"I continue to be utterly mystified by why Lex, who is old enough to drink and has an awesome mansion, keeps hanging out with a bunch of high school seniors. He’s got to be like 25 by now."
and David Uzumeri on Smallville
Because we expect an older character to have more experience, a sidekick
older than the main hero is a rare thing. Outside traditional Super Hero
comics, there are several reasons to use them.
One is that the older character doesn't fall out of the Competence Zone
because they're under the direction of the hero, and thus doesn't undermine the maturity of the younger hero. If the relationship is close, the sidekick's more adult personality actually fulfills some parental role, which the hero might lack from having no family
, without being intrusive. On the other hand, the Older Sidekick
can be a non-threatening yet incredibly appealing fantasy object for the audience, who identifies with the main hero. A variant of this is when the younger character leads out of status or rank but requires the more experienced sidekick for advice. A typical example of this would be Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough
Another is that the main character may be too young or small for physical power. Their expertise lay elsewhere, thus the Older Sidekick
also is the Battle Butler
who goes everywhere
the main character does, instead of merely staying home and guarding/minding the house. Often, in these cases, there only appears to be an age difference, or the age difference is the opposite of what it appears
so it's not as hard to justify them hanging around each other
A related dynamic is when the two characters have a (increasingly) full equal partnership, but there's just enough of an age difference to create protective feelings in the older one. Usually both characters are designed to appeal to different segments of fandom
, and the story will end up using many designs that end up appealing to shippers (compare Seme
). Think a more intimate version of the Buddy Cop
In fact, the Older Sidekick
is very handy for lessening the perceived squick
of shipping the characters, as the audience seem much more willing to rationalize that the characters are on equal ground.
Contrast with The Obi-Wan
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Anime & Manga
- Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Moon's college-age boyfriend. He starts out as the Mysterious Protector, but quickly falls into sidekickdom by the end of the first season. Note that he's college-aged in The Nineties anime, whereas in the manga he still was attending High School.
- Vampire Princess Miyu's minion Larva was eventually revealed to be an incredibly attractive man underneath his mask, and due to fan pressure, we saw it much more frequently.
- Renamon and Ruki in Digimon Tamers. Their relationship is more of being actual contemporaries rather than a pet or babysitter dynamic, although this is probably more conductive to Ruki's original cold professionalism.
- A Message In The Packet takes it even further: Ruki calls Renamon her big sister several times in her message.
- Digimon Tamers actually has a number of these, since the series takes place (mostly) in the real world rather than the digital one. In the latter parts of the series, the kids are backed up by the middle-aged Monster Makers, as well as man in black Yamaki and his Hypnos organization. In fact, their ultimate triumph can be attributed fairly equally to the efforts of both children and adults.
- Villain example: Nappa is the older henchman to Prince Vegeta in the Saiyans arc of Dragon Ball Z. However, Vegeta was much more powerful than him, and quickly killed him when he was unable to fight anymore.
- Bee Train became famous for its "Girls With Guns" dynamic, usually featuring a hot, confident older woman partnered with a younger, shorter, but still quite capable girl.
- Lumeire and Eclair from Kiddy Grade are also an apparently older/younger girl duo. Many of the partner couples of the GOTT are like this in the series.
- Alyssa and Miyu from Mai-HiME. (Well, at least so it seems. Since Miyu was an android built specifically to protect Alyssa, the latter was technically slightly older.)
- Evangeline and Chachamaru in Mahou Sensei Negima!, though only in appearance (hundred-year-old vampire and two-year-old Robot). Negi and Asuna (and his other partners) along with Chamo are definitely played straighter.
- Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok has Yamino Ryuusuke, who looks ten or fifteen years the title character's senior, and is Loki's frequent sidekick, butler, housekeeper, voice of reason... oh, and son.
- Naruto: The Akatsuki usually pairs their members like this.
- Itachi (23) and Kisame (32)
- Deidara (19) and Tobi/ Obito Uchiha (possibly early-30's)
- Hidan (22) and Kakazu (91)
- In Chrono Crusade, Rosette tends to introduce Chrono as her assistant. In his usual form he looks to be a young teenager a few years younger than her, so this doesn't seem too odd at first, but in reality he's a demon who is actually closer to 90 years old. In his demon form, he looks closer to a man in his twenties and is much taller than her. And yes, he's very protective of her, and yes, they're the series' Official Couple.
- Arf of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha for Fate, though considering how she's a wolf familiar that Fate bonded with, she may be Younger Than She Looks (well, when she's not using her Fun Size mode).
- Arf, despite having been created two years before the original series, is "officially" 16 in the original series, having been a familiar long enough to attain an adult form, and tends to consider those in Fate's age group younger than she is.
- A straighter example is the Wolkenritter of Hayate, most of whom are not only older than Hayate in appearance, but they're all a lot older than her in age.
