After establishing why our hero needs a sidekick and what the definition of a sidekick is, I thought it would be fun to understand the different types of sidekicks there are. Even though most of us recognize a sidekick when we see one, there are definitely some who take their job more seriously than others. Which leads me to my first type: Comedic.
Comedic sidekicks exist solely to make us laugh. They highlight our heroes in a way that makes them look witty, clever or funnier than he would be without his sidekick. Take for example George and Gracie (though I’ll understand if you don’t think George is a hero) on the Burns and Allen Show:
Keeping in mind that George is the clever one, we see that a good, even if unwitting, sidekick like Gracie can make you look even more clever.
The next type of sidekick is one with: Brawn. Sometimes our hero is just too smart to get his hands really dirty. He doesn’t need someone to help think things through because he is smart enough on his own. What he does need is someone to do the heavy lifting. This is the case for Fezzik in The Princess Bride. Whether he was under Vizzini or working with Inigo or Wesley, Fezzik was the brawn.
The Brains: Sometimes it is the other way around. In the comic/cartoon The Tick, the sidekick Arthur is clearly the wiser and better informed. Whenever the Tick doesn’t listen to his sidekick, he gets into unnecessary trouble.
The Trainee: Often the hero has a young sidekick who is actually training to be a similar hero. While Robin is younger than Batman, his skills are appropriate for his age, all he lacks is the wisdom and experience that only an older superhero can give.
The Tagalong: These types of sidekicks seem to be the most common and have a well respected and even mythological history. Iolaus was Hercules nephew. How he ended up with his uncle on an adventure probably involved more curiosity than planning and ended up fortuitous for Herc.
The Adopted: Sometimes a hero will inadvertently pick up a sidekick and feel so much pity for them that they end up as an adopted son/daughter/brother/sister like Xena:Warrior Princess and her sidekick, the Diminutive wannabe scribe Gabrielle. In some cases it is actually the sidekick that adopts the hero as is the case for Sancho in Don Quixote.
I am my own sidekick: This was actually a rather common theme in comic books in the 60s thru 80s with the prime example being the Hulk. Bruce Banner is a thoughtful scientist who does all he can to save you from his bad side. Not unlike Arthur in the Tick, he tries to convince people of the wiser way. But when they don’t and he gets angry, the superhero emerges.
The Sidekick of a Sidekick: There are some sidekicks that actually have sidekicks. Where would C3PO be if he couldn’t complain to R2D2? We probably would wish the Chewbaca found a better replacement rather than repairing him. Only R2 is patient enough to endure him in true sidekick fashion.
I think that covers most types of sidekicks. Can you think of more? List it below in a reply and an example. :)