Western Animation / Sonic Underground

Kids these days have it easy...

Adapted from a French cartoon called Sonic le Rebelle, Sonic Underground is the third Sonic Animated Adaptation made. It was produced by DIC Entertainment.

Sonic and his two siblings, Sonia and Manic, are left by Queen Aleena as Doorstop Babies to families, each of a different class. Eventually, they meet together when grown up, and guided by the Oracle of Delphius, they set out to thwart Robotnik, find their mother, and form the Council of Four.

Thanks to so many original characters and the omission of almost all the official characters existing at the time, despite there being potential room for them (Cyrus could easily have been Tails), and since many of the background characters were more alien than any Earth-based animal, many Sonic fans and even fans of the series debated whether it was really even intended to be a Sonic show, and that the characters of Sonic and Dr. Robotnik were just a hook for Sonic fans. Even the series plot is basically a This Is Your Premise on Drugs take of the Sonic vs. Robotnik story.

Regardless of the characters used, it was most likely the "hook" for the show that resulted in its thorough panning. This was that the real premise of the show was that Robotnik had banned all music, and our three protagonists were Musical Assassins with The Power of Rock. Each episode's climax would inevitably be a song performed by the triplets, often with An Aesop based on the events of the episode.

Not to be confused with the three other western animated series based on Sonic the Hedgehog, the Anime series Sonic X, the OVA Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, the the upcoming film adaptation or the game that helped to kill it off that same year, Sonic Adventure.

After 10 years of being Cut Short, it seemed that the story would conclude in the Archie Sonic Comic's Sonic Universe. Sadly, it was delayed, and now it's been officially cancelled, though a summary of its events will appear in a collection of planned and scrapped stories.

