Follow TV Tropes


Dead Sidekick

Go To

"My friend is dead, Patroclus, my dearest friend of all. I loved him, and I killed him... Hector cut him down! I no longer have the will to remain alive among men, not unless Hector loses his life on the point of my spear and pays for despoiling Menoetius's son."
Achilles, The Iliad

Killing off a character's closest friend can have serious consequences.

At this point a hero may become much more serious at his work. For a character who already rides the fence between good and evil, this can be enough to totally push them over the edge. And both will sometimes find a way to blame themselves for it. Optional routes are a nervous breakdown, a lifelong vendetta against their killers, and/or a brief retirement. It's likely the hero will take an I Work Alone attitude, at least for a while. In anime this also can occur with the death of partner mons.

Smarter Sidekicks will often notice they're Friendly Targets.

See also Dead Partner, a partner who dies in the line of duty, and Tragic Bromance, the death of a same-sex true companion that causes a dramatic turn in the story. Compare and contrast the Mentor Occupational Hazard, where the more experienced of a pair of characters is killed off.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: In Dragon Ball Z, after Frieza (who was assumed dead) emerges out of the ocean, he wastes no time killing Goku's best friend, Krillin. Goku goes over the edge and turns into a Super Saiyan, then kicks the crap out of Frieza. Demon King Piccolo made roughly the same mistake nine (in series) years earlier in Dragon Ball, and Super 17 would make it again 34 years later in Dragon Ball GT, with roughly the same results.
  • Takeru's Angemon in Digimon Adventure died (and came Back from the Dead) when Takeru was a small child; the resulting trauma led him to become radical against some enemies (not all of them) in Digimon Adventure 02, although he wasn't the only one in the group willing to kill his enemies. This wouldn't be the only time a partner was killed — Wormmon, Leomon, and Masaru's Agumon are the other offenders. However, Leomon didn't come back.
    • Leomon's death, in particular, was taken exceedingly well.
    • Basically, in every series, one of the partners will die. Leomon comes from a Darker and Edgier series where Digimon don't just revert to egg form but properly die. Also, a Leomon will die. Interestingly, in Digimon Frontier, the kids become Digimon, and one Digimon's highest level is JagerLowemon, also known as KaiserLeomon. Yes, he dies. But he gets better.
  • Not quite a sidekick, because she was rejected as such by Mai, but whenever Sayuri in Kanon was hurt by the demons (which was usually pretty badly, and she would have died were it not for Mai's healing), Mai went almost crazy in her attacks on them.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Played with during the Dark Tournament Arc: Yusuke lies on the arena floor beaten by Toguro, who provokes Yusuke to go on fighting by attacking and killing Yusuke's best friend Kuwabara. Not only does Yusuke find the strength to stand up again, he also proceeds to thoroughly kick Toguro's butt. After the battle is over, however, Kuwabara reveals that he's Not Quite Dead. Toguro missed his vitals, but Kuwabara played dead, knowing that his "death" would give Yusuke the determination needed to defeat Toguro. Of course Kuwabara almost suffered death AGAIN when Yusuke realized he'd been fooled, and only the collapse of the arena snapped him out of the semi-murderous rage.
    • Yusuke returned the favor by letting Sensui kill him to awaken Kuwabara's greatest powers. But don't worry, he comes Back from the Dead as an even more bad ass character.
  • Subverted in Episode Five of Mnemosyne. Mimi's stronghold is attacked by a cyborg Laura and a squad of Angels. Mimi herself is kidnapped and Rin rushes to the top of the temple to save her, expecting the worst. However, instead of killing Mimi first, Apos cuts to the chase and just kills Rin instead.
  • Played with in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The hero Kamina is killed, only his sidekick was actually the real hero and Kamina enabled him. Suffice it to say an angst-fueled breakdown ensued.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • A Death in the Family: The death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, had a long-lasting impact on both Batman and the role of Robin, to the extent that Batman considers Jason's death the greatest mistake he'd wish to fix. The third Robin describes his entire career as being spent under Jason's shadow, and other characters define Jason's death as the turning point after which Batman became Darker and Edgier.
    • A Bat Family Crossover directly before Jason Todd's proper return ended with the death of Stephanie Brown, briefly Robin.
    • Infinite Crisis was originally planned to kill Nightwing. Ultimately averted, as Nightwing survived and DC settled for killing off Superboy instead.
