What would a good superhero be without his sidekick? Batman has his entire Bat-family, Superman has Jimmy Olsen and Krypto the Superdog, Cap has Bucky and the Falcon, and even loners like Wolverine and Deadpool have multiple companions that help them on their escapades.
In most cases, the sidekick acts as a foil to their hero; Robin and Jubilee are bright, colorful, and full of positive energy whereas their respective heroes are dark and brooding. Others, like Bucky, Krypto, and Hydra Bob, are made so that an “outcast” hero can have friends. Though there have been some very odd sidekicks through the years, they are a staple of comic books that aren’t going away any time soon!
However, perhaps some of them should. For every great partnership a superhero has, there is another that was a complete and utter disaster. Maybe they turned evil, maybe they were just super clumsy and kept getting in the way, or maybe they just caused more hassle than they were worth. We’re going to call these sidekicks out for the nuisances they really were!
Here are 15 Super Sidekicks Who Did More Harm Than Good.
Any child of the ’80s will recognize the familiar cry of “Thundercats, hoooo!” Led by the mighty Lion-O, the ThunderCats fought against the evil Mumm-Ra in an effort to protect their species from total extinction. Back in the day, this franchise was as popular as G.I. Joe or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; the series still continues on in comic book form to this day.
In their adventures, the ThunderCats were joined by a small, intelligent cat-like creature called Osbert. Osbert hated his real name and thus went by the name of his species, Snarf. This character was one of purity; Snarfs could do no evil on their own and were loyal servants to the Thundereans.
He was also one of annoyance. Why were they called “Snarfs?” Well, because they had the habit of ending every sentence they said with the phrase, “snarf, snarf!” Much to the annoyance of Lion-O, Snarf also had the bad habit of “babying” him, preventing him from becoming the leader he was meant to be. If that wasn’t enough, Snarf really had no combat abilities at all and was an easy target for villains because of this.
The Tick has been the go-to source of comic book satire for over two decades, with a comic series, three different TV shows, and even a video game that all poked fun at the cliches and tropes of the industry. The hero with the legendary chin was joined by other heroes such as Batmanuel, American Maid, and his sidekick, Arthur. Every week, the Tick and his associates would get into ridiculous adventures against even more ridiculous foes (seriously, there was a villain named Chairface Chippendale whose head was literally a chair).
Early on in his crime-fighting career, the superhero met up with Arthur, an accountant who yearned for a life of adventure and excitement. Donning a flight suit that he built himself, the character joined the Tick in his never-ending mission to stomp out crime.
Maybe we’re being too harsh on Arthur; he always has been known as the brains of the duo. But… Arthur is kind of a wimp. He has no powers or combat skills whatsoever. In fact, his super awesome catchphrase is, “Not in the face! Not in the face!” He’s about as useful in a fight as a foam sword.
Roy Harper, better known as Speedy, has been the sidekick of the Green Arrow since the early ’40s. Orphaned as a little boy, Harper grew up under the direction of a Navajo medicine chief before getting adopted by Oliver Queen. Most recently the character got a gender swap, appearing on Arrow as the alter ego of Oliver Queen’s sister (though Roy Harper still appeared under his alias of Arsenal). The character’s been through a lot over the years; he was a founding member of the Teen Titans, he’s gone through a bunch of costume and name changes, and he’s been addicted to heroin. Wait, what?
Don’t do drugs, kids. The oft-forgotten Green Arrow sidekick was the subject of a bizarre anti-drug campaign launched by DC back in 1971 when Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen discovered him shooting up heroin in a house with a bunch of junkies. Yikes. This was character assassination at its worst; from this point forward readers couldn’t even look at Harper without remembering the infamous story arc.
Let’s also not forget how much damage Speedy did to the Green Arrow’s image as a whole. In the beginning the character was literally Robin with a bow and arrow, furthering the idea that Green Arrow was nothing more than a shameless Batman ripoff.
12. Hydra Bob
We love you, Hydra Bob, but you’re about as useless as they come. The character is fairly new to the game, first appearing in 2007 and only making the occasional cameo here and there in the Deadpool comics. Even so, people love Hydra Bob. He adds a much needed voice of sanity to stories featuring the Merc with a Mouth as well as creates some truly hilarious moments due to his role as a punching bag.
