Heroes need sidekicks. Sancho. Friar Tuck. Robin. Sam Gamgee. Herminone and Ron. Rocky. Agent 99. The sidekick is often allowed a more extreme version of personality than the hero; like Donkey is to Shrek.

Sometimes the sidekick is a good device for narration, like Doctor Watson supplying the reader’s POV. Sometimes the sidekick is there to rescue the hero in the nick of time, like R2-D2 (photo compliant with Rule of Sexy, may not be authorized by Lucasfilm) does for Luke Skywalker. But a good story about a good hero almost always includes a sidekick. It goes back to the model of the Hero’s Journey, in which the hero befriends another journeyer, who helps the hero overcome a struggle along the way to the ultimate conflict.

The differentiation between sidekick and hero is that the narrative focus is always on the hero. If you have partners (say, Laverne and Shirley), they are narratively equal. A good sidekick, though, leaves you wanting more, even though in the cool light of recollection you probably realize that the ratio of hero-to-sidekick is never going to be quite enough to satisfy you.

At the end of the day, I’m going to say my favorite sidekick of all time is Inigo Montoya. A badass in his own right, switched from enemy to friend of the hero through earning mutual respect, was driven by a simple and powerful motive, carries the hero through a difficult portion of his journey (the hero was mostly dead, after all), and he got two of the best sidekick lines ever.

Think you you do better than Inigo? That’s what the comments are for!

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Inigo was also a great straight man for the hero:

    You seem a decent fellow… I hate to kill you.
    You seem a decent fellow… I hate to die.

    I could give you my word as a Spaniard.
    No good. I’ve known too many Spaniards.

  2. Michaleen Oge Flynn, from The Quiet Man. Barry Fitzgerald is perfect.

    “No patty-fingers, if you please. The proprieties at all times.”

  3. While not offering my own favorite sidekick I do have to say that the companion of the Hero/Heroine is often easier to write. In my As-to-yet-unpublished-but-at-least-under-consideration-by-an-Agent novel, my main character Allison comes off much more like a Bob Newhart, a Jane-Every-Woman than I had initially intended. Her best friends who are there while she’s being stalked and threatened are the extremes.

    Which as a writer was a compromise I made to keep Allison universally likeable which I felt I had to, while Tori and Joanna could be less so. I’m not overly concerned when a proof reader (I hate the term Beta reader) says they don’t like something about the sidekicks.

    As to favorite? Hmm… I’m gonna go New School and propose Minsc from the Baulder’s Gate game series. A massive warrior who carried a Miniature Giant Space hampster in his pocket named Boo.

    “Go for the eyes Boo, go for the eyes!”

    • A Teacher, that just HAS to be named after Boo Radley….or maybe Pat Conroy?

      Teach, do I have this right—Hey, no worries Kohole–those subject-pronouns can be tricky. Who generally refers to the subject of the sentence and whom as the object.

      I love this song, but it is the incorrect use of the word, “who”–Who do you love vs Whom do you love. It’s whom because I’m asking you about the object of your affection. If I ask the question about who do I love, the same rules apply–it would have to be, “Whom” do I love because I’m asking about the object of my affections. But screw it–sometimes the grammatically incorrect just feels and sounds better–just ask the Quicksilver Messenger Service!

      • Take your pick for great sidekicks. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, Madame Marie Curie and Pierre Curie, Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright…..

        • Sorry–off topic. Problem is, I’m banned from commenting on the front page which makes it impossible to write ON topic since my limitations are so stringent.

          @James K, I just love reading your posts and blogs. Here’s a very simple question from a simpleton. If the government can just willy nilly print money to bail out God knows who or what, why can’t it use the same strategy to bail out its citizenry! Yes, why can’t we all be millionaires? If the government’s spending mega bucks with money that does not exist nor will it ever exist, why can’t we participate in this orgy? Why can’t the govt. issue credit cards with a credit limit of say, $1,000,000 and send to all its citizens. Who cares if we can’t pay it off? This money tree just keeps growing and growing with no end in sight. I say, let’s have some real fun with this funny money, and fast!! Voodoo economics at its best.

          • breaking news
            WASHINGTON — A senior Obama administration official says al-Qaida No. 2 leader, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan.

            ..Al-Rahman was a Libyan national who was considered al-Qaida’s operational leader before rising to the No. 2 spot following Osama bin Laden’s death in May.


            Okay everyone, how long till BSK chimes in that he was targeted because of his “brown” skin. To be followed by “we’re just as bad, if not worse, than the terrorists.” They’re just “Minutemen.” “Was he read his Miranda rights?”. Whoops, speaking of the devil—there’s BSK knocking at my door…back in awhile.

          • Heidegger, please do try to stay on topic here. I do not control who is or is not banned from the front page, but I do like conversations to be on topic.

        • Oh yes,Burt, I completely understand, am sincerely and earnestly trying–obviously, my efforts have not been successful–any solutions would be dearly and appreciably welcome.

          Thanks for your patience although at this stage, I’m sure it’s running very thin.

          Why not have an “anything goes” thread?

          • Elias, three words. That’s all. “Like being dead”.
            God, that made me laugh!! It’s very, very funny so thanks.

