Being a protagonist can be tough. With the burden of an entire story on your shoulders (not to mention that of a world, or race, or humanity), you aren't always gifted with as many appealing quirks as your back-up. And as often as not, the writers are trying so hard to make you a "regular guy" that you don't get the know-how or martial-arts training that your sidekick gets. (Think of Seth Rogen's upcoming Green Hornet, whose sidekick Kato is the one who makes the weapons and knows how to roundhouse kick.) And so while heroes are all well and good — some might even say necessary — these are the sidekicks we'd want saving our bacon.
1) Han Solo, Star Wars
This one should be self-evident, but just to get it on the record: no one wants to be Luke Skywalker when they can be Han Solo. Okay, maybe for the lightsaber. But that's it. Really, is there a better job description than "mercenary with a heart of gold who travels the galaxy with his faithful Wookiee?" Self-assured where Luke is doubtful, gung-ho where Luke is hesitant, ruggedly handsome where Luke is baby-faced, Solo is one of science fiction's favorite gunslingers. And he doesn't even get the luxury of the Force! Luke may have led the final charge against the Empire, but he doesn't have the panache of Solo, and he definitely doesn't get the girl. Because that would be wrong.
2) Trinity, The Matrix
Consider this another unfortunate case of the ass-kicking woman who has to babysit the Golden Boy until he's ready to lead the charge. And it was a hard pill to swallow when we found out that Trinity's great contribution to the Oracle's prophecy was that she would fall in love with the person who would actually get stuff done. (Have you seen her in action, Oracle? Have you?) Sure, Neo has some pretty slick moves in The Matrix and its sequels, but those first mind-blowing moments of "bullet time" are all about Trinity, hanging in the air like deadliest praying mantis you've ever seen. And Keanu Reeves' wooden affect didn't help his character stand out much, either.
3) Bobby Singer, Supernatural
It's easy — well, easier — to save the world from demons and ghosts when you and your partner are both six feet of pure muscle and haven't yet hit thirty. But what if you work alone, you're in your fifties, and you're in a wheelchair. Somehow, assistant demon hunter Bobby Singer manages to keep himself alive and save others despite all those obstacles. Not to mention that in later seasons, he seems to be the only person who can cut through heroes Sam and Dean Winchester's angsty bickering and focus on the matter at hand. (Daddy issues are boring six years in, guys.) Sam and Dean may be effective, and they may be unbelievably gorgeous, but we bet you'd rather hang out with Bobby for an afternoon.
4) EVE, WALL-E
Never let it be said that WALL-E is not one of the cutest, most heart-warming robots in history — he is. But in terms of cool, he's got nothing on EVE. Sleek, efficient, armed with laser blasters: she's basically an iPod that could kick your ass. She may not see much in WALL-E at first, but she eventually comes around to the trash compactor's charms, saving the robot and potentially the Earth in the process. If EVE were a human, she'd be that popular kid your nerdy high-school self dreamed of dating — and maybe actually could.
5) Hermione Granger, Harry Potter
Probably the most out of her element at the start of the books — with two Muggle parents and no Hagrid to guide her along — Hermione Granger doesn't waste time becoming one of Hogwarts' most adept students. And while she has a rough start — Harry and Ron don't like her much at first, and she's out of commission for a lot of the second book — she eventually becomes an indispensable voice of reason, not to mention something of a badass in the final books. Yes, yes: Harry Potter is "the boy who lived" and ultimately saves the wizarding world. But for all his good intentions and bravery, that's his destiny. Most people actually have to work at it, and no one works harder than Hermione.
6) Leela, Futurama
Like any good sci-fi production, Futurama has a resident sexy alien (well, technically, a mutant): Turanga Leela, captain of the Planet Express, on-and-off-again love interest of Phillip J. Fry, and generally the one catching him up to speed and keeping him alive. She may have her faults — bad depth perception, one would assume, given her single eye — but she's no green-skinned Martian girl waiting to be sexed up by some captain. Fry is a loveable doofus with good intentions, but Leela is the one who knows karate and can perform forward rolls in a tank-top.
7) Walter Bishop, Fringe
Behind every ass-kicking woman, there's usually an older male advisor. (Call it a patriarchy thing. Or a Freudian thing.) These men come in one of three stripes: eccentric, fatherly, or suspect. But Walter Bishop, the man who serves as FBI Agent Olivia Dunham's scientific sherpa on Fringe, is all three. A genius whose theories sound more like '50s sci-fi, Bishop's bouts of instability can be as endearing as they can be frightening. And while Dunham has become increasingly compelling and badass over the series' run, Walter has always remained the show's real treat: absolutely insane, absolutely brilliant, and more often than not the one who solves (and sometimes creates) all the problems. As talented as they all may be in their own ways, the Fringe team would be lost without him.
8) Agent 355, Y: The Last Man
We wonder how long Yorick, the only man left on earth after a plague wipes out every mammal with a Y chromosome, would have lasted without the help of Agent 355, the covert government operative tasked with protecting this suddenly very rare commodity. To illustrate: in the first issue alone, Agent 355 bests two machine-gun-wielding enemies, diffuses a hostage situation, and takes down an armed attacker with a single blow to the face. Yorick... almost gets himself kidnapped by a supermodel driving a garbage truck. Yorick gets to be the center of the action because he's the only guy left on Earth, but Agent 355 is the one with the skills to get him to the end of the story.