But Bob is pretty worthless. In his initial appearance he tries to help Deadpool escape a Hydra base by flying him home in a stolen jet. The only problem? Bob didn’t know how to fly.
That time when Deadpool needed a gun to in order to fight Tiger Shark? Bob accidentally threw his weapons into the water.
Or there was that time when Wade and Weasel were taking on symbiote-infested Dinosaurs in New York (don’t ask) and Bob accidentally killed one, causing news reporters to hail him as a hero and taking the spotlight away from Deadpool.
When the idea of a Fantastic Four cartoon series was being kicked around in the late ’70s, the Human Torch was contractually unable to be used. Apparently Johnny Storm had a contract set up to star in a live-action film at the time, one that never materialized. Marvel refused to change the title of the cartoon, prompting Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to create H.E.R.B.I.E., a lovable robot sidekick who traveled with Marvel’s First Family and aided them on their journeys. He later appeared in the mainstream comics as a less cartoonish character.
However, H.E.R.B.I.E. definitely did a lot of damage. The Fantastic Four’s longtime enemy Doctor Sun transferred his living consciousness into the robot’s body and proceeded to use him as a sleeper agent. Suddenly H.E.R.B.I.E. was releasing criminals from the Negative Zone and murdering innocent aliens in cold blood. He eventually tried to kill the Fantastic Four themselves by taking control of the Baxter Building’s main computer system. The villain only failed when H.E.R.B.I.E.’s original programming took over; the little robot bravely throws himself into a computer, destroying himself and Doctor Sun in the process.
When he is rebuilt later as a babysitter for Franklin Richards, the robot allows the kid to be triggered by a TV program which causes his powers to surge. This results in Franklin’s powers destroying H.E.R.B.I.E. Why was this guy created again?
We have to talk about Bat-Mite? Oh, joy… This little troublemaker is the epitome of the campiness that plagued the Batman series back in the day. We’ll be the first to admit that not all of the camp was bad; the Adam West series was freaking amazing, for example. But when Bat-Mite made his first appearance in 1959, we all knew that Batman would never be the same. Bat-Mite is an imp from another dimension that follows the Dark Knight around, wearing a poorly-fitting replica of Batman’s costume.
There are no words to describe how annoying this character is. He speaks with a high-pitched tone and constantly makes a joke out of everything. Because he acts as the comic relief in most of his appearances, he is constantly making mistakes that get the Dynamic Duo captured or almost killed. Sometimes his only purpose is to cause trouble for the Caped Crusader; he once teamed up with Superman villain Mr. Mxyzptlk just to cause mayhem for the the two superheroes! Thankfully the character is only used these days as a way to highlight how crazy comics were back in the ’50s.
9. Bucky Barnes
As the original sidekick of Captain America, James “Bucky” Barnes was the good ‘ol fashioned, squeaky clean American sidekick that was needed during World War II. He fought against the Nazis alongside his Star-Spangled best friend on the front lines of the war, before his death in 1944, when his arm got caught in a plane that exploded. For a good sixty years Bucky was thought to be dead. One of the old adages in the comic book industry was “Three characters will always stay dead: Uncle Ben, Jason Todd, and Bucky.” In 2005, however, it was revealed that Bucky broke this rule.
In the Winter Soldier story arc (also the basis for 2014’s hit movie) Cap finds out that his long-dead sidekick wasn’t really dead at all. Instead, Russian soldiers found Bucky’s body, still alive, and took him back to their homeland. Russian scientists then replaced his severed arm with a bionic one and brainwashed him into doing their bidding. Over the next sixty years, the Winter Soldier killed dozens if not hundreds of people in the name of the Soviet Union.
Even after he regained his memories and returned to the side of good, there were still problems. The differing opinion on what to do about Bucky’s mental state caused the entirety of Captain America: Civil War, where we also discover that he’s done unspeakable things, like kill Tony Stark’s parents while he was under Soviet influence. We love you, Bucky, but sometimes you’re more hassle than you’re worth.
