Reckless Sidekick

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"He's overeager. He's impulsive. I can't trust him not to get hurt."
Bruce Wayne on Dick Grayson, Batman and Robin

The Hero / Sidekick dynamic is a very interesting one, with a lot of parallels between that of the hero and The Lancer. Usually, the Hero is older and calmer, while also being a stronger and better combatant than their Hot-Blooded young charge. For these or other reasons, the hero will instruct the sidekick to hang back and observe events, or leave a particularly dangerous fight to him alone.

They never do.

The Reckless Sidekick will run in headlong regardless of the danger and get held hostage or otherwise get himself into serious trouble, forcing the hero to choose whether to stop the bad guys or risk rescuing the sidekick. Even if the sidekick manages to mop the floor with the Mooks, the hero will gruffly explain he wanted to wait to discover who their buyer/supplier was, and now they'll never find out. On the positive side, if they trail an overly self-reliant or self-sacrificing hero they may well rescue them when they're caught or in danger (though he might not be very grateful). Some shows like to mess with viewers by having them get captured even if they stay put—sometimes you just can't win.

Expect the hero to be justifiably infuriated by this behaviour. The reasons run the gamut of insubordination, recklessly endangering himself and others, and just plain stupidity. The sidekick will counter that they aren't a kid (well, a helpless one anyway) and can handle it, or that the hero is overcautious and always has to do things "his way". Expect the sidekick (and hero) to learn An Aesop about how trusting others doesn't just mean blind obedience, but also giving them responsibility and listening to them.

The Reckless Sidekick runs the risk of becoming The Scrappy if his sole contribution to the action is acting stupid and getting himself captured all the time and never learns from his mistakes.

Compare Going for the Big Scoop. Related to Kid Appeal Character, Damsel Scrappy and Leeroy Jenkins.

Examples of Reckless Sidekick include:

Anime & Manga

Comic Books

  • This was part of the reason a part of the Batman fandom wanted Jason Todd, the second Robin, dead as a doornail. The guy would just jump in at the most inopportune times and mess up Batman's plans, and then he'd whine to Batman that he was being soft. Though the degree to which he showed this trope swung wildly over the course of his career as Robin, depending on the title he was appearing in, and also on how far into the run you look- he got a lot worse at this as time went on in a lot of people's eyes.
  • The new Robin, Damian Wayne, is also like this. Being the son of Bruce Wayne and the grandson of Ra's Al Ghul, and being brought up by the League of Assassins, he has a little bit of a superiority complex. It's pretty obvious the character arc they have in mind for Damian as he grows up.
    • Break the Haughty arcs have indeed made him more likeable to a good postion of the fans.
  • The appropriately named "Scrappy Lad" from Ink Pen.
  • Intentionally inverted in A Lonely Place of Dying, where Batman, who has sworn to no longer take in a sidekick after the death of Jason Todd, has started becoming brash and impulsive without "someone to look after." Standing right outside a building he is about to investigate, Nightwing, the original Robin now all grown up, shows up to assist him. When Nightwing asks for a plan, Batman shrugs him off and jumps right into the building, walking right into a trap.
  • Rocket from Icon, whose tendency to rush into situations and shake things up went hand-in-hand with a tendency to save the day. Unlike other examples, she was shown as justified most of the time.

Rocket: This isn't a "sit tight and hope things come out right" situation this is a "do anything and hope it's not wrong" situation!



  • "Incrediboy" in The Incredibles. Leading to Hero Harasses Helper, leading to Motive Decay... leading to Big Bad.
  • Both versions were lampshaded in Last Action Hero. Jack: "You ever see those movies where the hero tells his sidekick to stay in the car and he disobeys and gets killed?" Danny: "Good point. <...> Wait, what if staying in the car is what gets me killed?"
  • Theres a bit of this in Star Wars: Episode II. Anakin acts as Obi-Wan's sidekick, and when they face off against Darth Tyrannus Obi-Wan tells Anakin to stand back and to take him together. Of course, Anakin flips his shit, charges forward and gets tossed aside, leaving Obi-Wan to fight alone and ultimately lose. In the next movie during the rematch they do take him together, however.
  • Dick Grayson acted very much like a Reckless Sidekick in Batman and Robin. The first major action sequence was a classic example of such, as Dick's insistence in going after Mr. Freeze led to him getting frozen and Batman having to choose between going after Freeze or thawing Robin. Dick receives a hell of an ass-chewing from Bruce afterward, and the conflict between the two continues for the good part of the movie.

Live Action TV

  • Chuck from Chuck as he's not a real spy, while the other two are trained spys.
    • Not usually particularly reckless though, and he generally tries to run away from danger unless it threatens someone he cares about.
  • Wendy Watson, sidekick Middleman-In-Training in The Middleman starts out with serious concerns about becoming Robin, the Boy Hostage. Early in the series, she does end up as the hostage of a gun-totting psychologist alien-hunter and a gorilla army wielding government scientist, but she ends up saving The Middleman from a troop of evil Mexican wrestlers (before her training with Sensi Ping) and a melt ray soon enough to at least avoid the trope's more negative connotations.
  • Gabrielle of Xena: Warrior Princess, especially in the earlier seasons of epitomized this trope.
  • The companions in Doctor Who are often like this. In one spin-off novel the Tenth Doctor speculates that he has a sign on his head saying "Ignore this man and any sensible thing he tells you".
    • Canonically, the Eleventh Doctor asked "Do I just have a face that nobody listens to?" in The Eleventh Hour" when new Companion Amy Pond walked into a room that Eleven knew was dangerous and warned her away from.

Ninth Doctor: (to a stray cat after Rose wanders off) One day, just one day, maybe, I'm going to meet somebody who gets the whole "don't wander off" thing.



Video Games

  • Freedom Force devotes a couple missions to one of these. A fanboy of the game's Captain America (comics) Expy, he gets shot instead of him by a machinegun-toting baddie and is saved only by an emergency blood transfusion from his hero. The transfusion gives him superpowers of his own, so he goes off on his own to find the villains' hideout (against orders to remain in safety and recover), and nearly gets himself killed again before he gets saved by another hero.



I will not make the sidekick wait somewhere while I go on ahead. He'll only get into worse trouble than he otherwise would.


If the hero tells me to stay put while he goes on ahead, I will do so instead of sneaking around and getting captured.


Web Comics

  • Gordito in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja tends to act this way, though he also shows signs of being very thoughtful and clever. For example, after catching "Plumber" Victor trying to install cameras in the Doctor's office, he sets off on trying to get rid of him... By hiring another plumber and firing Victor.
  • The Non Adventures of Wonderella: Wonderita tends to get like this, simply because she's The Ditz and doesn't necessarily realize she's in a dangerous situation.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Godzooky in The Godzilla Power Hour had the habit of flying around Godzilla's head and trying to fight the evil Monster of the Week WHILE Godzilla himself was trying to stop said evil monster.
  • Jade in Jackie Chan Adventures. While she does prove invaluable, her insistence on ignoring any order of Jackie's, no matter how sensible and life extending, makes her an avid Idiot Ball juggler.
    • Lampshaded by Uncle.

Uncle: [after Jackie tells Jade to do nothing] Jade never "does nothing".
Jackie: I know, but I feel like I have to say that.