[[quoteright:200:[[Film/HarryPotterAndTheChamberOfSecrets http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/200px-RonBrokenWand.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:200: Ron isn't going to have a very good year.]]

->'''Beastmaster:''' ''I summon... ah... ah... [sneezes]!!!''\\
-->-- '''Beastmaster''', ''VideoGame/WarCraftIII'' [[StopPokingMe (Annoyed)]]

The Inept Mage is not a charlatan or fraud; he actually does have the ability to do [[FunctionalMagic Real Magic]]. However, he lacks finesse and actual skill. His spells [[MagicMisfire frequently backfire, producing an effect other than he intended]]. This can be a source of comedy.

This differs from HowDoIShotWeb in that the Inept Mage understands the theory, but can't make it work in practice. Also, HowDoIShotWeb is usually temporary while the Inept Mage usually remains inept. Quite often, though, an Inept Mage will have moments of CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass when things he tries ''finally'' go off without a hitch, in spectacular fashion, in a critical moment, reminding characters and audience both why they're there.


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''[[Anime/RuneSoldierLouie Rune Soldier Louie's]]'' eponymous character [[BookDumb is too lazy to study]], because [[GoodOldFisticuffs he'd rather use his fists.]] So Louie only knows how to use simple magic and can even get ''those'' spells wrong since he often gets the incantations mixed up, or simply forgets how the spells themselves work. Which is where [[{{Meganekko}} Ila]] [[TheSmartGuy usually comes in.]]
* Early in ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'', Negi Springfield himself appears to be one of these, until it is revealed that [[spoiler:the target of his spells has an [[AntiMagic anti-magical aura]] that cancels out or messes up any spell used on her]].
** Negi's father is an interesting case in that he is considered one of the most powerful mages of all times, but he just needed to bring spark notes into battle to remember how to do his spells.
* ''Anime/OjamajoDoremi''. "Ojamajo" is a {{portmanteau}} of the words for "clumsy" and "[[CuteWitch witch]]". Doremi, the titular character, fits this to a T.
* Louise from ''LightNovel/TheFamiliarOfZero'' is a partial example. She can't cast any spells (they instead manifest as comically powerful explosions), [[spoiler:but later in the series it's revealed that this is because she's the legendary void mage, capable of casting (only) void magic. Naturally this is about the point in the series where she [[TookALevelInBadass takes a level in badass]].]]
* Sae Sawanoguchi from ''Anime/MagicUsersClub''. Her magic is by far the most powerful, ''if'' she can control it, and ''if'' it comes out in the first place.
* Nina Sakura in ''UltraManiac'' is one of these. Eventually it is revealed in the manga that [[spoiler:this is because her magic potenital is so ''high'' that any magic she casts is over powered and thus messes up, she just needs specialist training.]]
* Koyomi of ''YokuWakaruGendaiMahou'' knows ''one'' spell. She can turn a spell into a falling washpan. ''Any'' spell, belonging to anybody. A cantrip, a fireball, a nuke, a {{MacGuffin}}.... Yeah, once the implications are realized, the other mages see her usefulness, although she doesn't quite realize what a GameBreaker she has.
* In ''LightNovel/{{Slayers}}'', the abundantly competent white-magic user Shilfiel tries her hand at black magic to balance out her repetoire and be more useful in combat. She's so woefully incompetent at this (her spell creates a [[spoiler:magic carrot]]) that Zelgadis later asks her to cast the spell for him, relying on her inability to make it harmful, since he wants to use it to snap a teammate out of their trance.
** Subverted in the second season, when [[spoiler:she uses the Dragon Slave against Phibrizzo, and later says she learned it to be more like Lina so she could travel with Gourry]] proving that she has no inherent weakness in offensive magic, is just unpracticed at it.
* Urd from ''Manga/AhMyGoddess'' is explicitly stated as being more powerfull than Belldandy, yet ranked lower because she has little control over it. This is contrasted against the [[ThreeFacesOfEve youngest sister, Skuld,]] who can barely muster any magic. Skuld's best spell is to basically print words across people's faces, something that can be achieved with a common sharpie. Otherwise Skuld is pretty hopeless with magic, displaying neither of her sisters' raw power.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'':
** Renji has poor magical skills. He attempts to use magic to create a ball of light to guide his group's way through dark tunnels, but only manages to produce a tiny marble-sized ball that gives off barely any light. Rukia chastises him for trying to cast magic non-verbally since only talented shinigami magic users can get away with that and Renji isn't good enough to do it. Later on, he uses this habit of spells backfiring on him in battle against Szayel Aporro, deliberately casting the same spell (this time properly chanted) so that it explodes on both himself and Szayel at point-blank range. They both survive, but Szayel has to call a temporary time-out from fighting to pull himself back together.
