Rings of Power Showrunners Tease the Identity of The Stranger in Season 1 Finale


  • Showrunners McKay and Payne hint at the possibility of The Stranger being Gandalf, Saruman, or another wizard in
    The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
  • They stressed the importance of including a wizard in the show for a complete narrative experience.
  • Actor Daniel Weyman remains tight-lipped about his character’s true identity, but his script hinted at a dark transformation similar to Sauron.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power showrunners Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne weighed in on the theories surrounding The Stranger’s identity, portrayed by Daniel Weyman. Fans of the series have been particularly intrigued by the mysterious figure, especially following the season 1 finale where a notable phrase gave viewers a clue about his true identity.

The first season ended with The Stranger advising Nori, played by Markella Kavenagh, to “Always follow your nose.” This line, famously associated with Gandalf in the original The Lord of the Rings saga, has fueled fan theories that The Stranger might indeed be the powerful wizard. However, the showrunners have maintained a deliberate ambiguity about his identity.

Per Collider, McKay likened the essential components of the show to a Thanksgiving dinner, pointing out that excluding a wizard from Lord of the Rings would be like leaving out a key ingredient in a classic recipe. He said:

“We always felt from the very beginning that you need all the ingredients. We always talk about a Thanksgiving meal — you want the turkey, you want the cranberry sauce, you want the stuffing.
We felt like a Lord of the Rings show without a wizard who felt the things that wizards in Lord of the Rings make you feel would just feel like it’s missing the point.
Anything that can help us get there and evoke those feelings we were drawn to.”

McKay explains that their approach is not about creating ‘puzzle’ but rather focusing on making better narrative and character development throughout the series.

“Despite what some folks might think, we’re really not about a game; we’re really not about a puzzle. But we also don’t wanna take for granted where characters will end up. We want to see them grow and change along the way, and we hope that in the end, you look back and it feels inevitable, but in the moment… I’m trying to say it but not say it. [Laughs]”

Adding to his co-showrunner’s comments, Payne also mentioned the excitement of exploring various possibilities for the Stranger’s identity.

[W]e try to make it delightful in that there are several possibilities of what that can end up meaning. Could that mean that The Stranger is Gandalf and that he says that, then he says it later on? It could definitely mean that.

He suggested that while The Stranger could be Gandalf, there’s also a chance he could turn out to be Saruman or another figure entirely.

Could it also mean that The Stranger is Saruman, and you realize that later on Saruman said that to Gandalf and then Gandalf said it. You know what I mean?
There are always ways you can sort of like pinball it. There could be delightful paths that could come out of either eventuality. So, we like to keep those doors open. It’s fun to engage with the story and think of the possibilities.”

Daniel Weyman Reflects on Playing The Stranger in The Rings of Power

Recently, Daniel Weyman himself commented on his character’s, the Stranger, identity. During his interview with Empire, the actor shared his initial reactions to his character’s script. The script hinted at a dangerous path for The Stranger, suggesting he was on the verge of a dark transformation that might be irreversible. Weyman said:

“When I first read that script and got to that point, I was like, ‘Whoa, holy moly, I’m playing Sauron here!’ When he’s told he’s Sauron, he’s very close to being manipulated into a place he might not be able to turn back from. Who knows what would have happened?”


LotR: 10 Book Characters Who Could Be Included in Rings of Power Season 2

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power returns for season two this summer, and it could bring major characters like Celeborn and the Witch King.

Despite the rampant curiosity and theories, Weyman admits he’s as much in the dark about his character’s true identity as the viewers are. “Lots of people ask me all sorts of questions about who The Stranger is, but it’s not my job to say where he’s going. My job is just being in the moment, where I can serve the story best,” he said.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
Season 2 is set to premiere on Prime Video on August 29.