All Hail The Second Bananas! Top 25 Greatest Tv Sidekicks of all time.
In any television show a really strong second banana, especially in comedy can manage to stand out even in the best ensemble casts. They can also end up stealing the show. The problem is that there’s been so many amazing stand outs that deserve recognition that I had the daunting task of trying to pin it down to just the twenty five that I think are the very best. Welp… here we go!
25. Jordan Tompkins. The Bernie Mac Show.
Bernie Mac once described Jeremy Suarez as the Don Knotts to his Andy Griffith. Not a bad comparison considering that much like Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show, the young Jeremy provided most of the big humor and conflict for the show and was a perfect foil for the one and only Bernie Mac. Al three kids were wonderful actors but Jeremy as Jordan stood out the most.
24. Barbara Jean Hart. Reba.
As unusual a pairing as a sane and independent woman and the zany other woman who stole her husband is, it somehow worked marvelously as Reba McIntyre and Melissa Peterman became the new school Lucy and Ethel. Melissa Peterman had a hard task making a character like Barbara Jean likable and funny but her amazing comic talent did just that. Barbara Jean was a perfect foil for Reba. It wasn’t in the original plan for Barbara Jean to become Reba’s sidekick but the real life friendship and chemistry between the ladies offscreen gave the writers inspiration onscreen.
23. Chuckie Finster. Rugrats.
We all remember the dynamic duo of Tommy and Chuckie in our childhoods. They were true blue and tight like glue, yet total opposites on the surface. Despite their differences Chuckie was always there for Tommy and always (reluctantly) had his back in even the most crazy and dangerous situations. Chuckie provided a lot of the funniest moments and storylines on the series.
22. Griff. Married… With Children.
Al Bundy and his shoe store buddy Griff got into a lot of jams together and made us laugh every time. Harold Sylvester’s Griff was only in a handful of episodes but he was so memorable and hilarious in the part that Married with Children fans hold a special place for him in our hearts. He was basically the Black, divorced version of Al which made him the perfect sidekick for the lovable shoe monger.
21. Bruh Man. Martin.
It might surprise everyone to realize that Reginald Ballard only did 12 episodes of Martin over his three year stint as the iconic Bruh Man, but his presence was always so strong and the chemistry with Martin Lawrence was always so hilarious that we feel like he was in every doggone episode. Bruh Man was that neighbor we all hated to have but he sure was funny as heck to watch drive Martin up the wall. The interaction between Martin and Bruh Man gave Martin the chance to be the straight man which he excelled at as much as Ballard excelled at being a hilarious foil for him. The chemistry between the two was evident in their scenes and the two of them bouncing off the other made an already iconic show even more iconic.
20. Kim Parker. Moesha.
“HEYYYYY!” When it comes to tv sidekicks, Kim Parker ranks above the most unique. Moesha and Kim were a classic duo with both complementing the other, but most of the time Kim would end up stealing the show completely thanks to Countess Vaughn’s excellent comic timing and delivery. Sadly due to real life feuding between Brandy and Countess, Kim was written off of Moesha after season 4 and onto her own hit spin off The Parkers with Monique. I personally feel like Moesha never recovered after Kim left, her absence was deeply felt.
19. Jefferson D’Arcy. Married… With Children.
Al Bundy and Jefferson D’arcy were the perfect 90’s Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton of The Honeymooner’s fame. Seemingly very different on the surface, both men had the important things in common: Hot bikini clad chicks, beer, despising the wives and laughing at Marcy’s expense. They were a match made in heaven, and Jefferson D’arcy was and still is one of the more original and funniest characters in sitcom history.
18. Jimmy Trivette. Walker, Texas Ranger.
There’s Kelly and Scotty, Riggs and Murtaugh, Spenser and Hawk, Crockett and Tubbs and Walker and Jimmy Trivette when it comes iconic and most lovable salt and pepper duos. Walker and Jimmy were two very different men and had very different fighting skills, but both were some dangerous mofos who bad guys learned not to ever mess with after one encounter. Unlike a lot of sidekicks in action shows or movies, Jimmy Trivette could always hold his own in a fight and didn’t need Walker to always rescue him even though Walker was the superior fighter. The goofball, enterprising Trivette was a perfect foil for straight laced and old school Walker and without him the show and Walker himself would be lost.
17. Theo Huxtable. The Cosby Show.
This classic father\son duo had so many magical moments together that rank above the funniest and most memorable of the entire show. Bill Cosby and Malcolm Jamal Warner were a perfect pairing and so believable in their interactions. Cosby being a skilled adlibber, whoever played opposite him in scenes had to be able to keep up and even hold their own which Warner always managed to do. In 1986 Malcolm Jamal Warner was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy and it’s not a surprise why that was.
