Sidekicks and Second Bananas

Last night I watched Kevin Eubanks' last time (after 18 years) of playing sidekick to Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. It reminded me of all of the great folks that have had supporting roles in television. Here is my short list of memorable second bananas:
  • Ed Norton played flawlessly by Art Carney on "The Honeymooners". Who can forget that sewer worker buddy to Ralph Cramden's bus driver?
  • Ethel Mertz performed by Vivien Vance on "I Love Lucy" and "The Lucy Show". That scene of Ethel and Lucy on the candy assembly line is so iconic.
  • Barney Fife played so well by Don Knotts on "The Andy Griffith Show". I still remember that deputy who was allowed only one bullet for his gun by Sheriff Andy Taylor.
  • Ed McMahon costarring on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. I think Ed invented the sidekick role for talk shows. Who can forget the antics of Ed and Johnny?
  • Niles Crane played so fussily by David Hyde Pierce on Frasier. The banter between he and his brother was some of the best in television.
  • George Costanza, Cosmo Kramer and Elaine Benes of Seinfeld. These characters played hilariously by Jason Alexander, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss took second bananas to a different stratosphere.

I left the list short so that you can add some of your favorite second bananas.


  1. Niles Crane to Frasier Crane, Sam and Fiona to Michael Weston, the whole CSI Vegas Night Shift to Dr. Gil Grissom, BJ to Hawkeye that is just to name a few.

    You are right, some of the most brilliant writing ever was on Frasier. The banter was ingenious.

  2. @Gregg - I so agree about Gil Grissom. CSI has not been the same since William Petersen left the show.

  3. From Bill:

    Barney Rubble to Fred Flintstone, Potsie Weber to Richie Cunningham, The Skipper to Gilligan, Wilbur to Mr. Ed, Chester to Matt Dillon, Artemus Gordon to James West, Buddy and Sally to Rob Petrie, Vanna White to Pat Sajak, Officer Bill Gannon to Joe Friday, Tonto to the Lone Ranger, Bosley to Charlie's Angels, just to name a few

  4. Wow, Anonymous really added some great ones. Buddy and Sally to Rob Petrie is one of my favorites.
    Without the side-kicks the main character has no one to play off and is just a character.

  5. Good ones Bill. I always thought of Barney Rubble as the cartoon version of Ed Norton. And yes, where would Pat be without Vanna?

  6. What a fun post Bob. Needed something fun. I always loved the Mary Tyler Moore show and liked her sidekick Rhoda and the other characters on that show: Mr. Grant, Phyllis the neighbor, Betty White's character and Ted Baxter.

    Also Boo Boo Bear to Yogi. Would Edith Bunker be a sidekick to Archie?

  7. @Barabra - Who could ever forget Boo Boo Bear? And I wonder.. maybe Archie was Edith's sidekick :)

  8. i like the guy who play's Raymond's brother in 'Everybody Loves Raymond'

  9. From Bill:

    Here are a couple of others. Sgt. Carter to Gomer Pyle. Maynard G. Krebs to Dobie Gillis.

  10. Replies
    1. Gotta love Bullwinkle! Thanks for adding that Argyle!


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