20 of the Most Iconic Duos in Movie History

By: Charles Rogers & Desiree Bowie  | 
movie duos
Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman, at right) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford), the famous outlaw duo, in a scene from the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," released on Oct. 24, 1969. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Cinema has given fans a multitude of compelling lead performances that were heightened by the addition of a trusted companion. Whether they're part of a buddy-cop outfit, as in "Bad Boys," a romantic comedy like "When Harry Met Sally" or budding best buds in "Step Brothers," the central relationship and chemistry between the two lead characters in a film often leads to cinema gold.

For more examples of great cinematic pairings (and some major spoilers), check out this list of the most iconic duos that have provided us with an endless stream of classic movie moments.


20. Barbie and Ken - "Barbie"

She's Barbie and he's... just Ken. But together, they're one of the newest iconic duos to grace the big screen. During the summer of 2023, Barbiemania took hold as millions of moviegoers set out to enjoy writer-director Greta Gerwig's live-action take on one of the most popular toy lines of all time.

Set in Barbieland where every day is a party, the coming-of-age dramedy kicks off with Barbie (played by Margot Robbie) experiencing a growing disenchantment with reality after encountering the challenges faced by living women, such as sexism and unrealistic beauty ideals.


To end this existential crisis, she embarks on a journey to the real world, where she must locate her teenage owner and help her work through a personal issue. But things go south when a smitten Ken (played by Ryan Gosling) tags along and discovers the power of the patriarchy in the real world — and antics ensue.

While they spend a portion of the movie at odds with each other, every moment that Barbie and Ken share on the big screen is pure magic, and their chemistry is off the charts — a true marker of an iconic film duo.


19. Fred and George Weasley – "Harry Potter"

With their close sibling bond, endearing banter and unbreakable loyalty to their friends, these mischievous twins, played by James and Oliver Phelps, are a standout duo in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. From their first appearance in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" to their daring exploits in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," Fred and George's uncanny ability to blend humor and bravery during the darkest times made them unforgettable.

The brothers' spirited camaraderie, pranks and relentless optimism provided a much-needed levity amid the looming threat of Voldemort. Meanwhile, their establishment of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes showcased their ingenuity and entrepreneurial flair, becoming a symbol of defiance against adversity.


The twins encapsulate the spirit of rebellion and creativity, demonstrating the importance of staying true to oneself even in the face of challenges. Fred and George's legacy endures as an emblem of spirited companionship, making them an unforgettable duo in the realm of cinematic history.

18. Tyler Durden and the Narrator – "Fight Club"

The 1999 film "Fight Club," based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, features one of the most intriguing duos on this list. Tyler Durden, played by Brad Pitt, and "the Narrator," played by Edward Norton, are on opposite ends of dissociative identity disorder and serve as the film’s central antagonist and protagonist, respectively. For those unfamiliar with the film or the disorder, our two main characters are actually the same person.

During the day, our lead is depicted as an average, middle-class man known only as "the Narrator." At night, he becomes the chaotic and charismatic Tyler Durden during bouts of insomnia. While the Narrator and Tyler Durden are often at odds with their motivations, their fate is naturally tied to each other, which makes for some compelling interactions between the two characters. Heightened by the wonderful performances of Pitt and Norton, this "duo" will go down as one of the greatest in film history.


17. Riggs and Murtaugh – "Lethal Weapon"

Among the best-known buddy-cop films of all time, "Lethal Weapon" centers on a pair of mismatched LAPD detectives: Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). The wildly unstable Riggs and the traditional 50-year-old veteran of the force Murtaugh are polar opposites, and their contrast in styles of policing leads to some great on-screen moments between the duo.

The success of the film, mostly due to the on-screen chemistry between the two leads, spawned a series of sequels and led to a popular television adaptation that ran from 2016–2019. Above all else, the duo of Riggs and Murtaugh helped redefine a genre that many thought had run out of steam.


