring being one of the chapters. That's HoME VI. And remember: Thorin was wearing one of the Rings He wasn't invisible but he was greedy. So it did not make them invisible.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 0:25

Strictly from memory, in Unfinished Tales, the Disaster of the Gladden Fields describes Isildur wearing the ring. He becomes invisible, but the ring also causes him great pain. I also recall that the light from his crown shines through the invisibility and possibly gives him away.


Having not read The Silmarillion or any other Tolkien works outside of the trilogy & The Hobbit, I believe the effects of the ring are similar no matter who wears it.

The Ring is invested with great power and many abilities. It can do many things, though for most people it only extends their lives and turns them invisible. It is also intelligent to some degree, possessing "a will of its own". The Ring wants to return to Sauron.

My speculative theory is that the ring acts upon its user in whatever way it thinks will make it valuable. It uses this to move around, always to places where it can be seen by more people or seized by the right people.

The Ring influences Isildur to take it away from the battle and not destroy it. So it turns him invisible (showing him it can be hidden with ease, while bestowing great power).

With Gollum, it gives invisibility as well - he's on the run and paranoid about people stealing from him, invisibility is invaluable.

With Bilbo, it grants invisibility because he needs to sneak around.

Frodo KNOWS it's a ring of invisibility, and it gives him what he expects.

Those who wear it and have great power don't turn invisible - they can prevent it from overtly affecting them, and presumably it offers them its other powers instead (or in addition).

It seems to tune what it gives to its wearer depending on the wearer (Frodo's shadow never showed up while he was invisible, but Bilbo didn't get a big Ringwraith beacon on his finger when he wore it), and it seems to choose invisibility in most cases.

  • Do you have sources or is this just your speculation? Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 8:02
  • It's postulation based on what is seen in the trilogy and Hobbit.
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 26, 2011 at 17:34
  • Technically Bilbo doesn't use it to sneak around; he barely uses it: to hide from the Sacksville-Baggins but aside from the Quest that's really about it. As for your theory on it choosing invisibility: at one point the Elves had Rings - given to them by Sauron - and one thought was they could choose to be invisible in the Seen/Unseen or not if they chose to. But all the examples we know only Tom Bombadil and Dwarves don't become invisible when wearing Rings of Power (well and the Elves but those Three are different). But it did act differently for different people based on their character.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 0:31
  • But in all cases it deceived the wearer except Tom Bombadil for it had no power over him. The Ring did Sméagol a lot of harm because he murdered to claim it. And Frodo is able to control Sméagol/Gollum some. But in the end the only one I know Tolkien to have said could have mastered it - but been worse - is Gandalf; not even Elrond or Galadriel could have. Gandalf was just wise enough to understand this - and thankfully for the people of Middle-earth.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 0:34
  • @Pryftan: Literally 90% of ''The Hobbit'' post-Gollum was Bilbo using the Ring to sneak around. He snuck around the mountain, he snuck around the Elves forest, he snuck around the Battle of Five Armies...He used the Ring, and liberally, for he thought it was simply a ring that made him invisible. It was playing the long game with him, as it had for Smeagol.
    – Jeff
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 1:49

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