Top Five Second Bananas

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

This week, Second Bananas! Those companions that are ever present, and are always memorable.


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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. This one was tough because I’m not wired to think about second bananas and I generally have a bias towards favoring top bananas (I like Ryu over Ken, Mario over Luigi, etc) probably as the product of being the eldest son. So I know this isn’t my top five, but it’s what comes to mind.

    Teller of Penn & Teller – Penn is clearly the front man and the mouth who gets first billing and is allowed to be more prolific for it, but to me, Teller is what makes the act. There are other gross out, quasi-cynical magic acts out there. There are certainly other magical duos. And definitely silent lovely assistants. However, a silent not-so-lovely partner in the skeptic genre is an oddball hook that makes you give this team a second look. Penn by himself is nothing special, Penn with a leggy showgirl is rote, but Penn with a silent suited peer piques one’s curiosity.

    Darth Vader of Star Wars – Second only to the Emperor, Vader is the dark scifi reflection of the Lancelot archetype. While it’s good to be king, we want to be doers who are supremely competent in the field and not just honored and comfortable from the throne (or Captain’s chair… we admire Away Team leaders like Riker or Chakotay).

    Destro of G.I. Joe – Sometimes it isn’t just about field competence but competence period. We’ve all had that shrieking loud demanding superior who was incompetent and the organization’s greatest barrier to success… meanwhile, those festering in second in command looking for their chance to screw up- be it Dwight from The Office, Starscream, or even The Baroness to Destro.

    Daisuke Jigen of Lupin III – I don’t think opposites attract so much as speciation- alone- breeds weakness… so you might be extraordinary in your specialty, but without supporting team members to shine elsewhere, you’re forging a scalpel of limited application. So you need that team member that acts as your check and balance, to push and challenge, to have differing attitudes, characteristics, skills, mindsets, etc. so together you can be a greater whole… guys like Jet from Cowboy Bebop, Batman to Superman, etc.

    Zoe Alleyne of Firefly – Behind every great man….

  2. I’m going to have to throw a character on the pile that has obviously been mistakenly forgotten by the top Five trio.

    This character plays second banana on one Disney cartoon known as Kim Possible. No not Ron, though he is an awesome second banana in his own right. I’m speaking of a villain. While Dr. Drakken is a fantastic archnemesis, he would probably fail his every attempt and be back at his local community college by now if it was not for Shego. Quick witted, intelligent and independent, this green hued brunette can give as good as she gets and can throw barbs and quips just as fast as her punches.

  3. Wow, I just listened to Top Five and could not believe you missed the greatest second banana of all time:

    Who always had the small town sheriff’s back when the chips were down? Who oozed machismo when the ladies were around? Fearless? Check! Sensitive? Check! Dependable? Check! Slightly high strung? Check!

    Nobody is a finer second banana than the one and only Barney Fife! How you could ignore Sheriff Taylor’s right hand man, I will never know. For shame boys, for shame.

  4. I’ve never heard of the term second bananas before. I leanrn something everyday when I come to this site :-D

  5. Meet the GlennStone on

    Second billed does not necessarily mean second banana. Lou Costello was not the second banana in the act, nor was Gracie Allen. George Burns (not Jeff) himself himself said his best career move was marrying Gracie.

    As for my choices,
    Hawkeye was usually second banana to Captain America until he got his own Avengers team out west.
    Chico Marx, although the laughs were spread evenly among the Marx Brothers.
    Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS. He’s a good agent, and doesn’t seem to mind being in the shadow of Gibbs.
    Samwise Gamgee, faithful companion to Frodo, and helped him get out of many a tight spot.
    You know, George Burns was a pretty good second banana. Usually he just had to stand there and repeat Gracie’s last line so she could say the punch line.

    • The only second banana of the Marx Brothers was poor Zeppo. Very talented, but always relegated to straight-man, and secondary roles. Legend has it that Zeppo once filled in for an under the weather Groucho in their pre-film theatre days, and he killed in Groucho’s role. After that Groucho always conspired to keep him down.

  6. Actually, I believe the terms are Top Banana and Second Fiddle.
    No. 5 on my list is Barney Rubble. He played second fiddle to Fred for however many decades the Flintstones were on the air, and what’s more, he was just as big an idiot as Fred. They often fell out but always made up later. Has any other sidekick, aside from Robin, lasted as long?
    No. 4 on my list is Sasami, little sister of Princess Aieka from Tenchi Muyo. Aieka was so busy battling Ryoki for Tenchi’s affections she never realized that sweet little Sasami was worming her way between them. It’s always bothered me that they took the series in different directions rather than wrapping up the storyline from the first series of OVAs.
    No. 3 on my list would be Samwise Gamgee, second fiddle to Frodo, who rose to the occasion and literally carried the day – or at least carried Frodo up Mt. Doom – in the end. And all he got for his pains was a stupid red book – oh, and Rosie, too, so I guess he came out on top after all.
    No. 2 on my list is Robin (Dick Grayson and Carrie Kelly versions) who both gave their all as Batman’s sidekick. Dick because he was the prototype kid sidekick and even Burt Ward couldn’t kill off the character. Carrie because even untrained, she could keep up with Batman and stuck her head in the lion’s mouth without hesitation. Jason and the wimp who came after him were just retreaded Dick Graysons. Haven’t read anything with the Talia’s spawn as Robin so I can’t put him in the list.
    No. 1 on my list is Arrowroot, son of Arrowshirt…. whoops, I mean Arragorn, son of Arrathorn. (If you haven’t read Bored of the Rings, what is the matter with you?) Arragorn played second fiddle to Gandalf for most of the LOTRs, but was able to take the lead whenever Gandalf was MIA. He also rose to the occasion, becoming the High King at Gandalf’s urging, a role he had been avoiding for most of his life. He was the sort of sidekick you didn’t need to worry about – he would be there backing you up come heck or highwater. I’m surprised nobody else mentioned him.

  7. I love your guys’ podcasts and I listen to Critical Hit and Top Five, currently I’m catching up on the actual Major Spoilers Podcast. I just have to say…. You guys forgot Rocky from Rocky & Bullwinkle. Bullwinkle always takes center stage with his jokes and all the mistakes he makes, but Rocky really keeps them grounded in some sort of normalcy and reality, and he is usually the one to save the day (unless Bullwinkle saves the day unknowingly).
    That’s all.

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