Sonic Underground provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sonia.
  • An Aesop: Almost every song in the show.
  • The Alleged Car: Sonic, Sonia, and Manic's RV van. The thing is pretty groady-looking on the outside and looks as though it could fall apart at any time. But it manages to lug around the hedgehogs and their stuff pretty well. One of the very few times it actually breaks down, it's because Sonic tried to cook a chili dog by leaving it on the RV's engine.
  • Animation Bump: Occasionally, most prevalent in the opening.
  • The Artful Dodger: Manic.
  • Arranged Marriage: Sonia to Bartleby, and Queen Aleena to Robotnik in one episode.
  • Action-Hogging Opening
  • Autobots, Rock Out!
  • Badass Mustache: Dr. Robotnik.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In "The Big Melt", despite being triplets, Sonia's bare feet are much daintier than Sonic and Manic's.
    • Averted in "The Price of Freedom," where Sonia getting her hair and outfit completely wrecked kickstarts the plot.
  • Belly Dancer: Sonia during the "Cosmic Dance" song in "The Jewel in the Crown".
    • Another shows up as part of the Resistance in "Dunes Day".
  • Big Fancy House: Sonia used to live in one, and her friend Mindy does at the start of "The Price of Freedom."
  • Blue Blood: The various aristocrats.
  • Bread and Circuses/Aristocrats Are Evil: The series shows how Robotnik can afford to stay in power. The upper-class aristocrats can either provide his funding, or lose their land and privileges, and risk being roboticized.
  • Broken Aesop: The 21st episode involves a seller with one of the Queen's gems and willing to sell it at a high price. The trio doesn't have the money and Manic ruefully recommends 'acquiring it.' Sonia and Sonic are disgusted with Manic's thieving skills and shoot it down, even though they have stolen things before and Manic has taken things that saved their lives. Later Sonic's ingenious way of getting Sleet and Dingo out of their ship is to flood it with gallons upon gallons of unpaid for olive oil.
  • Butt Monkey: Dingo, and Robotnik at times.
    • Sonia as well, at first. Her brothers frequently make fun of her for being spoiled.
  • Canon Foreigner: Besides most of the main characters, a notable example is Cyrus, a lion and member of the resistance movement.
  • Canon Immigrant: Knuckles's grandfather, Athair, was a character from the Archie Sonic comics.
  • Catch Phrase: Much of Sonic's catch phrases from Adventures and SatAM were carried over, along with a few new ones, such as "Bummer mejores!".
  • Character Development: Yes, there actually was some. In the beginning, Sonia was pretty whiny, prone to complaining whenever her appearance was tarnished. Later in the series, she becomes more of a leader figure, and is easily the most focused of the siblings.
  • Chatty Hairdresser: The Do-Bot, who turned out to be a spy for Robotnik.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The lasers their instruments shot were color-coded.
  • Chromatic Arrangement
  • Cut Short: They made a vow their mother will be found... but she never was. The series ended early. Until now... perhaps?
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sleet.
  • Deus ex Machina: Queen Aleena made sporadic appearances to save the hedgehogs at times.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Manic, who can cause earthquakes.
  • Disappeared Dad: No mention has ever been made to Aleena's husband/the siblings' father. Not even in the Mirror Universe.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Early in the series, there was a strange problem with the animation where the characters would be smiling, even when talking about something depressing or when something bad was happening. This was fixed as the series went on.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Happens twice within the same three-part episode. After Robotnik builds a Chaos Emerald-powered flying fortress, Sleet and Dingo grow concerned that they've outlived their usefulness, so they steal the Emerald and escape. Then Dingo, clearly tired of being slapped around by Sleet, steals the Emerald from him.
  • Dogfaces: Many of the extras look like extraterrestrial versions of Disney-style dognoses.
  • Doorstop Baby: Sonic and Sonia; Manic was stolen from his.
  • Dumb Muscle: Dingo.
  • Easy Amnesia: Sonia in "Who Do You Think You Are?"
  • '80s Hair: Sonia and Manic.
  • Episode Title Card: With the group portrait above as a backdrop.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Sonia's Super Twirl.
  • Evil Debt Collector: Sleet and Dingo are this to both the aristocrats and the people of Mobodoon.
  • Evil Overlord: Robotnik, naturally, although there is a lot that separates him from the Robotnik of SATAM. SATAM Robotnik's end goal is to roboticize all sentient life in order to consolidate his control of the planet. Underground Robotnik also desires worldwide domination, but is willing to be more open to the various ways of achieving this, including shaking down the rich for resources and relying upon unroboticized help. Also, Underground Robotnik isn't keen on polluting environments unless it somehow serves his purposes, and leaves most people unroboticized, treating the procedure more as a punishment for crimes committed against his rule.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Failure Is the Only Option/ Cosmic Plaything: When Sleet and Dingo do their jobs of trying to capture Sonic, Sonia, and Manic, they fail. When the come up with plans that would mess up Robotnik... they still fail.
  • Fat Bastard: Sonic's corrupted self in "Six is a Crowd".
  • Feudal Future: Robotnik basically just extorts tribute from the aristocrats under threat of roboticization.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: The foster parents/educators of the hedgehogs were arrested and roboticized at the end of episode 1... and almost never thought or spoken of ever again in the show.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: The series' story is finally getting a conclusion through the Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comics. Specifically, through Sonic Universe.
  • Genre Savvy: Sonic tends to be this and often realizes when things aren't normal and is suspicious of most things with good reason.
  • Gossipy Hens: Sonia chatting with her hairdresser turned deadly when it was revealed she was a spy.
