Everyone dreams of being the hero who saves the day, and why not? That job comes with a lot of perks like fortune, glory, and the occasional love interest finally falling for you. The work may be hard, but at the end of the day, the rewards are worth it. However, even the best Hollywood leading men and woman can’t do it by themselves – and rely on the aid of some trusty sidekicks to accomplish their mission.
In fact, some of the greatest and most memorable characters in movie history have been of the supporting variety. Proving that “second bananas” can be just as valuable as their partners (if not more than), they show the importance of having strong friends behind you as you look to accomplish your goals. Here are Screen Rant’s 10 Most Popular Movie Sidekicks.
Dr. King Schultz – Django Unchained
Rescuing the slave Django (Jaime Foxx) from the ownership of the Speck brothers, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) forms an extremely beneficial partnership with his new friend. After Schultz shows Django the ropes of bounty hunting, the two go into business together and rack up the profits as they trek through the South. Shortly after, Schultz agrees to aid Django in his mission to find and free his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), whom Django has been separated from for quite some time. While Django undergoes quite a heroic transformation in the film, Schultz was extremely vital to the operation, pulling the necessary strings and concocting an elaborate plan so the two lovers can be reunited.
Schultz even admitted to Django that he feels responsible for him, and his actions clearly illustrated that he very much cared for his companion. The two formed a strong bond during their journey, with Schultz treating Django as his equal and allowing him to see the world in a new light. Schultz didn’t just want to make Django the best bounty hunter; he was invested in making Django a better person (teaching him how to read, etc.). This injected their relationship with qualities such as love, admiration, and respect. It’s what made Schultz’s ultimate farewell after killing Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) all the more sad, but Django’s swift act of vengeance was a nice moment of catharsis after all they’d been through.
Ron and Hermione – Harry Potter
At an extremely young age, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is tasked with a mission that even the most experienced wizards would have difficulty handling. Since he is The Boy Who Lived, he is deemed the One who will save the magic world and defeat the Dark Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Luckily for Harry, his objectives were made a tad more bearable thanks to a collection of uncrackable allies who wanted to help not just because of Harry’s importance to the universe, but because they cared about him as a person. Chief among them were his classmates Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson).
From the beginning, the two showed why they were extremely valuable, demonstrating courage and smarts that were well beyond their years. Whether they were trying to win a deadly game of wizard chess, find the Deathly Hallows, or anything in between, the trio showed time and time again that they were a well-rounded unit capable of stopping any evildoers’ plan. But perhaps Ron and Hermione’s best trait was loyalty. Frequently facing seemingly insurmountable odds throughout their hectic seven years at Hogwarts, the two never left Harry’s side and saw to it that anything they had to do was done – by any means necessary.
Walter – The Big Lebowski
John Goodman is a veteran with many great performances under his belt, but few can match up to his hilarious turn as Walter in Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski. Best friend to The Dude (Jeff Bridges), he’s there every step of the way to help his bowling buddy uncover the secrets of his mistaken identity caper. Though his attitude and actions were at times rather extreme at times (who pulls a gun in a bowling alley?), his dedication to aiding The Dude illustrated his heart was always in the right place. The two really were yin and yang, complimenting each other in the best ways.
Clearly, it takes a special kind of friendship to take a crowbar to a brand new car or break the Jewish tradition of Shabbos all in the name of helping a friend, but those are exactly the great lengths Walter went to in order to find the truth for The Dude. Even though the two frequently had disagreements and argued, it was clear they needed one another to get by. As The Dude got in deeper and deeper over his head, it was nice to have someone there for support to try to make sense of it all. Sometimes, the best response to a problem is “Let’s go bowling” and let things figure out themselves.
Short Round – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Throughout his many adventures, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) had several allies helping him reclaim lost artifacts, but there weren’t many better than the youngster Short Round (Ke Huy Quan). Though he was only 11 years old when Indy went looking for the lost stones, Short Round had a knack for archeology and was an extremely valuable assistant for Dr. Jones. It can be argued that he’s the true hero of his lone appearance in the franchise, as Short Round is the one who saves Indiana from Mola Ram’s psychic control and leads the charge in rescuing the children from the mines. His strong moral compass and tremendous sense of bravery are skills we look for in any protagonist.
What separates Short Round from Indy’s other associates is the special relationship they had. Sure, Sallah (John Rhys-Davis) and Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) were great friends, but Indy was a surrogate father for Short Round. The two had wonderful, heartfelt camaraderie and were dependent on each other in more ways than one. It’s obvious that they care deeply about one another, and their emotional connection made Short Round a fan-favorite. It’s really a missed opportunity they only had one movie together.
Wilson – Cast Away
The only survivor of a horrifying plane crash, Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) needs to adapt to life on a desert island until he can either escape or locate help. Obviously, his situation is not one that presents many opportunities for social interaction, so Chuck has to get by having heart-to-heart talks with a volleyball he lovingly calls Wilson. Though their initial encounters are played for comedic effect, Wilson is a vital piece of the story, as he helps Chuck maintain his sanity so he doesn’t slip off into the deep end. Sometimes, having something to talk to is that important.
And it was a good thing Wilson was around. Always a great listener, his presence allowed Chuck to open up about his life and his connections with the outside world. Regardless of what he was imagining the volleyball saying, their conversations served as the necessary inspiration Chuck needed to push him towards finding a way off the island and get back to the people he cared about. Chuck was obviously aware of his inanimate friend’s importance, as he intended to bring him to the mainland when he set off on his makeshift raft. That fact makes their heartbreaking goodbye difficult to watch.
