#Movies & TV
TV Sidekicks that Steal the Show
by Allie Firestone
I’ll be the first to admit—TV sidekicks out-nerd (Chloe, the power behind Jack Bauer), out-funny (Cosmo Kramer), and just plain out-do (hello, Dwight Schrute) most predictable main characters. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I hate them, but there’s no doubt—I can’t forget ’em. True, they may be mere tagalongs to the Jerry Seinfelds, Michael Scotts, and Peter Griffins of the TV world, but these show-stealing sidekicks have kept me tuning in…again, and again, and again (yes, I watch way too much TV).
George Costanza on Seinfeld
I love complicated characters, but that’s just not George. Between slipping drugs to his boss and pretending to be handicapped, George taught me that being shallow, cheap, neurotic, and dishonest is actually, well, quite funny. No such life lessons from Jerry.
Quotable George: “I’m much more comfortable criticizing people behind their backs.”
Dwight Schrute on The Office
As assistant (to the) regional manager, Michael’s wannabe second-in-command has brought us beat farms, bears, and Battlestar Galactica knowledge. Oh, and let’s not forget Schrute Bucks. He’s the only character from the show that I throw into conversations on a regular basis and put on my facebook page.
Quotable Dwight: “In the wild, there is no health care. In the wild, health care is ‘Ow, I hurt my leg. I can’t run. A lion eats me. I’m dead.’ Well, I’m not dead. I’m the lion. You’re dead.”
Susie Greene on Curb Your Enthusiasm
Would we ever have come to lovingly identify Larry as a Four-Eyed blankity-blank without the eloquent Suzie? She manages to make everyone else on HBO sound G-rated while simultaneously wearing hot pink, gaudy rhinestones, and lime-green velour … often, all in the same outfit.
Quotable Susie: “Okay Larry you don’t want the tour? Get the [blank] out of my house.”
Brian on Family Guy
My favorite dog with a drinking problem. Peter’s best friend and Stewie’s perpetual babysitter. Without him, Peter and Lois would likely be childless, homeless, divorced, and maybe even dead.
Quotable Brian: “I’m the dog. I’m well-read and have a diverse stock portfolio. But I’m not above eating grass clippings and regurgitating them on the rug.”
Chloe on 24
While Jack Bauer is out fighting terrorists, detonating bombs, and generally saving the world, Chloe is behind the computer giving Jack step-by-step directions on how to do it. Tech-smart and easy on the eyes? This girl’s skills are way more exciting than the main character (sorry, Jack).
Quotable Chloe: “Okay, when the alert level goes down and the terrorists have been caught, we can have some chamomile tea and I’ll tell you all my secrets.”
Ned Flanders on the Simpsons
An odd appetite for church-going, family time, and the word okilly-dokilly doesn’t usually make for an exciting sidekick, but good old Flanders brings his own brand of funny—in his own overly cheerful, left-handed way. Honestly, he’s slightly annoying, but the “hey neighbors” and merry lawn mowing really adds that je ne sais quoi to the show.
Quotable Flanders: “I’ve done everything the Bible says—even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!”
Kramer on Seinfeld
The entrances, the exits, the “bro,” illegal cable TV, and Kramerica Industries—Kramer added a whole lot to the ambience of Jerry’s living room. Well, technically, he took a whole lot out of the apartment, but you get the idea. Kramer set a whole new standard for TV entrances and exits.
Quotable Kramer: “Stick a fork in me, Jerry. I’m done!”
Just Jack! … and Karen on Will & Grace
Honey, I wanted to touch my stomach to Jack’s and Karen’s so many times, I thought maybe this should have been called the Jack & Karen show.
Quotable J&K: “Oh Karen, you just can’t devastate me and kick me out. I’m not your lover.”
Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy
The perfect partner in crime, she was always more than willing to go along with Lucy’s oddball plans, while giving her just the encouragement she needed to really make a fool out of herself. And she had some of the best one-liners in show history, if you ask me.
Quotable Ethel: “Oh, Lucy, I know you’re not going to move, but if you ever do move, don’t move.”
Screech on Saved by the Bell
When it comes to Screech, it’s a thin line between love and hate. Okay, it’s not, really—he’s pretty easy to dislike. The most token of all token dorky sidekicks, I’m not sure whether Screech is memorable because he filled that token loser role so well or because he was so darn annoying. But does anyone feel that strongly about Zach?
Quotable Screech: “Third place, wow! I once finished fifth in an Alf look-a-like contest.”
Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier
The Jung to Frasier’s Freud, Niles managed to out-Frasier Frasier most of the time. He was snobbier (cooking his own French cuisine) and believed himself to be the more serious psychiatrist. Oh, and let’s not forget his “usual” drink order: a latte with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Quotable Niles: “Frasier, I have made a fist and I’m thinking of using it.”
Andy Richter on Conan O’Brien
Even though Andy left the show almost eight years ago, Conan still hasn’t found a replacement for perhaps the only sidekick in talk show history who became at least as popular as the actual host. No small feat when that host is Conan.
Quotable Andy: “If somebody’s looking at pictures of naked people, and you go, ‘Oh I don’t want to see that,’ you’re lying. Cause naked people are always interesting. Always.”
Turtle on Entourage
Vince’s life: money, sex, and fame. Turtle’s life: smoking, sneakers, and matching sweat suits. That’s okay Turtle, you can drive me around any time.
Quotable Turtle: “That [jerk] called you a thespian.”
Norm Peterson on Cheers
An accountant that spent all his free time drinking beer that he never paid for. How do I get that gig? Just kidding. Kind of.
Quotable Norm: “Women! You can’t live with ’em. Pass the beer nuts.”
Tattoo on Fantasy Island
Even 14 years later, this guy’s hard to top. I never quite got the relationship between Mr. Roarke and Tattoo, but Fantasy Island wouldn’t have been half as disturbingly entertaining without hearing, “De plane! De plane!” at the beginning of each episode.
Quotable Tattoo: see above.