Return of the Sidekick – The Time is Now

Published 3 years ago by , Updated August 7th, 2012 at 1:47 pm,

sidekicks group Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

Sidekicks have been a part of television and movie history since the very beginning of Hollywood’s timeline. Going back as far as Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid where the Tramp’s sidekick was a young Jackie Coogan as “the kid”, sidekicks have been a popular and necessary part of any hero’s known associates.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the first sidekick appeared in cinema history, but one thing is for sure, most leading men or women wouldn’t be near as interesting, and sometimes, as effective without them. Recently Hollywood has made a legitimate effort to bring back the classic sidekick in shows like No Ordinary Family and movies like Kick-Ass and of course, The Green Hornet. But in order for the sidekick to make a proper return there are some questions we must answer: Why are sidekicks important? What different roles do sidekicks play? And why is this the right time to bring them back to the mainstream? Let’s discuss.

Sidekicks used to be a staple in just about every TV show or movie featuring  a hero in the lead, but over the past decade writers have been purposely leaving them out of storylines. It could be that writing a hero/sidekick dynamic is just too much to put into a script (see Batman and Robin). Burt Ward is probably the most famous of all sidekick actors as he played Bruce Wayne/Batman’s (Adam West) ward Robin – though he is typically the exception and not the rule when it comes to sidekick mythos.

One has to look no further than the past few superhero movies to see the decline of the sidekick first-hand. Spider-Man, Superman Returns, X-Men – none of them included a sidekick of any type. True fans of TV shows and movies will tell you that a sidekick plays a very important role in a story and can sometimes be a more integral part of the show than the hero himself.

What happens when the good guy is caught by the bad guy and is about to die a horrible death? If they have a sidekick then they survive after they are saved at the last minute. If they don’t have a sidekick – well it might be time to get a new good guy. You should never underestimate the importance of a well-written and well-acted sidekick.

The Role of the Sidekick

Typically sidekicks can be broken down into five major categories: The Assistant, The Best Friend, The Brains, The Brawn, and The Comedy Relief. Of course there are going to be some outliers – sidekicks that don’t quite fit into any of those categories – but for the most part each sidekick listed below fills the role they have been assigned quite nicely.

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The Assistant Sidekick

These sidekicks are probably the most unsung of them all – they don’t fight, they do very little if any comedy, they aren’t the brains of the operation (meaning they don’t make the decisions) nor are they considered to be the leading character’s best friend. The main role of this sidekick is that of both trusted confidant and loyal supporter. They are usually, though not always, portrayed by a character in the service profession, such as a butler. Below are examples of our favorite Assistant Sidekicks:

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Herbert Cadbury - Richie Rich

cadbury richie Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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Tattoo - Fantasy Island


tattoo mr roarke Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now
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Sharona Fleming - Monk

sharona monk Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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Lurch - The Addams Family

lurch gomez Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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Alfred Pennyworth - Batman

alfred bruce wayne Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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The Best Friend Sidekick

Every leading character, whether they are male or female, needs a best friend - someone who will keep them on the straight and narrow and is always there to help them regardless of the situation. Best friend sidekicks are among some of the most popular in TV shows and movies because each character usually incorporates a few qualities from multiple categories. Think of them as a “Jack of all trades and master of none.” Below are a few of our favorite choices that represent Best Friend Sidekicks.

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Hermione Granger & Ron Weasley – Harry Potter

hermione ron harry Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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Lt. Nick “Goose” Bradshaw – Top Gun

goose maverick Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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Samwise Gamgee – The Lord of the Rings

samwise gamgee frodo Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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Tonto – The Lone Ranger

tonto lone ranger Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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Dr. John Watson – Sherlock Holmes

dr watson sherlock holmes Return of the Sidekick   The Time is Now

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Continue to sidekick brains and brawn…

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TAGS: batman, gilligan's island, green hornet, harry potter, kick ass, sherlock holmes, star wars, the lone ranger, the lord of the rings, the tick, top gun

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  1. Nightwing nuff said

    • Nightwing has a great COMIC BOOK presence, but not so much presence in TV and Film.

      • Also, he’s rarely a sidekick?

        • Nightwing may work with Batman from time to time, but he’s a solo hero.

      • Nightwing’s not really a sidekick; he’s more of the sidekick’s revenge…or the sidekick’s evolution. He was (is? although, of course, he’s Batman, currently) on equal footing with Batman, just not as experienced or known.

