The Blind Leading the Blind
"If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit."
A universal trope
, most often spotted in comedies
One character, in desperate need of advice on a pressing matter, solicits the help of a second character claiming to be an expert on the subject. Hilarity Ensues
when it is gradually revealed that the person giving the advice is a far cry from an expert, and in fact may know even less than the person they were supposed to be helping. More often than not, neither character realizes this, and the first character, after a devastating failure, often ends up wondering what could possibly have gone wrong.
Compare Little Known Facts
. Frequent result of consulting a Know-Nothing Know-It-All
. Related to Hanlon's Razor
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Anime & Manga
- The hilarious Teen Titans fanfic How to Woo a Raven, by Beast Boy is written as a reply from Beast Boy to his male fans, who supposedly write to him constantly and ask him to teach them how to attract girls. He's inadequate in romantic matters, and his "conquest" of Raven only happened in his mind... but he fails to realize this.
- In the aptly named Home Stuck fanfiction The Blind Leading The Blind by anonymousComrade, Karkat goes blind, and Terezi has to teach him to smell and taste colors before the culling drones find him in this no-Sgrub-AU. Needless to say, she's not as good at teaching him as she thought.
- In the Pony POV Series, Private Ranger, one of the members of the Harmony Guard (Cadence's guard), tries to get love advice on what to do with Sunset. While Shining Armor and Ellis Bitter Apple both give him decent advice, Thunderchild's suggests guitar solos thinking his love interest is a griffon. Then he asks The Lord Flashheart. The conversation ends up being so disturbing that he gets clinical permission to have it erased from his memory.
Film - Animation
- Timon and Pumbaa in The Lion King. Timon acts as the intelligent one, he's not. Pumbaa listens to him, he shouldn't.
- In The Little Mermaid, Scuttle the seagull acted like an expert on human culture despite knowing next to nothing, which resulted in Ariel trying to style her hair with a fork while eating dinner with Prince Eric and blowing into a smoking pipe as if it were a musical instrument.
- Wreck-It Ralph has the title character teaching Vanellope von Schweetz how to drive. Ralph clearly has no idea what he's doing.
- Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas wants to share the joy of Christmas with everyone in Halloween Town, but his subjects don't get it and, because it's almost as new to him as it is to them, Jack can't find the words to explain it to them.
Film - Live Action
- The 40-Year-Old Virgin takes this trope and runs with it. None of Andy's friends are virgins themselves but neither do they have any clue of what women are actually attracted to and in essence teach Andy how to behave like a Casanova Wannabe.
- The Love Guru offers a similar example. Guru Pitka claims that he can teach people how to get their relationships in order, but he's saddled with tons of romantic personal problems that no reliable self-help guru would ever have. Some of his advice may be somewhat sensible, but most of it consists of bad puns and fecal jokes.
- Almost Heroes gives us Guy Fontenot. He is a French man who claims to speak numerous Native American languages. Anytime he is called upon to use his skill, he cannot perform. ". . . of the hundreds of indian languages that I speak fluently, this is not one of them."
- In Cabaret an innocent virgin asks Sally Bowles for advice on whether her feelings are true love or mere lust, since Sally is 'a woman who is giving her body often to men'. Sally, who is really 'as fatale as an after-dinner mint' can only shrug helplessly.
- In the Italian comedy film Fantozzi (one of the many) one of the characters is so near-sighted that once he's guided by a blind man. Partly subverted because the blind man manage to lead him to the right place.
- In The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Ford (a space alien) tries to explain to Arthur (a human) how several advanced scientific concepts work, such as the principles that enable Time Travel. It soon becomes obvious that Ford himself has no idea of how such complex things work, though. (Either that or he's too drunk to make any sense. Or both. Probably both, given that it's Ford.)
- The Guide itself may be an example, due to being (reputedly) notoriously unreliable.
- The Guide is definitive, reality is sometimes in error though.
- Or, to steal a line from H. Beam Piper, "If you read it in the Guide, you can depend on it. It's wrong."
- In Stephen Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen offers the reader advice on several romantic, sexual, academic, and family matters. Anyone who seriously follows his advice had better brace themselves for a lifetime of failure and despondency.