16. Woody and Buzz – "Toy Story"

This animated duo first hit the big screen in Pixar's first feature film, the blockbuster buddy-comedy "Toy Story," released in 1995. The film takes place in a fictional world where anthropomorphic toys pretend to be lifeless when humans are present, but come to life when they leave the room. The film's central plot focuses on the relationship between Woody, an old-fashioned, pull-string cowboy doll (voiced by Tom Hanks), and Buzz Lightyear, an advanced spaceman action figure (voiced by Tim Allen).

The two lead characters' relationship evolves from rivals competing for the affections of Andy, their owner, to friends who work together to reunite their family of toys with Andy after being separated during a move to a new home. The film, which made the duo household names, spawned a few sequels, TV series and a 2022 spin-off prequel centering on Lightyear.


15. Andy and Red – "The Shawshank Redemption"

Released in 1994, "The Shawshank Redemption" tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murder of his wife and her lover, despite his claims of innocence. Over the following decades, he develops a friendship with a fellow prisoner, contraband smuggler Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman).

Andy and Red's relationship is the catalyst for what makes this film one of the greatest of all time. The duo's camaraderie shows that even when facing life in prison, friendship can be a light at the end of the tunnel. The film went on to earn seven Academy Award nominations and to this day, fans envision Andy and Red growing old together on a beach in Zihuatanejo, Mexico.


14. Jay and Silent Bob – "Clerks"

The hilarious comedic duo of Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) are fictional characters in Smith's View Askewniverse. The pair have been featured in several films, beginning with the low-budget indie film "Clerks" in 1994, and starred in a few of their own. As far as the duo’s lore goes, Jay and his best friend Silent Bob were born in Leonardo, New Jersey, in the 1970s, and met as infants in front of Quick Stop Groceries.

The slackers — who went on to spend the better part of two decades out in front of that Quick Stop — have provided an endless stream of laughs for moviegoers over that same time span. Like a modern-day Cheech and Chong, Jay and Silent Bob share a love of marijuana, women and music and have appeared in a long list of films since their 1994 cinematic debut.


13. Thelma and Louise – "Thelma and Louise"

movie duos
Actors Susan Sarandon as Louise (at left) and Geena Davis as Thelma starred as women on the run in the film "Thelma & Louise," released in 1991. Fotos International/Getty Images

The trailblazing, titular duo of Ridley Scott's "Thelma & Louise" (1991), played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, showed Hollywood that women could also fill the role of badass criminals on the run from the law. The two leads find themselves in hot water after Louise shoots and kills a man who tries to sexually assault Thelma at a bar. Louise decides to flee to Mexico, and Thelma joins her on the journey.

"Thelma & Louise" features comedic, dramatic and romantic elements wrapped up in a "Bonnie and Clyde" story that features some great action and adventure. The film was a huge critical and commercial success, receiving six Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress nods for both Sarandon and Davis. The fantastic chemistry between the two leads elevated the film to cult status and gave us one of the most iconic duos in movie history.


12. Elwood and Jake Blues – "The Blues Brothers"

This music-infused action-comedy stars the late John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, a pair of music-loving characters developed from a recurring sketch that aired on "Saturday Night Live" in the late '70s. Directed by John Landis, the 1980 film follows paroled convict Jake and his brother Elwood as they set out on "a mission from God" to save the Catholic orphanage where they grew up from foreclosure.

In order to raise the $5,000 needed to pay the orphanage's property tax bill, the duo reunite their R&B band and organize a performance. As the movie plays out, they are targeted by a destructive, unknown woman, a group of neo-Nazis and an irate music band while being pursued by the local police force.


The film features great action, comedy and music (including a topnotch performance of the hit song, "Jailhouse Rock") and the duo of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd have a host of hilarious on-screen interactions.

11. Brennan Huff and Dale Doback – "Step Brothers"

"Did we just become best friends?"


This 2018 comedy film centers on Brennan Huff (Will Ferrell) and Dale Doback (John C. Reilly), two immature 40-year-olds forced to live together as brothers after their parents marry and combine their households. The two founding members of Prestige Worldwide begin their relationship as bitter enemies vying for the affection and attention of their parents, but soon realize that they have a lot in common.