  2. Dave Foley in Sky High? A whole movie revolving around the sidekicks having to save the heroes. Its a kids movie, but pretty fun.

    • Oh yeah. I’ve forgotten how much I love that movie.

    • I loved that movie Garrett. It’s one of those enjoyable films that to me never gets old.

      • And its got Bruce Campbell, Snake Plissken and the Kids in the Hall in it. How could anybody not love that?

        • I LOVE SKY HIGH!!!

          • you guys like sky high but som of you were hatin on the new spiderman costume? that ses enough about your taste to even take your opinions seriously haha

            • You’re soo right. It does say something about our taste…..it’s all different.

              • Just wait until Spidey comes out, I’m pretty dang sure they’ll be calling it the cool movie of the month. . .

            • its also us talking about a movie that was not suppose to be taken seriously and then that is representing a comicbook Icon and it should be done with respect to the character

            • Tank what if someone hated both Skyhigh and what we know about the new Spiderman film? Does that make my taste even better?

              We all have different taste. Sure Skyhigh was a bad movie, but it was for kids and it kind of intended to be a crap film. I’m not one of them, but some people like those kinds of things.

              • I mostly like it b/c of the homages to many superheroes.

            • tankD…

              I actually LIKE the new costume, but the difference between the two films is that “Sky High” was purposely comedic/satirical whereas “Spider-Man” is meant to be a more serious take on superheroes. Thus, the costumes in the former were EXPECTEDLY funny and/or bizarre; the costume of the latter must (if success is to be achieved) be iconic or inspirational or full of dramatic potential. THAT is the point of complaining about the one but not the other.

    • Sky High was cool.

  3. This one is more from the comics, but Robin. I always found him to be a great character in the comics, and has been a great sidekick to Batman. It’s too bad the Adam West and Schumacher Batman ridiculed him as a character.

    • damian wayne has made an awsome robin so far i cant wait for him to grow into his own force of nature mabe the next batman. i do like the concept of him as batman when he sold his soul to the devil its an awsome story

    • Not a big fan of Robin always sort of disliked him and usually hurts the comics for me. There are the rare stories where he is actually worth reading, but most of the time the very concept of him is cringe worthy.

      I will say in my opinion the best robin is and always will be Tim Drake. He was the only robin that really owned the costume to me. Heck even Batman has said flat out that Tim is the best. He often has said that Tim is the closet to being his equal. Dick never worked for me he was never enjoyable for me to read. However, once he landed as Knightwing I really started to like him and I think it was a much better fit for him.

      Steph was a terribly bad idea and an absolute fail as Robin, but that was the point she was suppose to be.

      Damian is an interesting change I find my self torn on him. He’s certainly made the character 10 times less campy which I like a lot, but he is a fairly dull character most of the time with only rare moments of being interesting. Most of the time your more concerned about how others will react to what Damian did rather than what he did and his reasoning. It’s just hard to care about him.

      • Robin is an interesting character if you can force yourself to be a little objective and ignore the 60s TV show. Tim Drake had his own solo comic that ran successfully for over 150 issues before it was cancelled by Editor’s orders.

  4. You mentioned the Dark Knight not having any type of Sidekick – but it has two Assistants – Alfred & Lucious…

    • They don’t get mixed up in the action like Sidekicks do.

      • Except he actually use Alfred as an example of an “Assistant-type” sidekick. The whole point of this article was that there are a lot of different types of sidekicks, aside from the typical Robin-esque, joining the fight types.

        Besides, Alfred took out one of the ninjas in Batman Begins. It counts.

  5. Since he hasn’t had his big screen debut yet, I want to see Nightwing in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. It’s a long shot, but I can totally see it happening. *I’ll* play the character if I have to!

  6. Donkey did get a girl at least (female dragon) but what a girl right ? Lol.

    Also you mentioned the TDK as a movie without any type of sidekick whatsoever then scrolling down you see a picture of michael Caine as alfred… The assistant sidekick.

  7. You guys are right! I had The Dark Knight in there originally but then when I realized that Alfred served as a sidekick I meant to go back and swap it for Spider-Man…thanks for the reminder.

