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Hypercompetent Sidekick / Film

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  • In Without a Clue (1988), Sherlock Holmes is actually an incompetent stooge that fronts for Dr Watson, the true detective.
  • Cato Fong of the original The Pink Panther movies. Gilbert Ponton in the Steve Martin reboot.
  • Intolerable Cruelty names this trope "The Tenzing Norgay", after the Sherpa who helped Edmund Hillary get to the top of Mount Everest.
  • Vadinho from Puma Man is a Badass Normal who constantly hand-holds the nominal superhero Tony through the adventure and displays power and badassery in such quantity that you wonder why he needs Tony at all.
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  • An extreme example in Kato from The Green Hornet, who does all the work and is treated like a worthless sidekick until he rebels. This is because Bruce Lee, who played Kato in the series, is far better remembered than the actual character of the Green Hornet. Seth Rogen, who plays the Green Hornet in The Movie, also specializes in playing idiot slackers.
  • Gets a bit of discussion in Sky High (2005)
    Will: Do you hand [your Hero] A) his silver-tipped crossbow, B) a wooden stake, C)...
    Zach: I'm already holding his crossbow, why can't I just shoot it myself?
  • A prevalent running gag in Big Trouble in Little China. Jack Burton acts like the hero, but it's his sidekick Wang who actually knows what's going on. And yet it's Burton who kills the Big Bad by catching a knife thrown at him and "returning" it.
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  • Nobody will ever really understand why Jules agrees to serve under Reynolds Pirates XXX.
  • Warriors of the Wasteland (aka 'The New Barbarians'): the bow-and-arrow-wielding Nadir does a better job of dealing with the homicidal Templars than the purported hero, Scorpion. He does it so well that it's usually his character depicted on the cover.
  • Artoo Deetoo in Star Wars, particularly if viewed as specifically See Threepio's sidekick. In the original trilogy, he hacks the Death Star main computer to show its internal lay-out and shut down the trash compactors, keeps Luke's X-wing flying, and functions as a spy and monitoring station. He's also shown a number of times to be particularly brave and determined. In the prequels, it's the same story again: repairing a ship in hard vacuum while other droids blow up around him, flying, and once again hacking in the enemy's flagship.
    • In the Expanded Universe Artoo continues this trend. He's effectively saved entire planets and civilizations of the Galaxy numerous times thanks to saving Han, Luke, Leia, or whoever the hell he's with repeatedly despite great personal risk to his tiny droid self. It's all the more impressive that he accomplishes this without really having any direct defenses of his own.
    • Of course, Word of God from Lucas himself has (sometimes) been that what we see aren't the true events, it's Artoo telling the story to an alien race. It's entirely possible that he embellished a bit, especially since most of his biggest heroic moments had no organic witnesses.
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    • The Battle of Endor went from a disaster for the Rebels to victory simply because Chewie and two ewoks got the wild idea of hijacking an AT-ST in the ground battle. From there, the tables were turned on the Imperial ground troops, and then Han got the fake-out idea to lure the Imperials into opening the shield generator bunker, which then led to the bunker being blown sky-high, which then opened the way for the besieged Rebel fleet in orbit to do what they came there to do: destroy the Second Death Star.
    • In the Imperials' side, Captain-turned-Admiral Piett is this to Admiral Ozzel. Darth Vader recognizes this, which is why he Force-Chokes Ozzel for screwing up the attack on Hoth and promotes Piett to take his place.
  • In Steel, Steel's sidekick, Sparky, has a wheelchair that can shoot rapid fire energy blasts and fly. Since she has better powers and a better backstory, wouldn't the movie have been better if she was the lead?
  • Played straight from the point of view of the Watership Down rabbits in that Bigwig is tougher, stronger and more experienced in combat than Hazel, and in many warrens this would qualify him to be Chief, yet these rabbits have been through so much and come to respect Hazel's qualities of leadership, lateral thinking and delegation that he is, without having to even decide on it, the Chief. It's beautifully played with, though, when Bigwig faces down Woundwort at the end and informs him that his Chief told him to defend the run - Woundwort is visibly taken aback since he can't help but imagine the rabbit that could command Bigwig to be even stronger than him!
  • Played with in The Devil Wears Prada. On the one hand, Andy and Miranda's other employees are regularly expected to do the impossible instantly and perfectly. On the other hand, this is not because Miranda is a Fake Ultimate Hero; rather, she's The Ace and demands the same from everyone else. When Andy arrives for her interview during the fim's opening, she is informed that Miranda has burned through a long string of assistants because they were not hypercompetent enough.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Iron Man, Tony Stark may be able to build a miniature arc reactor in a cave, with a box of scraps, but it is no secret that for all his genius, he can't function without his ever faithful assistant, the beleaguered Pepper Potts. To the point that Tony doesn't even hesitate in making her the CEO of Stark Industries during the first sequel, seeing as she's essentially been running the company for him for years.
    • In Thor: The Dark World, Malekith is shown to be fairly powerful, but has not shown nearly as much skill or strength as his second-in-command, Kurse. While Malekith got defeated by Frigga in a sword-fight, Kurse easily defeated every Asgardian soldier in his way and gave Thor a beatdown almost as easily.
  • Tank Girl. The title character is fairly competent on her own, but her sidekick Jet Girl is significantly saner and somewhat more practical, meaning that because of her most of Tank Girl's schemes don't end with her dead.
  • In One, Two, Three Schlemmer (Hanns Lothar) often is this to C. R. MacNamara (James Cagney), as he is the one who has to implement most of his zany schemes.
  • Notably, this was the original plan for Disney's Aladdin, where the Evil Vizier Jafar would have been a bumbling fool with his competent parrot sidekick Iago providing the real brains of the operation. Then they switched roles and look out.
  • Despite officially being Mortdecai's assistant, Jock is responsible for almost all the heavy lifting and at least half the brainwork of what they do.
  • In Igor, the titular Igor is this to his idiotic master Doctor Glickenstein. However, due to abiding by stereotypes, Glickenstein refuses to listen to his advice and ends up blowing himself up early on in the movie.
  • In Sanjuro Muroto is this to Kikui.
  • Django Unchained's main villain is Calvin Candie, a foolish and pretentious dandy who the main characters outfox fairly easily. However, his head slave, Stephen, is a Category Traitor who quickly figures out what they're up to and exposes their whole scheme. It's heavily implied that Stephen is the one who actually runs Candie's plantation, which leaves Candie the freedom to sleep around and pretend to know French.


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