            And Elias, please, please, PLEASE don’t throw me in the box–

            Have mercy on this banished soul. By the way, who’s running this joint–you or EDK? I would like to officially reapply for admittance to first page commentary. I’ve more than done my time in that damn sweat box, and to continue with this display of heartless sadism is just inhumane. Oh, also–can I start posting articles on the front page–as in my own essays?
            I have written one about chess and insanity. Also, the politicization of autism. And also, how glass harmonicas defeated the Brits in the Revolutionary War. Also, why it’s a myth that children can learn foreign languages faster and better than adults.

            I also wrote one on DARidgeley and Chris–I don’t know Chris’s last name–he’s concealing it because his family was deeply involved in slave trading and to be honest, I have sources who have told me he’s STIll involved in chattel slavery. Chris’s cover-up is Ebay and Craig’s list–also, eharmony, and various, foreign cleaning services that promise blond, buxom babes for life. Chris, you can come out now–I’ve hired security agents who can back up my claims–hey, we all screw up in life. That you have decided to use black face and participate in minstrel shows, is just your unique way of telling the world to F-off.

          • Guys talking about sexism…now that’s funny. As in HAAAAAAAAAAAA funny! Trust me, the utter absurdity of such a thought is deliciously hilarious. You see, the reality of it is our (male) brains are just now figuring out that knuckles are not meant to help us walk–that’s what legs are for. But 99% of our libido’s orders have one mission and one mission only—yes, to procreate—DNA can be ruthless but always honest. If you really want to know what makes males tick, this is all you need to know!


          • Heidegger, the more you do this, the less likely it is that you’re ever going to be granted access to the main site. And the less likely you’re going to be given anything goes threads.

            My advice? Check out for a while. Let things cool down. Come back in a couple months and leave comments specific to the things that the subblogs are talking about. Do that and there might not be such worries about inviting you back onto commenting sections of the main page.

          • Mr. Trumwill, I have no idea what you find so offensive in those last two posts that would warrant expulsion from the League. You didn’t use those words, but similar enough that one could not come to any other conclusion.

            Regarding your advice, I seriously doubt I could voluntarily do such a thing. Please, feel free to throw down the well-earned gauntlet. A 30-0 margin is just a bit over the top for this irretrievable and lost soul. Auf wiedersehen mein Freund!

            What’s in a name? That which we call a liberal
            By any other name would smell just as fungent;

          • “[…] the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’

          • It’s mostly a matter of your comments having nothing to do with the topic at-hand. You’re taking an argument from one room and putting your counterargument in another room with largely different people having an entirely different discussion.

        • @BSK–I suspect that if your friends took you out one night for your Bachelor Party and wanted to surprise you with some hot, comely strippers, you’d have them all arrested for sexual assault with their eyes. And what is your opinion about transgenders marrying themselves? Personally, I just can’t wait to walk down that aisle with my longtime lover–she’s a beautiful buxom nanny goat! I thought I could do this in Vegas, but they kicked me out of all the marriage chapels and had the nerve to say bestiality is not “marriage”. And I’m not ashamed to say we are perfectly capable of producing offspring. Any chance you might want be my best man? I’d love it, old friend. I’d love to introduce you to Molly-by-Golly, so let’s try and set something up–just don’t try and get some kind of threesome going.

  4. I remember one of the episodes of the old Green Hornet TV show when some criminals were debating whether or not to let Green Hornet into their enterprise. One of them said something like “And what does he have to offer. At which point, Bruce Lee lays out a can of whoop-arse and someone says “That’s why.”

    Now that’s an unusual take on sidekicks. One who makes the physical prowess of the prime redundant.

    • Bruce Lee as Kato is a pretty bad-ass sidekick too. They had to slow down his kung fu moves so that they could actually film them.

      The Lone Ranger could have probably got out of most of the trouble he got himself into without Tonto. Tonto made it easier, sure, and was valued and helpful. But the Green Hornet would have been absolutely done for, many times, were it not for Kato.

  5. Wodehouse did sidekicks on occasion:

    In the school books, Psmith was Mike’s sidekick, because the book was about the star cricketer, not the silly ass snarker, but that shifted as the series moved to adult novels. By the last book, Mike was barely even present.

    Corky was Ukridge’s sidekick as well as the recorder of his adventures. As he notes

    If the leading incidents of S. F. Ukridge’s disreputable career are to be given to the public ± and not, as some might suggest, decently hushed up, I suppose I am the man to write them. 

    Bingo Little began as Bertie’s sidekick, though he became the main character of his own stories after he married Rosie M. Banks, author of such romances as Only a Factory Girl and Mervyn Keene, Clubman. (Unless I’m missing someone, Bingo is the only Wodehouse character who didn’t disappear after marrying, though his stories stopped being about falling in love with every unsuitable girl he met, and became about concealing his misadventures from his wife. Freddie Widgeon took over the niche of loving and losing at least once a story, until he got married and disappeared as well.)

    • Unless I’m missing someone

      Freddie Threepwood, of course. An idiot layabout as a bachelor, an idiot high-powered dog biscuit salesman as a married man.

  6. All of the Sidekicks that come immediately to mind are from Vidya Games.

    The Assassin robot from Knights of the Old Republic. The one who called organics “meatbags”. Him. He was a *BRILLIANT* sidekick.

    • Video games are a thoroughly acceptable body of source material, as far as I’m concerned.

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