Shadow the Hedgehog (シャドウ・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Shadō za Hejjihoggu?) is a fictional, anthropomorphic black hedgehog from the Sonic the Hedgehog series and the arch-rival of Sonic the Hedgehog. He was created as the "Ultimate Lifeform" by Professor Gerald Robotnik, using the DNA and blood of Black Doom. Shadow is immortal, and does not age. Since his debut, Shadow has appeared in a multitude of games, television shows, and comic books. 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 an antihero, or a renegade who can just as easily serve the forces of evil as those of good. According to an official poll, Shadow is the second most popular character in the series, second only to Sonic.
Concept and Creation
Shadow and Sonic in Sonic Adventure 2, along with a Hero Chao, a Dark Chao, and a Neutral Chao.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 drawing the final design of the character, it was Iizuka who came 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; his existence teased at the end of the first trailer for the game. Indeed, the push to build hype for the new character put other characters on the back burner; Tails was not even announced for the game until a few months later.
In the end of Sonic Adventure 2, players get to see Shadow's "death" scene. There was 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. Iizuka released the following statement:
"The Shadow character idea was something that we all had in our minds in the dev team when we were creating the first Sonic Adventure. When creating that game, we had the intention of creating a rival character for Sonic Adventure 2 and we didn't really talk about it that much, but we were all thinking about it. When we were working on Sonic Adventure 2, we all did a bit of brainstorming and we brought this to the table and prepared the storyline for the Dark side and the Hero side. As you know in the story, Shadow was only meant to appear in that single title. But because of the reaction of the fans, we decided to bring him back in Sonic Heroes and eventually you saw him in his own title."
Shadow is a loner, to put it bluntly. He is rarely seen with others for an extended period of time, and distances himself from essentially everyone. He is usually soft-spoken, and only says what he needs to before a fight. If Shadow makes a threat, he has every intention of carrying it out. Shadow constantly refers to himself as the Ultimate Lifeform and thus belittles others as well as insulting their lack of strength. He has a ruthless edge in combat that all other characters in the series lack, and displays a natural "killer instinct". At times, Shadow is the most violent and merciless characters in the series.
Alongside Shadow's dark and violent demeanor, he can be smug and stubborn. He treats others in a very callous manner, throwing in his opinion no matter how cold-hearted it is and not caring for whatever the response is. He is shown to be highly arrogant and self absorbed; one of many examples is in the 2006 video game, he (as Super Shadow) states that their battle against Solaris may actually be "a fair fight." He is also consistently serious, even when not on a mission, and he has no regard for silliness.
On occasion, Shadow appears to have some degree of mental instability. This can be seen when he would often have hallucinations about Maria's face, or through his numerous threatening speeches. In most games Shadow is featured in, he pursues his foes with disturbing determination. The canon ending of Shadow the Hedgehog showed Shadow willing to destroy anything in his way to get to Black Doom.
Shadow possesses a strong 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. Shadow possesses a strong will, making him rarely susceptible to being manipulated by other forces.
Shadow is not without sentimental emotions and has shown a small sense of compassion from time to time. 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 actually manipulated by Black Doom in order to wipe out humanity. Likewise, when the GUN Commander finally confronts him with his own memories of Shadow's nightmarish creation, Shadow agrees to face judgement if he was indeed responsible for the ARK massacre 50 years ago.
Shadow brushes off any kindness or sympathy that is sent his way. This is shown 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 turned his back to Sonic and said, "Don't waste my time".
Despite Shadow being considered neutral in terms of alignment, he is considered an anti-hero by the most part with his overall motivation, which is dedicating his life to protecting mankind. He has also been selfless, such as nearly giving his life at the end of Sonic Adventure 2 to save Earth. Regardless, Shadow is still neutral, because he does whatever is necessary to get what he wants.
Powers and Abilities
Basic physical traits between Shadow and Sonic are virtually identical. As such, Shadow possesses many of the same skills and abilities as Sonic has, along with greater raw power than Sonic, making Shadow one of the most powerful characters in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
Although he is not nearly as strong as Power characters like Knuckles the Echidna, Shadow is quite physically strong: with effort, he is capable of overturning large objects, such as trucks and large slabs of rock/broken concrete.
Like most other characters in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Shadow is able to run at super speeds. With his Hover Shoes, Shadow can hover-skate at supersonic speeds, even nearing that of hypersonic speeds, and is fast enough to nearly equal the speeds that Sonic can run at, making him one of the fastest characters in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. While most games places Sonic and Shadow as equals in speed, character profiles in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and Sonic Rivals claim that Sonic is faster. Also, in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Shadow personally admitted that he was not faster than Sonic, which could put Sonic at the same speed or at a faster speed than Shadow. While it is unknown how fast Shadow actually is without using his Hover Shoes, it has been hinted that Shadow can still move at speeds rivaling that of Sonic's, but he simply prefers not to. His hover shoes also grant him flight to some extent for a short period of time.
