I love Batman, but I wonder about Robin. I love Sherlock, but without Watson to interpret and calm him, Holmes would just be downright scary. I love Castle, but without Beckett, he would just be a slightly over-the-hill playboy.
Every protagonist needs their sidekick.
Sidekicks perform a number of important functions in a story. They are not just trusty companions for the main characters (Scooby Doo would never let you call him that).
A good sidekick character moves the story along, Heck, Watson even narrates the story, letting Sherlock get on with some of the action. Watson does a good job at humanising the main character also. Holmes, for instance, shows many traits leading to a modern day diagnosis of chronic Aspergers (others suggest Borderline Personality Disorder).
Gregory House, a modern day equivalent, displays similar traits, and needs quite a few suffering sidekicks to discuss and attempt to humanise his character for viewers. Chase, Cuddy and Watson all highlight and contrast their main characters.
Less intense sidekicks also can provide humour in their roles. If you have a look at a list of dynamic duos in fiction, you will more often than not find that the main character and sidekick tend to be of the same gender – unless there is a strong will they, won’t they romance theme running through also.
What do you do when your protaganist is really a lonely action hero (or heroine)? Dan Brown solved this with Robert Langdon finding two gifted and assertive female sidekicks to discuss his findings with – Sophie Neveu appeared in the Da Vinci Code and Vittoria Vetra in Angels and Demons. It certainly helped to have both females around, else many readers might have been driven batty by the huge internalised expositions that Robert would have had to go through in his detective work.
Sometimes sidekicks actually take over. Scooby Do, for instance, along with his own sidekick, Shaggy, provide much more to enjoy than the dreary Daphne and Fred, both of whom should, by all rights, be the good-looking heros we care about. Sam provides more to like than Bilbo Baggins, but that’s okay too.
So, which are your own favourite dynamic duos?
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