7. Mr. Spock from Star Trek
Surely, many 1st officers could be considered sidekicks as they are designed to help their captains in immeasurable ways and Spock is no exception. From the original “Star Trek” series beginning in 1966, to the series of films beginning with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” in 1979, Spock was the ultimate logical, measured and monotone counterpart to the emotional, illogic of Captain Kirk.
The death of Spock in “The Wrath of Khan”, subsequent resurrection in “The Search for Spock” and culmination of relearning his own identity in “The Voyage Home” was a fulfilling a character arc as you will see in film. Leonard Nimoy really encased himself in the role in its earliest stages and never let go.
Many of the things Mr. Spock was known for Nimoy created for the character including the “Live long and prosper” hand signal as well as the “Vulcan Neck Pinch”. Nimoy was the only actor to appear in every episode of the original series.
The new J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” reboots are not my favorites. The morph to having lots of explosions and fast-paced action are too far off the original spirit of the exploration and character interaction traditional Star Trek was known for, but they are still entertaining. We shall see if the new “Star Trek: Discovery” debuting in 2017 will feature more traditional “Trek” elements or lean toward the action genre.
6. Tonto from The Lone Ranger
These days, the character of Tonto is definitely not considered “politically correct”. Over the years, several Native American groups have expressed their dislike of the way the character spoke and felt it was insulating and depicted them in a negative light.
Whatever your opinion, there is no doubt the character of Tonto is synonymous with “The Lone Ranger” in every way and you can’t think of one character without the other. Tonto first appeared in radio in the 1930s played by John Todd and continued on television with the wildly popular series in the 1950s.
The character was most famously played by actor Jay Silverheels. The origin of the character is similar to other sidekicks as The Lone Ranger came to his aid and broke him from serving others, so Tonto decided to ride with his new companion and share his adventures.
Actor Johnny Depp took up the challenge of portraying Tonto for the 2013 big budget remake of “The Lone Ranger” saying he wanted “to try to right the wrongs of the past”. The remake had high hopes. The acting was not bad, but the script lacked focus and the film was only a marginal success. It was nominated for several “Golden Raspberry” Awards including Worst Actor and Worst Picture. Its 6.5 IMDb rating would suggest it’s not as bad as all that.
5. Dr. Watson from the Sherlock Holmes films
When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes in 1887, little did he know his title character and famous sidekick would still be “alive” this many years later.
Almost inseparable from the beginning, Dr. Watson often provided a counterpoint to Holmes’ point, or at least was a sounding board for Holmes to pitch ideas regarding the latest mystery or crime he was working on.
He usually provided the role of narrator, biographer and straight man to Holmes who had the more bombastic personality; however, Holmes was always the one to figure things out first. He has appeared alongside Holmes in every iteration including radio, books, television, film and even video game versions.
Like other famous duos, he was the voice of reason or the “Scully” to Holmes’ “Mulder”, and the “Spock” to Holmes’ “Kirk”. Those with interest should check out the 1988 film, “Without a Clue” starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley as the famous duo where their roles are reversed as it is revealed Dr. Watson is the true case-solver and Holmes is just a drunk actor.
The current incarnation of the character is played by Jude Law in the Watson role opposite Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes both directed by Guy Ritchie. The new films are more action than mystery, but solid entertainment nonetheless.
4. Igor from Frankenstein
When you say the name “Igor” you immediately think of the hunchbacked minion of Dr. Frankenstein in the original monster classic. In fact, he served both Frankenstein and Count Dracula in several early films also using the name “Fritz”.
There was also a character named Ygor played by Bela Legosi who appeared in the 1942 film “The Ghost of Frankenstein”. Whatever the case, he would always serve his master well and do whatever bidding is asked of him asking nothing in return. His job was just to serve.