  • Group Hug: Seen a lot.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Used, and nearly invoked, in "Wedding Bell Blues." Since Queen Aleena didn't show for her forced marriage to Robotnik, they'll instead crown Sonia queen in her stead.
  • Harsherin Hindsight: The scene the series ends on consists of the three hedgehogs remotely flying cargo aircraft into the side of a skyscraper...
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: In episode 5, "Mobodoon", the gang tries to defend the town from Robotnik by using their musical instruments, but the musical number they performed earlier drained their power.
  • Hover Board: Manic's, though Sonic was shown with one in a single episode.
  • Hulk Speak: ARTT the robot talks like this, but in a strangely natural tone of voice, which is the complete opposite of the SWAT-bots.
  • In-Name-Only: The only things from the Sonic the Hedgehog games are Sonic, Robotnik, the Chaos Emerald and a few appearances by Knuckles.
  • Identical Grandson: In "Mummy Dearest" the siblings find the tomb of a distant ancestor of theirs, who looks and acts just like Sonic.
  • Identical Stranger: In parallel universes, the main cast have doppelgangers.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipe: Just the one: Sonic's guitar rotating toward and then away from the screen while an echoing chord plays.
  • Instrument of Murder
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his wealthy lifestyle, cowardice, and the threats to his life should he turn his back on Robotnik, Bartleby has helped the hedgehogs at times.
    • In return, they broke him out of prison near the end of the series.
  • Kangaroo Court: One episode sees Bartleby being put on trial for aiding the resistance, with Robotnik as the judge, Sleet as the prosecutor, and for his defense attorney? Dingo. Of course the whole thing was a ruse to lure Sonia out...
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Manic.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Happens to Sonia in one episode.
  • Left Hanging: Averted after 10 years of playing it straight... only for the fate of THAT to be left hanging too.
  • Leitmotif: Aleena's theme, an ethereal electric guitar riff.
  • Lighter and Softer: Though not as light as Adventures Of Sonic, it has a much lighter and more comedic tone compared to Sat AM. Then again, being a musical helps.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Sonic.
  • Love Triangle: Started out with Bartleby and Cyrus competing for Sonia's affection, then became one between her, Cyrus and Knuckles.
  • Made of Explodium: The SWAT-bots tend to explode whenever damaged.
  • Madness Mantra:
    Emerald-powered Dingo: CHAOS...I...WANT...CHAOS!
  • Magic Pants: In the episode "Sonic Tonic" when the side effect of the titular tonic sets in, Sonia and Manic's feet grow huge but their footwear just stretches to fit and when their feet go back to normal so does their footwear. This is averted with Sleet and Dingo, however.
  • Mama Bear: Queen Aleena shot down some Swatbots to save Manic from being roboticized.
  • Meaningful Name: Sonia and Manic both make the word "Sonic" when "ia" and "ma" are removed from their respective names.
  • Mecha-Mooks: SWAT Bots.
  • Mentor: The Oracle of Delphius.
  • Messy Hair: Manic has it.
  • Mind-Control Device: The darts in "Bug!"
  • Mirror Universe: The hedgehogs entered one where they were the tyrants and Robotnik was a Freedom Fighter. It ended with them redeeming their evil counterparts. Strangely, there was no mirror Aleena.
  • The Mole: Cyrus in his debut episode.
  • Moral Dissonance: In "The Do-Bot", members of the aristocracy are hypnotized by a robotic stylist at a hair salon, forced into admitting their negative thoughts concerning Robotnik, which are recorded and retrieved by Sleet and Dingo. Sonia finds this out and ends up giving refuge to the stylist robot. Sonic and Manic, however, want to let the robot get captured again, thinking that the aristocrats deserve what they get because they're rich, and were gossiping. Nevermind that the punishment for this is roboticization. They'd rather let dozens be given a Fate Worse Than Death before they find out Sonia was hypnotized into revealing where their secret base was, aka they don't care until it has something to do with them. The moral of the episode seems to be "Don't gossip", which makes you wonder where the writer's heads were.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Manic can't seem to get out of his old habit of stealing.
  • Musical Assassin: All three of the hedgehogs.
  • Myth Arc: Later episodes had more of a Story Arc, with the hedgehogs meeting Knuckles and Cyrus, and Bartleby joining the side of good.
  • Mythology Gag: In the first episode, we can see Uncle Chuck and Sonic in Uncle Chuck's base from Sonic the Hedgehog. When Robotnik is taking over, we can see a statue of King Acorn (also from SatAM) crumble.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted in the second episode when the trio fail a training exercise.
    Sonic: "I got us killed."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A lot of trouble could have been avoided if the Oracle hadn't told Robotnik about their plan to overthrow him.
  • No Ending: The show was cancelled before an ending could be written; the final episode doesn't resolve anything. So the comic will! Or, rather, it would've...
  • Non-Idle Rich: The Duke of Argonia, who uses his wealthy lifestyle to aid poor Mobian kids.
  • Off Model: Plenty of weird faces, perspective and anatomy issues and cut-off/unfinished body parts populate the series.
    • Knuckles suffered especially from this, as seen here and here.
    • At the start of "The Big Melt" Sonia's feet are much smaller than Sonic and Manic's, but at the end her feet are just as big.
  • One-Winged Angel: A Chaos Emerald-powered Dingo turns into a giant, unstoppable blob who nearly destroys Mobius.
  • Photographic Memory: Sonia.
  • The Power of Friendship: This powers the hedgehogs' instruments.
  • The Power of Rock
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Bartleby Mink, though he didn't start like it; at first Sonia reciprocated his affections to a degree.
  • Protest Song: The band had a few in their repertoire, such as "Justice Calling" and "The Sound of Freedom".
