In this article, we will discuss what makes a good sidekick character and give you seven tips for writing one effectively.
So when you pick up your laptop to write your novel, screenplay, or comic book, make sure to keep these tips in mind!
What is a Sidekick Character?
In literature and movies, a sidekick is a subordinate or supporting character who assists the main character in their quest. The sidekick is often less important than the hero, but provides them with comic relief and emotional support or allows the author to develop the story further through their interactions. They are often underestimated by the story’s antagonist but prove themselves to be valuable allies to the protagonist.
Sidekicks typically have fewer powers than the main character, but they make up for this with loyalty, inspiration, unique skills or knowledge, and often a good sense of humor. In many cases, the sidekick is also the main character’s close friend, which gives them an extra layer of depth and complexity.
This secondary character can often provide a different perspective to the story and highlight and explore the journey through their truth rather than that of the protagonist exclusively.
How To Write a Unique Sidekick Character – 7 Tips for Writers
Tip 1: Decide the sidekick’s role in the story.
Deciding on their role in the story is essential when creating a sidekick. Will they be the main character’s best friend, a pet, or a former rival? Offer wisdom or be a comedic foil?
This decision will help you determine the sidekick’s personality and how they will interact with the other characters in the story. It’s also important to consider what skills and abilities they have that can help the protagonist achieve their goals.
Tip 2: Decide on your sidekick’s backstory, motivation, and goals.
The best sidekick characters are the ones with the most interesting backstories. Take, for example, Batman’s classic sidekick, Robin.
Orphaned by criminals at a young age, Dick Grayson would have ended up far differently had Batman not taken him under his wing and shown him how to positively channel his anger and grief. Robin’s backstory mirrors Batman’s closely, yet it allows him to correct many of the missteps he made without a proper guide. The relationship gives them each a clear motivation and goal, in addition to fighting crime and protecting the innocent.
Crafting sidekicks with rich backstories helps to make them more three-dimensional and more intriguing.
When you’re thinking about your sidekick’s backstory, think about what would make them tick. What drives them? What are their goals and fears? Answering these questions will help you create a well-rounded character that your readers will love.
Tip 3: Despite being very different from the hero, they share many of the same qualities
A good sidekick is someone who is, in many ways, the total opposite of the hero, yet shares many of the same qualities. They help to create balance in the story and to provide a foil for the main character.
For example, if the hero is daring and impulsive, the sidekick might be cautious and level-headed. Or, if the hero is serious and brooding, the sidekick might be light-hearted and playful.
In either case, the sidekick provides a vital counterpoint to the hero’s personality. At the same time, however, they should also share many of the same qualities, such as being brave, loyal, and committed to fighting for what is right.
Take Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. Unlike Harry, who is unkempt, athletic, and brash, Hermione is studious, thoughtful, and wise. And yet, both are kind, compassionate, and brave.
This shared sense of purpose helps to bring them together, even as their different personalities keep things interesting.
Ultimately, a well-crafted sidekick complements the hero’s strengths while also providing a unique perspective of their own.
Tip 4: Think about balance – make sure your sidekick does not overshadow the protagonist!
The best sidekick characters are the ones that help to round out the story and provide a counterbalance to the main character.
For example, in The Odd Couple, Felix Unger is the neat freak who is always in control, while Oscar Madison is the slob who’s always carefree. This dynamic between control and chaos helps to drive the story forward and gives both characters a chance to shine.
For a sidekick to be truly effective, they need to have their own distinct voice and relationships. Otherwise, they risk becoming little more than an extension of the protagonist.
The key is not to make them more interesting than the protagonist!
Tip 5: Create a subplot centered on the sidekick.
In any good story, the sidekick plays an important role. They provide comedic relief, offer support, and often have unique abilities that come in handy at crucial moments.
But it can also be helpful to center a subplot around the sidekick. This gives them a chance to shine and helps to tie them more closely to the main plot.
For example, in Star Wars, Han Solo is a rogue pilot who owes a great deal of money to the gangster Jabba the Hut. This propels him to help the Rebels purely for money and leave when they could use him the most, but he ultimately returns at a key moment thanks to his friendship with Luke.
So when creating a sidekick for your story, think about their smaller story and how they can help move the main plot along.
Tip 6: They are loyal, have a strong moral compass, and always stand up for their beliefs.
A true friend is someone who always has your back, no matter what. They are the ones you can rely on, no matter the situation. A sidekick should be loyal, always stand up for their beliefs, and have a strong moral compass.
One of the most notable sidekicks is Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings. Sam is fiercely loyal to Frodo Baggins, risking his own life time and again to protect his friend. He also has a strong sense of morality, refusing to give in to temptation even when it would mean saving his own skin.
Samwise Gamgee is the epitome of a great sidekick and provides an excellent example of how to write one!
Tip 7: Make the sidekick undergo character development over the course of the story
The best sidekick characters are the ones that undergo some growth over the course of the story. This can be a change in their personality, their relationship with the protagonist, or their arc in general.
For example, Bucky Barnes starts out as Captain America’s sidekick but undergoes a major character transformation after Hydra brainwashes him. This development makes him a more complex and interesting character, and it also gives the story more depth as the characters try to reconcile Bucky’s actions with their friendship.
This type of character development is what makes sidekicks so compelling, and it’s something that every writer should keep in mind when creating a sidekick character.
Conclusion: Sidekick Characters
Sidekick characters are often underutilized in stories, but they can be a powerful tool for developing your main character and moving the plot forward.
You can create a more well-rounded story with deeper themes and richer characterization by giving your sidekick a chance to shine!
Neil Chase is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, actor, and storytelling consultant, with extensive experience in a variety of genres, including action, sci-fi, drama, horror, and comedy. Neil has won over 90 international writing awards and is most proud of winning the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards Grand Prize.
Neil’s screenplays have been produced for film and TV, and he is the author of the award-winning horror-western novel Iron Dogs.
When not working, he’s drawing inspiration from his amazing family, thinking up new worlds and adventures, and helping aspiring authors find the best tools for writing and follow their dream of writing something truly amazing.
You can find him on his website: https://www.neilchasefilm.com or follow him on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and Linkedin.