The 10 Best Movie Sidekicks, Ranked
10 Best Movie Sidekicks
The movie sidekick. Also known as the second banana, the second fiddle, and even the comic relief. For many reasons, the sidekick can be more relatable to audiences than even the main character. Number twos have the tendency to call it as they see it and possess qualities like bravery, loyalty, and even vulnerability, all while tossing in some of the best lines in the movie.
As the nature of the movie sidekick evolved, audiences began to see the second banana take more of the spotlight from the top dog. In some films, the lines were so blurred between lead and sidekick that you’d be hard-pressed to use the term “sidekick.” For that reason, our 10 best movie sidekicks are true sidekicks (with the exception of possibly one).
10. Pedro Sanchez – Napoleon Dynamite
Our first true sidekick comes from the 2004 indie film, Napoleon Dynamite. This indie gem starred Jon Heder as the title character and benefited from wonderful performances by Jon Gries as Uncle Rico, Aaron Ruell as Kip Dynamite, and Tina Majorino as Deb. But it was the understated, deadpan performance by Efren Ramirez as Napoleon’s newest and only friend, Pedro, that stood out the most.
As Napoleon’s sidekick, Ramirez played Pedro with a heavily accented deadpan glee. He was the perfect balance for Napoleon, never doing too much or too little. When it comes to movie sidekicks, vote for Pedro.
9. Garth Algar – Wayne’s World
Make no mistake about it, although Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) is Wayne Campbell’s (Mike Myers) best friend in the film, the title – Wayne’s World – tells you who exactly the film’s lead character is, making Garth a bonafide movie sidekick. The film follows Wayne and Garth as they host a public-access TV show from the basement of Wayne’s parents’ home.
Wayne is the outgoing personality while Garth takes a back seat many times as he is more of an introvert, evidenced by the fact that he has a crush on a girl who works at the local donut shop, but simply can’t work up the courage to approach her to ask her out. Regardless, Garth is the perfect sidekick to Wayne, and their popularity, which began on Saturday Night Live, turned into this feature film and was followed by the sequel, Wayne’s World 2.
8. Tonto - The Lone Ranger
Of all the movie sidekicks on this list, the character Tonto might be the most well-known. In fact, throughout the history of film and television, Tonto might be the most popular sidekick of all time. His history goes back to the Golden Age of Radio when he first appeared as the sidekick to The Lone Ranger in 1933.
The best-remembered version of Tonto was most likely Jay Silverheels who played opposite Clayton Moore in the TV series The Lone Ranger from 1949-57. Then came Johnny Depp.
Depp took on the role of Tonto in the vastly underrated 2013 film, The Lone Ranger, opposite Armie Hammer. Here is where the character Tonto’s status goes from sidekick to pretty much the star of the show. It is Johnny Depp, after all.
Depp did a fantastic job as Tonto bringing humor and gravitas to the role and for the most part stands on equal footing with Hammer’s Lone Ranger. Still, Tonto remains one of the best sidekicks in the business.
7. Goose - Top Gun
It is tough when you, as the audience, find yourself so invested in a character that their ultimate fate can be so heartbreaking. This is the case with Goose in Top Gun. Played by Anthony Edwards, we fall for Goose immediately. He has a playful attitude, he is always following Maverick’s lead, and we are well into loving the character when tragedy strikes.
Edwards makes Goose into such a loveable character and provided a great balance to Tom Cruise’s Maverick. They made a perfect team and as drawn up, Goose made the perfect movie sidekick. His sad end, while necessary to move Maverick’s character forward, was a heartbreaking moment for a much-loved character.
6. Mini-Me – Austin Powers
Mini-Me made his first appearance as a movie sidekick in the 1999 comedy, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and became one of the best sidekicks without ever speaking a single line. Through two movies, even. Verne Troyer played Mini-Me opposite Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil. He was created as a clone of Dr. Evil before the maniacal doctor was sent back in time.
When he meets Dr. Evil for the first time, the evil doctor is so impressed by what he sees, he declares, “Breathtaking. I shall call him…Mini-Me.”
