This summer biggest hit, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy revived many things: Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling"; the sex appeal of green skin; and how much fun it can be when a sidekick doesn't say much. Of course, not all nonverbal sidekicks are intelligent trees with dialogue limited to "I am Groot." Some are completely silent, some speak infrequently, and some just have an exceptionally limited vocabulary, but in all cases, they're not holding up their end of the conversation. Here are 12 sidekicks who prefer to remain men of few (sometimes very few) words.
There's a wide range of Muppets who don't have full command of the English language (think Animal, or the Swedish Chef), but our favorite is the much-abused assistant to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, who regularly gets electrocuted and blown up. Through it all, Beaker expresses his bottomless despair by saying "meep-meep-meep."
Although Snoopy technically doesn't talk in the Peanuts comic strips, he's engaged in a constant monologue, narrating his life for our benefit — it just happens in thought bubbles rather than speech balloons. (He's also the star of his show, not a sidekick.) His loyal bird Woodstock, on the other hand, communicates mostly through apostrophes.
It's not like Hamlet needed an excuse to launch into a soliloquy, but his greatest conversational foil came when a gravedigger exhumed the skull of a dead clown named Yorick: "a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy." Dead men tell no tales — and they don't interrupt Shakespearean monologues, either.
Silent Bob (played by his creator, writer-director Kevin Smith) mostly communicates with his loudmouth buddy Jay through shrugs. The only way to get the usually logorrheic Smith to shut up, it seems, is to get him off Twitter and away from his "Smodcasts," and put him in front of a camera.
Hodor! Hodor Hodor Hodor.
In real life, Teller (born Raymond Joseph Teller) is a witty and erudite man, who has directed Shakespeare plays and the documentary Tim's Vermeer. Performing magic onstage, he is the silent foil to the loud-and-large Penn Jillette, willing to drown in a tank of water while his partner screws up a card trick.
The ectomorphic stepbrother of Phineas is just as inventive with a blueprint or a rivet gun, but he utters only one or two lines per animated episode. "It's not that he doesn't have a tongue," says Phineas and Ferb co-creator Dan Povenmire. "He's just a man of few words."
In the team full of misfit heroes known as the Guardians of the Galaxy, the freakiest member is Groot, a sentient tree whose bark is worse than his bite. His vocabulary is extremely limited, but Vin Diesel, it turns out, is really, really good at saying "I am Groot."
Tom Hanks needed someone to talk to in Cast Away, even though he was stranded on a desert island, so he ended up befriending…a volleyball. Wilson turned in the most nuanced performance ever by a piece of athletic equipment, with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 running a close second.
One of the greatest straight men of our time is, in fact, a stop-motion cartoon dog: Gromit, who lives with the overambitious inventor Wallace, regularly saving his bacon and commenting on his follies with a perfectly cocked eyebrow. Gromit's performance was the spiritual antecedent of John Krasinski's reaction shots in The Office.
There's different stories on how Harpo became the mute member of the Marx Brothers. While some blamed his tendency on the vaudeville stage to hold forth like a college professor, he said it was because of his high-pitched voice. But silence liberated him: Groucho took care of the snappy patter, while Harpo stole the silverware and did whatever led to the greatest anarchy.
He got cheated out of a medal after he helped blow up the Death Star, but Chewbacca remained the most imposing member of the Rebellion and a kickass copilot of the Millennium Falcon, despite his speech being limited to grunts and howls. Star Wars actually has two iconic nonverbal sidekicks — R2-D2 being the other one — but as always, we're going to let the Wookiee win.