Follow TV Tropes


Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick

Go To

Where the hero is anti heroic, their sidekick or lancer is nicer.

The Anti-Hero can be anywhere in the spectrum, from a Sociopathic Hero to a really virtuous but mean one. The sidekick, by contrast, openly cares about other people and tries to respect their feelings. The sidekick commonly tries to balance out the hero's mean disposition and/or to be their voice of reason. If the hero is rude because they just think oddly, the sidekick may be a Cloudcuckoolander's Minder.

Depending on whether the story is idealistic or cynical, a plot involving the two can either be:

  1. The idealistic side: The nice sidekick trying to turn the anti-hero into a nicer one and succeeds in the end.
  2. The cynical side: The anti-hero shows the sidekick that being nice won't do them any good. The sidekick being nice is portrayed as misguided.
  3. The neither side: Either nothing changes between the two, or the hero becomes slightly nicer and the sidekick becomes slightly meaner.

The niceness of the sidekick and the rudeness of the hero are relative: a mean sidekick to a meaner hero will still count as this.

Subtrope of Foil. May overlap with Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl if the hero is a guy and their sidekick is a girl, or Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough, when it's done with an Officer and a Gentleman and a coarse Sergeant Rock. Compare Noble Top Enforcer (the Evil Counterpart for the nice sidekick), Morality Chain (someone that keeps the borderline-good guy from turning bad), Morality Pet (someone who exists to humanize a bad guy/make them more relatable), and The Lancer. Often results in a Good Cop/Bad Cop situation. Hypocritical Heartwarming may also apply if the hero is harsh on their sidekick but even harsher on anyone else who doesn't treat them well.

Contrast the Sarcastic Devotee (who is generally ruder than their leader) and Psycho Sidekick (who's defined by being less moral than the hero). Certain variants can overlap with Defrosting Ice Queen. Sub-Trope to Aloof Leader, Affable Subordinate.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan: At least initially, Armin is more gentle and compassionate compared to the fairly hotheaded Eren's hate-fueled kill-everything mentality. As time goes on, it's shown that Armin has a bit of a manipulative streak when it comes to dealing with his enemies, showing that he's not quite as nice as he seems.
  • Berserk: Guts is a Nominal Hero, and initially a '90s Anti-Hero, who is deliberately callous and mean to anyone who tries to make friends with him, partly for their own good. Puck, his Fairy Companion, is a cheerful soul with a strong moral compass, often criticizing Guts for antagonizing people and acting as his Morality Chain whether he likes it or not.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: An example of being The Lancer than the sidekick, Alphonse Elric is very much the more approachable and affable of the Elric Brothers, despite often being confused for Edward Elric (and he being a soul sealed in a suit of armor). Ed meanwhile is a cynical individual due to the trauma he and his brother endured, the responsibilities of fixing what he has done, and just his mercurial personality. He does undergo Character Development that has him soften up a bit and open up to people.
  • Shiki from The Garden of Sinners is a borderline psychotic sociopath who, nonetheless, is one of the "good guys" because most of the people she fights are even worse. Her sidekick and love interest Mikiya, on the other hand, is a compassionate and morally upstanding individual with whom everyone wants to be friends—including some of the villains Shiki has to fight later.
  • Kill la Kill: Ryuko is Hot-Blooded, belligerent, and prone to swearing, while Mako is incredibly supportive and nearly incapable of hating anyone. The two become best friends because of Mako's kindhearted personality, and Ryuko herself becomes a nicer person thanks to Mako's influence.
  • In Blazblue Phase Shift, the nice and caring Celica plays the nice sidekick to the sardonic and rude hero Bloodedge.
  • Muhyo and Roji fit this, as the former is a Brilliant, but Lazy Insufferable Genius who is also a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, while the latter is a somewhat inept Nice Guy who has good people skills.
  • In Girls und Panzer, Katyusha, commander of the Pravda team, is a Tiny Tyrannical Girl who enjoys looking down on her opponents, both figuratively and literally. Her vice-captain Nonna is a quiet, levelheaded, and relatively polite individual.
  • Inverted with Usagi and Chibiusa from Sailor Moon. Usagi is a compassionate All-Loving Hero, while her sidekick Chibiusa a rude Bratty Half-Pint who loves to belittle Usagi. Chibiusa does get better after Episode 73 by becoming far less rude to Usagi and having a much better relationship with her, though she still has her habit of messing with Usagi every once in a while.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS has Yusaku and Kusanagi. While the protagonist, Yusaku starts out as a Jerkass Anti-Hero who has no problem speaking his mind and giving unsolicited criticism, and avoids practically all human interaction besides Kusanagi. In contrast, Kusanagi is his genuinely friendly support hacker as well as older brother figure, though Yusaku does become somewhat nicer and more willing to build bridges as the series progresses.
  • Inverted with Mametchi & Memetchi from Tamagotchi, Mametchi is the nice and compassionate hero of the series while Memetchi can be bossy and stubborn, she is also one of the two sidekicks of the series alongside Kuchipatchi.

