While Gandalf and Saruman are well-known in the Lord of the Rings, there are actually two mysterious characters known as the Blue Wizards with whom they came to Middle-earth.
Along with Saruman the White and Radagast the Brown, Gandalf is one of the five Wizards — known as the Istari — that the Valar sent to Middle-earth to help the free people against the rising threat of Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. While those three have played a prominent role in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations, there are actually two others with whom they arrived that didn’t appear at all: the Blue Wizards.
While Gandalf does reference the Blue Wizards during his travel with Bilbo Baggins and Thorin’s company of dwarves, the studio didn’t actually have the rights to Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth and The Peoples of Middle-earth, where the Blue Wizards are featured, resulting in their absence from both film series. However, at the same time, their roles are decidedly secondary to Lord of the Rings‘ main action due to what the two Blue Wizards are doing at the time, even if reports about what that is vary.
As laid out in a Quora post, Unfinished Tales revealed that the Blue Wizards — also known as Alatar and Pallando — weren’t well known in the West, where they were only called the Ithryn Luin (Blue Wizards). At some point, the duo set out “into the East” with Saruman to accomplish their assumed goal of weakening Sauron. While Saruman eventually returned, the Blue Wizards didn’t, and that text doesn’t make clear what happened to him.
However, Tolkien later provided more information about the Blue Wizards’ fate in a letter to a fan, explaining that he believed they’d likely fallen, as did pretty much every other wizard in the series except for Gandalf. Tolkien wrote, “I really do not know anything clearly about the other two [wizards] – since they do not concern with the history of the N[orth].W[est]. I think they went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Numenorean range: missionaries to ‘enemy-occupied’ lands, as it were. What success they had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners of secret cults and ‘magic’ traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron.”
However, near the end of his life, Tolkien seemingly decided to update the story of his Blue Wizards. In The Peoples of Middle-earth, a series of Tolkien’s unpublished manuscripts that were edited and released by his son Christopher, there are new details about the duo.
This time the Blue Wizards were given the names Morinehtar and Romestamo, though it’s unclear if these are nicknames or new official names. Tolkien also specifies that the Blue Wizards were meant to fight against Sauron and weaken “the forces of East” by essentially destabilizing the powerful forces in that part of the world. So in the last version of the story that Tolkien wrote before he died, the writer indicated that the Blue Wizards actually succeeded in their mission, though their final fates are still pretty unclear.
Although the Blue Wizards weren’t involved in the Jackson films due to being in a different part of the world, there is a chance they could finally make their screen debut with Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series, which is set in the Second Age. If that’s the case, the Tolkien estate might finally allow a new generation of creators to run with the mysterious Blue Wizards and reveal something about how they connect to the greater Lord of the Rings universe, even if restrictions mean the show won’t enter into the Third Age.
Produced by Amazon Studios, The Lord of the Rings stars Robert Aramayo, Owain Arthur, Nazanin Boniadi, Morfydd Clark, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Ema Horvath, Markella Kavenagh, Joseph Mawle, Tyroe Muhafidin, Sophia Nomvete, Megan Richards, Dylan Smith, Charlie Vickers, Daniel Weyman, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Maxim Baldry, Ian Blackburn, Kip Chapman, Anthony Crum, Maxine Cunliffe, Trystan Gravelle, Sir Lenny Henry, Thusitha Jayasundera, Fabian McCallum, Simon Merrells, Geoff Morrell, Peter Mullan, Lloyd Owen, Augustus Prew, Peter Tait, Alex Tarrant, Leon Wadham, Benjamin Walker and Sara Zwangobani. The series is expected to premiere on Amazon Prime Video in 2021.