When it comes to Disney, princesses are usually the star of the show. Not too long ago, our team looked at the best Disney villains and the worst Disney movie sequels of all time. This time, we decided to switch things up a bit and show some love to the sidekicks. That being said, we had to decide on which characters actually constituted as sidekicks, and which didn’t quite make the cut.
Initially, we would have thought that memorable characters like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch (2002), Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story (1995) might fit the bill, but they're actually more along the lines of co-stars. For honorable mentions, we’d like to list supporting characters like Towmater from Cars, Flit and Meeko from Pocahontas, and Ralph Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph.
Although this list could have easily doubled in length, we did our best to narrow it down to the most memorable Disney sidekicks. Here are the 18 Best Disney Sidekicks, Ranked.
18 Zootopia - Nick (2016)
Fresh off their recent Oscar-award win for Animated Feature, Disney certainly had a banner year when it came to animated movies in 2016. Although the movie mostly catered to an audience of kids, the film incorporated some heavy themes and subject matter, including fighting against discrimination and oppression. At the Oscars, the film beat out other competition like Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings. With themes of overcoming racial inequality and discrimination, Zootopia sent out a hopeful message in amidst trying times. Disney has won 9 out of their last 10 Oscars for Best Animated Feature.
Last year, Zootopia was a tremendous success, grossing over $1 billion worldwide and $341 million in domestic numbers alone. While the lovable rabbit, Judy, stole the show in Zootopia, her counterpart Nick certainly worked as a foil to her effervescent nature. With his cunning characteristics and sly demeanor, we felt that Nick definitely deserved a nod on our list.
17 Cinderella - Jaq and Gus (1950)
The animated Disney classic, Cinderella, was originally released back in 1950. The classic rags to riches tale focused on the fable of Cinderella, the young orphaned girl who gets her nickname for the cinders that get on her while tending the fire. In the film, she has to deal with her cruel stepsisters and her wicked stepmother, all while trying to navigate the struggles of growing up.
We definitely thought that Jaq and Gus, the two mice from Cinderella, deserved a mention on our list, mainly because they risked everything to help Cinderella achieve her goals. Some of the most pivotal scenes of the film showed the two mice daring to risk it all for Cinderella, despite some dangerous run-ins with Lucifer the cat.
Starring Lily James and Game of Thrones star James Madden, the live-action Cinderella film was released in 2015. In the live-action version, fans weren’t treated with any talking (or singing) mice, but we were given a quick cameo of the two mice.
16 Moana - Maui and Hei Hei (2016)
In 2016, Disney scored big with Zootopia and Finding Dory, but Moana was also another groundbreaking film for the mouse house. Combining forces with Broadway darling Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creative mastermind behind the heavily praised musical, Hamilton, Disney set out to create a Polynesian-inspired tale.
Featuring the young breakout star Auli’i Carvalho, a native of Hawai’i, the film also starred Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, as the arrogant demigod Maui. With catchy pop anthems like the song “You’re Welcome”, Maui certainly deserves a space on this list.
Moana might have been the main star of the show, but Johnson definitely provided comic relief and intriguing character development in the film. In the film, Moana’s chicken sidekick, Hei Hei, also made us giggle. Believe it or not, Hei Hei was played by actor Alan Tudyk, who we recently spotted in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as the sharp tongued droid, K-2SO.
15 Tangled - Maximus (2010)
Inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairytale, Tangled follows the timeless story of young Rapunzel with her magical long hair. Voiced by pop singer Mandy Moore, Rapunzel is discovered by Flynn Rider, played by Zachary Levi.
In the film, Maximus is the main horse for the captain of the guard, and he is hellbent on catching the nefarious criminal, Flynn Rider. Maximus' behavior is often more akin to a dog than a horse, serving up hilarious moments, laugh out loud expressions, and creating an overall comedic effect. Inspired by Spanish Andalusian horses, Maximus is a large white horse who is determined to catch Flynn.
In Tangled, Maximus isn’t the only sidekick to hit the screen. Although Rapunzel might have lived in an isolated tower for years, at least she had her chameleon, Pascal, by her side. The lovable reptile was always there for Rapunzel to have someone to talk to. Both Pascal and Maximus are the only two non-speaking animal characters in the film, but you might not realize it, judging by their amusing antics in the film.