    • The fifth Robin, Damian Wayne, was killed in a 2013 story. For those of you keeping score at home, that's three-fifths of Batman's sidekicks — Jason, Stephanie, and Damian — who have died. Every single one of them was resurrected after varying lengths of time, though.
    • The Batwoman series has Batman warn the title character of this happening, and that the sidekick in question may come back from the dead. This inspires Kate to try to get rid of Bette/Flamebird before anything can happen, and when she strikes out on her own she gets maimed, though not killed, and it weighs heavy on Kate.
  • Captain America had long felt guilty about his sidekick Bucky Barnes's death, occasionally falling into angsty despair over it. This was used against him by various villains from time to time. It used to be the major flaw of Modern Cap in his earliest days until Stan Lee and Jim Steranko recognized how old it was and had Rick Jones tell Cap to "Quit Your Whining" and get over it. Bucky, however, isn't quite dead...
  • Played with in Earth X and sequels: most of Captain America's sidekicks (not just Bucky Barnes) have died. In Earth X, "Daredevil", whose ability to regenerate damage prevents him from dying, teams up with Cap in the hopes of being killed. It doesn't work, but Daredevil eventually gets his wish. In Universe X, Cap becomes the sidekick of the reincarnated Captain Mar-Vell, and promptly gets killed mid-series.
  • In a rare occasion of the sidekick being killed by the hero, in Irredeemable The Plutonian lobotomized his sidekick Samsara after his Face–Heel Turn. This was presumably done to keep him from telling people the secret to his powers.
  • The Incredible Hulk: In the early 90s, the Hulk had a sidekick named Jim Wilson, a homeless kid with HIV. Eventually he died of AIDS in a Very Special Episode.
  • Inverted in the All-Star Squadron sequel series The Young All-Stars, where Dyna-Mite, the sidekick of the T.N.T. and Dyna-Mite duo, survived while his mentor T.N.T. was killed. This led to Dyna-Mite thinking that he couldn't use his dyna-ring power anymore since it required his partner to activate it with his dyna-ring, but he eventually found out that he could reactivate the power by wearing both dyna-rings and pressing them together himself.
  • Superman's partner Supergirl was killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Four of his friends/sidekicks were killed in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?: Pete Ross, Lana Lang, Krypto the Superdog, and Jimmy Olsen.
  • Anya Corazón's older sidekick Miguel the mage got killed.
  • In Tomboy, her friends' deaths change Addi for the worse: Nick's death pushes Addi go down a slope of crime and mental illness, and Jess's death is her Despair Event Horizon.
  • Wrong Earth, being a riff on the Batman mythos, naturally sees Dragonfly's sidekick Stinger being killed by his arch-nemesis Number One.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Captive Light, Patamon gets killed off. Even though he got better, his death still gives T.K. nightmares.
  • Jessica gives the unusual case of a real protagonist with a virtual sidekick dying: the title character (a Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow) dies after the protagonist, Cameron, accidentally destroys the game cartridge.
  • In Pokémon Strangled Red, Miki is Steven's dead sidekick in the hacked game. Her death sends Steven into a depression that he never conquers.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the whole reason Tom Sawyer joined the League was because the Fantom had murdered Huck Finn. Note that this is not included in the actual film; it's revealed in a deleted scene shown only on the DVD.
  • Constantine (2005): The title character has three of his sidekicks die on him during the movie: Hennessy, Beeman and Chas Kramer. Chas finally gets a taste of the action and helps subdue Mammon only to be killed by Gabriel midway through his bad ass favorite phrase.
  • Jimmy Hart for Richard Chance from To Live and Die in L.A..
  • Appears to be inverted in Pacific Rim where Hot-Blooded Raleigh seemed to be the sidekick to his more down-to-earth brother who was killed in the battle against Knifehead.
  • The Third Man: Harry Lime serves this role, having been run over by a car in Vienna. He is revealed to be alive and well.
  • In the Line of Fire: Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan wants to stop Leary from killing the President even more after Leary shoots his partner Al, shortly after Frank convinced Al not to quit the service. Additionally, a minute before Leary shoots Al, Frank has a chance to kill Leary at the cost of his own life but fails to do so.
  • Two-thirds of the way through Top Gun, Goose is killed in a training accident, sending Maverick into a Heroic BSoD that nearly ends his career.
  • During the final battle in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan's young ally Joachim and Kirk's best friend Spock die.
  • Traffic (2000): Both Mexican cop Javier Rodriguez and DEA agent Gordon have to deal with a close friend and colleague being murdered.

