The best TV sidekicks include Kramer, Dwight Schrute, and Ron Swanson.
Sometimes, it’s the supporting roles that can make or break a comedy series. And we’re going to talk about some of our favorite TV sidekicks that steal the show. We’re not saying that the primary protagonist in a series isn’t important, but oftentimes it’s the supporting characters who are responsible for setting the plot in motion in significant ways.
And that’s the purpose of this list: to show you that the top-billed star doesn’t necessarily make a successful TV show without a trusty sidekick to antagonize them in all the right ways.
5. Robin Scherbatsky – How I Met Your Mother
Though How I Met Your Mother is centered around the romantic misadventures of Ted Mosby, the series absolutely relies on Robin Scherbatsky’s existence. She’s more than just a TV sidekick since she’s the whole point of the series. Not only is Scherbatsky Ted’s main romantic interest throughout much of the series, but she also has a secret past that she doesn’t want anybody to know about.
Long before becoming a moderately successful morning news anchor in New York City, this TV sidekick had a successful career as a child pop star named Robin Sparkles. But things got dark when she experienced her first heartbreak, and her sparkling alter-ego transitioned to one that was far more sinister: Robin Daggers. And it’s worth noting that Robin Daggers was solely responsible for the birth of grunge in 1996… in Canada.
4. Dwight Schrute – The Office
Simply put, Rainn Wilson‘s Dwight Schrute is the ultimate TV sidekick. Not only is he the hardest working employee at Dunder Mifflin, but his aspiration to become a manager also made him quite the adversary to his coworkers on many occasions. And it’s this very combination of cut-throat countenance and cluelessness that makes him such an iconic character on The Office.
One of Dwight’s most endearing qualities as a TV sidekick is that he always hopes for the best while expecting the absolute worst. In other words, Dwight had good reason to bring pepper spray to the office every day for eight years to protect himself and his fellow employees. And despite the laughter and ridicule he faced for his paranoid persona, Dwight ultimately got the last laugh after finally getting a chance to unload the pepper spray on Roy Anderson when he tried to attack Jim.
3. Ron Swanson – Parks and Recreation
In many ways, Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson is the character we cheer for the most on Parks and Recreation. He’s just the perfect TV sidekick, and his station in life makes for inherently good comedy. Ron Swanson works for the government, and Ron Swanson hates the government.In other words, Ron Swanson wants to dismantle the very system that employs him. And it’s this form of apprehension and disdain for the state of his country that allows him to have such a deadpan demeanor.
Considered by many to be a man’s man, Ron loves a hearty breakfast. He even has a framed picture of bacon, eggs, and toast hanging up in his office to keep himself centered. But one thing that this TV sidekick loves more than breakfast meat is telling off employees at Lowe’s when they offer him help on a project because he knows more than them.
2. Kramer – Seinfeld
When you think about Seinfeld, it’s hard to think of a memorable moment that doesn’t involve Cosmo Kramer. It’s not that Jerry Seinfeld’s titular role is lacking by any means, but most of the tension that we see in Seinfeld is brought about by his trusty TV sidekick. Jerry plays it straight in Seinfeld, and the chaos comes to him in the form of his neighbor, Kramer.
The chaos that Kramer brings to Jerry’s life is the main source of comedy. Imagine if Jerry had a regular neighbor across the hallway. They’d occasionally run into each other at the mailbox, maybe make some small talk, and the exchange would be relatively uneventful.
But with Kramer as Jerry’s TV sidekick, we get mooching, get-rich-quick schemes, and concrete in the washing machines at the laundromat because of some perceived slight.
1. Barney Fife – The Andy Griffith Show
To properly close out this list, we absolutely have to rank Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show as the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to iconic TV sidekicks. Though Andy Griffith’s Andy Taylor has a strong presence in his own right, Fife’s arrogance and unwavering ability to get under everybody’s skin carries the show. And he’s always determined to act the part of an expert on every subject despite his obvious limitations.
Barney Fife is a stickler for the rules and insists on doing everything by the books to absurd proportions, much to the chagrin of his cohorts. But it’s his overzealous delivery and his alarmist attitude that is the primary source of humor on The Andy Griffith Show. And much like Dwight Schrute, his sense of self-importance is a source of contention because he wants to become sheriff himself.
It’s also worth noting that Nickelodeon‘s Doug took a page from Barney Fife’s playbook, so it’s clear that this type of characterization has stood the test of time. If you look closely at Vice Principal Lamar Bone, he has the same mannerisms, unwavering dedication to discipline, and a vocal delivery parallel to Barney Fife.