Who are the Butch Cassidys and the Sundance Kids of the SF & fantasy world? wonders Jayne Nelson
FROM THE SFX ARCHIVES: They’re bessie mates and inseparable pals, willing to die for each other at the drop of a hat even though they’re not even related. We celebrate the art of male friendship with some of sci-fi and fantasy’s greatest bromances... This article was originally published in 2010
10 Vic and Blood A Boy and His Dog
Vic’s a loner wandering a post-apocalyptic American wasteland in this classic novella by Harlan Ellison, which was turned into a halfway decent movie in 1975. Vic’s only companion is a dog named Blood, with whom he can communicate telepathically. Blood is grumpy and bossy but he’s Vic’s only friend and they’re understandably very close. But then along comes a girl and all hell breaks loose...
We won’t ruin the story’s killer twist ending (seriously, there is no love like that between a boy and his dog) but suffice it to say that Vic and Blood’s bond is one human/canine bromance that can’t be lessened. If only we could interact with our own pets like this.
9 Dean Winchester and Castiel Supernatural
Is it possible for real brothers to have a bromance, or is that cheating? We’ll let you muse on that thorny problem (slash writers certainly have), but until then we’ve decided that Sam and Dean don’t belong on our list. In their place sit Dean and Castiel, who first met when the angel pulled Dean out of Hell; they’ve been bromancing it up ever since.
Over the course of the last two seasons Dean has managed to get Castiel to disobey Heaven (twice), killed (twice), and even dragged him along to a brothel to lose his virginity (he didn’t). Add to that the angel’s intense staring and lack of personal space issues and you can’t deny they’re close. Whether Dean’s a bad influence or not is open to interpretation, but given that he doesn’t seem to have any other friends we’re just happy he’s found a pal at last.
But would he ever let him drive the Impala? That might be the real test of their friendship...
Other honourable Supernatural mentions: Dean and the Impala (given an entirely new meaning when Sam is briefly turned into Impala-KITT in one episode).
8 Shaun and Ed Shaun of the Dead
Simon Pegg’s Shaun and Nick Frost’s Ed are two lifelong buddies whose lives are stuck in a rut of curry nights, DVD-viewings and geeky conversations down the local boozer. They’re settled into a comfy routine that many of the people reading this would probably find familiar, and yet when the crunch comes – the “crunch” in question being a wave of zombies, naturally – they’re both there for each other right to the bitter end (and beyond).
The fact that Pegg and Frost are close pals in real life means that they’re able to slip into these buddy-buddy roles with ease: and not just in Shaun of the Dead but also in the TV show Spaced and the film Hot Fuzz . When it comes down to it, the Shaun/Ed relationship is the one we’d most likely choose to have with our own best bud... zombie infection aside, hopefully.
7 William Adama and Saul Tigh Battlestar Galactica
You’re two battered old spacedogs who’ve survived bloody wars, terrible troubles with your women and children, the loss of countless loved ones and even your home planet(s). The universe has thrown everything at you and you’re still standing at each other’s side. What else can possibly happen to threaten your friendship? Well, one of you could be a Cylon...
There’s something truly heartbreaking about the relationship between the long-suffering Adama and the crusty old Tigh, as they’re both so broken and yet so accepting of each others’ mistakes. But it’s not until Tigh outs himself as a Cylon that you really see their friendship tested. After some initial wailing and gnashing (and smashing), Adama finally realises he can’t lose his old chum even if he is one of the fleshy toasters who all but destroyed humanity – and if that’s not a bromance, we don’t know what is.
6 Chuck Bartowski and Morgan Grimes Chuck
Friends for life; geeks-in-arms; blood brothers. For countless years these guys have sported a united front against the trials of adult life (having a job, dating a girl, acting your age). Chances are most of the men reading this – and some of the women too – have a friend like Morgan: someone you’ve known so long they’re part of you, someone you can speak to using code nobody else understands, someone who will help you get over a doomed romance by bringing over pizza and the latest release of Resident Evil .
Chuck might be a superspy and Morgan might be nothing more than a footsoldier at the Buy More, but they have a shared bond which means they’ll always be equals-in-geek.
Other honourable Chuck mentions: At times Morgan looked like he was cheating on Chuck with Casey… The tease! .
