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13 Kick-A** Film & Television Sidekicks

Geanna Culbertson |
August 9, 2013 | 10:05 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


Sidekicks. There are many definitions for this classification of companion. Dictionary.com would describe them as assistants or close friends that accompany others on adventures. Timmy Turner from Nickelodeon’s "The Fairly Odd-Parents" would describe a sidekick as being to a hero “somebody at his side, to kick him into shape.” However one chooses to define a sidekick, the elements that comprise a great one boil down to forms of support. Be it emotional, physical, intellectual, etcetera, support is the main function of a sidekick.

The following countdown lists and describes a handful of the best sidekicks of all time. There are only three parameters for this list. First off, these characters, while having various origins, (literature, radio, comic books, and so on), all have a well-known film and/or television presence. Second, the focus is on sidekicks of heroes, not villains. So while General Zod in "Man of Steel" (2013) and Dr. Drakken of "Kim Possible" (2002), for example, might have some kickin’ sidekicks, they will not be on this list. And third, this countdown will not include characters from films or TV series with ensemble casts. 

Other than those guidelines, though, the following list has considered all sidekicks and chosen these characters for their many differing merits, which made them and their film/TV show’s heroes successful.


Rose Tyler (Tumblr)
Rose Tyler (Tumblr)
Rose Tyler ("Doctor Who")

The Doctor from the famous British science-fiction series "Doctor Who" has been reformed many times since the show began. Likewise, the Doctor’s TARDIS travelling companions have also changed periodically over time. However, there is one companion that shines brightest: Rose Tyler. 

Played by Billie Piper, Rose Tyler’s character debuted in the premiere episode of the 2005 revival of "Doctor Who." She proves throughout the series to be helpful as she aids the Doctor in his ventures, heroic as she stands by him and actively works with him whenever conflicts arise, and relatable as she humanizes storylines and the alien Doctor. 

This “humanizing” element is a very important aspect of her sidekick role. In a show where the main protagonist, creatures, settings, and rules are so starkly unusual and bizarre, it is the factor that grounds such strangeness. From the start of the show’s revival, she is used by the series’ producer Russell T. Davies to serve this purpose, introducing and connecting the audience to the world of Doctor Who. She is, as Davies describes, “the ordinary person who stumbles into something extraordinary and finds herself their equal.”

In comparison to previous sidekicks of the Doctor, Rose is also more independent and developed. This resulted in a stronger personality and presence that made her a much more evenly matched member of Team TARDIS. Overall, since her introduction into the program, Rose acts as a quintessential sidekick that the Doctor cares for, trusts, and depends on deeply.


Robin (Warner Bros.)
Robin (Warner Bros.)

Robin ("Batman")

Robin is the sidekick of a thousand faces. Well, perhaps it is more like six or seven faces, but still, that is a lot of faces for one character. The iconic sidekick to Batman has been reincarnated many times since his initial conception as Dick Grayson in "Detective Comics #38" (1940). Throughout his comic book, television, and film portrayals he has also appeared as characters known as: Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown, Damian Wayne, Helena Wayne, and, most recently, as John Blake. 

Blake, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, however, was a version of Robin designed exclusively for "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012). As co-writer of the film Jonathan Nolan puts it, this Robin, while never dawning the costume and not being recognized as Robin until the very end, is very important to the film because, “in any movie you need a character looking at proceedings the way you see them, and Joe’s character is that character for this film. One of my favourite scenes is when John tells Bruce how he knew he was Batman. It’s like that scene in The Prestige where the little kid sees through Christian’s trick. Little kids, they don’t have any illusions, they just see the truth of the situation.”

All in all though, throughout his various reincarnations, Robin has consistently been a reliable, capable, loyal #2 to Batman. He has stoutheartedly fought alongside Gothem’s hero, providing him with a supportive presence in combat and in life. Robin is one of the few people close to the brooding, bat-themed hero and therefore is one of the few people that Batman can actually talk to. As co-creator of Batman, Bill Finger, notes when describing why Robin was created, “the thing that bothered me was that Batman didn't have anyone to talk to, and it got a little tiresome always having him thinking. I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to. That's how Robin came to be. Bob, (co-creator Bob Kane), called me over and said he was going to put a boy in the strip to identify with Batman.”

