Throughout cinema history, the sidekick has been an integral role in many different genres. This character may not be the one that saves the day and gets the girl, but often they will steal the show and can provide much more than occasional light relief (sometimes all a sidekick is used for). The hero is usually a character that the audience looks up to, but the sidekick is one that they relate to and usually possesses valuable qualities such as loyalty, bravery and wisdom, but they are often also vulnerable and therefore have the most depth.
11. Garth Algar — Wayne’s World
The films may be called Wayne’s World, but it is Wayne’s goofy and loveable friend Garth that steals the show. While both Wayne and Garth bring non-stop humor to both films, and they both help to drive the plot forward, it is Garth that delivers the more memorable and quotable lines. This includes lines such as “Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?” and “She makes me feel kind of funny, like when we used to climb the rope in gym class,” plus brilliant moments including a bad case of stage fright and an unforgettable Foxy Lady routine. Unlike most sidekicks, Garth is neither brave nor intelligent (which adds to his charm), but he is fiercely loyal to Wayne and ultimately this loyalty helps the two to succeed and form a classic (and highly quotable) cinema duo.
10. Gromit — Wallace & Gromit
If there were an animal that best represents the role of a sidekick, it is a dog. Dogs, like Gromit, are fiercely loyal, always by their master’s side no matter what the situation, and also very loveable. Gromit ticks all these boxes, and he will often use his intelligence, resourcefulness and remarkable bravery to save his (oblivious) master’s life. It could be argued that Gromit is more heroic than Wallace is, but he is happy with his role, like all good sidekicks are. Gromit is also responsible for bringing plenty of humor to the films, despite the fact that he is a mute character. His facial expressions are perfect and highlight his comical, yet charming, relationship with Wallace, whilst moments where he acts like a dog, such as wagging his tail or bringing the newspaper in his mouth, are also a source of comedy in each film.
9. Sam — Casablanca
If it weren’t for Sam, many of these sidekicks would be completely different, because he helped to define the role. In order for the hero to have depth, so that the audience can get behind them and empathize with them, they need to have a friend that understands and helps them. This is Sam, who can help to get Rick out of a rut and knows him better than anyone else does. This also means that Sam is one of just two characters that Rick cares for, and for the role of sidekick to succeed, the bond has to go both ways, being there for each other through thick and thin. Rick and Sam are together when Rick meets Ilsa, he is there when she reappears, and he, of course, delivers a classic rendition of “Time Goes By,” which has become an important moment in cinematic history.
8. Cameron Frye — Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
An ’80s classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of those films that everyone enjoys and has lasted the test of time. Aside from all the wild antics that Ferris (protagonist), Cameron (sidekick) and Sloan (love interest) get into, part of what makes this film so great are the characters. Unlike most films, the sidekick is the character with the biggest arc and the character that the audience relates most to, as Cameron is a character that is nervous, depressed and living his life in fear. This is the opposite of Ferris, who is confident, bold and carefree, and the relationship that the pair have is crucial to the development of the film. Ferris does not change throughout the film, whereas Cameron learns an important life lesson and eventually stands up to his father. This makes Cameron the most sympathetic and likeable character, and brilliantly portrayed by Alan Ruck.
7. Timon and Pumbaa — The Lion King
They may not fill the classic role of sidekick, in that there are two of them, but Timon and Pumbaa are two of the best sidekicks in cinema history, and also two of the most memorable Disney characters of all time. One is a meerkat, Timon, who can sometimes be self-centered, but ultimately his heart is in the right place and he is loyal to those he loves. Pumbaa, a warthog, is loyal, loveable, comical and somewhat naive. Together they form the ultimate duo, and a team that can help Simba to succeed in his mission, but more importantly, they also manage to teach him a valuable life lesson along the way (classic sidekick behavior). This is achieved through the unforgettable song “Hakuna Matata,” which is widely considered to be one of the best Disney songs, and a phrase now used by people in day-to-day life.