- Pop from Dai no Daibouken is a few years older than the protagonist Dai.
- Despite his 11-year seniority, Kisame from Naruto acknowledges his junior partner Itachi as the strongest of the duo and does everything he says without question. So that would indeed make him the sidekick.
- Though there are many fans who don't want to think of it this way, Kamina of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is really just an Older Sidekick to the true main character, Simon.
- They're Bash Brothers who are true equals, both excelling in the areas the other lacks in. Simon later outgrows Kamina, making the latter seem like an older sidekick in retrospect.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: To those who don't see him as a Big Brother Mentor, Maes Hughes is this to Roy Mustang.
- It's actually a subversion; Roy and Hughes are the exact same age. Hughes just seems older because he's more laid back and has a wife and child.
- Also Fu, one of Ling's bodyguards. Fu looks 60 or 70, and Ling is only 15. Justified in that Ling is a prince, and Fu's entire family serves the royal line.
- Sven Volfied of Black Cat is both Train's Older Sidekick and the Team Dad. His primary role (aside from kicking ass when necessary) is to be the voice of reason, maturity, and emotional stability, as Train's mental age is about 12 and Eve is discovering what emotions are.
- Rangiku Matsumoto serves as Toshiro Hitsugaya's lieutenant in Bleach, despite her being older and having been a Soul Reaper longer than he has.
- Tiger & Bunny has Wild Tiger (Kotetsu), a super hero in his late thirties that is losing popularity due to his age. To boost ratings for Hero TV, Tiger's sponsors assign him to be the sidekick of the 23 year old hero Barnaby. The age difference between them is often emphasized, with Barnaby insultingly referring to Tiger as "Old Man" for almost the entire first half of the season. By the end of the show, Wild Tiger regains respect and is acknowledged as having an equal partnership with Barnaby.
- The Golden Age DCU had the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, his adult sidekick. This was brought back in The Modern Age of Comic Books in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E and also in Justice League Unlimited, although the potential squick is reduced because her sidekick (the original Stripesy) is her stepfather, tagging along to keep her out of trouble.
- Jon Sable's old fencing coach Sonny Pratt appointed himself to this role in Jon Sable, Freelance.
- Back in The Golden Age of Comic Books, a lot of superheroes had older Plucky Comic Relief sidekicks. The best remembered today is probably Doiby Dickles, the cab-driving associate of the original Green Lantern.
- Another example would be Uncle Marvel, adopted uncle of Captain Marvel.
- Actually, the entire Marvel Family is older than Billy.
- In the 1989-93 NOW Comics comic book adaptation of The Green Hornet, Hayashi Kato (sidekick of the second Green Hornet, based on the Bruce Lee role in the 1966 TV adaptation) becomes Older Sidekick to Alan and Paul Reid (the third and fourth Hornets, respectively).
- Digby, Dan Dare's Plucky Comic Relief sidekick.
- Rayek in ElfQuest has Ekuar, who can kick ass with a twinkle in his eye despite years of slavery, torture and mutilation at the hands of the trolls.
- Rip Hunter and Booster Gold are an interesting case. Since Rip Hunter is the leader of the Time Masters, Booster could be considered his sidekick — except he's actually Rip's father later in the timeline. Rip, in turn, is advised by the older Booster from time to time.
- Captain Haddock, Tintin's sidekick, starting in 1941.
- Héctor Germán Oesterheld was a sidekick of El Eternauta at the second volume. In this case, El Eternauta is the main character, and Oesterheld is simply an Author Avatar of the real Oesterheld.
- Subverted by the team of Venus and Cupid in Big Bang Comics. They're both immortal gods, but Venus looks like she's under 30 and Cupid looks like he's pushing 60. However, Venus is actually the older of the two, and is in fact Cupid's stepmother.
- Though he didn't appear in any actual stories, the "History of Big Bang" issues note that the Golden Age Beacon had an older sidekick, Aloysius "Oily" Boid, in the fashion of the Green Lantern and Doiby Dickles.
- In Books 3 and 4 of The Faerie Queene, the only female knight, Britomart, is accompanied by her old nanny, Glauce, disguised as her squire.
- In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is a child of about 9-12 years old. The ages of her companions tend to vary by adaptation or interpretation. Going by the book, though, Nick Chopper (the Tin Woodsman) was a full-grown man before the Witch's curse caused him to become a steampunk cyborg.
- Amped up in Tin Man where DG is explicitly stated to be 20 "annuals" old. Glitch and Cain are easily 15-20 years older, the former being an obviously long-term adviser/old friend to her mother, the latter having a son roughly DG's age.
- In the third and fourth Song of the Lioness books, having won her shield, Alanna goes out to roam the world. Her only travelling companions are her cat Faithful and Coram, technically in her employ, but more or less a father figure.
