They don’t get the recognition, the girl or the cool one-liners, but the sidekick has played an important role in movie history and it is a hugely valuable character. All the greatest heroes have someone alongside them on their quest, but in many cases you will find that these sidekicks have little depth and do not bring much to the narrative. They are often there simply to provide light relief from the action, but this is not always the case, and over the years there have been a few fantastic sidekicks that have even stolen the show away from the hero.
This has become particularly more common in recent times, with plenty of animated films now relying on the sidekick to drive the plot and bring humour. These memorable sidekicks will possess important qualities that we all value, such as loyalty, determination, wisdom and bravery, and without them the film protagonist would be completely lost.
Sidekicks are most notably found in superhero films and children’s films, but even in other genres you will find these characters alongside the main protagonist. They may not be quite as obvious as Robin from Batman (the definition of a sidekick), but they are still fulfilling the role and offering support to the films main protagonist throughout their journey. It seems unfair that they are restricted to these supporting roles and never get the glory, so for once let’s cast the heroes aside and focus our attention on an often overlooked character – the sidekick.
Here are 15 movie sidekicks that stole the show and captured our hearts (but still did not get the recognition, girl or cool one-liners).
15 Chuckie Sullivan - Good Will Hunting
A true sidekick will always know what is best for the protagonist and help them to realise this, even if it is at the sidekick’s expense. In Good Will Hunting, Will’s best friend and sidekick, Chuckie, helps him to realise that he’s “sitting on a winning lottery ticket” but he’s too scared to cash in. Chuckie knows that he will lose his best friend, but he understands that Will is wasting his life by remaining a labourer and not pursuing something greater.
In an unforgettable scene, Chuckie tells Will “Every day I come by your house and I pick you up. And we go out. We have a few drinks, and a few laughs, and it's great. But you know what the best part of my day is? For about ten seconds, from when I pull up to the curb and when I get to your door, 'cause I think, maybe I'll get up there and I'll knock on the door and you won't be there. No goodbye. No see you later. No nothing. You just left. I don't know much, but I know that.”
14 Dory - Finding Nemo
A fish with short-term memory loss may seem like the worst sidekick, but Dory proves to be hugely valuable to Marlin in his quest to find Nemo. She of course provides plenty of humour too, as she loves to talk but her memory loss can make this challenging. She is also very playful but naive, providing comic relief throughout the film. Her friendly nature and optimism ensure that she is of great help throughout Marlin’s quest, even if he becomes frustrated with her at times.
She is also there for Marlin when he wants to give up, offering him the advice to “just keep swimming.” Pretty profound stuff from a fish with short-term memory loss.
13 Mike Wazowski - Monsters, Inc.
Mike Wazowski is Sulley’s best friend, room-mate and Scaring Assistant, and he is also responsible for plenty of humour in Monsters, Inc. His friendship with Sulley is hugely important, and even though the two fall out, it is through Mike’s loyalty and determination that Boo is saved and Randall becomes stuck in the human world. It is also through Mike that it is discovered that children’s laughter is more powerful than screams. He also showed how much he cares by restoring Boo’s door for Sulley at the end of the film. His comical appearance, bad luck and frustration often means that he steals the show and is one of the greatest animated sidekicks of all time.
12 Garth Algar - Wayne's World
Garth may not possess the bravery or wisdom of many of the greatest sidekicks, but he is certainly one of the more lovable and entertaining ones. Garth’s loyalty to Wayne is important in the film, and when the two fall out they both struggle (including a particularly bad case of stage fright for Garth).
He is also responsible for bringing much of the wacky humour to the film, with fantastic lines such as his response to “Garth, I’m going to be Frank,” “Ok. Can I still be Garth?” and the apparently improvised line - “Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?” These lines, and a memorable “Foxy Lady” routine, ensured that Garth often stole the show from Wayne - this would actually be Garth’s worst nightmare.
11 Timon & Pumbaa - The Lion King
Ok, technically there are two of them, but you can’t talk about sidekicks without including this fantastic duo. Many claim that The Lion King is the best Disney film, and this is difficult to argue. It has a great storyline and is one of the more emotional Disney movies, it takes place in a brilliant setting, but importantly it has a whole host of great characters. Timon and Pumbaa often steal the show and provide plenty of humour, but they also do what all sidekicks do best and teach the protagonist valuable lessons.
One is a wise cracking meerkat and the other is a naive, comical, yet fiercely loyal warthog. This is a combination that was never going to fail, and of course they are also responsible for bringing us the greatest Disney song of all time – “Hakuna Matata”.
10 Ron & Hermione - Harry Potter
Although there are two of them, Ron and Hermione fit the bill as sidekicks and will often steal the show from Harry Potter. In every film they are essential in driving the plot forwards and Harry would fail without them, and in addition to this they also bring plenty of humour to the films, too.
Ron is responsible for making wisecracks, but his misfortune and consequent embarrassment is also used heavily to bring comedy to the films. He is also brave and loyal to Harry, which proves to be key throughout the series. Hermione’s perfectionist nature and disapproval of the boys' antics provides humour, and her intelligence enables Harry to get the upper hand in situations.
Refreshingly, the romantic element to this film is between Ron and Hermione and not Harry, so for once the sidekick does get the girl.
