Hypercompetent Sidekick

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"A good roadie knows that it's his job to make someone else look good, keep someone else safe, help someone else do what they were put here to do. A good roadie stays out of the spotlight, if he's doing his job right, you don't even know he was there. Once in a while, they might step on stage to fix a problem, to set something right, but then before you realize why he was there, or what he did, he's gone."
Eddie Riggs, Brütal Legend

The underling who is much smarter, more efficient and more industrious than their (usually totally incompetent) boss, and is the one actually responsible for anything that gets done in the workplace. Despite the fact that they work their butt off for little pay and no credit, this person is generally pretty happy the way things are. If you're looking for a character that would rather not be in this position, that's the Beleaguered Assistant (though there's probably some overlap). If they or the incompetent boss aren't the lead character, they'll often use their skills and position in order to help the lead character out. If their incompetent boss is the Big Bad, they're his right hand and act in the opposite manner to The Starscream even though they may have plenty of motivation to be one. They are often known for appearing right before they are called, always with whatever they were going to be asked to bring.

The greatest danger to the Hypercompetent Sidekick is having a boss who is too stupid. Witness the relationship between Blackadder and Prince George in the third series of that show. The Prince is easily manipulated, but his sheer idiocy is forever landing himself and his butler into incredibly dangerous or difficult situations.

When the Hypercompetent Sidekick wields more actual power than his or her boss, it's an Almighty Janitor. If The Dragon is a Hypercompetent Sidekick who is more of a threat than the actual Big Bad and has little to no respect for the boss, then he's the Dragon-in-Chief.

When the boss is competent in his own right and/or when the sidekick actually enjoys being the underling, it's a Puss in Boots.

Frequently the Only Sane Man. See also The Reliable One and The Jeeves. Contrast Bumbling Sidekick.

Examples of Hypercompetent Sidekick include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Ouran High School Host Club, one gets the impression that the Club wouldn't survive without Kyouya keeping an eye on Tamaki. He decided early on after they met that he would do everything in his vast intellect to make Tamaki seem as awesome as possible for Tamaki's sake, even at the cost of his own reputation. Every club member knows this and calls Kyouya the Shadow King. Tamaki even spends an entire event trying to get Kyouya to compete against him.
    • This has a rather depressing explanation. As the youngest son, Kyouya is encouraged to do well but never deliberately outshine his siblings; being a Hypercompetent Sidekick was his only outlet.
      • Subverted in episode 26 of the Anime, when Kyoya's father claims it was all a Batman Gambit to get Kyouya to excel at something he cared about, though given the circumstances of his confession (Kyouya engineered a hostile takeover of his father's company just to prove he could) he may just be trying to save face.
        • Played straight in the manga, though.
  • Abelia to the mad King Hamdo in Now and Then, Here and There.
  • Rob Lucci from One Piece. Not only is he far, far, far (etc.) stronger than Spandam, but by being a General Failure, Spandam shouldn't be a boss at all. It seems, that Lucci doesn't try to take over the leading chair only because unquestioning loyalty to his superiors was hammered into him from childhood.
    • Also on One Piece, when people see Zoro's absurd strength, they often assume that he's this to the usually much less serious Luffy. Of course, once Luffy shows what he can do, that theory is quickly put to rest.
    • Nami however defiantly fits this, often having to hit some sense into her captain.
  • In Naruto, Kabuto is this to Orochimaru. Kabuto isn't as strong (or manipulative) as his boss, but he is much better at making plans, and his medical skills have greatly helped his master's unethical experiments. Orochimaru says he doesn't know what he would do without him.
    • For much the same reasons Shikamaru is this to Asuma. On one particular occasion Shikamaru was put in a team with people that were all 10 years older then him at least, and they were soon remarking how they would have been wiped out very quickly without him.
  • While Fullmetal Alchemist's Roy Mustang is obviously very competent in his own right, his general laziness when it comes to such things as paperwork causes them to fall to his incredibly efficient and loyal lieutenant, Riza Hawkeye. Roy's reputation for laziness might have even reached the level of Memetic Mutation, as it is touched on comparatively infrequently, compared to some of the other Running Gags in the series, such as Ed's shortness and Al's love for kitties. Of course, this is just what Roy wants people to think to hide his real goals.
    • Of course, when you can be defeated by a lightly drizzling rain, it's not too hard to have a Hypercompetent Sidekick by comparison.
      • That was proven to be not-so-true during the fight with Lust.
  • This trope Is Detective Conan all by itself.
  • This is effectively what Golden Boy's Kintaro Oe does, although pinning him down exactly is a bit tricky.
  • Coopa from The Tower of Druaga is this to Melt, who really looks like he wouldn't be anywhere if it weren't for her. She has Super Strength, and superb management abilities among other things, but is only ten.
  • Saru of Seto no Hanayome becomes one of these when he starts working for Mikawa. Of course, he's still not exactly competent, but compared to Mikawa himself, Saru gets a lot done.
  • In Bleach, Nanao Ise is stuck with the job of running the 8th Division. Her captain can run the division, but he loves to drink, sleep, and skirt-chase too much. Of course, Kyoraku isn't incompetent, just lazy. We see how he is in battle.
    • Subverted in the case of Hitsugaya and Matsumoto, who behave exactly like this, with Hitsugaya often winding up doing all the things Matsumoto should be doing - except it's Hitsugaya who's the boss, whilst Matsumoto's the lazy subordinate.
  • Kondou Isao is a figurehead of Shinsengumi in Gintama. His number two, Hijikata, does all the managerial work and makes most decisions in the organization. Combat wise, his number three, Okita, has the highest on screen kill count than the rest of the organization combined. Understandably, enemies of Shinsengumi generally target Hijikata and or Okita for assassination, rather than Kondou.
  • Gundam Seed Destiny's Neo Roanoke is this to Blue Cosmos leader, Lord Djibril. While Djibril is a General Failure (as well as the living embodiment of Nuke'Em, More Dakka, and We Have Reserves) Neo is a capable tactician who Knows When To Fold Em. Interestingly he's not a Dragon-in-Chief. Djibril may be Stupid Evil, but he's also dangerously psychotic, and is definitely the greater of the two evils.
  • In Daily Lives of High School Boys, Sanada North's Student Council President is often plainly ignored in favour of his three council members. While not much is known about the President, the other three is clearly seen as hypercompetent.
  • Death Note has Ryuk. Given his motivations are to stir up some fun, and given who he gets to help him...
  • It's possible that Yachiru Kusajishi is this for Kenpachi Zaraki.
  • Doraemon.
  • Following on from Doraemon, there's an entire subgenre of this in kiddy anime. More or less normal kid, paranormal sidekick/pet. Pokémon crosses this with Mons by having Pikachu as Satoshi/Ash's fulltime companion.
  • Canti from FLCL. Everyone thinks that the kid who goes inside the robot is the hero, but the kid doesn't remember anything about what happened (even if he takes credit for it). The Robot also does chores and rescues girls.
  • Sebastian, Ciel's butler in Black Butler, does most of the dirty work for Ciel, and, as he puts it, "is one hell of a butler." Of course, he is a demon with awesome supernatural powers that serves Ciel because of a contract...
  • Neuro from Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro decides to "work for" protagonist Yako in her detective agency (that he forced her to set up). At least on the outside. In actuality, he's the one solving all the mysteries and is actually a sadistic Daemon from another world.
  • Reborn from Katekyo Hitman Reborn acts as a "tutor" and sidekick to Tsuna. In much of the beginning of the series, most of Tsuna's problems are solved by Reborn (of course, most of the problems were started by Reborn in the first place, but anyways...). In fact, two of Tsuna's guardians, Hibari and Mukuro, are much more capable than Tsuna (though of course, it's later suggested that he surpasses them in the future).
  • Yuno from Mirai Nikki acts as a sort of sidekick to Yukiteru, and so far in the series, she's been doing most of the killing and grunt work.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Yuki Nagato has almost godlike powers, but acts more or less as Kyon's sidekick. She solves most of the problems created by Haruhi and generally acts as the Brigades' personal Deus Ex Machina.
    • The unofficial leader of the team claims to be the only one of them without any special powers (According to Itsuki, Kyon is completely normal, and his Agency have done extensive background checks that prove it), but there is something unusual about Kyon; at the least it's being "god's" favourite.
  • Youzen from Houshin Engi is, as almost everybody else, considerably stronger than the main character, Taikoubou. His Power Copying makes him so versatile that he once dedicated a whole pre-asskicking speech to explain just how broken he was. However, he still plays second banana to Taikoubou because the latter is just so much smarter.
  • Subverted every which way in Kamen no Maid Guy. Main character Naeka is as useless as the stereotype and her maid/bodyguard Kogarashi is powerful enough to solve any problem she might have, but the Maid Guy's bizarre methods have everyone else trying to stop him from actually doing anything.
  • Omamori Himari has Yuuto, an heir to an demon-slayer family who's not good for much of anything. Himari shows up to protect him until he learns what he's doing, but thirty chapters in so far it looks like his only talent is building demon harems.
    • He is able to "enchant" swords, knifes and even ordinary sticks to turn them into rather powerful magical weapons, so he's not entirely powerless. However, he seemingly needs mortal danger to do so, and several other characters keep him from fighting by killing everyone who might even try to hurt him.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann brings to the table Kamina, the leader of the group, to which the main character Simon is a sidekick. While Kamina is the more confident and charismatic of the two, Simon is the one who bails him out repeatedly, and definitely the more intelligent of the pair.
    • Kamina is good enough to Lampshade Hanging this by refusing to take credit for Simon's victories and repeatedly telling him what great things he's destined for. Since Simon becomes leader of Team Gurren after Kamina's death and saves first the planet, then the universe, Kamina was bang on the money.
  • Arguably, Garo in Skull Man.
  • In the anime To Aru Majutsu no Index, in the angel's fall arc, Touma, who usually has to solve everything because everyone around him is incompetent, is toyed with and ultimately forced to watch while his friend, Tsuchimikado, solves the problem.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Nodwick, on a good day, is this rather than a Beleaguered Assistant. Don't expect him to stop with the snark, however.
  • Disney Comics have recurring stories featuring Sherlock Holmes parody "The Sleuth" with Mickey fulfilling the role of Watson. Seeing as The Sleuth seems to have the same investigative capabilities as Inspector Gadget, it's not hard to guess who fulfills this trope...
  • Lieutenant Pamela Mae Snap in Brewster Rockit.
  • Jenkins from Atomic Robo. Word of God even jokingly declares that Robo is Jenkins' sidekick.
  • The Thunderbolt for Johnny Thunder (and later Jakeem). Johnny is an ordinary kid whose power is to tell the all powerful Thunderbolt what to do (in fact, he can't use his powers unless he's told to by Johnny.)
  • Iznogoud's sidekick, Dilat Larat, is absolutely loyal to his evil master, but is otherwise a sensible and pleasant person, being much wiser than nearly everyone in the series.
  • For Deadpool, it's Weasel and Al who play this role. Weasel does pretty much everything but the actual grunt work while Al tends to provide some helpful insight in between tormenting her captor by doing things like telling him the salt is sugar (which Pool then proceeds to heap on his cereal, making for a funny spit-take).
  • Poor, poor Arthur from The Tick (animation). Then again, he might not be hypercompetent, just far more competent than his boss, which isn't exactly difficult.
    • See also the animated version.
  • To those who don't know better, Lucius Fox is this to Bruce Wayne.
  • For a while, Green Lantern! Alan Scott was sidekick to... a dog (Streak the Wonder Dog, not to be confused with Rex The Wonder Dog, though both were DC Comics characters, and Rex was largely based on the earlier canine star.)
  • Frank Miller's The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot (later made into an animated series). The titular big guy was the result of research to create an autonomous robot to protect the USA against the USSR, however while the body was functional, no one could code a proper AI for it, and thus the government converted the big guy into a piloted robot, keeping the fact that it had a human pilot rather than an AI secret. Two decades later, the corporation that built the big guy has a break-through in AI research. The trick is however that the AI can only be coded to be of a similar mentality as a child, and that it needs to learn like a child to that it can grow into the adult, soldier-like mind the US government wants. Equipped with energy weapons, Rusty, the boy robot, is paired with The Big Guy (whom he is led to believe to be a real robot, so that Rusty will try to emulate him and model himself on him). Thing is, despite being an eighth of the big guy's size, Rusty has more firepower than the big guy, only his immaturity keeps him in line and acting as sidekick to the Big Guy, whom he's supposed to replace eventually. Really, the theme song says it all.
  • Johnny Thunder was like this, being in possession of a basically omnipotent genie who will do whatever he says. Unfortunately, he can do only what Johnny says, and Johnny isn't the brightest guy around. His Legacy Character Jakeem Thunder is brighter (and Johnny himself has merged with the genie), but also thirteen years old and lacking in maturity.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • In Without a Clue (1988), Sherlock Holmes is actually an incompetent stooge that fronts for Dr Watson, the true detective.
  • Bough in Johnny English.
  • Gobei from Beverly Hills Ninja.
  • Cato Fong of the original The Pink Panther movies. Gilbert Ponton in the Steve Martin Reboot.
  • Intolerable Cruelty names this trope "The Tenzing Norgay", after the Sherpa who helped Edmund Hillary get to the top of Mount Everest.
  • Vadinho from Puma Man is a Badass Normal who constantly hand-holds the nominal superhero Tony through the adventure and displays power and badassery in such quantity that you wonder why he needs Tony at all.
  • An extreme example in Kato from The Green Hornet, who does all the work and is treated like a worthless sidekick until he rebels. This is because Bruce Lee, who played Kato in the series, is far better remembered than the actual character of the Green Hornet. Seth Rogen, who plays the Green Hornet, also specializes in playing idiot slackers.
  • Lampshaded in Sky High