  • After Achilles retires to his tent due to a quarrel with Agamemnon, his sidekick Patroclus dons his armor and rallies the hard-pressed Achaeans, only to be killed by Hector. Achilles hears about this and snaps, going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In The Hunger Games Katniss's ally, Rue, is killed. This is the first thing that really helps set Katniss off against the Capitol, as she sees Rue's death as their fault because they're the ones who made the Hunger Games in the first place.
  • Horatio Hornblower loses several protégés over the course of his career. There's Wellard from Lieutenant Hornblower, Longley in Ship of the Line, Mound in The Commodore, and finally Bush in Lord Hornblower. All but Bush are extremely promising young officers who die as a consequence of war being random, cruel, and unfair.
  • In Space Glass, this happens to Marvelous as each of his closest companions die. He finally snaps and goes ballistic on the mercs after the Marauder dies.

    Live Action TV 
  • Adam-12: The one-episode sidekick Tom Porter in Season 3's "Elegy for a Pig". Porter, a police officer who is killed in the line of duty (while trying to thwart a robbery), is established as a best friend of the series main protagonist, Officer Pete Malloy. This Very Special Episode highlights their friendship and shows that policemen are more than policemen, but friends, family members and much more.
  • The Future Badass version of Hiro in Heroes went from idealist to Zen Survivor due to the death of Ando.
  • On Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Herc's li'l buddy Iolaus is possessed by an evil god and killed. And replaced by his Mirror Universe comic relief doppelganger (never mind the previously-established rules that said if you die, your Mirror Universe counterpart also dies). And eventually brought back in time for the finale.
  • Happens to the Doctor from Doctor Who on occasion, to the point where Wikipedia has taken note.
    • The Doctor's companions very rarely die, though. They may leave voluntarily, be returned home and/or mind-wiped or be stranded in a parallel universe, but the vast majority survive their travels. The only long-term companion to die while traveling with the Doctor is Adric, and it's clear the Doctor feels somewhat responsible for his death. Indeed, the Fifth Doctor's last thought as he regenerates is "Adric?"
    • There's some ambiguity as to what counts as a companion, though. A lot of characters ride with the Doctor and company for one adventure in a companion-y role and just as it looks like they're about to sign on, they get Exterminated or something. If you have to actually be an ongoing member of the gang, then in the history of ever, one companion has died. Alas, poor Adric. If the Astrids of the world count, then companions die a lot. Either way, their deaths do cause the Doctor pain.
    • Then there's Clara who sort of died twice BEFORE becoming a companion, possibly more off screen. Then, after a long period as a companion got Killed Off for Real, but was taken out of time by the Doctor after a Heroic BSoD. Her body is technically frozen in time and was last seen travelling in her own TARDIS and will eventually have to return to the moment of her death.
  • Richie in season 6 of Highlander after Duncan accidentally kills him.
  • Inverted in Stargirl (2020), where Starman Sylvester Pemberton dies in the beginning of the first episode, while his sidekick Stripesy survives.

