If I have a character, typically it is a bad guy, but not always, and you see this in movies a lot, but there is always another character with one of the main characters, so we can have some dialog to let us know what's happening.

Maybe it's mostly in movies, but the bad guy always has this guy with them they talk to that you know is there just for us, the viewers or readers, so we can know what's "really" going on, whether it is the reason why the they are a protagonist, or sometimes just to be funny.

I hope that makes sense. Is it just "character," no special name.


2 Answers 2


This character is called a sidekick.

... by asking questions of the hero, or giving the hero someone to talk to, the sidekick provides an opportunity for the author to provide exposition, thereby filling the same role as a Greek chorus.

A sidekick may have many kinds of functions. The Wikipedia article has a long section that details the most common of them.


Although a sidekick is good, some such characters are called a "foil", meaning one character that is in some sense the opposite of another, and thus highlights a trait of the MC.

In your example, the "opposite" trait may be knowledge of what is going on, or ignorance vs. insight. The villain explains his plot to the beginner, or assistant, or dim-witted muscle, or know-nothing girlfriend, or clueless but wealthy financier.

A sidekick is usually with the protagonist (or antagonist) for most of the story; a foil can be used for just one or two scenes (like a girlfriend, or the financier considering funding the antagonist).

  • Thanks. I wasn't sure because I always heard a foil was a bad guy. I guess not.
    – johnny
    Commented Nov 26, 2018 at 15:09
  • The question asks: "the bad guy always has this guy with them they talk to". That is a sidekick. A foil usually isn't a constant companion to the protagonist or antagonist, but someone or something they encounter or are in some kind of permanent opposition to. Also, a foil doesn't have to be another character. As Wikipedia states: "a subplot can be used as a foil to the main plot". So what is asked here is, in my honest opinion, not a foil but a sidekick.
    – user34178
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 6:57
  • @user57423 If he is ALWAYS with the bad guy, I agree. But bad guys also explain things to walk-ons, characters that exist only for a scene or two, like a henchman being sent on a mission instead of a well-developed side-kick. In the process of giving this guy marching orders, something is revealed about the plan. The "contrast" in such a case needed to make the walk-on a foil is the disparity in mental processes; the villain is smart, clever, etc, the foil is not. Much like the sidekick, who is usually clueless and needs to be told what is happening and what to do.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 10:20

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