    Comic Books 

  • Batman:
    • Robin (Dick, Jason, Tim, Steph, not Damian) is nicer than the stoic, straight-laced Batman. This is even part of what made up Tim's argument that Batman needs a Robin, since having one to act helpful and kind balanced him out and helped smooth things over with law enforcement.
      • Flipped when Dick became Batman and was paired up with a deadly-serious Robin in Damian.
    • When Bruce works with Cassandra Cain, his harsh, Terror Hero demeanor is often contrasted with her All-Loving Hero status, especially in how they treat criminals.
    • When Huntress is teamed with another of the Birds of Prey, the person with her is almost always the nicer one.
    • In Batgirl (2009), Stephanie is much more kind and upbeat than Barbara who tends to be rather strict, bordering on harsh.
  • Sonic the Comic: Sonic and Tails. Unlike the games continuity where he is laid-back and nice (though cocky), Sonic is terribly rude, self-centered, and immature while Tails is the nice one who would always be on the receiving end of Sonic's bullying.
  • X-Men:
    • When the mean and rude Wolverine has a sidekick, they're usually the nicer one.
    • Nightcrawler is most often used as comic relief.
    • Kitty Pryde, before Wolvie had her taught ninja skills, was the innocent.
    • Jubilee was also innocent before she had to face the Reavers to protect Wolverine.

    Fan Works 
  • Agreement and Disputation: While Watson can become ferocious when in a temper, he generally pays more attention to people's feelings and to social niceties than Holmes, who believes anyone who truly needs his genius will have to put up with his blunt manner. The doctor tells him more than once that his lack of politeness and tolerance will frighten off all potential clients, especially refined ones.
  • In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the cynical, short-fused human lawyer Estermann and his Equestrian liaison Lyra Heartstrings, who is a lot nicer and bubblier than him, are becoming this.
  • Otacon of Metal Gear Solid plays this role in Stray, but as a foil to Adamska instead of Snake.

     Film — Animation 
  • Despicable Me 2: Gru may have retired as a villain, but he's still a jerk to anyone who isn't part of his family. His partner Lucy, on the other hand, is a bubbly Nice Girl who's friendly to everyone.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: Basil, a Good Is Not Nice detective, has a tendency to be brusque and unconcerned with others (he has No Social Skills), while Dr. Dawson is a sensitive guy who gets involved in the adventure to begin with because he can't stand to see a little girl cry. Given that this is a Sherlock Holmes story with mice, the dynamic between Basil and Dawson mirrors the one between Holmes and Watson. This being Disney, he (and Olivia) wind up defrosting Basil.
  • Sherlock Gnomes: Sherlock gets wrapped up in himself quite a bit and even treats Watson poorly. The considerably friendlier Watson sticks with him and tries to clean up the messes resulting from his harshness. It ends up deconstructed. Eventually even Watson has enough and temporarily collaborates with Moriarty due to Sherlock's poor behavior.
  • Shrek: Shrek is rather grumpy and crude, whereas his sidekick Donkey, as irritating as he may be, is much more well-meaning and out-going.

