Redditor TheGlen offered up a novel theory on the D&D Subreddit earlier this year. He proposes the head canon that Gandalf wasn't actually a wizard, but rather, a high-level fighter with the intelligence to use a magic device to front as a wizard. He backs his head canon with some plausible but seriously trippy reasoning. His argument starts like this:
"Gandalf lied, he was no wizard. He was clearly a high level fighter that had put points in the Use Magic Device skill allowing him to wield a staff of wizardry. All of his magic spells he cast were low level, easily explained by his ring of spell storing and his staff. For such an epic level wizard he spent more time fighting than he did casting spells. He presented himself as this angelic demigod, when all he was a fighter with carefully crafted PR.The best part, though, is that another Redditor calling himself ShazzikinZ takes the theory and runs with it. In his thread, he delves deeper into Gandalf's motivations, proposing that "LOTR is just the story of the skeevy homeless stoner from The Hobbit getting clean and trying to atone for all the shit he caused while High."
His combat feats were apparent. He has proficiency in the long sword, but he also is a trained dual weapon fighter. To have that level of competency to wield both weapons you are looking at a dexterity of at least 17, coupled with the Monkey Grip feat to be able to fight with a quarter staff one handed in his off hand at that. Three dual weapon fighting feats, monkey grip, and martial weapon proficiency would take up 5 of his 7 feats as a wizard, far too many to be an effective build. That's why when he faced a real wizard like Sarumon, he got stomped in a magic duel. He had taken no feats or skills useful to a wizard. If he had used his sword he would have carved up Sarumon without effort.
The spells he casts are all second level or less. He casts spook on Bilbo to snap him out his ring fetish. When he's trapped on top of Isengard an animal messenger spell gets him help. Going into Moria he uses his staff to cast light. Facing the Balrog all he does is cast armor. Even in the Two Towers his spells are limited. Instead of launching a fireball into the massed Uruk Hai he simply takes 20 on a nature check to see when the sun will crest the hill and times his charge appropriately."
"I always thought Saruman's quote from Fellowship on the "Halfing's leaf" was the most telling part.
"Your love of the Halfling's leaf has clearly slowed your mind."
Gandalf just spent too much time getting high, and forgot most of his spells, so he reverted to hitting things with a stick. I mean- at the outset he's basically just a stoner homeless guy who likes to go to parties and bring fireworks.
Throughout The Hobbit and Fellowship, he shows up late, either for a party or to throw a party and invite a bunch of strangers to a place where he is pretty sure there will be the weed he loves. Then he gets high and gets the idea to do something reckless and everyone follows along because he's supposed to be an all-powerful wizard.
So he makes a bunch of mistakes, almost gets everyone killed or caught a bunch of times, forgets what he should be doing, keeps running off to do something else whenever he's given the opportunity - All while his friends and strangers are stuck dealing with his shenanigans.
He's supposedly one of the most powerful beings in the lore, and Tolkien makes a point to show he forgot what the ring of power was in the first place, so he has to go to a library basically a few countries away and dig through a bunch of old books before he figures out, "Oh shit- it's that thing that could kill us all.."
Let's stop to look at Saruman.
Saruman was just trying to find a friend, albeit his friend corrupted him in the long run- but look at the "White Wizard's" peers:
The 2 blue wizards who were off - in the east- doing who knows what. Radagast, the hippie stoner who never showered and wouldn't stop eating mushrooms. Gandalf, the homeless stoner who kept hanging out with all those carnival folk who never wear shoes.
Saruman gets sick of it, and gets on an AOL chat room and meets the Dark Lord. Someone who loves Metal, puts flames on everything and has a bunch of badass minions with piercings and muscles and giant black towers just like Saruman's. So he makes friends.
Next thing Saruman knows, his old stoner roommate rolls up and says, "Hey, I'm going to kick this Sauron guy's ass bro, you gonna roll with me?"
So Saruman kicks his ass, pouts for a bit and then gets back to building his army.
While Gandalf is detoxing in the roof, he finally remembers he has some eagle friends who have bailed him out before, so he sends them a quick message.
Then Gandalf gets right back to ruining everyone's week be running around and asking for favors and meanwhile a bunch of little people are being chased by some of the most absolutely unbelievably horrific things that they wouldn't even have known to have nightmares about before Gandalf came around.
Apparently after he meets back up with the crew, and after literally everyone is fighting over the situation, he lets the little dudes take the ring to the worst place ever with absolutely no idea what he was getting into or where he was going.
So, he lets the little guy, who has never been anywhere near where they are going, nor does he have any idea how to get there, lead the way.
So, after some debate- lets Frodo pick the way to go. And Gandalf is terrified to go the way he picks, though he doesn't remember why. This of course gets them into probably the worst case scenario- as he forgets how to even get in, forgets which way they should go, snaps at others who question him- and doesn't remember that the Balrog is there until it's basically right on top of them.
Then, when he LITERALLY hit rock bottom, while LITERALLY taking steps in dealing with his demon, he wakes up, cleaned himself up and went back out into the world with a new haircut, new attitude, and he then raced around trying to atone for all of his mistakes.
LOTR is just the story of the skeevy homeless stoner from The Hobbit getting clean and trying to atone for all the shit he caused while High.