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Mascot with Attitude

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Sonic. The hedgehog that launched a thousand copyhogs.

"Being a role model is overrated. I'd much rather be... hilariously edgy!"
Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Boom, "Role Models"

There was a time, largely in the mid-Nineties, when the world of video games was overrun with a certain type of character. The Mascot with Attitude is a snarky Funny Animal with kickin' powers, improbable jumping abilities, and usually some form of girlfriend or world to save (or something). Generally, Mascots with Attitude can be discerned by any number of the following traits:

  1. They're a Funny Animal, usually with a Species Surname. (e.g., Sonic the Hedgehog, Spyro the Dragon)
  2. They come from a Platform Game. This isn't necessarily a requirement, but the trope is not as common outside of video games.
  3. They're Totally Radical. This can be as mild as using totally bogus outdated slang, or as egregious as giving the character a love of "extreme" sports, fast food, sneakers, or anything else with supposed "youth appeal."
  4. They're quippy, snarky, and prone to making lots of really bad jokes. Bonus points if one of them is a Take That! against Sonic the Hedgehog. This trait is more likely to show up in comic book and cartoon adaptations than games, whose Excuse Plots often did without dialogue.
  5. They're competent and violent, but not to child-unfriendly levels. They're also not allowed to swear, but will do their best to try anyway.
  6. They have a supporting cast that exists mostly to reinforce their status as coolest character in the universe. Look out for an older uncool antagonist, a sidekick with a case of hero-worship, a helplessly devoted and/or snarky love interest, or a rival that's almost (but not quite) as cool as the mascot.
  7. The advertisements for their games put a lot of emphasis on said games' "intensity," especially twitch-action and "speed".

During their heyday in the 90s, almost all Mascots with Attitude were created in order to capitalize on the success of one Sonic the Hedgehog. The reason that most of these failed is that they tended to come across as The Theme Park Version of Sonic. Often a mascot with attitude would have said attitude at the expense of a real personality; they were frequently unable to say anything not snarky, and tended to overuse their gimmicks to the point of being Flat Characters. Many were American-made (probably because Americans love Sonic) and thus also tended to be filled with Looney Tunes-esque gags or grossout humor, as were popular in America at the time (Sonic himself notably had neither of these things in his games, though the American cartoon Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog included Looney Tunes-style slapstick).


Nowadays, outside of Sonic, this trope (and advertising mascots not targeted to children in general) is all but discredited, except in parodies, with Conker's Bad Fur Day providing the final blow (although Conker's Bad Fur Day was more a parody of cutesy woodland animal cartoons/games in general). But it's not all bad—for every weak Sonic ripoff out there, there were always a few Mascots with Attitude who managed to be entertaining characters in their own right. The trick is to keep the attitude from eclipsing their entire character, and to merely make it one of their many traits. Audiences do still like "cool" characters, just so long as "cool" isn't all they are. Diversifying your gameplay doesn't hurt either, as many of the Mascots with Attitude that survived the '90s tended to play, er, radically different from Sonic.

If the Mascot with Attitude isn't the main character, they're probably a Snarky Non-Human Sidekick. Compare Dreamworks Face, a form of Covers Always Lie in which animated characters appear to have "attitude", but only in advertising material.

Sometimes, localized games (most often Japan-to-America) will attempt to infuse the mascot with "attitude" to make them more palatable to an international audience, even if it goes against the character's intended appeal. See American Kirby Is Hardcore for examples of that.

Also see '90s Anti-Hero, who hails from the same era, Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats, the Western Animation version, and Overused Copycat Character.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Lurchi Salamander, the mascot of the German shoe factory Salamander. A mischievous but well-intentioned teenage fire salamander who would go on journeys to far away places with his friends who often had to be saved by him and his overly awesome Salamander shoes. His way of defeating his opponents, usually non-anthropomorphic animals, often consisted of injuring or killing them. With blood and everything. They decided to make him a lot more child-friendly later on. After his comics were rebooted in the year 2000, he and all of his friends were left with modernized designs which included fully clothing the amphibian characters, changing the one of them from an old man to a baby and removing Lurchi's signature hat because it was deemed outdated.
  • The Green Lantern Krkkzz Zappl is clearly based on Sonic. He's also made of living radio waves imying a level of Super Speed besides the Faster-Than-Light Travel built into the Green Lanterns Power Ring.

  • The Doctor Who New Series Adventures novel, Winner Takes All has a video game called Death To Mantodeans with a Sonic expy mascot called Percy The Porcupine. Turns out he's from an alien race who brought the game to Earth to recruit human players as soldiers. Sonic the Hedgehog appears listed amongst Mickey's video games, making it a case of Expy Coexistence.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Australian '90s kids are likely to remember Agro, the ill-tempered puppet with a taste for crude humor who appeared in the host segments of Agro's Cartoon Connection among other shows (although as he first appeared in the '80s, he predates the trope becoming widespread).
  • WandaVision: In the episode "All-New Halloween Spooktacular!", a parody of '90s/early '00s sitcoms like Malcolm in the Middle, the fake ad in the middle of the episode was for Yo-Magic!, a Go-Gurt-esque yogurt marketed by an extremely '90s claymation shark with sunglasses, a surfboard, and a Surfer Dude accent. This being WandaVision, it quickly turns more grotesque than the Totally Radical advertising of that period normally got.