8. Red Mist
Does it count if we all knew a sidekick was a double agent from the beginning? In 2010’s sleeper hit Kick-Ass, actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse plays Red Mist, the son of a mob boss who poses as a superhero in order to lure out Big Daddy and Hit-Girl. In the original Kick-Ass comics, the reader is completely oblivious to this twist until it happens (which definitely has more impact than in the film, but we digress). Even when he’s pretending to be a sidekick he sucks at his job, cowering in fear as Kick-Ass runs into a burning building to save civilians and driving around in a car that’s about as subtle as Schumacher’s Batmobile.
The character then goes on to create even more chaos as the villainous Mother*****r; murdering children and committing unspeakable crimes. He also creates a total “turf war” between wannabe superheroes and supervillains. He is the sole reason that Big Daddy and Kick-Ass’s father are killed. McLovin, you’re literally the worst.
Much like ThunderCats, the cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was pure ’80s nostalgia cheese made primarily to sell toys. And it was awesome. The story followed Prince Adam of Eternia and his band of loyal allies as they did battle with the evil Skeletor. Adam could secretly call upon “the power of Greyskull” to transform himself into He-Man, a superhero with super strength and near-invulnerability. One of He-Man’s many followers was the sorcerer Orko.
Similarly to Bat-Mite, Orko was created solely as comic relief for the animated series. The showrunners felt that kids needed someone to laugh at, so they came up with this bumbling floating… thing that was always the source of humor in the series. Literally every time this mighty wizard tries to cast a spell, it backfires with hilarious consequences. In case he gets into a pinch Orko also carries around a bottomless hat that’s filled with a bunch of useless items. To add insult to injury, the wizard holds the official title of Royal Buffoon of Greyskull due to his constant screw-ups.
6. Snapper Carr
Oh, Snapper. You are such a relic of your time. When the Justice Society of America series was rebooted as the now-familiar Justice League of America, DC wanted to include a “hip” teenage character to attract older readers. Their solution was Snapper Carr, a teen who wore a leather jacket, spoke in trendy teenage slang, and constantly snapped his fingers. He was made as an honorary member of the Justice League in his first appearance thanks to his role in helping the team save the day.
Outside of the occasional stroke of random luck, Snapper was a big large burden on the team, so much so that they relegated him to the position of mascot and chauffeur (seriously). He must have taken it pretty hard, because a few years later the character turned on the league, helping an incognito Joker kidnap Batman and using his influence over the average Joe to turn the population against superheroes. At the end of this story, Carr realizes what he had done and resigns from the League. Carr then reappears a few years later as the villain Star-Tsar to torment his old friends once more.
He eventually returned to the side of good, becoming a superhero himself and recently appearing as a regular in Supergirl, but Snapper Carr was a thorn in the Justice League’s side for far too long.
5. April O’Neil
There sure are a lot of sidekicks from the ’80s on here! April O’Neil has been a major player in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series since the very beginning. In the original show, and all six movies, April was a news reporter who was constantly trying to beat her competitors to a story. She appeared as a lab assistant to Baxter Stockman in both the original Mirage comics as well as the 2003 animated series. In the current animated series, April is depicted as a teenage girl whose father the Turtles are trying to help find. As great a character she is, one thing remains constant across most of these mediums…
She’s a pain in the butt! All throughout the the ’80s show and in the latest movies, April would go out of her way to find trouble in hopes that she would get “the scoop.” This obviously led to her capture on multiple occasions by many different villains. Heck, even most of the older TMNT games are designed with the overall goal to “save April!” She may be a strong, bold, independent woman, but April needs to stop getting herself captured!
4. Uncle Marvel
Perhaps the oddest entry on this list, Uncle Marvel debuted in Wow Comics #18 all the way back in 1943. He was one of the original members of Captain Marvel’s (now named Shazam! for copyright reasons) “Marvel Family” and still makes the occasional cameo appearance every now and then. The character stumbled upon one of the other Marvels’ journal of good deeds. Inspired by what he read, he went to Captain Marvel and claimed to be the long lost “Uncle Marvel.”
