The sidekick is a time honored literary tradition. Don Quixote had Sancho, Holmes had Watson, Achilles had Patroclus, Ernie had Bert (or vice versa). The sidekick serves a variety of narrative functions. Sometimes the sidekick serves as a counterpoint to the hero, providing a different perspective.
This gives the author a means to deliver exposition via the witty banter between characters. Heroes may be a mentor to their sidekick, or the sidekick could be the comic relief. In the case of Watson, the sidekick makes the hero identifiable and knowable. In other cases, it is the character of the sidekick that allow the hero to be heroic. In many instances, hero and sidekick are partners; comrades who’ve endured hardships and trials. The best sidekicks are principle characters in their own right; with their own arcs and stories and motivations.
As Bill Adama’s executive officer, Tigh was likely the most hated man on Galactica having been quoted early in the series, “If the crew doesn’t hate the XO, he’s not doing his job.” This quote in many respects sums up Tigh as a sidekick. Tigh was always willing to make the kinds of unpopular decisions that would allow Adama to be elevated and revered by the crew. He recognized the crew’s needs and advocated for them while at the same time doing everything possible to make Adama look good. A leader in his own right, Tigh rallied the human resistance on New Caprica. Oh, and he was one of the final five Cylons.
First Mate on the transport Serenity, Zoe Washburne was the cooler head in the triangle between her husband and her captain. Zoe was career military during the time of the Unification War but chose to throw in with Mal Reynolds when the Independents surrendered. A loving wife, dear friend, and a deadly gunhand, Zoe Washburne is a woman of the deepest strength for all those around her.
The other half of the Dynamic Duo, there have been a total of 5 heros that had donned Robin’s uniform. Each one has brought a unique and distinct vibe to the relationship between Batman and Robin. Each one has furthered the overall story, and brought out new textures in the Batman character, largely because each Robin has been a fully realized character with their own personal back story and motivation.
Has there ever been another gardener in all of history who is as heroic as good ol’ Sam? Most sidekicks have many of the same martial skills of their hero counterparts. Before leaving the War of the Ring, Sam had never left his corner of the Shire but he left his home and father to join the Fellowship. He’d never wielded a blade or a bow but he fought off Shelob at Torech Ungol. On the trek to Mount Doom, he was there to carry Frodo, figuratively and literally, during the most treacherous leg of the journey. In Peter Jackson’s film adaptation, Sam walked into a river even though he did not know how to swim, his devotion to Frodo was so resolute. We should all be so lucky to have a friend like Samwise.
Allen Francis Doyle
When Angel was just starting to knock around in L.A. Doyle was the man to had the vision(s) that gave Angel his missions. Even though Doyle died during the first season, the character resonated throughout the show’s run, often being sited as one source of Angel’s motivation. Cordelia described in him as the story’s “the first soldier down.” It is a fitting tribute for a guy who was ready to make the hard choices in the battle between good and evil.
Ace mechanic, capable star pilot, and Han Solo’s partner. Chewie was a soldier the defense of Kashyyyk and escorted Yoda to an escape shuttle when the Great Jedi Purge began. He was a rebel before there was a rebellion and Han Solo was lucky to have a partner like Chewie covering him.
Lt. Boomer from original BSG
Starbuck was an ace viper jock and a lady’s man that everybody wanted to be. Apollo was the stalwart leader everybody respected. Boomer was the guy they both relied on the do the heavy and often unglorious lifting for Galactica’s Blue Squadron. Boomer was the proverbial and literal wingman for Apollo and Starbuck.
The Lone Gunmen
Paranoid, funny, and absolutely plugged into the conspiracy of the week, the Lone Gunmen were the only guys that Mulder consistently turned to for information and inappropriate sexual innuendo regarding Scully.
A superhero accountant? Yes, Arthur is a superhero accountant and sidekick of The Tick. His suit maybe an homage to a moth or a bunny rabbit. It’s all just crazy enough that it could be real.
The Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT) was the talking Trans Am that carted the much less charasmatic Michael Knight to all of their weekly crime fighting gigs. KITT had the wit, savy, and know-how to save the day when his bumbling human partner got them into their weekly pickle. Plus KITT had a kick ass turbo boost option that kids every where hoped would be someday be available to the public. Alas, while cars have begun to talk, still no go on the turbo boost.
Without the sidekick, many of our favorite stories would be missing vital texture, narrative weight, and many plots would come to a screaming halt. Without them, heroes would be less heroic and evil would prevail where it should be vanquished. Besides, who says fighting evil can’t come with a few laughs?