We know the Nazgul can see Frodo when he puts the One Ring on (down to fact they've faded into the Shadow World) but we also know that the Istari and the Bearers of the 3 or any elves that have seen the Light of the Two Trees could see the Nazgul's true form.

My question is, would an Istar, High Elf or Bearer of the 3 be able to see Frodo if he wore the One Ring?

  • Possible duplicate: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/48784/… but since I have a dupe-hammer on this tag I'm going to withhold it for now. (Yes, I'm aware of a contradiction between my answers to each of these questions.)
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


If we take the text at face-value: No.

When Bilbo escapes from the Goblin tunnels after the Misty Mountains episode, he is able to rejoin the party unseen and in the middle of a conversation between Gandalf and the Dwarves.

"...And here we are-without the burglar, confusticate him!"

"And here's the burglar!" said Bilbo stepping down into the middle of them, and slipping off the ring.

Bless me, how they jumped! Then they shouted with surprise and delight. Gandalf was as astonished as any of them, but probably more pleased than all the others.

So Gandalf as both an Istar and a Ring-bearer wasn't able to see him, and therefore we shouldn't expect that any other Istar or Ring-bearer would.

There's no reason to suppose that what's the case for Bilbo would be any different for Frodo.

I am not, however, aware of any writing that indicates whether or not a High-elf would have been able to see him.

  • 1
    @MattGutting - none that I'm aware of, but given the second-edition revisions to the Hobbit (not just the riddle contest but also two references to Sauron as Master of the Ring) one would conjecture that this would have also been revised if so. However, I do find "He gave Bilbo a queer look from under his bushy eyebrows, as he said this, and the hobbit wondered if he guessed at the part of his tale that he had left out" a few lines later to be suspicious, but I'm not sure if it was in the first edition or a revision. In the absence of any other evidence however I take the text at face-value.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 22:00
  • 3
    @MattGutting - indeed. Precisely how much Gandalf knows about anything at any given point in time is something that Tolkien does leave rather vague. I have however edited to clarify that the answer is contingent on taking the text at face-value.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 22:04
  • 2
    Also at the end of the Battle of Five Armies in the book Gandalf sends out a scout to find Bilbo based on where he was last heard yes? Gandalf couldn't see him.
    – Lexible
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 23:01
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    This of suggestions a bearer of the three wouldn't passively notice someone, but I wonder if the situation would be different if Gandalf had known he was in possession of the one ring, and if Gandalf attempted to actively employ the ring's powers to look for Bilbo. The Nazgul were trying to locate the one ring.
    – Zoredache
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 23:08
  • 2
    @Zoredache - I'm almost certain that Gandalf would find Bilbo if Bilbo was actively using the Ring for it's intended purpose; that's how the Elves first became aware of Sauron after all. I'm not sure about the scenario you describe, however.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 23:20

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