Oops! Dropped the Palantir!
Gandalf's leadership in The Fellowship of the Ring exemplifies the perils of on-the-job training. Let's test your knowledge of the trilogy with the following questions:
1. How many horses did Gandalf insist the Fellowship bring?
2. What would Gandalf have done if Frodo didn't just happen to figure out the password Gandalf had forgotten at the Mines of Moria? (Okay, so I'm disappointed that this question is about the movie, not the book.)
3. What was Gandalf's game plan once he saw that everyone in Moria was dead?
4. How many times did Gandalf hitch a ride with his giant eagle friends?
And now for the answers:
1. Zero (save one brave pony).
2. That giant squid would've eaten everyone.
3. "Into the mines!"
4. Twice - first when Saruman traps Gandalf on top of a tower; and then when, uh, Bilbo finally throws the Ring in, err, Mount Gloom (sorry, we felt bad spoiling the series for our 20 internet-less readers who are somehow viewing this site on a cave wall.)
That there's a laundry list of botch jobs. The sheer fact that Gandalf forgot to outsource the trip to Mordor to the eagles is unforgivable, but what's more heartbreaking is that he's even more useless when comes back from the dead.
When Gandalf is resurrected in The Two Towers, his main job is to not use magic and just gallivant around on his horse, staring at the the planetarium light show ensconced in his disco stick.
In short, everything would've come out mostly the same for the Fellowship of the Ring if they simply dumped Gandalf with a dimebag of wizard weed at the first gas station they passed. Come to think of it, his "smoking habit" explains his memory problems rather aptly.
And the other five here.