Every hero needs a good sidekick. They can’t go through their journeys alone. There will usually be a transformative internal journey, in which they have a change of heart about something or come to terms with a big event in their life. But they need to vent; they need to talk about what they’re going through with a close companion or colleague. And not only that, there’s usually a whole separate external journey that they’re going through, and they need help with that. It’s been a model of storytelling for centuries, ever since Don Quixote’s loyal sidekick Sancho Panza. According to storytellers like Joseph Conrad and William Shakespeare, who laid the groundwork for how stories are told, there are a few basic characters who need to surround a hero to round them off. They have a villain, a love interest, and most of the time, a sidekick. It started out with the likes of Sancho Panza and Banquo, but it’s since gone on to incorporate the likes of Donkey, Goose, and Silent Bob. Dozens upon dozens of sidekicks have been passed through the world of fiction. Pretty much every story that’s been told for the last few hundred years has featured a sidekick characters in some form or another. Here are the fifteen greatest sidekicks in the history of fiction.
Aside from being freaking adorable, Mini-Me is a great sidekick. This is mostly due to the fact he’s just a tiny, cute version of Dr. Evil. Visually alone, he’s a great sidekick. He’s so popular and lovable among movie fans that Madonna herself decided to put him in her music video for “Beautiful Stranger.” Also, it’s worth noting that Mini-Me became a shining star in the Austin Powers movies because Verne Troyer is endlessly watchable. Every time he shouts out, frightened, “Eeeee!” the audience can’t help but be mesmerized. The same goes for the musical numbers he breaks into with Dr. Evil, like “Just the Two of Us” by Bill Withers or “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from Annie (albeit the Jay-Z version). Mini-Me’s great!
14. Randy Hickey
Randall Dew Hickey, younger brother of karma-fearing Earl Hickey, is a dim-witted (“borderline artistic,” according to Earl and a doctor who Earl didn’t realize was talking about Randy’s autism) but well-meaning and loyal sidekick. He’s played by Ethan Suplee, who you might remember as Frankie in Boy Meets World and the goth roommate of Ashton Kutcher in The Butterfly Effect. Randy acts like a child, so he sometimes has tantrums, but he’s generally a sweet and kind guy. He’ll do anything to help Earl complete his list, even if he doesn’t understand it sometimes and hates how important it is to Earl and how difficult his new moral fiber makes life for them. If that isn’t enough to make him a loyal sidekick, I don’t know what is.
13. Silent Bob
It can’t be easy being the sidekick of a loud-mouthed jerk like Jay. It especially can’t be easy keeping your mouth shut most of the time and having to listen to him spout off between weed deals. But Silent Bob does it. He only speaks when he offers up a big, long speech filled with sage words of advice. In Kevin Smith’s upcoming movie, Moose Jaws, about a ‘killer moose on the loose’ (which would make a better title) in Canada, Silent Bob is apparently going to be eaten by the moose and therefore killed off. However, he’s not gone for good, as he’ll be rebooted almost immediately. A few months ago, Smith announced that he’d been writing a reboot of the Jay and Silent Bob franchise, which will see them head back to Hollywood to stop the production of a reboot of the Bluntman and Chronic movie that was based on the comic book based on them. So, basically, the reboot will be a rehash of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
Ed (Nick Frost) would follow his best mate Shaun (Simon Pegg) to the ends of the Earth, and in Shaun of the Dead, he pretty much does. Well, he follows him to the Winchester, following a zombie uprising that brings an end to life as we know it (for a bit). He might be a bit of a pain sometimes, but Ed is always there for Shaun. He’s there for him when his girlfriend leaves him and when there’s a flesh-eating zombie in the backyard. And in the end he makes the ultimate sacrifice for him, and even then he’s still there for him as his sidekick. He’s still at Shaun’s side, playing Tekken II, even in death. What a heck of a sidekick he is!