** Omaeda is also noted for having poor magical skill. When he attempts to cast a spell during his fight with Barragan, it doesn't work at all well and he bemoans the fact he lacks the magical ability that certain other lieutenants are famous for.
** Iba chastises Ikkaku for his lack of magical skill. Ikkaku states he's not cut out for it, but Iba implies that he could be if only he wanted to be.
** Zaraki is the only captain with absolutely no magical ability whatsoever. Although he's not the only captain who doesn't use it, others (such as Komamura) do have some small level of ability, even if the ability is only poor. Zaraki, however, has zero ability for it.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'':
** Naruto almost failed his [[WizardingSchool ninja academy]] exam in the first episode. He was having trouble producing [[MesACrowd Shadow Clones]] that were...viable. However, this may have been test anxiety; he performs the technique (actually, a more advanced form of the technique he was learning!) ''perfectly'' later on, outside of class.
** Rock Lee cannot use jutsu. At all. Which doesn't stop him from being a formidable ninja anyway, thanks in no small part to an instructor who specializes in taijutsu (which Lee can perform) and more importantly, believed in him.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The hero of Creator/KurtBusiek's ''The Wizard's Tale'' is fearfully inept, partly because he knows he is supposed to be evil and can't pull it off.
* Mongo Iron-Hand from ''Comicbook/TheWarlord''. Mongo is an eccentric who has considerable skill at performing small-scale magical feats, but has difficulty in performing large-scale ones. He somehow has knowledge of the Earth of our present day, which enables him to conjure up cigars and martinis for himself.
* In ''Franchise/{{Superman}}'' Mr. Mxyzptlk briefly became one during the Day of Vengeance event when the Spectre declared war on all magic and completely messed up the mechanics behind it. The powerful 5th dimensional imp was reduced to a pitiful broken figure trying desperately to remember how to get back to his home dimension -- he was so messed up he couldn't even remember that all he had to do was say his name backwards.
** An obscure SilverAge character, Yellow Peri (real name Loretta York), often tried to assist Superman with her magical powers. While she was powerful, Superman [[StopHelpingMe tried to get her to retire because her ineptitude caused more harm than good]].
* DonaldDuck in the early issues of ''ComicBook/WizardsOfMickey'', which gets him in trouble with someone he owed money too and tried to get out of the deal by turning spoons into gold. But it turns out his magic does work, but is slow acting.

[[folder:Eastern Animation]]
* Juga from ''Animation/QumiQumi'', thanks to not bothering to pay attention and believing he's better than he really is. The biggest issue is the fact that his ''entire tribe'' is built around magic. His magic staff is also ridiculously finicky, a simple tap on the ground can cause an out of control magic burst.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Mickey Mouse in the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment of ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}''. As noted in the introduction to the segment, Mickey knew enough about magic to bring the broom to life and have it fetch water for him, but not enough to make it stop.
* Schmendrick The Magician in ''WesternAnimation/{{The Last Unicorn}}'' bumbles around ineptly for most of the film. Even when his magic does the thing he wants it to, he wasn't controlling it directly, instead instructing the magic to "do as it will".
* ''Disney/TheLittleMermaidIIReturnToTheSea'': None of [[BigBad Morgana's]] magic works by itself; Morgana depends on items such as Ursula's leftover magic and Triton's trident to actually pose a threat.

[[folder:Films -- Live Action]]
* From the film ''Film/{{Krull}}'': Ergo the Magnificent, whose transformation spells always affect himself regardless of who he aims them at. Good thing he has a spell to turn someone into a ''tiger''...
* Mr. Magorium's magic went all wonky [[spoiler:near the end of his life]] in the film version of ''MrMagoriumsWonderEmporium''

* Linmer, the Great González's apprentice, in ''Bellacrín y la Sombra''. He can't even stand up straight in his master's clothes. Zigzagged with the Great González himself, since he doesn't really do magic... but has a lot of cool gadgets... that ''also'' fail to work spectacularly.
* Schmendrick, from ''Literature/TheLastUnicorn'', who is ''so'' inept that his teacher Nikos decided it meant that he had some kind of incredible potential, and made him immortal so that he could live long enough to sort it out. Turns out Nikos was [[spoiler:absolutely right]].
