|“||If the world chooses to become my enemy, I will fight like I always have!||„|
| ~ Shadow before defeating Mephiles|
Shadow the Hedgehog is a major character from the Sonic the Hedgehog video games. He was created as the "Ultimate Lifeform" by Professor Gerald Robotnik. Shadow is immortal, however that doesn't mean that he does not feel pain. Shadow is ageless as well. Since his debut, Shadow has appeared in a multitude of games, television shows, and comic books. Shadow is Sonic's arch-rival yet friend and Rouge and Omega's best friend.
His past was almost a complete mystery until the game Shadow the Hedgehog revealed the events surrounding his creation. In contrast to Sonic, Shadow is typically portrayed as a tortured anti-hero, or a renegade who can just as easily serve the forces of evil as those of good. However, he does what he needs to do to accomplish what he knows to be right. According to an official poll, Shadow is the second most popular character in the series, second only to Sonic himself.
In his appearances, Shadow was the (former) main antagonist in Sonic Adventure 2, a supporting protagonist in Sonic Heroes and Sonic Rivals, the main protagonist in his own titular game of the same name, one of the two tetartagonists of Sonic's story (alongside Rouge), the pentagonist of Silver's story and the deuteragonist overall in Sonic 2006, the anti-heroic main protagonist of Sonic Rivals and it's sequel, one of the three tritagonists of Sonic and the Black Knight as Lancelot (alongside Knuckles as Gawain and Blaze as Percival) a supporting character in Sonic Free Riders, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations and the teteragonist in Sonic Forces, as well as the main protagonist in its DLC pack Episode Shadow, he also appears as the (former) secondary antagonist-turned-supporting pentagonist in the anime series Sonic X and a minor antagonist in the Sonic Boom spin-off cartoon series and games.
He is currently voiced by Kōji Yusa in the Japanese version, and by Kirk Thornton in the English version.
Concept and creation
After the success of Sonic Adventure, it was only natural to assume that a sequel would be produced. Hoping that the game would be for the Dreamcast what Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was for the Mega Drive, a portion of the team responsible for the first Adventure title was sent off to work at Sega of America. It was led by director Takashi Iizuka, while Yuji Naka remained back in Japan to work on other properties, including Phantasy Star Online. With the team in place, brainstorming soon began on what form Sonic Adventure 2 would take.
Early on, it was decided that one of the main themes of the game would be the dichotomy between good and evil, and to help explore that, the creators came up with new characters that would both assist Dr. Eggman and challenge the established cast of heroes. Though Yuji Uekawa was tasked with drawing the final design of the character, it was Takashi Iizuka who conceived Shadow, coming up with the idea to use a dark, anti-hero figure who was similar to Sonic in shape, but not in personality.
When being designed, the character's original name was "Terios," which translates to "reflection of", more than likely to play off of the hero/villain dynamic within the game.
Once Sonic Adventure 2 was announced, the identity and nature of Shadow was a heavily-guarded secret. The character was first shown to the public in the first game trailer for Sonic Adventure 2; however, his name was not revealed. GameStop described what little was shown as "Anti-Sonic - similar in appearance, but with darker skin, more angled eyes, and a fearsome scowl instead of Sonic's trademark grin." Indeed, the push to build hype for the new character put other characters on the back burner.
When Shadow seemingly died in Sonic Adventure 2, there rose a huge fanbase for Shadow to appear in more games, after being disappointed by his "death". This let Takashi Iizuka input Shadow as a playable character in Sonic Heroes and even star in his own game, Shadow the Hedgehog. Takashi Iizuka said that they maintained the mystery around the character of Shadow the Hedgehog and had wanted to feature him in his own game since he was introduced. For the Shadow the Hedgehog game, after feeling that it would be inappropriate to give Sonic's character a gun as fans had requested in mailings, Yuji Naka believed that by focusing on Shadow for his own game, they could use his different identity from Sonic to build upon the Sonic brand.
Fifty years before the events of Sonic Adventure 2, a top-secret project known as "Project Shadow" had begun on the Space Colony ARK. Led by Professor Gerald Robotnik, it was a government-sanctioned initiative to create "The Ultimate Lifeform", an immortal being that could be used for the benefit of the nation, likely in a militaristic fashion. While Gerald had initial misgivings to the purpose of the research he was assigned to, he realized that his results might be able to save his granddaughter, Maria. Suffering from the incurable disease Neuro-Immune Deficiency Syndrome, Maria only had a short time left to live, and Gerald was willing to do whatever it took to save her life. Going against his worries of stepping into territory man had no business playing with, the professor immediately began work, hoping that he could apply any newly-gained knowledge to find a cure to N.I.D.S..
