Robin, Dr. Watson, Samwise Gamgee. The great sidekicks do more than provide an audience surrogate for the hero to exposit his thoughts, they are the kind of true friends that only exist in fiction. They are there for their heroes in their darkest hours, pulling them through and providing them with just the right amount of aid to allow the hero to come out on top. However, not all heroes are shining examples of their kind, be it circumstance or a deliberate effort on the part of their creator, once in a while those who are a second banana turn out to be, if not the real hero, then the one that captures the public’s imagination.
Key Appearance: Green Hornet (TV Series, 1966)
Who is Van Williams? Now, who is Bruce Lee? The fact that the Green Hornet’s masked, but not code-named, sidekick was played by the legendary martial artist and actor is the least of the differences between the obstinate hero and his ‘aide.’ Kato’s fighting, driving and dart flinging prowess may have been performed in complement to the Hornet’s complicated undercover schemes, but Kato’s ground breaking legacy as a hyper-competent hero who happens to Asian on television in the 1960s is reason this one-season wonder lives on in the popular imagination. The upcoming theatrical adaptation embodies this idea of Kato’s legacy; after all in the title role the producers of the film cast (the classily named) Seth Rogan and not someone like Jason Statham.
Key Appearance: Inspector Gadget (Animated Series, 1983)
A seasoned law enforcement officer, armed to the teeth with a seemingly unlimited array of technological marvels. He should be more of a match for an international criminal syndicate, right? Unfortunately he’s also a complete idiot. Enter Penny, one of a long line of the cartoon universe’s seemingly unlimited supply of animated nieces and/or nephews. She, along with her aptly named pet dog Brain, tags along on her uncle’s adventures and without fail is the one who puts together the clues necessary to foil the evil Doctor Claw. Oftentimes with the help of her ‘computer book,’ a technological marvel of compact computing power that amazingly fits in the palm of her hand. Time and again, various plots were foiled by a nine-year-old girl who took none of the credit for saving the world for from devastation…at least until next time….NEXT TIME!!!!
Key Appearances: Jeeves and Wooster (TV Series, 1990) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier (Graphic Novel, 2007)
The quintessential gentleman’s gentleman Reginald Jeeves lives in the shadow of his boss, the upper-class twit Bertie Wooster. A young man of means but not of much sense, Bertie would get himself into romantic, social or financial scrape after scrape, only to be extracted by his calm, eminently resourceful manservant who’s content to fade back into the background after his work is done. This assistance extends beyond simple terrestrial matters, as seen in Black Dossier, when his friendship with a curator of the British Museum allows him to call for the League’s aid when the Old Ones threaten the quaint English countryside. The impact of the Jeeves character, conceived almost one hundred years ago in 1917 has been so profound that it was inspiration for the internet search engine AskJeeves.com (also known simply as Ask.com). In World of Warcraft a Repair Bot name Jeeves can be summoned to provide ready assistance, and some of the most respected dictionaries the world define the conferring the nickname of ‘Jeeves’ to mean that he or she is “a useful and reliable person who provides ready solutions to problems.”
Key Appearance: Kim Possible (Animated Series, 2002)
It’s a common trope for the villains in animated children’s show to be portrayed as buffoons with ridiculous schemes that blunt the impact of the violence that could be implied if they succeed. On Kim Possible, this is epitomized by the young heroine’s reoccurring arch-enemy Dr. Drakken, a bumbling mad scientist type who would be no match for the cheerleader/hero Kim Possible if wasn’t for his sidekick, the hero turned mercenary villain Shego. Stronger, more experienced and possessing of a destructive green energy attack that an unpowered Kim can’t match, Shego is more than Drakken’s muscle, she’s also the voice of reason and practicality in their duo. Although she attacks her nemesis Kim with murderous intent, their shared albeit begrudging respect for each other’s abilities made Shego the breakout villain of the series.Any other sidekicks that overshadow their heroes?