* ''Both'' wizards in ''Literature/LoyalEnemies''. Rest is still an apprentice (and TheKlutz at that), who actually forgets how to use his magic in situations when it might come in handy. Veres is skilled and usually an excellent wizard, but during the book he's spending nearly all of his magic on healing himself from the beating he takes at the start of the novel, making him faint after performing even the most basic spells. Once he heals completely, though...
* Questor Thews, from the ''MagicKingdomOfLandover'' novels.
* Neville Longbottom from the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' novels. Until [[TookALevelInBadass the fifth book]]. It doesn't help that he's been using [[spoiler:his father's wand]] for most of the series instead of a wand better suited to him.
** Ronald Weasley is rendered fairly inept for much of ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheChamberOfSecrets'', when his wand is broken. See the page image. Amusingly, it ends up saving him and Harry when [[spoiler:Lockhart gets his hands on it and tries to wipe their memories. It backfires.]]
** A similar thing happens to Harry in ''The Deathly Hallows''.
** Gilderoy Lockhart may count: [[CripplingOverspecialization The only thing he seems to be good at]] is memory charms, though it's never revealed whether he's naturally inept at everything else or if he just decided at some point that he could get by on that and his natural charisma alone. (And he very nearly did.)
*** Pottermore confirms that it is the latter, explaining that he was initially a very promising (but self-entitled) student who was sorted into Ravenclaw due to his brilliance, but years of neglect rendered his skills at magic beyond memory charms faulty beyond repair.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'':
** Rincewind is a borderline case. By all rights he is a proper wizard: he can see octarine, see Death (he does not seem to have the proper wizard (and witch) ability to know their death when it nears, but that probably has more to do with all the stuff he's been involved in messing up his timeline so much that even ''Death'' does not know when Rincewind will die), detect magic, and act as a magical lightning rod just like all other wizards. Thing is, he can't actually cast any spells, because during his short time at Unseen University he read one of the eight spells that created the universe, which made itself at home in his head and ruined his chances of ever learning any other spells. He actually does say it (along with the other seven) at the end of the second book, but apparently his ineptitude for magic was permanent. To be fair, it is implied he was never really any good at magic even ''before'' reading The Spell.
** Magrat Garlick's magical skill can impress even Granny Weatherwax (as in the incident where she turned a centuries-old oaken castle door ''back into a tree''), but she tends to have problems getting the magic to do what she wants, because she's caught up in the romantic ideas of mystical runes and what not. She has absolutely no luck with a fairy godmother's wand, in spite of wishing for results just as hard as she can.
** In {{Discworld/Mort}}, Cutwell is a wizard who can do magic, knows the theory, but can't even manage a basic fire spell (he burns his fingers when he tries).
* Fizban the Fabulous in the ''{{Dragonlance}}'' books, although [[GodWasMyCoPilot he's more than he appears]].
** Ditto his {{Expy}}, Zifnab, in ''Literature/TheDeathGateCycle'' by the same authors. For that matter, Alfred too, through a case of BecomingTheMask of his ObfuscatingStupidity.
* Geraden, from the ''[[Literature/TheMirrorOfHerDreams Mordant's Need]]'' duology.
* Wodehed from the ''WelkinWeasels'' series never has his spells work out the way he wants them to. In one memorable instance, he gave a boar holding the group captive some magical wine that would turn whoever drank it into a frog. Because the wineskin the wine was in was made from leather, the wineskin turned into a frog instead. It ''is'', however, subverted in a CrowningMomentOfAwesome in the third book, where [[spoiler:HE SUMMONS A KRAKEN.]]
* A short story, set during King Arthur's childhood, has a character who ''appeared'' to be a severely inept mage; during his final exam to earn a mentor wizard, he attempted to make a rock turn into a pig -- it floated in the air, turned invisible, and then when he tried to undo the spells, it became a (visible) dragon. [[spoiler:Subverted when he turned out to be a chaos magician -- that dragon was vital to taking out a Saxon invasion a moment later. His magic never does what he ''wants'', but it always does what ''needs'' to be done.]]
* Jon-Tom Meriweather of Creator/AlanDeanFoster[='=]s ''{{Spellsinger}}'' series. He can produce magical effects via [[MagicMusic music]], but the lyrics have to be ridiculously specific, and are likely to produce unwanted effects; when he conjures up a ship with the song "Sloop John B." and names himself first mate, he spends the entire voyage feeling badly drunk.