Even with the resources at his disposal, Professor Gerald was unable to make significant progress. Without alerting anyone, Gerald decided to plea to the stars for help, contacting the Black Arms race, an alien civilization that lived upon the Black Comet, a celestial object that passed near the planet every fifty years. Its leader Black Doom offered to assist Gerald in his quest. He offered his blood - which ended up being the key to perfect the ultimate lifeform - in exchange for the seven Chaos Emeralds, which he would collect the next time he passed through. Knowing that the Black Arms' intentions were less than desirable, Gerald made the deal regardless and was able to successfully create Shadow the Hedgehog.
Once brought to life, Shadow immediately befriended Maria, and they became close during their short time together. Gerald, meanwhile, made precautions for the return of the alien race, ensuring that the Eclipse Cannon - an extremely powerful laser built into the ARK - was compatible with the seven Chaos Emeralds, so that when they did return humanity would be able to defend itself instead of bowing to their whims.
However, Gerald's progress was ruined when it was leaked to G.U.N. how he was able to create a successful prototype. During the meeting between Gerald and the Black Arms, one of the other children aboard the ARK had accidentally seen what transpired and reported back to those in charge. As ties between the ARK and the United Federation had already been strained, hearing the news of the dealings with an alien race scared those in charge. Afraid of the implications, it was decided to launch an invasion and put a stop to the work being done there.
What happened next was nothing short of madness, as G.U.N. troops descended onto the ARK, causing chaos and confusion wherever they went. Immediately they went after the Biolizard, which they thought was the successful "Project Shadow" prototype, and in the process of putting the creature into stasis lost quite a few soldiers. From there they went about doing damage control, shutting down everything, getting everyone off the ARK, and killing those who resisted if need be. Knowing that the G.U.N. forces would be there at any moment, Maria convinced Shadow to enter an escape pod, her final wish to him that he give the people on the planet a chance to be happy. Wishing him goodbye, Shadow could do nothing as he watched the G.U.N. soldiers storm into the lab, firing a shot that would forever change the hedgehog's life.
Learning of his granddaughter's death, Professor Gerald soon went mad, swearing vengeance on humanity for taking away the only thing that ever meant anything to him. Though just what exactly transpired is cloudy, what is known is that both Gerald and the escape pod that held Shadow were gathered by G.U.N., Shadow being placed in cryogenic storage within Prison Island, and Gerald being incarcerated and charged with the crimes that happened aboard the ARK.
Shadow is mysterious, cold, and initially vengeful, before turning to the side of justice. He usually acts with cool and businesslike indifference, only occasionally showing his vulnerable side. He is rarely seen with others for an extended period of time and usually distances himself from essentially everyone. He is usually soft-spoken, silent, and only speaks a few words before a fight. However, Shadow never bluffs. If he makes a threat, he has every intention of carrying it out.
Shadow's personality is the total opposite of Sonic, because while Sonic is carefree, playful and a joker, Shadow is violent, ruthless, and aggressive. However, like Sonic, Shadow can be extremely arrogant, often belittling his opponents and insulting their lack of strength. He believes no one can beat him, and tends to see anyone as a fool for challenging him. Shadow also has a ruthless and merciless edge in combat that all other characters in the series lack, and displays a natural "killer instinct".
Shadow's infamous ruthlessness and aggression lead to fear and nervousness that inhibits characters from his unshakable intent or sheer power in combat. Numerous characters from the Sonic series have shown absolute dread from encountering Shadow. Shadow's enemies never treat him lightly; he is one of the very few people Sonic takes seriously and acts hostile towards.
Alongside his dark and violent demeanor, Shadow can be smug and stubborn. He often displays a vain and sarcastic sense of humor, and always speaks his mind no matter how cold it may be. He is also one of the more intelligent and logical characters. He was the only one who saw through Mephiles’s deception in Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 and was the mastermind behind Eggman’s plan in Sonic Adventure 2.
On occasion, Shadow appears to have some degree of mental instability. This is demonstrated by his instances of post-traumatic flashbacks to Maria's face before and during the events of Shadow the Hedgehog, though it could be argued that they were simply an effect of his amnesia. Another example could be that in many games Shadow is featured in, he pursues his foes with disturbing determination; that is to say, he'll go to any length to accomplish something he desires or feels should be a certain way, no matter what the cost. In his own game, he also showed a rather coarse language.