Due to Shadow's natural high speeds, Shadow is highly acrobatic, agile, and an experienced athlete, capable of gracefully leaping over many obstacles that comes in his way and performing various forms of nimble movements. He has as well radical reaction time to match his movements, being able to react to danger in a split second.
Shadow also possesses incredibly high physical durability and is capable of surviving things that would normally be fatal to others, even by the standards in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, making him nearly indestructible. As seen in Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow is completely bulletproof while becoming Dark Shadow, being able to brush off all the gun shots from G.U.N. Soldiers as if they were not even there. He can take a lot of major punishment in battle before he starts to wear down (this can be shown that often in gameplay in Shadow the Hedgehog compared to Sonic, Shadow only loses 10 rings on hit compared to 20 or nearly all of them). The most prominent testament to Shadow's durability, however, was during the events following Sonic Adventure 2, where Shadow fell down to Earth and through re-entry in the atmosphere, going at speeds reaching six million feet per second, and still survived long enough for one of Dr. Eggman's robots to rescue him. However, he did still receive some injury, as evidenced by the amnesia he got from his fall towards the Earth. Even after receiving major damage, Shadow displays a remarkably fast recovery rate from damage, allowing him to quickly re-enter a battle after just a few moments. Because of his possession of Black Doom's blood, Shadow is also immune to the paralysis gas that was being leaked upon the Black Comet's descent onto Earth.
As shown in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Shadow is able to release tremendous amounts of Chaos Energy if he takes off the rings that are on his wrists. This gives Shadow a drastic increase in overall power as seen at the ending of his story in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), where he is able to plow through what appears to be hundreds of perfect copies of Mephiles the Dark, who can be regarded as one of the more powerful foes the series. While most media state that Shadow's increase in power through this method comes at the expense of reducing his stamina, causing him to become exhausted after its use, Shadow has shown no sign of fatigue in the video game series when restoring to this method.
Additionally, being the end-product of Project Shadow, which was meant to create an immortal life-form, Shadow does not physically age. Also, given that Project Shadow was partially to develop cures for various kinds of illnesses, Shadow may also be completely immune to disease.
Shadow is naturally able to tap into the incredible powers of the Chaos Emeralds and utilize their Chaos Energy to empower himself and use a wide variety of Chaos Powers, such as Chaos Control, Chaos Spear, and Chaos Blast. Shadow can specifically harness both positive and negative Chaos Energy, depending on his state of mind.
Shadow's trademark move and most frequently used Chaos Power is Chaos Control, allowing him to bend space and time around him at will, such as slowing down time or teleporting various distances. Shadow is perhaps the most adept user of Chaos Control in the series, since he makes the most extensive use of it and can be considered a master of this technique; he can shape Chaos Control into a variety of offensive and defensive attacks, and can even use it delicately enough to distort space in small centralized areas, such as around his fists, or use it to heal himself. Although nearly all cutscenes and biographies in manuals and websites often claim Shadow needs a Chaos Emerald to perform the technique, Shadow has appeared to use Chaos Control without a known Chaos Emerald in his possession. It is currently unknown as to what extent Shadow can specifically use Chaos Control, as he has never been seen using it on another object without warping himself along with it, but it has been shown that he can warp objects and people with him, such as transporting the Black Comet off of Earth. Aside from its final usage in Sonic Adventure 2 and Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow has used Chaos Control with three Emeralds at most, using Chaos Control to save Rouge from Prison Island.
As described in Shadow the Hedgehog, all of Shadow's Chaos powers increase in power with the number of Chaos Emeralds he posesses.
Weaponry and Vehicle Skills
In Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow has shown that he can also skillfully use a wide range of firearms, semi-automatics, heavy assault, and close-combat weapons. He can also improvise with debris, and drive a wide range of vehicles, as shown in Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic Riders, and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).
In combat Shadow is a dangerous and fierce force to be reckoned with, and is not to be underestimated. Extremely powerful, Shadow has never been seen holding back his immense strength, making him a powerful and deadly fighter with a distinct killer instinct and has been able to take down some of the most fearsome foes seen in the Sonic the Hedgehog series on his own, such as Black Doom. To best put his skills in perspective, as seen in some of the scenarios in Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow is only person so far who has been able to utterly defeat Sonic in combat.
Shadow's fighting style focuses on direct, brutal, unrestrained and powerful hand-to-hand combat, with heavy reliance on his Chaos Powers. In line with his nature and potent abilities, Shadow has adopted a fighting style where he fights his opponents using powerful blows, such as karate chops and roundhouse kicks, to which of his attacks have a significant amount of force behind them. With the speeds Shadow can move at, he can disable the opponent through the force of his blows alone, while leaving them at the mercy at his incoming attacks.
