What’s a good hero without a trusty sidekick? From the open road to deserted islands to Middle Earth, friendships inevitably form. Of course, most of the time, the plot’s weight shifts primarily on one character. This leaves the other to fill in the gaps, complementing the temperament and abilities of the hero — and maybe adding a laugh or two here and there. We rank the top 10 sidekicks in literature based on loyalty, friendship, and overall awesomeness. Let us know who we missed!
10. Friday (Robinson Crusoe)
Sidekick to: Robinson Crusoe
Back story: Twenty-four years after landing on a deserted island, Robinson Crusoe helps a captive of a group of cannibals escape certain death. He names him Friday, after the day he found him, and converts him to Christianity.
Strengths: Since you freed him from a tribe of cannibals, you can count on loyalty. You also, apparently, get to name him.
Weaknesses: Language barrier
9. Phineas (A Separate Peace)
Sidekick to: Gene Forrester
Backstory: Phineas, or Finny, is the big man on Devon’s campus. Through the eyes of Gene he walks gracefully from triumph to triumph, bucking regulations right and left in the name of fun and a good time.
Strengths: Can skirt around rules of even the strictest New England prep schools. If it was a co-ed school he’d make a great wingman.
Weaknesses: Tends to overshadow with his grace, style (see pink shirt) and pure athletic ability. Fragile legs.
8. Dean Morarity (On the Road)
Sidekick to: Sal Paradise
Backstory: Dean, the character based on Neal Cassady, is the prototypical beat ubermensch. In the quintessential road novel, he’s the driver, speeding down the interstate looking for girls, radio blasting.
Strengths: Car stealing and ability to drive long distances into the “crazy American night”
Weaknesses: Like Phineas, tends to overshadow others with his awesomeness
7. Horatio (Hamlet)
Sidekick to: Hamlet
Backstory: Horatio is one of Hamlet good friends from university. When Hamlet plans to feign madness after seeing his father’s ghost, he only trusts Horatio with the information. He’s also the only one that survives the play, ostensibly to tell Hamlet’s story.
Strengths: Very rational. When going about a scheme to avenge your father’s death, this is your guy.
Weaknesses: If anything he’s a little too calm throughout the ordeal.
6. Sancho Panza (Don Quixote)
Sidekick to: Don Quixote
Backstory: Don Quixote, an older man who, after reading one to many fairytales, decides to go out on a quest of his own. He shortly recruits one of his neighbors, Sancho, to be his squire, promising him the governorship of an island.
Strengths: Loyal to the end
Weakness: Not the sharpest sword in the armory
5. Huckleberry Finn (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
Sidekick to: Tom Sawyer
Backstory: Tom and Huck are best buds, young teens running around St. Petersburg, Mississippi in the 1870s. In contrast with Tom and his Aunt Polly, Huck is the son of a drunkard, and thus enjoys a certain amount of freedom Tom envies.
Strengths: Cunning, and up for anything (via low parental supervision)
Weakness: Unwillingness to be domesticated
4. Lacey Rawklins (All the Pretty Horses)
Sidekick to: John Grady Cole
Backstory: After the death of his grandfather, teenager John Grady Cole decides to go south to Mexico on horseback to look for work, taking along his best friend, Rawlins. Thus the great adventure begins.
Strengths: Rugged, sensible and ready to speak his mind. Good to have around in a Mexican prison.
Weaknesses: Rough around the edges
3. Ron and Hermione (Harry Potter)
Sidekicks to: Harry Potter
Backstory: Hermione Granger got in to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry despite being the daughter of two muggles. Ron has more “noble” heritage, but comes from a lower-class family of wizard. The duo meet Harry on the Hogwarts Express, the train to the school, and from then on are pretty much inseparable.
Strengths: Not much a trio of young wizards can’t do
Weakness: Pubescent sexual tension
2. Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings)
Sidekick to: Frodo
Backstory: Frodo and Samwise are best buds from the quiet Shire. Samwise isn’t much of an adventurer, until he’s pulled in to one of the greatest ever written.
Strengths: Ridiculously loyal
Weaknesses: Unsightly Hobbit feet
1. Dr. Watson (Sherlock Holmes)
Sidekick to: Sherlock Holmes
Backstory: Watson, an ex-army surgeon, is Sherlock’s Holmes trusty right hand man, doubling as Conan Doyle’s narrator. As proven by the ubiquity of the phrase “It’s elementary my dear Watson,” he’s also quite the sounding board for Holmes’ genius.
Strengths: Highly intelligent and a skilled physician