** Clothahump is mostly competent, but he also has his moments. In his first attempt at using magic that the readers see, he attempts to conjure up gold coins, but produces chocolate coins instead.
* In Creator/JamesThurber's ''Literature/The13Clocks'', the Golux explains that both his parent fell under this trope.
* In ''Literature/TheMagicians,'' the Physical magician Josh is unable to get his magic to work consistently, but when it does work, it's very powerful: for example, when casting a spell to dispell a magical light, he ends up going over the top and producing a ''black hole.''
* In ''Literature/KingsQuestTheFloatingCastle'', the spells of Alexander's apprentice wizard sidekick Cyril actually ''do'' in fact do what they're intended to. His ineptness instead comes from the fact that he's an [[DoesNotKnowHisOwnStrength inherently powerful wizard who hasn't yet developed control]], so his spells all do what they're intended to so overwhelmingly that they [[GoneHorriblyRight go horribly right]].
* When [[Literature/TheDresdenFiles Harry Dresden]] gets an apprentice, she alternates between terrifying and being an adorable example of this trope. Once, she ''literally'' glowed with praise. Her potion-making adventures have involved her getting her clothes covered in acid and the potion then exploding, which Harry then had to remove and give her CPR right as his girlfriend lets herself in. (She gets better after finishing her training.)
** The White Council tries to accomodate this trope by teaching [[IneptMage young]] [[PersonOfMassDestruction wizards]] [[KillItWithFire fire magic]] as far away from civilization as possible.
** Harry sometimes notes that he lacks the finesse and knowledge of most members of the White Council, only making up for it through brute force, stubbornness, and cheating.
*** Harry tried to fly once. In some combination of this and not knowing how to fly to begin with, [[NoodleIncident it didn't go so well]].
*** It probably doesn't help that Harry's apprenticeship under his first EvilMentor Justin was mostly a ploy to gain his trust while setting him up for brainwashing. And the members of the White Council are some of the oldest and most powerful magic users alive. Most wizards would be considered inept compared to them.
* The poem ''Der Zauberlehrling'' (''The SorcerersApprentice'') by Creator/JohannWolfgangVonGoethe.
* Wyrdrune, from Simon Hawke's ''The Wizard Of _____'' novels, is as powerful as a fully-credited wizard, but was never certified due to his tendency to rush through his spells. He frequently makes mistakes with his magic, especially when he [[RunningGag teleports with his companion Kira]]: ''he'' appears wherever he intends to, but she appears on/in fire escapes, rooftops, closets or dumpsters nearby.
* ''[[{{Chrestomanci}} The Magicians of Caprona]]'' sing their spells, and Angelica Petrocchi is tone-deaf. Her spells always do ''something'', but they never work as intended. She may never live down the day she turned her father green.
* In Creator/PoulAnderson's ''Literature/ThreeHeartsAndThreeLions'', Hugi recounts how Mother Gerd had {{curse}}d a peasant's field -- and only killed the thistles.
* The ''Literature/WheelOfTime'' series does a good job of [[DeconstructedTrope deconstructing]] this, though Rand's ineptitude is really more a case of HowDoIShotWeb. Rand has no one to teach him to channel for four books, and he's the most powerful channeler ever. He learns bits and pieces by luck and maybe past-life memory, but when things go wrong he's apt to accidentally pull down half a mountain or set a forest aflame.
* Same for ''Literature/WindAndSparks'' series. Shen and PosthumousCharacter Kavalar are magicians with a rare set of skills -- so-called "Healers". Male Healers are stronger and more versatile than female healers, they are born once in several centuries, thus nobody can teach them. Their biggest problem? All the world's spellweavers use the power of either heaven or hell, but male Healers need both. Until the middle of the second novel the only weave Shen managed to use more than once was HealingHands. Though readers get to see only one spectacular failure: Shen tried to light a campfire and instead blasted dozens of square yards of steppe; nobody got hurt.
