While readers of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy and his other works are likely shaking their heads in dismay, the question of whether Gandalf and Galadriel have (or had) some type of romantic relationship is a valid one. The idea has been floating around the depths of the Internet since Peter Jackson released The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 2012. Jackson's Hobbit trilogy was nowhere near as beloved or well-received as his Lord of the Rings adaption. Stretching a children's fantasy novel across three films resulted in significant additions and creative licenses that didn't exist in Tolkien's original work. And one of the things that got a little muddled along the way was Gandalf and Galadriel's relationship.
What Is Gandalf and Galdriel's Relationship - and Are They in Love?
In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Gandalf reunites with his old friend Galadriel. With Galadriel against a moonlit sky, Gandalf seems in awe of her beauty, and the two share a coy smile. Later, in a fan-favorite scene, the pair discuss Gandalf's reasoning for entrusting a Hobbit on this perilous adventure in the first place. Galadriel ends their conversation by promising to come to his aid if he should need it. However, what is most damning among shippers is Galadriel tenderly taking Gandalf's hands and stroking his hair. The Battle of the Five Armies only furthers the romantic angle by showing Galadriel save Gandalf and carrying him away like a fairy tale damsel in distress. As the battle against Sauron and his minions rages around them, Galadriel revives Gandalf with a passionate forehead kiss and shields his body with her own. Before she sends him off with Radagast, the two share a longing stare as Gandalf asks her to come with him.
For those that haven't read Tolkien's work, it's easy to see why many audiences suspect Gandalf and Galadriel are in love. After all, many of their interactions in The Hobbit trilogy practically scream romance. However, their relationship remains purely platonic in Tolkien's source material. It's true Gandalf is in awe of Galadriel's beauty, but that isn't anything special. Everyone is in awe of Galadriel. It's kind of her thing, considering Tolkien described her as "the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves that remained in Middle-earth." Galadriel is also married to Celeborn, and they have a nice, little love story of their own.
While Jackson dramatized many of Gandalf and Galadriel's interactions for that big screen pop, it's not to say they didn't have a special relationship. One could certainly argue Gandalf and Galadriel were in love, just not in the romantic sense. Instead, their love for each other stemmed from mutual respect, admiration and a long history together.
Gandalf and Galadriel Have a Long History Together in Middle-earth
Gandalf and Galadriel's relationship extends much further back than the events of The Hobbit. While their stories eventually become entangled, they begin in very different places. Galadriel is one of the Calaquendi, meaning "Elves of the Light" in Quenya. She is also Ñoldorin royalty, although she carries blood from the Elvish clans Vanyar and the Teleri too. It was because of her prestigious bloodline and exceptional power that Celebrimbor gifted Galadriel the Ring of Power Nenya, aka the Ring of Adamant, which she used to protect her realm of Lothlórien on various occasions.
In contrast, Gandalf is one of the five Maiar (angelic spirits) sent to Middle-earth to aid in the fight against Sauron. Like his fellow Maiar Saruman the White and Radgast the Brown, Gandalf had his own unique skill set. In many ways, he acted as Middle-earth's HR department, with a focus on meeting, befriending and guiding the Free Peoples. Like Galadriel, Gandalf also shared the burden of carrying a Ring of Power with Narya, aka the Ring of Fire, although he acquired his much later than Galadriel.
Right from their early days, Gandalf and Galadriel shared a deep connection, possibly because they both carried a Ring of Power. She sensed Saruman was an up-and-coming baddie and pushed for Gandalf to head the White Council instead. While her desires fell on deaf ears, she was eventually proven right. As displayed in Jackson's adaption of The Hobbit, Galadriel and Gandalf also worked closely together to cut Sauron down a size while he was regaining his power in Dol Guldur as "The Necromancer."
It was also because of their special connection that Galadriel sensed Gandalf would fall against the Balrog. While Jackson's Lord of the Rings films show some of Gandalf's "rebirth," Galadriel played a significant role in getting Gandalf into his shiny, new, white robes. Distraught by Gandalf's apparent death, she sent the Eagles to find him and bring him to Lothlórien for healing. As such, it was only fitting that they sailed East together after Sauron's wrongs were righted by Frodo in The Return of the King.
Some Lord of the Rings fans theorize that Gandalf and Galadriel spent even more time together during the Two Trees of Valinor era, perhaps interacting at the Gardens of Lórien. As to whether their relationship was sexual or even romantic, Tolkien keeps it platonic with Galadriel's marriage to Celeborn further cementing that fact given Tolkien's strict Catholic beliefs. After all, Elves marry only once, and adultery of any kind is completely unacceptable. Nonetheless, there is enough in Tolkien's writings to read between the lines and keep the Gandalf/Galadriel shippers dreaming. Either way, it's unfair to say Galadriel and Gandalf didn't love each other. They most certainly did. While it may not have been romantic, their bond transcends any earthly labels.