Arguably one of the greatest buddy comedies ever made, "Step Brothers" sees its central duo team up to battle local bullies — and Brennan’s evil brother Derek (Adam Scott) — as the two fight to keep their laidback and carefree lifestyle intact. Ferrell and Riley are a great team, providing countless classic moments and one-liners throughout the movie's 98-minute runtime.

10. Harry and Lloyd – "Dumb and Dumber"

This iconic duo is part of the 1994 comedy classic "Dumb and Dumber," written and directed by the Farrelly Brothers. The highly quotable film centers on goofy limo driver Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and dimwitted dog groomer Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels), who are best friends and roommates living in Providence, Rhode Island.

When the beautiful Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) leaves her briefcase in Lloyd's limousine, the pair embarks on a cross-country road trip to return it to her — and hijinx ensue. Whether they're driving an angry mobster to madness, making the world's most annoying sound or getting dolled up for a gala in a shopping montage set to Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman," this duo is as hilarious as they are iconic.

"Dumb and Dumber" went on to find huge success at the box office thanks to the legendary comedic performances of Carrey and Daniels.

9. Bonnie and Clyde – "Bonnie and Clyde"

The groundbreaking 1967 film "Bonnie and Clyde" starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway paved the way for several of the other duos featured on this list. Based on the real-life story of iconic bank robbers Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) and Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway), the film broke many cinematic taboos by depicting sex and extreme violence, making it especially popular with younger audiences.

In the film, which takes place in the middle of the Great Depression, the star-crossed lovers meet for the first time when Clyde tries to steal Bonnie’s mother's car. Bored by her simple life and intrigued by the rebellious Clyde, Bonnie decides to join up with him and become his partner-in-crime. The two start off small with quick holdups, but the excitement and payday aren’t enough to satiate their lust for adventure and riches, so they set their sights on bigger hauls, putting their lives at risk.

Considered unique for its mix of comedic, romantic and violent tones, the acclaimed film was named one of AFI's Top 100 films of all time and established Beatty and Dunaway as household names for decades to come.

Bonnie and Clyde's story has inspired countless remakes, spin-offs and reimaginings, including the 2019 film "The Highwaymen," which follows a pair of former Texas Rangers as they track down the notorious duo.

8. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling – "The Silence of the Lambs"

Released in 1991, "The Silence of the Lambs" features a memorable performance by Anthony Hopkins as the deadly Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The iconic doctor is not, however, the film’s central antagonist, as that honor goes to the serial killer nicknamed "Buffalo Bill." While this may be one of the most unconventional choices for an outstanding movie duo highlighted on this list, FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and Hannibal Lecter, in fact, work together as a team in order to capture the villain.

Their "relationship" gets off to a rocky start, thanks to some chilling comments from Lecter. But as the film progresses, he begins to act as a mentor figure to Starling, providing insight into the mind of a complicated and deadly man. While not your prototypical duo, the team of Starling and Lector are an effective and unforgettable pairing, with a knack for tracking down serial killers.

7. Doc Brown and Marty McFly – "Back to the Future"

These two time-travelers have appeared in three films together that are widely beloved by generations of movie fans. In the films, teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and his eccentric inventor pal Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) use a heavily modified DeLorean, powered by stolen plutonium, to travel back and forth through time. Whether teleporting to the past or future, the duo must combine their efforts to restore the damage they’ve created for their future selves.

The young and enthusiastic Marty and the wacky Doc may be an unlikely duo, but their great on-screen chemistry and infectious energy elevate each film in the trilogy. Surprisingly, Michael J. Fox was not the original actor slated for the lead role; Eric Stoltz was cast as Marty but was removed shortly after production began. It’s hard to imagine "Back to the Future" without Fox and Lloyd filling the roles of Marty and Doc.

