How often have you finished a novel and thought: I wish I knew that character in real life ? It happens to me all the time. In the same way that Rory Gilmore, in the greatest valedictorian speech in the history of valedictorian speeches, celebrated the fictional characters who peopled the worlds she inhabited between the pages of books — Huck Finn, Captain Ahab, Charles Swann — my own bookshelves are filled with fictional characters I wish I knew in real life. (Though my list is not quite as, shall we say, east-coast-prep-school-refined as Rory’s — aka: Hermione Granger, all day, every day.) Just like a story can transport you into a setting so vivid, you’ll think for a moment you’ve traveled there in real time, a novel’s characters can be so fully rendered that it seems a shame they can’t take on a life of their own off the page.
There are some great sidekicks in literature, and plenty of leading literary guys and gals who would make awesome partners (or, you know, accomplices) as well. Here are 16 literary characters we’d love as our sidekick. Or sibling. Or BFF. Or college roommate. Or next door neighbor who’s always willing to come over and take care of that spider in the bathroom. We’re really not picky here.
1. Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
What isn’t to love about Scout Finch? She’s the little sister you’ve always wanted (even if your own little sisters are already great.) Although she’s young, she understands some essential complexities about the world that characters decades older than her don’t grasp. She isn’t afraid to say what she thinks, and she always stands up to the boys around her — even if it means getting into a schoolyard fight again. And, supposedly she was born knowing how to read. Pretty sure Scout and I are soul sisters.
2. Emma Woodhouse, Emma
It’s said that Jane Austen once called Emma Woodhouse "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like." And she couldn’t have been more wrong. Emma is independently wealthy (a useful benefit, in any generation) and determined to marry for love. And until she meets Mr. Right, she’s content matchmaking for her friends and classmates — sure, her love matches turn out not-so-ideally, but it’s the thought that counts… right?
3. Holden Caulfield, The Catcher In The Rye
Holden Caulfield is the sidekick you call when you can’t stand any other person you know, and you just want to take a night off to complain about everyone — firstly, because Holden is literature’s greatest complainer, and secondly, because he is so caught up in his own drama that he’s probably not even listening to you (so he won’t turn around and tell all your other friends you were talking s**t.) And he’s just so funny.
4. Bridget Jones, Bridget Jones's Diary
If you’re in need of a gal who will just get you — without you even having to finish your sentences — Bridget Jones is your go-to lady. Certain that her own life will turn around as soon as she loses seven pounds, quits smoking, and develops something she calls “inner poise” she will totally understand what you mean when you apologize for taking three weeks to return her call because you ran out of coffee in the middle of doing your laundry, and only now just managed to pull it all back together.
5. Pheoby Watson, Their Eyes Were Watching God
As the best friend to protagonist Janie Starks, Pheoby Watson is as loyal as sidekicks come. Not only does she listen to Janie’s entire life story from beginning to end, without passing one ounce of judgement, she and her husband Sam make it their personal mission to defend Janie from the gossipy, antagonistic community they live in. Confidant and loyal? What more could you ask for in a sidekick?
6. Don Tillman, The Rosie Project
Don Tillman, main character of The Rosie Project, is a genetics professor who has recently decided to embark upon a fail-proof method of acquiring a suitable spouse — and as your number one sidekick, once he’s done testing his experiment on himself, he can help you find your own dream mate. Endearingly clueless, super smart, well-meaning, and completely hilarious, having Don Tillman as a sidekick would be like having your own person Sheldon Cooper (and who doesn’t secretly want that?)
7. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series
Of course Hermione Granger makes this list — Hermione is everything. But in all honestly, between the brains and the magical prowess, I’d much rather be Hermione’s sidekick than have her as mine. Leaving her to call all the shots seems like the better idea.
8. Radar, Paper Towns
I seriously love Radar, who was protagonist Quentin Jacobsen’s sidekick in Paper Towns. He is intelligent, quick-witted, well-spoken, and seems like the kind of teenager who is going to become something fabulous when he grows up, like a Nobel Prize winner. Radar follows Quentin on his ridiculous adventure, even though it’s clear a guy like Radar probably has much more important things to do, like solving international conflicts, becoming a Zen master, and saving stranded kittens from the tops of trees. But he’s still the most enthusiastic member of Quentin’s road trip crew, and every time he speaks it’s either brilliant or hilarious — and often both.
9. Claudia Kincaid, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Honestly, every once in a while I just want someone around who is going to ask me to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, convince me that it’s a good idea, and then help me make it happen.
10. Arnold ‘Junior’ Spirit, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Junior is another character who you definitely want on your side, all the time. A cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, Junior is filled with wisdom beyond his years. A little awkward and mildly accident prone, Junior still has an unbelievably calming presence — you just get the sense that no matter what comes your way, he is going to handle it with grace and quiet strength. Definitely an ideal quality in a teammate.
11. Lena Kaligaris, Tibby Rollins, Bridget Vreeland, and Carmen Lowell, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Because how could you choose between all four, when each is so different and so lovable in their own ways? In this four-for-one sidekick deal, you get adventure, loyalty, strength, and sass — plus four totally relatable BFFs and one really killer pair of jeans.
12. Mrs. Mallard, Make Way for Ducklings
Animals are a girl’s best friend — or sidekick. Sure, a dog might be a less surprising choice in an animal sidekick; or maybe even a horse. But if you ask me, Mrs. Mallard from Make Way for Ducklings is the way to go. Because a) the lady knows her real estate, b) she’s the ultimate Momma, teaching all eight of her alliterative-named baby chicks everything they need to know to survive in under a week, and c) she knows her way around Boston, Massachusetts — a city I have yet to navigate successfully.
13. Karana, Island of the Blue Dolphins
Left behind on her Pacific island home when her entire tribe leaves to travel east, Karana lives alone in the wilderness for years. And years, and years. So as a sidekick, you know this girl is going to be able to handle literally everything — zombie apocalypse, getting lost on a road trip, putting together Ikea furniture, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
14. Oskar Schell, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
There are few things Oskar Schell doesn’t know how to do — everything from studying insects to dabbling in veganism to reviving the art of the handwritten letter to being able to navigate his way around New York City without a second thought. And when he gets lost, he doesn’t even panic. Oskar also sees the deeper meaning in everything. You’ll never be bored with him as a sidekick, that’s for sure.
15. Sancho Panza, Don Quixote
Sidekick to Don Quixote, Sancho Panza has the role down pat. Always ready to respond to a crisis with a well-timed Spanish proverb, he’s clever, and world-wise, and constantly there when you need him. Funny and loyal, he’ll always have your best interests at heart.
16. Susan Caraway aka Stargirl, Stargirl
The ultimate role model for nonconformity, Stargirl is a teen who goes makeup-free, wears kimonos, plays the ukulele during lunch, cheers for both teams at high school sporting events, and dances in the rain like nobody is watching — and even if everybody is watching. She is all about love, acceptance, and being whoever it is you want to be — no judgement. Aka: the best sidekick a girl could ask for.