Video Game: Shadow the Hedgehog

"Shadow the Hedgehog... Why does that name haunt me? It's the only thing I can remember. And that gruesome image. [...] Who am I? And why can't I remember anything? And... who is this Maria?"
Shadow The Hedgehog

Shadow the Hedgehog is a 2005 game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series that focuses on the Anti-Hero black hedgehog, Shadow. The game begins with Shadow on the outskirts of Westopolis, just as the sky turns blood red and aliens begin swooping in to invade. Shadow is about to turn away, uncaring, but a strange creature with a terrible voice speaks his name, calling on him to bring the alien leader — by the name of Black Doom — the Chaos Emeralds. Thus begins Shadow's personal quest of self-discovery, which can take any one of 326 (!!!) paths through the game's 22 levels.

While the typical controls of the 3D entries in the Sonic series apply to some extent, it is playable as a third-person shooter, a different direction for the franchise. Its Darker and Edgier tone, Shadow's constant Wangsting, and frequent navel-gazing turned many fans of the franchise away, and the game was disliked by most critics due to its poor controls and camera. It is, however, defended for its branching-path style, relatively bug-free gameplay, and decent music and visuals. On another note, this game marks the debut of the 4Kids cast from Sonic X into the video games. Ironically, they started off doing the Sonic game that's the least kid-friendly.

The game provides examples of:

  • Alignment-Based Endings: For actual endings, there are 10 alignment-based endings, and 1 "true" ending unlocked for completing all of them.
    • The 326 ending paths are differing names for reaching these endings through completing the stages in various sequences.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: Shadow becomes this at the end of the Slightly Hero - Dark Ending.
  • All There in the Manual: Expert Mode reveals that the GUN Commander recently became a Grandfather.
  • Amnesiac Hero: But his goal is to remember.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: An odd case is the Slightly Hero - Hero Ending where Shadow realizes that he was a failed experiment who has caused so much destruction and wishes that he was never created.
  • The Atoner: Shadow implies this after defeating Black Doom in the Semi Hero path, after the latter revealed to him that he was a part of the Black Arms.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The word "damn" is constantly peppered through the dialogue. Shadow says it every time he gets hit or dies.
    • Which is odd considering this game already has guns in it. You'd think that on its own would be enough for an E10+ at least.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Chaos Control ability is supposed to be the "good" ability, obtained from killing evil characters, and it allows Shadow to skip part of a level. Problem is, because all but a few of the "good" missions are based on finding stuff and not getting to the end, and because many of these things can only be found in out-of-the-way areas, Chaos Control is next to useless on the alignment it's associated with. It's only useful on neutral missions and the handful of good missions, which involve simply getting to the end.
    • Similarly, Chaos Blast allows you to unleash a powerful explosive attack, which does come in handy in a couple of missions, but mostly A) there usually aren't enough mooks to make it worthwile (esp. since most enemies are just fodder), B) when there are enough enemies that would otherwise make it worthwile, there are other enemies of the other alignment in range, which ultimately hurts your score, or C) the bosses are too mobile to make it effective (Shadow comes to a standstill while the cinematic plays, but bosses like the Egg Dealer can still move about, usually out of range). Unless the mission consists of getting to the end of the level, the best use of either Chaos power is often the invincibility/unlimited ammo perks that come with it.
  • Badass Mustache: Dr. Eggman, as always.
  • Batman Gambit: Black Doom's entire plan for collecting the 7 Chaos Emeralds. He takes advantage of Shadow's amnesia and desire to learn about his past, and claims to have knowledge about all that Shadow doesn't know - he only share this information if Shadow retrieves the Chaos Emeralds for him. The entire plan revolves around Black Doom expecting Shadow to collect the Emeralds, because the hedgehog couldn't possibly resist the chance to learn the truth. This can either go really badly for Black Doom, or work out perfectly. You decide.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Aside from the obvious endings where Shadow turns evil and takes over the world (or outright destroys it), there's a rather subtle one for the Slightly Hero - Dark Ending. (Though considering other plot developments, it's less The Bad Guy Wins and more Good And Evil Get Stuck In A Stalemate.)