More recently Robin has gone his own way in re-adaptations, coming into his own as a main hero by being the leader of superhero teams in animated TV series like "Teen Titans" (2003) and "Young Justice" (2010). But, again, what Robin will always be known for is his role as that reliable, capable, loyal sidekick to Batman. An essence that has persisted from the first face he dawned as Dick Grayson to his most recent one as John Blake.


"Danny Phantom" & Friends (Nickelodeon)
"Danny Phantom" & Friends (Nickelodeon)

Samantha Manson & Tucker Foley ("Danny Phantom")

Among many Nickelodeon shows, "Danny Phantom," (created in 2004 by Butch Hartman), is one that features sidekick characters that are critical to the hero’s success. Sam Manson and Tucker Foley are these crucial characters that aid teenage Danny Fenton/Danny Phantom in navigating a life of battling ghosts while retaining a secret identity amidst the perils of high school.

Of the trio, Sam is the most logical and the most mature. Her rationale/common sense and non-stereotypical teen thinking helps her come to realizations faster and, ergo, help the team out of predicaments. Additionally, it is her reasonable thinking that causes her to encourage Danny to focus on school, training, and his ghost fighting extracurriculars. She sees the good and the potential in Danny and helps him in any way that she can. As the series develops she proves herself time and again to be a skilled ghost hunter, resourceful fighter, and loyal friend willing to risk anything to save or assist Danny.

Danny Phantom, Sam Manson, & Tucker Foley (Tumblr)
Danny Phantom, Sam Manson, & Tucker Foley (Tumblr)
Other than his loyalty and friendship to Danny, Tucker Foley’s main sidekick contribution to the team is in the form of his technological expertise. While he may lack in the physical aspect of ghost fighting, his tech. genius is an equally valuable force. Taking down security systems, hacking tech.-based ghosts, and so on, Tucker’s tech. savvy leads to many triumphs throughout the group’s adventures. Together, he and Sam are the keys to Danny’s success as a ghost fighting teen superhero, making them exemplary individuals within the sidekick world.


War Machine (Marvel)
War Machine (Marvel)

James Rhodes/War Machine ("Iron Man")

James Rhodes is an epic sidekick on two counts: as a best friend to Tony Stark, and as awesome, armored back-up to Iron Man. “Rhodey,” as he is also known, first appeared in the Marvel Comics universe in 1979’s "Iron Man #118." Since then, he and his battle suit persona, War Machine, have been a continuous presence in the Iron Man storyline. The character has been re-adapted along with the main title superhero in the animated television series "Iron Man" (1994) and "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" (2009), the animated 2007 film "The Invincible Iron Man," and in the Marvel Studios 2008, 2010, and 2013 blockbuster live-action films. 

On his own, Rhodes the man is an expert aircraft pilot with knowledge in aviation engineering, an experienced, skilled solider, and a take charge, don’t back down type of guy. These traits make him a worthy and extremely able compliment to Tony Stark. They also, when added to his high-tech War Machine armor, make him a very valuable battle ally for Iron Man.

Overall, whether it is in life or combat James Rhodes/War Machine is a firm and dynamite force that can support and handle his own with the beyond brilliant, billionaire hero known for not playing well with others.


Pip (Walt Disney Pictures)
Pip (Walt Disney Pictures)

Pip ("Enchanted")

Disney films throughout the decades have been filled with helpful, delightful sidekicks of all species. With so many to choose from it only seemed fitting that at least one should make it into any top sidekicks countdown.  Upon combing through Disney films, some characters that immediately come to mind are: Mushu from "Mulan," Sebastian from "The Little Mermaid," and the mice from "Cinderella." They, like many other Disney sidekicks, supported their protagonists and helped them accomplish their goals. However, one that stands out amongst the rest is Pip from the 2007 film "Enchanted."

Pip continuously is responsible for saving the movie’s heroine, Giselle. He stops the troll pursuing her at the start of the film, works to protect her from the evil queen’s henchman Nathaniel throughout the story, and aids in saving her and her true love from the evil queen turned giant dragon at the end.

He never does anything counterproductive and instead actively, and without rest, tries to help and rescue Giselle. Although he is hindered time and again, loosing his ability to talk and being captured periodically by Nathaniel, Pip always kept fighting, escaping, and working to assist the film’s main character. This is why this faithful, feisty chipmunk sidekick can be considered one of the greats.