     Film — Live Action 

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg is the rude and jerky protagonist, while his best friend/sidekick Rowley is more cheerful and innocent (and constantly taken advantage of by Greg).
  • Discworld: Cynical, grizzled, Hates Everyone Equally Commander Sir Samuel Vimes, and honest, upright, and unfailingly polite Captain Carrot. Over the course of the books, Vimes softens a bit, and Carrot gets plenty of opportunities to show that being the only idealist in the city doesn't make him soft or dumb, but neither changes their basic nature.
  • Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Don Quixote. While well-intentioned, Don Quixote's delusions of grandeur make him insufferable to those who meet him, while the good-natured, friendly Sancho Panza has a much better grounding in reality and sometimes does what he can to defuse dangerous or embarrassing situations.
  • In the Gentleman Bastard series, the protagonist, Locke Lamora, is a fairly amoral character who is characterized as being somewhat obnoxious and letting his cleverness and tongue get ahead of him. His best friend and "sidekick", Jean Tannen, is a Genius Bruiser who is generally polite and friendly unless roused, and while still a con artist, is overall more moral.
  • In Death: Eve Dallas's partner Delia Peabody is much nicer and more feminine than Dallas is. Dallas makes use of this, having Peabody comfort shaken witnesses and relatives of murder victims, and letting Peabody play good cop to Dallas's bad cop.
  • Many incarnations of Dr. John Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories. It's particularly notable in Sherlock and The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, which play up Holmes' personal dysfunction.
  • In The Witling, Yoninne and Ajão have this dynamic. At first, young and hotheaded Yoninne, who swears like a sailor, has to make heroic efforts just to be cordial to the natives of Giri, almost all of whom are medieval psychic supremacists capable of killing her on a whim. It's down to sheer luck that she doesn't end up getting casually murdered, while her partner, the old and frail Ajão, relies more on diplomacy and intelligence to avoid an untimely death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who has used this trope throughout its run, though it is slightly less prevalent in the revived series. Because the Doctor's companions often play the part of Audience Surrogate, they also tend to be more sympathetic to the humans who have no idea what is going on, while the Doctor is rude, impatient, and brusque. Some of the more prominent examples:
    • The First Doctor is strongly characterized as a crotchety old man, while all of his companions are wholesome, friendly folks; Susan is a precocious young girl, while Ian and Barbra are responsible adults who try to keep things from getting too dangerous or out-of-hand. Companions that join later in the First Doctor's run mix up the formula a little, but not much.
    • Mildly inverted with the relationship between the Second Doctor and Jamie; the Doctor often acts like a clown, while Jamie is the muscle, and because he lacks subtlety, he is often impatient with the people they encounter.
    • Played quite straight with the Third Doctor and Jo Grant; the Doctor has very little patience with humans blithely claiming that whatever is going on is flat-out impossible, and rarely even tries to explain, so it's up to Jo to bridge the gap and smooth over his rudeness. On the other hand, when the Doctor encounters someone who is willing to suspend their disbelief long enough to actually understand the situation, he's a perfect gentleman.
    • The Twelfth Doctor and Clara Oswald fit this trope to a T, to the point where Clara makes efforts to help her Doctor be more empathetic and nice to people, and the Doctor refers to her as his carer because "she cares, so I don't have to". As the series goes on, however, it becomes clear that the two of them aren't so different, with Clara revealing a ruthless streak of her own.
  • Drake & Josh: Drake is the self-centered, narcissistic ladies' man versus his more reasonable, outgoing, and considerate step-brother Josh, who gets exploited by Drake constantly. Deconstructed in "Josh Is Done", when Josh becomes fed up with Drake's attitude and decides to quit his friendship with him for good.
  • Galavant: At the start of the series, Galavant is arrogant, standoffish, and heartbroken. His squire, Sid, is much more affable and approachable despite being a Servile Snarker.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street:
    • Pembleton and Bayliss are partners, and complete opposites in terms of personality. Pembleton is an abrasive Insufferable Genius with a Hair-Trigger Temper, while Bayliss is affable, empathetic, and soft-spoken.
    • Inverted with Howard and Felton. Howard generally takes the lead and is rather affable if gruff, while Felton is a loutish jerk prone to bullying his colleagues.