Will: Do you hand [your Hero] A) his silver-tipped crossbow, B) a wooden stake, C)...
Zach: I'm already holding his crossbow, why can't I just shoot it myself?

  • A prevalent running gag in Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton acts like the hero, but it's his sidekick Wang who actually knows what's going on.
  • Nobody will ever really understand why Jules agrees to serve under Reynolds Pirates XXX.
  • Warriors of the Wasteland (aka 'The New Barbarians'): the bow-and-arrow-wielding Nadir does a better job of dealing with the homicidal Templars than the purported hero, Scorpion. He does it so well that it's usually his character depicted on the cover.
  • R2D2 in Star Wars, particularly if viewed as specifically C-3PO's sidekick. In the original trilogy, he hacks the Death Star main computer to show its internal lay-out and shut down the trash compactors, keeps Luke's X-wing flying, and functions as a spy and monitoring station. He's also shown a number of times to be particularly brave and determined. In the prequels, it's the same story again: repairing a ship in hard vacuum while other droids blow up around him, flying, and once again hacking in the enemy's flagship.
  • In Steel, Steel's sidekick, Sparky, has a wheelchair that can shoot rapid fire energy blasts and fly. Since she has better powers and a better backstory, wouldn't the movie have been better if she was the lead?
  • Played straight from the point of view of the Watership Down rabbits in that Bigwig is tougher, stronger and more experienced in combat than Hazel, and in many warrens this would qualify him to be Chief, yet these rabbits have been through so much and come to respect Hazel's qualities of leadership, lateral thinking and delegation that he is, without having to even decide on it, the Chief. It's beautifully played with, though, when Bigwig faces down Woundwort at the end and informs him that his Chief told him to defend the run - Woundwort is visibly taken aback since he can't help but imagine the rabbit that could command Bigwig to be even stronger than him!