  • Remake Cameo: Phil Hayes, Gary Chalk and Ian James Corlett, who voice Bartleby, Dr. Robotnik and Cyrus respectively in this series, voiced Scratch, Grounder and Coconuts in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • Re-Power: Famously super fast, Sonic gets... The Power of Rock.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Bartleby of the high class, haughty variety, and Cyrus, the street smart resistance member. Sonia's also shown affection for Knuckles, who doesn't really fit into either category.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: While there are exceptions, such as Argus's roboticized form, most roboticized Mobians don't look much different from their regular selves. Some even look almost completely Mobian except for cybernetic eyes or limbs.
    • Robotnik also created a lifelike hedgehog baby as part of a plan to invade Sanctuary.
  • Robotic Reveal: Ifyoucan.
  • Rock Trio: The triplets, naturally, with Sonia playing keyboard instead of bass guitar.
  • Role Reprisal: Jaleel White returns as the voice of Sonic and also voices Sonia and Manic. About the only key difference is that Sonic's singing voice is done by Samuel Vincent.
  • Sadistic Choice: A Lighter and Softer version. In the aptly-named "Sonia's Choice", she must choose whether to save Sonic or Manic from the roboticizer. Sonia chooses both! Queen Aleena ends up saving Manic anyway.
  • Satisfied Street Rat: Manic.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Downplayed when Sonic gets lost while navigating the Flying Fortress.
  • Science Is Bad: Surprisingly downplayed. In this show, unlike in Sonic SatAM, Robotnik is much less of a polluting industrialist and mostly sees technology as a way to maintain his control over the planet. Therefore, there's much less of an incentive for him to pollute the entire planet purely for the sake of doing so. Granted, the places under his most secure control aren't paradise, but they're still livable, and it's heavily implied that the hedgehog's secret home base is located in Robotnik's capital city. That, and Sonic and Company have used futuristic technologies (i.e. a RV van, a hover board, motorcycle, several other vehicles) constantly in their fight against Robotnik. Furthermore, there are several incredibly beautiful and highly futuristic cities on Mobius.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: A recurring theme on this show is aristocrats giving up their wealth to help the hedgehogs, such as Mindy and Bartleby.
  • Shapeshifting: Dingo can morph into just about anything with Sleet's morphing device.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Sonia is an upper-class, responsible girl who hates getting dirty. Manic, on the other hand, is a laid-back street rat who's lived in the sewers most of his life.
  • Silence, You Fool!: Possibly this Robotnik's catchphrase in the show, usually used against Sleet and Dingo when they try to explain themselves about why they are incompetent.
  • Sit On The Camera: in episode "The Jewel in the Crown" when Dingo sits on Manic's remote controlled bug. "I think I sat on a bug."
  • The Smart Guy: Cyrus.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Mindy LaTour. Sonia as well to some extent.
  • The Starscream: Sleet and Dingo try to be this when they snatch a Chaos Emerald from Robotnik. It doesn't quite work out.
  • Status Quo Is God: Played straight with the main story, especially as there was no finale, but averted with Bartleby joining the Resistance.
  • Sticky Fingers: Manic.
  • Surfer Dude: Manic.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Lots of times.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • There Was a Door: Sleet and Dingo have an exchange in episode 2:
    Sleet: Go in and help the metalhead. Go!
    Dingo: Y-you mean through the door there?
    Dingo: Okey-dokey! *charges through the wall*
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Sleet and Dingo.
  • Totally Radical
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Again, chili dogs.
  • Transformation Ray: Sleet has one for use on Dingo.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: In "Wedding Bell Blues," the hedgehogs know Robotnik's wedding to Queen Aleena is a trap, but fall into it anyway on the off-chance Aleena is actually there.
    • In another episode, in a call back to a Sonic SatAM plot, Robotnik challenges Sonic to a race. Sonia and Manic, figuring Sonic couldn't resist, show up to try and rescue him... except he knew it was a trap and didn't show, and they have to be rescued.
  • Unwilling Roboticization: Similar to how it works in Sonic SATAM, with one major difference being that most of the time, beings that undergo roboticization come out looking like cyborgs and not full-fledged robots. However, the minds of roboticized beings are still mentally enslaved to Robotnik and this control can only be broken temporarily.
    • Also, Robotnik used the roboticizer much more sparingly in this show, treating it more as a punishment for rebellion or failing to carry out his orders, rather than an umbrella treatment for all living creatures. Most people are not roboticized and Robotnik employs two unroboticized bounty hunters who are threatened several times with the treatment but are never actually subjected to it.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Bartleby Mink.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Dingo was Dumb Muscle and less intelligent than his partner mercenary Sleet.
  • Walk This Way: Lampshaded in "A Hedgehog's Home is Her Castle".
    Sonic: "I'm waiting for you to say 'walk this way'." (Does a Silly Walk)
  • Wedding Smashers: The hedgehogs try and crash Queen Aleena's forced marriage to Robotnik, except there was never one to begin with as she didn't show.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Sonic has Super Speed. Sonia has Super Strength. Manic...can pick locks.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: (Well, a Non-Mobian) The show is pretty Never Say "Die" usually, "roboticizing" characters instead of killing them. But it's perfectly willing to destroy robots who side with the good guys, even ones who have clearly established that they are sentient. This includes Hip, the fake baby hedgehog who had developed a fondness for Manic, and ARTT, who saves Manic's life. ARTT is at least mourned, but when Hip is destroyed everyone is merely mad at Robotnik for tricking them.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Sonic's fear of water comes into play in a few episodes.
  • You Are Not Ready: According to the prophecy, Queen Aleena can't reunite with her children until the right time comes.