So Gandalf and the Balrog of Moria have a little fisticuffs and they both died. Presumably dead bodies lie on the mountain side somewhere.

Gandalf "strayed out of thought and time", gets a can of spinach and a new colour then he comes back sometime after his death as Gandalf 2.0.

The questions are thus:

  1. Did Gandalf's old body get burnt to a crisp, or suffer some other death that meant there was no dead body left? OR
  2. Did his old body get renewed?

Or do we not know? If his body was left in the snow, then wouldn't it have been preserved due to freezing? This seems like an obvious oversight in the story.

I'd like to stick with the book canon, but out-of universe answers are also welcome.

Clarification: I'm not asking about his soul or whether he can die or where he went. I am specifically asking about what was left behind on the mountain.

  • 3
    @Lexible Nope. I want to know what happened to his body. Did he wake up next to his old one and freak out or not? Saurons body wasn't like Gandalfs. This is mention in some other answer. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 4:53
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    see this answer for a reference to Gandalfs body: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/13405/7614 "they were embodied in physical bodies capable of pain, and weariness, and of afflicting the spirit with physical fear, and of being 'killed', though supported by the angelic spirit they might endure long, and only show slowly the wearing of care and labour." Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 5:03
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    @Lexible Sauron is not Gandalf. the link is about Sauron and whether he can die. I was asking about Gandalfs Dead body. I'm not sure how I can make this any clearer. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 5:12
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    This question presumes Gandalf's body was destroyed in the fight with the Balrog - is there a reason you assume Gandalf the Grey and the Balrog's bodies are just lying next to each other?
    – Robotnik
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 7:09
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    @Lexible - the OP's points are correct here; see the Istari essay in Unfinished Tales: "For with the consent of Eru they sent members of their own high order, but clad in bodies of as of Men, real and not feigned, but subject to the fears and pains and weariness of earth, able to hunger and thirst and be slain". This constraint doesn't apply to Sauron, so you're not comparing like-with-like here.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


The book suggests that his spirit reinhabited his original body, and there seems no reason to suspect otherwise.

First let's look at the deaths of both Gandalf and the Balrog (quotes from the Two Towers chapter the White Rider):

I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin. Then darkness took me; and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.

Then Gandalf's resurrection:

Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done. And naked I lay upon the mountain-top. The tower behind was crumbled into dust, the window gone; the ruined stair was choked with burned and broken stone. I was alone, forgotten, without escape upon the hard horn of the world.

This makes it clear that he was resurrected in the same place where he had died, but - of course - his body could have been remade. However, and a little further on in the text, we learn that after Gwaihir brought him to Lórien:

I tarried there in the ageless time of that land where days bring healing not decay. Healing I found, and I was clothed in white.

Evidently therefore his body needed healing, which we can reasonably suppose it would not have if it was a new body. Hence we can deduce that it was his original body, not renewed.

If we cross-check this with Letter 156 we see confirmation of the "Gandalf needed healing" hypothesis:

Galadriel's power is not divine, and his healing in Lórien is meant to be no more than physical healing and refreshment.

So there is no oversight in the story; Gandalf evidently just reinhabited his old body, which then needed to be healed of it's wounds in Lórien.

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    @JamesKhoury Or they were burned off while he was fighting the fire monster. But, yeah, deliberately taking off his clothes in the middle of the fight makes more sense.
    – KSmarts
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 15:01
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    @KyleKanos - or he recieved fast healing from the Elves.
    – user8719
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 15:39
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    Maybe Gandalf, delivered naked to Lorien, received a "special kind" of healing from Galadriel? (Cue Marvin Gaye singing "Sexual Healing").
    – RobertF
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 17:54
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    For what it's worth, the movie has a very brief flashback where Gandalf is lying on the ground and gasps, presumably resuming breathing. He's even not wearing a shirt, iirc. (Always thought that was a bit weird.) That would suggest the movies fairly accurately reflects the book here. Although, this raises a question. What the heck happened to his clothes that he was naked when he came back?
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 21:34
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    @Nathan Except Tolkien HATED allegory.
    – krillgar
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 13:44

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