6. Butch and Sundance - "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

Set in Wyoming in the late 1890s, this classic Western stars a pair of acting legends, Paul Newman and Robert Redford, in the titular roles. Butch Cassidy (Newman) is the clever and affable leader of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, which includes charismatic dead-shot, "The Sundance Kid" (Robert Redford). The blockbuster western is considered one of the greatest films of all time and features great action and iconic set pieces.

Although the film released to mixed reviews, it went on to earn over $100 million domestically and was the top-grossing film of 1969, cementing Newton and Redford as one of the most formidable on-screen duos in the genre.

5. Jules and Vincent – "Pulp Fiction"

Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, this Oscar-winning 1994 crime film is famous for its excellent dialog and story, which is presented out of chronological order. Although the film featured several iconic characters, the duo of Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) arguably steal the show.

In the film, the two quirky hitmen work for notorious Los Angeles crime boss Marsellus Wallace and effectively use intimidation and the threat of violence to exert their will. The suave and soft-spoken Vincent is contrasted by the aggressive and outspoken Jules, who has a habit of quoting the Bible before acts of extreme violence. The pair's contrasting styles complement each other well, with the simple-minded Vincent relying on the more intelligent Jules to run the show.

The duo of Travolta and Jackson work well together and are responsible for some of the most iconic scenes in Tarantino's storied history of filmmaking.

4. Cheech and Chong – "Up in Smoke"

The award-winning comedy duo, Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong, first found a following in the early 1970s through their stand-up routines and stage skits before breaking into the mainstream. With a shtick based on the 1970s hippie and free love movement and the central theme of their passion for cannabis, the duo released several albums and won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for 1974's "Los Cochinos."

Many of their stand-up routines made their way to the big screen, including the famous "Dave's not here" bit, which was featured in their first film, "Up in Smoke" (1978). The hilarious duo had excellent chemistry and played the roles so well that it made you wonder how much they were actually acting. Cheech & Chong went on to star in a long list of low-budget cult classics, and a slew of individual projects, that continue to entertain audiences today.

3. Batman and Robin

Batman and Robin have become the archetype of crime-fighting teams in comics and film. This dynamic duo first appeared in early issues of DC Comics, but their silver-screen debut arrived in 1966 with "Batman: The Movie," released after the completion of the first season of the duo's television series.

With Batman in the lead and the eager Robin by his side, these formidable crime fighters battled a roster of Gotham City's most powerful villains, including The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman. The roles of Batman and Robin have been played by many different actors over the years — from George Clooney and Chris O' Donnell to Christian Bale and Joseph Gordon-Levitt — but many fans think of Adam West and Dick Ward when this dynamic duo is mentioned.

2. Kirk and Spock – "Star Trek"

Captain Kirk and Spock are the prototypical sci-fi movie duo. Kirk is the charismatic ladies' man and headstrong adventurer who doesn't mind steering the Enterprise into imminent danger if it means "boldly going where no man has gone before." Spock, on the other hand, is calm and logical, and remains unshaken throughout all of Kirk's interstellar exploits.

Despite being polar opposites, this odd couple still became the best of friends, as they traveled through time, space and alternate realities in search of adventure. The roles of Kirk and Spock have been filled by a new generation of actors, but the roles will always be synonymous with the actors who first portrayed them. Actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy starred in numerous "Star Trek" feature films and will be forever remembered for their iconic portrayals of Kirk and Spock.

1. Han Solo and Chewbacca – "Star Wars"

One of the most beloved franchises of all-time, "Star Wars" features the iconic duo of Han Solo and Chewbacca, who have been inseparable since they were first introduced in 1977. The pair initially met when Chewbacca was freed from slavery by Han Solo, swearing a life debt to the smuggler. Eventually, Chewie would become the copilot of the Millennium Falcon and a trusted companion to Han as they traveled the galaxy in search of intergalactic adventure.

It's hard to imagine one without the other, which is one of the many reasons why Han's death in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was so heartbreaking. The duo are among the most beloved and popular characters in the entire franchise, making them ideal candidates for their own 2018 spin-off: "Solo: A Star Wars Story."

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.