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Face-Off: Gandalf vs. Dumbledore

07.14.2015by: Brian Bitner
Mr. Holmes is out this week, but we don't have the server space for a massive Face-Off between the ever-growing list of Sherlocks out there. Instead, let's look at two of the greatest wizards in fantasy-book-adapted-into-film history. This week, it's Gandalf (a.k.a. Greyhame, Stormcrow, Mithrandir, the Grey, the White, etc.) vs. Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Begin!
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MISSION
To help unlikely heroes defeat a dark lord and prevent the end of the world by way of sagely advice, humor, and sometimes magic.
To help unlikely heroes defeat a dark lord and prevent the end of the world by way of sagely advice, humor, and sometimes magic.
QUOTES
"A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to."

"YOU... SHALL NOT PASS!"

"I'm looking for someone to share in an adventure."

"The world is not in your books and maps. It's out there."

"Fly, you fools!"

"Run, Shadowfax. Show us the meaning of haste."

"End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... and then you see it. White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise."

"Farewell, my brave Hobbits. My work is now finished. Here at last, on the shores of the sea... comes the end of our Fellowship. I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil."

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
"The third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a most painful death."

"It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live."

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

"Mm, alas, earwax."

"Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it."

"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends."

"Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living and above all, those who live without love."

"It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices."

"Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy."
CONQUESTS
Slaying the Great Goblin

The Battle of the Five Armies

Slaying the Balrog

The Battle of Helm's Deep

The Battle of Minas Tirith
Saving Harry Potter's life several times

Neutralizing Death Eaters

Going toe to toe with Voldemort

Tracking down Horcruxes

The ultimate sacrifice
SACRIFICE
A fight to the death with a Balrog in order to save the rest of the Fellowship. One nap and makeover later, though, Gandalf is up to his old tricks again.
A request to be killed by Severus Snape to save the soul of Draco Malfoy. King's Cross/Limbo chats aside, dead means dead.
LEGACY
Gandalf is the star of the Middle-earth series. While Bilbo and Frodo each have their own trilogy (and Sauron looms over everything), it's Gandalf who sets everything in motion. Amusing and insanely quotable, Gandalf is an instantly recognizable and oft-referenced character.
Granted, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit was released 60 years before J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series began, but Dumbledore doesn't cast as long of a shadow as Gandalf even within the fandom of the two franchises. Without Dumbledore, Voldemort almost certainly vaporizes the planet, but the character himself is just not as remarkable or memorable as his Middle-earth counterpart.
Gandalf
There's no arguing that Albus Dumbledore is a force to be reckoned with, but Gandalf has lived 300 lives of men and regularly gets his hands dirty. When Dumbledore does fight, he shows off his magical prowess more than Gandalf does, but most of Dumbledore's fights are fairly small when compared to Gandalf's legendary battle-deciding feats. Instead of having these two square off, though, can we just get them on a sitcom together? Maybe resurrect Alec Guinness so old Ben Kenobi can join them on their panty raids or whatever. Faulty Powers comes to BBC America this fall.

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at brianbitner@joblo.com.

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+0
8:45PM on 03/29/2016
Have never read the LotR books and have only really watched the movies once each unlike the Potter books and films I've read and watched multiple times... I'll chalk up my disagreement with your decision on my ignorance of the LotR mythos. But Fawlty Powers is pretty funny!
Have never read the LotR books and have only really watched the movies once each unlike the Potter books and films I've read and watched multiple times... I'll chalk up my disagreement with your decision on my ignorance of the LotR mythos. But Fawlty Powers is pretty funny!
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4:03PM on 07/15/2015
As much as everything seems to point to Dumbledore I have to go Gandalf!

I would argue Dumbledore's a better mentor and he had some great moments. Not to mention he never left ther heroes on thier own to go on some bullshit quest. And wasn't featured at all in the massive steaming pile of shit that was the Hobbit trilogy.

Yet I've always felt that Gandalf was just far, far more powerful.
As much as everything seems to point to Dumbledore I have to go Gandalf!

I would argue Dumbledore's a better mentor and he had some great moments. Not to mention he never left ther heroes on thier own to go on some bullshit quest. And wasn't featured at all in the massive steaming pile of shit that was the Hobbit trilogy.

Yet I've always felt that Gandalf was just far, far more powerful.
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5:38PM on 07/14/2015
Gandalf wins by a country mile. Dumbledore's cool and all ... but c'mon.
Gandalf wins by a country mile. Dumbledore's cool and all ... but c'mon.
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4:41PM on 07/14/2015

Bilbo Baggins...

