I have always had a thing for sidekicks. Everything from Lethal Weapon’s combo to Batman and Robin from my childhood. There is something about the dichotomy of a duo relationship that I enjoy. Unfortunately, it isn’t something writers always do well. We’ve seen duos fall short in books and film, leaving the reader or viewer disappointed. What makes a duo work?

Who’s the leader: While both characters can be strong, one must be the leader. Sometimes, this presents problems as he is usually the more intense of the two, more bound by rules, and irritating to his partner. However, as the writer it provides you chances to expound on what conflict this competition might cause.

Balancing Strengths: The characters should have different strengths. One character’s strength will offset his partner’s weakness, etc. This allows them to balance each other out in the trials you throw their way. It also provides for a funny partner to lighten a serious one, a quiet character contrasted by one who talks all the time. Opposites attract because the differences are where conflict and opportunity meet. Use it to your advantage.

One goal: Despite their differences, large and small, the two should share a common goal. If they are cops, it is to protect the people by catching bad guys. If they are doctors, it is to save lives, etc. Whatever they may have going on that pulls them apart, this goal should keep them anchored.

Successful film examples for me: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Doc and Marty, Thelma and Louise, and my favorite, Murtaugh and Riggs of Lethal Weapon fame.

What are your favorite sidekicks from literature, TV, or film?


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