Blame it on my cousin Millie. She was a year older than I was, and when we played together as kids, she was the boss. One of our favorite things was to play was make-believe boyfriends. She got Batman, I got Robin. She got Superman, I got Superboy. She got the Lone Ranger, I got Tonto. Do you get the picture?
Maybe that’s why I’ve always had a thing for sidekicks.
Hey, I know we all love alpha men. But who would you rather take home for keeps? The dashing, domineering hunk who grabs the spotlight every time? Or the steady guy who’s always there watching his back, bailing him out of danger, holding his horse, tending his wounds, listening to his woman troubles and always being a true friend? I’ll take a good sidekick any day.
Sidekicks in the movies come in all shapes, sizes and ages. There’s the codger sidekick—Gabby Hayes and the great Walter Brennan are examples. There’s the goofy sidekick—Don Knotts, Andy Devine and Festus Hagan from Gunsmoke come to mind. The ethnic sidekick—Tonto, of course, and a score of others. Then there’s the junior sidekick—Robin and Jimmy Olsen fit here. If you’re old enough to remember Red Ryder, his sidekick was Little Beaver, an Indian boy.
A good sidekick is a true gem. He’s usually patient and considerate, often humorous, likeable, decent, brave and resourceful, especially when it comes to getting the hero out of a jam. There is just one rule he never breaks—he never, ever overshadows the hero. Oh—and he never gets THE girl. Not unless there’s a second girl or a second book. Sidekicks in romance novels often do double duty. If you make your sidekick handsome and appealing—say, the best friend, the younger brother, the cute young deputy—you can recycle him as the hero in a sequel. Lots of authors have done that. I’ve done it myself. Give your hero a good sidekick, and readers will be clamoring for his story.
Who’s your favorite sidekick, romantic or otherwise? What other famous sidekicks can you think of? Were any of them women? Who would you pick as your own sidekick? Let’s have some fun with this.