6. Genie — Aladdin
While Abu may be displeased to be excluded (although also an excellent sidekick), Genie is unquestionably one of the all-time great sidekicks, and a character with incredible depth. This ensured that the audience care deeply for the character, now furthered by the unfortunate passing of Robin Williams. Williams did a phenomenal job with this character, and it is widely recognized as one of his greatest roles. Genie is on his own quest (to be free) and has his own character arc, but he is also loyal and understands Aladdin. He helps him throughout the film with his magic abilities, but, of course, the real charm in this character is in the humor. Throughout the film, Genie sings some Disney classics, makes jokes and pop culture parodies, and shape-shifts to ensure that there is never a dull moment (much was improvised by Williams).
5. Samwise Gamgee — Lord of the Rings
Although Sam is very much Frodo’s sidekick, it could very easily be argued that he is, in fact, the hero of the story. He saves Frodo on multiple occasions and is the more heroic of the two, but like a true sidekick he allows the main character to claim the glory. Sam is loyal to Frodo and is there to help him out whenever he needs (which is a lot), and crucially he is also 100% committed to the mission, and willing to carry it on even when he believes Frodo to be dead. This commitment to the mission is important, as it demonstrates that the character has morals and passion, and is also brave enough to carry on despite the (apparent) death of the protagonist. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is highly revered for many different reasons, and the relationship these two share is key.
4. Goose — Top Gun
The story of Goose from Top Gun is a tragic one, but he ultimately fulfilled the role of sidekick in that he died to save Maverick (the hero), and this allowed the narrative to continue whilst adding drama and emotion. Goose was the perfect partner in crime for Maverick in that he was a good wingman, a great friend who could be relied on throughout, and he was, of course, also his partner, riding backseat in the F-14A Tomcat. Although Goose’s death was a tragedy, the importance of the character lived on and he gave Maverick the courage to continue. Goose very much represents a male’s best friend or wingman (helping its popularity with a male audience), and this relationship and the death of Goose is crucial to the film, and also a reason why it is considered a classic.
3. Ron and Hermione — Harry Potter
Similarly to Timon and Pumbaa, Ron and Hermione are a sidekick duo that form a fantastic team, providing Harry with everything he needs to succeed in his mission. Ron is fiercely loyal, brave and will always come to his friend’s aid in any dangerous situation, while Hermione is highly intelligent, resourceful and kind-hearted. Harry would be lost without these two by his side, but Ron and Hermione both have their own character arcs to complete, and it could be argued that they are as crucial as Harry is. They also both have feelings for each other, which is a storyline running throughout each film, and this is rare to see, as it is usually the protagonist who gets the girl. On top of all this, they also both bring humor to the films in their own way, and they are both characters that the audience can relate to.
2. Chewbacca — Star Wars
Chewbacca is a character and sidekick that possesses a huge wealth of skills and traits which make him enormously valuable. In addition to his gigantic size and superhuman strength, Chewbacca is also brave and incredibly loyal to Han Solo, and even saves him from Jabba the Hut. He also plays a role in the destruction of the second Death Star. On top of this, he is a great mechanic, co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon and general jack of all trades. This is a sidekick that anyone would benefit from having alongside them. He is also a brilliant character for the audience, with his huge size and hairiness, as well as the strange growling sounds that he uses to communicate. If anyone were to find themselves locked in a battle in space, Chewbacca would be first choice, as he is an A1 sidekick.
1. Donkey — Shrek
Although a relatively new sidekick, compared to most of the other companions on this list, Donkey is the ultimate sidekick and a character that steals the show. He possesses all the important traits such as loyalty, a deep understanding of the protagonist, their own flaws, sensitivity, good morals and, of course, fantastic humor. Donkey’s humor and ability to infuriate Shrek with his endless chatter is perhaps the main source of comedy, but Donkey also plays a key role in driving the plot forwards whilst accompanying Shrek on a physical and spiritual journey. While Shrek is a likeable character, it is Donkey that people identify with the most, as he wears his heart on his sleeve and is frequently sensitive, emotional and nervous. The role of sidekick has evolved over the course of history; they are now characters with depth and purpose, in addition to providing comic relief.