Shadow also possesses some sense of identity, as evidenced when after falsely being told that he isn't the Ultimate Lifeform due to a lab report, he states to Rouge that even if his memories were fake, he is still Shadow the Hedgehog. Similarly, in Sonic Heroes, during the Egg Fleet level, he mentions that even without his memories, he is still the Ultimate Lifeform, Shadow the Hedgehog. These qualities make him rarely susceptible to being manipulated by other forces.
Although he does come off as somewhat cold and apathetic, Shadow is extremely compassionate and does care for the well-being of others. When Omega begins his attack in Sonic Heroes, Shadow could have easily forgotten about Rouge and engaged Omega without defending her. Instead, Shadow saves her from Omega, despite having absolutely no memory of her. He was also shown to be legitimately shocked when he learned that his goal of gaining the Chaos Emeralds to restore his memories was manipulated by Black Doom to wipe out humanity. Likewise, when the GUN Commander finally confronts him with his memories of Shadow's nightmarish creation, Shadow agrees to face judgment if he was indeed responsible for the ARK massacre 50 years ago. Despite being a loner, Shadow is also very protective of his friends, like in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, where he went looking for Omega when he was missing and was also quite enraged when he found out that the Marauders had been hurting Omega, and agreed to join Sonic and his friends to get revenge for what they did to him.
Shadow brushes off most kindness or sympathy that is sent his way; in Sonic Heroes, when Rouge showed concern for Shadow when he saw a broken android, Shadow curtly brushed her concern away. Also, in Shadow the Hedgehog, after Sonic suggested some "friendly competition", Shadow bluntly rejected his offer. At times, however, Shadow is also capable of showing gratitude. In Sonic Adventure 2, after Amy made him remember his promise to Maria, Shadow told her that he is keeping his promise both to Maria and her. Also, in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), when Rouge told him that she would always be by his side, he acknowledged her.
Even though Shadow often fights for the greater good, he is considered an anti-hero for the most part due to his morality. He does whatever is necessary to get what he wants or feels is right, though this enthusiasm causes him to take risks and jump into situations without fully thinking it through. Regardless, Shadow does have his moments of selflessness, helpfulness, and heroism. He nearly gave his life at the end of Sonic Adventure 2 to save Earth and helped Silver uncover the truth of the Solaris Project, after saving Sonic from Silver.
Powers and abilities
Shadow's trademark ability. He can use Chaos in various ways, such as in energy bursts, time-stopping, teleporting, defending, increasing his stats, and many other ways. This power can be upgraded if Shadow removes his Inhibitor Rings, which increases his power so great that he could destroy an entire army of perfect clones of a time demon; However, his stamina depletes much faster than normal.
Shown in Sonic Free Riders, Shadow can control gravity to dive and to make maneuvers in his Extreme Gear.
Shadow can alter space-time, allowing him to stop the time, teleport, distort it and to create dimensional/chaotic rifts. He's also able to move freely while everything is motionless for a brief period giving him the advantage of time.
Minor super strength
Shadow has shown great strength, being able to lift heavy concrete plates and to break solid metal with strong attacks.
Shadow is one of the fastest characters of all franchises, being able to par with Sonic. His max normal speed is the speed of light, and he can surpass it if he transforms.
Shadow is very resistant to damage, shown in feats such as surviving from a fall from space to Earth, being shot multiple times, being struck by a gigantic robot, and many other things. Shadow can hold his own with most enemies and is as durable as Sonic is.
Shadow is very proficient in using guns, being able to effectively aim and shoot at insane speeds. He's also able to use different varieties like Machine guns and handguns.
Shadow is apt to use swords and katanas as weapons since he managed to defeat many G.U.N. agents, Eggman robots, and Black Arms aliens using swords. He's able to go head-to-head with Sonic although with the latter winning Shadow still showed prowess.
Master hand-to-hand fighter
Shadow is master at the art of physical damage with his bare hands, having his fighting style, depicted as brutal and quick, with swift punches, karate chops, and roundhouse kicks as part of his arsenal.
Shadow is a skilled motorcycle/bike user and can drive better than many people. He's also able to do many stunts like Jumping with it or spinning as well.
Although not used often, Shadow has a homing attack just like Sonic and works just as efficiently.