Green Hornet & Kato (Tumblr)
Green Hornet & Kato (Tumblr)
Kato ("The Green Hornet")

Martial arts master, automotive engineering expert, amazingly skilled driver, and completely genius are just of the few of the descriptions that characterize Kato, sidekick to the masked vigilante the Green Hornet.

He first appeared in "The Green Hornet" American radio program in 1936 and since then has had comic book, television, and film adaptations. It was Bruce Lee’s portrayal of the sidekick in the 1960s television series that elevated the character by emphasizing his martial arts expertise.

This expertise, along with his many other aforementioned talents, makes him instrumental to Britt Reid/the Green Hornet’s success and survival as he fights the criminal underworld.

While he has been featured in several films, the most recent of these, Sony Pictures’ "The Green Hornet(2011), places large amounts of emphasis on just how epic Kato is and how important his contributions to the Green Hornet team are. In this film, for example, the character of Kato, played by Jay Chou, demonstrates martial arts abilities that are so incredible he is apparently able to use his adrenaline to slow down time in threatening situations. A talent that, along with all Kato’s other skills, allows Britt Reid to accomplish his missions and not get killed in the process.

Assistant, mechanic, and valet by day, ridiculously epic crime fighter and getaway driver by night, Kato is a sidekick force to be reckoned with.


Chewbacca & Han Solo (Tumblr)
Chewbacca & Han Solo (Tumblr)

Chewbacca ("Star Wars")

There are tons of memorable, heroic characters scattered throughout the "Star Wars" franchise. Amongst them is Chewbacca, a.k.a. “Chewie,” the tough, loveable, seven-foot-tall sidekick to rapscallion hero Han Solo. The armed and furry wookie provided invaluable aid to Solo, acting as Millennium Falcon co-pilot, repairman, fighter, and protector.

But besides these various roles he served, perhaps the most important part he played in terms of his sidekick duties is as a conscious to Solo. Indeed Chewie is not only Solo’s close friend, with a single wookie wail he reminds and convinces Solo to look past self-interest and do the right thing. 

Chewbacca has been named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the “greatest sidekicks” in film history. And he is one of a select group of fictional characters to have ever received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Movie Awards. While this article may be a compilation of research and rational formed by one writer and film/TV aficionado, I do not think I am alone in declaring that Chewie is one of cinematic history’s favorite and most awesome sidekicks.


Shrek & Donkey (Dreamworks)
Shrek & Donkey (Dreamworks)

Donkey ("Shrek")

Empire, one of the biggest selling film magazines, may list Donkey at #21 on its “50 Best Animated Movie Characters,” countdown. However, he is quite certainly one of the best film sidekicks of all time as well.

Donkey is the perfect match and sidekick for Shrek for two key reasons. First, his optimism and upbeat nature spread positivity and fun into the film, balancing out the main protagonist’s grumpiness and initial hardened way of looking at the world. Second, Donkey’s sunny personality makes him the only one capable of getting close to Shrek. Because of such cheeriness, nothing the ogre does or says is enough to scare the annoying and talkative Donkey away. And as a result, he succeeds in doing what no one else had ever done before, reaching Shrek’s heart.

Donkey, of course, fulfills his sidekick duties with flying colors in other ways too, assisting Shrek on his quests and adventures throughout the original film and its sequels. But it is this emotional penetration and support of Shrek that are quintessential because they allow Shrek to realize his potential and become the heroic ogre audiences fell in love with. Donkey is therefore unquestionably an ultimate example of a sidekick. After all, the true purpose of a sidekick is to help a hero be the best that he can be.


Hermione Granger (Warner Bros)
Hermione Granger (Warner Bros)
Hermione Granger & Ron Weasley ("Harry Potter") 

Perhaps the only thing second in importance to who “the chosen one” is in a truly great series is who the chosen one chooses as his or her friends. In the series that touched the world to an unparalleled degree, the two supporting main characters of Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley provide main protagonist Harry Potter with unyielding support in their own distinct ways.

Hermione brings many important elements to the table. Her unrivaled brilliance in terms of book smarts and quick thinking, her skills with wizardry, and her strength all make her a vital component of team Harry. Because of these traits she is often the one responsible for coming up with solutions to the groups’ problems. Furthermore, these personality factors make her able to protect herself and those around her from encroaching dark forces.

