While there are a lot of fans out there of Disney film protagonists – the heroes and heroines of the story – as well as plenty of fans of Disney villains, I have found that my favorite characters tend to be the sidekicks.
And not just any sidekicks, but the ones who aren’t always embraced by either the protagonist or the audience – the ones who, in fact, are often treated like fools but turn out to be the wisest characters of all, not to mention the most loyal of companions.
Some examples of these favorite “foolish” characters include:
- My favorite non-Wonderland character in all of Disney (and Pixar). Dug is a good dog. He may express himself simply, but his candor reveals his big heart and devotion to his chosen pack. And while his blunt talk may make him seem foolish, he is courageous in his defense of his masters and clever when it counts. Just hearing his joyous doggy ‘voice’ or looking at him with his wagging tail makes me smile. Plus… SQUIRREL!
Tow Mater (Cars)
- Tow Mater is a small town truck, who thanks to his friendship with Lightning McQueen has managed to travel the world but still keep his perspective to what truly matters most in life: family, friends and home. He may seem naïve, but he always has his priorities in order and maintains a happy, friendly, open and welcoming attitude towards everyone. He does have an occasional naughty streak (like tractor-tipping!), but in all is the best friend a car could ever ask for!
- The overabundance of Frozen across Disney properties has led to something of a backlash from some people against Olaf. And I’ll agree, I got sick of all the Frozen everywhere, but if you return to the heart of the Frozen phenomenon, it’s the movie. And in the movie, Olaf is yet another endearing sidekick character who perceives instantly and more clearly exactly what is happening and why before the protagonists ever catch on. He recognizes love when he sees it and he understands instinctively that some people are worth melting for…
Dory (Finding Nemo)
- Possibly the most universally loved and appreciated of the ‘foolish sidekick’ characters, Dory most recently found herself the star of her own story in Finding Dory. But happily, she maintained her core center and appeal with her “just keep swimming”/never-give-up faith that things will work out for the best philosophy of life. As well as her instinctive ability to trust the creatures she meets and help her friends as they help her in return. All while still maintaining her ditzy, cheerful charm!
Kronk (The Emperor’s New Groove)
- Kronk may seem like just a dumb, muscle-bound henchman to an evil villainess, but there is absolutely more to him than meets the eye! The man can talk to squirrels, first of all, so how bad can he be? And he has other unexpected talents like cooking, too, that show he has tried to develop skills beyond helping his mistress steal a kingdom. But mostly, I just think Kronk is an easy-going guy who tries to help whoever he’s with – and he just happened to fall in with a bad crowd/villain. He’ll do his best for whoever he’s with, though I think he was rather fond of Yzma when nobody else would be, showing his compassionate side, too.
And I’ll throw one more of these in for good measure as he is now part of the Disney family:
R2D2 (Star Wars)
- The most loyal droid in the galaxy, R2D2 faced off against anyone who came between he and his masters or tried to prevent him from fulfilling the task his mistress set for him. He risked his life repeatedly on dangerous missions for the sake of his friends and the greater good of the galaxy. And he’s a good judge of character and situation as he always followed his ‘heart’ in making his decisions and expressing his opinion (via beeps and boops – but he got his point across) – arguing to always do the right thing even when other people or droids didn’t follow or agree. Young BB8 is clearly following in R2D2’s wise ‘footsteps’ and I’m fond of him, too, but R2 will always have my heart as my favorite character in the franchise.
Do you have a favorite sidekick character who you feel is underappreciated? What is it about them that appeals to you?