Monday, July 30, 2007

Unstructured Archetypes: The Sidekick

He is Tonto. He is Robin. He is Morningglum. He is Samwise Gamgee.

He can be a woman, but only if the Hero is a woman. Heroes don’t have co-ed sidekicks.

He is either younger than the Hero or of a lower social caste (or sometimes both). The sidekick can not be the Hero’s social better.

The Sidekick loves the Hero. That love is never sexual, but it often has a sexual intensity. The Sidekick, never the less, is not gay. His relationship with the Hero is always chaste.

If the Hero ever did want to have sex with the Sidekick, he probably would say yes but, since the Hero won’t, the point is moot.

Sidekicks can have girlfriends (and usually will) and even wives, but they can not have a One True Love. Their primary love will always be the Hero.

A Sidekick can be heroic. A Sidekick can even Save the Day. The Sidekick, however, will never Complete the Quest, Defeat the Villain, or Get the Girl. Those accomplishments are reserved to the Hero.

The Sidekick’s main responsibility is to Take the Bullet. Once the sidekick has done this, the Hero will proceed to avenge him.

The Hero is the Mentor of the Sidekick. The Hero can teach the Sidekick but never the other way around.

A Sidekick can eventually grow up and go out into the world to have his own adventures, but he will always be in the shadow of the True Hero.

The Sidekick can betray the Hero through his own weakness. If he does, he will regret it and will have to redeem himself to the Hero.

The Sidekick wants to be a Hero but he is not jealous of the Hero. At most, he wishes that he could live up to the Hero’s example.

The Sidekick can provide Comic Relief. Although the Hero can be embarrassed (often by the Sidekick), the Hero will never be mistaken for a clown. This is not true of the Sidekick.

The Sidekick will try to comfort the Hero in times of distress but he can never be the one to resolve the Hero’s anguish.

The Sidekick would avenge the Hero if he could, but he never will be required to. At most he’ll be under the mistaken belief that the Hero needs to be avenged. In the end, though, the Hero must provide his own vengeance.

The Sidekick may carry the Hero if the Hero is wounded, but never all the way.

The Sidekick usually believes in God, but won't say anything unless the Hero asks him. The bulk of his worship is reserved for the Hero.


magidin said...

Is Sam Gangee meant to be Sam Gamgee, Frodo's gardner? (-:

Andrew Lias said...

Actually, he's supposed to be Samuel Ghandi, the Pacifistic Hobbit who believes that Sauron can be defeated by hunger strikes and civil disobedience.

Tolkien replaced him with Gamgee after focus groups disapproved.

Arturo said...

Oh, okay then.

Is "The Henchman" going to show up somewhere in this series? It's been interesting so far....

Arturo said...

Another question: where would you place Alfred from the Batman mythos? I guess we're in "The Mentor", there, now that I think about it...

kspml said...

There is one co-ed sidekick I can think about. Chloe is Clark Kent's sidekick in the TV show Smallville (which was great until this last season, and then it sucked when they tried to get political).

These are entertaining. :-)

Andrew Lias said...

I'm glad you guys are enjoying this series, I've been having a lot of fun writing them.

I would tend to agree that Alfred is closer to being an example of a Mentor than a Sidekick.

I am going to cover the Henchman, but under a different name.

I wasn't familiar with Chloe; however, I would consider that a case of subverting the archetype, which has become rather popular since the literary counter-revolutions of the 60s.

I also think that the best way to see an archetype is as a kind of Ideal. Very few characters hew perfectly to their nearest archetype. Instead, archetypes are like attractors around which clusters of characters orbit (and those orbits can be complex things, indeed).

ron smith said...

Don't forget Dr. Watson!

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