Alright, so maybe that trailer for the 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog movie hasn’t exactly given our favorite speedster a good name lately. Still, he’s been a flagship platformer for Sega and a juggernaut franchise since 1991, even accumulating his own cartoons. Team Sonic Racing is a solid kart game, so don’t let the prospect of another silly video game movie get you down. Sonic’s just tapping his foot, he’s already moving on to the next big thing. So, let’s have a look at some of the best characters in his unstoppable series, which has accumulated a decent roster over its long, enduring history.
Although this character has a rather disconcerting appearance, it’s also very unique. He’s yet another example of a gentle soul who only acts in defense of his friends. And being a close friend of Amy Rose—who’s always chasing Sonic—he usually ends up in the larger scheme of things, which he would otherwise avoid. Despite his alarming size and strength, he’s a secluded fisherman that prefers to move in the slow lane. It’s a little disappointing that he falls into the cliche of being both large and slow-witted, but he’s more like Baymax from Big Hero 6. He’s basically a giant huggable cat, if you aren’t too alarmed by his appearance.
Amy Rose was first introduced in the manga, and she’s also one of the very few female characters in the franchise. Which makes it a shame that her personality seems to be of two minds. On the one hand, she carries that giant Piko Piko Hammer, and appears to be powerful enough in her own right; on the other, she’s constantly falling all over Sonic, and has been known to show cowardice. Either way, the combination of her cutesy design and ironically giant weapon is amusing nevertheless. Her peppy attitude could be infectious or annoying to some, but she is undeniably popular, and recognizable for her decidedly feminine features.
This character has quite a convoluted backstory, and is actually the outcome of a scientific program conducted by Gerald Robotnik—the grandfather of Dr. Eggman. Gerald was a more stereotypical scientist, wherein his good intentions led to unintended results. Shadow isn’t just a color swap of Sonic; he’s another anti-hero of the franchise that ultimately works as a lone wolf, but ends up helping out Sonic now and then. Still, he was an instant hit, garnering enough popularity that his character was even resurrected from apparent death. Aside from his origin story, he does have that striking black-and-red color scheme, after all.
They definitely started to mine deep for other animals to anthropomorphize. But either way, she’s a far sight better than Amy, even if she can be villainous. As a spy with serious combat skills, that’s got a weakness for jewels, she’s ironically a great deal like Catwoman. She has a flirty attitude, battles fiercely, and has a shifty moral compass. In that sense, she’s as much a cliched character-type as Espio the Chameleon, and she was probably one of the many new characters that began to frustrate fans. However, she has great abilities and an interesting personality.
It’s a lot of fun that Espio is a chameleon, and the series has leaned into the implications. In Sonic Heroes, he can go invisible and throw ninja stars. But he’s most famous for being a founder of the Chaotix Detective Agency, whose function definitely adds a little flair to the franchise. It also covers two other fun characters, Vector the crocodile and the imaginatively-named Charmy the Bee. Espio has a reserved personality, and although he’s got all the stereotypical traits of a hard-boiled detective, it’s still a fun archetype.
Ah yes, if Godzilla won’t go down, then the only natural solution is to create a Mechagodzilla. This is one of the few creations Robotnik has personally created that is actually a genuine threat against Sonic and friends. His abilities have been known to even best Sonic’s, and yet he’s never managed to successfully eliminate him. Perhaps it’s a classic case of blind obsession. Either way, he has a sleek design, and given that he is actually sentient, he counts as a “character”. Considering the countless drones that Sonic blasts through on a regular basis, Robotnik’s other evil concoctions can’t compare—just like Gerald, whose prize creation was Shadow.
Knuckles sure is lucky he isn’t a female, otherwise he’d be one of the few mammals that lays eggs. But he was a meme for a minute. Perpetually serious, and hogging all the attitude, he actually started out as a villain—but his abilities made him a fan-favorite, and he ultimately learns that Robotnik misled him. He’s more ingrained with the lore of the franchise, being the last of his kind, who were meant to protect the security of the Chaos Emeralds. Those are one elaborate can of worms, so let’s just say that they’re akin to the Infinity Stones. Knuckles’ scrappy attitude, red appearance, and famous strength easily won audiences over, so he’s ended up in plenty of sequels and merchandise.
Every Mario needs a Luigi. Miles Prower, the famous flying fox, makes for a genuinely fun sidekick that isn’t just a color swap for Sonic. He has his own backstory, having trouble with bullies, and ultimately using his abnormal tail for something positive. His ability to fly, established in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, is particularly invaluable in a platforming series. Always treated as something of a little brother, Tails is actually a mechanic, bringing more of an everyman vibe to the franchise. He’s a mild-mannered character with an adorable design, catering to younger audiences, but he did help introduce multiplayer.
Otherwise known as Dr. Eggman, he’s a stereotypical villain in the sense that he’s always in pursuit of world domination. However, it’s his methods that make him so interesting. Manufacturing weapons, and destroying nature in order to transform local wildlife into robots, are distinctly human vices with blatant messages. We’ve had a distinct imbalance with our environment, and we’ve definitely had missile-wielding war mongers. Also, his attempts to make everything into mindless, conforming robots speaks for itself. This mad scientist has a cooky, amusing design and the contrast between nature and machines is a fun theme.
So, this was obvious. Sonic only had a cameo in Wreck-It Ralph because he had places to be, with such a successful career. With a charming design, and a fun attitude, his penchant for speed really set him apart from other platformers. Gamers don’t always have the best attention span—we want things quick, and here was a protagonist that allowed for every level to become a speedrun. His world has a foundation that’s simple, and is filled with colorful art design that focuses on animals—so overall, we’re fans of Sonic at the conceptual level. Also, Sonic’s moral compass always points true. His altruism is very endearing, and within the games alone, he’s mustered a surprising amount of personality.