Ron Weasley & Harry Potter (Warner Bros.)
Ron Weasley & Harry Potter (Warner Bros.)
On paper, Ron may not have had the obvious gifts and skills that Harry and Hermione possess. However, he too contributes vitally to Harry throughout their journey together. The main way being: he is always there for Harry. Roommate, classmate, and best mate in general, Ron Weasley is the constant and greatest form of support for Harry throughout the series. He and, as a result, his parents and siblings provide the famous Potter with the presence of family he lacks, craves, and needs.

While they may be very different, Hermione and Ron are both tremendously loyal and courageous. And together, their friendship with Harry paired with their individual characteristics makes them great sidekicks for this series’ principal character.


Sam Gamgee (New Line Cinema)
Sam Gamgee (New Line Cinema)

Samwise Gamgee ("The Lord of the Rings") 

While Frodo Baggins might be the more official hero in the duo, the hobbit’s sidekick, Sam Gamgee, is the courageous, pure-hearted, heroic force that allows Frodo to complete his quest.

It was Sam that protected and took care of Frodo on their journey to Mordor. Just to review, besides carrying the luggage, doing the cooking, keeping watch, etcetera, it was Sam that insisted on accompanying Frodo on the mission when the fellowship split-up. He knew Gollum was not to be trusted. He drove off the giant spider Shelob that nearly killed Frodo. He rescued Frodo from the Orcs. And he supported Baggins emotionally and psychologically as the Ring and the journey itself took their toll on him. Example:

Frodo: “I can't do this, Sam.”

Sam: “I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

Frodo: “What are we holding onto, Sam?”

Sam: “That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Two Towers"

Honestly, Frodo probably would have never made it to Mordor without his #2, Sam, by his side. As demonstrated in J.R.R. Tolkien’s books and Peter Jackson’s films, this endearing, incredibly brave hobbit was the driving force behind Frodo’s survival through Middle-Earth, and the pair’s successful reaching of Mount Doom. For this reason, he is an superb sidekick in addition to being a fully formed hero in his own right.


Dr. John Watson (Warner Bros.)
Dr. John Watson (Warner Bros.)

Dr. John Watson ("Sherlock Holmes")

Whether it is in literature, television, or film, this doctor has been one of the greatest sidekicks of all time. Since his debut alongside his incomparable partner, Sherlock Holmes, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first novel, "A Study in Scarlet," in 1887, Dr. Watson has been an unwavering, uncompromising asset to Doyle’s title character. 

As far as technical aspects go, Watson is the narrator of all but four of Doyle’s original "Sherlock Holmes" stories. And in the consistent adaptations of the detective since then he has continuously retained his element of narration, albeit in different forms, (for example in BBC’s "Sherlock" he writes a blog about Holmes’ cases and activities).

In terms of who the doctor is to the detective, Watson plays the parts of assistant, sounding board, conscious, and, whether Holmes admits it or not, dear friend. No matter how many times, and in what form, he is recreated, Watson has always been the logical, rationale, human center that compliments Holmes’ eccentric form of brilliance. He is the yin to Holmes’ yang, the necessary component to connect the all but ordinary detective to the rest of the world.

In recent years Dr. Watson has been reformed several times as the "Sherlock Holmes" series has been reinterpreted by: Warner Bros. Pictures in 2009 and 2011, BBC in 2010, and CBS in 2012. But while these new adaptations have made their own unique versions of the famous Doyle tales, an element they all share in common is their portrayals of the doctor. Whether it is Jude Law in Warner Bros.’ "Sherlock Holmes" films, Martin Freeman in BBC’s "Sherlock," or Lucy Liu as “Joan Watson” in CBS’s new series Elementary, Watson has continued to be the beloved, glorious character and exemplary sidekick he was always meant to be.


Of course there are many other notable and terrific sidekicks in cinematic and television history aside from the aforementioned group. These characters are just a small, but noticeably exemplary, sample of them. They are what sidekicks ought to be: loyal friends to depend on and trust, capable and skillful in their own way, and able to bring about the best in the heroes that they steadfastly and stoutheartedly support. And while not everyone in life may have sublime sidekicks like the ones listed above to rely on, hopefully every girl and guy out there does have “somebody at his side, to kick him into shape” when the going gets rough. Because there comes a time when every person, no matter how hero-like, needs that.


Reach Staff Reporter Geanna Culbertson here.



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