* Martin starts as this in ''[[Literature/{{Magic20}} Off to Be the Wizard]]'' after discovering the [[RewritingReality file]] and fleeing to Medieval England. Figuring that he can pass himself off as a "genuine" wizard while simultaneously scaring away charlatans, he puts on his [[HarryPotter Draco Malfoy]] costume, teleports to the White Cliffs of Dover in the 12th century, and travels to the nearest town. Arriving there, he walks into the tavern and suggests free food and lodging in exchange for "real" magic. As proof of his powers, he produces a plastic bag, which the locals find fascinating. The tavern keeper has the local wizard Phillip summoned to meet Martin. Martin, naturally assuming Phillip to be a charlatan, produces more plastic (by teleporting to his parents' house in the present and taking two rolls of heavy-duty plastic wrap from their kitchen). Finally, he challenges Phillip to a WizardDuel, using the Android app he wrote to levitate several feet off the ground (a very shaky and uncomfortable affair). In response, Phillip effortlessly flies off into the air, creates a cool light show, and then blasts the helplessly floating Martin into the nearby forest. It turns out Martin isn't the first to discover the file and end up in Medieval England. He gets better after becoming Phillip's apprentice.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Udonna's apprentice, Clare, from ''Series/PowerRangersMysticForce'' starts out as IneptMage and remains so for the duration of the series; but a major crisis turns her into a HowDoIShotWeb case, and she ends up competent when all is said and done.
* Aunt Clara and Esmerelda, both from ''Series/{{Bewitched}}''.
* Mildred Huble from ''TheWorstWitch''.
* In the first seasons of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', Willow always messed up her spells, with unfortunate results. She got better.
** She continued to have her inept moments in later seasons, such as when she accidentally gave the entire Scooby gang amnesia in season six. After that, she rarely screwed up spells.
* Eureka from ''Series/EureekasCastle'' had her off-moments.
* Merlin in the French series ''Series/{{Kaamelott}}''. He once tried to cast a spell to make plants grow, and ended up giving Arthur and Léodagan brightly glowing eyes.
** He tries to explain it via NotThatKindOfMage, as he's a druid: supposedly all his nature-aligned powers take a sharp dive when there's a roof over his head, i.e. in his laboratory. However, his talent as a druid is dubious as well: he can't even read the language.
* Lisa from ''Series/WeirdScience'', in that her own powers constantly play the JerkassGenie to her. Usually she can make anything happen with a snap of her fingers, but if it's something important, it'll typically turn out sooner or later it's GoneHorriblyWrong.
* Mannitol from ''Series/TheLegendOfDickAndDom'': his incantations tend to backfire horribly, for example, turning a friend into a [[BrainInAJar disembodied head]]; impressive, given that at one point non-mages successfully cast a spell.
* Marnie Stonebrook from ''Series/TrueBlood'' doesn't have a clue on her spells. But, whenever she gets possessed by the ghost of the witch, Antonia Gavilán, she becomes one of the most powerful villains in the show.
* ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch'': the title character. Also Dreama, a minor character from season 4.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The ''[[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons D&D]]'' 2nd edition ''Tome of Magic'' introduces the Wild Mage. Although able to master "wild magic" spells otherwise forbidden to other wizards, the level of power of their magic is variable, and they run the risk of causing a "wild surge" -- a totally random effect -- with every casting.\\\
Wild Mages aren't actually inept (unless that's how you play one). Just ''crazy''. Consider their signature spell: Nahal's Reckless Dweomer; a spell that the mage casts in order to attempt to shape it into any other spell he knows without having the spell memorized. Wild Surges can be extremely deadly if you're lucky; casting Magic Missile has an equal chance of making your opponent (and everything in ten feet of it) explode messily as it does the chance of summoning harmless squirrels.
** The class also appears in ''[[VideoGame/BaldursGate Baldur's Gate 2]]'', this time with a set list of results, but an incredibly variable one. They can [[GenderBender change a random target's gender]], [[DropTheCow summon a cow right above their target's head]], [[MagicMisfire accidentally target themselves with the spell]]... At least in this case you get the benefit of SaveScumming.

* ''Theatre/{{Wicked}}'': Elphaba. Things get ''way'' out of hand.
** Elphaba's sister, Nessarose is a truly tragic example. She tries to use a spell from the Grimmerie to make Boq fall in love with her. [[spoiler: She pronounces it incorrectly, accidentally destroying his heart instead. Elphaba saves him by turning him into the Tin Man and Nessarose accepts the title of "Wicked Witch of the East".]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Dio? [[spoiler:Odie]] from ''SoulNomadAndTheWorldEaters'', though it's only prevalent in Cutscenes, whereas in gameplay he's pretty strong.
* Viki from the ''{{Suikoden}}'' series fits roundly. She is quite competent, and can even be used in the player's parties in many games. It just so happens her area of expertise is teleportation magic, and when she's tired/been drinking/sneezes, she tends to wind up in strange places. Or times. She is one of the few characters to be featured in every game in the main series, despite the fact that it covers a period spanning centuries. She was even in one game ''twice''.