From then on, he doesn’t leave Dr. Evil’s side, conferring with Dr. Evil through notes and whispers, though the only sound emanating from Mini-Me is the occasional frightened “Eeeeeeee.”
5. Cal Naughton – Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was the first film that paired the comedic duo of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly and (sorry Step Brothers fans) might be their best. Reilly, as Cal Naughton, just might be the most dedicated sidekick, even after he takes Ricky Bobby’s wife and mansion from him. Their pairing is comedy gold and they mine for every last drop of it.
The story tells of a racing pair (“Shake and Bake”) who are not only egotistical but talented race car drivers. That is, until Jean Girard (Sasha Baron Cohen) arrives on the NASCAR circuit, ready to take away everything Ricky Bobby, with the help of his movie sidekick Cal Naughton, worked so hard for.
The movie is filled with classic one-liners and situations (the dinner table scene comes to mind) giving Reilly a chance to show off his vast comedic chops as one of the best movie sidekicks on film.
4. Dr. John Watson - Sherlock Holmes
Anyone who knows anything about the classic character of Sherlock Holmes knows his sidekick, Dr. John Watson. And while Watson is a great sidekick, it is his records of the cases they solve that brought Holmes to life.
Watson has been a part of the sidekick lexicon ever since his character was created by famous scribe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. The Dr. Watson we speak of is the one portrayed by Jude Law in the 2009 film, Sherlock Holmes opposite Robert Downey Jr. and again in 2011’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
In the past, Watson has been portrayed as a much older man than Holmes, but director Guy Ritchie wanted a partner for Holmes to be more evenly matched age-wise. Law stepped into the movie sidekick role with aplomb, not only challenging the brilliance of Holmes mentally but also physically.
He turned out to be one of the best movie sidekicks and fans are hoping the rumors of a third film together will finally come to fruition.
3. Igor – Young Frankenstein
Marty Feldman was cast perfectly as one of the best movie sidekicks, Igor, in the 1974 Mel Brooks comedy, Young Frankenstein. As the bug-eyed hunchback (“What hump?”), Feldman played Igor (“it’s pronounced eye-gor”) brilliantly next to Gene Wilder’s Dr. Frankenstein (“it’s pronounced Fronkensteen”). Yes, Young Frankenstein is such a quotable film.
What makes Young Frankenstein tick, besides the infinite sight gags and one-liners, is the relationship forged between Dr. Frankenstein and his sidekick, Igor. When onscreen together, they simply nail it. The pair would go on to film another movie together, the 1975 comedy, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother. There Wilder would play the “smarter” brother to Sherlock Holmes and Feldman his partner and sidekick, Orville Sacker.
2. Chewbacca - Star Wars
Chewbacca, also known as Chewy to some, is one of the best movie sidekicks in the galaxy far, far away. The legendary Wookie made his first appearance as Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) co-pilot in the 1977 classic, Star Wars, and remained Solo’s sidekick through the remainder of the original Star Wars trilogy, the Star Wars sequel trilogy, and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
With each appearance, his status as Han’s partner in crime grew. Although the audience couldn’t understand what Chewbacca was saying (he only spoke in his Wookie tongue), Han understood each and every word being said.
Their relationship, while contentious at times, was based on trust, mutual respect, and definitely love. They were buddies early on and it was a relationship that got them into and out of numerous jams.
1. Samwise Gamgee - The Lord of the Rings
As far as movie sidekicks go, Samwise Gamgee is at the top of the list. The character was created by J. R. R. Tolkien in his 1954 The Lord of the Rings novel but was brought to life by Sean Astin in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Comparatively speaking, there isn’t much difference between the two characters from the novel to the film as Sam’s loyalty to Frodo (Elijah Wood) remains the same.
Through thick and thin, Sam remains by Frodo’s side, always there and ever eager to lend a helping hand. Sam starts the trilogy as Frodo’s gardener but ends up much more than that as the trilogy progresses. He is a stalwart companion, ready to go into battle with Frodo (and the rest of the Fellowship), and remains one of the best movie sidekicks on the big screen.