The only issue? This guy didn’t have any powers whatsoever. Perhaps because they felt bad for him, the Marvel Family allowed him to join and played along with the ruse. When asked, they claimed that he was the team’s “manager.” Every time the team would get ready to go into action Uncle Marvel would claim that his “Shazambago” was acting up, preventing him from being able to use his powers. There was also a time when he inadvertently got himself and a powerless Mary Marvel kidnapped and held for ransom.
Nowadays the character is portrayed as the actual uncle and legal guardian of Billy Baston. Trust us, it’s better this way.
3. Robin (Jason Todd)
How could we do a list like this and not include Jason Todd? He was practically the inspiration for this entire list! First appearing in Batman #357 and becoming the Boy Wonder in the subsequent issues, Todd has to be one of the biggest characters in comic book history. You all know the story: returning to the Batmobile after a rough day of crime fighting, Batman discovered a young boy stealing the wheels of his ride. Instead of taking him to the proper authorities, the Caped Crusader took the boy under his wing. Jason Todd served as the second Robin until he was brutally murdered by the Joker in A Death in the Family.
The death of Jason Todd shook Batman to his very core. It completely changed his relationship with the Joker as well as with his sidekicks (he was hesitant to ever take on another one). The Riddler used this bit of knowledge to completely push the Dark Knight to his mental breaking point in Hush. Then in 2005, Jason Todd came back as the Red Hood. He now was a murderous vigilante who killed his enemies and wanted to make Batman pay for letting him die and the Joker live.
Funnily enough most people remember Jason Todd specifically for the pain he’s caused; there are few and far between who can recall any major story arc with him as Robin, but everyone remembers his death and resurrection!
Yes, Namorita counts! She may have gone off on her own, but the character had her humble beginnings as the understudy of Namor. When the Sub-Mariner’s cousin Namora realized that she was sterile, she hired an Atlantian scientist to create a clone of herself that she could “give birth to”, unbeknownst to her husband.
Right after her birth, Namorita’s father was killed. As a young adult, her mother was murdered as well; this left Namorita to be taken under the wing by Namor. She eventually went on to be a founding member of the New Warriors, and remained on that team for decades.
As a whole, Namorita wasn’t such a bad sidekick/team member, but there was one event that completely overrides every bit of good she has ever done. In 2006, the Warriors were filming a reality show that followed their superhero adventures. While filming, they come across four supervillains on the FBI’s most wanted list and instantly attack.
Namorita takes on Nitro during the fight, taunting him throughout and eventually causing him to go completely nuclear; the resulting explosion was known as the Stamford Incident that led to Civil War. If not for Namorita, Tony Stark wouldn’t have gone off the deep end. Captain America wouldn’t have been shot. Spider-Man wouldn’t have revealed his identity to the public. For someone with humble beginnings, Namorita definitely did as much damage as a sidekick can do.
1. Buddy Pine
Worst. Sidekick. Ever. In The Incredibles, Buddy Pine starts off as just a young boy who wants to help his hero. He builds himself a pair of rocket boots and goes off to try and help Mr. Incredible, even going so far as to interrupt a conflict between him and his longtime enemy, Bomb Voyage. As a result, the villain uses Buddy (now calling himself “Incrediboy”) as a distraction in order to escape. He straps a bomb to the boy’s cape and although Mr. Incredible is able to get it off before it blows, the explosion destroys a set of nearby train tracks. This forces the superhero to use his strength to stop an oncoming train and injure its passengers in the process. He gets mad at Buddy and sends him home with the police, telling him that “…[he] works alone.”
Dejected and broken-hearted, Pine then spends the next ten or fifteen years luring superheroes out of retirement to his private island and murdering them. He then takes on the alias of Syndrome as he constructs a plot to eliminate every single superhero in the world and then reintroduce himself as the only remaining one. Basically, you had a clumsy sidekick that turned into a supervillain and who, unlike the others on this list, actually succeeded in wiping out 90% of the world’s superhero population. Way to drop the ball, Mr. Incredible… way to drop the ball.
What do you think of our list? Did these sidekicks really do more harm than good? Let us know in the comments!