Folklore[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Steam: Puss In Boots, who happens to be A trope on his own.
  • Monkey King Sun Wukong from Journey to the West is a nearly invincible god who swears loyalty to the very gullible human monk Xuanzang, and ends up kicking the asses of most of the monsters and demons Xuanzang encounters on his journey.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The archetypal example of this trope is the valet (not butler) Jeeves from PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster novels, and the various TV adaptations of the same.
  • In a direct Shout-Out to Jeeves, Poul Anderson's Technic History has Dominic Flandry's alien valet Chives, although Flandry is very smart and competent.
  • In Harry Potter, Barty Crouch Jr. was much more efficient than all the other Death Eaters put together. He even managed to fool Dumbledore for over a year.
  • The Efficient Baxter, Lord Emsworth's secretary, who was too hyper competent for most tastes.
  • Kaliko, the level-headed majordomo of the hot-headed Card-Carrying Villain, the Nome King, in the Oz books.
  • Jame Retief, in Keith Laumer's Retief series of SF diplomacy stories, is always one rank below Magnan, despite being the only effective one of the pair. Of course, his techniques weren't terribly diplomacy oriented.
    • Indeed, almost the whole point of the series was that the diplomatic corps is utterly useless, and only by breaking their (incredibly involuted and wrong-headed) rules can Retief achieve the supposed objectives of policy.
  • Atlas Shrugged: Jim Taggart is CEO of Taggart Transcontinental, but his sister Dagny actually does all the work.
  • In Phule's Company, Phule's butler Beeker calmly and practically organizes everything that the intensely focussed and somewhat hyperactive Phule ignores when he's distracted by the big picture.
    • He also invested his considerable pay to such good effect that he could probably retire to a private planet if he wanted to.
  • In Miquel de Cervantes's Don Quixote Sancho Panza occupies this position by the sheer fact that he's not completely crazy. This trope is older than the Enlightenment.
  • In Monstrous Regiment, while Lt. Blouse was smart and competent in his own way, it was the veteran Sergeant Jackrum who's practical and kept the squad of newbies alive by various means. In fact, all officers (or "ruperts") were basically there to be manipulated by Jackrum----from his own lieutenant to the Borogravian High Command. The main character, being an Only Sane Man among the recruits, is praised by Jackrum to be great sergeant material. She's promoted to Sergeant by the end of the book.
  • Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities is the Hypercompetent Sidekick to his boss, C. J. Stryver. He does all the paperwork and is responsible for winning the one case we see them handle. He has no ambition, however, while his boss Stryver is always shouldering his way through life.
  • Burtsev and several other exiled Decembrist officers are this to supposed General Failure Paskevich in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar. Each of them manages one of the crucial areas of warfare, and their efforts seem crucial to all of Paskevich's victories.
  • If Collot d'Herbois had been in charge instead of Chauvelin in The Elusive Pimpernel, he would have just shot the Scarlet Pimpernel instead of planning an elaborate Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Mr. Skree from The Kingdoms of Evil
  • Fisk is this to Michael in the Knight and Rogue Series as the squire, he's the one that comes up with all the plans and always rescues Michael after some botched scheme by his 'employer'.
  • In The Shahnameh, the ever-more reluctant Rostem is this to Kay Kavus, who is constantly leading Iran into trouble.
  • Milo in the Gaunt's Ghosts series leans towards this in the first few books. He's unfortunately so good at his job that he attracts the attention of the Inquisition, thinking he's a previously un-identified pskyer. He later leaves Gaunt's side to become a full time soldier.
  • In Discworld, Captain Carrot is strong enough to punch out a troll, idealistic enough to make up for the combined weight of Ankh-Morpork's cynicism, and is charismatic (and quite possibly intelligent as well) enough to make sure said idealism doesn't get him killed/beaten. And he still takes orders from Sam Vimes. Who's admittedly a badass, but still, as one character in Jingo noted, "[Carrot] can make water run uphill, and he has a commander..."
    • Pretty much everyone knows he's the heir to the throne, but he steadfastly denies it except on a very few occasions that hint at Obfuscating Stupidity the rest of the time. And, for that matter, let's also not forget that #3 in the Watch hierarchy is his girlfriend, a gorgeous werewolf with an amazing sense of smell, super strength, and the ability to regenerate from almost anything. The only reasons she isn't a Mary Sue are that a) the criminals all know there's a werewolf in the Watch, so silver and peppermint bombs are becoming standard and b) Terry Pratchett is a freaking genius.
    • Somewhat averted in Carrot's case - he has a chance to run the Watch and consciously decides not to largely on the grounds that, "People shouldn't do what I say because Captain Carrot is good at being obeyed". He doesn't want to be in charge precisely because it's too easy. It's also worth pointing out that in the first few books, Carrot very clearly is The Hero; it's just that Pratchett ended up finding Vimes more interesting...
  • One story in The Escapist emphasized this aspect about Big Al, the Escapist's 8-foot-tall, philosophy-quoting sidekick. A bad guy points out how much tougher and smarter Big Al is, yet he plays second banana to the Escapist—to try to recruit Big Al to the evil organization. (The story was probably a self-conscious comment on comic-book tropes.)
  • Gunner Jurgen, aide of Ciaphas Cain, possesses the incredibly rare talent of being able to nullify Warp powers within a certain area of effect. This (and his melta) often come in handy for saving Cain's posterior in situations that would probably have gotten him killed long ago otherwise. The fact that he's a blank is part of the reason no one notices him. As the author has joked, if anyone actually noticed Jurgen, he'd probably be the famous one. (Though the idea would probably horrify him.)
  • Astromech Droids in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Other than R2D2, the X-Wing novels brought us Corran Horn's droid Whistler, who can circumvent restraining-bolts thanks to a custom internal lay-out, has advanced data-gathering programming for criminal investigation purposes and once ran a minor pro-New Republic resistance cell on a minor Imperial world. Other notable droids included Emtree, who operated a commodities brokerage out of the Rogue Squadron barracks until they were forced to throttle back his programming, and Tonin, who helped Lara Notsil to infiltrate and practically take over a Super Star Destroyer, which functioned as The Mothership of the Big Bad of the series.
  • Jeeves to Bertie (and all his friends) in Jeeves and Wooster; the plots themselves often come from the comedic and convoluted ways in which he saves the day.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • M*A*S*H
    • Former Trope Namer Radar O'Reilly, especially in seasons 1-3, where he was running things for the somewhat overwhelmed Colonel Blake. Later seasons had the more efficient Colonel Potter, so Radar didn't need to be quite so Hypercompetent. Lampshaded in the season two premiere, when a general says that it often seems as if Col. Blake is Radar's clerk.
    • After Radar's departure, Klinger, originally a complete incompetent, grows into the role as part of his character development but is never quite as hypercompetent. Father Mulcahy notes that Radar had a similar start before growing into the Hypercompetent Sidekick he eventually became.
  • This is the popular perception of The Green Hornet, due to Bruce Lee's later popularity and the fading of the Green Hornet himself from pop culture. Although Kato gets the impressive fight scenes, the Green Hornet is still portrayed as the competent leader.
  • Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess was this everytime she was Joxer's "sidekick".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Although Buffy is by no means incompetent, Willow does a great job of personifying this trope in Season 7, when as the most powerful witch in the Western Hemisphere, she was so strong that the writers felt the need to knock her out before most major fights.
  • Walter Harriman from Stargate SG-1. He doesn't do all of the work at Stargate Command, but he has been compared to Radar. Wasn't he named after him?
    • Major Marks is turning into the Walter of Earth's battleships in both SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. He's served on all five of the Air Force's ships (usually whichever one is being used by the main characters at the time).
    • On the villain’s side the First Prime of Lord Yu did a good job of compensating for his master’s increasing madness and senility.
  • Jennifer, from WKRP in Cincinnati. Played with in that Jennifer is both the highest-paid member of the staff and the one most respected by Mrs. Carlson, the station owner.
  • Bernard Woolley, Jim Hacker's PPS in Yes Minister, who finds his loyalty split between Hacker (who badly needs his help to decipher the Civil Service red tape) and his Civil Service superior Sir Humphrey (who expects him not to tell Hacker anything that might disrupt the status quo), and usually chooses Hacker.
    • On the semi-rare occasions when Hacker and Humphrey are on the same side, Humphrey is this.
  • In Remington Steele the apparent "boss" (Remington) is explicitly a figurehead for PR purposes and Laura is the one who is, in fact, in charge.
  • Sgt Wilson in Dad's Army. Noted for his Catch Phrase "Do you think that's wise, sir?"
  • Baldrick is normally thought of by fans as a classic Bumbling Sidekick. Yet in the first season of Blackadder Baldrick was a Hyper Competent Sidekick. And as mentioned above, Blackadder was the Hyper Competent Sidekick sidekick in the third season.
  • In The Adventures of FATMAN, the Show Within a Show in The Weird Al Show, Fatman's sidekick, Harvey, despite having no superpowers and being a hamster, can talk and is generally more quick-witted than Fatman.
  • Al Borland from Home Improvement is a hypercompetent sidekick, but only on the Show Within a Show Tool Time. Tim really is a mechanical genius, but lets his reach exceed his grasp in the same way that the speed of light exceeds a highway speed limit. Tim's inventions usually fail because they are too powerful, causing them to either explode or work too well, such as a vacuum cleaner that doesn't so much clean the dirt out of the carpet as much as it cleans the carpet out of the room. Whereas Tim embodies Awesome but Impractical, Al embodies Boring but Practical.
    • This becomes reversed when the two guest host a cooking show together. Al is the far superior cook, but Tim's inferiority complex at being upstaged by Al's abilities causes him to study hard and learn how to cook decently. Al, for his part, does not like being corrected by Tim and makes similar mistakes to the ones Tim usually makes.
  • Polly in Fawlty Towers.
  • In Episode 5x20 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Rom and Quark's mother Ishka becomes the lover and assistant of Grand Nagus Zek. Her importance isn't revealed until later in the episode, when Quark is forced into the position and finds that his mother was keeping the Alliance afloat.
  • While Avon is far from incompetent, Stringer Bell in The Wire is much more cool-headed and business-oriented while Avon sees himself as primarily a "soldier".
  • Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation. She's The Pollyanna and a softer Small Name, Big Ego, but the episode "Christmas Scandal" made it clear she does a LOT of the work in the department.
    • Leslie started off as an analogue of Michael Scott from The Office, but the writers eventually took her in a different direction, so that by Season 3 she is acknowledged to be brilliant at her job and respected by a lot of people in Pawnee because of it. (Although she is the protagonist of the show, she is in fact a sidekick, the Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation under Ron Swanson who is pretty much happy to let her run the department.)
  • Sgt. O'Rourke from F Troop, who also runs a saloon and an Indian souvenir business under his commander's nose.
  • Jeeves of Jeeves and Wooster.
  • Butler Pyo in the Korean Drama Shining Inheritance, who maintains the household and still has time for many covert side activites for his boss.
  • Another Korean Series, Scent Of A Woman, has Park Sang Woo, Ji Wook's assistant who literally does everything the job entails, and submits a report that Ji Wook then reads to the Board of Directors.
  • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men features one in each camp, the titular heroine to Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham [1] to Prince John. Both double as the Only Sane (Wo)man of their respective sides.
  • Laura, the leisure center's assistant manager in The Brittas Empire. Every time she's left in charge, business booms...but it all goes back down the pisser as soon as Gordon Brittas gets home.
  • Charlie Young in The West Wing. Not that the President is incompetent, but still, he needs all the help he can get.
    • Mrs Landingham too, to an extent, until her death in season two. Charlie's comment to the president about why he always had a good quality pen in his pocket comes to mind.
  • Major Dad gave us Gunnery Sergeant Alva "Gunny" Bricker.
  • Toros Revoke in Ravenor is the most dangerous and competent of the Secretists, yet remains a loyal "just doing my job, sir" to Jader Trice.
  • Merlin is this to Arthur, so very much. Though Arthur is by no means incompetent, how many times has Merlin secretly saved him from an almost certain death? If you factor in the episodes in which he does it multiple times, it's practically a Once an Episode occurrence.
  • Francis got a Hyper Competant Assistant in one episode of Malcolm in the Middle. He ended up so reliant on the assistant he was unable to function on his own. Fortunately, the assistant fired himself for him.
  • Frankengirl from Wizards of Waverly Place. First Justin's, then Alex's, then Justin's again.
  • In C-drama The Holy Pearl, High Priestess Mo Yin is this the King. When he goes AWOL, she makes sure he has sufficient guards; she throws his brother out on his ear after he attempts a coup (twice); and she governs the realm until he comes back.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Dilbert: Asok the intern is not only one of the best engineers in the office, he also possesses amazing mental powers, including pyrokinesis and shapeshifting. Despite his prowess, he is paid the least, works in an eighth-sized cubicle, and is rarely allowed to leave.