** Oddly enough, she appears to be getting more and more powerful as the games go on. In the first games she had a random chance of accidentally harming her party with her spells, by the fifth she has a random chance to ''[[GameBreaker cast multiple spells in a row at no additional cost]]''
* All spellcasting classes in the ''VideoGame/{{Wizardry}}'' series are like this at first, barring alchemy-based casters, until they build up their Oratory skill-a low Oratory gives spells a chance to backfire or fizzle. However, backfiring spells are no joke in this series-a backfiring spell can easily kill a party member, if not several, and force the player to quit and reload.
* Lilka from ''VideoGame/WildARMs2'', though not as inept as most examples: she's still learning some things, but...
* Marie from ''Franchise/{{Atelier}} Marie'' is an Inept Alchemist. While she has a lot of passion for the art, her [[TheDitz absentmindedness]] often leads her to put in the wrong ingredient, screwing up the formula. Because of this, she has the lowest GPA out of anyone in her school.
** In her appearance in the MassiveMultiplayerCrossover game ''VideoGame/CrossEdge'', she tries to treat York with a bottle of Athena Water after he suffers injuries in battle, but winds up creating a GargleBlaster that floors him instantly. When the party meets up with ''{{VideoGame/Ar Tonelico|MelodyOfElemia}}''[='=]s Lyner later, she tries the same thing. Despite York's protests, Lyner guzzles the drink, saying that it's rude to refuse a gift. The result is... [[HilarityEnsues rather predictable]].
** The ''Franchise/{{Atelier}}'' series also gives us Jess from ''VideoGame/{{Mana Khemia|AlchemistsOfAlRevis}}''. She's a competent alchemist most of the time, but she likes to experiment, and her experiments like to explode. [[EpicFail Even with completely stable ingredients]]. This may be for the best since her idea of "medicine" terrifies the cast.
* The weakest Imps in the ''DragonQuest'' series, and especially ''VideoGame/DragonQuestHeroesRocketSlime,'' are really terrible at magic. They continually attempt to use the [[StuffBlowingUp Bang]] spell, only to blow ''themselves'' up. Standing still while an Imp tries to attack you will cause his magic to explode in his face. Running will cause him to chase you, trip, and ''explode'', damaging everything in the area around it, meaning you, other enemies, and itself. This is all they can do.
* Jowan from ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins''. Between the generally inherent power of Mages and his dabbling in BloodMagic he ''should'' be very, ''very'' powerful. Alas, he's much weaker than almost every other Mage in the game, and only turned to BloodMagic out of desperation.
* Jormund from ''VideoGame/ArcanumOfSteamworksAndMagickObscura'' plays with this trope. He's a [[SquareRaceRoundClass Dwarven Mage]], and he's not incompetent ''per se''; He's fully skilled with the Force and Fire spell trees, and he knows the Disintegrate spell [[note]]It's a mana-heavy spell that instantly destroys any NPC, door or chest it hits, along with any items it may be holding[[/note]], but he is also a dwarf, so his spells cost double the mana to cast. Not only that, [[ArtificialStupidity his AI cannot cast spells in an intelligent way]]. His AI seems to have a pathological obsession with the Fire Elemental spell, the single most mana-heavy spell in the game. Also, Disintegrate in the hands of a properly specced player character is a GameBreaker, but it is horribly unwieldy for [=NPCs=] and can lead to accidental UnwinnableByMistake moments. This means Jormund is a terrible choice for a spellcaster; more often than not, he simply gets into a fight, chucks a few Disintegrates or becomes an Elemental, and [[PsychicNosebleed drops down]] [[HeroicRROD unconscious]] after about 30 seconds.
* Downplayed with Merasmus from ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2''. He's a competent wizard, but not a ''stellar'' one, and his design of the Wheel of Fate is [[TacticalSuicideBoss dubious at best]].
* Shirou Emiya starts out this way in the ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. He only knows three spells in the beginning, and only two he can do well. What's more, until he's corrected by Rin, he's doing them wrong because he misinterpreted his only pre-game's teacher's instructions. (Granted, if you've read ''LightNovel/FateZero'', you'll get the feeling that said teacher probably wasn't in the best condition to teach magic.)

