Film and television’s trustiest sidekicks

They’re the unsung heroes of the large and small screen, and seldom get the recognition they deserve. To redress the balance, here’s Rob’s list of film and TV’s trustiest sidekicks...

Loyal friends, partners and questionable underage relationships, the world of heroes has always made room for the trusty sidekick. Chums, buddies and compadres. Every good hero needs one, and in most cases, they are there to give support and help in times of need. But in some cases they never get the accolades they deserve, putting in the legwork and the effort while their erstwhile partner basks in glory.

So, to salute hard-working sidekicks who have gone beyond the call of duty and saved their attention-hogging mentors on more than one occasion, we proudly show who’s the real brains of the outfit…

Arthur the moth – The Tick

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Although loveable, essentially the Tick is nothing more than a big blue lug with literally nothing going on in the brain department. Dangerous in the fact that, if he did have two brain cells to rub together, he would probably set his head on fire, it’s best that he sticks to what he does best, namely hitting things and having a fixation about spoons. 

So, in a world filled with maniacs with chairs for heads and ‘bombers wot bomb at midnight’, it’s up to the more level headed Arthur to save the day.

Office worker by day and reluctant crime fighter by night, Arthur’s moth powers might not be the most effective skill set ever handed out to a hero, but his calm demeanour, head for accounts, and general resignation to his lot in life has helped the Tick out of more than one sticky situation.

Maid Marian – Maid Marian And Her Merry Men

In this British children’s television gem, it’s not the valiant Robin Hood who is the leader of a merry band of forest dwelling fugitives, but rather the more level headed Maid Marian who takes control of things, as it seems Robin is too busy trying to do his hair and co-ordinate his tights and hood combination with the right accessories.

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Marian’s down to earth maternal instincts saved the day for her merry men on more than one occasion. And Rabies, Little Ron and co have a lot to be thankful for. While Robin complains that his wanted posters don’t show his best side, it’s Marian who does all the work in defending the people from Prince John, the Sheriff and Guy, with absolutely no thanks and a pile of washing up to do when she returns to Sherwood Forest.

Gromit – Wallace And Gromit

Need to stop a giant were-rabbit or an evil penguin? Then best call on a certain mute mutt whose plasticine resignation to always be there to lend a hand with the out of control contraptions of his master, Wallace.

With only a raised eyebrow or shake of his head, we will know we will be safe from the various colourful and fingerprinted menaces that inhabit the cheery northern towns that make Nick Park’s Aardman universe such a lovely place.

Kif Kroker – Futurama

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“Touch it, Kif…It’s velour.” The immortal words of Zapp Brannigan, galactic hero and all round space adventurer.

Taking the very best (or is that worst?) of Captain James T. Kirk’s chauvinistic and heavy handed approach to galactic law (if it can’t be slept with or shot at, Zapp isn’t interested), and leaving the more mundane duties his role involves (such as commanding the ship, keeping the crew in order or tactics) to his second in command, Kiff, the pliable lizard-like saviour of the universe, in his undying duties as Brannigan’s number two, has been stretched, splatted, smeared and ‘snu-snu-ed’ to near exhaustion during his ‘five year mission’.

Still, while being zapped, having his father nearly eaten and coming back to life on more than one occasion does seem a little harsh, Kiff, on the plus side, has found true love in Amy Wong, showing that being the sidekick sometimes has its advantages.

Chewbacca – Star Wars

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Han Solo, galactic rogue, handsome space swashbuckler and ‘captain’ of the Millennium Falcon, ‘talks the talk’ but in certain occasions, doesn’t walk the walk, leaving it up to Chewbacca to sort out the mess.

Whether it’s needing a Wookie prisoner to transport around the Death Star, needing a hand when getting frozen in Carbonite, or fixing and maintaining a spaceship that really shouldn’t fly, Chewie really is the put upon throughout the films to fix, mend and rescue everyone. And even after all that effort, he doesn’t even get a medal in the ceremony at the end of Star Wars.

Dogbert – Dilbert

While not a hero as such, Dilbert’s life is jam packed with trials and tribulations, mostly from pointy haired bosses making him do things that really are irrelevant and wasteful (see every boss everywhere at every workplace).

So, while the day might be spent painting the prototype of the new Gruntmaster 3000 from ocean grey to military grey or back again, it’s up to Dogbert to provide the much needed solution to any given problem, while most of the time also making a tidy profit on the side.