  • BFG: Well, obviously, when compared to Shadow, whose entire body is as tall as an assault rifle is long. It gets pretty ridiculous, though, when he gets his hands on a minigun the length of a car.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Dr. Eggman and Black Doom. By the end of the game it's clear that Black Doom is the real Big Bad, though.
  • Big "NO!": Used during some of the endings by Eggman.
  • Black Screen of Death: On all but one of the Shadow vs. Eggman endings, it's implied that Shadow broke Eggman's neck...or did he?
  • Bonus Feature Failure: Each level has keys that you can use to unlock secret doors. Some of the items are useful, including The Last Way teleporter that sends you ahead in the level (past the area where you must Chaos Control to get past). But most are completely useless, including the armored car in Lost Impact...in a cramped space station filled with areas you must spin dash under or use rail cars to get to. Helpful!
    • The most useful ones are in Sky Troops (REALLY good Chaos Control short cut), Cosmic Fall (great shortcut), and GUN Fortress (short cut).
  • Book Ends: The Final Boss of this one (the last game dealing with the "Shadow's amnesia" story arc) has some similarities with the final boss of the first game in the aforementioned story arc.
  • Bowdlerise: The original idea for the game was to be much darker, with GUN soldiers actually dying, Black Arms bleeding red blood, and use of the word "piss" (by Sonic, no less). However, during production, the ESRB announced they were creating an E10+ category, so Sonic Team toned down the game to get an E10+ instead. It still was pretty edgy, as could be witnessed from the frequent use of "damn" and "hell" in the final product, with even Sonic, Espio, and other established characters cursing.
    • Many people believe the game would have done better if Sega had allowed it into the T-Rating, meaning that the game could have been more serious in its story, and not just people thinking that swearing and guns makes a game edgy. Instead it ended up somewhere in the middle, because ten-year-olds don't want to see Eggman hit Amy Rose across a room.
    • The irony being that this game was coming off of SA2 which had a legitimately dark story. The highlights of Shadow are the use of over-sized guns that fire giant, glowing, pew-pew bullets and the occasional use of a light swear. The highlight of SA2 was watching the final moments of Gerald Robotnik pledging to wipe out all of humanity after the betrayal of the government and the loss of his granddaughter turned him into a bitter shell of his former self with a voice seething with hatred. He echos out a genuinely chilling promise of revenge from the atmosphere and context rather than needing to use cursing or comedic guns as a token attempt to be darker.
  • Breakable Weapons: This is essentially used in the place of standard ammunition for melee weapons.
  • Call Back: Several areas return from Sonic Adventure 2
    • Prison Island, now derelict & overgrown with plant life after it was destroyed in SA2.
    • Numerous levels also take place on the Space Colony ARK, which is breaking apart after the events of SA2, such as Cosmic Fall, Space Gadget (which Sonic states is the remains of the area Sonic & Shadow has the final boss battles in Hero & Dark stories in SA2), The ARK (which follows the same route as Final Chase, Shadow's final level in SA2; both stage themes are quite similar, furthering the connection), The Doom, and Lost Impact (both of which are flashback levels which depict Shadow's life before Maria's death).
  • Camera Screw: Present throughout the game, but it's especially egregious in Cosmic Fall, where the camera spazzing out makes it very difficult to judge jumps. (And the platforming would be kind of tricky even without the Camera Screw.)
  • Captain Obvious: Due to an attempt to write the script around teaching the game's mechanics to newcomers, it looks like almost every single character in the game is bound to do this.
  • Catchphrase: "This is who I am!"
    • "Damn, not here!" when he dies. As if there's a good place to die...
    • "No one tells me what to do!"
