Compared to Mario, Sonic was supposed to be cool. In the early ’90s, that meant he was a wise-cracking, impulsive kid who ran fast and thumbed his nose at authority the whole time.
But there’s a fine line between "charismatic rebel" and "jerk" and, occasionally, Sonic crosses it. That might make Sega’s popular mascot a more rounded character than his blue-collar counterpart, but it doesn’t make him a good person (or rodent, or whatever). From blowing off his girlfriends to abusing his long-suffering sidekick, Sonic the Hedgehog often hurts more than he helps. That’s just what happens when you’re more concerned with going fast than doing the right thing.
He put Tails up for adoption
Just ask Robin and Luigi: a good sidekick suffers. Other than Doctor Robotnik, nobody takes as much grief from Sonic as Miles "Tails" Prowler, the flying young fox who has been Sonic’s stalwart companion since Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Tails’ New Home" is the perfect example. In the episode’s opening, Tails runs afoul of Robotnik’s goons, Scratch and Grounder, and ends up bruised and beaten. In response, Sonic vows to keep Tails out of trouble and puts him up for adoption, even though Tails pleads with Sonic to let him stay.
Even though Sonic is canonically only 15 years old, making him a minor himself, and given that he’s not Tails’ official guardian, it’s not clear where he gets the authority to put Tails up for adoption in the first place. Still, Sonic ships Tails off to live with a pair of negligent, child-endangering storks and an emotionally abusive doberman. Tails begs Sonic to call off the search, but Sonic doesn’t listen.
Eventually, Sonic and Tails find Tails’ real parents, and Sonic speeds away, leaving a crying Tails in his wake. It’s a trap, of course: the "parents" are actually Robotnik’s goons in disguise, and they capture Tails as soon as Sonic is out of the way. So, not only did Sonic try to pawn off his best friend and inadvertently get Tails kidnapped, but he made the kid watch as the long-lost family members ripped off their skins to reveal robot parts underneath. If that’s not a recipe for lifelong trauma, we don’t know what is.
He destroyed Knothole Village
Sonic’s continuity changes from incarnation to incarnation, but the longest and most fleshed out version of Sonic happens to be the version established in the Sonic the Hedgehog Saturday morning cartoon. That’s also the basis for Archie Comics’ ink-and-paper spin-off, which was until very recently the longest-running American comic (i.e., one that hadn’t ever been rebooted or relaunched) on store shelves. In that world, Sonic and his friends are a band of freedom fighters called, well, the Freedom Fighters, who try to free Mobius from Dr. Ivo Robotnik’s dictatorial regime.
While Robotnik rules Mobotropolis, the Freedom Fighters operate from a forest hideaway called Knothole Village. As the Freedom Fighters’ secret hideout, Knothole is pretty damn important, which is why it’s extra bad when Sonic himself tears the whole thing to shreds in Archie’s Sonic & Knuckles: Mecha Madness Special. Now, to be fair, Sonic isn’t in complete control of his facilities. In Sonic the Hedgehog #39, a bounty hunter captures Sonic and delivers him to Robotnik, who dumps Sonic into his roboticizer and transforms the hedgehog into a mindless, evil robot known as Mecha-Sonic.
Technically, it’s Mecha-Sonic who beats up Knuckles and Bunnie, and who lays waste to Knothole Village. On the other hand, as Sonic the Hedgehog #39 reveals, turning into a robot was Sonic’s plan to begin with (by getting a stronger robot body, Sonic hopes to get the strength he needs to take out Robotnik once and for all). Things don’t proceed exactly like Sonic expected, but the similarities are close enough for Sonic to be tried for treason once he returns to his organic self. And besides, robot or not, Knothole’s devastation came at Sonic’s metallic hands, and that’s something he’s just going to have to live with.
He revealed Knothole’s location
As a secret base, Knothole Village works best when its whereabouts are an actual secret. In the Sonic the Hedgehog Saturday morning series episode "No Brainer," Sonic spills the beans about Knothole’s hiding place—and threatens to derail Princess Sally’s revolution entirely—all because he can’t say no to a freshly made chili dog.
While cruising through Robotropolis in search of his favorite food—despite Sally’s direct orders to not do exactly that—Sonic runs across Robotnik’s Roboticizer, as well as a group of captive woodland creatures who are destined to be transformed into mechanical monsters. Sonic saves the prisoners, but is struck from behind by a laser in the process. In the blast, Sonic loses his memory. Robotnik’s nephew, Snivley, uses the confusion to convince Sonic that he’s a double-agent, and sends Sonic into the woods to suss out Knothole’s location (Sonic, naturally, doesn’t remember where the village is, but with his super-speed it doesn’t take long for him to search out the entire Great Forest).
Princess Sally gets back to Knothole before Sonic and warns her army, but Tails doesn’t get the message. Tails leads Sonic right to Knothole, and Snivley follows. In the resulting fight, Snivley begins erasing the Freedom Fighters’ memories with his new weapon. It backfires, however, erasing Snivley’s memory, including Knothole’s hiding place, rendering the rebel village safe once again—at least for now.