    • In Season 4, affable soccer mom Russert is partnered with the cynical and abrasive Munch.
  • In House, M.D., Dr. Wilson and Dr. House have this dynamic; House is a Jerkass who very rarely shows anything other than total disdain for others' feelings and is only interested in the puzzles presented by their medical cases, while Wilson is an oncologist (a doctor specializing in cancer) who makes a habit of caring too much for his patients and his friends. They rarely work together but are best friends, and House often uses Wilson to bounce ideas off of when he's stumped on a case. Appropriately, the characters of House and Wilson are based on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, who are also an example — note the similarity in their names (House/Holmes, Wilson/Watson).
  • Played With in Monk. Monk's first assistant, Sharona, is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who nonetheless knows how to deal with people better than Monk, who has No Social Skills. Natalie is generally nicer and friendlier than Monk, although prone to Beware the Nice Ones moments.
  • Sam & Cat: Sam is generally pushy, rude, and aggressive, while Cat is generally friendly, sweet, and childlike.
  • Inverted with Star Trek: The Original Series. Captain Kirk is a charming Officer and a Gentleman. By contrast, his first officer Spock is more tactless and ruthlessly pragmatic. The fact that he's also The Stoic when he does these things probably doesn't do his image any favors.
  • The Following: Ryan Hardy and Mike Weston's dynamic is this at the very start. Ryan's influence, having to kill others, being tortured nearly to death, and having a fellow Federal agent dying brutally in front of him add a cruelness and sadism that only increases way more in Seasons 2 & 3.
  • The Tick (2001): Deconstructed with Fiery Blaze and his sidekick Friendly Fire. Blaze insults and belittles Fire in private and public, makes him do all cleaning, mailing and other such cores, and over does it on fight practice. After Arthur (Tick's sidekick) points out these problems to him, Fire quits and moves in with Arthur and The Tick. Fire only rejoins Blaze when he sees what a drunken slopy mess Blaze is without him under the condition that Blaze treats him with more respect. During the whole process, Arthur beings questioning his partnership with The Tick after he starts to act slightly more like Blaze, but after meeting with a support group for sidekicks, Arthur realizes that The Tick is a legitimately good friend and by the time Arthur gets back to him, The Tick has already come to his senses.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Alex is the sly, snarky, and rebellious protagonist while her best friend Harper is The Ingenue. It also works if the sidekick is her brother Justin who has a better behavior than Alex.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: The titular Xena and Gabrielle fit the mold. The former is the hardened fighter trying her hand at redemption while the latter is the plucky bard seeking adventure.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has its usual twisted take on this: Ax-Crazy Blood Knight Kharn the Betrayer serves as his Primarch's cooler-headed sidekick in canon. The guy who kills his own men if he misses against the enemy, who believes " "Attack!" is the only order worth remembering", who gained his title after slaughtering both his men and the enemy for not fighting hard enough... Used to be the one with the better temper. And depending on said Primarch, he might still be.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed: Unity is on the fence between inverting this and playing it straight. The player controls Arno, an Assassin who is in love with Elise, a Templar (the long-standing villains of the series), and they team up for many missions. One would call this an Inversion in that Arno has a relatively mild personality with a strong moral compass, while Elise is hotheaded, violent, and ruthless. But much of the plot revolves around Arno helping Elise track down her father's murderer, and the player is often treated like a sidekick, which would make it a straight example, with Elise as the "hero".
  • In Disco Elysium, your character is a suicidally depressed Defective Detective with substance abuse problems who regularly says and does outrageous, offensive things, while your partner Kim is quiet, professional, and tolerant. In a slight twist on the trope, though, this niceness is mostly down to how nice the two characters are to the player character himself - he hates himself and tries to drown it in unhealthy coping mechanisms, while Kim is always open about his positive feelings towards him while calling him out for his worst actions. With other characters - especially with children - it's your player character who is the nice one, expressing genuine, open curiosity about other people where Kim's stoic presentation won't allow him to do so.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Every party member in Final Fantasy VIII is this to Squall. Squall is so rude and blocked-off that the story always makes sure he's partnered up with someone able to handle the social situations that he only ever wants to wriggle out of (and complain about them in his Inner Monologue). They might be hyperactive like Zell and Selphie, more nurturing like Irvine and Quistis, or more blunt like Rinoa, but they are all far more interested in people than he is.