  • Character Development: The entire game is basically one big character study for Shadow - all of his actions drive the story and we can watch as Shadow goes through Character Development; his troubled, questioning mind and quest to learn the truth about his past are given extensive scrutiny. It's in this game that the loose ends in Shadow's past are dealt with and he declares that he's put his past behind him. Indeed, he would lose pretty much all of his Wangst in the next games he would appear in, even having his share of Crowning Moments in Sonic 2006. In a rare example of this trope, he actually got better after losing a key personality trait.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Two from Sonic Adventure 2 in this game's Last Story. The Chaos Spear, which Shadow only used when you fought him as Sonic, is Super Shadow's method of attacking Devil Doom. The second is the Eclipse Cannon, which was made for the purpose of destroying the Black Comet. It actually fills in a plot hole too; it's hard to believe that Gerald converted an entire space colony into a cannon by himself, but it makes much more sense that it was already a cannon in preparation for the Black Comet and he simply put in new coordinates.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Those five top secret discs and the data terminals from the Chaotix missions? It's never outright stated, but there's a good possibility that they're actually bits and pieces of the entry in Prof. Gerald's diary that appears in the last story. It's especially likely since it's possible to help out all three Chaotix members in two of the stories.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: You have the option of doing this multiple times in a row due to the setup of the levels and karma system. In one stage, you help Sonic; in the next stage, you can help Black Doom; in the next, you can help...
  • Collection Sidequest: Most of the non-neutral missions involve some sort of collection. This can range from killing every enemy of a certain type to sucking up twenty small bombs with the vacuum gun.
  • Contemplate Our Navels
  • Cool Bike: All of the trailers for this game shamelessly used the fact that Shadow can drive a motorbike in the game as a selling point. In fact, in some of the trailers, that was all he did. In-game, said bike only appeared in Lethal Highway, handled poorly, and is far slower than Shadow's normal running speed. Made worse when the intro proudly displays Shadow driving full speed into a monster and jumping off at the last second cueing a Hollywood explosion. Try this in game... and you quickly learn that the 'jump off' and 'brake' buttons are the same... you'll slow to a stop in front of your target, calmly step off the bike, and get slapped in the face for your efforts.
    • That bike is now Shadow's canon method of driving.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Many, many levels, such as the abandoned base with its vast acid lakes, or Eggman's fortress, which will fill with lava if you choose to side with Eggman and protect it.
  • Creator Cameo: One line of Enemy Chatter from GUN troops references Yuji Naka, one of the founding members of Sonic Team.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Inverted. An early cutscene in the game shows that Maria was killed by one gun shot. However, in the two levels where she acts as an assist character, getting hit by bullets doesn't kill her, mostly because assist characters aren't designed to die (or at least respawn if they fall too far into a bottomless pit or stray from the player).
  • Cutting Off The Branches: Notable for doing this in the very same game the multiple endings were in instead of in the sequel. It's also a particularly annoying example, as in order to see the canon ending, you are required to see all ten non-canon endings first.
  • Darker and Edgier: Downplayed. Shadow the Hedgehog is darker than previous franchise entries mostly in terms of aesthetics. For all its posturing, there really isn't anything in this game that comes close to being as unnervingly morbid as Gerald's diary and execution speech from SA2. Most of the plot is only as grim as Adventure 2 (Black Doom's behavior and To Serve Man plan notwithstanding); the game's mood is primarily brought about by darker textures (even the springs look like they belong in a M-Rated game), environments, and the use of mild cursing and guns.
  • The Day of Reckoning: Invoked by Black Doom: "Shadow... As you can see, the day of reckoning will soon be here. Find the seven Chaos Emeralds and bring them to me as promised."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Shadow, often.
    Shadow: Stupid humans.
    Shadow: Having a little trouble with those GUN Agents, are we?
    Shadow: Don't waste my time.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Sonic states this outright as soon as you find one in Westopolis, in a way that implies you're a loser for needing it. Why he (or any other support character) can't pick up melee weapons either, nobody knows, though Tails does gush about a particularly well-designed gun turret.
