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February 27 2007

13 Sidekicks Who Are Cooler Than Their Heroes. Willow was listed as #4 of sidekicks who outshine the protagonist.

So true, and yet this is why I wish to The Powers That Be that Alyson Hannigan finds a role that tests her rather than one she can phone in in her sleep. Willow is one of the great characters in any show, ever, and as my bud jetwolf has said, no power in the world can resist Alyson Hannigan's tears. It just kills me that more people know her for being Michelle Flaherty or Lily than they do as Willow, and I only hope that Aly gets a good dramatic role during her sabbatical when HIMYM goes on hiatus for summer.

I have said this before, and I know some people disagree, but I honestly feel that more people experience Buffy through Willow than through any other character including Buffy herself. Just my opnion, but she is such a strong character that she commands the screen whenever she is on it.
And then there was Kato, who was a couple of galaxies cooler than the Green Hornet on the lame, short-lived 1960's TV series. After all, Bruce Lee went on to be a legendary icon, and what's-his-name was the Green Hornet, who just stood there like a cardboard cutout dressed in a potato sack.
The Olivia de Haviland aprt ina r emake of _Hushb Hush sWeet Charlotte_? I can see ALy salpping Reese or Nami in the car.
In the comments, someone mentions Simon...but El Mysterioso Blanco disagrees:
Simon Tam? The best sidekick from "Firefly"?
Please. Jayne is a joy to watch during every frame in which he appears. (And yes, since the whole thing is not really on celluloid, there aren't any frames to speak of. I stick by my cliche.) How can you not sing along joyously with, "The hero of Canton, the man they call... ME!"? ...

Funny, I never thought of any of Serenity's crew as 'sidekicks.' Besides, whose sidekick would they be, then? Mal's? Serenity's? :P
I think members of Mal's crew would kick his side before any of them admit to being sidekicks. Well... maybe Zoe would, but she'd say it with a loaded gun.
Kaylee would fit the bill in thr Serenity-verse.

As for Willow, they got that one right. I definitely experienced the show through her more than through Buffy. Plus someone already said, Willow cries... everyone cries.
I'll take Buffy over Willow any day. I've never been into Willow.. I think she's cute and fun and stuff but it was Buffy who connected with me (emotionally and otherwise) much more than any sidekick. Willow is too soft.. I don't think she'd make it in a place like Sunnydale without Buffy to protect her, witch powers or not. And the list is for Cool. This may be the guy in me.. but crying is not cool.

Also. Wesley is WAY cooler than Angel. WAAAY.
Kato should have been on the list. There were a lot that I hadn't heard of though.

I think its a testament to the depth of characterization on Buffy that there were so many characters that you could love.

I'm sure there were people who identified with each of the secondary characters because they were deep and well-drawn. I myself experienced the show through Spike.

It wasn't until the seventh season when there were so many cardboard characters introduced that every character became more shallow and uninvolving, right down to Buffy herself.
So cool that Willow and "Mouse" Alexander get mentioned in the same article.

When I saw Devil in a Blue Dress I turned to my date and whispered "Mouse is a force of nature!" - and there are the same words in this article (along with my favorite line)!
I agree with everything the author said about Willow, and also agree that Xander (especially before he was marginalized in later seasons) would've fit the bill too.

But the entry that I *really* agree with is Sam Gamgee from The Lord of The Rings. Sam's always been the one real hero in the story (in both books and film) to me -- not only did he make the same journey as Frodo and endure many of the same hardships, but he's the only character that we ever hear about who, once in posession of the Ring, gives it up again willingly and without anyone else's urging.
Heh. Two lists in two days, both with the Sam Gamgee and Inigo Montoya love. And just like Willow, darn it, they DESERVE it. :-)
Willow was great but it was Buffy and Xander that first drew me in (one of the first things that attracted me to the show even from the promos was the humour). As the show went on, well, everyone took centre stage at various points and even if I didn't always necessarily like them, all the Scoobies held my interest.

If we're actually talking 'cool' though, and if he qualifies, Spike has to be Buffy's coolest sidekick by a mile. The guy strutted FFS, as far as cool goes none of the others held a candle.