9 Short Round - Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom
If sidekicks were picked like teams are in physical education, then Short Round would always be the last pick. A pint-sized young boy, you would not think that Short Round would be much help on any kind of quest or adventure, but as it turned out he would prove himself to be one of the greatest sidekicks of all time and a character that made Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom highly enjoyable. Short Round is not just loyal to Indiana Jones and willing to put his life on the line, he is also intelligent, quick thinking, calm under pressure, a fantastic driver and skilled in karate. Looks can be deceiving, and Short Round is a sidekick that any hero would benefit from due to his loyalty and remarkable skill set.
8 Gromit - Wallace and Gromit
Like many other great sidekicks in cinema history, it is Gromit that is really the brains behind the operation and he comes to save Wallace, the hero, countless times (sometimes without him realising it). He is also fiercely loyal to his master, even if he shows frustration at times. The fact that Gromit does not talk also contributes to the comedy and charm of all Wallace & Gromit films, as his silence and facial expressions are used to highlight Wallace’s strange and idiotic ideas. Gromit is also very lovable and delivers a lot of the humour through his character and heroic actions. Gromit perfectly fills the role of sidekick and man's best friend, and despite being mute he is one of the all-time great cinema sidekicks.
7 Sam - Casablanca
A classic movie sidekick, Sam from Casablanca helped to define what a truly great sidekick is and inspired many of the other entries on this list. He was a fantastic friend to Rick and the only person that could truly get through to him. Like all great sidekicks, Sam can provide wisdom to the protagonist and help them when they are at their lowest point in the movie. In addition to this, Sam was the ultimate wingman and was there to perform an unforgettable rendition of “As Time Goes By” on the piano as Rick and Ilsa reunited. Sam’s wisdom, loyalty, warm heart and piano playing ability made him a fan favourite and a sidekick that stole the show in this classic.
6 Genie - Aladdin
Genie from Aladdin would go on to become one of the most influential animated characters of all time, and his depth, humour and the brilliant voice acting of Robin Williams ensured that he stole the show from Aladdin many times. He provides much of the humour through shape shifting, memorable songs, pop culture references and parodies, but he also contributes in driving the plot and fulfilled the role of sidekick through helping Aladdin throughout the film, being loyal and helping him to realise who he is. It would be one of Robin Williams’ greatest characters and one that is still much loved today. Honourable mention to Abu.
5 Cameron Frye - Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of the greatest films to emerge from the '80s, and this is largely due the characterisation of Ferris Bueller and his best friend and sidekick, Cameron Frye. Where Ferris is carefree, confident and daring, Cameron is depressive, anxious and angry. This juxtaposition is integral to the film and it is Cameron that provides much of the humour through his hesitancy to go along with Ferris’s wild ideas.
Unlike the majority of most films, it is the sidekick that goes through the biggest character arc, as Cameron learns through his experiences that he has to stand up to his father and take responsibility for his actions. He may not be a typical sidekick, but Cameron would often steal the show and became a much loved character as he is one that people identified more with than Ferris.
4 Goose - Top Gun
Everyone needs a good wingman like Goose. He and Maverick are the ultimate duo both in the skies and on the ground, and of course as a sidekick he is heavily relied on by the protagonist throughout the film. Like a few other legendary sidekicks, Goose tragically dies but saves Maverick in the process. His importance is felt even after he has passed, with Maverick finding courage in an engagement by holding Goose’s Dog tags. Goose is the definition of a great sidekick and played a huge role in making Top Gun such a memorable action film.
3 Samwise Gamgee - The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The best sidekicks will remain by the hero’s side through thick and thin and will be dependable in every situation. Sam’s relationship with Frodo is integral to the plot of The Lord of the Rings, and many feel that it is actually Sam, a Hobbit of the Shire, that is the real hero of the saga. Sam saves Frodo multiple times throughout the story and should really be the one to take the glory, but he fulfils the role of a sidekick and it is Frodo that gets the recognition for saving the world. Sam is hugely loyal to Frodo, he is committed to the mission (he carries on once he believes Frodo to be dead) and he is there to bail out the hero when he needs him, and is therefore one of the all-time great sidekicks.
2 Donkey - Shrek
Donkey and Shrek form one of the best animated duos of all time, and it is often Donkey that steals the show. Donkey’s sensitivity, talkative nature and hyperactivity will frequently irritate Shrek, and this is where much of the humour lies. He is also a lovable character and one incredibly loyal, and in true sidekick form he helps Shrek on both his physical and spiritual journey and the two become close friends after Shrek initially kicks him out his home. He ticks all the boxes for a great sidekick, and most would claim him to be their favourite character from the films.
1 Chewbacca - Star Wars
If you ever found yourself in a difficult situation or on a quest, you would certainly want Chewbacca in your corner. Like a few other sidekicks, Chewbacca cannot speak English and communicates through strange growls, but this does not stop him from being perhaps the greatest sidekick of all time. A giant hairy beast, Chewbacca possesses immense strength but he is also brave and fiercely loyal to Han Solo. In addition to this, he is also a fantastic co-pilot and mechanic, making him an all-around excellent sidekick. His striking appearance, incredible loyalty and valuable skill set ensure that he often steals the show and is a sidekick that any hero would benefit from having alongside them.
Sources: imdb.com, disney.wikia.com, lionking.wikia.com, harrypotter.wikia.com, indianajones.wikia.com, wallaceandgromit.wikia.com, sparknotes.com, topgun.wikia.com, lotr.wikia.com, shrek.wikia.com, starwars.wikia.com