Beside every great hero is a great sidekick, and if pop culture history proves anything, it’s that we love to watch animals fight the good fight alongside their human companions. One of Hollywood’s most famous and faithful animal buddies, Cheetah — Tarzan’s chimp co-star — recently passed away, after appearing in 12 films with the ape-man. Cheetah managed to become a true blue star before the age of CGI, which would have replaced him completely or been used to curtail his beastly behavior.
While the loss of the 80-year-old primate is a sad one, audiences have been taking notice of other animal sidekicks — like Steven Spielberg’s Snowy from The Adventures of Tintin or Joey from War Horse . We felt inspired by this menagerie of critter helpers and decided to take a look back at some of pop culture’s coolest animal sidekicks. Hit the jump for more, and tell us who gets your vote below.
Great Dane’s are notorious couch potatoes, but Scooby-Doo always got the job done — no thanks to his slacker master, Shaggy. The always ravenous duo were usually more interested in gorging on snacks than solving supernatural crimes, but their cowardice was charming. Scooby’s adorable speech impediment didn’t stop him from sniffing out the bad guys — even if it was pretty clear that he could be bought and sold by anyone with just a few lousy Scooby Snacks.
Even if the Internet has defiled your fond childhood memories of Wolfgang Petersen’s NeverEnding Story by creating a pedo version of luckdragon sidekick Falkor, the dog-like creature is still one of the coolest right hand beasts around. The fire-breathing Falkor helps his pal Atreyu on his quest to find a cure for the gravely ill Empress who has fallen prey to The Nothing’s dark powers.
George Lucas was inspired by orangutans and his dog Indiana (whose name he used for his other adventure franchise, Indiana Jones) to create Star Wars ‘ gentle giant, Chewbacca. Whether you view the Wookiee as an intergalactic yeti or hulking, hairy bear-dog, there’s no denying that Chewie’s not the least bit human, despite his intelligence. Always Han Solo’s faithful sidekick, Chewie’s biped abilities came in handy when fighting for the Rebel Alliance with his awesome bowcaster.
A symbol of the House Stark and adorably fuzzy wolf pups in the beginning of HBO’s Game of Thrones , the ancient direwolves are fiercely loyal sidekicks to all the Stark children. The deep bond between them is so great — in both the TV series and George R. R. Martin’s fantasy novels — that their fates appear to be completely intertwined. If you’re a fan of the creatures, Season Two of the show is promising bigger and better direwolves for your viewing pleasure.
The tiny terrier whose importance as a sidekick was largely symbolic, Toto’s role in The Wizard of Oz was multifold. The wiry-haired dog reveals major truths to Dorothy throughout the film — those about unconditional love, endless imagination, and he reveals who the mysterious “wizard” is hiding behind the curtain. Toto also teaches Dorothy valuable life lessons by coaxing her into situations that force her to make big decisions (the missed balloon ride and letting the pup run through the flower garden incite changes in her life).
By now, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of canine sidekicks in the pop culture universe, but one kitty who refuses to take a back seat to the bark is Salem Saberhagen. First appearing in the Archie Comics series Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and then again in the TV sitcom of the same name alongside Melissa Joan Hart, the black cat wasn’t always of the feline persuasion. Salem was a former warlock who was banished to a lifetime of Meow Mix for trying to plot world domination — hence his acting like a perpetual (lovable) crank.
Harry Potter made hipsters everywhere jealous when he was gifted with Snowy Owl, Hedwig, on his birthday. Loyal, affectionate, and proud to serve the young wizard by delivering messages near and far, Hedwig lost her life (and saved Harry’s) during the Second Wizarding War after being struck by a nasty Death Eater.
Puss in Boots
Shrek‘s swashbuckling feline Puss in Boots pays off a life debt to his titular ogre partner — much to the chagrin of the sometimes jealous Donkey — bonding the duo together for several wacky adventures. In order to aid Shrek, the bandit Romeo (voiced by the charming Antonio Banderas) wards off the baddies by using his signature move: shrinking into a super cute, cuddly kitten and then lashing out when the enemy least expects it.
If you’re a fan of manly man actor Clint Eastwood then you’re probably familiar with his orangutan partner Clyde in Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can . The actor’s take on trucker and bare-knuckle fighter Philo Beddoe wouldn’t be complete without his snarky sidekick who mirrors the brawler in attitude and guts.
Without Silver, there’d be no dramatic “Hi-yo!” calling card for masked lawman The Lone Ranger, and there’d really be no way for the guy to get around.