  • Don't Look Back: The general theme of the final ending song, "Never Turn Back".
  • Don't Say Such Stupid Things: An unsuccessful attempt in the Semi Hero - Hero ending:
    Shadow: I am Shadow the Hedgehog. A research experiment... gone deadly wrong! I've caused so much destruction... I should never have been created! This is who I am.
    Vector: Hey... don't go there... yet! Things may not be what they seem. You could be...
    [Shadow walks off without listening to him]
  • The Dragon: In the Slighty Dark - Dark ending, Shadow states how his purpose is to serve and protect Black Doom, having no mention of what he personally desires.
  • Driving Question: Who is Shadow, and is he even the original?
  • Dungeon Bypass: Though risky, it's possible to beat Sonic in the racing segment by jumping off the track and guiding yourself to a rail leading to the finish. Be prepared to lose several lives in trying.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Good lord, yes. To truly get what he wants, Shadow has to go through this living hell ten times, and then defeat Devil Doom. He damn well deserves a happy ending when he does.
  • Eleventh Hour Ranger: Notably, only Sonic, Vector, and Omega can assist Shadow in his various endings.
  • Empty Room Psych: The Doom and Lost Impact have quite a few of these.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Inverted in the ending. Gerald Robotnik made a video at some point between Shadow's creation and GUN's attack on ARK. It is a message to Shadow that it was his fault that Black Doom is going to attack Earth, that he intends for Shadow to save it by destroying the Black Arms, and that the Eclipse Cannon was originally designed to destroy their homeworld, the Black Comet. Upon Charmy activating the message, it was transmitted throughout the world, and onto the Black Comet where Black Doom was currently attempting to break Shadow's will. It's also implied that the reason why Gerald didn't tell them sooner about the reason was because Black Doom would have seen it.
  • Eternal Engine / Lethal Lava Land: Lava Shelter.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Eggman learns in the final chapter that his grandfather apparently sold out his planet for research, for Black Doom, he was legitimately horrified.
    • Which is odd, seeing as he'd already gotten the impression that Gerald was a psychopath after what happened in SA2.
      • Though in SA2, Gerald's evil machinations were implied to only be vengeance-based. Not only did Gerald knowingly attempt to end all life on the planet in retaliation for the death of Maria, but also just as knowingly doomed the Earth just For Science!.
  • Evil Laugh: Shadow gets one in the dark endings.
  • Eviler Than Thou: The level "Sky Troops" has both Eggman and Black Arms missions. Eggman counts as the "Hero" side.
    • Omega is considered the Hero side in his missions, which usually involve his desire to kill Eggman. In fact, the main difference between the outcomes of the Hero and Dark "neutral" endings is that Omega appears in the Hero one.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Black Doom.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Some levels contain Eggman's robots and Black Arms aliens as enemies.
    • After you complete the hero mission of G.U.N. Fortress, the battle between Shadow and Black Doom turns out to be this, and after Shadow defeats Black Doom, Shadow plans on conquering the world on his own.
  • Fantastic Racism: Black Doom's general opinion of humans. In some endings, Shadow has a tendency to agree with him.
  • Freudian Excuse: The GUN Commander, arguably, going by his relationship with Maria.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Sonic tries to invoke this on Shadow, especially in the Space Gadget stage where he reminisces their rundown aboard the Space Colony ARK in Sonic Adventure 2. Needless to say, Shadow isn't interested in "friendly competition".
    • He reciprocates in the Pure Hero - Dark ending, where he decides that he is the Most Powerful Hedgehog In The World.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Several endings that have the Egg Dealer as the final boss have Shadow kill Eggman. The scene cuts to black just as Shadow karate chops the Doctor's head, as he lets out a Big "NO!".
  • Gotta Catch Them All: A number of missions are find or Kill Them All.
