In the world of blockbuster summer movies and buzzworthy television adventures, the man with his name slapped across the title card is usually king. However, every once in a while, a sidekick emerges with aspirations beyond his or her lowly station. These "professional accomplices" irresistibly combine brains, brawn, and solid comic timing to steal scenes and weasel their way into our hearts. Here, we honor those men and women (...and animals).
1. Tonto in The Lone Ranger
Before Johnny Depp slapped a crow on his head, the character of Tonto had a less than auspicious start. His original purpose was just to give the Lone Ranger someone to talk to. Not someone to form a meaningful partnership with — just a vague, racially insensitive entity who could justify monologues. Fastforward to 2013 and Disney is pairing up Depp's Tonto with leading man Armie Hammer. Good luck, Hammer. Depp + face makeup + weird hair = scene-stealing magic. Just ask Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley.
Check out more of Johnny Depp's crow hat:
2. Kato in The Green Hornet
Bruce Lee's Kato was a quick-kicking machine, an enigmatic force that bolstered The Green Hornet's ratings and helped popularize both martial arts and Lee's own presence in the American entertainment industry. Of course, the 1960s television series was called The Green Hornet, not The Adventures of Kato and His Far Less Competent But Far More Entitled White Friend, but at least Hong Kong knew what was up — they marketed it as The Kato Show.
Watch Lee do his thing:
3. Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass
So Kick-Ass is the tale of a guy who finds the courage to become a teen vigilante, get a girlfriend, finish his homework, save the day... blah, blah, blah. You know what really made this movie? A foul-mouthed child with the killing instincts of a rabid assassin and the humor of a middle-aged convict. Hit-Girl stirred up some controversy, thanks to her R-rated ways, but she's a big reason — if not the reason — why Kick-Ass is getting a sequel this year.
Check out Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl:
4. Donkey in Shrek
Shrek is awesome, okay? Nothing against the lovable ogre with the endearing Scottish brogue, but if you had to hang out with one of the two leads from Shrek, you've got to go with Donkey. He's non-aggressively hilarious, he's a big fan of karaoke, and he's married to a dragon (always a plus). And don't forget, in the morning... he's making waffles!
5. Sarah Walker in Chuck
Perhaps the biggest fault of NBC's Churck was that it deprived the world of the full throttle adventures of CIA super-agent Sarah Walker. Attached to professional "Nerd Herder" Chuck and his Intersect-enhanced brain, Walker obviously had to pass on the adventures that her fellow TV lady spies Sydney Bristow and Nikita got to go on regularly. While Chuck's bumbling escapades were sweet fun, you can't help but wonder what Sarah (or some other name brimming with bad-ass potential) would have been like.
Montage of Sarah beating up bad guys? Right this way:
6. Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and His Eight Movie Adventures
Let's all be honest: if it had been Hermione's parents — and not Harry's — who risked their lives to save their baby from Big Bad He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, then the magical war between good vs. evil would've been over a lot sooner. In fact, Hermione Granger and the Sorcerer's Stone probably could've finished up Voldemort right there, all one billion horcruxes and all. The little braniac was as brave as she was good, and the only thing that really prevented her from leading the franchise was a pesky "chosen one" scar.
She also says the darndest things:
7. Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings
Frodo sure gets an awful lot of credit for lugging around the One Ring to Rule Them All. It's not that he doesn't deserve the praise, but stalwart Samwise never seems to get his due. Frodo carried the ring, yes, but Sam literally had to carry Frodo. He single-handedly warded off Shelob the Spider From Hell, Gollum, and armies of orcs, so forgive me if I'm all about Team Sam.
Watch the Mordor final stretch:
8. Igor in Young Frankenstein
Zany, kooky, and not all together there, Igor (pronounced Eye-gor) was the right-hand man Doctor Frankenstein could never reliably count on. While he was incapable of carrying out seemingly straight-forward missions — get a normal brain — Igor was the silly, hilariously sweet core of Young Frankenstein.
Though, seriously, don't rely on him for simple pick-up missions:
9. Chewbacca in Star Wars
Okay, so this one is a bit tougher. It would be impossible to make an argument that Chewbacca in all his Wookiee glory really eclipses Han Solo, but he does make a damn good case for shirking the sidekick title. Loyal and extremely temperamental, Chewbacca's only real roadblock to leading "man" domination is his inability to speak English. He makes those yelps work for him, though, twisting simple sounds into expressive forms of joy and anger. And when those yelps don't work, his hairy fists would probably do the trick. Remember: always, always let the Wookiee win.
He also throws out ceremonial pitches at baseball games:
10. Gromit in Wallace and Gromit
Out of all the Top 10 Sidekicks, only Gromit gets his name in the title. While the clay dog technically belongs to Wallace, he has some serious credentials: a prestigious double first in engineering from Dogwarts University. Like brainy sidekicks everywhere, it's Gromit who must continually bale his leading man out of one befuddled situation after another. They're a delight to watch as a team, but Wallace still insists on occasionally giving Gromit orders, like he's a real dog. Not cool, human.
Breakfast time at the Wallace and Gromit household:
Honestly, none of these guys deserves to be relegated to the sidekick sidelines, but perhaps our imaginary friends can rest easy knowing that, when push comes to shove, we'd all rather have them at our sides than their celebrated partners in crime — except maybe in the case of Han Solo (Sorry, Chewie).