Character Archetypes: The Sidekick

Very few Heroes stand alone. Often they are accompanied by a Sidekick, or a few. In some cases, a large number of companion characters will form a different archetype known as the Hunting Group of Companions. Sidekicks help the Hero through their trials and tribulations, but never quite step into the limelight themselves.

Common Aspects of the Sidekick Archetype:

  • Usually loyal to the Hero
  • Tend to have Hero-like qualities themselves
  • Always secondary to Hero
  • Tend to be focused on the Hero and what the Hero is trying to accomplish
  • Can have life outside of Hero to some extent
  • Helps Hero in Quest

Sidekick characters exist to help the Hero. They are your Watsons, your Ron Weasleys, your Samwise Gamgees. They are loyal, competent in their own right, and generally echo the noble and just ideals seen in a Hero character. In some cases, the only reason a Hero can manage to complete their Quest is due to the help of their Sidekick(s).

Beyond that, Sidekick characters can vary widely. Often they are used as comic relief. They tend to be extremely devoted to the Hero, though this depends on the individual character. They may bemoan the Hero always getting the spotlight, but they’ll still have the Hero’s back.

Alternatively, Sidekick characters can be associated with other archetypes. Some Sidekicks are attached to Villains instead. An Evil with a Good Heart character may start out as the Sidekick to a greater evil.

Any Sidekick characters you’re especially fond of, Squiders? (I admit to loving Samwise Gamgee myself.) Have you seen this archetype used in any especially interesting ways?

Next: Wrap-up

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4 responses to this post.

  1. You about had to cover them, but I avoid sidekicks. They’ve been done to death. I appreciate Watson, because he was the POV character. It kept Holmes at a distance that added something for me. I wrote a buddy story once, but tried to give them equal time to avoid the sidekick.

    Reply

    • I feel like sidekicks are highly versatile, and a lot of times they’re not immediately obvious. A lot of it does depend on POV, since everyone either alternately believes they are the hero of their own story or (especially in children’s, MG, and YA) thinks they’re not worth a thing and their prettier/smarter/sexier friend is the hero instead.

      Reply

      • They have certainly evolved over the years. The days of Robin and Tonto are far behind us. Too many of them exist to die as plot devices these days. I feel the same way about mentors. This device works well, but I try to find a different way. Maybe I’m just hard headed about it.

      • Yeah, the idea of killing somebody else off to further the Hero’s character development is kind of squicky. And so often done poorly.

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