6 Lord of the Rings Characters Who Totally Dropped The Ball
In our never ending quest to expose fictional cinematic incompetence, we're going to take a hard look at characters from The Lord of the Rings trilogy who screwed the pooch at key moments.
These are moments so infuriatingly inexplicable that they make us want to throw our $100 Platinum Series Special Extended Edition of the trilogy out window and watch Willow three times in a row instead.
Aragorn Spares One Pervert, Dooms Thousands
Remember Grima Wormtongue from The Two Towers? He was that pervy albino fellow whose preferred method of mind control was to whisper sweet nothings in King Theoden's ear. Anyway, when the good guys rescue the King from the bad guys' mind control, the King is ready to kill Wormtongue's treacherous ass, having finally figured out he's something of a doucehbag (as if his last name wasn't a dead giveaway).
Then, just as the King is about to have a stab-party on Wormtongue, Aragorn intervenes, saying, "No, my lord. Let him go. Enough blood has been spilled on his account."
He just lets the grubber go. Oh, and he lets him make off with one of the army's valuable horses, too. Not that they'll need those or anything, there on the eve of Middle Earth's World War III.
Now, we know Aragorn is a good guy and thus you're not going to see him giggle while the King sword-fucks Wormtongue. But somewhere between hacking the worm to bits and letting him leave on a horse carrying information that will be incredibly valuable to your enemy there are other, perfectly good choices. Put him on trial. Put him in jail. Or, if even that is too merciless for Tolkien's heroes (and keep in mind, no Orc is ever shown that kind of mercy) then just let him hang around and make sure he isn't allowed to leave and tell Saruman everything he knows.
"Boss, you will not believe what just happened.
Aragorn's judgment is so poor it'd make Sun Tzu prolapse in his grave. And even his rationale--"enough blood on has been spilled on his account"--is bullshit. Wormtongue's release DOES lead to blood being spilled. A whole freaking water park of hemoglobin, in fact, as it was Wormtongue who told Count Dooku about the weak point in the walls of Helm's Deep. Which brings us to...
Legolas Chokes At Helm's Deep
Remember that awkward moment during the siege of Helm's Deep in The Two Towers when the bad guys decide to stage their own Olympic torch procession mid-battle?
In what turned out to be the game-changer of the battle, a halfwit Uruk-hai berserker grabbed a torch and charged straight toward a pile of mines at the base of The Big Wall That Was Protecting All of the Good Guys. Aragorn called upon Legolas--the greatest archer in Middle-Earth who we've seen put an arrow through an orc's eye at a thousand yards--to snuff this running Roman candle.
Considering that Legolas has 200,000/20 vision, should he really have had any trouble hitting this lumbering, bowlegged creature right below him? This is the elf who racked up one of the highest body counts in the trilogy, and we're pretty sure most of those kills were with his eyes closed.
So, when it's time to kill one slack-jawed soldier, what does Legolas give us? He gives us the Middle Earth equivalent of Casey at the Bat-- two utterly non-fatal shots to the collarbone that even your mom could have shrugged off in an emergency. A few seconds later, the wall is blown.
Thanks, Legolas. Your thinly veiled sexual bantering with Gimli the dwarf cost approximately 10,000 children their fathers and, according to our Cracked math, ruined over 100,000 Middle Earth Christmases. Way to be blinded by your Napoleon fetish, Link.
The Witch-King Has No Peripheral Vision
He can sense the One Ring from thousands of miles away. He is immortal. He is tireless. He rides a pterodactyl straight out of Sauron's zoo for especially evil dinosaurs. He is the Witch-king of Angmar a.k.a. The Black Captain a.k.a. Lord of the Nazgul a.k.a. one of Old Dirty Bastard's 300+ aliases.
He also has the worst optometrist in all of Middle Earth.
For an omniscient, nigh unkillable Ringwraith, the Witch-King can barely see what's under his invisible nose. Not once--but twice--does it seems that the Witch-king's hood and helmet suffer from a fatal blind spot that makes it impossible for him to see a certain clumsy hobbit: Mr. Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck.
A.K.A. the bassist for Drive Shaft.
That's right, Merry scampers under the Witch-king's radar not on one, but on two separate occasions. In The Fellowship of the Rings, the Witch-king has cornered Frodo's gang, who are hidden under tree roots. He's mere inches from making a nice hobbit intestine sarong when Merry devises a clever diversion--this:
That's right. A cabbage. Merry tosses out a damn cabbage and the Witch-king goes doddering after it like some rubber-suited Scooby-Doo villain.