Table Top Games[edit | hide]

"[Sememmnon] WAS the Black Network, having calmly picked up the pieces on innumerable occasions and ensured its smooth operation while his superiors raved, pursued mad schemes, or fought each other."

  • Commissar Ciaphas Cain's aide, Gunner Ferik Jurgen, probably qualifies somewhat. Cain himself isn't so much incompetent as merely lazy, fobbing off most of the boring office work onto his aide unless his personal involvement is absolutely necessary. Also the Battle Butler - Ciaphas is annoyed that none of the official histories mention Jurgen's part in his numerous victories.
  • Between Korg and Zet of Magi Nation, Zet is by far the more intelligent and capable of the two, both in the animated series and in the game. However, for some reason Korg is Zet's superior; Korg's poor planning in both mediums results in much suffering for Zet. In the game at least, when Zet is finally alone, he not only proves to be smarter, but also much, much stronger.
  • In Nomine fandom has Sparky; for actually running the Demon Domain of Technology while Vapula is....well...being a Mad Scientist.
  • The Queen, anyone?
  • Mutants and Masterminds: While the "Sidekick" feat buys you an NPC Cohort of less skill or ability, the game specifically suggests that you can play the character you build with this feat as your PC and the more able PC as your NPC Sidekick to duplicate instances of this occurring in comic books.
  • Dungeons & Dragons can let you do this with the Leadership feat. It gives you a "cohort" who is a couple levels lower than you, and acts as a sidekick. However, thanks to Character Tiers, it's perfectly possible for this character to be significantly more powerful than his higher-leveled "boss". A paladin with a wizard cohort is almost certainly overshadowed by mid-levels.