- Similar to the Colbert example above, Dave Barry has also written a few hilarious and obviously fake "self help" books that only Darwin Awards candidates would take seriously.
- And so has Ben Stein, though his was titled, "How to Ruin Your Life."
- In Naked Empire from Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth, a culture of Strawman Political pacifists receive their wisdom and guidance from a young boy who is kept blindfolded throughout his life.
- Miss Piggy's Guide to Life contains some fairly hilarious "advice" on everything from fashion to romance to food. ("You do not sew with a fork, and I see no reason why you should eat with knitting needles...")
- Twoflower hands control of a Flying Broomstick to Rincewind in The Light Fantastic. This proves to be a mistake.
Twoflower: You said you could fly one of these things!
Rincewind: No, I didn't; I just said you couldn't!
Live Action TV
- A sketch in a Norwegian humour show was a subversion: Not only were both characters actually blind, both characters though they were being led by the other. One sketch had them Rally-driving.
- On the updated version of Hollywood Squares with Tom Bergeron as host, Gilbert Gottfried would often claim to be an expert in the question's particular field, then provide a humorously inaccurate answer. Just picking him and saying "I disagree" before his answer was even uttered would have likely been a viable strategy. You Fool!
- From My Hero:
: Tyler, do you know how to run a washing machine? Tyler
Do I know how to run a washing machine?!? (Gilligan Cut to Tyler and George, up to their knees in suds) Tyler
: No, I don't.
- From Red Dwarf
LISTER: There. I think that's it; boot him up.
KOCHANSKI: You're * sure* you know what you're doing?
KRYTEN: Ketchup?? With * lobster* , you want —
KOCHANSKI: I thought you said you knew what you were doing!
LISTER: No, I just said 'hey'. If you'd let me finish the whole sentence it'd have been: 'hey... no I don't'.
- In the pilot episode of Community, Jeff claims to be a Spanish tutor to get time alone with Britta. Then she invites half a dozen other people to the "study group", and Jeff has to stall and keep them distracted to avoid having to admit that he can't tutor them.
- In a later episode we find out that their Spanish professor does not actually know Spanish and has been teaching them Klingon.
- In the second season episode Mixology Certification, Britta and Jeff lecture Troy about which drinks to take and which bars to go to... until it turns out they don't know any more than he does. They spent the entire episodes arguing which of two bars are better when they're actually talking about the same bar neither knows the actual name of.
- Jerry vacillated between this trope, "semi-visually impaired leading the blind" and "guy with 20/20 vision who can't be bothered to look where he's going leading the blind" in his Straight Man role on Seinfeld.
- The Colbert Report: Stephen the character lives this trope. It is especially highlighted in the Stephen's sound advice segments where he gives advice that is anything but sound.
- In The Red Green Show, Red gives pretty good advice in his "North of Forty" segments, while he is at his fly tying bench. However, in his "Handyman Corner" segment, his advice of how to build something with the junk you have lying around and duct tape are hilariously the blind leading the blind.
- Doctor Who: In the episode Warrior's Gate
K9: Mass detection circuits indicate maximum reading on current vector. Probability of error (beep)
Adric: Well, what is the probability of error, K9?
K9: Recomputing. Probability of error, eighty seven point seven nine four eight percent.
Adric: Eighty seven? But that's terrible!
K9: The accuracy of this unit has deteriorated below zero utility.
Adric: You mean you're worse than useless.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordi teaches Data how to paint. Riker comments on the poetic irony of the blind man teaching art to the emotionless android.
- In another episode, Wesley ends up seeking dating advice from Worf. It isn't that Worf doesn't know about romance, it's that his advice - based on Klingon mating rituals - is entirely inapplicable to Wesley's situation and thus, entirely useless.
- It's revealed in Star Trek: Voyager that the Doctor's social skills were programmed by Reginald Barclay, a man who described himself in his introductory episode as the guy who, at a party, will be examining the potted plant because he's not confident enough to involve himself in any conversations, based on those of Dr Lewis Zimmerman, who is kind of a jerk.
