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Hmmm, thank you for the posting, it sheds a light on something that I had not seen before. I like a lot of things about the posting, including the standing up part if the hero fucks up. And Samwise is an interesting "sidekick". I think he differs in at least two other aspects from the typical "sidekick" that deserve special emphasis:

First, Samwise is self-sufficient ("competent"). It's not the typical Robin character that needs to get rescued by Batman as a stupid plot ploy. He has his own skills and carries his own weight. The hero/ine might save/rescue the world, but s/he does not save/rescue this sidekick.

Second, Samwise is not a little green wo/man working in the background where no-one can see him/her so that it appears as if the hero/ine did everything on his/her own. Same with the other characters that were mentioned (Witch-king, Black, Vader). They are noticed and they do play a visible role. Not only are they a noticeable character, they have a distinct character.

I think both aspects are underdeveloped in the public perception and unfortunately, there are some "heroes/heroines" who prefer to make their sidekicks appear in need of support, or put them in the background altogether. Hmm, and I also wonder whether you could regard the hero/ine as a sidekick to the overall goal. I mean, it's one thing to see the hero/ine as this great person, but this person is not exactly free either. They have found a cause they devote their life to. So perhaps it's less a different category but more different levels.

One other thing ... I disagree with the comments about the "strong gender overtones" though and was surprised they were mentioned. I get the impression that gender perspectives are way overused and are actually hampering free expression and discussions. It's this pervasive confusion of "what do I think" and "what does it say about gender if I say it". I don't think that "If a man wrote this post, the message would be different.". I mean, it might be for whose who see everything gender related (ideology has this effect), but not for those who think it shouldn't matter. The arguments count, not the (gender of the) person who wrote a text.

Perhaps there are differences where the majority of men vs. the majority of women want to go, but that's only a problem if it's generalized to all men and/or all women. It's the person and his/her character, attributes and skills that count, not the gender. And don't get me started on "patriarchy". There might be many men in leadership positions, but many other men fail at achieving them. And a lot of men are at the bottom (homeless, suicides, etc.). And personally, I think it's a tragedy if ideologies/world views try to pressure anyone into anything they do not want -- whether it's men or women, and whether it's leadership or support.