Spock – Star Trek
Captain James Tiberius Kirk (William Shatner) is a bold and brash rule breaker, so it’s probably for the best that his most trusted friend is one who specializes in logic and reasoning. Spock’s (Leonard Nimoy) Vulcan heritage is a nice trait for a sidekick to have, as it allows him to thoroughly analyze any situation and devise the best possible solution. Spock is also typically cool and calm under pressure, rarely letting his emotions get the better of him (avoiding any knee-jerk reactions that could catastrophically backfire). One of the most intelligent members of Starfleet, it’s hard to envision where the Enterprise crew would be without him.
Like so many other entries on our list, one of Spock’s best traits is loyalty to his friends. As evidenced by his tearjerking sacrifice at the end of Wrath of Khan, he was willing to do anything that was necessary in order to ensure his companions’ survival. He has been – and always shall be – a great friend to Captain Kirk, making it difficult to picture one without the other. They say opposites attract, and this dynamic duo is Exhibit A for that belief.
Groot – Guardians of the Galaxy
Due to his rather limited vocabulary and general aloof nature, it’s easy to underestimate Groot (Vin Diesel) as nothing more than just a goofy sentient tree, but he proved his mettle on more than one occasion when the Guardians formed to do battle with Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). Tough to take down in a physical fight, he’s able to confront multiple adversaries at once and even the odds for a team that was outmatched as they worked towards their goal. He’s also the emotional center of his squad, with enough heart to turn even the hardened and scarred Rocket (Bradley Cooper) into a big old softie. He may have gotten into a shady business (bounty hunting), but his morals are strong enough to keep him on the right track.
That level of selflessness is what elevated Groot to the next level and made him an instant favorite for moviegoers. He cared about his friends and always wanted to do what was right, even if it meant sacrificing himself in the process. Placing a priority on the citizens of Xandar over his own self-preservation, Groot also displayed courage and tenacity that makes him someone you want in your corner. Well-meaning and kindhearted (and master of sweet dance moves), Groot is a lot more than a sidekick and an integral member of his team.
Hit Girl – Kick-Ass
When Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decides to become the vigilante Kick-Ass to protect his hometown, he learns quickly he won’t be able to fight crime by himself. Fortunately, during his adventures he meets Mindy, aka Hit Girl (Chloe Grace-Moretz), and the two become a powerful team that even the most notorious villains are hopeless to stop. Trained by her ex-cop father (Nicolas Cage) to take down a Mafia boss, Hit Girl shows time and time again that she’s not your typical kid.
Among Hit Girl’s best qualities are her no-nonsense attitude and tenacity in hand-to-hand combat. Fierce and difficult to take down, her fighting skills rival those of the older Kick-Ass, proving age is just a number. Her confidence is also a useful tool to have, since Mindy feels as if there’s nothing she’s incapable of doing. The term “sidekick” may even be a little disingenuous to her, since Hit Girl can clearly take care of herself and doesn’t need someone to watch over her.
Chewbacca – Star Wars
Everyone needs a co-pilot in their life, and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) has the best in the galaxy. Due to a life debt he owes the Corellian smuggler, Wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) demonstrates unfailing devotion to his best friend, never leaving his side as they fly the Millennium Falcon from one side of the galaxy to the other. Chewie has a heart of gold, and his physical strength makes him a powerful ally in the instance a fight breaks out. Many Star Wars fans dream of having their own pet Wookie, and this Rebel hero is why they’re the best companions in the universe.
Chewbacca truly completes Han in that he serves as the rogue’s conscious and keeps him on the right track, morally speaking. As Captain Solo was counting his money for saving Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from the clutches of the Empire, Chewie was the one throwing him sideways glances and questioning if what they were doing was for the best. Though he’s most loyal to Han, Chewie made quick pals with Leia and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and didn’t want to abandon them in their moment of need. That level of selflessness (especially for people he just met) is what made Chewie a special character beloved by fans everywhere. There’s a reason he and Han get the money shot of the second Force Awakens trailer.
Samwise Gamgee – The Lord of the Rings
Though Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) was all set to walk to Mordor by himself after the Fellowship broke, Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) refused to let his friend journey off alone. Motivated by a promise he made to Gandalf (Ian McKellen) when they were still home in the Shire, Sam never leaves Frodo’s side through the thick and thin of their difficult quest. Never losing sight of the ultimate goal, Sam’s incorruptible and always optimistic nature provides the duo with the necessary spirit they need to get across Middle-earth in one piece.
Frodo even said it himself. He wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam. There were many times when Frodo seemed ready to give up; that the Ring had become too much of a burden for him to bear. But whenever the young Baggins was willing to succumb to the power of the Ring (even in the presence of Nazguls), Sam was the one who straightened him out with heartfelt and emotional messages about the importance of carrying on and the great significance their mission had. If his “gardner” (he was much more than that) didn’t accompany him, Middle-earth may have fallen to Sauron. Frodo needed Sam, just like we all need that one best friend who sticks with us, a fact that makes their final farewell as tearjerking now as it was back in 2003.
With so many sidekicks to pick from, there wasn’t room on our list to include all of the best ones. Here are some honorable mentions that just missed the cut:
- Reed Rothchild (Boogie Nights): He never complained when newcomer Dirk Diggler became the big man in the adult film industry, happily taking second fiddle to Jack Horner’s prized actor. He even followed Dirk and supported him during his ill-fated music career. Pictured.
- Al (Die Hard): John McClane did most of the heavy lifting, but Al was a surprise ally there to lend words of encouragement and he even shot the final bullet that killed the last terrorist.
- Cameron Frye (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off): He complained most of the time and never really subscribed to Ferris’ rebellious actions, but he learned valuable lessons along the way. That he was willing to take the fall for the wrecked sports car in the end proved his value as a great friend.
As always, our list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so be sure to share some of your favorite movie sidekicks in the comments section below!