While villains and heroes often hog the spotlight, the supporting characters rarely get the appreciation that their due. But a supporting character, and sidekick, are extremely important to the story. Not only must they back up the main characters, but they’re often the ones that deliver important exposition, expand the mystery, offer much higher dramatic stakes, and more than not, bring comedic levity. We laugh with them and we get upset if they’re killed, because let’s face it, a sidekick is far more expendable than the hero. Sometimes, though, a sidekick comes along that is so great that they manage to outshine the lead players. In honor of the sidekick, and especially the ones that manage to steal the film out from under the heroes and villains, here’s horror’s best:
Fright Night – Evil Ed
In a film with Roddy McDowall and Chris Sarandon, Stephen Geoffreys holds his own and then some as the scene-stealing Edward “Evil Ed” Thompson. He also pulls double duty on the sidekick front, first as best pal to lead protagonist Charley Brewster, and then as a right-hand man to lead vampire Jerry Dandridge once turned. Evil Ed has a distinct laugh, a slightly warped sense of humor, an affection for horror movies, and a distaste for Charley’s girlfriend Amy; all reasons we end up loving and rooting for Ed. We love him even more as a vampire, something he clearly enjoys being. But most of all, we love his one-liners, and Geoffreys’ delivery of them. “Oh, you’re so COOL, Brewster!”
Jaws – Quint
Chief Brody may be the lead protagonist of this Steven Spielberg classic, but it’s Robert Shaw and his portrayal of grizzled shark hunter Quint that steals our hearts. An integral part of the team, Quint brings a lot of wisdom as captain of the Orca, and just a ton of character. He’s the perfect counterpart to meek oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), and his stubborn resilience makes him perfect for hunting the elusive man-eating shark. But it’s his three-and-a-half-minute speech about his time served aboard the USS Indianapolis during World War II, in which he and shipmates delivered the Hiroshima bomb, that’s utterly captivating. It’s a scene-stealing monologue delivered by fantastic Shaw that makes this one of cinema’s best scenes ever. Of all the victims of Jaws, Quint’s really stung.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 – Chop Top Sawyer
Sometimes even the bad guys get sidekicks, and in this over the top sequel, the iconic Leatherface couldn’t hold his own against his brother Chop Top. A deranged Vietnam vet with a metal plate in his head thanks to a “lucky gook with a machete,” he was initially conceived to be the Hitchhiker, before evolving into his more deranged twin. What really made Chop Top a scene stealer though, was Bill Moseley’s scene-chewing performance, clearly enjoying every minute of it. Tobe Hooper enlisted Moseley for the part after the actor played the role of The Hitchhiker in a short film parody of the first film, and we’re glad he did. Chop Top also wins for being the rare sidekick to outlast the lead; the final battle is between Chop Top and Stretch after Sawyers and Lefty are killed in an explosion.
An American Werewolf In London – Jack Goodman
The sarcastic best friend to straight-man turned werewolf David Kessler, Jack steals every scene he’s in. As the undead cursed to plague David until the werewolf lineage ends, Jack serves both as the moral compass and comedic relief. That every appearance marks a drastic deterioration in Jack’s undead condition further elevates the anticipation for any scene with this scene-stealing sidekick. As great as David’s twisted journey with his werewolf curse is, and his romance with Nurse Alex, it’s Jack’s winning personality that makes him easier to empathize with.
Saw – Amanda Young
Shawnee Smith’s appearance as Amanda Young was so brief and minor by comparison, as the only known survivor of the Jigsaw Killer, but so memorable that she returned for the second and third entry in a much bigger role. Revealed to be Jigsaw’s righthand woman, Amanda managed to be one of the series most sympathetic characters, despite her trap-setting work. Much of that was Smith’s performance, but it also had a lot to do with the fact that Amanda rarely killed out of spite, something most in line with Jigsaw’s mission statement. Of all the apprentices that have come and gone, the one that fans most want to see return is Amanda. Considering how iconic Jigsaw and his puppet are, that’s no small accomplishment.
Get Out – Rod Williams
Rod Williams is the type of best friend that all best friends should aspire to. That he deftly handles the task of comedic relief assigned to nearly all sidekicks isn’t what makes him a scene stealer, though, but his tireless quest to keep his friend out of harm’s way. It begins with the warnings out of concern, before Chris sets off for his girlfriend’s parents. He keeps tabs on Chris, too, making sure his friend is ok with constant communication. He’s even willing to make himself look like a fool at the police station when that communication goes silent. His detective work shows he’s much smarter than he’s given credit for, too. If somehow none of that is enough to convince you of he steals the show, then the scene in which he swoops in to save the day, allowing the audience to release the breath they were holding, solidifies it. Rod Williams ends the film as the MVP.
Cabin In the Woods – Marty Mikalski
In keeping with Joss Whedon’s dissection of horror tropes, Marty Mikalski begins the film as the stoner sidekick before eventually transitioning into unlikely hero. Designated to play the part of The Fool, Marty is meant to poke fun of the idiot teens that exist in a lot of horror. His stash of marijuana-laced by the Chem Department of The Facility running the ritual for The Ancient Ones to make him more suitable for the role, but a hidden, untampered with stash meant he was the first to break type and piece together what was really happening to his friends. It wasn’t the Scholar or the Athlete that determined the fate of the world, but The Fool, an archetype that’s usually reserved for early deaths. It also helped that Marty was played by the hilarious Fran Kranz, an actor with a penchant for sarcastic delivery.
Day of the Dead – Bub
The domesticated zombie creation of George A. Romero, Bub isn’t the sidekick of lead protagonist Dr. Sarah Bowman, but her colleague Dr. “Frankenstein” Logan. There’s a strangely beautiful friendship between the pair, as Dr. Logan hopes to bring the docile zombie back toward humanity. Bub loves music, saluting soldiers, and the companionship of his friend. Bub represents an innocence amidst the corruption of the soldiers in Fort Myers, and we grieve with him when he finds the corpse of his friend. While all of this would be enough to earn Bub the title of scene-stealer, it’s his oh-so-gratifying revenge upon Captain Rhodes that makes him the best character in the film.
Bone Tomahawk – Chicory
A case could be made for Richard Jenkins as a scene stealer any of his horror roles, from Let Me In to The Shape of Water; he’s that good. But it’s his role as the bumbling backup town deputy, Chicory, that wins. His friendship with Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) provides an emotional center, but most importantly, it helps the long stretch as the film’s main foursome ride across the Wild West to rescue captives from troglodytes. Chicory is amusingly chatty, much to the dismay of many in the party, and Jenkins’ brilliantly gives his blundering character a ton of heart. Because it takes a long while before the horror kicks in, we needed Chicory’s hilarious banter with stoic Sheriff Hunt. It’s hard to stand out when Kurt Russell is playing the lead, but Richard Jenkins does with seemingly effortless ease. Chicory didn’t even have to steal the show with heroic acts; he just had to be played by the always great Richard Jenkins.
Scream – Randy Meeks
While Matthew Lillard was a serious contender as scene stealer for his turn as the killer’s sidekick and best friend Stu Macher, it was ultimately Jamie Kennedy as Randy Meeks that stole the show. Close friend of final girl Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Randy’s geeky, movie-obsessed personality was not only endearing but it made him a vital asset; his movie knowledge meant much-needed exposition for both Sidney and the audience. The biggest reason Randy resonated so strongly with horror fans, though, is that he was our proxy. Randy was the avatar of every horror fan, and reminded us that we weren’t alone in our fandom. One of Wes Craven’s most brutal kills was that of Randy Meeks in Scream 2. We’re still not over it.