  8. dark knight =)

  9. Zoe from Firefly
    Penfold from Danger Mouse
    Luigi from Mario Brothers
    Smokey from Friday
    R2-D2 from Star Wars…I mean really that little droid has saved more lives than the actual stars of the films.
    Timon and Pumbaa from the Lion King…
    This is just a few but I got more.

    • @d-man – there are so many that I couldn’t do all of them obviously. I did however put 10 of the unmentioned ones in the header…can you name them all?

      • Igor from Frankenstien

        • I don’t know what happen but anyways…
          Penfold
          Short Round from TTOD Indiana Jones
          Minnie Me(Vern)
          Tinker Bell
          It has been so long I forgot the names of the others. The girl is from Space Ghost I used to love that show when I was kid. Do you remember the monkey they used to run with?

          The dude is from the Honeymooner’s. I am at a lost with the other three but they do look familiar. Enlighten me please.

          • @d-man – Left to right clockwise: Bucky, Foggy Nelson, Jan (from Space Ghost), Cato Fang from the Pink Panther movies, Tinkerbell, Norton, Short Round, Mini Me, Penfold, Igor

            Blip was the monkey and Jan partnered with Jace.

            • Cool beans. And you are so right, it is way too many to name all of the good side kicks but your list is amazing and spot on.

  10. R2D2 to C-3PO? How’d you miss that one ;)

    • @foopher – I didn’t forget aobut them I just didn’t think they fit properly. I would also say that C3PO and R2D2 were sidekicks to Luke instead of being sidekicks to each other…if that makes sense.

      • Makes perfect sense Paul.

      • Make sense to me as well. I have always considered them both side kicks to any of their other human and alien counter parts but respectively to Luke Skywalker.

        • @ d-man
          @ paul

          Hope you don’t mind, here’s a few more: :-)

          Dr Evil & Mini Me
          Fred & Barney
          Wall.E & Eva
          Woody & Buzz
          Martin & Lewis
          Abbott & Costello
          Cap & Bucky
          Bert & Ernie
          Cheech & Chong

          • Interesting addendum, but I would remove Wall-E & EVA and Woody & Buzz…Those two pairs were equals.

      • I see your point. But there were plenty of R2D2 to C-3PO moments that were just them ;)

  11. Could make a case for Al and maybe the limmo driver in Die Hard.
    Bishop in Aliens could also be an assistant type SK.

    • I mean, their heroes aren’t strictly speaking superheroes, but you’ve got Tattoo and Watson in there, so…

      • Tattoo is the man. Mr.Roarke Had powers.

  12. Gilligan wasn’t the side kick, he was the hero, after all it WAS his island.

  13. I’d add Guster Burton from Psych. The show won’t be effective without him acting as a foil to Shawn. And its criminal not to mention Dr. Who and his various companions.

    • I’m only nitpicking because I’m a big fan of the show… it’s Burton Guster. But you’re so right about him being a great sidekick.

  14. I’m ready for a Bj & the Bear movie.
    :)

    • That would rock!

  15. No Harley Quinn in comic relief? Good list though :).

    I would also like to mention Sam L. Jackson in die hard, and Pulp Fiction (though that is debateable).

  16. I feel like mentioning Ron and Rufus from the show Kim Possible.

  17. Hong Kong Fuey Number one super guy Hong Kong Fuey Quicker than the human eye.

    I loved that cartoon.

  18. Robin or Nightwing in Dark Knight Rises!!!!!

  19. I wouldn’t think of Alfred Pennyworth as a sidekick. More like a mentor, or supporting character. The first Robin(Dick Grayson) i would see as Batman’s sidekick. For some reason i saw the 89 Batman film before i started reading the comics & i had now idea who Robin was before hand till i saw Batman: The Movie on tv. I bought more comics with Robin in them & knew more about him & when Batman:TAS i really liked how they had Robin as on the show when it aired. He was wasn’t corny or anything, just a college guy who helped Batman occasionly throughout the show. After what Bruce Timm mentioned on one of the dvd boxsets of the show, he convinced me more why Robin should be involved with Batman related projects cause as Bruce stated, he’s there as to make sure Batman doesn’t cross the line & become what he’s fighting against. And its hard to be Batman, & Robin was partly created so comic book fans would wonder if they could work with Batman if they were in Robin’s shoes. Whether it helping solve a riddle or being on look out when Batman can’t be at two places at once on a certain case. Sure Robin started off light but the character devveloped into gettin darker himself to the point where he abandon Batman & became Nightwing to operate on his own. When people think Robin is too light-hearted, they’re think of the 60′s tv show etc. Id like to see Robin introduced again if the Batman film franchise starts over again.