Do not take me for some conjuror of cheap tricks.
This one is Gandalf all day long (and twice on Durin's Day). I'm surprised thought that you gave the quotes section to Dumbledore. Gandalf, IMO has all the best and most meaningful quotes.
Do not take me for some conjuror of cheap tricks.
This one is Gandalf all day long (and twice on Durin's Day). I'm surprised thought that you gave the quotes section to Dumbledore. Gandalf, IMO has all the best and most meaningful quotes.
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12:36PM on 07/14/2015

Mithrandir!

I love Dumbledore but he's no match for Gandalf, here's why: Dumbledore is only a man (a great man that is) with magic powers whereas Gandalf who's real name is Olorin, is so much more. Before he was sent to Middle-earth, he was one of the Maiar, immortal spirits of the race of the Ainur, the divine and primeval beings who created the physical world of Arda (Middle-earth + Valinor) tens of thousands of years before the events of The LOTR. He was appointed by the Valar, the twelve "gods", to
I love Dumbledore but he's no match for Gandalf, here's why: Dumbledore is only a man (a great man that is) with magic powers whereas Gandalf who's real name is Olorin, is so much more. Before he was sent to Middle-earth, he was one of the Maiar, immortal spirits of the race of the Ainur, the divine and primeval beings who created the physical world of Arda (Middle-earth + Valinor) tens of thousands of years before the events of The LOTR. He was appointed by the Valar, the twelve "gods", to become one of the Istari, five of the wisest Maiar in the guise of old men, sent to help and guide men in their fight agaisnt Sauron. With him went Curumo, Aiwendil, Alatar and Pallando who were known to Men as Saruman the White, Radagast the Brown and the the Blue Wizards. Another important fact, Gandalf never dies, he is simply sent back by the Valar (and probably Eru, God himself) to finish his mission. When Sauron is defeated, he is summoned along with the last Elves and the ring bearers, back to Valinor in the realm of Aman, the Undying Lands that lie at the end of the Straight Road, beyond the curve of the Earth (so in outer space really, or more poetically Heaven). One last thing, Gandalf was the keeper of Narya, the Ring of Fire, one the three great Rings of Power that were not made by Sauron. So Dumbledore is cool but...
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5:24PM on 07/23/2015
I guess I'm a Tolkien nerd, yeah. If that's what you call a guy that has actually read Tolkien's books and remembers them because they are a literary masterpiece. Of course the only thing most people on this site have read is comic books or video game booklets so it's easy to see why one who has read a book would be called a nerd, though I don't think I really qualify. Millions of people know the Bible by heart, I guess they must be nerds...
I guess I'm a Tolkien nerd, yeah. If that's what you call a guy that has actually read Tolkien's books and remembers them because they are a literary masterpiece. Of course the only thing most people on this site have read is comic books or video game booklets so it's easy to see why one who has read a book would be called a nerd, though I don't think I really qualify. Millions of people know the Bible by heart, I guess they must be nerds...
6:04PM on 07/14/2015
nerd alert!
nerd alert!
+0
12:06PM on 07/14/2015

I agree that Gandalf should win

But I would have given them both a point in the "played by category." I mean Ian McKellen is the freaking man, but Richard Harris is one of the absolute greatest screen legends of all-time.
But I would have given them both a point in the "played by category." I mean Ian McKellen is the freaking man, but Richard Harris is one of the absolute greatest screen legends of all-time.
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12:23AM on 07/15/2015
But he passed away before Harry Potter, by all accounts, really found its groove as a movie series.
But he passed away before Harry Potter, by all accounts, really found its groove as a movie series.
+0
10:51AM on 07/14/2015
Gandalf.
Gandalf.
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10:28AM on 07/14/2015

"You shall not pass!"

Gandalf
Gandalf
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8:45AM on 07/14/2015

Gandalf

I'd say Gandalf wins the "Ultimate Sacrifice" award: he takes down a demon, then comes back to battle a Nazgul or two. How badass is that?

I'd also argue that Gandalf is the true hero of both LOTR and THE HOBBIT. He's the guy who sets everything in motion to destroy both Smaug and Sauron.
I'd say Gandalf wins the "Ultimate Sacrifice" award: he takes down a demon, then comes back to battle a Nazgul or two. How badass is that?

