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10 best action movie sidekicks ever, ranked

Some of the cinema’s greatest protagonists are nothing without their partners. This rings especially true for action heroes, as they need their most reliable allies to save the world or just defeat whatever bad guy is threatening their lives.

But sometimes, they don’t get the recognition they deserve. In honor of these often unsung heroes, let’s look back at how these ten action movie sidekicks saved the day in their own way.

10. John Connor – Terminator 2: Judgment Day

John Connor in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though he grows up to lead humanity in the war against the machines, the second Terminator film shows the young John Connor supporting the T-800 sent back in time by his future self to protect him from Skynet.

During their short time together, John brings out the best in his guardian android, teaching him to act like a human and show mercy to those around him in an unforgettable bond between man and machine.

9. Joshamee Gibbs – Pirates of the Caribbean franchise

Mr. Gibbs in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
Disney / Disney

Even though he went from the Royal Navy to a life of piracy, Mr. Gibbs acts as the wise voice of reason that Jack Sparrow sorely needs. Though Jack isn’t always the best captain to his crew, at the end of the day, Gibbs always stands by him.

He was even willing to break the Pirate Code and rescue Jack when he was trapped at Port Royal, proving that when it comes to first mates, Gibbs is number one.

8. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes – Iron Man franchise

Don Cheadle as War Machine in a poster for "Avengers: Endgame."
Marvel Studios / Marvel Studios

Fighting alongside Iron Man as War Machine, Colonel James Rhodes has been at Tony Stark’s side since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began.

Though he has struggled to look out for Tony and serve his country, Rhodey always proves himself loyal to his best friend, as well as their fellow Avengers, willing to defy his superiors to do what’s best for them and the world.

7. Sallah – Indiana Jones franchise

Sallah in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
Paramount Pictures / Paramount Pictures

Indy has had many partners throughout his years as a globe-trotting, with Marion Underwood and Short Round some of his best companions. But none of them are quite like Indy’s long-time pal, Sallah.

First appearing in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Sallah would later accompany Dr. Jones on his journeys in The Last Crusade and The Dial of Destiny. Brimming with gusto and optimism, Sallah acts as the perfect foil to Indy’s character, and he has gone on to be one of the most beloved figures in the franchise.

6. Ned Leeds – Spider-Man Home Trilogy

Jacob Batalon, Zendaya and Angourie Rice in "Spider-Man: Far From Home."
Marvel Studios / Marvel Studios

Ever since he learned that his best pal Peter is Spider-Man, Ned has helped the web-slinger be a superhero as his “guy in the chair.” Whether Peter’s fighting crime or finding romance, he can always rely on Ned to help him win the day, and it doesn’t look like he’ll end up becoming Spidey’s foe, the Hobgoblin, anytime soon.

5. Chewbacca – Star Wars franchise

Chewbacca in "Star Wars."
Lucasfilm / Lucasfilm

Many people hardly imagine Han Solo without his furry co-pilot at his side, and vice versa. Since the former met him in an Imperial prison, the duo have been inseparable as they embark on countless interstellar journeys, either as smugglers or heroes protecting the galaxy from evil.

In an iconic franchise filled with iconic characters, Chewbacca remains one of the most memorable parts of the Star Wars canon, stealing every scene he’s in with just his gargling growl.

4. Groot – Guardians of the Galaxy franchise

Groot screaming in anger in "Guardians of the Galaxy."
Marvel Studios / Marvel Studios

This Flora colossus has been at Rocket’s side since they first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Groot may not be good with words, but his actions speak volumes about his character, as he has put his life on the line numerous times to protect his friends and those in need.

Most notably, Groot sacrificed himself to save his newfound family while battling Ronan the Accuser, uttering the iconic phrase, “We are Groot.”

3. Nick ‘Goose’ Bradshaw – Top Gun (1986)

Goose in "Top Gun."
Paramount Pictures / Paramount Pictures

Great balls of fire! Maverick wouldn’t have been the man he is today without his former wingman, Goose. He may be silly, snarky, and easygoing, but Goose was wise enough to reel in his more cocky and foolhardy counterpart as their lives as aviators are put on the line.

Nevertheless, he sticks by Maverick all the way to his tragic end, and even in death, he still has his back. His memory lived on in Top Gun: Maverick, which saw his son step into his shoes and fulfill his destiny of being the hero in his own story.

2. Alfred Pennyworth – Batman franchise

Michael Caine as Alfred at a restaurant in "The Dark Knight Rises."
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures / Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Following the tragic murder of his parents in Crime Alley, Bruce falls under the care of his butler, Alfred, who becomes an integral part of his life as both the billionaire Wayne and the vigilante Batman.

No matter what film he appears in or which actor plays him, Alfred is always there to support “Master Wayne” with sage advice and witty remarks like the loving father figure he is.

1. Samwise Gamgee – The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Sam holding a glowing vial in "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."
New Line Cinema / New Line Cinema

After spying on Frodo and Gandalf discussing their quest to destroy the One Ring, the former’s humble gardener accompanies him on his grand adventure, and the Hobbit couldn’t have completed it without him.

Sam is loyal to Frodo through and through, always staying at his side during his journey to Mordor and saving him from the likes of Gollum, Shelob, and Sauron’s Orcs. He was even strong enough to resist the One Ring and carry Frodo to the top of Mount Doom so he could fulfill his task.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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