Alright, so maybe that initial trailer for the 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog movie hasn’t exactly given our favorite speedster a good name. 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.
Updated February 14th, 2021 by Gene Cole: Since this was first published, the Sonic film ended up being a rousing success with a much better look, and many fans are optimistic about its sequel and the new Sonic series announced for Netflix. However, it’s been nearly four years since we’ve gotten a new Sonic Platformer like the acclaimed Sonic Forces and Sonic Mania, and there are tons of rarer characters we’d love to see in Sonic’s future appearances.
First introduced in the infamous 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game, this character ended up being a neat inclusion that other games were far better off for. This strange hedgehog is fun enough to play in most games due to his telekinetic powers, setting him apart from the melee-oriented characters that populate the series.
As a story vehicle, this character is a really great way to implement dramatic plots without introducing one-time side characters. Being completely neutral, he ends up being an organic way to bring in the more magical and galactic aspects of the Sonic universe and is a valuable member of the series current roster.
14 Cream & Cheese
For quite a while, Amy was the only female character most people knew from the Sonic series, and while she’s certainly more than meets the eye, there’s always an opening for other female animal characters in this series.
Cream, and her adorably-named chao pet Cheese, are a prime example of a much different sort of female character in the series. Cream is much more an innocent bystander with a simpler motivation of protecting her pet, and it makes her especially endearing in any game she appears in.
Bark is one of the few characters from Sonic the Fighters that has rarely appeared in other Sonic media. This polar bear may not have come from a great game, but being the only bear in Sonic history and one of the only winter-themed characters makes him much more memorable than his list of appearances would imply.
There’s also something to be said of larger characters in the series, as the traditional body type of Sonic characters tends to be quite small. Bark isn’t exactly an outstanding or unusual shape, but his silhouette is already way more distinctive than any other side character.
Even rarer in the series is Tikal, who most people know from the first Sonic Adventure game and as a recurring character in the Sonic X show. She’s essentially an ancient guardian of the Chaos Emeralds from way before Knuckles took the job, and is one of the only other Echidnas in the entire series.
Considering the abundance of Hedgehogs and love for Knuckles, it’s almost kind of strange how little Tikal tends to show up. She’s a much more calm and respectful defender of these iconic crystals, and she can easily act as a polite and optimistic opposite to the rude and cynical Knuckles.
Fang the Sniper may easily be the most stereotypically cool character in the entire series. Sporting a fancy cowboy hat, this gunner has also appeared in very few places besides his debut in Sonic the Fighters, and with so many overly-serious characters like Shadow and Silver, it’s refreshing to see a character who knows just how cool he is.
We’ve luckily seen him a bit more frequently recently, as he appeared in Sonic Mania as a possible mini-boss alongside other Sonic the Fighters characters Bark and Bean. However, he’s an extremely unusual fox among the crowd of dramatic and silly characters, and absolutely deserves another playable appearance.
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.
9 Amy Rose
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 hand, 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.
7 Rouge the Bat
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.
This team 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 that plays well off of his more jovial teammates.
5 Metal Sonic
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 beat 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.
Perpetually serious, and hogging all the attitude, he actually started out as a villain—but his abilities made him a fan-favorite character, 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 in the real world, 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 type of gamer to become a speedrunner.
His world has a foundation that’s simple, and is filled with colorful art design that focuses on animals—so of course, we’re all fans of Sonic at a real conceptual level. Plus, 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.
Next: 5 Influential Platformer Franchises That Are Still Going Strong (& 5 That Died Out)
I am an author, screenwriter, gamer, and certified CAD Technician residing in Southern California.
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