Fans will delight in seeing more from Tangled with the new TV movie, Tangled: Before Ever After on the Disney Channel.
14 Big Hero 6 - Baymax (2014)
In 2014, Big Hero 6 was something of an unexpected hit in terms of animation. Inspired by a Marvel comic with the same name, Disney's Big Hero 6 followed the story of tech-savvy Hiro Hamada, who struggles with the heartbreaking death of his brother while fighting back against a secret conspiracy.
Despite the darker aspects of the story, Baymax offered some much needed comic relief and aww-inducing moments throughout the film. To quote Despicable Me, Baymax definitely fit the bill of “It’s… so… fluffy!” One part Michelin man, another part marshmallow, and all heart of gold, Baymax is an adorable Disney sidekick and definitely deserves an honored place on this list.
The film became a huge success, and since then, a television series has been announced to be released on Disney XD. Many of the original voice actors and actresses will reprise their roles, including Go-Go Tomago (Jamie Chung), Baymax (Scott Adsit), and Hiro (Ryan Potter).
13 Bambi - Thumper (1942)
"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." - Thumper.
Originally released in 1942, Bambi is one of Disney’s most memorable animated classics. Initially, the producers of Bambi held different ideas for the film, and Thumper's character was altered slightly to become more comedic, and to make the tone of the film seem less serious. Voiced by young Peter Behn, Thumper's lovable characterization, and endearing qualities stem from the fact that Behn was only four years old at the time.
In the early scenes of the film, Thumper teaches Bambi about the ways of the forest, helping him learn to walk, and eventually ice skate, much to Bambi's chagrin. Inspired by The Tale of Benjamin Button by Beatrix Potter, Thumper plays a major role in the classic tale of Bambi. In the film, Thumper has an infectious habit of thumping his left foot.
Thumper has also made appearances in several other films, including Bambi II, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Lion King 1 ½.
12 The Little Mermaid - Flounder and Sebastian (1989)
In 1989, The Little Mermaid first took the plunge on-screen and has remained a beloved animated Disney classic ever since. If Flounder and Sebastian were our friends in real life, we’re pretty sure Flounder would be that one friend who always has your back and is totally game for anything (whether it involves potential life-risking events or not). On the other hand, Sebastian can be looked at the voice of reason— that angelic voice whispering in one ear, telling you all the logical reasons why you shouldn’t even think about crossing the line.
In The Little Mermaid, Ariel pretty much deals with this first hand, with Flounder always having her back and Sebastian always trying to keep her in check. We've gotta admit, though, despite Sebastian always being a goody-two-shoes, he had a mean musical streak with hits like “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl”.
Stay tuned for more updates regarding the upcoming live-action version of The Little Mermaid. Disney has announced it will feature music by Lin-Manuel Miranda and the original composer Alan Menken.
11 Peter Pan - Tinkerbell (1953)
Affectionately known as Tink, the sassy fairy from Peter Pan has become one of the most recognizable characters from The Walt Disney Company. The original animated film, Peter Pan, was released back in 1953, and Tinker Bell was depicted as a completely silent character on screen. In the film, she has the power to create pixie dust to let other fly, and she is skilled at mending items, hence the name "Tinker." Since then, she's had her own 3D film and subsequent sequels.
While Tink didn't utter a word on screen, her presence was certainly larger than life. Her bold animated features and pantomime expressions were similar to other beloved Disney characters like Pluto. Tinker Bell might look dainty and adorable, but she definitely has a hot temper. When Tink meets Wendy, she lets everyone know that she’s got a feisty personality, and she’s not one to hold back. In the end, Tinker Bell shows that she’s always devoted and loyal.
10 Dumbo - Timothy O. Mouse (1941)
Originally introduced in the 1941 animated film, Dumbo, Timothy was voiced by Edward Brophy in the movie. Known as Timothy Quentin Mouse, Timothy is a classic example of an iconic Disney sidekick. Timothy works hard to take care of Dumbo, sticking up for him and helping to motivate him to succeed in life.