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Wang – Big Trouble In Little China

Jack Burton: woman’s man, trucker and saviour of San Francisco. Well, sort of, as it seems that even though Jack is the ‘star’ of John Carpenter’s classic 1980s fantasy tale, it is really Wang who provides the knowledge and skill to defeat the evil Lo-Pan.

Clueless throughout, Jack Burton spends the key scenes of the film either unconscious, tacking a monster, or trapped under a heavyweight samurai, while Wang tackles the elemental demons, Thunder and Wind, with a wry grin, a cool raised eyebrow, and some gravity defying kung fu ‘skills’. He’s as reliable a sidekick as you could want.

Penny – Inspector Gadget

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Equipped with more firepower than an ED-209, Inspector Gadget is a walking, talking Swiss army knife. But for all his equipment and supposed policing skills, he still manages, week on week, to stumble around having little to no clue what ‘Dr Claw’ or MAD is up to, leaving the hard work, detection and crime fighting to his niece, Penny, and her pet dog, Brain.

Although not really qualified to tackle international terrorism, Penny and Brain did, throughout their ‘time in the field’, manage to stop MAD on every occasion, foiling plots, stopping insane agents and generally bringing down a whole clandestine operation with a few cunningly placed marbles or a bit of pipe.

Humble in their work, the pair, I assume, have since retired from the world of international espionage after MAD was bought down. I imagine knowing they had done a solid and appreciated job behind the scenes, they shunned the spotlight, not wanting to bask in the glory of their more egotistical uncle, happy in their knowledge that potential anonymous book deals could be on the cards, with their first semi autobiographical work, ‘Dr Claw And My Role In His Downfall’, making it onto Oprah Winfrey’s reading list.

Spot – Hong Kong Phooey

For a hero who can’t even change into his alter ego ‘super-suit’ without getting into difficulty, Hong Kong Phooey’s ‘number one super guy’ skills as a superhero should be called into question.

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Mild mannered janitor Henry’s inability to find his way out of a filing cabinet and being dressed in fashion that was only really stylish for a week or two doesn’t deter our doggy crime-fighter, and shows more optimism and willingness rather than actual skill.

Especially when you think, to actually solve crimes and stop evil doers, he doesn’t actually have to do a great deal, as, in reality, the hard work, detection, and crime solving is done with some reluctance by the cynical and devious, Spot, the police department’s cat.

Always present to spring Phooey from a trap or to place a tripwire or oil slick in the way of bad guys, Spot was perpetually on hand to provide that little bit of feline ingenuity and assistance to the witless Phooey.

Pinky – Pinky And The Brain

“One is a genius, the other’s insane” the theme tune goes, and yet, doesn’t go on to explain which characteristic applies to which character.

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While it’s assumed the genius of the duo is Brain, it’s more often than not Pinky who is the driving force behind their nightly plot for world domination. While not really interested in becoming ruler of the world, Pinky’s sidekick duties usually focus on him wanting cheese, or to watch a film, or play a game.

It’s usually Pinky’s insistence on finding candy or meeting a celebrity that foils Brain’s plans, showing that his prowess as a sidekick can be used for betterment of all mankind (or mousekind?)

The idea of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ could apply to Pinky’s sidekick status. Maybe Pinky is a mole planted to stop Brain’s plans and is a whole lot cleverer than people think he is, using his ‘Simple Jack’ technique to help save the world?

Either that, or he is, indeed, an idiot. It’s hard to tell.

Silent Bob – Kevin Smith movies

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Silent and deadly, Kevin Smith’s creation spends the majority of the ‘Jersey’ films saying very little, and is more of a sounding board for his hyperactive, foul-mouthed companion, Jay.

And while the rambling creation of Jason Mewes is more than happy to take credit for every plan the duo come up with, it’s usually Silent Bob who puts in all the work and usually gets the ‘win’ in a situation. Whether its finding something within the folds of his coat to assist the pair when they’re in a tricky spot, or doing a ‘MacGyver’, or, indeed, using his Jedi mind skills to help out, Silent Bob’s calm and stoic nature has been the key factor in the adventures of this dynamic duo.

What sidekicks serving the flashier frontmen do you think deserve more notice? Sing their praises in the comments!