- Artemis Fowl is always accompanied by his Battle Butler (known, self-descriptively, as Butler). The author justifies the name as the fact that one of Butler's ancestors may have been the person whose name became the title of the profession. This is an artistic liberty, since Butler comes from the Old French word for "wine bottle" by way of the Anglo-French word for cup-bearer.
- Modern-day paladin Michael Carpenter plays this role whenever he pairs up with Harry Dresden in The Dresden Files
- Harry is often paired up with Thomas His older brother, who fits this role as well.
- Karrin Murphy, who is four years older than Harry, also fits this role.
- This is Older Than Feudalism: In Homer's The Iliad, Patroclus was traditionally an Older Sidekick (and, later, the ultimate Dead Sidekick) to Achilles, although modern adaptations such as the movie Troy tend to portray him as younger to be more in keeping with audience expectations.
- Sergeant Lewis to Inspector Morse in the original novels.
- In Harry Potter, both Ron and Hermione are - albeit slightly - older than the title character.
- Marc to Jame in Chronicles of the Kencyrath.
- In the Chronicles of Prydain, Fflewddur Fflam is the Older Sidekick to Taran and Eilonwy, who are barely out of their teens. He subverts the expectation that he would be more mature and responsible than them, however, being something of a romantic and a daydreamer (although he's still handy in a fight).
- In the Belgariad, Garion has several older companions who're basically there to fight his battles, since he's still a child and has no real combat training for most of the series. By the time of the second quintology, several years have passed and he's more than capable of taking on enemies himself, so his former companions get a side story throughout the books instead of being part of Garion's party.
- In the Elenium by the same author, middle-aged knight Sparhawk has an even older squire called Kurik. When asked by his childhood friend why he didn't just let Kurik retire, since every other knight in the order had learned to make do without a squire by this point, Sparhawk replied that Kurik had been placed in his service since he was a boy and he wouldn't even know where to begin in telling his oldest companion his services were no longer required.
Live Action TV
- Former spy Michael Westen of Burn Notice frequently calls for assistance from his best friend, retired Cold Warrior Sam Axe, who generally enjoys the opportunity for adventure.
- On an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, it was revealed that Iolaus is actually older than Hercules by two years.
- Rather odd considering that in the myth, he's Heracles' NEPHEW.
- Doctor Who:
- Captain Jack Harkness to the Doctor in the two-parter "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End". After being trapped under Cardiff for 2000 years in his spinoff show Torchwood, he's now twice as old as the Doctor, who claimed to be 903 around that time.
- Though naturally much younger than The Doctor, Wilf in "The End of Time" certainly looks the part, being the Doctor's oldest human companion.
- In series 5, Rory Williams became this, being an Auton replicant with Rory's memories, standing by the Pandorica for 2,000 years. Though by the end of "The Big Bang", he's now back in his twenties, with his millennia of memories locked away unless necessary.
- In Big Finish Doctor Who, the Sixth Doctor is accompanied by Dr. Evelyn Smythe. At age fifty-five she is perhaps the second oldest human companion behind Wilf.
- The actor who plays John Watson in BBC's Sherlock is five years older than the one who plays Sherlock. However, the age difference isn't obvious and so far hasn't come up on the show.
- Dorota to Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl.
- Mike to Gus in Breaking Bad. Neither is particularly young, but Mike is clearly older.
- Dominic Santini to Stringfellow Hawke in Airwolf
- "Hop hop, Mr. Bubbles!"
- K' from The King of Fighters has Maxima, who has to keep his younger partner's temper in check at times.
- Cloud, the Hero, and Barret, the Lancer, from Final Fantasy VII. Barret is fourteen years older than Cloud. Interestingly, neither of them are particularly mature - Cloud spent his formative years in a People Jar and has the emotional maturity of a sixteen-year-old as a result, and Barret is emotionally driven to the point of completely neglecting to think his actions through. They seem to cancel each other out.
- Metal Gear Solid 2 does the equal-partnership-with-paternity-and-fan-service thing, and (oddly for the series) it's played straight and isn't deconstructive. Raiden is the Bishōnen, and the main character. Snake is a Cool Old Guy, the side character, and mentors Raiden. Both are very sexy.
- Both of the sidekick NPCs from Beyond Good & Evil are significantly older than the 21-year-old protagonist Jade. One of them is her middle-aged "uncle," the other is a soldier in his mid-30s.
- Pint-sized sixteen or twenty-one year-old detective Johnny Garland has an older sidekick in the form of Battle Butler Lenny in the game Shadow Hearts: From the New World. He's also the youngest member of the party. He's not alone, either: Shania has Natan as a bodyguard, and Hilda has Roger Bacon, although the two of them would disagree on which is the sidekick.
