Tell me, where is Celeborn? For I much desire to see him in The Rings of Power

Celeborn in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
(Image credit: Warner Bros/New Line)

Morfydd Clark's Galadriel is a battle-hardened warrior in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, on a vengeful quest to rid Middle-earth of the terrifying Sauron. But, Tolkien scholars around the world are asking: where is Celeborn, her husband and the originator of the meme "Tell me, where is Gandalf, for I much desire to speak with him"? 

In J.R.R. Tolkien's works, Galadriel and Celeborn marry in the First Age, which is thousands of years before the events of The Rings of Power. It would make sense, then, for Galadriel to have met with her partner in Lindon after she spent so much time away hunting Sauron, especially as their relationship is described as a good one in Tolkien's work.

However, even if we take the source material as bible, there are reasons Celeborn may not have appeared in The Rings of Power yet, though we expect him, and their daughter, to make an appearance soon (episode 7 complicates things, and we'll get to that in a minute). But first, a disclaimer from Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. and the editor of many of his father's posthumous works.

"There is no part of the history of Middle-earth more full of problems than the story of Galadriel and Celeborn," Christopher noted in Unfinished Tales, a collection of unfinished stories released after J.R.R.'s death. "It must be admitted that there are severe inconsistencies 'embedded in the traditions'; or, to look at the matter from another point of view, that the role and importance of Galadriel only emerged slowly, and that her story underwent continual refashionings."

The inconsistencies start almost immediately when it comes to Celeborn. In The Silmarillion, a history of Middle-earth that mainly concerns the First Age (and that Amazon does not have the rights to), Celeborn was the son of kings. Conversely, Tolkien elsewhere writes that he was a simple Teleri elf (that's a clan of Elves).

Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

We do know that Galadriel – described as "headstrong" and "proud" – went through some pretty harrowing stuff (including family members fighting and murdering each other) in her earlier life and that, after she settled in Middle-earth, she married Celeborn, who would become known as "Celeborn the Wise". 

Although after Morgoth's defeat many of the Elves returned to the Undying Lands and Valinor (that mythical place Galadriel's sent to at the end of The Rings of Power's opening episode), Galadriel and Celeborn remain on Middle-earth together. Tolkien notes, although there's some conjecture, that Galadriel was banned from going back to the Undying Lands because she previously led a rebellion – a rebellion that was the reason she came to Middle-earth in the first place. To go back, she would have to pass the ultimate test: refusing to take the One Ring (which she eventually passes, as seen in Peter Jackson's movies). This, however, does not really work in the lore of the show, considering Gil-galad tried to send her back to Valinor. It's a change that has been much-discussed in the Tolkien fandom, though considering Tolkien's own inconsistencies, it's not exactly a deal-breaker for the series. Moving on...

At the start of the Second Age – it's in this age that The Rings of Power takes place – Galadriel and Celeborn first lived in Lindon, under the rulership of Gil-galad, and then they moved to Eriador. After a few hundred years, Galadriel and Celeborn had a child, Celebrían, and after that, Galadriel went hunting Sauron, while Celeborn basically stayed home and looked after the kid. The family later moved to Eregion, which was ruled by Celebrimbor, the smith we met at the end of The Rings of Power's opening episode and who will eventually forge the titular Rings of Power.

While the timeline in Amazon's show does not exactly stick to Tolkien's own Lord of the Rings timeline, it seemed most likely that we were at this point in Celeborn's story – Galadriel's out chasing Sauron and dealing with the fate of Middle-earth, while Celeborn's chilling with their daughter Celebrían in Eregion. At least, it did until a revelation in episode 7 threw a spanner in the works: Galadriel believes her husband to be dead. "At this point, I feel that she thinks he's gone," Galadriel actor Morfydd Clark told Total Film. "And so he's another part of her grief."

The Celeborn reveal comes during a conversation between Galadriel and young Theo, which Clark also reflected on. "I really loved that scene because there is the wisdom of youth that Theo has to be able to make an Elf talk about something nobody else knows," she says. "It's really interesting because the Celeborn and Galadriel story is a mystery – Tolkien wrote it quite a few different ways. They were apart for lots of it. It's really interesting in terms of, how do they view their relationship? It's not typical. I'm excited for the name Celeborn to drop."

Some more information on Galadriel and Celeborn's journey – possible spoilers ahead for The Rings of Power: Galadriel eventually takes her daughter through Khazad-dûm and lives among the Elves on the other side. Celeborn refuses to go as he has a hatred of Dwarves (as seen in his dismissive behavior around Gimli in Fellowship of the Ring) and he foresees trouble in Eregion following the forging of the Rings of Power under the deception of Sauron. Sauron does invade and, despite resisting several attacks from Orcs, Celeborn narrowly escapes with another well-known elf, Elrond.

The pair found Rivendale (yes, that's the Rivendale), and Galadriel and their daughter Celebrían later move to the new Elven outpost. In the Third Age, Elrond marries Celebrían, and they have their own daughter, Arwen (yes, that's the Arwen). Many years later, Galadriel and Celeborn move to the wooded realm of Lothlorien, where we meet them for the first time in the main Lord of the Rings story.

Phew. That's a lot of Tolkien history. What we do know, though, is that Celeborn will probably be turning up at some stage in The Rings of Power. When asked about where Galadriel's husband is, Morfydd Clark told "I couldn't possibly say, but there's five seasons of the show." It's true, Amazon has commissioned five seasons, so there's ample time for him to crop up. It's practically a certainty at this point, too, with showrunners J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay hinting during a Q&A attended by Total Film: "She says she never saw him again. We know there are things that the two of them do together, the progeny that they will issue, and realms they will found, so it's hard to say they will never see each other again." Just what Celeborn is up to and why he hasn't yet returned to Galadriel is a mystery for now, though.

While we wait for Celeborn to show up, here's our piece speculating about who is The Stranger in the Rings of Power and whether Halbrand is secretly Sauron.

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.

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