  • Older Than Dirt: In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the story turns from being a story about the shenanigans of two super-powerful best buddies to a tragic tale of the futile quest for immortality on the death of Gilgamesh's Enkidu.

    Tabletop Games 


    Video Games 
  • Hawk's death at the hands of the Big Bad in Soldier of Fortune.
  • The World Ends with You Rhyme to Beat. Of course Beat, Shiki, and Joshua themselves count as dead sidekicks.
  • Fairly common in RPGs is to have a cast member who's important, but not too important to the main character or plot die to heighten the tension.
  • Final Fantasy has Galuf in V, Aerith in VII, possibly Shadow in VI.
  • Mass Effect can have Wrex on Virmire if your Charm or Intimidate aren't high enough. Also, you have to choose whether to save Kaidan or Ashley die there. The person you don't pick dies and you and the remaining character will grieve for them.
  • Toyed with in, of all things, Pokémon Black and White. The loss of one of his Pokémon to disease was the big reason Alder left the Unova League to its Elite Four to wander in mourning. He manages to come around as a result of Team Plasma's heightened activity, especially when N gets ahold of Reshiram or Zekrom. If Ghetsis was counting on using this knowledge in an attempt to demotivate Alder, it certainly didn't work.
  • It's implied in Pokémon X and Y that Looker's Croagunk died on a mission prior to the events of the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony sees Decoy Protagonist Kaede Akamatsu fall into this role. Due to being the blackened of the first case, she is given a Cruel and Unusual Death, kickstarting Shuichi’s character development. Notably, instead of the usual reactions associated with the trope, Shuichi instead becomes a stronger person, as he decides to try and follow in Kaede’s footsteps of being The Leader of the group.
  • Your Turn to Die sees the first chapter end with the reveal that Sara’s close friend Joe had ended up with the Sacrifice role, thereby dooming him to die. This, combined with a fake Hope Spot provided by Sue Miley, causes a lot of trauma for Sara, leading to her having hallucinations of Joe blaming her for his demise. The following chapter even adds a Sanity Meter relating to these hallucinations.

  • In the webcomic Everyday Heroes, Iron Jane witnesses the murder of Golden Jane by their team leader. (Although, strictly speaking, Iron Jane is Goldie's sidekick, not the other way 'round.) This, along with her villainous family treating her as a useful tool while the hero who captured her treated her like a human being, drove her to a Heel–Face Turn.

    Web Original 
  • According to Ka-Pow!, Flippy of Happy Tree Friends fame has two: Sneaky and Mouse Ka-Boom. To make matters worse, he was the one who accidently killed them both.

    Western Animation 
  • Implied in the animated Doctor Who serial "Scream Of The Shalka". The dead woman the Doctor alludes to seems to be the main reason for why he's become Darker and Edgier (and also maybe why he's a bit of a lush).
  • Parodied in the Freakazoid! episode "Fanboy", where Freakazoid loses his most recent sidekick, the aptly named "Expendable-Lad", in a fight with the villain Milkman. However, Expendable-Lad isn't actually dead; he just ends up in the hospital with a bruised clavicle, but Freakazoid mourns him like he died. When the focus of the episode, the portly and irritating Fanboy, shows up and asks to be Freakazoid's new sidekick, Freakazoid says he can't take more guilt.
    • Freakazoid actually has a whole hall of former sidekicks, but most of them just left rather than died. Handman (Freakazoid's right hand) quit after marrying Freakazoid's left hand, and Freakazoid let his personal favorite, Foamy The Freaka-Dog, go... mainly because Foamy was rabid and completely insane and spent more of his time mauling Freakazoid than he did fighting criminals.
  • Inverted in Pibby. One of the worlds seen in the trailer is a city inhabited by a traditional superhero and his young sidekick. A later scene shows the former being assimilated by the Eldritch Abomination antagonist (hammered home by Pibby's narration concurrently saying that "there's no superheroes left"), which is implied to leave the sidekick with insecurities about his ability to save the world on his own.