  • Gravity Screw: Space Gadget is full of green... blocky things that shift the gravity around. There are several points throughout the stage where Shadow is standing on the ceiling.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Shadow was a bad guy in SA2, but became good at the end. He remained essentially neutral through Sonic Heroes. In this game, for some of the routes you can take, you can switch sides up to six times.
  • Heel-Face Turn: G.U.N. became much less antagonistic to Shadow after the events of this game, to the point of hiring him as an agent.
  • Heel Realization: In the true ending, the GUN Commander realizes what a douchebag/Knight Templar he's been and that Shadow wasn't nearly as responsible for the ARK disaster as he thought.
  • Hero Antagonist: G.U.N., no matter whose side you're on.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Blue Falcon/Heavy Dog has a number of attached guns. Knock one off, and you can pick up the Bazooka weapon, which also has lock-on capabilities. Once you've done that, you can do serious damage, and knock off more of the bazookas, making this a pretty quick fight. Similarly, while there are guns provided in the arena for the Egg Dealer, it's much quicker to simply home in on its slot-machine style buttons, which can either result in instantly filling your Chaos Blast gauge or turning the robot's Missile Fever or Bomb Fever techniques against it.
    • The whole endgame is a case of this, with Doom being hoist by Shadow, who's meant to be his tool.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The attitude of the Black Arms. Also, Shadow seems to have regained this disposition.
  • I Fell for Hours: The "Cosmic Fall" stage, natch.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: Most of the unlockable weapons, acquired by watching certain endings, are like this. If you see both the Hero and Dark endings for a particular endgame level, you can "upgrade" your unlockables to Level 2, where they can become slightly more powerful, but hardly worth the effort.
    • The heal gun is really useful for The Doom (Hero). The Egg Vacuum is the weapon of choice in Central City (Hero) and Circus Park (Hero). Speed runners REALLY love the Omochao gun for the ability to bounce off anything. In levels where there are not very many large/elite enemies such as Giants and Mechs, it's actually BETTER than the Shadow Rifle.
    • Infinity+1 Sword: The Shadow Rifle can kill nearly anything in the game with a single shot.
  • Ironic Echo: After the fight with Sonic and the GUN Commander's Diablon Mech on the Slightly Dark - Dark Ending, Shadow says, "Game over, Sonic!", a direct Call Back to what Sonic said to Shadow after their second battle in Sonic Adventure 2: "Game over, Shadow!"
  • I Was Just Passing Through: This is what Shadow says to Sonic after you clear the hero mission of Westopolis.
  • It's Up to You: Is Shadow a genocidal murderer, hell-bent on revenge, a steadfast hero who defeats the bad guys, or somewhere in between? Your choice.
  • Jerkass:
    • Doom, Eggman, and the GUN Commander. The GUN Commander orders his soldiers to kill Shadow, even when you're doing Doom's missions his aliens shoot at you, and in all of the levels where you can assist Eggman, regardless of the path you take you still end up fighting him as a sub-boss. Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
    • To some extent, Shadow also counts. He is inexplicably ruthless in his pursuit to find the Chaos Emeralds to regain his memories, is apathetic to what's going on in the world in the beginning cutscene, and has somehow regained his distaste for humanity. This may be justified due to the game's darker tone in how his character was intended to be "edgy".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Depending on your actions, Shadow can be this.
  • Jerk With A Heartof Jerk: He can also be this.
  • Karma Meter: Doing more "evil" or "good" actions will fill the respective gauge, which, at max, will allow Shadow to use Chaos Blast or Chaos Control respectively. Ironically, Chaos Control's main use is to accelerate you towards the goal of the neutral path.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The Samurai Blade, the unlockable melee weapon, is stronger than any other. In addition, its upgraded form fires a shockwave that does just as much damage as a slash and doesn't use up one of its uses.
  • Kill Sat: The Eclipse Cannon and the unlockable Satellite Laser weapon.
  • Knight Templar: Oddly, Shadow turns out to be this in the Pure Dark - Dark ending, claiming to bring justice and order on humanity.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Shadow, carried over from Sonic Heroes, the prequel of sorts to this game.
