Every television star has that one best friend, accomplice or sidekick. Some stand out and are more memorable than others. Whether real-life or animated, from a comedy or drama, a good television sidekick has the ability to make a show better.
Here's our ranking of the top 25 memorable all-time TV sidekicks.
Gadget's niece, Penny (voiced by Mona Marshall/Cree Summer) is the true brains behind the operation when it comes to the Inspector solving capers. With her book that's really a computer and high-tech watch, Penny was actually before her time using technology to take down the bad guys. In the original series from 1983, we never actually meet Penny's parents. In the 2015 reboot, Penny (Tara Strong) has her computer and watch upgraded to an holographic tablet.
Don't get us wrong, Shawn (Rider Strong) is a good friend to Cory Matthews, but he also has a lot of issues. In the show's early seasons, Shawn is bitter and harbors a me-against-the-world attitude, likely because he has all sorts of family trouble and often acts out or gets in trouble due to his lack of familial guidance. He does mature during the show's run and actually grows likable.
Kimmy (Andrea Barber) is the perfect complement to the goodie-good D.J. Tanner. She's not very bright, comes from a home that doesn't seem to want her there and is quite funny when annoying the adults in the Tanner household. However, it's obvious that neither Kimmy nor the Tanners can live without the other. She's the perfect person to shake up the straight-laced Tanner home, a place where she feels most comfortable. Her work on Fuller House
Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) is about equal parts best friend and true sidekick to SpongeBob. He's not the smartest starfish in the sea, but he could be the funniest. Patrick certainly tends to get SpongeBob into trouble with some of his antics but is good at heart and provides plenty of comic relief when it comes down to it. Unfortunately, he has trouble keeping a job.
Kind of like a fictional Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson, Hank (Jeffrey Tambor) is Larry's sidekick but often feels resentment — in a comedic way — to his star buddy. Hank finds himself in plenty of predicaments, either to please Larry or because his pal just doesn't want to do it himself, usually ending in some embarrassing moments for Hank, who is also known for giving poor advice.
Doogie's best friend since they were small children, Vinnie (Max Casella) is like a cartoonish sidekick. He's far from the genius Doogie is, prefers to enter the Howser house through a window rather than a door and speaks with a heavy Brooklyn accent though he's apparently lived in Southern California most, if not all, of his life. Vinnie, though loyal and puts up with Doogie's bouts with pretentiousness, is there for comedy purposes. But he is more annoying than anything else.
Earl's younger brother, Randy (Ethan Suplee), once enjoyed a life of crime, like his older sibling. However, viewers really only know him as this everyday simpleton, who might not be all there but is devoted to helping his brother turn his life around. Randy is also quite fond of housekeeper Catalina and takes issues with such pets as birds and cats.
There is a maturation process of Willow (Alyson Hannigan) from that nerdy, introverted girl to a powerful, and at times butt-kicking, witch (or Wiccan, if preferred). Buffy owes quite a bit to her good friend, even her life, during the course of the series. The always reliable Willow is also one of the more revered supernatural characters in television history, particularly for her lesbian story arc.
Man's best friend, Brian (Seth MacFarlane) the dog is probably more of a man than his master Peter Griffin. Then again, that's why he's one of the best characters within the "Family Guy" universe. Though Brian often feels he's too intelligent and good for the Grffins, he's loyal to the dysfunctional gang, especially Peter and baby Stewie. Of all the professions Brian has taken a crack at, his time as a successful adult film director seems like his true calling.
Portrayed by the late Valerie Harper, Rhoda was so well-received by fans that she earned her own sitcom. Though Rhoda seems best in a supporting role, being there for Mary with a supportive talk, wisecrack or sarcastic comment. Known for her Bohemian-like fashion sense, Rhoda also knows how to light up our world with her quick wit, self-deprecating humor and outgoing personality.
Played by the legendary Bruce Lee, Kato is as valuable as they come when talking sidekicks or associates. Not only does Kato drive Britt (aka "The Green Hornet") around in the "Black Beauty," but he also gets him out of a number of jams thanks mostly to his martial arts skills and cunning mind that actually make him more of a hero than this 1960s show's star.
There might not be a more trustworthy sidekick than the loyal, though somewhat emotionally conflicted, Gabrielle (Renee O'Connor). It's quite impressive how much Gabrielle grows and matures, not only as a warrior but also as a person during this popular show's lengthy run. Plus, not many can work a staff as good as Gabrielle, who gave fans plenty to read deeper into regarding her relationship with Xena.