Theatre[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Sora from Kingdom Hearts has the honor of being the sidekick to most of the Disney Universe. In any given world, his first instinct is to help that world's main character with whatever's troubling them. In most cutscenes and story events, that character will take center stage (since the worlds are adaptations of Disney Movies). However, Sora is far and away more powerful than any world companion, and he's the one who takes down the main villain for each world (this is in fact a gameplay element—a boss can only be killed by Sora's attacks.). He's often also the one who provides the initiative for said main character to do whatever it is he needs to do.
  • One of the Horde starting zones of Wrath of the Lich King has Varok Saurfang, grizzled veteran and Memetic Badass of the game, working in the shadows to mitigate the effects of the reckless commands of Garrosh Hellscream, a young and brutal but successful commander, whom he fears might reawaken the dark side of the orcish race.
    • In a lot of quests and raids, the Players themselves often count as this. Sure, sometimes the heroes show up and swing their hammers around (looking at you, Arthas in the Culling of Stratholme), but when push comes to shove, it is the coordination and skills of the players that really gets things done.
    • Drakuru is one of these to the Lich King, while at the same time you play this role to him. When you learn who his allegiance is with though, you turn into The Mole and sabotage his plans.
  • Flea and Slash are far more effective battlers than Ozzie in Chrono Trigger.
    • Similarly, in both of the battles with the Shadow Sirens in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the leader Beldam is the weakest member of the team compared to the far more deadly Marilyn and, in the second battle, the fairly more dangerous Doopliss.
  • Beatrix does all the heavy lifting in Final Fantasy IX, compared to Queen Brahne's incoherent rages.
    • That's why she's a general instead of a queen.
  • Thunder God Cid (Orlandu) in Final Fantasy Tactics, working under Duke Goltanna.
  • Eirin Yagokoro of Imperishable Night does pretty much all the work while Princess Kaguya just sits around doing nothing, at least as far as fanon is concerned. Many fans also believe Eirin to be a more difficult boss than even the true final boss of the game.
    • Reisen gets shades of this plus a little Only Sane Man on the side...when she's not busy being the Butt Monkey of the Eientei group.
    • Similarly, Sanae Kochiya from Mountain of Faith is often portrayed as a much more mature character than the goddesses she technically serves.
    • UFO also brings us Nazrin, who is increasingly portrayed as much more serious and diligent than her "master" Shou, thanks to Shou canonically losing her Jeweled Pagoda, forcing Nazrin to find it for her.
    • Even earlier is the maid Yumeko, right-hand to Shinki. Sure, Shinki created the whole of Makai, but Yumeko single-handedly takes care of the day-to-day affairs of the whole of Makai. She is often compared against her Windows-era Expy Izayoi Sakuya, a human maid who serves the vampire Remilia Scarlet (though not an instance of this Trope).
    • It's still at least a partial example. Though her mistress Remilia Scarlet is by no means weak and helpless, chief maid Sakuya Izayoi is very hypercompetent and pretty much runs the Scarlet Devil Mansion almost by herself (since the fairy maids she commands are hardly any good at all). Good thing Sakuya's power to stop time allows her to do massive amounts of housework with extreme speed.
  • Lin from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is this to both Brenner and Will, being the tactical brains behind the operation while her superiors act more as The Heart. Lin is fine with working under them, and admires Brenner immensely, but she's also the single most competent and practical character in the main cast; coming up with the army's tactics, showing much more practical, if cynical, solutions to the problems the groups face than the others do, killing General Ripper Greyfield, and generally helping to stop the MASSIVE Hero Ball Brenner and later Will carry from causing too much trouble.
  • In Persona 3, Jin serves as The Dragon and hypercompetent sidekick to suicidal Nietzsche Wannabe/Dark Messiah Takaya, often restraining the latter when he decides on a whim to point a gun to his head to make a message or take on a large group of Persona-users quite capable of beating him with just four of its members.
  • Tron Bonne from Mega Man Legends. While her brother Teisel is seen as the head of their "Evil Family", she's clearly the one that keeps things moving. No wonder she's the protagonist of her own game.
  • In the Castlevania series, Dracula is often a pansy Anticlimax Boss, where as Death is more often than not one of the hardest bosses in the game, generally being much harder to hit, faster and having much better attacks. In Rondo of Blood, Maria is a little girl Ricther rescues, and playing as her makes the game MUCH easier
    • YMMV, especially in the Nintendo Hard, well, Nintendo Entertainment System days.
    • Taken to an extreme in Lament of Innocence. Dracula aka Matthias relies on Death to do all the heavy lifting in the endgame such as stealing Walter's vampire soul and Death is the Final Boss.
  • Eddie Riggs in Brutal Legend, as the ultimate roadie serves this role to the Resistance, whose leaders lack The Power of Rock and Eddie's skill with stage building and handling of equipment.
  • Arguably Katakura Kojuurou from CAPCOM's Sengoku Basara. His young master Masamune isn't incompetent by any sense, but he seems to be far too focused on being the Engrish-speaking Blood Knight Badass that he is to take care of the details, such as ruling his province, which Kojuurou takes care of.
  • If you listen to memes, Private Ramirez is this to pretty much the entire 75th Ranger Regiment.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms X is known for having a weak AI, even for high-stat leaders. As a result, if you're playing as a vassal instead of a ruler, it's entirely possible to have more troops in your district than all of your force's other districts combined.
  • Genis from Tales of Symphonia is this to Lloyd.
    • Sort of. Genis only fulfills this role in the very beginning, and Lloyd is consistently shown to be better both at combat and at thinking on his feet. After the first part of the game, Raine fulfills this role more consistently, letting Lloyd be the main leader of the group but still figuring out key information before anyone else. In battle, Raine's healing, support and Photon provide a lot of assistance with Lloyd's fast combos.
    • Tales of the Abyss has Guy. Granted that it's not hard to look hyper-competent compared to the 7-year old Luke, but Jade suspects that Guy is not a mere servant because he is too smart for a commoner.
  • Alexei Stukov is this to Gerard DuGalle in the StarCraft series. DuGalle has successfully managed to screw up nearly everything the UED has done, and is easily tricked by Duran... He even got tricked into having Stukov killed! Meanwhile, Stukov is very hesitant to follow his boss's orders, knowing what the outcome would be, and easily sees through Duran's deceptions. It's very obvious that if he were the one in charge, the UED would already own the universe. It's even stated in the manual that he's the smartest of the two.
    • Kerrigan mocks DuGalle this way. She claims that Stukov was twice the man DuGalle was, and she's ever so grateful that DuGalle saved her the trouble of killing Stukov.
    • The player's Non-Entity General fills this function throughout the campaigns, commanding forces for most of the plot important events in the story. This only applies inside the first game, in the books and the second game, these characters are assumed not to exist (except [possibly] the magistrate, who may just be hiding).
  • The protagonist Luis Fernando-Lopez of Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad Of Gay Tony, is this to Gay Tony. Tony shows that he knows how to use a gun, but in the very frequent event they have to kill/strong arm someone, it's usually Luis's job to handle it. Of course, the one time Tony does attempt to do some killing, he's heavily dosed on unspecified drugs. Luis also finds himself this trope to a number of rich people he's introduced to through their nightclub business, including Mori Kibbutz. (Tony handles the actual nightclub stuff almost exclusively, Luis's work is just killing, roughing people up, and he half jokes at one point, being around to share the blame with the IRS when they catch money vanishing.)
  • Jyunichi is this to Shogo Akuji in Saints Row 2. Even thinking in meta, Jyunichi's boss fight is a long katana duel, whilst Shogo's boss fight you just gun down some mooks and briefly chase him on a motorcycle.
  • Luigi doesn't get a mention? It's stated in an interview that he's the more powerful of the two brothers, and in the games you see that he's faster, quite a bit better at jumping, and a reality-destroying entity.
    • He might be more powerful, but he's a flawed character. Mario is generally more reliable, and Luigi has serious confidence issues. He's still going to pull through when you need him, and the brothers are pretty much evenly matched, although Luigi gets his issues from the fact that Mario overshadows him.
    • He's arguably not a sidekick, but an equal partner. This is most evident in the Mario & Luigi series, where they clearly have an equal partnership, sharing the platforming and stomping burdens evenly. Neither of them really defers to the other, nor do either of them have a bigger part in the plot. Mario does have the heroic instinct to jump in first, and Luigi backs him up as a matter of course. Most people in the Mushroom Kingdom do view Luigi as a sidekick, so this kind of blurs the boundaries.
  • Miles Prower A.K.A Tails is often joked about as being this. He is a mechanical genius who built a fake (but almost perfect) Chaos Emerald (with one key difference) in Sonic Adventure 2 and as a matter of gameplay in Sonic Adventure 1 had to out pace Sonic by using his flight capabilities, indicating he can. Added to that is his swimming is much better than Sonic's and his occassional invulnerability.
  • An interesting variation in Skies of Arcadia occurs with Aika, the Lancer to Vyse. The game has a Swashbuckler Rating, which gives a title to Vyse and affects his reputation, ranging from the ability to recruit crew members to prices at shops (the higher the rating, the lower your prices). There are But Thou Must! trees in the game that can increase, decrease, or not affect the rating. Making a crapload of bad choices sends your rating down (the lowest you can go is Vyse the Ninny), and whatever Vyse says in those makes Aika this trope. Whatever Vyse suggests in a good choice (i.e, "shall we sneak into the Coliseum" or "save everyone right now") will be suggested by Aika in a bad choice.
    • Of course, this is different in battle (Aika is a Fragile Speedster who can cast magic fairly well, but becomes near-useless by the end of the game)
  • Otacon has been called more effective than Snake at everything that Snake does, despite his tendency to urinate in fear.
  • Stern of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny, what with being the Material of Wisdom to the Evil Overlord Royal Brat Lord Dearche. She's the one who inevitably calls most of the shots amongst the Materials since her logic easily trumps Lord Dearche's childish orders, a fact that annoys her lord a lot.
  • Bleu (Deis) from the Breath of Fire series can be recruited into your party and aid your quest. She's pretty much a beautiful, ancient sorceress that's the strongest character in your party.
    • In Breath of Fire III and IV, she really is a Physical God. In IV she's stuck inside a suit of armor and the main character is a free god, so it's a bit less jarring.
  • Prince of Persia: Elika in the 2008 game. She's the Double Jump, the source of your magic attacks, can do all the same acrobatic moves you can [without his trumped up glove], and is the one who heals the land. Oh, and she saves him from certain death all the time. The only thing the Prince has that she doesn't is a sword.
    • Although the Prince is demonstrably physically stronger than most of the humanoid abominations who dwarf him in size and are powered by The Dark Side. Elika would not do well in a fight by herself. He's also ostensibly the one doing the navigating. If this game were played from Elika's point of view, the exact same arguments could be made for the Prince being the Sidekick Ex Machina.
    • Justified in a sense in that she planned to save the land by herself. The prince is more of a Supporting Protagonist.
  • A radio show on Fallout 3 featured "adventurer Herbert Dashwood and his stalwart ghoul manservant, Argyle." In each episode Herbert's bumbling landed them in situations Argyle would singlehandedly extract them from. The player could meet Herbert in game, who claimed he wasn't really that big of a fool but admitted Argyle was most certainly a badass.
    • You can find Argyl's corpse later. He fell trying to defend a village from slavers in a battle Dashwood barely escaped from, the news of which will crush Dashwood.
  • Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3. Not only is he every bit as fast as the protagonist, he can also fly (taking Sonic with him in the 3rd game), swim, and is completely invulnerable to enemy attacks, to the point of not even losing rings when struck. In addition, any rings or powerups he collects automatically go to Sonic, regardless of the distance or obstacles between them. Parodied in Awesome the Hedgehog with this delightful exchange:

Robotnik: Now, Sonic will fall right into my trap!
Mook: But Tails is with him sir!
Robotnik: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUU-