5 Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson Stargate SG-1
When they first met they were Kurt Russell and James Spader; by the time Dr Jackson left Abydos and joined SG-1 he was Michael Shanks and O’Neill was Richard Dean Anderson. And suddenly they had chemistry, too, as O’Neill mellowed and started treating Jackson as an equal (a geeky equal, but an equal nevertheless) and Daniel, in return, called Jack his friend. Who said the military can’t get on with civilians, huh?
Across the space of Stargate ’s ten seasons their friendship survived everything from O’Neill taking a step back from SG-1 to Daniel’s death, but their greatest hour of bromance came when O’Neill was tortured by a Goa’uld and an Ascended Daniel broke many rules to keep him company during his ordeal. Although, to be honest, Jack would probably have preferred him to hand over an AK-47 rather than a few supportive words.
4 Gimli and Legolas The Lord of the Rings
They’re the quintessential odd couple: one’s a bulbous-nosed, overly hairy Dwarf with an axe obsession and an irascible outlook on life; the other’s an impossibly pretty Elf who’s all air and grace. Their races are deeply suspicious of each other and, keeping to this habit, there’s not much love lost between the two when they first meet in Rivendell. However, during the course of the books (or the films, if you prefer John Rhys Davies and Orlando Bloom’s versions of their characters), a curious tolerance springs up between the two unlikely pals until they end up firm friends, competing in battle, having drinking competitions and trading comical insults.
In the books, Legolas and Gimli remain together for years and travel Middle-earth in each other’s company. It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with a happy ending. And more Orcs.
Other honourable Lord of the Rings mentions: Legolas and Aragorn; Legolas and Haldir (Legolas gets around!); Fatty Lumpkin and Tom Bombadil; and, of course, how could we forget Sam and Frodo?
3 Merlin and Arthur Pendragon Merlin
Merlin’s a cheeky servant scamp with a deep, dark secret; Arthur’s the block-headed boss who treats him like dirt but is desperately fond of him really (though he’d never say it out loud). The easy camaraderie between Colin Morgan and Bradley James in real life translates beautifully to the screen, while their hilarious master/servant banter is delivered with precisely the correct amount of bluster and wry acceptance. And Merlin does spend an awful lot of time in Arthur’s bedchambers…
Now if only Merlin would tell Arthur he’s a magician, they could really/ be best buds. There shouldn’t be secrets between friends...
Here, clap your eyes on this adorable moment in the second part of “Beauty And The Beast”:
On the the hand, Merlin can sometimes come across just a little bit too desperate…
2 Kirk, McCoy and Spock Star Trek
It’s the holy triumverate of all sci-fi friendships: three men from incredibly diverse backgrounds whose close relationship across the three seasons of original Star Trek became synonymous with the humanist vision of the future put forward by Gene Roddenberry (just check out the self-sacrifice on display in episode “The Empath” as they struggle to save each other… awwww!).
There’s no denying the twinkly-eyed chemistry between William Shatner’s Kirk and his long-suffering doctor friend, while their gentle mocking of the emotionless Spock only served to show how much they really cared about the green-blooded fella. And their relationship somehow successfully transplanted itself into JJ Abrams’ movie update, too, by some form of casting alchemy that saw Chris Pike, Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto gel together like long-lost brothers.
If only we had friendships like this... although these three did spark off the now commonplace slash-fiction phenomenon
1 Han Solo and Chewbacca Star Wars
Proof that a good bromance can break down interspecies barriers, the Corellian smuggler and his hirsute co-pilot have the kind of relationship that isn’t even threatened when a girl gets in the way (despite the girl calling one of them a “walking carpet” when he gets in the way). Han and Chewie are a team, a double-act, a package – and the fact Han can decipher Chewie’s “Rrrrrghs” and “Grrrrrs” when nobody else can means they can scam their way in and out of every situation using their close bond.
You do have to wonder about what they get up to in their spare time, though – as we saw in A New Hope , Chewie won’t let anybody put handcuffs on him except his buddy. Curious.
Other honourable Star Wars mentions: Artoo and Threepio, although we suspect Artoo secretly hates his fussy robot pal; Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, so make of that what you will