Best Side Characters- This list is just the Disney Canon so no Pixar or Tim Burton included!
18. Pain and Panic (Hercules)- very clever devilish side characters that change their shape and are literally all about pain and panic. Every scene they are in makes me laugh and they are probably my favorite villain sidekicks in Disney.
17. Jiminy Cricket (Pinocchio) the warmth that is desperately needed in Pinocchio. Jiminy is crucial to the story as the moral compass in a morality tale. He gets frustrated when Pinocchio won’t listen just as I’m sure God gets with us when we are stubborn.
16. Jock and Trusty(Lady and the Tramp)- Everything in Lady in the Tramp is oh so lovable including the sidekicks Jock and Trusty. The dialogue for them is very well written and when they decide to propose to Lady to make her feel better it is a sweet moment.
15.Mushu (Mulan)- I still think it is Eddie Murphy’s best voice performance. He is insecure and manic without being annoying. Gets a lot of good laughs and helps to narrate throughout the film. He starts out with selfish motives but the more he gets to know Mulan the more he grows to care for her and think less of himself.
14. Timothy Q Mouse (Dumbo) – I love Timothy. He sticks up for a total stranger, an elephant no less, and pleads with others to understand things that are different. It frustrates me Dumbo is discounted as racist by many when the heart of the movie is about embracing diversity.
13. Thumper (Bambi)- There are a lot of characters you could pick from Bambi but Thumper is probably my favorite. He is a smart alek who always gets in trouble and has to apologize. He introduces Bambi to a lot of new things and has a courage and general cheerfulness that is very appealing. In a movie which is pretty sad Thumper’s optimism and cheerfulness is desperately needed and appreciated.
12. 7 Dwarves (Snow White and 7 Dwarves)- The first Disney sidekicks that set the standard for not only all Disney but all animated movies. The Dwarves are easy to understand yet charming and when they are grieving it is remarkably touching for characters that should be one-note. Plus their singing is still one of my favorites. Love the harmonies!
11. Sebastian (Little Mermaid) – I want to put him higher because I love Little Mermaid so much but Sebastian isn’t that varied of a character. Most of the movie he is yelling after Ariel trying to get her to stop misbehaving. That said it is done with a lot of humor and flare. As the reggae crab who is also a symphony conductor he is kind of a strange mixture of personalities but that makes him so charming. When he sings Under the Sea it is one of the most joyous moments in all of Disney canon.
10. Atlantis Crew (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)- Yep, I know some of you will be outraged but I call it like I see it. I loved these guys! I thought they were hilarious and I loved the diversity and their unique personalities. Moliere is so funny as the mole man always wanting to dig and Audrey is a tom boy but still managing to be vulnerable.
Vinny is great as the cynical Italian who also likes to blow things up and I liked Joshua Sweet is a doctor and not much is made about his race. Helga is a seriously tough woman who beats the tar out of a couple people. I just love the combination of characters for a treasure hunting movie and I thought it totally worked for the type of story they were telling. This group kind of reminds me of a more diverse older version of the Goonies and I loved it. I know I’m in the minority on that but I don’t care! Hey it proves I’m not just spewing out what is popular but giving my own unique opinion.
9. Olaf (Frozen)- I love Olaf. He has such heart and is a sweet and sincere. He dreams of being in summer despite being a snowman. How more hopeful can a character be? His vocal performance by Josh Gad is perfect and his song is funny and sweet. They also use Olaf just enough so he stays charming and isn’t annoying. When he is willing to melt for his friend it makes me tear up every time.
8. Timon and Pumbaa (Lion King)- On the surface our 2 sidekicks from The Lion King are silly characters who sing about flatulence and being lazy but they serve an important part of the story by offering Simba an alternative philosophy on life. He can be carefree and happy or he can risk being miserable but actually do something with his life. The choice is actually a tough one. They are also loyal and very funny (and the only characters aside from Jeremy Irons that actually sing their songs in Lion King!).
7. Gus Gus and Jaq (Cinderella)- a lot of people find the mice in Cinderella annoying but I love them. They are loyal and have such a sweet desire to help their friend. They risk serious peril to get her dress made and when it is all destroyed it is one of the most devastating moments in all of Disney both for Cinderella but also for the mice who worked so hard to make it happen.
6. The 3 Faeries- Flora, Fauna and Merrywether (Sleeping Beauty). Watching the disastrous Maleficent made me realize how key to the story of Sleeping Beauty the faeries are. They are the emotional heart of the film. With the exception of maybe Phillip, the rest of the characters are kind of one note. With the faeries we have anger, fear, jealousy, joy, silliness, courage, and hope. Yes the scene baking the cake is comic relief but when you think about what comes after the audience needs that lightness. They are smart and capable and the one’s who truly defeat Maleficent in the end. The fact the new movie made them negligent idiots still burns me up!
5. Tinker Bell (Peter Pan)- Probably the most iconic sidekick of them all Tinker bell is probably the second character people associate with Disney after Mickey Mouse. I really enjoy her own series of movies and the strong but sweet character there but I also find her fascinating in Peter Pan. Aside from Tink dying they keep pretty close to the faerie in the original play. She is jealous, angry, frustrated and yet she provides pixie dust and magic. It’s kind of an interesting paradox. In a strange way she is actually a very complex female character in an era when not many existed.
4. Alice in Wonderland Cast (Alice in Wonderland)- I know a bit of a cheat but basically Alice in Wonderland is her meeting a series of great minor characters. That’s the whole story and they all work equally well. Whether it is the white rabbit, Cheshire cat, blue caterpillar, singing flowers, cards soldiers, March Hare and more they are endlessly engaging. Some of them are mean, others cheeful, most complete nonsense and I love it! I think people that complain Alice in Wonderland has no story are missing the entire point of the story. I didn’t appreciate it as much as a child but it is one of my favorites now and it isn’t because of Alice but all the wonderful characters she meets.
3. Baymax (Big Hero 6)- Call it recency bias if you want but I can’t think of a character I responded more to the moment I saw them than Baymax. He is a symbol of the love of a brother and in many ways he symbolizes love and the need of all of us to be loved and taken care of. That said, he isn’t really schmaltzy as you might expect. Everything he says is simple and to the point but with great concern. It strikes just the right note and the script allows him to be a part of humor as well as tenderness. Most of these sidekicks I would never want in my life but I want my own Baymax. I loved Big Hero 6 and you could certainly include the entire team as dynamic wonderful sidekicks but Baymax takes the crown! I haven’t felt such affection for a character since the mice in Cinderella.
2. Lumiere (Beauty and the Beast)- really all the characters in Beauty and the Beast are great side characters- Mrs Potts, Cogsworth, Lefou ect are all fantastic. But if I had to pick my favorite it would be Lumiere. He is on one hand a smug showman who doesn’t listen but on the other he is generous, kind, and so much fun. He definitely has Disney’s greatest sidekick song (with Under the Sea being a close second). The voice performance by Jerry Orbach is one of the best ever and all in all he is simply charming.
1. Genie (Aladdin)- The reason I picked the Genie as the greatest sidekick is he is the only one on this list that single-handedly makes the entire movie work. Without Robin Williams manic performance in Aladdin there would be no movie. Every other film I’ve mentioned I could take out the side character and the movie would suffer but be able to continue. Without the Genie, Aladdin as a character never gets challenged or given an opportunity to grow. Without Genie 2 of the songs wouldn’t exist and all the humor would be gone. He is the magic for the story and in hoping for his freedom provides the real heart of the story. I’d say it is not only the greatest Disney side character but one of the greatest period in all of movies. We would expect nothing less from the late great Robin Williams.