In 2010, Disney teamed up with Tim Burton to created a live-action version of Alice in Wonderland, which proved to be a lucrative success. Next up, Disney has recruited Tim Burton to direct a live-action version of Dumbo on the horizon. So far, two stars have been cast, including Eva Green, who appeared in Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and Danny DeVito, who appeared in Burton's Big Fish and Batman Returns. Not too long ago, we reported that Tom Hanks was offered a role in the film, along with Will Smith, who declined.
Stay tuned for more updates surrounding the upcoming live-action version of Dumbo, with director Tim Burton at the helm.
9 Beauty and the Beast - Lefou (1991)
The live-action version of Beauty and the Beast has shattered box office records since its release last Friday, March 17. Starring Emma Watson as Belle, alongside Dan Stevens as the Beast, and Luke Evans as Gaston, fans have been delighted to see this tale as old as time on the silver screen once again. In the live-action film, actor Josh Gad stars as Lefou, while Ewan McGregor plays Lumière and Sir Ian McKellen is Cogsworth.
8 Pinocchio - Jiminy Cricket (1940)
"When you wish upon a star…" One of Walt Disney's most beloved animated characters, Jiminy Cricket originally was created by Carlo Collodi for his book, The Adventures of Pinocchio. In the novel, he was a minor character without a name. In the animated film Pinocchio from 1940, Jiminy Cricket served as a supporting character who also served up some serious wisdom and life lessons along the way. The Blue Fairy makes Jiminy Cricket become Pinocchio's conscience.
Over the years, Jiminy Cricket has appeared in other Disney mediums, including educational films, a host for several sing-along videos, and in the Kingdom Hearts video game series. Sharp-eyed fans can even spot Jiminy Cricket in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where he had a cameo in Toontown.
Last year, we reported that director Ron Howard would take the helm for an upcoming live-action version of Pinocchio. Featuring Robert Downey Jr. as Geppetto, the film does not have a release date at this time. Guillermo del Toro is also moving forward with a stop-motion animation version of Pinocchio. Last month, it was officially announced that writer Patrick McHale would help bring the project to fruition.
7 The Jungle Book - Baloo and Bagheera (1967)
Inspired by Rudyard Kipling's titular novel of the same name, Disney's animated version of The Jungle Book originally was released in 1967. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, the film is known for being one of the last movies that was actually produced by Walt Disney himself.
The story focuses on a young orphaned boy named Mowgli, who is discovered by the panther Bagheera. After being raised in the jungle by a pack of wolves, other members of the jungle grow afraid of what the child will become. When the devious tiger Shere Khan sets his sights on the man-cub, Mowgli links up with the laid-back bear Baloo and Bagheera, who decide to help return him to the local man-village for safety.
With infectious songs like the “Bare Necessities”, Baloo and Bagheera might seem like polar opposites, but they certainly both deserve a feature as two of the best Disney sidekicks.
6 Mulan - Mushu (1998)
Loosely based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Disney first released the animated film Mulan in 1998. Featuring Ming-Na Wen as Mulan and Eddie Murphy as her dynamic sidekick, Mushu, the film received several Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. With a hilarious on-screen presence, Eddie Murphy’s acting and vocal talents certainly didn't go unnoticed. In 2001, Murphy was introduced as the singular voice for Donkey in the hit DreamWorks film, Shrek.
With word of a live-action Mulan slated for a 2018 release, we’ve been abuzz with the latest announcements. Last week, we learned that the film will not be a musical. While there’s still no word about including Mushu in the film, the live-action Mulan will be stronger, with a touch of Ridley Scott. In stark contrast from their former projects, Disney has opted for a female director, much to the excitement of fans. New Zealand director Niki Caro will take the helm, who also directed Whale Rider from 2002.
Despite the fact that he was a far cry from anything like Shenron from the Dragon Ball series, Mushu is definitely an amusing Disney sidekick that deserves a spot on our list.
5 Up - Dug (2009)
"My name is Dug. I have just met you, and I love you."
Easily one of the most aww-inducing characters on our list, Dug remains a definite favorite when it comes to sidekicks. Dug initially got his on-screen debut in the 2009 Pixar/Disney animated film, Up. The poignant story told the emotional tale of Carl Fredricksen, and how he decides to finally travel the world, like he and his wife Ellie had once planned. Although he initially thought his traveling would be alone, eventually Carl came across a young boy scout named Russell. The pair eventually meet Dug, an energetic pup who can convey his thoughts using a special dog collar.