  20. I think that the lack of sidekicks in superhero movies has to with the fact that the most famous superhero’s don’t have a sidekick.

    “One has to look no further than the past few superhero movies to see the decline of the sidekick first-hand. Spider-Man, Superman Returns, X-Men – none of them included a sidekick of any type.”

    There is no real decline in sidekicks, the hero’s you mentioned dont even have sidekicks…maybe along the line they added some sidekicks to the more famous hero’s, these were mostly stunts to boost comics sale.

    And I think that producers are a little afraid of the Batman comparison.

    Cap America will feature his sidekick, but it remains to be seen who much screentime he will get.

    Cloak and Dagger would make a cool movie, but they are more like partners.
    Most duo hero’s operate on a partnership level, sidekicks like Robin are pretty rare among the bigger hero’s….I could be wrong, I’m not up to date with the current Marvel/DC hero’s.
    Anybody out there who knows the sidekick’s rooster of both companies?
    Old and new…

    • @ Samplelord

      For DC comics, i can only think of this list of heroes & sidekicks.

      1. Batman & Robin- all of them
      2. Batman & Batgirl
      3. Green Arrow & Speedy
      4. Star-Spangled Kid & Stripsy
      5. S.T.R.I.P.E & Stargirl
      6. Dr. Fate & Inza if you consider her a sidekick

  21. Only heroes who have sidekicks that come to mind within Marvel Comics is Captain America & Bucky and Iron Man & Warmachine. DC comics on the otherhand, would take me awhile to go through my books so i’ll have to get back to ya on that later.

    • That’s strange, because sidekicks are far more common in DC than Marvel. All the major DC heroes have them!

      Batman: Robin, Batgirl
      Superman: Superboy, Supergirl
      The Flash: Kid Flash, Impulse
      Aquaman: Aqualad, Tempest
      Green Arrow: Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow
      Wonder Woman: Wonder Girl

      And so on…

      • I noticed to….
        So there is no decline in sidekicks within the superhero realm.
        There are simple not that many sidekicks!
        Who would want to be a sidekick anyway…..”dammit Robin, I said no sugar!”

    • Dr. Strange had Clea, but she was more like an apprentice/companion. Hulk had Rick Jones. More will come come to me, I’m sure…

    • I wouldn’t say War Machine is a sidekick; MAYBE Jim Rhodes (his civilian identity) could be considered a sidekick to Tony Stark, but that’s extremely iffy…plus, then, you’d have to include Pepper Potts and what’s-his-name (in the films played by Favreau).

  22. Wolverine and Jubilee?

    I think the original idea of the sidekick was that it allowed the reader a more intimate view of the hero from the perspective of someone their own age. Of course since children read comics less than adults now (or at least can’t afford to buy as many as adults) there’s less demand for them.

    Captain Marvel, Miss Marvel, CM3?

  23. One of my favourite’s is Tom Arnold as Arnie’s sidekick in True Lies, probably one of Tom’s most memorable roles too, they worked so well together.

    And you can’t go past Kirk and his sidekick Spock, what a combination.

    Wall-E and his sidekick, the cockroach, way to go making a cockroach lovable. Didn’t stop me stomping on one the other night though (the filthy little @$#%er!!).

    Woody and Buzz Lightyear, Dick Dastardly and Muttley, Sonny Hammond and his wallaby sidekick Skippy, Beavis and Butthead, C3PO and R2D2, Jake and Elwood Blues.

  24. Chloe of Smallville
    R2D2 of Starwars
    Brian of Family Guy
    Arthur of Inception

  25. What???!!! No ElectroWoman and DynaGirl? Oh Forshame! lol

  26. Han & Chewie?
    Marty & Doc?
    Woody & Buzz?
    Cap & Bucky?
    Kirk & Spock?
    Indy & Shorty?
    Riggs & Murtaugh?
    Chuck & Morgan?

    • Except for the fact that Riggs and Murtaugh were equals, as were Buzz and Woody, the others make for neat additions to list.

      I’m surprised no one has yet mentioned Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket…a “Brains” sidekick if ever there was one!