He made out with Tails’ sort-of girlfriend
In Sonic the Hedgehog #28, Tails answers a distress call and finds a foxy, um, fox named Fiona stranded on a desert island. He immediately falls in love. Fortunately for Tails, Fiona seems to like Tails, too, and they spend a romantic day kissing, holding hands, and enjoying all the pleasures of the tropical paradise. Unfortunately for Tails, Fiona is actually a robot planted by Robotnik, and it’s not long before Tails is a captive.
Robot Fiona eventually succumbs to rust (Robotnik forgot to waterproof her), and Tails rushes off to tell the Freedom Fighters about his adventures. Now, flash forward 11 years and 127 issues. In Sonic the Hedgehog #155, the real Fiona—the one that Tails’ mechanical girlfriend was based on—is back, and she’s making time with a certain blue hedgehog. Sonic doesn’t tell Tails, either. Tails discovers the truth when he walks in on Fiona and Sonic swapping spit. When he confronts the pair about his feelings, Fiona shoots him down, claiming that she likes older critters—like, say, Tails’ best friend.
Tails doesn’t take this well, and the rift between Sonic and Tails culminates in Sonic the Hedgehog #178, when Sonic and Tails end up on opposite sides during a political debate and end up trading blows in the forest. Tails accuses Sonic of ignoring Tails’ feelings (which is a convincing argument), and Sonic replies by saying that, by dating Fiona, he was trying to help Tails "move on." If it’s any consolation, Sonic gets his comeuppance. Fiona is actually in love with Sonic’s evil doppelgänger, Scourge, and eventually turns into one of Sonic’s most fearsome enemies. As it turns out, Fiona likes bad boys. Tails never had a chance.
He used suicide to get attention
Forget 13 Reasons Why. Two and a half decades before Netflix’s young adult drama arguably glorified depression and mental illness and made suicide look like a viable way for teenagers to finally get the attention that they crave, Sonic CD made the exact same point—and it didn’t need a 13-hour television series to do it, either.
Most of the time, an idle animation—whatever a video game character does when you go for a while without pressing any buttons—is a vehicle for an Easter egg, a sight gag, or a little character-enhancing moment. In Sonic CD, it’s a punishment. If you leave the blue blur unoccupied for three minutes, Sonic exclaims, "I’m outta here!" and jumps off of the screen. Maybe he’s just leaving for another adventure, but given that Sonic’s leap of faith ends in an immediate game over, we’re guessing that the hedgehog didn’t survive.
At the very best, Sonic’s unassisted suicide is a weird and baffling way to scold players who forget to press the start button. At worst, it’s a ploy to make the characters pay attention, and to punish them for, say, answering the telephone or getting up to grab a glass of water. Guilt is a powerful motivator, and Sonic’s "play or I’ll kill myself" strategy is certainly effective—we’re just not sure that it sent ’90s children an entirely healthy message.
He stole and lost the Sword of Acorns
Doctor Robotnik and his various cronies and successors capture sentient creatures and transform them into mindless robot slaves. That’s their whole deal. As such, the Sword of Acorns, a magical artifact that can restore the mechanical creatures’ minds, is kind of a big deal. It’s a weapon that lets the Freedom Fighters decimate the evil forces’ armies while adding to their own ranks—and save their friends in the process.
So, naturally, Sonic loses it. While Sonic and Sally are out of town, Robotnik captures Prince Elias, and in Sonic the Hedgehog #88, King Max leads a mission to rescue him and bring him home. As one of Max’s most trusted allies, Sonic vows to keep the king safe. He fails. When Sonic’s Uncle Chuck and his dog Muttski, both currently robot soldiers, attack, the Sword of Acorns restores their memories—at least for a second. That makes Sonic lose his concentration and, in the chaos, robots wound King Max, leaving him crippled from the waist down. Yes, this is a children’s comic.
As King Max heads into surgery and Princess Sally sulks, Sonic steals the Sword of Acorns from the king’s armory and heads off to rescue Chuck and Muttski on his own. Along the way, he finds a young mongoose, Mina, who helps him fight off a robot attack. Unfortunately, while saving Mina from the robots, Robotnik’s forces take the sword and deliver it to their master. While various villains fight to claim the sword, Sonic returns home and confesses. As punishment, Prince Elias strips Sonic of his knighthood and confines him to Knothole, where, presumably, he can’t cause any more trouble.
Guess how well that works out?
He robbed a planet of music
Even by Sonic standards, Sonic Underground is weird. Instead of a wise-cracking rebel, Sonic is the prince of Mobius, who spends his time searching for his mother, the queen, in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Instead of sidekicks like Tails, Princess Sally, and Amy Rose, Sonic is joined on his adventures by his brother and sister, Manic and Sonia. While Sonic still has superspeed, all three royal children also have magic amulets that transform into both weapons and musical instruments and, when they’re not fighting evil, Sonic and his siblings moonlight as a rock band.