    • Retcons make it so he can't actually move as fast as Sonic: Knuckles can't either, and Tails is just as fast as Knuckles, if not slightly faster.
      • Which is retconned in Sonic Colors, where Tails might even be slightly faster than Sonic.
    • However, the ability list of both Knuckles and Tails makes it so either one can generally outclass Sonic in several areas. For Tails, his flight ability does allow him access to easy shortcuts, he can swim, Super Tails was a Game Breaker the one time he was playable, and, well, Machina.
  • The module The Light Reborn for Neverwinter Nights has you literally play the sidekick to the actual hero, he tackling the main enemies while you go on the smaller errands. This all culminates into a giant "tipping the scale" moment that's even based on a player's earlier decision and can thus fail. Never has being the sidekick felt so rewarding.
  • In the Touhou games, Remilia Scarlet is a vampire who has the power to manipulate fate, supposedly. She's the mistress of Scarlet Devil Mansion. Meanwhile, her little sister locked in the basement has a magic rod that can unmake any object she points it at. Their head maid is Sakuya Izayoi, who can manipulate time and space to her liking. She mostly uses said powers to clean house.
    • Then we have Kaguya and Eirin. Canonically, Kaguya was the one who provided Eirin backup in the Grand Finale but Memetic Mutation has made "Help me, EIRIIIIIIN!" her Catch Phrase in even the most mundane situations.
    • This happens a lot in Touhou. In Imperishable Night, more often than not, your youkai buddy outclassed you not no matter which team you were. Reimu had Yukari, who's pretty much omnipotent; Marisa had Alice, who's a much more powerful magician than she is; Youmu had Yuyuko, who has the ability to invoke death in mortals. The exception is the Scarlet Team, as mentioned above.
    • In Subterranean Animism, Satori's pets include a cat youkai that can carry away corpses and a hell raven with the power of nuclear fusion.
  • In The World Ends With You, Joshua is none other that Shibuya's Composer. Even though his powers are diminished, he manages to kill some Taboo Noise, which are the hardest to beat in the game, with a single blow.
  • There's a (failed, to an extent) attempt to avert this in Ancient Domains of Mystery. A necromancer or a bard can easily have an extremely powerful sidekick (or a few!), in extreme situations rarely ever having to fight at all. The penultimate level, however, is a Slippy-Slidey Ice World, so you can't take any sidekicks with you. But... if you take a Scroll of Familiar Summoning with you, you can summon a new friend in the final level. And the power of a familiar depends on the so called "danger level" of a dungeon. Cue a Greater Earth Elemental of an insanely high level mopping the floor with the several boss monsters guarding your objective.
  • The Flash game Help the Hero is all about this. While the hero is the one that fights monsters and gets all the glory, the player is his sidekick who has to make sure that he's properly equipped for said fights or else end up beaten to a bloody pulp.
  • While Luigi is certainly smart enough and powerful enough to be one of these, he has serious confidence issues that prevent it unless absolutely necessary.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • The premise of Sidekick Girl, though the title character is not happy with the status quo.
  • In Antihero for Hire, Union was a Hypercompetent Sidekick for Dr. Nefarious before breaking out on his own.
  • Erfworld: Wanda Firebaugh fills that role for the overconfident and strategically inept Lord Stanley.
    • And for protagonist Parson Gotti, who's a strategic genius but needs a crash course in the rules of Erfworld.
    • Likewise, Parson plays this role in a strategic capacity to Stanley.
  • Richard from Looking for Group is the most powerful member of Cale's team, being able to kill with his hands or use magic do perform whatever execution he has come up with for his enemies. Tempered a little in the fact he is an evil undead warlock.
  • Redcloak from Order of the Stick is the sidekick who makes Xykon's evil organization run. Although Xykon is devastatingly powerful and capable of surprising cunning at times, he has no patience for details, and his idea of strategy consists of pounding obstacles with spells until they go away. It helps that Redcloak is Dangerously Genre Savvy whereas Xykon suffers from Contractual Genre Blindness.
    • The prequel book Start of Darkness establishes Redcloak as having elements of a Beleaguered Assistant. Throughout the webcomic itself (especially the later strips), more and more of this pokes through to the surface. He still voluntarily works for Xykon, though.
      • Somewhat voluntarily at least. It's partly that that keeps him working for Xykon, and partly because he doesn't want the death of his brother to have been a complete waste.
  • Judy, the Doctor's receptionist, in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. While Dr. McNinja is competent in his own way, Judy's dependability and no-nonsense attitude are pretty much the only reason anything gets accomplished in the office. She's also a gorilla. Just thought that should be out there.

"Do you think I run around with a twelve year old boy just because I like his inferior grasp of girls and higher level math? Do you think I left him with my psychotic parents because I wanted him to die? No, you undead pale ponce! Gordito is the effing badass kid. So go ahead and finish up your masterful scheme to make me let you kill me, because Gordito's going to slap around whatever ghost lackey you have like he was a pinata on the Mexican day of the dead."

  • Dr. Wily was tricked into becoming the hypercompetent sidekick for Mike Haggar's in Captain SNES. When President Haggar's first act was to abolish taxes, Vice President Wily realized he'll be too busy fixing Haggar's horrible decisions and keeping the country afloat to take advantage of his position.
  • Partly deconstructed in Girly, where sidekicks engineered to be perfect become too much so, rendering the "hero" of their relationships virtually unnecessary. However they end up evil, try to take over, succeed, and have to be taken out by pairs of hero/sidekick pairs of roughly equal ability or the more typical competency ratios.
    • Also Otra APPEARS this to Winter, but it's been proven that Winter is what inspires Otra to be so competent and both are far weaker/more helpless alone. Otra, in general, can do everything by herself but would hate to and Winter can kick ass, but needs Otra around to be able thanks to Ruleof Funny.
  • BIBLE has Opal, working for Balthazar. Not that Balthazar's incompetent, but Opal is certainly better at dealing with people.
  • Elliot, Dr. Breign's assistant in The Snail Factory. He essentially does all of the work, cleans up after Breign's messes and keeps everything going.
  • Bun-Bun from Sluggy Freelance. The other characters still have to take care of things themselves most of the time, since Bun-Bun is a Sociopathic Hero who won't lift a paw unless there's something in it for him and/or the current bad guy did something to piss him off. However, when he does get involved, heads tend to fly.
  • Dresden Codak's Tokamak twins are superheroes, in fact.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, Molly is a Gadgeteer Genius and even has modest super-speed (she can outrun a bear, anyway), while her adoptive daddy Bob is, of course, nominally the World's Most Average Man. Bob's other big defining trait though is Common Sense, a quality Molly certainly lacks.
  • Bill the Extra Guy is the sidekick to Fred the Spanyard from Neglected Character Comix, a sprite comic series involving Mario characters on the Neglected Character subpage of Super Mario Bros HQ. A seemingly useless sidekick compared to Fred's death rays and other such powers, he freezes time and space with his "extra power" which leaves his friend more than impressed.
  • Last Res 0 rt has Adharia Kuvoe's servant and consort, Sedja the Efreet. Sedja is essentially a Benevolent Genie, but is bound to and protected by Adharia (as it's been heavily implied that Sedja would've been destroyed by the Star Org if not for Adharia protecting her, acting as a translator, and having hidden her up until the point Sedja was shot out of a pistol).