Shadow's fighting style revolves around making heavy use of his Chaos Powers, especially Chaos Control. Using Chaos Control, Shadow can teleport up in front or behind his opponents in battle to launch surprise attacks. Also, Shadow can use Chaos energy to increase the damage he deals to his opponent when striking them, often resulting in significant forces being released and blowing the opponent a certain distance away. To give himself the advantage over his opponents, Shadow will use powerful Chaos attacks involving Chaos Energy, such as energy bolts or even intense explosions.
Techniques and Moves
Like Sonic, Shadow's basic combat moves revolves around the various forms of the Spin Attack, which is a variation on the tendency for hedgehogs to roll into tight balls for protection. The Homing Attack allows Shadow to jump and home in on an enemy to get over large gaps he cannot normally reach, the Spin Jump lets him curl into a ball attack opponent by landing on them, and the Spin Dash lets him shoot himself forward as an acceleration roll at high speeds to break barriers or mow down enemies. For more direct combat, Shadow can use his Chaos Attack to deal a barrage of Chaos Energy-fueled strikes to his opponents, and his Spin Kick lets him create a small tornado that can suck enemies in and damage them.
Many of Shadow's signature techniques are Chaos Powers. Shadow's trademark move is Chaos Control, which allows him to manipulate time and space to either warp across space or slow down time. His second most used Chaos Power is his Chaos Spear technique, where he throws bolts of Chaos Energy at his opponent. His most powerful and potent technique, however, is the Chaos Blast, which is literally a shockwave of Chaos Energy that eliminates anything and everything in a circular radius range. Shadow can, however, only use this attack when he is immersed in Chaos Energy.
Another special Chaos Power Shadow uses is his Chaos Boost technique. When using the Chaos Boost, Shadow covers himself in Chaos Energy. While in Chaos Boost form, Shadow gains more destructive power and is immune to some enemy attacks. It also enables Shadow to utilize more Chaos Powers, such as Chaos Blast, Chaos Snap, and Chaos Lance. In Sonic Generations, Shadow can also use the Chaos Boost to give himself a boost of speed, which is similar in function to the Sonic Boost. Rather than skating like usual, Shadow uses the fire from his Air Shoes to propel himself forward.
As seen in Sonic Free Riders, Shadow has proven himself to be an expert Extreme Gear rider, as seen in the tournament where he was able to put up quite a fight and even defeat some of the world's best Extreme Gear riders. When riding on an Extreme Gear, Shadow is skillful enough to ride on rails, execute complex tricks while in midair, and even perform his Chaos Powers and combat moves with ease.
- Main article: Super Shadow
Like Sonic and Silver, by harnessing the power of the seven Chaos Emeralds, Shadow is able to use super transformation to enter a Super State that transform him into Super Shadow. In this form, he is bestowed with the new abilities of flight and near invulnerability. Also, like other super transformations, his normal abilities regarding speed, strength, and power are greatly enhanced as well, and his skills with Chaos Powers are increased to their full limit. During his first use of this transformation, Shadow found it difficult to stay in this state, due to his inexperience with it, but has since mastered it.
- Main article: Hero Shadow
In Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow is able to transform into Hero Shadow with the use of positive Chaos Energy, whenever his mind is fueled by thoughts of justice. In this state, Shadow is temporarily invincible and can perform a large scale use of Chaos Control. This form, however, only last for a few moments.
- Main article: Dark Shadow
In Shadow the Hedgehog, Shadow is able to transform into Dark Shadow with the use of negative Chaos Energy, whenever his mind is fueled by thoughts of evil. In this state, Shadow is temporarily invincible and can perform Chaos Blast. This form, however, only last for a few moments.
- Gemidi the Hedgehog (Mother, deceased)
- Black Doom (Father, deceased)
- Emma the Hedgehog (Sister, deceased)
- Lizzy the Hedgehog (Cousin)
- Abby the Hedgehog (Secret Crush)
- Cammie Stewart
- Sammy Nooken
- Rocky the Rat
- Ramona Lovely
- Mimi Lovely
- Rouge the Bat
- E-123 Omega
- Grace the Hedgehog (Half-Sister)
- Jenna the Hedgehog (Half-Sister, deceased)
- Maria Robotnik (Best Friend until death)
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Klonoa the Hedgehog
- Tabitha the Cat
- G.U.N. (For killing Maria)
- Dr. Eggman
- Metal Sonic
- Black Doom
- Mephiles the Dark
- Bailey the Dark Wizard
- Henry (For killing Ramona)
- Elishia (For kidnapping and hurting Mimi, but forgives her)
- Avalon the New Night Master
- Abby the Hedgehog (Love Interest, then Enemy, then Friend, then Secret Crush, then First Kissed, then Girlfriend, then Wife)
- Courtney the Hedgehog (Friends with Benefits)
- Ramona Lovely (Friends with Benefits, deceased)
- Kristen the Hedgehog (Ex-Girlfriend)
- Rouge the Bat (Being Flirted)