While Dug is definitely one of the most adorable additions on our list, in other films, he was actually portrayed as quite the opposite. In our video of Hidden Details in Disney Films, one clip reveals that Dug was actually featured in Ratatouille. Believe it or not, Dug’s silhouette looks quite menacing in the background. Although this portrayal is quite amusing, it’s hard to believe that anyone could think that a loveable dog like Dug could be cruel.
4 Finding Nemo - Dory (2003)
In 2003, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures took audiences for a whirlwind adventure under the sea with Finding Nemo. The Oscar-award winning film brought audiences along for the ride while clownfish Marlin desperately searches to find his son, Nemo. Along the way, he struggles to navigate dangerous waters and encounters a plethora of aquatic creatures.
Eventually, Marlin crosses paths with a charming blue tang fish named Dory, who suffers from severe short-term memory loss. Voiced by Ellen Degeneres, Dory became a hugely popular character—mainly for her upbeat personality and her iconic sing-song quote, “Just Keep Swimming!”
Based on the widespread success of the film, including a giant fan base, it seemed inevitable for a sequel or spinoff to emerge on the horizon. With the original director Andrew Stanton at the helm, Finding Dory was officially released last year, and it smashed box office records for an animated film.
With her sunny disposition and vibrant energy, Dory is definitely a serious contender for one of Disney’s best sidekicks.
3 Frozen - Olaf (2013)
Whether you have younger siblings or not, you’re bound to have heard some of the hit songs from Frozen already. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, Frozen was released in 2013 and has since become one of the biggest grossing animated movies of all time. The film features the vocal stylings of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, and Josh Gad, as the lovable snowman, Olaf.
While “Let it Go” is undeniably the most famous hit from the film, another memorable song from the movie was “In Summer”, performed by the effervescent Olaf. In the film, Olaf certainly racks up the sidekick points by delivering some hilarious comic relief throughout the movie.
While Disney has officially confirmed Frozen 2 in the works, a release date is still to be determined. Catch Josh Gad as Lefou in Disney’s latest live-action film adaptation, Beauty and the Beast, and as Hector MacQueen alongside Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, and Judi Dench in Murder on the Orient Express.
2 The Lion King - Timon and Pumbaa (1994)
"It means no worries, For the rest of your days…" One of Disney's most iconic animated films of all time, The Lion King was originally released in 1994. It quickly became one of the highest grossing films of the year and garnered the support for a successful Broadway adaptation of the tale. Without a doubt, The Lion King is one of the most emotional and poignant Disney animated classics. Although most of the film focuses on the theme of family and remembering who you are, Simba would have been a goner without Timon and Pumbaa coming to his aid.
One of the most dynamic Disney duos, Timon and Pumbaa are truly an endearing pair of sidekicks. Timon, the loveable meerkat, first burst on screen alongside the equally adorable warthog. The pair rescued young Simba, raising him to adolescence, and teaching him about life with one of their most iconic songs, Hakuna Matata.
Next up, Disney has officially announced a live-action adaptation of The Lion King in the works, with Donald Glover as Simba and James Earl Jones as Mufasa.
1 Aladdin - Genie and Magic Carpet (1992)
For decades, families and big kids at heart have been truly captivated by Disney’s animated classic, Aladdin. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the film first hit theaters in 1992. With an Academy Award-winning soundtrack and musical talents from Lea Salonga, Brad Kane and Robin Williams, the film has a special place in every Disney fan’s heart.
Actor Robin Williams certainly set the bar high when it comes to Disney sidekicks, delivering an unforgettable performance as the larger-than-life Genie. Aladdin’s magic carpet is definitely a close second when it comes to memorable sidekicks, but the Genie seriously ruled in every regard. With songs like "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali", each performance by Robin Williams as the Genie definitely stands the test of time and leaves a powerful legacy.
Based on the recent success of other live-action adaptations, Disney announced that director Guy Ritchie will take the reins for an upcoming rework of Aladdin. Who could ever live up to Williams' Genie?
Let us know who are your favorite Disney sidekicks in the comments!