  • Levels Take Flight:
    • Air Fleet, where Shadow has the option to either cover the President's escape from the Black Arms (Hero), find the Chaos Emerald (Neutral), or assassinate the big man himself (Dark).
    • Sky Troops.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: The game contains a rather neat remix of E.G.G.M.A.N by Paul Shortino. Unfortunately, the segment used in the game is less than 30 seconds long, only used in one cutscene, and is buried in the Sound Test behind the anonymous "Event" title. The full version of the track did eventually appear on the "Lost And Found" soundtrack CD, however.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In the cutscene before Lethal Highway (one of the three second levels of the game), Sonic says, "Welcome to the next level!"
    • He also says, "It looks like we've reached the climax of this little game" at the beginning of Final Haunt, one of the potential final levels.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: As revealed in the Last Story, Shadow was created from Black Doom's blood.
  • Mass Monster Slaughter Sidequest: Kill all aliens, soldiers, etc.
  • The Maze: The Doom, Lost Impact.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Black Arms versus Team Sonic/GUN versus The Eggman Empire.
  • Misbegotten Multiplayer Mode: The 2-player battle mode feels very much like it was tacked on, being a simple deathmatch mode with only three stages, and different-colored Shadows and Shadow Androids to choose from.
  • Mission Control: Every level has one or more characters that give you orders. Dr. Eggman doesn't follow you, instead using a hovering video transceiver drone and a Voice with an Internet Connection.
    • Black Doom does something similar with his "familiar" Doom's Eye. Which turns out to be his weak point during the final battle with Devil Doom.
  • Mood Whiplash: The game as a whole can be considered this to the entire Sonic series, considering it came out after the incredibly kiddy and bright (end-game notwithstanding) Sonic Heroes.
  • Moral Dissonance: Shadow often does things that don't make sense for his current moral path, which is occasionally called out by his partner character. Even when it's vital to complete the mission.
    • It's an issue when there are no other ways to get weapons or to open up springs.
  • More Dakka: The gatling gun equipped on the Bigfoot mechs.
  • Multiple Endings: Ten, all of which need to be seen in order to get to the True Final Boss.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Shadow's initial reaction when he realizes that he was used by Black Doom in the final story.
    • The GUN Commander also gives a similar reaction to what he nearly did when Shadow, after hearing about his apparent involvement in the destruction of the ARK and Maria from the Commander, says "if what you say is true, then I will face the consequences", making it very clear that he really cannot remember it.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Black Doom.
  • Nineties Anti-Hero: The advertising and aesthetic impose this on Shadow himself. He uses guns, kills people, has a name from the Dark Age Of Super Names, is brooding, sarcastic, and an over-the-top badass.
  • Nintendo Hard: Most of the time the game isn't hard per se, just tedious and meandering, but there are times when said tedium and aimlessness affect the game in a truly bad way.
    • Mad Matrix's dark mission involves you trying to destroy a handful of bombs placed in Eggman's cyber network; however, due to the layout of the stage, finding all of these bombs is a pain in the proverbial ass. Expect to take quite a lot of time on it.
    • The ARK missions, Lost Impact and The Doom. The latter in particular because it is incredibly easy to get lost within the ARK's massive interior space, or just simply die.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Apparently, the Sonic universe has a really efficient system for city evacuation. Central City is evacuated in about a day, and no civilians are seen in Westopolis. It is, however, said to have suffered "heavy casualties", according to the cutscene after the first level.
  • Nominal Hero: Shadow is one if you complete various hero missions. He will help out the heroes, but only for the sake of finding the Chaos Emeralds to regain his memories.
  • No Name Given: The GUN Commander.
  • No Points for Neutrality: Averted. There's a "neutral" objective in every stage but the last one on any path, which is just "get to the end of the stage" every time. Going True Neutral in the war between the heroes and Black Doom results in Shadow having his own fight with Dr. Eggman. Said war still goes on, but Shadow doesn't affect the outcome of it.