Tim Taylor's best friend in real life, and TV co-host and sidekick on "Tool Time," Al (Richard Karn) doesn't come off as cool as Tim thinks of himself to be. However, between the two, Al actually has more common sense. And it's probably safe to say that Al is also a better handyman than his buddy. Plus, nobody on sitcom television during the 1990s could rock a flannel shirt better than Al.
Poor Ethel (Vivian Vance). Even though she knows better, she usually gets sucked into helping best friend Lucy with some crazy scheme or caper that's bound to go wrong — or at the least, be a cause for comedic embarrassment. However, Ethel remains devotedly loyal to Lucy, and the relationship is rather heartfelt. They might be the best comedic best-friend duo in TV history.
There's probably not a more devoted sidekick/assistant/obsessor than Gary (Tony Hale). Selina Meyer's aide is always ready with hand sanitizer, lipstick or pills, and will do anything, and we mean anything, for his beloved master. As we find out at the series' end, he's even willing to take the fall, albeit unbeknownst to himself, for his boss' unethical and illegal behavior.
Fans of this popular Don Adams vehicle know that Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) is not just beautiful. She's also highly intelligent, devilishly cunning and probably a better agent than Maxwell Smart. We never learned her real name in the series, but that's OK. It just adds to the mystique and fun of the character.
Fred's best friend is kind of a tame, less agitated version of the main character. Barney (Mel Blanc; Daws Butler) is generally a happy-go-lucky guy but does not mind mixing it up verbally with Fred, especially when Flintstone flies a little too far off the handle. He likes bowling and has quite the powerful, young son in Bamm-Bamm.
Is there a more beloved, yet incompetent, police officer in all of TV than Barney Fife? It's a good thing there isn't much crime in Mayberry, or else Andy would really have his hands full with Barney. Sure, Barney means well, but his job as deputy is not nearly as important as he thinks, and he can be quite high-strung. Maybe that's why his gun is rarely loaded.
As trusty, and good in a pinch, as they come. That's Robin (Burt Ward), the epitome of a quality sidekick. His alter ego, Dıck Grayson, is totally enamored with Batman's Bruce Wayne when the pair is not donning those tight, crime-fighting outfits. Of course, Robin is probably best known for his traditional exclamations such "holy interplanetary yardstick," "holy ravioli" or "holy hole in a doughnut."
Kind of like Ethel is to Lucy, Norton is more mild-mannered and slightly more intelligent than his best bud, Ralph Kramden. Even though he knows better, Ed, played by the legendary Art Carney, often is an unwilling accomplice to Ralph's hair-brained schemes. However, Norton is not afraid to trade barbs or throw a little shade Ralph's way, which only gets his pal's blood boiling a little higher.
Mr. Burns' right-hand man, Smithers (Harry Shearer) is uncomfortably loyal, devoted and obedient to his boss. During the series run, we learn, as thought for many years, that Smithers is a homosexual and in love with the codgity Burns. The relationship between the two is obviously strange but consistently provides some of the funniest moments in the show's history.
Captain James T. Kirk's second-in-command and best friend, Spock (Leonard Nimoy), is one of the most recognizable and adored TV characters of all time. Half-human, half-Vulcan, in a lot of ways Spock can probably run the Enterprise better than Kirk. Spock is known for using logic to work through many predicaments. He has a remarkably scientific mind and an underrated wit.
One man can't run a respectable and profitable meth business alone. Walter White has his man in partner, and friend, Jesse. One of Walt's former students, Jesse continues to learn from his old chemistry teacher while also teaching his older friend a thing or two. They are kind of like an updated, modern-day, criminal version of the Odd Couple — who make more money.
Anybody who has worked in an office probably knows someone in the mold of Dwight (Rainn Wilson), though maybe not as blatantly, made-for-TV-over-the-top. He's a total brown-nose, who thinks he is better than all at his job, when in reality he's borderline incompetent. Dwight, a better farmer than office worker, is a narc and will pretty much do or take anything Michael Scott throws his way.
It's not easy being friends with George Costanza (Jason Alexander), aka this "short, stocky, slow-witted bald man," as pal Elaine Benes once described him. From the schemes gone wrong (the marble rye), his crazy family holidays (Festivus) and sleeping with a member of his office's cleaning crew and his secretary, George is really not in touch with reality. Now best buddy Jerry Seinfeld is no angel, but his impulsiveness and misguidance don't compare to those of George.
Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.