11. Buzz Lightyear
Buzz Lightyear used to think he was actually a space ranger sent from Star Command to the strange planet of Andy’s bedroom. Then he met Sheriff Woody – with whom he was adversaries at first – and they went on a wild adventure that proved that although he wasn’t really a space ranger, he was just as brave and heroic as one. An amazing friendship was born that day, and from then on Buzz would do anything in the world to make sure Woody was okay. When he got kidnapped and whisked away to some apartment across town, Buzz led the search party to rescue him. And when Woody gets taken to the airport to fly off to Japan, Buzz chases the plane down. Buzz is always risking his life for Woody, because that’s how important he is to him. Just listen to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” It’s all in there.
10. Garth Algar
Garth always wants what’s best for his friend Wayne Campbell… sometimes at great personal cost. For example, at the end of Wayne’s World 2, Garth conquers his fear of public speaking to address the attendees of Waynestock to allow Wayne to chase after the love of his life. And it’s not just Garth who’s loyal to Wayne; Dana Carvey was loyal to the role of Garth. Carvey was so committed to the role of Garth that he incurred lasting dental health problems from creating the iconic Garth mouth for the months they were shooting. He also incurred neck injuries from the head-banging in the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene. However, he didn’t learn the lyrics, because he felt that the character of Garth wouldn’t know the lyrics, so instead he’s just vaguely moving his mouth to the sound of the music.
9. Dr. Watson
Without Dr. Watson’s help, Sherlock Holmes would just be a drug addict locked away while he loses his mind. The whole reason he runs his business is Watson. Watson is the intellectual glue that keeps the whole detective enterprise together. It’s Holmes who has the occasional flash of genius that solves the cases, but it’s Watson who does pretty much everything else to make sure that Holmes doesn’t end up out on the street turning tricks for his next fix of opium. It would make Watson’s life worlds easier to just cut him loose, but he couldn’t do that because he loves him. Aside from the possible returns of Jude Law in the Warner Bros. movies and Martin Freeman in the BBC series, Watson will be next portrayed on screen by John C. Reilly alongside Will Ferrell’s Holmes, which sounds like a weird idea but also exciting and awesome.
8. Dwight Schrute
Dwight’s title “Assistant Regional Manager” (or Assistant to the Regional Manager) might as well just be “Sidekick” to the Regional Manager, because that’s what he is. He’s his boss Michael Scott’s sidekick, and he’s extremely loyal. He followed Michael out into the woods when he wanted to go out into the woods and be Bear Grylls, and watched him from afar to make sure he wasn’t going to kill himself. Usually, people don’t care about their boss, but Dwight cares deeply about Michael. Most people wouldn’t bother to follow their boss out into the woods and dive on them to keep poisonous mushrooms out of their mouth to save their life, but that’s exactly what Dwight did. He’ll do anything for Michael, no matter how absurd. He’ll go around to companies giving out gift baskets for Michael. He’ll deliver a watermelon like it was a baby for Michael. He’ll do anything for him!
Lieutenant Nick “Goose” Bradshaw is the perfect sidekick for Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Not only are they the coolest cats at the Top Gun Flight School, they also love each other deeply. That’s what separates their relationship from other so-called bromances – they genuinely feel love in their hearts for each other. It’s what makes it all the more gut-wrenching when Goose tragically dies halfway through the movie. Maverick is lost without his wingman. He’s a hollow shell of a man. He’s one half of an incomplete whole. Their relationship is very heavily homoerotic, despite the fact that in the movie they’re in relationships with women and often go on double dates. Director Tony Scott made no attempt to hide their obvious sexual chemistry (the volleyball scene!), because it’s endearing.
The relationship between Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock was pretty much the whole point of Star Trek. It was their undying bond that kept viewers coming back every week, made them cry when Khan killed Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and made them rejoice when he was brought back in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Kirk, actor William Shatner, once wrote a piece for Time magazine in which he quoted the late, great Leonard Nimoy on the topic of Kirk and Spock’s relationship. According to Shatner, Nimoy characterized their relationship as having a “great sense of brotherhood. Spock was tremendously loyal and had a great appreciation for the talent and the leadership abilities of Kirk. He was totally devoted to seeing to it that whatever Kirk needed to be done got done.”