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Greasy, sidekick to Peeper at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe.
  • "Commander" Jeremy Wickstrom in Chad Vader. Although he is a little off as well.
  • Phelous and The Cinema Snob gained this role in Kickassia.
  • In Red vs. Blue, while Church is the leader of the Blue Team, Tucker has far more plot influence and action the instant he picks up his sword. The only thing stopping him from stealing the spotlight is that Church keeps story focus. This eventually gets deconstructed. Tucker gets promoted to an alien ambassador while Church gets sent to a backwater canyon in the middle of nowhere.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Swedish Murder Machine Brock Samson, the bodyguard on The Venture Bros.
  • Cornfed from Duckman.
    • Lampshaded to some extent in the Adventure Game where while Cornfed does make a plan for Duckman to save the day, he decides that this time he needs to learn how to do things himself and doesn't help him directly outside of that.
  • Itchy Itchiford, (Itchy for short) from All Dogs Go to Heaven has this in spades, especially in the first movie and more so in the TV series. Charlie usually doesn't follow the phrase "think before you do" very well. Itchy prevents Charlie from going too far with his intentions for the most part, but even if he is unsuccessful in doing so, he always knows what is going to happen. Also, in the first movie, Itchy built Charlie's new casino.
  • South Park has "Coon and Friends", the pairing of Eric Cartman as the "hero" and C'thulu as his erstwhile companion.
  • In Inspector Gadget, Penny and Brain help out the titular inspector.
    • Moreover, Penny's dog, Brain, is Penny's hypercompetent sidekick.
      • Although given Penny's competence, he's probably more her Puss (or should that be Pup?) in Boots...
  • In a similar vein, Spot from Hong Kong Phooey.
  • Stan is Xander Crews' hypercompetent sidekick in Frisky Dingo. Likewise, Sin is Killface's.
  • The Simpsons: Although Mr. Burns is not incompetent so much as out of touch with the times, Waylon Smithers arguably serves this role.
    • Another Simpsons example is seen in an early episode when Homer is briefly made an executive at the nuclear power plant. His secretary Karl (as opposed to Carl) immediately realises that Homer is just some lucky buffoon and isn't suited to his new job. He proceeds to help Homer act the part, to the point where he gets fired protecting Homer's job and still writes a presentation to aid him.
  • Jazz to Sentinel Prime in Transformers Animated. While Sentinel Prime is technically second in command to Ultra Magnus, Jazz is usually the one who keeps a handle on Sentinel and tries to steer him towards good judgment. Jazz eventually realized this was a lost cause and left to join the Autobots on Earth.
  • Don't forget Cyclonus from Transformers Generation 1. He was sane, calculating, dangerous... everything Galvatron was not.
    • Well, Galvatron was dangerous, but to his troops just as much as the Autobots.
  • Porky Pig when he's depicted as Daffy Duck's sidekick (in numerous Chuck Jones movie parody shorts, perhaps mostly famously Duck Dodgers) -- in most of these cases, Daffy breaks the fourth wall to insist that Porky's character is supposed to be the Plucky Comic Relief, so this character type may be a subversion.
    • This holds especially true in the series Duck Dodgers, where Dodgers doesn't so much hold the Idiot Ball as have it surgically implanted in place of his actual brain. Apparently, the Cadet is so competent that he singlehandedly cured world hunger in his younger days.
      • It should be noted however this interpretation is mostly exclusive to the Chuck Jones shorts (or later ones based on his work specifically), with alternate interpretations often portraying Porky as somewhat a bumbling Butt Monkey to a more apt trickster Daffy. It was also subtly implied that Porky's enormous deviation from his usual character was due to Jones' Daffy playing the Straw Loser of the series (similarly Bugs's Rogues Gallery were often Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains until they placed against Daffy), perhaps why Jones played Porky as The Fool in non-Daffy shorts, with Sylvester playing his Hypercompetent Sidekick.
    • True to their Spinoff Babies nature, in Tiny Toon Adventures Hampton J. Pig has more than once been Hypercompetent Sidekick to Plucky Duck, most notably in Batduck where Hampton was "Decoy, the Pig Hostage."
      • Humorously, Plucky himself has once has served this role to Daffy in a Duck Dodgers short where he was "the eager young space cadet." Somewhat odd, since Plucky is a child version of Daffy and normally suffers the same defeat-by-hubris role that Daffy does.
      • This situation was reversed for Hampton and Plucky all of once. In the movie special, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, the Pig family picks up a hitchhiker - who turns out to be a (and this is quoted directly from the radio report that only Plucky seemed to note the importance of) "mass-murderer with a psychotic aversion to pork." Said "hitchhiker" then expanded his range of targets later as he pulled out a hockey mask and chainsaw and proclaimed, "I hate duck, too!" Insanity then Ensued.
  • Kif Kroker from Futurama is often shown to be far more intelligent and quick-witted than his boss, Zapp Brannigan, but on the rare occasions that Kif overcomes his shyness to speak up, Brannigan invariably ignores him, and often later blames Kif for his own mistakes.
    • "Be prepared to take the blame in three, two, one...Now!"
  • Shego from Kim Possible She fights all the battles for Dr. Drakken, she tries to keep his evil plans in line, she even provides Drakken with the Unobtainium/Phlebotinum needed for his capers (either by stealing them, or actually buying them). Add her being Dangerously Genre Savvy to the list, and the reason why she isn't the Big Bad instead comes down to pure lack of motivation.
    • It should also be mentioned that the one time she did a caper on her own, during A Sitch in Time, she actually took over the world. But even then, she had to be talked into it by her future self.
    • Rufus serves as this for Ron; on missions he tends to be more resourceful than Ron. Wade also qualifies; there are a few times where even Kim would be lost without him.
  • Ms. Sara Bellum, assistant to the Mayor of Townsville, from Powerpuff Girls.
  • Similarly, Deputy Mayor Calico "Callie" Briggs from Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron, who assists the lazy Mayor Manx.
  • Gromit from Wallace and Gromit.
  • Peter Puppy from the Earthworm Jim cartoon was like this at times. In fact, because of this one episode featured a council of superheros that ordered Jim to hand over his super suit to Peter, who at the end gave it back.
  • Charles Foster Ofdensen in Metalocalypse. Clever, take-charge, and literally DEADLY CFO, manager, and laywer who has more brainpower in one pinky than his metalhead employers have between them.
    • Proven after he died, when their wild, compulsive spending sprees and horrible business practices pretty much drive them to bankruptcy.
  • Princess Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Fire Lord Ozai does have the edge in personal power, but young Azula already outstrips him in cunning, to the point where if she wanted him out of the way as opposed to proud of her, the only question would be who to frame.
    • The answer is obviously Zuko. The real question is why hasn't she done that already?
    • And the answer to that is that for all her cunning, Azula is at heart an emotionally unstable wreck who needs Daddy's approval - when she loses it (or thinks she does), things turn nasty for her real quick...
    • Also, Ty Lee for Azula. Ty Lee has the highest KO count in the series, because her fighting style is largely nonlethal and her victims recover pretty quickly. The other two-thirds of the Quirky Miniboss Squad, Azula and Mai, can't take anyone out without burning/electrocuting/stabbing them, which they really can't show on what is nominally a kids' show.
    • Iroh serves as this for Zuko in season one. He's arguably one of the most formidable characters in the series but is content to sip tea and give Zuko advice.
  • Harley Quinn, the Joker's sidekick, is usually able to pull off more competent comedy-themed crimes without him - and once beat Batman so bad the only way Batman could escape was getting her to invite the Joker over, knowing that the Joker's ego wouldn't let anyone else kill him.
  • Arthur of The Tick (animation) is many times more intelligent than his partner, The Tick, but he's got nowhere near the combat prowess (or Nigh Invulnerability) of him, so he's content to play second fiddle to the big blue superhero as it allows him to help people superhero-style while avoiding the punishment.
  • Baba Looey to Quick Draw McGraw I teenk. Pointed out by a third party (possibly a criminal they had just busted?) at least once.
  • Mr. Big's secretary/assistant/minion, from Word Girl. She wanders into Beleaguered Assistant territory, though, often asking for raises.
  • Strummer the flea from Scruff.
  • Slinkman of Camp Lazlo is this to Scoutmaster Lumpus. When Lumpus isn't being a mad dictator, he's laying in a lawn chair making Slinkman do all the work. As Lumpus deteriorated, Slinkman gained more control over camp. Slinkman secretly dreams of being scoutmaster, but by the time the show ends, he pretty much is already.
  • Owen Burnett alias Puck from Gargoyles shows how dangerous one of these is when paired with a boss who's already a Magnificent Bastard in his own right (enough of one to get a couple of tropes named for him!). It's not that Owen is the smarter of the two, but that they're smart in different ways- Xanatos is a truly brilliant schemer, but it's Owen's cool efficiency and eye for details that make sure all the bases are covered, while occasionally acting as Xanatos's conscience. Both parties have genuine liking and respect for each other, and it's heavily implied that neither would be quite sure what they'd do without the other.
    • For the record, in "The Gathering: Part II", Puck mentions that he offered Xanatos the choice between a lifetime of loyal service form Owen or granting one no-fingers-crossed wish. Xanatos is smart enough to know which the better choice.
      • And Puck respects him for that. Though one wonders if Xanatos decided to be cute about it and wish for Owen as his permanent sidekick.
    • And of course Preston Vogel is exactly the same way for Fox' father - without the aid of also being a magical being.
  • Dukey from Johnny Test.
  • While he's supposedly more of a partner instead of a sidekick, Phineas and Ferb's Ferb fits this trope pretty well. Phineas is the idea guy and the spokesman of the two, but Ferb tends to have more mechanical expertise. He does most of the work building all their crazy contraptions and does all the menial jobs. He doesn't seem to mind, though.
    • Even more so in the episode where he's helping his crush Vanessa Doofenshmirtz get a component for her supervillain father. She shows herself to be somewhat resourceful and very agile, but Ferb shows that his capability dwarfs that of everyone except Perry.
    • Also Isabella, who's a hybrid of The Chick and The Smart Guy. Shows strongest if he's in danger.
    • Speaking of, Agent P. Major Monogram and Carl tend to spend much of their screentime goofing off and generally just being Those Two Guys, leaving Perry to stop Doofenshmirtz's plans with pretty much no help. Half the time, they don't even give him the slightest bit of information to go on, simply telling him to "Go find Doofenshmirtz and stop him"; this tendency is lampshaded when Perry has to work with a (human) British spy.