Shadow can, currently, transform into three (canon) forms: Dark Shadow (boosts his attack, grants infinite ammo to any weapon that he is currently using, and allows him to keep using Chaos Blasts; He needs one Chaos Emerald and to be enraged), Hero Shadow (boosts his space-time manipulation, allowing him to teleport to very far distances and to stop time for a longer time (?); He needs a Chaos Emerald and to be calm) and Super Shadow (needs all 7 Chaos Emeralds; Gives him 100% physical damage reduction, faster than light speeds and many other abilities, such as major super strength).
Shadow has rings that control his power around his wrists and on the socks. If he removes those rings, his power increases greatly, but he loses much more stamina too.
Darkness/Air Shoes (Extreme Gear)
Shadow has shoes that can make him hover around the ground, and that allows him to skate rather than run, granting him more durability on races, but he is slower on some types of terrain.
Sonic Adventure 2
- Rescued Rouge from the Prison Island Explosion.
- Sacrificed himself to save humanity, despite his grudge against them.
- Helped Sonic defeat Biolizard.
- Defended Rouge from Omega, despite not remembering her.
- Defeated Eggman, alongside Rouge and Omega.
- Helped Team Sonic defeat Metal Sonic.
Shadow the Hedgehog
- Assisted Amy in finding Cream, who was missing, and protected them both from Eggman.
- Vowed to admit full responsibility to GUN's accusations if they were correct about his actions.
- Destroyed Black Doom and vowed to protect the planet from thereon.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
- Rescued Rouge multiple times throughout the game.
- Saved Sonic from Silver.
- Helped Silver to realize that Mephiles wasn't trying to help him, but merely using him for his gain.
- Repaired Omega.
- Helped Sonic and Silver defeat Mephiles and Iblis combined as Solaris.
- Set himself to the mission of rescuing Omega.
- Helps Sonic and his friends to destroy the Marauders.
- Rescued Chris and Cosmo from getting tortured to death by Black Narcissus.
- Attempted to help Molly with fulfilling her goal of bringing peace back to her planet.
- Helped Team Sonic to defeat the Metarex.
- Sacrificed himself to save Chris.
- Helped Sonic and his friends to defeat Lyric, despite only helping them to take revenge on Lyric for brainwashing him.
- Rescued Omega from Eggman and Infinite.
- Saved Sonic from being attacked by a Fake Shadow that was created from the Phantom Ruby.
- Assisted Sonic in defeating Eggman and Infinite's army.
- Shadow seems to be ambidextrous, as he leads with his left hand in Shadow the Hedgehog and uses his right hand in the Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and other games.
- It's unknown what Shadow does in his spare time.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is the only game where he and Sonic worked together without any arguments.
- Shadow (along with Knuckles) was supposed to appear in Sonic Unleashed but was scrapped (for unknown reasons). However, in one of Brenda's interview questions asking what coming from the planet's core, the player can have Sonic incorrectly answer 'Shadow the Hedgehog'.
- Coincidentally, in Sonic Generations, Sonic can fight Shadow for the fourth Chaos Emerald (if the character defeats Perfect Chaos beforehand).
- Shadow is one of the older characters in the series (chronologically being 50-years old). However, since he was stuck in suspended animation for most of his life and possesses eternal youth he is physically and arguably mentally 16 years old.
- He is also one of the good guys in Super Mario Bros. Z, a Flash series created by Mark Haynes.
- Shadow also appeared in the Flash movie "Sonic: Nazo Unleashed" and the upcoming movie "Return of Nazo" created by Chakra-X, where he is helping Sonic and his friends to save the world from the villainous hedgehog, Nazo.
- Shadow shares some similarities with Vegeta. Both were intended to help an evil villain take over the universe, started as an enemy of the main hero but later became an ally and more of a rival than an enemy. Vegeta uses Ki while Shadow uses Chaos energy with the emerald. As well as being brash and arrogant with others and both have the super form (except Shadow uses the 7 emeralds to become Super Shadow and he kept the color from his eyes and marks being red still).
- Shadow's personality is very similar to Hunter Bradley from Power Rangers Ninja Storm as well as Kevin Levin from the Ben 10 series and Matt Ishida from Digimon Adventure.
- Shadow shares some similarities with Spade from the Freedom Planet Series.
- They both lost people important to them.
- They both act cool and both have something black and red for Shadow that would be his shoes and the red marks on his spikes.
- They're both Neutral Characters who do good and bad to achieve their goals.
- They are both edgelords.
- They are both rivals of the main character.
- ↑ Sonic the Hedgehog #10, "The Battle for Angel Island Part 2"