The 10 Best Wizards in Movies and TV Shows, Ranked

There’s nothing quite as magical as watching a good fantasy story play out on the screen, whether big or small. Over the course of the history of movies and television, many such stories have been told, from grand epics like Peter Jackson‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy to beloved family shows like Adventure Time.



More often than not, these kinds of stories are populated by powerful wizard characters who make them all the more engaging and fun. Whether it’s a mighty and wise quasi-deity like Gandalf or a not-so-competent villain like the Ice King, there are plenty of interesting wizards in cinema and TV that fans of the genre can’t get enough of.

10 The Ice King — ‘Adventure Time’ (2010-2018)

Ice King in Adventure Time.
Image via Cartoon Network

From the moment Adventure Time premiered, audiences of all ages immediately fell in love with its quirky animation style, unique sense of humor, and surprisingly complex characters. One such character is the Ice King, first introduced to the show as the primary antagonist.

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Everyone loves a powerful wizard villain capable of inciting terror with their knowledge of magic, but there’s also something special about an antagonist as incompetent as the Ice King often is. Despite his lack of cunning, his profound backstory makes him one of the show’s most interesting characters.

9 Saruman the White — The Middle-Earth Saga (2001-2003, 2012-2014)

Image via New Line Cinema

It would always be a titanic task to translate any of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien to the big screen, but Peter Jackson and company not only boldly took on the challenge but succeeded. Of his Middle-earth Saga’s many iconic antagonists, Saruman is definitely one of the most interesting.

The most powerful wizard in the world of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Saruman was corrupted by his lust for power and the influence of Sauron. The darkness within him makes him a fascinating character, showing that no one is safe from the control of Middle-earth’s Dark Lord.

8 Jafar — ‘Aladdin’ (1992)

Jafar in Aladdin
Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Of the many masterpieces that Disney produced during its Renaissance era, Aladdin is one of fans’ favorites. Beautiful animation, a heartwarming story, and some amazing voice acting are all among the main factors that make it such a beloved classic, but there’s another one that cannot go understated: the main villain, Jafar.

Jafar is easily among the best animated Disney villains, thanks to his truly intimidating presence and terrifying magical powers. His cunning and sneaky plans make him a real force to be reckoned with, and his relationship with the main characters makes him all the more compelling.

7 Doctor Strange — The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange.
Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe saw its inception in 2008, no one would have expected it to become the massive pop culture juggernaut that it is today. Another thing that fans were surprised but delighted by was the introduction of magic — real, proper magic — in 2016’s Doctor Strange.

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The titular character quickly became one of the most beloved characters in the franchise, an arrogant and detached surgeon who undergoes an essential transformation after an accident leads him down a path of self-discovery and magic. Now one of the most powerful characters in the MCU, he’s one wizard that villains don’t want to mess with.

6 Merlin — ‘Merlin’ (2008-2012)

Colin Morgan in Merlin
Image via BBC One

Both cinema and television have seen many adaptations of Arthurian legends, but few are as acclaimed and beloved as the BBC’s Merlin. It focuses on the titular character and gives his stories a fresh spin, resulting in a show that fans of the source material can’t help but adore.

Smart, protective, and loyal to a fault, Merlin is an endearing character whose internal conflicts revolving around keeping his magic powers secret make him deeply compelling. He’s also as powerful a wizard as his name would have you expect, making himself worthy of the title of King Arthur’s right-hand man.

5 Lord Voldemort — The ‘Harry Potter’ Movies (2001-2011)

Voldemort casting Avada Kedavra
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

He Who Must Not Be Named is a movie villain that needs no introduction. As the terrifying main antagonist of the Harry Potter films, one of the most beloved fantasy movie franchises out there, his name is one that every fan of the genre is familiar with, even if they’re wise enough not to pronounce it.

A dark and tragic figure consumed by a thirst for power and eternal life, Voldemort is a character that’s always fun to find out more about and always scary to witness in action. His powers make him one of the most powerful wizards in fiction, though the heroes finally defeat them.

4 Albus Dumbledore — The ‘Harry Potter’ Movies (2001-2011)

Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) pointing his wand in Harry Potter
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

As the Wizarding World of films started by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone continues to grow and expand, old and new fans continue to find that Albus Dumbledore is one of the franchise’s most powerful wizards and most interesting characters.

RELATED:Most Powerful Wizards in the ‘Harry Potter’ Universe, Ranked

With a mysterious backstory that only makes him more mystifying, an amount of knowledge and wisdom unlike any other, and a gentle and kind personality, Dumbledore is one of the most endearing characters in the Wizarding World despite his shortcomings.

3 Gandalf the Gray/White — The Middle-Earth Saga (2001-2003, 2012-2014)

Gandalf shouting

Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth Saga is filled to the brim with powerful characters able to hold their own in even the most dangerous of combat situations. Standing shoulder to shoulder with all of his world’s mightiest, Gandalf the Gray (later Gandalf the White) is the quintessential movie wizard.

When you think of a wizard, you likely think of Gandalf’s silhouette. Thanks to the brilliant writing and Ian McKellen‘s terrific performance, this fearsome Istari stands as a fascinating character that constantly steals every scene he’s in.

2 Harry Potter — The ‘Harry Potter’ Movies (2001-2011)

Daniel Radcliffe in 'Harry Potter', holding out a wand
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

You’d expect the eponymous protagonist of perhaps the most popular teen fantasy movie franchise of all time to be among the most iconic wizard characters in the film, and you’d be right. Harry Potter is as interesting and fun to follow as the protagonist of such a long-running series should be and then some.

Brave, humble, and willing to risk his life to defend those he cares about, yet with a deep-seated dark side that he must constantly fight against lest it gets the better of him, Harry is a wizard that all those who enjoy fantasy films love to watch.

1 Sorcerer Mickey — ‘Fantasia’ (1940) and ‘Fantasia 2000’ (1999)

Mickey Mouse in 'Fantasia'
Image via RKO Pictures

Disney’s musical anthology films Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are among the studio’s most underrated achievements, achieving the perfect balance of deeply moving music and enthralling storytelling to great effects. One of the most popular segments of each respective movie features Mickey Mouse with a wizard’s attire and magical abilities, known as Sorcerer Mickey.

In more ways than one, Sorcerer Mickey is no less than the very face of Disney. His level of skill and power varies depending on the medium in which he’s being shown, but something that never changes is that it’s always incredibly entertaining to see him in action, and pretty much anyone can recognize him just from one look.

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