And though, as the article points out, Easy Rawlins is a brilliant, rounded, always interesting noir hero, he just doesn't have the sheer psychopathic snap of Raymond 'Mouse' Alexander. Without having him say all that much, Walter Mosley's prose tells us everything we need to know about him. The 'Dirty Harry' poster had "You don't assign him to murder cases, You just turn him loose" as a tagline and if you take the word 'cases' out that pretty much perfectly sums up Easy's crazy-dangerous best mate Mouse ;).

(and always, always Inigo !)
I love Alyson Hanigan and I too wish she gets a gig that lets her shine. She might enjoy How I Met Your 2 and 1/2 Class or whatever that show is, but I want to see something that challenges her like BtVS. I do disagree that Willow outshone Buffy character-wise. While Buffy had her flaws, softer Willow's were easier to take and that throws some people off. If there were a sidekick that outshone the Buffster, I think it was Spike.

One other thing, I used to read TV scripts for a screenplay writing competition and there was a trend in the Buffy scripts during season 4 where Buffy was sidelined and Willow had to take over and save the day! I could tell the scripts were written by fans of the show. Also they were better written than the scripts for other shows.
The Princess Bride, yeah! Inigo Montoya, hurray!!!
I'd say Star Trek is an example of a show that also knows how to do a secondary character. Granted, these were ensemble shows, but much in the same way Buffy is and less so than Firefly. The captain (if you don't count the ship itself) was mostly the focal point, especially in the original series.

Now, back to my point:

Kirk, McCoy, and even Scotty, were cooler than Kirk.

Worf and Data, both cooler than Picard.

Garak...cooler than anybody on Star Trek, ever (this one is the only one where the rule almost does't hold true, as Sisco was WAY cool, and if Garak hadn't been created, Sisco would be the coolest character on any of the shows).

Chakotay, Parris, Seven of Nine, and especially the Doctor, cooler than Janeway.

Tripp and Doctor Phlox, cooler than Archer.
I never thought Willow outshone Buffy or really any of the secondary characters outshining her. But my viewpoint of the show was always through Buffy's eyes. From that day in March '97 to the end of the series I was always much more connected with Buffy emotionally as a character than any of the others. I used to love Willow but over the seasons she ended up going from one of my favorite characters to one of my least.
If you're really talking "coolest", it would have to be Spike. But that raises the question .... Spike was many things to Buffy, but I'm not sure about "sidekick".
As for Willow, I can't begin to express how much I love her. As many times as I've watched every single episode of the entire seven seasons, there are only two sequences that still always bring tears to my eyes. Will & Tara's heart wrenching breakup at the end of Tabula Rasa, and the end of Grave, when Xander's love brings Will back from the brink. Though I have to admit also that the music was a factor, in both cases.
OK, so I'm a big softy. Not that I don't love the really dark stuff, as well. :=)

And am I the only person alive who found both Merry and Pippin cooler than Sam?
When I read about the show before it premiered I fully expected Willow to be my favorite character. I thought Buffy would be annoying. But SMG's portrayal won me over, and by the end of Season 1 the show was definitely about Buffy for me.
I would say that Spike was a sidekick in season 7 of Buffy and season 5 of Angel. And he was cooler than both put together, so should top this list.

I found Buffy only marginally interesting and would have much preferred it was an ensemble show.
I totally identify with Willow and I always find myself caring more about her than about Buffy in an episode. She's cool because she knows who she is, which, actually, surely makes her tears cool too?!

And Alyson Hannigan? Well, just amazing everytime.
I'd definitely say Willow is cooler than Buffy. Emotionally, I can relate more to her character than Buffy, because we have more similar personality traits.

But to Buffy's credit, I think her crying scenes were some of the best I've ever seen. I remember watching "Innocence" and feeling absolutely horrible seeing her weep over Angel. SMG can turn on the tears a hell of a lot better than most.
The_Joker,
McCoy and Scotty cooler than Kirk! Spock! Spock was undisputedly the coolest character on original Trek. And 7 of 9 was cooler than everybody else in the Trekverse put together.

Missing from the original list:

Illya Kuryakin in Man From UNCLE, way outcooled Napolean Solo in what was supposed to be a vehicle for Robert Vaughn.

Bill Cosby cooler than Robert Culp in I Spy.