16. Braxton P. Hartnabrigg. The Jamie Foxx Show.
“Ahhhh, Bro Ham.” Who doesn’t love Braxton? A lovable dork who was just one of the truly great ensemble on The Jamie Foxx Show, yet managed to stand out quite nicely as a fan favorite. The chemistry between Jamie Foxx and Christopher B. Duncan was a big part of the what made the show so funny, as their characters were night and day, giving us an Odd Couple type vibe. Jamie and Braxton episodes just so happen to be the funniest ones; like the classic episode where Jamie and Braxton temporarily shared Braxton’s apartment and they had a dance off to Michael Jackson’s Beat It and the classic Traffic School episode with Mark Curry. Christopher B. Duncan was so great as Braxton that people still call him Braxton to this day… The true mark of a gifted performer who owned a role.
15. Cedric Jackie Robinson. The Steve Harvey Show.
When The Steve Harvey Show was in the middle of development the network wanted to cast George Wendt aka “Norm” from Cheers for the role of Steve’s best friend on the show. Steve recommended his good buddy from stand up for the part instead and boy was that a good move. Steve and Cedric always have amazing chemistry together in anything they do, and the classic Steve Harvey Show was no different. Cedric was a perfect foil and support for Steve and more than held his own as a comedic force, often placing Steve in the role of straight man which I personally think is when he’s at his best.
14. Al Borland. Home Improvement.
Being the straight man sidekick for Tim Taylor was no easy job yet our man Al Borland did his job quite well over the eight years. The chemistry between Tim Allen and Richard Karn was pure comedy gold and always made the Tool Time segments so enjoyable. Al was the perfect foil for Tim’s shenanigans with his “I don’t think so, Tim” and his endless supply of flannel shirts, but he always took Tim’s antics in stride and was a lovable and funny character that repped the sensitive and evolved new 90’s guys.
13. Hawk. Spenser For Hire.
What would “Spensahhh” ever do without Hawk? Right hand man, enforcer, intelligence gatherer, fashion critic and all around best buddy, Hawk provided it all for the PI and more; Spenser and Hawk were two very different men on the surface yet perfect crime fighting partners and the tightest of buddies who would do anything for each other. Avery Brooks and the writers created a masterful and truly unique character who got popular enough to be awarded his own short lived spin off called A Man Called Hawk after Spenser was cancelled.
12. Robert Barone. Everybody Loves Raymond.
Siblings, right? Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em, and I speak from experience. Everybody loved Raymond but they also loved Robert, maybe even slightly more so. Robert Barone was all of us deep down: Insecure, sweet natured, self deprecating and jealous of someone in our lives who we perceived as having it far better than us. We identify with Robert and that’s why he makes us laugh and root for him. The chemistry between Ray Romano and Brad Garrett was comedy gold as the two bickering brothers that also deep down truly loved each other. Brad Garrett won 3 Best Supporting Actor Emmys for the role which were so well deserved and also proved that there wouldn’t be an Everybody Loves Raymond without Robert.
11. Barney Rubble. The Flintstones.
Barney Rubble was the quintessential sidekick and best friend for the bumbling and loud Fred Flintstone. The two stone aged buddies are one of the most iconic duos animated or live action in tv history. Barney was the polar opposite of Fred: Jovial, short, goofy and witty, making him the perfect foil for the lovable oaf. When Fred got too much, we could always depend on Barney to knock him down a size with a clever little insult.
10. Burton “Gus” Guster. Psych.
Burton Guster aka “Gus” has always been da man. With his many nicknames and hobbies including binging snack foods, singing acapella and solving the occasional murder in Santa Barbara with best friend and partner Shawn Spencer, Gus is a truly lovable and amazing sidekick\best friend who may have only been working at Psych part time due to his day job as a Pharmaceutical salesman but his importance to the team is invaluable and Shawn would be lost without him.
9. Jackie Harris. Roseanne.
Comedy queen Laurie Metcalf has always been hilariously funny but as Jackie Harris, Roseanne Conner’s little sister and best friend she was truly at her best. Jackie was as neurotic and quirky as they come, a great foil for her well meaning but overbearing big sister. The chemistry between the two women was something special and you’d believe that they were actually sisters because of how fluid their interactions were. Laurie Metcalf earned two well deserved Emmys for the role of Jackie and continues the role in The Conners.
8. Al Calavicci. Quantum Leap.
Everybody should be so lucky to have a buddy like Al. Lovable, loyal and dependable albeit sex crazed and prone to distraction by the most lovely of females. Al was always there to help Sam out of a jam during the leaps without question or hesitation. The late great Dean Stockwell made Al an iconic character and helped make the show as beloved as it is today. Sam would be totally lost without Al and so would the show had Dean Stockwell never got the role. As much as I love Sam, If I want to just have a fun, wild night out on the town full of drinking, partying, dancing and beautiful women I’d call my main man Al up in a heartbeat.