  • Obligatory Swearing: Not just Shadow — Sonic, Knuckles, and Espio get in on the act too.
  • Obviously Evil: Black Doom. Who'da thunk it?
  • One-Winged Angel: Devil Doom.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Shadow's preferred method of computer hacking, as demonstrated to the Chaotix at the beginning of one mission. Charmy takes it to heart during the True Ending.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Eggman, in response to the Black Arms' assault on Westopolis.
    Eggman: How can I take over the city and begin building the Eggman Empire if there IS no city?!
  • Promoted to Playable: Maria is playable in The Doom and Lost Impact.
  • Random Events Plot: Since most of the scenes are designed to fit a variety of moral alignments and plotlines, many of the paths tend to involve Shadow warping around doing arbitrary and frequently contradictory things before having some kind of epiphany at the very end.
    • With the way the story scenes are set up, continuity can be achieved in some instances. For instance, help Charmy find the Discs in one level and Shadow will be with Espio in the next level. Buddy up with him, and Shadow can find himself with Vector if you go the neutral route for the next level. Also, the Discs have significance in the Last Story.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Shadow reveals this purpose in the Slightly Dark - Hero Ending, declaring that he knows what's best for him and that no one can tell him what to do.
  • Ridiculously Hedgehog Robots: In the Iron Jungle and Lava Shelter levels, Eggman Robots that look exactly like Shadow appear as enemies, and Shadow is uncertain if he is a robot too. If you stick around in the fight against Devil Doom long enough, however, Eggman will contact Shadow and explain that he rescued Shadow with his robots and chucked him into a pod while he healed, and Eggman just let him think he was a 'bot to screw with his head. Most people who find out about this tend to treat it as canon, although this very important piece of information has a very good chance of not being heard in-game by many players.
    • It does explain why, at the start of Sonic Heroes, he was in a tank hidden deep underground, in the same place where Omega was abandoned, while the other Shadow 'bots seemed to come from huge cloning facilities with dozens of tanks side-by-side.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Shadow becomes this to Sonic if you choose to clear one of the dark missions of G.U.N. Fortress, Black Comet, or Final Haunt. What stands out the most is one scene where Shadow declares that he's siding with anyone who is against Sonic (though that's the same ending mentioned under Friendly Rivalry above, so it may not really be "evil").
  • Rule of Cool: Why does Shadow need a gun? Or vehicles? Because of this trope.
  • Rule of Three: Three missions in most levels, three scores, three Final Bosses (albeit in branching storylines), and of course a three-way war.
  • Scoring Points: You have three different meters keeping track of your points — your neutral points, your hero points, and your dark points. If you finish a hero mission, your hero points are added to your neutral points, and your dark points are subtracted for your final score; the converse is true for a dark mission. On neutral missions, only the neutral points count. It's a good thing the neutral missions pretty much only involve getting to the end of the level, because your time bonus will probably account for most of your score — neutral points are hard to come by. And, yes, the points matter. You get ranked.
  • Shades of Conflict: Black vs. White vs. Gray - Shadow is very much "gray", and it's up to the player to decide whether to take him down the white path, the black path, or leave him gray.
  • Ship Tease: At the end of the golden ending, Amy is practically swooning as she watches Shadow's victory and what she says afterward imply that she at least holds a pretty high level of admiration for him.
    Rouge: I hope he's okay.
    Amy: He'll be alright, Rouge. After all, he is Shadow!
  • Shout-Out: Two enemies are called "Blue Falcon" and "Black Bull", the names of two of the racing vehicles in the F-Zero series. It probably helps that Sega developed F-Zero GX.
    • Occasionally, one of the GUN soldiers will shout out "Mr. Yuji Naka is alright!" in the ARK flashback levels.
    • The president of the United Federations looks a heck of a lot like Kent Mansley.
    • Sonic says "I guess that means...welcome to the next level" during a cutscene. Welcome To The Next Level was one of Sega's slogans during the 16-bit days.
