We often find ourselves mostly enveloped with the story arcs of heroes and villains. They often take center stage and become central to most stories. But there’s another character that deserves recognition for their vital role in shaping narratives and enhancing central characters — the sidekick. 

What is a Sidekick in Storytelling?

First, let’s define sidekick

Often overlooked, these unsung heroes bring comic relief, drive the plot forward, and bring out the best of the main character. Before we dive into all that, let’s start by defining sidekick. 


What is a sidekick in storytelling?

A sidekick is a character in a story who accompanies the main character, often the protagonist, throughout their journey. The sidekick is typically less powerful or less capable than the main character, but they provide essential support, guidance, and companionship.

The role of the sidekick is multi-faceted. They often serve as a contrast to the main character, highlighting their qualities and strengths. Sidekicks can also provide comic relief, adding light-hearted moments to otherwise tense narratives. They can be the voice of reason when the protagonist is in turmoil, offering advice and perspective.

Sidekicks are not just secondary characters, they play a pivotal role in driving the plot forward. Whether they're helping the hero out of a tight spot or providing critical insight that leads to a breakthrough, the importance of a sidekick in storytelling cannot be overstated.

What is a Sidekick Used for in Storytelling?

  • Add Depth to the Main Character

  • Drive the Plot Forward

  • Provide Comic Relief

  • Represent the Audience

What is a Sidekick Used for in Story?

Importance of Sidekicks

Sidekicks add depth and complexity to a narrative that without supporting characters can be two-dimensional. Let's look at how brilliant writers and storytellers use the character of the sidekick, to layer depth and perspective to stories. 

Add Depth to the Main Character

Sidekicks offer a different perspective on the main character, often serving as a sounding board for their thoughts and feelings. They can reveal hidden depths of the protagonist's personality, making them more relatable and human. 

An example of this is the character Sadness in one of Pixar's best movies Inside Out. This character, who initially seems like a hindrance to the main character Joy, ends up playing a pivotal role in the resolution of the story. Without Sadness, there would be no journey for Joy and ultimately, no growth or character development.

This video analysis by Lessons from the Screenplay shows how important the sidekick character of Sadness is to the main character Joy. 

Telling a Story from the Inside Out

Through the interactions between the main character and their sidekick, we gain a better understanding of the hero's motivations and inner struggles.

Drive the Plot Forward

Without a sidekick, the main character can become stagnant and one-dimensional. Sidekicks push the protagonist out of their comfort zone, presenting them with challenges and obstacles that they must overcome. 

The dynamic between the main character and their sidekick can spark new ideas and lead to unexpected plot twists, keeping readers engaged and invested in the story.

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, Dr. John Watson serves as a vital sidekick who drives the plot. Without Watson's involvement, many mysteries would go unnoticed. Thus, Watson's character maintains the narrative's momentum and engages the reader.

Provide Comic Relief

In any good story, there needs to be a balance between serious and light-hearted moments. Sidekicks often provide much-needed comic relief through their witty remarks or humorous antics. This not only makes the story more enjoyable but also adds depth to the sidekick's character, making them more than just a supporting character.

An example of this is Donkey in Shrek. Throughout the film, Donkey lightens the mood with his hilarious antics and one-liners. He also serves as a loyal and supportive friend to Shrek, adding an emotional dimension to his character.

Shrek Meets Donkey  ·  Shrek

Represent the Audience

Sidekicks can serve as a stand-in for the audience, asking questions and voicing doubts or concerns that readers may have. This allows the writer to clarify any confusing plot points and keep the audience engaged in the story.

Think of Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. Nick's character serves as both narrator and sidekick to Jay Gatsby, providing an outsider's perspective on the lavish lifestyle of the wealthy and offering insight into the mysterious Gatsby and his inner turmoil.

What is a Sidekick Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby StudioBinder

Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby

While the term 'sidekick' can sometimes carry the connotation of being less important or secondary, it's essential to remember that without these characters, many stories would lack depth and dynamic interaction. In fact, some sidekicks even steal the show with their unique personalities and integral contributions to the narrative. 

Sidekick Examples

Famous Sidekicks

Some of the most iconic characters in literature and film are sidekicks. They add depth to the story and have become beloved by audiences around the world. Here are a few famous sidekicks that have captured our hearts:

Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings series

Samwise Gamgee is not just Frodo's gardener and loyal friend, but a crucial sidekick in the fight against evil. He provides emotional support and unwavering loyalty to Frodo, even when faced with insurmountable odds. 

Samwise's unwavering loyalty to Frodo shines as he fearlessly accompanies him, braving the open waters despite his inability to swim. Sam wades into the water, struggling and nearly drowning, all to stay by Frodo's side.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Donnie Azof in The Wolf of Wall Street

Donnie Azof serves as Jordan Belfort's right-hand man and adds a comedic element to the story. His character also represents the audience's initial curiosity towards the extravagant lifestyle of the wealthy. Donnie's portrayal as a devoted sidekick is showcased throughout the film from their initial partnership to Jordan's downfall. In this scene, Donnie’s loyalty shows again in his reassurance that he will help with Jordan’s financial fallout.

The Wolf of Wall Street · Donnie and Jordan talk by the pool

Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise

Chewbacca is not just Han Solo's co-pilot, but also his trusted friend and sidekick. Besides being a valuable ally in battles, Chewie adds heart to the Star Wars universe through his unbreakable bond with Han. 

What is a Sidekick Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise StudioBinder

Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise

Ron Weasley & Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series

Ron Weasley is not just Harry Potter's best friend, but also his most loyal sidekick. He provides much-needed comic relief in the wizarding world and offers valuable support to Harry throughout his journey. 

Hermione Granger is not only an integral part of the magical trio, but she is also Harry Potter's intellectual sidekick. Her intelligence, quick thinking, and resourcefulness have saved Harry and Ron more than once. 

What is a Sidekick Harry Potter series StudioBinder

Harry Potter series

Sidekicks play a crucial role in our favorite stories. With their presence, a story and its central characters become more engaging and memorable, adding layers of complexity. It's undeniable that sidekicks deserve as much appreciation and recognition as the main characters. 

Up Next

What is a Protagonist?

Now, shifting our focus from sidekicks, let's explore the central character that takes the spotlight in every narrative - the protagonist. In our next article, we'll analyze the significance and influence of a story’s main character.

Up Next: What is a Protagonist? →
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