7. Ethel Mertz. I Love Lucy.
Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz are one of the first truly iconic friendships in tv history. The two women played off each other beautifully and made some iconic tv moments together, but it’s also good to remember how great Vivian Vance’s portrayal of Ethel was on her own. She more than held her own on the show and provided Lucy a perfect partner in crime on I Love Lucy and did so on The Lucy Show, Lucille Ball’s second sitcom.
6. Angel Martin. The Rockford Files.
Sleazy, slimy, self absorbed, sniveling, cowardly, pathetic, an inept con artist and a pathological liar… and these are just his “good traits”. Angel Martin is one of the most irredeemable characters in tv history but somehow is also one of the funniest and most lovable supporting characters ever. Angel was often Jim Rockford’s criminal informant\sidekick when the job called for it and while he was useful at times, Jimmy could always depend on Angel to sell him out or chicken out in a moment’s notice to save his own neck. But despite all of that Jimmy still hangs around Angel for reasons he doesn’t even know, but as Angel once put it “Because you’re my friend” which I guess is enough for Jimbo. Stuart Margolin won two Emmys for the role of Angel and deserved it for making one of the funniest and most recognizable characters in tv history. The chemistry between Garner and Margolin was pitch perfect and always a joy to watch. We all know an Angel Martin in our lives: The bad news friend who we shouldn’t hang around and yet we do because of reasons we don’t understand other than because they’re our friends.
5. Carlton Banks. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
The funniest and greatest episodes and moments of Fresh Prince were whenever Will and Carlton got into a jam or were in some type of competition or feud with one another. Will Smith and Alfonso Riberio had a chemistry like no other and played off each other very well throughout the six seasons. The preppy, money grubbing, nerdy Carlton Banks was an ideal foil for the cool and smooth Will. The character instantly became a fan favorite with his iconic dance and his hilarious personality, making such a greedy and self centered character truly lovable.
4. Niles Crane. Frasier.
Originally the idea was to give Frasier a brother who was his complete opposite. But once the writers saw David Hyde Pierce’s picture given to them by the casting director, shocked by how much David resembled Kelsey Grammar, they decided that it would be much funnier and smarter to make Niles just like Frasier but more so and thus, Niles Crane was born. David Hyde Pierce and Kelsey Grammar were truly a magical pairing that fed off each other to perfection. David Hyde Pierce took a snooty, fussy and neurotic mess of a man and turned him into such a funny and lovable character, and rightly earned four Emmy wins for the role which is a testament to how amazing he was in that part. Some fans think that the show actually should’ve been called Niles… If that’s not high praise then…
3. Ed Norton. The Honeymooners.
Art Carney’s Ed Norton is considered the grandfather of the funny sidekick\best friend in television and that’s certainly true because he’s also one of the best that ever did it. Norton has inspired many great supporting characters including Cosmo Kramer from Seinfeld, Steve Urkel from Family Matters and more directly Barney Rubble from The Flintstones which was heavily inspired by The Flintstones. Norton’s a lovable goofball whose quick with a fat joke for his blustery best buddy but also always there to help him in whatever crazy scheme Ralph gets them into to make money. The chemistry between Jackie Gleason and Art Carney were stuff of legend and has never been successfully repeated, only imitated. Carney won 3 Emmys for his iconic role and deservedly so since more often than not he stole the show and drove the comedy with Jackie Gleason doing wonderful reactions to Carney’s antics
2. George Costanza. Seinfeld.
What would Seinfeld be without the hilarious interactions of Jerry and George? Their various conversations and interplay at the booth at the coffee shop are stuff of legend. The rapid fire exchanges of dialouge between the two in a moments notice are always so fluid it’s remarkable. Jason Alexander’s masterful performance as George Costanza is truly one of the greatest comic performances of all time. George has been the bad date, the bad houseguest, the bad tipper, the bad employee, the bad friend and the bad son while also being the most neurotic, petty and narcissistic man on the planet making him the most pathetic loser in all of television history but at the same time his many, many, many faults makes him oddly endearing. He may fail at life but he’s always a winner as Jerry’s sidekick and foil.
- Barney Fife. The Andy Griffith Show.
There have been many, many amazing and perfect sidekicks in tv history but for my money Deputy Barney Fife is the greatest out of all of them. Don Knotts and Andy Griffith had that chemistry that could never be topped in my opinion. These two were just made to play off each other and create television magic. Barney is everything Andy isn’t as a lawman and that dynamic made them a perfect comedy team. Don Knotts became an icon because of the role of Barney and won five Emmys for his portrayal which is a testament to the abilities of Knotts.