Television today is filled with strong women crime fighters. Detective Kate Beckett on Castle, Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on The Closer and Dr. Temperance Brennan on Bones are prime examples. But where would these women be without their devoted male sidekicks, and what qualifications are necessary to get the job done (besides, of course, being ruggedly handsome)? More importantly, who would you rather partner with to fight crime: Richard Castle, Fritz Howard or Seeley Booth?
Let’s start with best selling mystery novelist, Richard Castle (played by Nathan Fillion). Castle shadows Beckett on cases supposedly so he can make the fictional character he created based on her more realistic. Of course he got enough material to accomplish that by the middle of season one. Now he hangs around because he likes to solve crime, and to spend time with Beckett. Devotion is an excellent trait in a sidekick.
While the show is named after Castle, Detective Beckett is the one who carries the badge and the gun. He may be the star of the TV show, but he’s the sidekick when it comes to detecting, albeit a very creative one. Despite having no professional background in police work, Castle has amazing ideas that more often than not help crack the case.
Castle also is brave enough to trade his computer keyboard and book outline for flying bullets and even saving the city from a nuclear bomb, all the while cracking one-liners. He is an excellent father.
On the negative side, I would think it would be hard for Beckett to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of Castle in dangerous situations, although that is getting easier with every episode that Castle wiggles out of danger. He also has a history of being a bit of a player when it comes to women.
Still, he is ruggedly handsome, just ask him.
Brenda Leigh Johnson is the star —of the Closer, the Major Crimes division of LAPD and her own life. Everyone else just revolves around her and her need to close cases. Special Agent Fritz Howard (played by Jon Tenney) seems happy to orbit her sun most of the time.
Fritz has an amazing ability to track down information for Brenda whenever she needs it. No matter what the risk to his career. He doesn’t talk about his own cases or interests much. In fact, we rarely see him work on a case of his own.
He not only does an excellent job of helping Brenda at work, but at home as well. Fritz brings home take out, takes care of the cat and even entertains her parents while she is off fighting crime. Patient, kind and understanding almost to a fault, he helped Brenda hide the fact that they were moving into together from Brenda’s mother by keeping his stuff in a U-Haul truck. And so far, Fritz has successfully kept his alcoholism under control.
Fritz is a great character that enables us to see more personal dimensions of Brenda Leigh, but he isn’t an integral part of the show. The Closer would still be The Closer without Fritz, but it wouldn’t be quite as much fun. That being said, who wouldn’t want to have Fritz around the house?
Special Agent Seeley Booth
Special Agent Seeley Booth (played by David Boreanaz), like Fritz Howard, is an FBI agent. Since Temperance is a forensic anthropologist, one would think that he would be in charge, but they approach the case as equals. Agent Booth’s job doesn’t have to take a back seat to Temperance because they are true partners. That isn’t to say they don’t have their differences.
Booth and Brennan approach their crime solving from different angles. Brennan is scientific and analytical; while Booth’s intuitive and human approach not only inspires clashes, but makes them a great team.
He may not be as brilliant as Temperance, but he’s no dummy. Arguably the most complex of our three heroes, Booth has serious demons both from his time as a sniper in Special Forces and the after effects of suffering from torture. He is also descended from John Wilkes Booth, who would not be my first choice as a relative, but it is interesting that Seeley became a sniper with this background.
Like Castle, Booth is an excellent father.
Booth and Brennan’s romantic timing, like Castle and Beckett’s, is always a bit off, with Brennan deciding she has feelings for Booth just as he proposes to Hannah, and the latest complications which you can read more about here.
All three—Castle, Fritz, and Booth are handsome, brave, devoted, smart, funny and well liked—which are all necessary characteristics of a male sidekick to a strong female detective.
If you only could pick one for your sidekick, which one would you chose?
Deborah Lacy is an avid mystery reader who lives in California.