Emma Peel on the Avengers, cooler than John Steed. "Mrs. Peel" was one of the coolest characters EVER on television. The original martial arts femme, she was also a genuis, and never at a loss for a quip. I've recently been thinking in fact, about whether Emma Peel wasn't an important influence in the genesis of Buffy, either directly (don't know if Joss would have seen any episodes) or indirectly.
Whenever Buffy cried, I always got this embarrassed feeling for her - like I wanted to avert my eyes. Whenever Willow cried? Total and utter devastation.

Wild at Heart, anyone?
"I Will Remember You" though ? C'mon, those tears break me up every time. In the manly way, obviously ;).

('K s'not BtVS but it still counts I reckon)
Barboo,

Thanks for the backup on my post, but I must stick with my earlier statement of Garak being the coolest.

I mean, really, a tailor that used to be in the Obsidian Order(Cardassian Secret Service for those who aren't Trek geeks), how much cooler can you get? The only way I could come up with a better concept would be a guy who used to be in section 31, but now runs a bar in Tijuana and is played by Sam Elliot.
True, and another I just remembered: The Prom.

"Right now I'm just trying to keep from dying..."

Crushing.
Cool is not the word that occures to me with Willow. Interestingly I always thought all the characters got their cool moments...which was cool...but I'm with the folks who would say Spike was the coolest sidekick on BTVS.

"I totally identify with Willow and I always find myself caring more about her than about Buffy in an episode. She's cool because she knows who she is, which, actually, surely makes her tears cool too?!"

I can see identifying with Willow, even though I usually identified with Buffy and at times with Spike. But one of the reasons I don't identify with Willow is that she is so unsure of who she is, or she does not really like who she thinks she is or is afraid of who she thinks she is. To me that is one of her enduring characteristics that makes her an interesting character as well as an endearing character. That vulnerability is always there and can be heartbreaking.

I'm right there with the Kato, Spock, Emma Peel, 7 of 9 and Illya Kuryakin love. (Illya Kuryakin being one of the few blonde men on TV to ever win my undivided attention. I'm so deep.) Got to disagree with the Robert Culp/Bill Cosby assessment though. I thought one of the things that worked there was that they were equally cool, but in different ways.

Sam from the Ring trilogy cool? A great character, yes. Someone I would love to have on my side, yes. Cool? I don't see it.
Couple quick things:

Willow crying always made me tear up and the secondary characters were always more relatable than the Buffster to me. Don't get me wrong, I adore her as a character and am amazed by her incredible journey, but my in was often through another character.

Garak...cooler than anybody on Star Trek, ever (this one is the only one where the rule almost does't hold true, as Sisco was WAY cool, and if Garak hadn't been created, Sisco would be the coolest character on any of the shows).


SO true, Garak is the coolest, though Sisco is right behind him. DS94EVA! ;)

And am I the only person alive who found both Merry and Pippin cooler than Sam?


No, there are four of you and the other three are hidden in a bunker underneath the Nevada desert.
newcj, I think it's more that Willow knows she's the outsider, the geek. She also knows she's loyal and kind. But all of that makes her vulnerable and scared.
Willow outshining Buffy? Pfft.
Xander, maybe.
Joining in the Willow love and adding to the much needed shout-outs for our lesser-represented Xanderkins.

Anyone is cooler than Janeway. Captains don't cry... especially on deck, damn it! There is humanizing and then there's just plain embarassing. She killed the ST franchise for me.

Inigo Montoya - now there's a kickass sidekick, kicking it up and down the ... side of the ...kicking arena -- erm... with his left hand. Hooyaa!
For me nobody ever one upped Buffy. Her character and the actress who played her was what hooked me from the beginning. I also continued to view the series through her eyes start to finish.
While I enjoyed Willow's character early on, she is one of my least favorites now. Xander, I love. You want to talk about a cool character aside from Buffy...Giles. Oh yeah.
Wesley is also super cool but cooler than Angel? Not for this fan. There is only one character that I could hold to that standard and that's Buffy herself.
Shey, you missed one of my favorite Willow moments: in OMWF, when she gets that look of abject horror as she realizes what she really did to Buffy. I don't think that I'm overstaing the case when I say that reality check really sets up Willow's slide in S6. Personally, Willow's arc was about the only thing that made S6 bearable for me.
Willow's crying never got me all choked up and usually I'm a big sap when it comes to crying scenes. Buffy's crying on the other hand, did affect me every time (except her crying in Triangle). Again, that's probably due to my seeing the show through Buffy's eyes but also, I prefer SMG's style of crying over Aly's.

