Throughout the history of storytelling there has been the trope of the “right-hand man.” They assist the main hero or leader of the tale. However, some of these second banana characters are written in a way to be a foil to the main character or team captain. The moon to their sun, the Yin to their Yang, the chili peppers to their honey.

Some of these characters, dubbed “lancers” in the literary trope world, have more dedicated fans (or even more fans, period) than the main character of a pop culture franchise. For every clean-cut captain of the football team, there’s the pothead kicker. For every heart of the team, there’s the mind. For every gifted chosen one, there’s the scrappy hardworking struggler. But in spite of their differences, they work well as a team, even if they are rivals at the beginning or towards the end of the stories they’re both in.

Here are some of the most notable right-hand foils in modern popular culture.

Spock

Right-Hand Foils Star Trek Mr. Spock to Captain Kirk Kirk is the risk-taking ladies' man, while Spock relies on discipline and logic. A classic pairing. CRACKED.COM

Wolverine

Right-Hand Foils X-Men Wolverine to Cyclops Wolverine is gritty, rebellious, fugly, and a guy you'd share a beer with. Cyclops is the authority figure/ square that is conventionally attractive. The only thing they have in common is pining for Jean Grey (and peace for mutantkind, or whatever). CRACKED COM

Samwise Gamgee

Right-Hand Foils The Lord of the Rings Samwise Gamgee to Frodo Baggins While they aren't necessarily polar opposites, Sam has no interest in adventure, no skills, and is frankly less brave than Frodo. But his loyalty is what allows the Fellowship to succeed, with Sam being the one carrying Frodo to the finish line. CRACKED.COM

Ron Swanson/Ann Perkins

Right-Hand Foils Parks and Recreation Ron Swanson/ Ann Perkins to Leslie Knope Ron is the total opposite of Leslie except for their shared love of nature and breakfast food. Ann helps Leslie find grounded solutions to her problems and goals. Both are there as powerful supports to an otherwise wildcard main character. CRACKED.COM

John Watson

Right-Hand Foils Sherlock Holmes John Watson to Sherlock Holmes Depending on the adaptation, Watson acts as Holmes' pragmatic voice of reason, muscle, or everyman peer to Holmes' peculiarities and navel-gazing existence. CRACKED.COM

Kira Nerys

Right-Hand Foils Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Kira Nerys to Benjamin Sisko At the start of DSg, Sisko is authoritative and wields calm control, often combating Kira's rebellious and brash personality. Over time, Sisko grows more risk- taking and Kira's diplomatic skills improve as their friendship gets closer and tighter. CRACKED.COM

Vegeta

Right-Hand Foils Dragon Ball Z Vegeta to Goku Ally or foe, Vegeta is there to show the audience what a Saiyan would fight like without being raised in a human society. As Goku gets better, Vegeta grows as well, like iron sharpening iron. CRACKED.COM

Raphael

Right-Hand Foils Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Raphael to Leonardo Leonardo is honorable, disciplined, and a born leader. Raphael is rough, hot-tempered, and cool (but rude). It's no wonder they often butt heads, but also help one another become better (narratively speaking). CRACKED.COM

Astrid Hofferson

Right-Hand Foils How to Train Your Dragon Astrid Hofferson to Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III Hiccup is the timid yet intelligent and industrious one, whereas Astrid is the naturally gifted warrior. Their relationship allows the initial qualities of both of them to grow onto one another. CRACKED.COM

Sasuke Uchiha

Right-Hand Foils Sasuke Uchiha to Naruto Uzumaki Dark, mysterious, naturally gifted Sasuke is the perfect foil to the loud, boisterous, hardworking Naruto. Their rivalry creates not just interesting friction, but a unique friendship. In fact, it's Sasuke's status as a highly skilled ninja that pushes Naruto to become greater early in the series. Naruto CRACKED.COM

Mikasa Ackerman

Right-Hand Foils Attack on Titan Mikasa Ackerman to Eren Yeager Eren is overly emotional and loud, and has mediocre maneuvering skills, whereas Mikasa is a quiet and deadly expert. She's always there to pick him up, even after Eren discovers his Special One powers. CRACKED.COM

Ken Masters

Right-Hand Foils Street Fighter Ken Masters to Ryu Ken wins trophies, enjoys life with a family, and comes from wealth. Ryu comes from nothing and lives the life of a lonely warrior. The two play nearly identically at the start of the Street Fighter series, but become stronger in different ways as the games go on due to their mutual respect and rivalry. CRACKED.COM

Katara

Right-Hand Foils Avatar: The Last Airbender Katara to Aang Aang has a childlike spirit and initially has trouble quelling his anger, especially when in Avatar state. Throughout much of the initial journey, it's Katara that has to take the lead with pragmatism and patience as Aang grows into his main character role. CRACKED.COM

Han Solo

Right-Hand Foils Star Wars Han Solo to Luke Skywalker Han is the atheistic, swaggery everyman to the faithful, goodhearted yet milquetoast Luke. There's a reason why more people want to kiss Han than Luke, and it's not because you're a Skywalker sibling. CRACKED.COM

Buttercup

Right-Hand Foils The Powerpuff Girls Buttercup to Blossom Blossom is the good girl leader that leans femme, while Buttercup is the rough and tumble sister that challenges her, making Blossom a stronger leader and Buttercup... well, badass. CRACKED.COM

Johnny Cage

Right-Hand Foils Mortal Kombat Johnny Cage to Liu Kang Johnny is everything Liu is not: arrogant, loud, and flashy. This personality helps offset Liu's stoicism, making the overall МК lore more interesting with the two teaming up to fight for Earthrealm. CRACKED.COM

Batman

Right-Hand Foils Justice League Batman to Superman Powers to no powers. Light and dark. Hope and skepticism. There's a reason why they're called the World's Finest Team, and it's because whatever Superman lacks, Batman is there to back him up. Plus, Supes curbs his naïvete thanks to Bats' influence, and Bats lightens up in return. CRACKED.COM

Captain America and Iron Man

Right-Hand Foils Marvel Cinematic Universe Captain America and Iron Man to each other Cap's nobility and work ethic bleed onto Tony, and Tony's creativity and innovation bleed onto Cap. Sometimes they even literally bleed on each other, like in Civil War. CRACKED.COM

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