* Gwynn from ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' very rarely gets a spell completely right. She enchants some monkeys to attack someone who's annoying her, without considering that, when someone else annoys her, the monkeys will change targets. Or she tries getting a demon to leave Riff alone, but ends up making it possess her instead. Or she tries getting her and Zoe's hair to grow back, but, thanks to the spell relying on a JerkassGenie, it makes them turn into fully-furred [[StarWars wookie]]-like creatures. Basically anything she tries other than [[{{Psychokinesis}} moving things with her mind]] or [[PowerGlows making pretty lights]] isn't going to work as planned.
** It seems to be the rituals that give her trouble. If she has to blast something with lightning or force, she has no problems at all, and can be [[LetsGetDangerous downright]] ''[[BewareTheNiceOnes dangerous]]'' when she's pushed.
* Abraham of ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' is an interesting example. Although he is a very powerful spell caster, and deadly in combat, his lack of common sense has earned him a bit of a [[http://egscomics.com/?date=2009-06-09 reputation]] for incompetence.
* In ''{{Doodze}}'', [[http://seguemediagroup.com/doodze/?p=775 accidentally turning the sh'leep into ravening monsters]].
* Trystan from ''Webcomic/TheForgottenOrder'' has failed every magical entrance test. She also broke a window with an enchanted scrub brush.
* Two in ''{{Unsounded}}''. One of the Red Berry Boys, Bette, casts spells by reading them directly out of a book with no understanding of the underlying principles, and Duane finds it trivial to seize control of his pymary. [[spoiler: Duane's daughter Mikaila]] also makes a number of dangerous mistakes, although the fact that she's doing it at all at [[ChildMage her age]] shows she has an aptitude for it.
* [[http://uberquest.katbox.net/comic/what-kind-of-healing-magic-is-that/ Kibbles']] introduction in ''Webcomic/UberQuest'' consisted of her trying to demonstrate a healing spell, and incinerating one guy and setting some others on fire.
* ''WebComic/VampireCheerleaders'': Charlotte comes from a family of Wiccans and her spells have remarkable power... when she can actually remember the proper incantations for them. Which accounts [[MagicMisfire for only half the time]], especially when she's nervous, [[http://www.vampirecheerleaders.net/strips-vc/gotten_way_out_of_hand or under pressure.]] So she often [[http://www.vampirecheerleaders.net/strips-vc/bring_the_lightning_1 resorts to simply making one up]] [[http://www.vampirecheerleaders.net/strips-vc/bring_the_lightning_2 and hoping for the best.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', [[WanderingMinstrel Leon]] [[TheWoobie Alcibiates]] is initially a very inept mage when he first tries to access his [[DivineParentage Andain]] powers. At first he can only turn into a kestrel because of a goddess's poison that affects him, and he sucks at most spells. It's only after he's gone through many years of training under various masters and coming to terms with who he is and how to distance himself from his AbusiveParents that he becomes a better mage who decides to safeguard the Land of the Living from the ambitions of both gods and mortals.
* Leaving chaos in their wake is something of a hallmark of the "three little witches" -- Abracadabra, Palantir, and Clover -- from the eponymous story set in the ''WhateleyUniverse''. May well yet turn out to be a case of HowDoIShotWeb, though; they ''are'' only kids (younger than the regular students at Whateley, even) at this point, after all.
* Perf, of ''WebVideo/JourneyQuest'', is an excellent example of this: he has precisely three spells he can cast without recourse to his spellbooks: ''Conjure Milk''[[note]]which, when used against a party of orcs that had captured him and his friends, earned him the appellation "lactomancer"[[/note]], ''Mend'' [[note]]a sewing spell[[/note]] and ''Vague''[[note]]the effects of which are kinda hard to nail down...[[/note]]. The one time we see him casting ''with'' a spellbook, he's trying to heal the party cleric, and [[MagicMisfire fails so badly that said cleric dies]]. And becomes an [[GoneHorriblyRight entirely new form of undead]]. Just before that cleric showed up as said new form of undead, Perf tried to use the Gust of Wind spell from the book and blew his own clothes off, so he in fact used the book exactly twice.
* In ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'', [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/6/15/ Jim Darkmagic]], at least in his comic appearance. In the actual podcasts where he made his debut, Jim tends to be about as competent as the rest of the party, somewhat surprising considering that his player, Mike Krahulik, has never played ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' before in his life.
* Fumblemore in the ''Machinima/YogscastMinecraftSeries'', particularly ''Machinima/ShadowOfIsraphel''. His main speciality is [[StuffBlowingUp blowing things up]]. And [[MagicMisfire not always on purpose]]. He is surprisingly dangerous to the enemy, but apparently he blows things up so often that LetsPlay/LewisBrindley and LetsPlay/SimonLane are able to blame him for a series of creeper explosions.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of both ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'' films.