As for the cool factor of the secondary characters I'd go with Oz and Giles for BtVS. And Wes on Ats. But they weren't cooler than the leads for me.

[ edited by maje on 2007-02-27 20:17 ]
No one on any show is more cooler than Spike, he was the one who hooked me on the show and continues to keep me interested. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't still be thinking about either Buffy or Angel.
I think the interesting thing about all of the Jossverse shows is that most of the supporting characters are of equal importance as the main characters.

Throughout Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles were vitally important characters and definitely given just as much focus in the first five seasons. I think Xander and Giles were neglected slightly in the last two, and Willow in season seven, but to have such a strong cast with four strong characters was certainly an achievement.

The same goes for Angel. There may have been slightly more focus on Angel, but the rest of the gang were equally as important. And it's a testament to Firefly's creative success that such a large regular cast of characters could all be so interesting and multi faceted.

I have heard the theory about the sidekicks often being more interesting than the main character before, but in the case of Buffy I definitely disagree. In Star Wars for example, Luke was clearly nowhere near as interesting and charismatic a character as Han Solo, and I think that may have been deliberate so that almost any viewer could slot themselves into the role because he didn't have many strong defining characteristics.

The only thing about Buffy is that many people were surprised that Xander and Willow were such great characters and that they identified with them as much as with Buffy. But I think the difference is that for once the hero was just as compelling as their sidekicks and immensely likeable. I just think people had an easier time in the earlier seasons identifying with Willow and Xander because so many of us have experienced feeling like an outsider or a geek, whereas Buffy was only really defined as such because of her role as the slayer.
Kirk, McCoy, and even Scotty, were cooler than Kirk.

Worf and Data, both cooler than Picard.

Garak...cooler than anybody on Star Trek, ever (this one is the only one where the rule almost does't hold true, as Sisco was WAY cool, and if Garak hadn't been created, Sisco would be the coolest character on any of the shows).

Chakotay, Parris, Seven of Nine, and especially the Doctor, cooler than Janeway.


SPOCK was way cooler than almost any other sidekick in TV history.

As for Emma Peel - I thought she was both "Avengers." John Steed was just one of her props.

Willow, Xander, and Spike make for the coolest sidekick trio. I could see a show centered on Willow, and maybe even Spike, so Xander is the ultimate sidekick in the Buffyverse.
I must confess, I've just never understood Spike as cool.

Oz was cool throught his run. His handling of his relationship with Willow was among the most unbelievable things in the Buffyverse (Demons? Believable. Teenage hetero guys who decline offered virginity with grace and compassion? Bring me the infinite improbability generator, please.)

Giles was always somewhat cool, but his coolness spiked (pardon the pun) in S5. However, Giles was never a sidekick, any more than Chiun, Splinter, Obi-Wan, or Mr. Miyagi were sidekicks. He started as the mentor/guide, and moved beyond that in the later seasons.

Spike? Vampire. Evil, frustrated, impotent, scheming, devious, lovelorn, sickly fixated... He was a lot of things, but 'cool' isn't one of them, in my mind. Cool look, cool hairstyle, cool accent, maybe, but those are all externals.

Riley? Buff and complex, but not cool. Tara? Beautiful, sincere, and tragic, but not cool. Anya? Not one shred of coolness.

So maybe this is all semantics. If coolness is a black leather coat, then sure, Spike is cool. I just don't score coolness that way.
I'm usually the sidekick fan, but, for some reason, I relate to Buffy more...yet Willow is more me... Anyway, I think the beauty of any Joss' show is that all of the characters, even leads, are sidekicks in their own way. I even like Riley.
Judah Maccabee cooler than Nexus!
"SPOCK was way cooler than almost any other sidekick in TV history."

Ahem. Spock was not a sidekick.
Kirk was the sidekick. It's so obvious.
Giles was cool. So were Picard and Kirk. Buffy was Buffy cool though. There really is no higher praise.
I dunno, what about 'Daddy cool' ?

jclemens said: If coolness is a black leather coat, then sure, Spike is cool. I just don't score coolness that way.

Well done you. Yeah, strange as it may sound it wasn't the coat for me either cos normally I judge characters entirely on their wardrobe.