His second screw-up is even more mortifying. During the siege of Minis Tirith in The Return of the King, the Witch-King is in his element. He's killed scores of good guys and now has Eowyn--the sword-slinging she-wolf of Rohan--by the throat. What happens next is too painful to type, so we'll just go to the clip:
Really? A three-foot-tall inbred Munchkin get the drop on a 10-foot-tall demigod? Yes, we totally get that this is supposed to be about the underdog, about the arrogant evil not noticing the smallest and humblest of creatures and paying for it in the end. But even if that's the moral of the story it doesn't change the fact that the fucking hobbit was right there. The good guy didn't win because he was more clever, or more pure of heart; he won because the Witch-king acts like he has cataracts, twice failing to notice an enemy two feet away, both times in the middle of a crucial military operation with all of evil depending on him.
Imagine how much you'd hate Predator if--instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger--the lead role was played by Urkel. Not the actor who played Urkel, but actual Urkel. Scratch that, you wouldn't be pissed because that movie would fucking rule.
Gandalf Leads The Fellowship On A Magical Mystery Tour
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?
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.)
"Thank you, my friend. I now have nine hours of superfluous battle scenes to attend to."
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 planetarium light show ensconced in his disco stick.
"This horse can, like, totally read my mind."
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.
"This is some prime Gondor Kush, brah. They fertilize the plants with troll shit."
Gandalf Blames Pippin for His Own Fuck-up
Yes, Gandalf appears on the list twice.
Let's go back to Moria for a second, because it's there in that mine where the crucial plot point of the first film happens; the crew is attacked by orcs and the Balrog demon and (spoiler!) Gandalf seemingly dies.
The whole thing is triggered when Pippin sets off a Rube Goldberg reaction (that is, knocking a skeleton down a well) causing a racket that awakens every subterranean horror in a four-mile radius. Gandalf screams at Pippin, even hinting that it would be better if he had fallen down the well, indirectly blaming him for the catastrophe that follows.
"I know you're there, Gandalf. Please stop trying to kill me."
The crew was moving silently through the mines, not drawing any enemy attention. They're most of the way through when they reach the tomb of Balin... and Gandalf stops to read a book he found.
That's why they were lingering in the tomb, that's why Pippin started fidgeting around and knocking things into wells. And everybody knows it's a mistake; a panicked Legolas whispers to Aragorn, "we cannot linger here." Guys, if the elf is worried, you should be worried.
Dudes this hard don't scare easily
And it's not like Gandalf didn't know the place was infested with bad guys; he's the one who spent the several scenes leading up to that insisting that they not go in. So why the heck does he take a pit stop mere minutes from the Mine's exit to read some dead dwarf's diary?
Is there some secret he learns from the book? Valuable background information? No, he learns that bad guys have invaded and killed everybody. Keep in mind this is a book the found among hundreds of dead bodies with arrows in their backs. We had kind of pieced that together, asshole.
By the end of the clusterfuck battle, Gandalf's dead and a cave troll nearly offs Frodo, who is protected only by his uncle's creepy, Siegfried-and-Roy-style unmentionables.
Thanks to Gandalf the Grey's literacy break, the last words to his friends were "Fly, you fools!" It was only at his own death that he realized what an albatross he had always been to the Fellowship.
Sauron Gives Hand-To-Hand Combat A Whirl
The first several minutes of Fellowship of the Rings recount Sauron's salad days of Middle Earth conquest, and boy oh boy, was he one power-drunk cat. He had the power of the cosmos on his trigger finger, a magic mace that could feather-dust entire armies to smithereens, and a fancy helmet that could substitute as a nautical mine. In sum, he was the most dapper despot around, and he fucking knew it.
So when it came time to kill a scrub like the hero Isildur, he should've been home in time for Mrs. Sauron to fix him a nice bowl of lava soup, no?
Ahem, let's take a look at the clip. It starts at 2:45:
He has his human enemy on the ground at his feet. One enemy, with tens of thousands at his back. He then sloooowly reaches out with his ringed hand, allowing his finger to get chopped off. The ring is detached, he dies, his entire empire collapsing with it.
What was trying to do, exactly? Tousle Isildur's hair? Shake his hand? Steal his wallet? Had Sauron ever read a goddamn Green Lantern comic, he'd know that if you've got godhood sitting on your index finger, you do not get into fisticuffs. You create giant egg beaters and rolling pins and xylophone mallets and bludgeon your opponent into organ paste.
Had Sauron simply worn the ring around his neck (like everyone else in the damn movies), or geez Louise, forged it into his feather-dusting mace, the trilogy would have been 554 minutes shorter than its theatrical run time, and Peter Jackson would've been forced to cram a $285 million budget into four minutes. Just imagine. If Sauron hadn't been so grabby, Lord of The Rings: Sauron Smashing Some Guy With A Hammer would be the best (and last) film any of us would ever see.
Good reviews would sadly be hard to come by.
Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.
And check out more incompetent characters, in 7 Classic Star Wars Characters Who Totally Dropped the Ball and 6 Evil Henchmen Who Sucked at Their Job.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 12.11.2009) because it's too cold outside to do anything worthwhile.