- Phoenix's regular partner in the Ace Attorney saga is his young assistant Maya Fey, but when he needs extra assistance he calls Maya's older sister Mia fey, who fits in this trope. Also, Mia's assistants were her mentors Marvin Grossberg and Diego Armando, both older than her. Then Apollo was assisted in his first case by his mentor Kristoph Gavin, and later Phoenix himself, and finally in the Spinoff Ace Attorney Investigations, Edgeworth is helped by the older Detective Gumshoe.
- Scaler has the Kid Hero Scaler assisted by Leon, a jowly lizard-man with a Giant Flyer. While they don't exactly get along well at first, eventually they take a shine to each other. Good thing, too, since Leon is Scaler's long-lost father.
- Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army has Talking Animal Spirit Advisor Gouto-douji, who is over a thousand years older than the eponymous protagonist.
- Sengoku Basara has two instances of these. First is Date Masamune's Battle Butler Katakura Kojuro, who has a good ten years on his master and is implied to be somewhat stronger, and second is Sanada Yukimura's Ninja Sarutobi Sasuke. Both examples also play the part of the Hypercompetent Sidekick to their rather young and inexperienced leaders, serving as a calmer counterpart to the Hot-Blooded teenagers. Incidentally, both masters and sidekicks are rivals to one another.
- Donald Duck and Goofy to Sora in the Kingdom Hearts series. While they're Funny Animals who don't really have a set age, they're still pretty much adults.
- Baldur's Gate has Jaheira and Khalid, two sensible elves and old friends of your foster father. While you don't have to bring them along (or even meet them at all, if you so choose), they are canonical in the sequel, not to mention that you're given explicit instructions to seek them out.
- Fallout 2 has Cassidy. Though his character model lacks the detail to confirm it, he is firmly established to be in at least his late fifties. Marcus would also qualify; his Super Mutant status has made him stop aging, but her served in the Master's army during Fallout—eighty years previous.
- Since the player in Fallout 3 is 19 years old, every companion except Dogmeat (a dog) and Butch (someone your character grew up with) qualifies. In particular:
- RL-3 and Charon from Fallout 3 technically qualify (Charon is a nuclear mutant who could be as old as 240, while RL-3 is a model of robot that hasn't been in production for 200 years), but it is more obvious with Star Paladin Cross. Cross mentions to the player that she carried you once, when you were a baby. Jericho, a recruitable former raider, is nearing 65 years old, according to source material.
- As in previous examples, Raul and Lily from Fallout: New Vegas. While Raul and Lily have the same age-defying abilities as Charon and Marcus (respectively), they come across as much older because of Raul's constant referring to himself as a feeble old man (and his loyalty quest hinging on it), and Lily's mental instability leading her to mistake the Courier for her grandchild.
- Kraden fills this role to every Golden Sun hero as a noncombatant scholarly advisor. In The Lost Age, Piers also fits the role, with Felix as the leader.
- In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Matthew (sixteen) is helped along his quest by the aforementioned Kraden (who is now over one hundred), Eoleo (a little over thirty), and Amiti (twenty-ish). The latter two don't exactly look or act their ages, though.
- Kumatora and Duster to Lucas in Mother 3. Duster is explicitly in his thirties. Kumatora's age is more vague, but she could be anywhere from an older teen to a young twentysomething.
- All of Oliver's party members in Ni No Kuni are older than he is. Esther is only a few years older, but Swaine is about thirty and his little brother, Marcassin, is in his early twenties. Exposition Fairy Drippy, the most explicitly "sidekickish" of them, is old enough to have traveled with the Great Sage Alicia when she was younger, and acts a bit like a man in his forties.
- Small Annoying Creature and borderline Team Pet Riki, from Xenoblade. Although his cuteness makes his age difficult to ascertain and he talks like a small child, he's actually a forty-year-old father of nine. Technically speaking, Melia is older, but because she ages differently due to her race, she's functionally the same age as the rest of the party.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender : Not only was Aang the youngest member of his trio in the first season (sort of), but the cheerful and experienced General Iroh is the foil to the bitter but complex teenage Anti-Villain Prince Zuko.
- In Mighty Max, the titular hero is a twelve year old boy so he has his Body Guard Norman do all the killing. Meanwhile Virgil who is even older, serves part as his boss (telling him what needs to be done) but more as a sidekick, helping him out and giving him details he'll need to know.
- Jake in Adventure Time for Finn.
- Hudson to Goliath in Gargoyles
- It used to be the other way around, but Hudson chose to step down from the leadership of the clan due to old age.
- The Optimus Prime of Transformers Animated is much younger than most of his incarnations, being the rough equivalent of a squad commander in his 20's/30's. Two members of his unit - Ratchet and Prowl - are both older than him due to pre-dating the Great War.
- In American politics, a degree of value is placed on the youthfulness of the President. Vice Presidents are often older and more politically experienced. This is considered a good balance because the younger President attracts youth voters and is seen as dynamic, while the older VP contributes an air of stability that helps in other demographics.