In one of the Arkady Renko books someone says of him (roughly) "You have a 'fuck you' air about you, in an understated way". Take out the 'understated' and that's Spike (fair point though, leave it in and that's Oz). Willow knew who and what she was and so did Spike, from his unapologetic, no 'PC bullshit' attitude in 'Pangs' through to his leaving Wood alive in 'Lies my Parents...' and his insightful and usually searingly honest self-assessments as in the likes of 'Damage'.

Good or bad, he walked his own path and, for the most part, knew why and admitted it to himself and others. That's cool to me.

They all had their moments in the sun though. Giles was usually pretty cool around Ethan Rayne i.e. when his inner Ripper showed, Faith oozed cool but as mentioned neither of them were really sidekicks. Even Xander had 'The Zeppo' (or rather the 'I like the quiet' end of 'The Zeppo').

(Oz was exceedingly cool but then he was taciturn and taciturn is very often seen as half-way to cool all by itself. It's the verbal equivalent of a black leather coat)
The more I think about it, I don't think that Buffy had a "cool" sidekick. The whole scooby gang dynamic was pretty cool though.

IMO, the character run down was like this:
Willow and Xander: Wanted to be cool but wern't. It made them all that more lovable as characters.
Giles: Could have cared less about being cool. Didn't even understand the concept probably. That equates to a certain type of coolness on its own.
Spike: Thought he was cool but really wasn't. Nothing cool about being evil or being defined by a woman.
Faith: Pretended to be cool when she was actually terrified of almost everything.
Oz: Looked pretty cool. Acted pretty cool. Was actually pretty cool all the way around. He really wasn't a Buffy sidekick as much as a Willow sidekick though.

Maybe this "cool" thing depends heavily on the definition of "Cool".
I don't think you can define "cool."
It just is. I know it when I see it. Like porn.

Spike, cool.
Oz, cool.

The rest of them, not so much, and that was a huge part of their appeal.
Xane...I think you're right. Cool is up to the individual trying to define it. Hey look, we agree on one of them anyway.
BTW, I think you can define porn...just sayin.
Cheryl, you kind of missed my point. There was an old court case in which the Judge was asked to define pornography.
He made a very famous statement, quoted often, something like "I may not be able to define pornography but I know it when I see it." I'm not quoting him exactly.

So what I was trying to say is that you can't DEFINE cool. You can only know it when you see it. You can't try to figure it out. You can't try to become it. You just are. Or you aren't. It's there, or it's not.

So it's NOT up to the individual to try to define it. The act of trying to define cool is un-cool. Cool just is.
Yep, i'll go along with that. 'Cool' is like 'the right stuff' I reckon. As Tom Wolfe put it, no-one who had it claimed it for themselves (doing so almost definitely meant you didn't have it), no-one talked about it and, if asked, even the original space program guys probably couldn't define it. But everyone knew it when they saw it.

(and like 'cool' it has nothing to do with good or evil, personal politics or, really, any other part of the subject's life. Chuck Yeager, a fellow i'd probably disagree with - vehemently - on pretty much everything has/had it by the bucketload and there's no taking that away from him)
Xane, I totally agree, including the "not so much" being a huge part of the appeal. And I'll defend Spike to the death (mine, obviously:=) What could be more cool than going on a quest to gain your soul, to become worthy of the woman you love, then giving your life to save the world? And he didn't even lose his "attitude" for that long, as a result of his soul-getting ordeal.
And as an actor, JM totally knocked it out of the ballpark in the final season.
Xane....Shey...I am right there with you on the SPIKE love.
In fact if Spike hadn't been so damn COOL....I am pretty sure I would never have stuck with watching the show anyway. I honestly think Spike's story was the most compelling and inspiring story of any character in the Verse...period. Pretty darn cool at least to me.....just sayin...
What could be more cool than going on a quest to gain your soul, to become worthy of the woman you love, then giving your life to save the world?


And yet I've done that and no one has ever found me cool. There's no justice.
"And yet I've done that and no one has ever found me cool. There's no justice.
Simon | February 28, 17:34 CET "


Actually Simon, I am told there is a huge group that finds you supremely cool. They just don't advertise it because they just don't think that would be, you know, cool.
"SPOCK was way cooler than almost any other sidekick in TV history."

Ahem. Spock was not a sidekick.
Kirk was the sidekick. It's so obvious.

--kerfuffle

Add Bones, and Kirk becomes the third wheel. Not like they could hear him over their arguing, anyway ; )

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