Face-Off: Gandalf vs. Dumbledore

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!
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.
"A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins, nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to."


"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."
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
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.
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.
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?

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at [email protected].



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