- Practically any time anyone asks for advice in Will and Grace. After Grace's advice backfired for Will she once claimed "Most of the time I'm just talkin outta my ass." In an earlier episode, Grace is Genre Savvy enough to ask Karen for advice and do the opposite of what she said.
- The X-Files: "Rain King" has, at one point someone asking Mulder for dating advice. On hearing about this, Scully goes silent, then quotes this trope.
- The Crystal Maze was a real-life embodiment of this trope. A game-show based on physical and mental challenges that were, at their worst, primary school-level in their required brainpower, nevertheless it seemed that every contestant had difficulty grasping such concepts as keys, simple instructions and basic maths and would require the rest of their team to call out advice. However, this advice was often counterproductive to the point where it would cause confusion and sometimes directly lead to a failure ("Jump down!" in a game where touching the floor is an automatic lock-in).
- Host Richard O Brien's reactions to such stupidity became legendary. If the player of the game was a lost cause, or if Richard's advice was ignored, he would often let the viewer know, before breaking out into off-putting Harmonica music, drowning out the team's 'advice' and breaking the player's concentration. In effect, he became a kind of Musical Assassin.
- In at least one episode, Richard actually broke out a Fender Telecaster and amplifier.
- On rarer occasions, Richard would have an attack of What the Hell, Player??, haul the player out of the game room and complete it himself.
- Used by name in Monty Python's Flying Circus, in the Flying Sheep sketch - the farmer points out a ewe trying to teach her lamb to fly. We hear it "Baa" and hit the ground. "Talk about the blind leading the blind."
- Literally done in an episode of MythBusters, where they tested the myth where a blindfolded person would have No Sense of Direction (confirmed). At the end of the episode, they decided to try a rig where the two of them were connected by a rigid ladder while blindfolded. The hypothesis was that each person would be able to feel the other start to veer off course and compensate. It ended up working about as well as the trope description would expect (i.e. not well at all).
- Frank applies this to Klinger and Radar when he sees them trying to put out a fire outside the operating room in an episode of M*A*S*H.
- In POD's song "Youth of the Nation", discussed:
Who's to blame for the lives that tragedies claim?
No matter what you say, it don't take away the pain
That I feel inside; I'm tired of all the lies.
Don't nobody know why: it's the blind leading the blind
- Mentioned in the lyrics of the Billy Talent song, "The Dead Can't Testify":
And the angels sing: let it shine, let it shine
Dry the teardrops from my eyes
And the bells will ring when the blind lead the blind
'Cause the dead can't testify.
- A literal example appears in Megadeth's, "Millenium of the Blind":
Trust your leaders
As they send you out to die
The true face of evil can't be seen
Sacrifice your leaders
Like it or not
Or else your going down with the ship
Death on the rocks
All our hopes and dreams
Washed out to sea
- Calvin and Hobbes: Any time Calvin asks Hobbes for help with his arithmetic.This is a good example.
- One story of The Broons and Oor Wullie has Grandpa going for a driving test - the instructor thinks Grandpa's the instructor.
- Ménage à 3: Yvan, a games company manager who interviews lead character Gary for an artist job, finds out a little about Gary's dating history, concludes (correctly) that it's impressive and hence (very, very incorrectly) that Gary is an expert at dealing with women — and hires Gary on condition that Gary helps him with his own, unsuccessful dating life.
- Tycho gives Gabe advice on how to be a good game master in Penny Arcade. Unfortunately, Tycho tells Gabe to be a Killer Game Master and all of Gabe's players quit in frustration, which Gabe does not appreciate. Tycho then admits that he hasn't actually run a game since high school, since no one wants to play with him.
- Israeli Rabbi Ovadia invoked this when he called Israeli politician Ehud Barak a ‘blind goat’, telling a parable about how a shepherd wanted to punish his herd of goats by using a blind goat to lead them, making them trip wherever the blind goat did.
- In the US Air Force, avoiding this trope is the reason that inexperienced airmen are advised not to listen to "Dorm Lawyers" or "Dorm Doctors", in favor of seeking out the actual subject matter experts.