Basically, it doesn’t make any sense, so why not throw some alternate dimension shenanigans and evil doppelgängers in there, too? In "Six is a Crowd" after visiting the Oracle of Delphius, who serves as the hedgehogs’ de facto mentor, Sonic and his family travel to an alternate reality in which Robotnik leads the resistance and Sonic, Sonia, and Manic rule Mobius with three iron fists. After capturing the heroes, the rebel Robotnik explains that Manic stole the people’s money, Sonia robbed them of their freedom, and—worst of all—a fat and lazy version of Sonic took their music.
That gives the rockin’ siblings a chance to prove their innocence with a song, but honestly, the tune "I Can Do That For You," probably deserves its own entry on this list. Still, Nice Robotnik—who clearly hasn’t heard a good song in a very, very long time—is so charmed that he happily lets Sonic go, leaving the hedgehogs free to confront their doppelgängers and show the evil Sonic clan the error of their ways. Thankfully, they manage to do so without singing. One song per episode is more than enough.
He convinced a robot to become a genocidal monster
In Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog #21, Sonic takes on Robotnik’s Exceptionally Versatile Evolvanoid (E.V.E. for short), a robot soldier that can learn and adapt to her surroundings. Using data gathered during a routine Sonic versus Swatbot battle, Robotnik builds the ultimate anti-hedgehog weapon, one that constantly changes form as it fights Sonic again and again.
Robotnik crafted E.V.E. from both Sonic’s DNA and his own, creating a creature that is both rebellions and highly intelligent. And E.V.E’s prime directive isn’t destroying the Freedom Fighters, but to evolve into the most complex and sophisticated creature she can. E.V.E. quick realizes that Robotnik is holding her back and rebels. Next, Sonic talks E.V.E. into heading into space, where she can learn more about the galaxy and become the magnificent creature she’s meant to be.
Years later, Sonic is lost in space, hopping from world to world as he tries to get home. In Sonic the Hedgehog #128, he runs across E.V.E. as part of his interplanetary journey, and what he discovers isn’t pretty. Where Sonic expects to find the planet Teragosa 6, only an asteroid belt remains—and E.V.E. is responsible for the planet’s destruction.
Sonic hunts down E.V.E. and demands an explanation. She gives one: during her travels, E.V.E. encountered a number of artificial intelligences that, like her, were enslaved to flesh-and-bone masters. In order to liberate them, E.V.E. absorbed the AIs and destroyed their worlds. When Sonic points out that that just makes E.V.E. the slave master, the robot plunges herself into the nearest star and kills herself, ending her reign of terror—but not before millions and millions of lives are lost.
He stood up Amy Rose
If a self-centered, irreverent, and impulsive hedgehog doesn’t sound like great relationship material to you, you’re right, as Sonic’s long-suffering girlfriend (well, one of ’em, anyway) learns the hard way. In the Sonic X episode "A Date to Forget," Sonic stands up Amy Rose, a pink hedgehog with a massive crush on the blue blur. Naturally, Amy is devastated—not only has she been pining for Sonic for years, but she went all out to impress him, buying new shoes and a new headband for the occasion.
As Amy bursts into tears, Sonic’s human friend Sam Speed shows up to show off his new car, claiming that Sonic said that he didn’t have any plans. Since Sonic stood up both Amy and Sam, they decide to go out together. Given the episode’s title, it goes about as well as you’d think. While Sonic fights Robotnik and his goons, Sam takes a wrong turn en route to the beach, and he and Amy end up lost in the countryside. As they try to find their way home, Amy realizes that she and Sonic may not ever work out as a couple—but she has to try anyway.
Once at the beach, Sonic arrives and apologizes for being late—to Sam, who he’s scheduled to race that evening. Amy, meanwhile, goes in for a hug only to fall flat on her face when Sonic ignores her, leaving her fuming as he and Sam speed off into the distance. Like Amy says, "worst date ever."
He starred in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006
Most casual fans know Sonic the Hedgehog‘s 2006 outing (which is, like the original game, just known as Sonic the Hedgehog) for its hot and heavy girl-on-hedgehog action, but it is so, so much worse than that. Sonic the Hedgehog is a technical disaster, with unbearable loading times, numerous glitches, and an awkward control scheme. Even by Sonic standards, the story doesn’t make a lick of sense. Critics call the game’s level design "atrocious" and "faulty," and the game ended up with a 43 percent Metascore—the second lowest in the series’ history.
In fact, Sonic the Hedgehog was so bad that it forced Sega to revamp its plans for the franchise, and since its release, Sega has focused on a simpler, retro-flavored approach to the Sonic franchise. Meanwhile, Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 was removed from stores in 2010 in order to help improve the brand. That’s a start, but in many cases, it’s too little, too late. Many of us have already played Sonic the Hedgehog, and even over a decade later, we’re not ready to forgive the blue furball just yet.