Total Nerd

Underappreciated Movie Sidekicks Who Do All The Work  

Zach Seemayer
1.5k votes 342 voters 5.5k views 15 items

List Rules Vote up the sidekicks who need to be appreciated more for doing the heavy lifting for the hero.

Throughout the history of cinema, there is no shortage of incredible heroes who are showered with praise for their keen senses and bold spirit. However, for many of these heroes, none of what they accomplished would have been possible without their sidekick keeping them alive and solving all their problems for little to none of the glory.

Often relegated in people's minds to the role of comic relief or glorified assistant, the all-important sidekick doesn't just tag along with the hero while riding their coattails. In fact, it's frequently the opposite. How many times would Frodo have perished long before getting the One Ring to Mount Doom if not for his faithful sidekick Samwise? Would Batman have been able to fight crime without Lucius Fox's brilliant tech? Indiana Jones would have flat-out succumbed to a contaminant if not for Sallah's impressive food-catching reflexes.

Whether it's rescuing the hero from the clutches of evil, working behind the scenes to solve impossible puzzles that the hero couldn't have ever solved by themselves, or giving them the motivation and emotional support to persevere when the hero had all but given up on themselves and their adventure, here's a look at some of the greatest underappreciated sidekicks in movies.

Samwise Gamgee is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Underappreciated Movie Sidekicks Who Do All The Work
Photo:  New Line Cinema

Why they're so good at what they do: Samwise (Sean Astin) was just a regular, average hobbit who, when called upon by fate, accepted the challenge despite the very real risks. While Frodo (Elijah Wood) gets all the glory for returning the One Ring to Mount Doom, it would have been impossible without Samwise having his back.

Why they're invaluable: Simply put, Samwise is friendship and loyalty incarnate. His unyielding fidelity to Frodo and their mission meant putting his life on the line many times over the course of their journey, and despite his understandable fear and occasional hunger, he never gave up. He evolved from a humble farmer to a genuine, conflict-tested hero by the time their adventure concluded.

Times they were an excellent sidekick:

  • He almost drowned getting to Frodo's rowboat because he was so loyal that he staunchly refused to let him go to Mordor alone. 
  • Samwise faced off against the great and terrible Shelob, an absolutely massive spider, whom he wounded in a clash, then rescued a suffering, cocooned Frodo.
  • Every time he gave a powerful, emotional speech, it brought tears to everyone's eyes, and his words alone saved Frodo from madness and peril more than once.
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R2-D2 is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Underappreciated Movie Sidekicks Who Do All The Work
Photo:  20th Century Fox

Why they're so good at what they do: R2-D2 is the spunky, adventurous little astromech droid that could and would do anything needed by its various owners - and on its own accord. After a long and exciting life, the beloved little droid is a selfless hero in his own right, having been at the center of some of the most important moments in the history of the rebel resistance against the Galactic Empire.

Why they're invaluable: Aside from being fiercely loyal and seemingly programmed to risk life and limb for his missions, he's also a veritable Swiss-Army droid, with a slew of different tools and skills that have miraculously been called upon to save the day on many occasions.

Times they were an excellent sidekick:

  • R2-D2 is trusted by Princess Leia with the vital and all-important message for Obi-Wan Kenobi, The droid later plays the message, supposedly by accident, when being cleaned by Luke. But the fact Leia had that kind of faith in him - and he managed to do whatever it took to make sure the message arrived - is a testament to his determination.
  • When Han, Luke, and Leia found themselves being crushed in the Death Star's trash compactor, it was R2-D2 who saved the day, shutting down all garbage compactors on the detention level of the ship.
  • When the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive fails while the group are trying to flee Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, R2-D2 once again comes through in a pinch by poking and prodding around and solving the sabotaged malfunction.
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Lucius Fox is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Underappreciated Movie Sidekicks Who Do All The Work
Photo:  Warner Bros. Pictures

Why they're so good at what they do: As the head of research and development for Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox is undeniably brilliant, bringing many of Bruce Wayne's (Christian Bale) ideas for Batman's arsenal to life. He also serves as something of a moral compass for the caped crusader when his lust for justice begins to skew a little too totalitarian. 

Why they're invaluable: Without Fox's devices and tech, Batman wouldn't have been half the crimefighter he was. Even more than that, he was fiercely loyal and dedicated to his friend and the fight for justice, using creative bookkeeping to make sure it all remained hush-hush.

Times they were an excellent sidekick:

  • When he first supplied Bruce will all the tools he'd need to become the vigilante crimefighter in Batman Begins, excitedly introducing him to the Tumbler and helping him obtain all the materials needed to create the Batsuit.
  • Fox showed the true strength of his convictions when he swore to quit helping Bruce after discovering that Bruce had invaded the privacy of millions of Gotham citizens by remotely turning their phones into sonar receivers. By standing strong against Batman's delve into privacy invasion, he stood as a model for Bruce to respect and emulate.
  • Bruce faked Batman's demise, which Fox later deduced and made sure to stay quiet about, as he continued to helm Wayne Enterprises and maintained the legacy of the family.
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Doc Holliday is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Underappreciated Movie Sidekicks Who Do All The Work
Photo:  Buena Vista Pictures

Why they're so good at what they do: The wild, unpredictable Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) is a better gunslinger on his drunkest day than any man in his prime. He's not afraid to throw down and slap iron if the situation calls for it - and, often times, even when it doesn't.

Why they're invaluable: While he has no reason to stand by Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers' side during their time in Tombstone, he never betrays their friendship. He is instrumental in taking on the Cowboys at the O.K. Corral, as well as Wyatt's subsequent clash against any man wearing a red sash around his neck.

Times they were an excellent sidekick: 

  • He deescalates the potential violent tensions in Wyatt's saloon with Johnny Ringo. He playfully mocks Johnny's gun-twirling display using a metal cup, earning a laugh from Curly Bill (Powers Boothe).
  • Despite it being a nearly impossible mission, Doc takes his arms and heads to the infamous O.K. Corral showdown with the Earp brothers, out of diehard respect and appreciation for his friends.
  • Knowing Wyatt intends to confront Johnny, as well as believing that Wyatt would lose in a showdown due to Johnny's superior draw speed and marksmanship, Doc arrives at the location ahead of Wyatt to confront Johnny himself, knowing he's the only man who could actually take him down. His actions save Wyatt's life, but it's one of the last things Doc does before he succumbs to tuberculosis.
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