    • When Sazh and Lightning travel together at the beginning of Final Fantasy XIII, he serves as a Plucky Comic Relief to her stoic grimness.
  • Help The Hero:
    • The Hero (Count Thrashwood): A bit egotistical, but also a bit dim. He thinks he can do no wrong and that everyone else was put on this earth to admire or worship him. Add in a lot of narcissism about his good looks, and you've got, well... picture Prince Charming from Shrek, but give him some combat skills.
    • The Sidekick (Percival): Aside from a few snarky retorts, he's the everyman we're supposed to identify with. He does the grunt work but also does the strategic thinking during the preparation for battle (what are the monsters' weaknesses that Thrashwood can exploit?).
  • The King of Fighters. The cheerful Kula and the mature, soft-spoken Maxima play nice sidekicks to the Anti-Hero K'.
  • Inverted in Mega Man X. X is nice and pacifistic to a fault, while Zero, his partner, is ruder and has no compunctions of killing his enemies when it's needed.
  • Otacon in Metal Gear Solid, a sweet, shy, and nerdy individual who tends to see a good side to everyone, even when those people are sexy terrorist assassins or giant nuclear death tanks, to Snake, who is cold, hardened, damaged, and struggles to be interested in other people (and although he chills out somewhat later on, he holds onto a sarcastic sense of humour and an overall aloofness). In-universe, Otacon does all the talking with their then-unknown sponsors in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
  • Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog series is known to be mild-mannered and humble than Sonic, who is a bit cocky, but is nonetheless a nice guy.
  • This is the usual dynamic of the prosecutor/detective pairs in Ace Attorney
    • Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth (competent but sarcastic and impatient) and Detective Dick Gumshoe (bumbling but good-natured)
    • Prosecutor Franziska von Karma (whip-wielding ice queen) and Gumshoe (still good-natured but completely intimidated by her)
    • Subverted with Prosecutor Simon Blackquill (very scary convicted murderer) and Bobby Fullbright (perpetually smiling idealist); neither man is as he seems. Blackquill is only on Death Row because he's Taking the Heat for his mentor's daughter, who is also innocent. Fullbright (or rather, the person impersonating him) is a sociopathic international spy who's killed at least two people.
    • Prosecutor Nahyuta Sahdmadhi (aloof mystic who seems to find the very idea of defense attorneys blasphemous) and Ema Skye (a forensic scientist and happy to help the defence)
  • The titular character in the Rance series is a hyper-violent Nominal Hero with a raging ego and little interest in anything outside of his most immediate impulses. His slave Sill Plain is a mild-mannered Nice Girl who just wants everyone to get along. Rance also forms similar dynamics with Rocky Bank, Sachiko Centers, and Russian Cullet in Rance VI, Rance Quest and Rance IX, respectively, with each serving as temporary sidekicks to him in Sill's absence.
  • Ratchet & Clank start off as this in the first game of their franchise. In it, Ratchet is a Glory Seeker, but when betrayed by Qwark, he develops a serious case of Revenge Before Reason and abuses Clank, who spends the entire game a Nice Robot who wants to save the galaxy. After his Heel Realization, Ratchet would mellow out and become a Deadpan Snarker All-Loving Hero.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has Nia and Dromarch. Nia is a Hot-Blooded and somewhat short-tempered Deadpan Snarker, while her Blade Dromarch is a polite and cool-headed guy who frequently goes out of his way to break up fights between his teammates.
  • The World Ends with You:
    • Neku and Shiki. Neku is a fairly gruff and abrasive loner who doesn't think much of friendship and can say some fairly cruel things, although he gets nicer as the game goes on. Shiki is a Nice Girl who, despite being jealous of her best friend and being willing to call Neku out when he goes too far, gets along with most people.
    • Beat and Rhyme, the first pair of other Players Neku encounters. Beat is hotheaded, impulsive, and somewhat rude, while Rhyme is relatively friendly if a bit reserved, and follows Beat's lead. It turns out that this is also a case of Sibling Yin-Yang, as Beat is Rhyme's older brother.

    Western Animation