Tag Archives: sidekicks in books

What’s a Sidekick? What’s His Job?

“What’s a Sidekick? What’s His Job?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Wikipedia says a sidekick is a close companion of the same sex, who is generally regarded as subordinate to the one he accompanies. A villain’s supporters are not called, sidekicks. They are usually called henchmen, minions, or lackeys.

What do I think are traits of a sidekick?

A sidekick is loyal and has predictable behavior. He’ll stick with the protagonist through thick and thin. A sidekick will speak up when he believes the hero is making a mistake. A sidekick acts, even if he’s afraid. He would even die for the protagonist. You can depend on him in the story. He is smart in different areas than the hero.

Publicity photo from the television program Th...
Publicity photo from the television program The Andy Griffith Show. Pictured are Don Knotts (Barney Fife) and Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He has a skill or knowledge that the protagonist needs to reach his goal, but doesn’t have himself. If the hero is optimistic, the sidekick might be pessimistic, and have common sense to offset the hasty decisions of the hero. He has the same or similar morals and beliefs as hero. Neither he nor the hero will kill unless he is forced to do so in self-defense.

Paul Young puts sidekicks in simple categories that make sense to me in his article, “Return of the Sidekick…The Time Is Now.” I added a sidekick and how he worked to fit the job.

  1. The Assistant Chewbacca was Hans Solo’s assistant. Hans Solo had saved his life, so he would do anything to repay him for this.  Chewbacca assists in transporting prisoners, fixing the spaceship, and is asked to rescue everyone for Hans in Star Wars.
  2. The Best Friend In Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are both best friend sidekicks. Usually, sidekicks are the same sex. Hermione is the voice of reason that Harry and Ron listen to. She has advanced magical skills. Ron and Hermione get married in the last book. Ron Weasley is not totally loyal since he leaves for awhile, but he comes back.  Their relationship shows the power of three.
  3. The Brains Dr. Spock was the brains behind many of the plots in Star Trek. He did the thinking that saved Captain Kirk who got angry and thought later.
  4. The Brawn Fonzie, friend to Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, educates him in street smart ways. He is smarter and stronger than Richie Cunningham.
  5. Comedy Relief – Barney Fife is Andy Griffith’s sidekick. He is very funny. Andy has to get Barney out of trouble. Andy knew exactly what Barney would do in certain situations. Barney was very predictable.

Well-known and loved fictional book and movie sidekicks:

Main Character:  Sidekick
Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables):  Dianna Barry
Batman:  Robin
Captain Kirk (Star Trek):Dr. Spock
Charlie Bucket (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory):  Grandpa Joe
Don Quixote:  Sancho Panza
Green Hornet:  Kato
Hans Solo (Star Wars):  Chewbacca
Henry Huggins:  Ribsy
King Arthur:  Merlin
Lone Ranger: Tonto –
Peter Pan:  Tinkerbell
Pippy Longstocking:  Mr. Nilsson, the monkey
Sherlock Holmes:  Doctor Watson – always gave the critical piece of evidence Sherlock needed
Shrek:  Donkey
Winnie the Pooh:  Piglet

Captain Gallant:  Fuzzy Knight (Playing himself)
Gene Autry:  Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette)
Roy Rogers:  Cookie (Andy Devine)

Television Shows
Andy Griffith:   Barney Fife – comedy and created more problems than he helped solve)
Bullwinkle J. Moose:  Rocket J. Squirrel – brains and common sense
Fred Flintstone:  Barney Rubble – common Sense, calming influence
Inspector Gadget:   Penny – brains
Johnny Carson:  Ed McMahon – straight guy and friend to Johnny Carson; he laughed with Johnny
Lucille Ball (I Love Lucy):  Ethel Mertz – agreed with whatever Lucy said; helped her no matter what
Richie Cunningham (Happy Days): The Fonz, Arthur Herbert Fonzerelli

Resources (I invite you to visit at least 3 of these links. They contain fascinating information about the sidekicks you may know and love.)

  1. Christopher Bahn, Tasha Robinson, and Scott Tobias.  “13 Sidekicks Who Are Cooler Than Their Heroes:” http://www.avclub.com/articles/inventory-13-sidekicks-who-are-cooler-than-their-h,1775/
  2. Cody Gilley.  “What Makes a Good Sidekick:” http://www.gameinformer.com/blogs/members/b/codygilleymcnugget_blog/archive/2010/11/05/whst-makes-a-good-sidekick.aspx
  3. Dark Lord Plotter LP’s Fanfiction Site. “What Makes a Good Sidekick:” http://forums.darklordpotter.net/showthread.php?t=9090
  4. Erik Deckers.  “Attack of the Disney Sidekicks:” http://www.aladdincentral.org/library/viewstory.php?sid=6
  5. Little Willow.  “Sassy Sidekicks of Children’s Literature:” http://slayground.livejournal.com/129939.html
  6. Los Angeles Hero Complex. “The Top Ten Sidekicks of All Time:” http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2010/10/10/101010-the-top-10-sidekicks-of-all-time/
  7. Rick Rockhill. “Seven Famous Sidekicks That Matter:” http://rickrockhill.blogspot.com/2009/03/saturday-seven-famous-sidekicks-that.html
  8. Rob McLaughlin. “Film and Television’s Trustiest Sidekicks:” http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/575964/film_and_televisions_trustiest_sidekicks.html
  9. Top Tenz.net. “Top Ten Sidekicks:” http://www.toptenz.net/top-ten-sidekicks.php

I hope you enjoyed reading about these sidekicks. Perhaps you’ll create a sidekick for your next book. They are fun.  They help us understand the hero. They keep the hero grounded. I give special thanks to Scarlet Helms, my teacher’s assistant when I taught Kindergarten from 1993-1998, and all my family and friends who unselfishly surround me with their love and support.

I hope that you have a sidekick in real life to believe in you and support you in all of your endeavors.

Please leave the names of your favorite character and sidekick. I’d love to hear about them.

Copyright2012 © Joan Y. Edwards