  • Slave Mooks: The Shadow Androids, physically identical replicas of the original Shadow the Hedgehog. In the Neutral stories, Shadow becomes convinced he's one of them that somehow went rogue.
  • The Starscream: One of Shadow's endings has him defeating Black Doom, only to want to conquer the universe.
  • Story Branch Favoritism: The game plays this trope straight, where although the game features up to 11 different endings ranging from Evil to Neutral to Good, only the hidden Neutral ending against the obvious Big Bad is considered to be the game's Golden Ending from the creator standpoint.
  • Take Over the World: Shadow reveals this motivation in the Pure Dark - Hero Ending.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: It's revealed that Shadow's at least partially a Black Arm.
  • Totally Radical: On the level of the game's entire aesthetic. The whole time it feels like the creators are yelling at you "Look how DARK and EDGY we are now!"
  • Tron Lines: Used in the layouts for Digital Circuit and Mad Matrix.
  • True Final Boss: Unlocked after seeing the first ten endings.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Shadow, by both Doom and Eggman.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • Use the Heal Cannon/Capsules on a downed/injured GUN soldier. Not only will they attack any enemy of yours and not ever aim at you, but you will get quite a few heartwarming thank yous from the soldiers (who will salute you as you pass by).
    • Using the Heal Cannon or Heal Capsules on almost any attacking enemy (including Black Arms and robots) will make them cease attacking you immediately.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • In Cryptic Castle, you'll come to a room full of little Chao. You can beat (or shoot!) up all of these Chao and make them bawl their little eyes out, and you even get Dark Points for doing so!
    • In the same level, you can also punch Cream if you're feeling particularly dastardly.
    • The same stage has Amy Rose as your hero-side partner. It also has exploding barrels; you throw them at certain walls to break them, or use the barrels to attack big groups of enemies. You could also chuck these barrels at Amy if you so desire.
      • In fact, you can attack almost ANY mission character assisting you if that's what you enjoy.
  • Video Game Settings:
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sonic and Shadow's interaction in the hero story path has some shades of this. Sonic treats Shadow as a friend, but Shadow would rather continue in his mission to regain his memories than put up with his friendly and adventurous nature. This dialogue in one scene before the ARK stages tells the story:
    Sonic: What's up, Shadow!
    Shadow: Not you again.
    • If you side with Black Doom in the last level (Final Haunt), Sonic drops his friendly attitude and proceeds to oppose you along with Diablon. The same goes for the other final stages in the dark path such as G.U.N. Fortress and The Black Comet.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • If you pick a non-neutral story path, killing your allies or completing incorrect story objectives will earn you a rebuke from your Mission Character. However, this is ironic considering your "allies" attack you.
    • In a cutscene before the Sonic and Diablon boss fights, Sonic calls out Shadow for siding with the Black Arms.
  • Wild Card: You can change Shadow's allegiance at any time, even during a mission. Sometimes your allegiance will be changed for you if you accidentally collide with a different Mission Character.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: In one ending, specifically the slightly heroic path's hero ending, Shadow will regain his memories after defeating Black Doom, and says in a remorse-filled tone that he was good at nothing more than destruction, and he was better off not being created, despite Vector's attempts at telling him otherwise, indicating that one of his paths would end in this trope.
  • World of Ham: The dialogue really is terribly hammy, especially Shadow, Eggman, and Black Doom. The voice actors all seem fully aware of this, and work it hard.
  • World's Strongest Hedgehog: After defeating Sonic and Diablon in the Pure Hero - Dark Ending, Shadow proclaims himself as one due to the energy of the 7 Chaos Emeralds.
  • You Killed My Father: The Commander has a vendetta against Shadow, blaming him for the death of everyone aboard the ARK fifty years ago, especially Maria.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: "The Doom" and "Lost Impact" take place as flashbacks.

Alternative Title(s):

Shadow The Hedgehog