The word sidekick connotes unequal power relations: sidekicks are a hero’s support staff, his or her assistants. A closer analysis of the Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings narratives reveals that sidekicks are integral to the success of the hero’s mission. Sidekicks aren’t just helpers, but heroes themselves.
The consubstantiality of hero and sidekick(s) is predicated on the love they share. The ability to give and receive love infuses the team with hope and strength—because they have something to both live and fight for.
In this clip from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, we see a vivid battle between humble love and angry hubris, between light and dark. Voldemort takes over Harry’s body, reviving memories of fear, danger, and loss in the orphaned wizard’s mind. Harry writhes on the floor like a serpent, seemingly consubstantial with his archenemy, as Voldemort taunts him for being “so weak, so vulnerable.”
Vulnerability transforms from weakness to strength as Harry’s friends enter the scene. Visible wounds on their faces symbolize the sacrifices they have recently made for the love of their friend and the world they share. Although loving others may make him vulnerable to loss, Harry draws strength from that vulnerability, casting out the Dark Lord using memories of love and laughter shared with friends.
Return of the Jedi showcases a similar exchange about strength and vulnerability when Luke Skywalker warns the Emperor, “Your overconfidence is your weakness,” and the Emperor replies simply, “Your faith in your friends is yours.” The conclusion of the original Star Wars trilogy reinforces the idea that love, mercy, and humility are indeed stronger than the anger, fear, and aggression that drive the dark side.
Throughout these examples, we see that sidekicks play an integral role in the fight against evil. Love, our heroes’ most potent weapon, is forged by their relationships: the heroes’ loving sacrifices for their friends and often grudging acceptance of their friends’ sacrifices for them. This shared love helps us understand Samwise Gamgee’s universal reminder in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers film: “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”