The enduring rendition of Igor, pronounced “eye-gor” is from Mel Brooks’ classic “Young Frankenstein” in 1974 played by Marty Feldman. The scene where Frankenstein and Igor meet and exchange name pronunciations is classic. Feldman gave the character much life and had memorable moments including the line “walk this way”. Also his reply, “what hump?”
3. Robin from Batman: The Movie (1966)
Robin has to be the most synonymous sidekick with their title character of all time. You can’t even really say the name “Batman” without uttering “and Robin” right afterwards.
The character was created by Batman creator Bob Kane in 1940 as a way to try and boost young readers in the comics and first appeared in Detective Comics #38 with the secret identity, Dick Grayson.
Thus, the “Dynamic Duo” was born.
In the 1960s, the character became wildly popular when ABC created the campy, but fun “Batman” which included everyone’s favorite “Boy Wonder” played by actor Burt Ward.
The film version of “Batman” debuted in 1966 and took place between the 1st and 2nd seasons of the show.
He was also known in the series for his colorful use of the word “Holy”. These are some of my favorites:
Holy Astringent Plum-like Fruit
Holy Bargain Basements
Holy Chocolate Eclair
Holy Human Pressure Cookers
Holy Uncanny Photographic Mental Processes
During the “Batman” revival in the 1990s, director Joel Schumacher attempted to introduce the character in “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin” much to the chagrin of the entire world. These film versions were universally panned and were successful in killing the Batman franchise for 10 years.
It was recently announced Adam West and Burt Ward would reteam for the animated “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders” debuting in late 2016.
2. Sam from The Lord of the Rings trilogy
If you are Hobbit Frodo Baggins, it is heartwarming when your sidekick can also be your best friend.
Samwise Gamgee insists on protecting Frodo when the Fellowship is formed and accompanies him on the long journey to Rivendell and Mount Doom.
Along the way, the bond that forms between the two men is tested to its limits when their 3rd companion, Gollum, arrives and tries to form a wedge between them. Sam is repeatedly tested, but does not waiver other than taking out his frustrations on Gollum for his deceptions. He remains by Frodo’s side all the way to the end. We would all hope to have a true friend like Sam in our lives looking out for us and pledging eternal loyalty.
After the events of “The Lord of the Rings”, Sam gets to return to the Shire, marry his love, Rosie Cotton, and have 13 children. He was even elected Mayor of the Shire!
Actor Elijah Wood once said of him and his costar, Sean Aston,”We both felt like we’d actually done everything there was to do with our roles. We felt like we had gone to the peak as actors on the film.” The relationship between Sam and Frodo was one of brothers, not just friends and will endure indefinitely.
1. Chewbacca from the Star Wars films
Who better to be your best friend if you are a nefarious smuggler than a 7-foot-tall, menacing-looking, hairy, “walking carpet” only you and protocol droids can understand?
It can’t hurt if he is always there when you need assistance fixing your old, rusty spaceship, he goes with you to investigate Imperial probe droids, and also comes to rescue you after you have been frozen in carbonite. He comes from planet Kashyyyk, has a wife named Mallatobuck and a son called Lumpawarrump.
According to the book, The Hutt Gambit, Han Solo firsts meets Chewbacca “when Han, a lieutenant in the Imperial Navy, finds him unconscious aboard a slave ship. Han’s commanding officer orders him to skin Chewbacca, but Han refuses and rescues the helpless prisoner. Upon regaining consciousness, Chewbacca swears a “life-debt” to Han, and the two become business partners and best friends.”
The name Chewbacca was supposedly named after George Lucas’s dog and comes from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog. Sound designer, Ben Burtt, is said to have created Chewie’s voice from a conglomeration of various animal sounds.
Actor Peter Mayhew really brought the character to life, give him a unique personality and has made him one of the fan favorites within the Star Wars universe.
Author Bio: Andy Kubica is a life-long cinephile. Having spend time as a video store manager, movie theater manager and the first DVD buyer for a former rental chain he now spends every waking moment reducing his film “bucket list”.