Today is the birthday of Anthony Edwards—perhaps best known for playing Goose in the classic 1986 film Top Gun. Goose’s role in the movie helped bring the term “wingman” into popular culture, and so we’ve decided to honor his legacy with the 20 best wingmen in film, television and literature.
Though the term “wingman” is most commonly used for romantic scenarios, we all know that a true wingman is there for you no matter what. Even outside of a bar or club, a wingman is your best friend, your partner in crime—the Goose to your Maverick.
20. Jack (Thomas Haden Church), Sideways
Wingman To: Miles (Paul Giamatti)
Sure, Jack might not be the world’s most moral human being. He doesn’t exactly set a good example for Miles when he cheats on his fiance, days before his wedding. But Jack helps the downtrodden and cautious Miles by encouraging him to pursue the beautiful Maya (Virginia Madsen). Though Jack’s own lifestyle may be incorrigible, he helps breathe life back into his best man.
19. Turk (Donald Faison), Scrubs
Wingman To: J.D. (Zach Braff)
Our two favorite docs at Sacred Heart Hospital, this bromance can best be summed up by this.
18. Pedro (Efren Ramirez), Napoleon Dynamite
Wingman To: Napoleon (Jon Heder)
With Pedro’s arrival at Preston High School, the eccentrically awkward nerd Napoleon gains a compadre to stand by him through all the torments of high school. And only true friendship can incite this dance.
17. Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Entourage
Wingman To: Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier)
It takes a lot to put up with Vince’s whims, extravagance and tenacity, but Eric has been there for him since they were both six years old. Known as “E,” he becomes Vince’s manager when the actor hits it big in Hollywood. Vince relies on E to make major career decisions, and E always pulls through.
16. Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Wingman To: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)
Stealing his father’s cherished Ferrari, Cameron embarks on the most epic day off from school with Ferris and Sloane in this classic John Hughes film. Only a true friend would roam the streets of Chicago, risking major trouble with his parents, to enjoy one of their last times together before college.
15. Luigi, Mario
Wingman To: Mario
The faithful brother to Nintendo’s red-hatted plumber, Luigi frequently appears as his sidekick in the Mario series. Though he doesn’t have quite the gumption his brother does, Luigi is always there to help.
14. Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc), The Flintstones
Wingman To: Fred Flintstone (Alan Reed)
Bedrock never knew of two closer companions. Fred’s next-door neighbor and best friend, Barney is a loyal supporter of Fred’s ideas and schemes and always quick to agree with an “OK, Fred!” or “Whatever you say, Fred!”
13. Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Toy Story
Wingman To: Woody (Tom Hanks)
Though he and Woody had a rough start, Buzz soon earned his place in the toys’, Andy’s and Pixar fans’ hearts throughout the three films. And with his super-cool space suit, Buzz is literally Woody’s wingman.
12. Mercutio, Romeo & Juliet
Wingman To: Romeo Montague
One of Shakespeare’s most popular characters, Mercutio is a crass, flamboyant, loud-mouthed playboy, as well as Romeo’s best friend. When Romeo is heartbroken over Rosaline’s rejection of his love, Mercutio tries to help his friend overcome his depression. And Romeo eventually does fall in love again. But we all know how that story ends.
11. K.I.T.T. (William Daniels), Knight Rider
Wingman To: Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff)
The Knight Industries Two Thousand is a souped-up 1982 Pontiac Trans Am and the highly faithful partner of Michael Knight. Michael and K.I.T.T. are an unstoppable crime-fighting team, with the car always willing to help save the day or provide witty one-liners.
10. Shaggy (Casey Kasem), Scooby Doo, Where Are You!
Wingman To: Scooby Doo (Don Messick)
Typically a dog is man’s best friend, but in this beloved cartoon, Shaggy is the sidekick to the four-legged protagonist. Both are as easily bribed with Scooby Snacks as they are easily scared by ghouls and ghosts, and yet somehow, through all their laziness and cowardice, able to shut away wrong-doers throughout the whole series.
9. Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Star Trek
Wingman To: Captain Kirk (William Shatner)
The second-in-command to Captain Kirk is always willing to offer his own unbiased opinions to the captain based on logic, balancing Kirk’s human emotion with his own emotional detachment.
8. Ron Weasley, Harry Potter
Wingman To: Harry Potter
Over the course of seven books, Ron joins Harry on almost every quest, whether it’s conquering a game of Wizard’s Chess, asking a girl to a school dance or defeating Lord Voldemort. Without Ron’s humor, courage and loyalty, Harry would have never have made it as far as he did.
7. Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings
Wingman To: Frodo Baggins
Sam goes from Frodo’s gardener to a member of the Fellowship, journeying with his fellow Hobbit through mountains, mines and Mordor to destory the One Ring, even saving Frodo’s life on several occasions. Heck, that’s dedication.
6. Dr. John Watson, Sherlock Holmes
Wingman To: Sherlock Holmes
Watson is perhaps the only person who understands the enigmatic detective, as well as one of the few people who can keep up with Holmes’ intellect. Watson, who regularly assists Holmes in cases, becomes more like a brother than an assistant over Sir Conan Arthur Doyle’s series.
5. Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Star Wars
Wingman To: Han Solo (Harrison Ford)
After Han Solo saved Chewbacca’s life from the Imperial Navy, the Wookiee was forever indebted and became first mate to the smuggler. Though Chewie is incomprehensible to us, Han understands his companion, and the two represent one of the best duos the galaxy has ever seen.
4. Robin, Batman comics
Wingman To: Batman
One of the most famous sidekicks in comic history, the Boy Wonder is always there to back up the Caped Crusader. Bill Finger, a writer of the series, has even said that Robin was based off of Dr. Watson: “The thing that bothered me was that Batman didn’t have anyone to talk to, and it got a little tiresome always having him thinking. I found that as I went along Batman needed a Watson to talk to.”
3. Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), How I Met Your Mother
Wingman To: Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor)
With endless catchphrases, theories, pick-up lines and fake names, Barney gets his fair share of women, but also enjoys passing his talents on to Ted. Though he’s always up for helping his friend chat up the ladies at MacLaren’s Pub, Barney also adheres to the Bro Code, showing his dedication to friendship.
2. Trent (Vince Vaughn), Swingers
Wingman To: Mike (Jon Favreau)
If everyone had a pro like Trent to boost their confidence like he does to Mike, very few people would go home from bars alone. If he can help Mike get Lorraine (Heather Graham), Trent can help any guy get the girl of his dreams.
1. Goose (Anthony Edwards), Top Gun
Wingman To: Maverick (Tom Cruise)
Whether it’s serenading a woman with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” or playing a game of volleyball, Goose is a devoted friend to Maverick. The epitome of a wingman, Goose is the reason we have this list, and we thank him for showing future generations of men what friendship and loyalty look like.