* "Presto" from the ''[[WesternAnimation/DungeonsAndDragons Dungeons & Dragons]]'' animated cartoon.
* Orko, from ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983''. [[JustifiedTrope Justified]], however. His home dimension, where he's actually a master mage with exceptional abilities, has completely different rules of magic to Eternia. His magic only functioned on Eternia due to a special medallion (original series) or wand (2002 series) which was lost soon after he arrived on Eternia when he saved Prince Adam's life. As a result of the incompatibility between his native magic and Eternia's magic rules, he comes across as an IneptMage to Eternians.
* Junior Genie Babu, from both ''WesternAnimation/{{Jeannie}}'' the AnimatedSeries, where he was her SideKick and apprentice; and in Creator/HannaBarbera's ''WesternAnimation/LaffALympics''.
* The Winter Warlock from the ''SantaClausIsCominToTown'' Christmas Special. He was a fierce mage until his heart melted from a kind gesture... and [[RedemptionDemotion then he could only do little tricks.]]
* Uncle Oswidge from ''WesternAnimation/DaveTheBarbarian''. It's eventually revealed that his incompetence is because he's not actually a qualified mage; he was actually a cook at magic school.
* Morgana in ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck'' casts a spell wrong more often than she casts it right. It's implied, if not outright confirmed that her magic is affected by her emotional state.
* On ''WesternAnimation/{{ReBoot}}'', the episode "Wizards, Warriors, and a Word from our Sponsors" has Dot take the part of a sorceress in one of the games. The extent of her magical prowess amounts to pointing at something, exclaiming "abraca-whatchama-dabra-callit," and hoping for a favorable result.
* In "A Giant Problem" on ''WesternAnimation/TheBackyardigans'', both Tyrone and Pablo are inept mages who lament "It's hard to be, so yeah hard to be a wizard." At least until the end, when they finally manage to get it right.
* Zummi from ''GummiBears''. Though his ineptitude can be excused by the fact that he is an autodidact. He doesn't seem to have had any teachers who practiced magic with him, instead he has to read it all by himself in the Great Book of Gummi.
* Kyle from ''FanboyAndChumChum''. His poor skills in magic are often used as the reason behind his failures, and it even becomes an important plot point in "Sigmund the Sorcerer".
* In the ''TheNewAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh'' episode "A Knight for a Day", Rabbit becomes one of these in Piglet's fantasy. When he tries to enchant Piglet's spell to make it indestructible, for example, he turns ''himself'' into a frog.
-->'''Rabbit-frog:''' ''What is going on with these spells?!''
-->'''King Pooh:''' Oh, don't feel badly. [[{{Pun}} I can't spell very well either]].
* Madame Razz from ''WesternAnimation/SheRaPrincessOfPower''. She actually very powerful, but is so ditzy and absent-minded that she tends to mispronounce words. Fortunately, her mistakes still beat up bad guys. For example, when she tries to conjure a wall to stall the bad guys, she says, "ball", and the conjured ball bounces and smacks the bad guys around.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Gawayn}}'' Elspeth spells don't always work right, and it takes her three to four times to get it right. She sometimes misinterpret the instructions on the Great Book of Magic.
* The Magician from ''WesternAnimation/FrostyTheSnowman''. His only "magical" trait was his amazing top hat, which brought Frosty back to life. Even his pet rabbit hated him!
* Fuddy, Merlin's apprentice, in ''WesternAnimation/FilmationsGhostbusters''. Jake could ''count on'' this guy to get his requests wrong, yet everything seemed to work out all right in the end.
* Despite being one of the most powerful and gifted unicorns in the world, [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Twilight Sparkle]] occasionally messes up critically. Mostly when it's funny, or when casting a spell successfully would resolve the plot too early. Examples include making a snow plow come to life, only to go out of control and make things worse; magically altering a parasprite swarm's metabolism to stop them from eating all the food, only for them to eat buildings and inedible things instead; trying to turn an apple into an orange, only to get startled by Pinkie Pie each time and zapping something else by accident.
* In an earlier Pony-related example, ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyAndFriends'' did this to the witch Draggle, a technically villainous character who had first appeared in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyTheMovie''.
* The titular character of ''WesternAnimation/StarVsTheForcesOfEvil'' is this. So inept, in fact, she was shipped off to Earth before she caused any more natural disasters from her inability to gauge what she's capable of actually pulling off with that wand.