Agent Double 0-0: What, that's it? No files, no location, no contact; what kind of a mission is this?
Major Monogram: It was enough for the mammal.

  • Ray the Firefly in The Princess and the Frog, who keeps the show going until his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • GIR from Invader Zim is far more competent than Zim himself... but only in duty mode. Which only lasts a few seconds.
    • An example of how much more competent GIR is, is when Zim decides to lock GIR in duty mode. GIR captures humans, absorbs huge amounts of knowledge, and determines Zim to be the reason that they haven't taken over the planet yet.
    • And according to the unused scripts, had the show continued, Skoodge would have become this as well.
  • Haroud serves this function (and combines it with Deadpan Snarker as usual) for Abys-Mal in Aladdin: the Series.
    • A classic example of this is Abys-Mal explaining (for exposition) his plan to attack the heroes. Haroud politely replies "I know what the plan is, master. Why are you telling me this?"
  • It may be the case in the space-themed episode "Space Madness" of The Ren and Stimpy Show, where the titular duo's space counterparts, Commander Hoek and Cadet Stimpy, are sent to a mission that is roughly said to take around 36 years. They are exposed to the effects of the space madness, but Ren is the only one to succumb to them, while Stimpy does his job as The Caretaker for him in an unusually competent manner (in most of the episodes Stimpy's actions are well-intetioned yet careless). However, Stimpy might have been immune to the effects of the space madness due to being too stupid for them to have any effect on him, while Ren is mentally unstable by nature.
  • Boo Boo exhibited this in the Yogi Bear cartoons, often knowing when to stay out of a situation, and warning Yogi, "Mr. Ranger isn't gonna like this."
  • Spike is this for Twilight Sparkle in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. While Twilight herself is generally pretty damn competant the number of skills Spike possesses is simply staggering and there are a few episodes where Twilight would have been completely screwed without him.
  • Generally speaking, the cartoons of the late 70's and early 80's each seemed to have their protagonists be best friends with an irritatingly cute Fairy Companion who could pretty much do anything the plot required. The most bizarre/notorious example would be Rubik the Amazing Cube, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: the adventures of some kids and their magical talking, er, Rubik's Cube. Yes, as in the little cube-shaped puzzle where you match all the colors on each side. Really.
    • The only reason Rubik was a sidekick at all is that he could only walk/talk/save the day after he had been "solved", and the young boy he hung around with had the amazing ability to solve him quickly. So every episode Rubik had to be dropped or something, which was apparently enough to mix him up so that he couldn't fix everything in the first two minutes.
  • Genie in Aladdin.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy well...
  • There are two ways Hong Kong Phooey defeats a villain. Either by luck (when he's alone), or by his cat sidekick, who usually takes advantage of the villain being distracted by the hero screwing up.
  • Shazzan was a Benevolent Genie, at least toward Chuck and Nancy. He was only a Literal Genie if a Villains got control of him.
  • Mighty Max has Norman, but the trope is justified in that his job is to be Max's bodyguard until he can fend for himself.
  • Parodied on The Simpsons when Homer is promoted and given a secretary named Karl, who is totally devoted to his wellbeing and incredibly competent, resolving every problem in Homer's professional and personal life without so much as being asked. Everything is perfect until Karl is forced to quit to save Homer's job. Without Karl, Homer is quickly demoted back to his old position.
    • Not quite - thanks to Karl's earlier inspiration, Homer does brilliantly even without him, but because he's bald again no one takes him seriously.
  • The Cartoon Network series Robotboy revolves around Tommy, a short wimp with a giant head, who has been given the good Professor Mushimo's titular robot, whom the evil Dr. Kamikaze is determined to steal and use for evilness... Nessness. Tommy's task is to help Robot Boy become a real boy, while in the process Robot Boy continually saves Tommy and his friends from certain doom by means of unorthodox evil plan.
    • Since the show is named after Robotboy, Tommy is probably meant to be Robotboy's sidekick, not vice versa.
  • This is where we mention Glomer in It's Punky Brewster. Often cited as even more annoyingly ex Machina-y than most of these.
  • Surprisngly, this is what Ron Stoppable becomes in the Grand Finale of Kim Possible. Though he might've been promoted to partner for his heroics. Team Pet Rufus can be this to Ron, sometimes appearing to be smarter than his owner and much more mechanically adept.
  • In Hanna-Barbera's The Godzilla Power Hour, poor Godzooky gets a lot of grief from fans because he's cute and much tinier than Godzilla. But taken objectively, Zooky is still a twelve-foot tall flying monster who dwarfs the human castmembers, and can handily intimidate humans who aren't expecting him. Apart from being a standard cute cartoon sidekick, he's also there so that even the human-scale filler scenes all Dai Kaiju stories have can still have a cool big monster in them.
  • Cornfed on Duckman alternates between this and mere Hypercompetent Sidekick, depending on the needs of the plot.
    • However, in the Adventure Game based on the series, Cornfed decides that this time Duckman has to stop relying on him and save the day himself. Because of this he mainly just gives advice on how to progress.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A frequent occurrence in Prussia/the German Empire from 1814-1918. Field commands were traditionally given to high-ranking nobles, who were raised for the task but nevertheless had varying levels of competence. After Prussia's crushing defeat to Napoleon at the Battle of Jena (1806), Gerhard von Scharnhorst was put in charge of reforming the Prussian military, and came up with the idea of retaining the contemporary social structure, while cleverly undermining it by forcing the Field Marshals to co-operate with their Chiefs of Staff, who were appointed on Scharnhorst's advice. The most notable example of this was Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, who became a national hero and public icon during World War I, even though most of his decisions were made by the obscure no-name Erich Ludendorff.
  • This happened a lot during the later parts of the Roman Empire, especially in the 5th Century West, where ineffectual emperors were backed by military strongmen. Not all of them were constructive, but a few of them pretty much kept the West from falling apart immediately, most notably Aetius and Stilicho. Their deaths didn't bode well for Rome. Even the East had this. Belisarius was the famed general of Justinian and a fantastic commander.
  • Claudius was this to Caligula. At least for the first six months, when Caligula was sane. The jury's still out on after that; but it was only by accident that Claudius became emperor at all.
  • Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was this for Octavian, later Emperor Augustus. While Octavian was a highly competent administrator, he needed someone who could match wits with Mark Antony on the battlefield and come out on top. That was Agrippa. He managed to absolutely crush not only the remnants of the conservative resistance to the Second Triumvirate, but also obliterate Antony's forces both at sea and on land. It is widely accepted that Octavian may never have become emperor if he did not have Agrippa handling the military side of things.
  • In a rather vile example of this; Heinrich Himmler, the man who supposedly carried out the Holocaust, had Reinhard Heydrich who carried out and created many of the ideas of the Holocaust. He was so vicious, it is said some of the Nazi officials who were his subordinates were more afraid of him than Hitler. This makes sense, as he created the concentration camps and the rest of the Final Solution.
  • Vice President Walter Mondale was this to Jimmy Carter, serving as Carter's troubleshooter (particularly in foreign affairs).[2] Richard Nixon filled the same role for Eisenhower. Prior to Mondale and Nixon the vice-presidency was little more than a ceremonial posting, and usually a dead end for a political career. Your Mileage May Vary as to how effective either was in the job.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney was widely lampooned as The Man Behind the Man to President George W. Bush and is thought to have been the architect of a lot of his foreign policy.
  1. played, incidentally, by Tony Robinson in another Bumbling Sidekick role
  2. Mondale's foreign affairs experience later earned him an appointment as ambassador to Japan under the Clinton administration.