There’s a reason why Wallace always calls his canine companion “lad” and “mate.” It’s because he’s his sidekick. He’s always got his back. He’s the more level-headed and arguably smarter of the two, but because Wallace is a human and can speak English, he takes center stage. Instead, Gromit takes a back seat and makes sure Wallace’s antics don’t get either of them killed. Wallace is the one who naively trusts the villains of the movies they’re in; Gromit is always the one who has to suspect them, look into it, and expose them for who they really are. What’s frustrating is that Wallace usually doesn’t believe him until it’s too late, leading Gromit to do a face-palm. Now, the sheer fact that Gromit doesn’t take off and still sticks by Wallace through thick and thin shows that he’s one hell of a sidekick.
Remember when you were watching The Force Awakens and Han was killed by his own son and you got really sad? And remember when right after that, you saw how devastated Chewie was to see Han get killed and it made you ever more sad? That’s because we’ve been watching their bromance play out for decades. They were best friends flying through space together, with no one but each other; just them versus the galaxy. And when he lost Han, he lost his whole world. Chewie was Han’s co-pilot and stuck with him through debts with mobsters, rendezvous with dangerous aliens, and that time Han was frozen and displayed on Jabba the Hutt’s wall. He would never let Han down, never leave him to face danger alone, and never take anyone else’s side. He’s loyal, noble, heroic, and when The Last Jedi comes out this December, it’ll be poignant to see how Chewie is handling those emotions and coping without his buddy.
Perhaps the most loyal sidekick of all, Shrek’s jackass companion Donkey, never lets him down. Sure, he may have hyperactive tendencies that some may find annoying and he can be tragically insecure about himself, but he’s got a huge heart. Donkey is the breakout character of the Shrek franchise (a small supporting character who becomes the fans’ favorite over time) because the movies are really about Shrek and Fiona’s relationship, but Donkey is everyone’s favorite. He steals every single scene he’s in. He’s pretty much the whole reason the movies have been so popular and stood the test of time. Until Donkey, Eddie Murphy had always played his characters really cool, like Axel Foley and Billy Ray Valentine. But he plays Donkey silly and dorky, and it works fantastically. Fun fact: When Steven Spielberg first bought the rights to the children’s book that the Shrek movies are based on, he wanted to cast Bill Murray as Shrek and Steve Martin as Donkey. That would’ve been great, but the combination of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy works just fine.
2. George Costanza
Sidekicks are supposed to be loyal, supportive, and helpful. George Costanza is none of those things, but he is a perfect sidekick for Jerry Seinfeld. Described by Elaine Benes as a “short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man” and by himself as “Lord of the Idiots,” George is always there to enable Jerry’s bad behavior. He’ll stay up all night with him to scheme his way into making the switch from dating one roommate to the other, and end up getting offered a threesome (which, according to George, is “like discovering plutonium by accident!”). And Jerry enables his lies and deceit right back. They’re terrible people, but they’re perfect for each other! It’s a crime that Jason Alexander was never awarded an Emmy for his portrayal of George, whose personality was based on Seinfeld co-creator, Larry David.
Forget the dodgy incarnations where he shares a bed with Bruce Wayne (that was a long time ago), Robin is without a doubt the greatest sidekick of all time. He sticks by Batman through thick and thin. They’ve faced all kinds of villains and adversaries together, and despite being just a boy, Robin has never backed down or cowered in the face of danger. They call him the Boy Wonder for a reason. There have been many, many incarnations of Robin, but the best has to be Dick Grayson. He outgrew the mere status of Robin and became Nightwing, which is infinitely more badass than just being Robin. And if that wasn’t enough, he later succeeded Wayne and donned the Batsuit to become…Batman himself! What greater sidekick is there than the one who becomes the guy he was originally the sidekick to? It’s the ultimate ‘student has become the master’ story.