I'd also argue that Gandalf is the true hero of both LOTR and THE HOBBIT. He's the guy who sets everything in motion to destroy both Smaug and Sauron.
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8:22AM on 07/14/2015
I actually think Gandalf has the quotes as well. I don't recall many quotes from Dumbledore, and I've seen both series several times over.
I actually think Gandalf has the quotes as well. I don't recall many quotes from Dumbledore, and I've seen both series several times over.
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10:21AM on 07/14/2015
Yeah, this one was close. I was going more for poignancy of quotes, not how memorable they are. That said, Gandalf's speech to Pippin about death is maybe my favorite moment of all of these movies.
Yeah, this one was close. I was going more for poignancy of quotes, not how memorable they are. That said, Gandalf's speech to Pippin about death is maybe my favorite moment of all of these movies.
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7:02AM on 07/14/2015
Gandalf is just as iconic as Merlin and while I think Dumbledoor will probably get there as well Gandalf takes the cake for me on this one.
Gandalf is just as iconic as Merlin and while I think Dumbledoor will probably get there as well Gandalf takes the cake for me on this one.
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+0
3:38AM on 07/14/2015
Albus
Albus
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2:15AM on 07/14/2015

While I agree....

I have to say that you left off Dumbledoor's most famous battle (albeit just mentioned in the books) against Grindelwald, who was known as the greatest wizard of his time.
I have to say that you left off Dumbledoor's most famous battle (albeit just mentioned in the books) against Grindelwald, who was known as the greatest wizard of his time.
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5:52PM on 07/14/2015
I don't think that counts, since it essentially happened outside of the events of the books.
I don't think that counts, since it essentially happened outside of the events of the books.
10:20AM on 07/14/2015
Indeed! I should have clarified that I was sticking to the events of the films. Gandalf's been alive for centuries, so I'm sure he's got a few Grindelwalds under his belt as well.
Indeed! I should have clarified that I was sticking to the events of the films. Gandalf's been alive for centuries, so I'm sure he's got a few Grindelwalds under his belt as well.
1:39AM on 07/14/2015
Is it ironic that one is gay in real life & the other in the fictional world, but that's irrelevant, I'll take Dumbledore even though he died.
Is it ironic that one is gay in real life & the other in the fictional world, but that's irrelevant, I'll take Dumbledore even though he died.
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-1
1:31AM on 07/14/2015

wrong

so much wrong here can't even begin
so much wrong here can't even begin
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1:01PM on 07/14/2015
Very well said!
Very well said!
11:51AM on 07/14/2015
Oh well i would never scold anyone for their opinion, check any of my past posts.

Just think when you compare the 2 your leaving out quite a bit that Albus has done in comparison to Gandalf..

In Conquests i think its over looked that Albus literally trains Harry from movie or book 1, and continues to help him and the trio "indirectly" in their battles against Voldemort. Also not to mention Albus vs the Ministry of Magic, a political war that affects him greatly, even still during that
Oh well i would never scold anyone for their opinion, check any of my past posts.

Just think when you compare the 2 your leaving out quite a bit that Albus has done in comparison to Gandalf..

In Conquests i think its over looked that Albus literally trains Harry from movie or book 1, and continues to help him and the trio "indirectly" in their battles against Voldemort. Also not to mention Albus vs the Ministry of Magic, a political war that affects him greatly, even still during that political war he sacrifices himself again by assuming all blame for Harry and the "DA"

As a Wizard all around Albus is superior, there is no sometimes magic for him there is no being held captive and relying on the eagles. Its always magic, food, creatures, tools, weapons, detecting hidden enemies (Slughorn, and the Cave). All the while training Harry to eventually be prepared to fulfill his prophecy.

His Mission to fight Voldemort, has been literally almost life long, prior to Harry's birth, during, and after.. Gandalf being the amazing Wizard he is had the ring under his nose for who knows how long.. Hobbits aren't supposed to live that long, and yet he has no inclination as to why Bilbo lives that long, nor does he ever truly suspect the ring. Had he been a more competent Wizard (not always having to seek council) that would have been a much shorter book/movie.

That alone should establish Albus as the winner, there is no greater wizard in their world then him. In 5 out of the 6 movies Gandalf is always seeking council cause he doesn't know what to do.

So, thats how i see Albus wins this battle. He is a better wizard, had life long battle no days off (or years), and had not passed away he's the better actor, although Michael Gambon did an amazing job. Only see Gandalf winning in Legacy because well LOtR has been around a lot longer.

Thanks for wanting a reason lol
10:17AM on 07/14/2015
Sure you can. Come on, tear me a new one!
Sure you can. Come on, tear me a new one!
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