When I say "sidekick," you probably think of Robin or Kato or Tonto--some tights-wearing, mask-having comic relief character. But there are sidekicks throughout literature that help bring our favorite protagonists to life. I love writing sidekicks for my protagonists. I love them because they're awesome. Everyone should have at least one sidekick in real life, ultimately two (three's too many--let's not be greedy).

I think I love writing sidekicks so much because they were what I wished for most when I was growing up. Some little girls wanted a pony, but I--well let's be honest, I wanted a midnight black Arabian stallion--but I also wanted one of those best friends--the one you've known since kindergarten. Sure I had siblings, but siblings are terrible sidekicks for many reasons I won't go into in this blog post (nothing against sibilings...siblings are great at being siblings). I wanted someone to help me solve mysteries, to back me up when I was challenged and to set me back on track when I lost focus. I did go on an adventure with my best friend/potential sidekick in Texas, which involved me being thrown from a mighty stallion (falling off the back of a Shetland pony) and getting wounded in a mighty battle (landing in stinging nettle after falling off the back of aforementioned pony). We moved a lot, so as hard as I tried, I said goodbye to so many besties, at this point I can really only remember first names and hair color.

So I don't have a real-life sidekick. No one has ever helped me solve a twisting mystery, stand up to an oppressive giant, save the world or slapped me back into shape when I went off the radar because my role as slayer, leader of the rebellion or disavowed spy got to be too much. In movies, TV shows and books, good sidekicks often represent the protagonist's inner struggle--one may represent logic and another may represent emotion. Don't believe me?

Star Wars
Han Solo - emotion
Leia - reason

Harry Potter
Ron Weasley - emotion
Hermione Granger - reason

Star Trek
Bones - emotion
Spock - reason

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Xander - emotion
Willow - reason

Disclaimer: The role of a sidekick goes deeper than that if you want to delve into it, and there are other roles that can be filled by a sidekick. 

But sometimes there's only one sidekick. In these situations, the sidekick acts to balance out the protagonist's own fogged perceptions. They act as a sounding board or one of those really unflattering mirrors that shows how big your pores have gotten. Harsh reality. Sometimes they quietly offer options in the background and sometimes they offer a face-punch wake-up call.

Some examples of this balance in literature are:
  • Holmes and Watson
  • Gilgamesh and Enkidu
  • Robinson Crusoe and Friday
  • Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
  • Frodo and Samwise
Then again. Sometimes they're just a volleyball.