Ensemble Darkhorse / Sonic the Hedgehog

Due to the series' having a tendency to introduce new characters every other game until the Unleashed era, Sonic the Hedgehog has many characters that can be considered Ensemble Darkhorse by different sorts of fans. While they may have even been main characters in their debut games, they quickly fall to the side, leaving them to acquire fanbases of their own.

  • Shadow the Hedgehog quickly took the spot as Sonic's rival after Knuckles became much friendlier to Sonic, and his first appearance in Sonic Adventure 2 was essentially his high point, especially due to his Heroic Sacrifice. Heck, he was so popular that they brought him back in Sonic Heroes and gave him his own game. Opinions about him afterward vary for lack of a better term and easily may be the most controversial character in the whole franchise.
  • Blaze the Cat's powers and appearance as a Defrosting Ice Queen with Character Development won her several fans, which only increased as she proved to be badass enough to fight Sonic on even footing during her debut game series and gaining her own Super Mode, something no other female character can lay claim to. The fact that said games are considered to be fairly good titles only improves her standing, and her lack of screentime outside these titles and the odd spinoff make her one of the most popular of Sonic's friends in the modern era.
  • Metal Sonic is especially notable, because aside from Sonic CD, the character made no appearances in the major classic games,note  being delegated to more obscure titles like Sonic Triple Trouble, Sonic the Fighters, Knuckles Chaotix and Sonic R, and mere cameos or non-canon appearances in the Sonic Adventure series. After his surprise comeback in Sonic Heroes, he was permanently cemented as a significant recurring foe in the series.
  • Fang the Sniper (initially known as Nack the Weasel in the U.S.) was a recurring character in the Sonic franchise between the years of 1994 and 1998 and has many fans who want him to make an appearance in anything. Some of these fans got their wish when he cameoed on a wanted poster in Sonic Generations and appeared as one of Heavy Magician's transformations in Sonic Mania.
    • For that matter, Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Squirrel also got to appear on posters in Sonic Generations and are popular thanks to the Archie comics even though Ray only appears in one game (SegaSonic the Hedgehog) and Mighty in two (SegaSonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles Chaotix).
  • All of the Chaotix are this, especially after Sonic Heroes revamped them into a trio of screwball, Crazy Awesome detectives. Espio especially. After all, he is a no-nonsense ninja and the Only Sane Man of the trio.
  • Though they are controversial characters among the fanbase due to debuting in the infamous Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Mephiles the Dark has had quite a following of loyal fans. Mephiles, while his plans are so ridiculously complex that they should not work, is considered by many to be a pretty cool villain. This could be attributed to actually killing Sonic.
  • E-123 Omega, especially when he became an Expy of HK-47 (see below).
  • There's also Jet the Hawk and the Babylon Rogues who have a sizable fanbase.
  • E-102 Gamma, extraordinaire, is notable as a character that is almost universally liked by fans. His Heroic Sacrifice (which stuck, not counting E-102r "Chaos" Gamma in Battle), his surprising amount of Character Development given his screentime, and the nature of his existence in general most likely helped.
  • Tikal and Shade, the female echidnas who each have a pretty big fanbase considering how little they've been in the games. Tikal, unusually for an Exposition Fairy is rarely disliked by players. It helps that as a glowing orb in her spirit form, she only activates when you touch her, making it easier to spot so you're free to ignore her advice. She's a mysterious, sweet girl with a tragic backstory who has a less is more approach to her character, a beautiful theme, and is implied to be manipulating the protagonists to get them to confront Chaos. The fact that she's an ancestor of Knuckles certainly doesn't hurt either. Tikal actually managed to defeat Dr. Eggman in Sonic Wiki's Character Tournament.
  • Orbot (aka "Ergo") from Sonic Unleashed. His Scratch and Grounder-esque dynamic with Cubot in Colors further cements this.
  • Cream the Rabbit while somewhat controversial as a Moe character that dislikes fighting and is very Japanese in comparison with the rest of the cast, acquired a reputation as a Memetic Badass, thanks to being a Game-Breaker in nearly all of her appearances. It helps that the shrillness of her voice was toned down after the first cast turnover, making her easier to appreciate.
  • In another corner of the fandom, a great deal of prominence has been given to Honey the Cat, an extraordinarily detailed character who was Dummied Out of Sonic the Fighters. This may have motivated Sega's decision to promote her to playable in the 2012 'Xbox Live Arcade & Play Station Network Updated Re-release.
  • Tiara has her fair share of fame despite never being properly released. Tiara's game (Sonic X-Treme) was infamously canceled.
  • Merlina, the Big Bad of Sonic and the Black Knight has an impressive following despite her minimal time on screen. Attractive, cunning and one of the very few anti-villains in the franchise gets her a lot of love. She's also got kickass battle music, even compared with the series' standard for final bosses.
  • Professor Pickle of Sonic Unleashed, due to how nice he is, his often detached and weird personality, and being very helpful. He's also played by fan-favorite voice actor Dan Green.
  • In addition you'll often find a strong fanbase of particular alternate media characters, many of which urging for them to appear in the games canon. Princess Sally Acorn has perhaps one of the most notable fanbases even compared to some games characters (even if it extends to Base-Breaking Character status) with Cosmo and Bunnie Rabbot also worth special mentioning.
  • Among the villains and bosses, Perfect Chaos has a large fandom due to being a titanic water god of destruction with an awesome design and roar and a wooby backstory. Dark Gaia as well, though not to the same extent. The Egg Viper, final boss of Sonic's story in Adventure, is widely considered one of the best Eggman mechas in the franchise, along with Death Egg Robot and Big Arm.
  • Ever since Sonic Colors, the Cyan Wisp became popular with fans.
  • Infinite, the Big Bad of Sonic Forces, became popular with fans immediately after he was first shown in the E3-trailer. After the release of his musical theme and the trailer officially introducing him to the franchise, the hype only intensified.
  • While not as beloved as Infinite, the Hard-Boiled Heavies of Sonic Mania have a steadily growing fanbase for their fun designs, catchy battle theme, or quirky personalities, especially Heavy Gunner and Magician.