    Video Games (Platformer) 
  • Aero the Acro-Bat (featuring a circus acrobat... bat), though his games are fairly well-remembered.
    • Zero The Kamikaze Squirrel, a spin-off of this game. This one features a ninja squirrel.
  • The video game adaptation Avoid the Noid, featuring Domino's Pizza's eponymous wacky, bunny costume-wearing mascot.
  • What do you get when you combine a mediocre Sonic the Hedgehog clone with a Green Aesop? Probably something like the Sega Genesis game Awesome Possum... Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt, whose name is as Totally Radical as it gets. Dr. Machino himself makes no attempt to hide that he is a Dr. Eggman/Robotnik rip-off, which can be deduced just by reading his name.
  • Bart Simpson himself could be considered this in all the games he starred in from the early 90s like The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants and The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World. It's worth noting that at the time, Bart was considered The Simpsons' de facto protagonist and the closest thing to a mascot of the series (which was hitting its peak in popularity during that period), until the show started focusing more on Homer. As such, it could be argued that Bart was as responsible as Sonic in making this kind of character so prevalent, despite his non-gaming origins.
  • The Battletoads were a combination between this and Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats. This was best exemplified by Rash.
  • Blender Bros is a mild example. The main character, Blender, does have a permanent smirk and his game has more than a little Sonic the Hedgehog influence in its looks and some gameplay, but he's not as aggressive about his 'tude as some other characters of the type.
  • The self-titled protagonist of Bonk (a caveman with attitude and an oversized head) is one of these, becoming the mascot of the TurboGrafx-16 and even getting a futuristic spinoff series called Air Zonk.
  • The ill-fated Bubsy the Bobcat is a particularly infamous example of this trope. Bubsy was played straight in his own games, but in his cartoon pilot he became a surreal extreme version of himself, quoting his newly-acquired Catchphrase (which was a throwaway remark of Bubsy's in the first game, but must have tickled one of the writers' - or more likely executives' - fancy a bit more than it should) way way too often (it's even sort of deconstructed within the pilot itself eventually, when Arnold suddenly turns on Bubsy, sarcastically yelling Bubsy's "What could paw-ssibly go wrong?" back at him after his jinxed catchphrase causes them to lose the universe-altering helmet at the worst possible time). In most cartoon openings, they have some kind of montage of what the main characters do. In the Bubsy pilot, he gets out of bed, brushes his teeth with a car buffer, eats some cereal, breakdances and does some air guitar. Cartoon Bubsy just drips attitude, y'know? He wasn't even that much like this in his original outing, being more along the lines of a Looney Tunes-inspired Butt-Monkey - maybe things would have gone better if they stuck to that.
  • Blinx was meant to be one for Microsoft (he was even designed by Sonic's creator, Naoto Ohshima), but it didn't stick due to the poor reception of his games.
  • Bug, the titular protagonist from the Sega game Bug!. He spouts cheesy, annoying one-liners almost every time he kills an enemy or when he takes damage.
  • Chester Cheetah, the painfully Totally Radical mascot for Cheetos, starred in a couple of licensed Platform Games at the time of the trend. Ironically, though the cheetah is supposed to be the fastest creature on land, in the first level of Too Cool to Fool Chester literally moves more slowly than a turtle.
  • Chuck Rock is a rock-'n'-roll-playing Neanderthal with 'tude. And he was in fact the mascot of his creators, Core Design, until a lady by the name of Lara Croft came along.
  • Cool Spot is more laid-back than the typical example, doesn't speak (which eliminates the possibility of quips) and the game was more focused on exploration than speed and intensity. On the other hand, he oozes Totally Radical, much more than most on this list.
  • Crash Bandicoot is one of the few who have managed to fare better than the rest, at least in his early days. Crash himself subverts the trope as, personality-wise, he is a goofy Idiot Hero, however marketing and cover art still portrayed him as having an attitude. Eventually this was phased out post-Naughty Dog, and they instead put more emphasis on his idiotic traits. Naughty Dog then went on to make another series of excellent 3D platformers on the PS2 and onwards with Jak and Daxter, which subverted the trope by having the attitude-filled mascot as the sidekick.
  • IOS platformer/character Crazy Hedgy, despite being a hedgehog, plays more in common with Crash Bandicoot, is known for wearing boxing gloves and a football helmet, and can float (double jump) by using bubble gum.
  • The title character from the Croc games. The first game was going to be a Yoshi platformer and there were only two games. Similarly to Crash, while Croc is a gentle soul in-game, the marketing for the original would depict him having had Crash, Sonic and Mario for lunch.
  • Donkey Kong became this in the Donkey Kong Country series, until Donkey Kong 64 did away with the attitude and made him an Idiot Hero. The latter was a result of a mandate by Miyamoto, who had always intended for Donkey Kong to be dimwitted.
    • His surfer ally Funky Kong finally fit the bill, once he became playable in his own mode for Tropical Freeze.
  • Dynamite Headdy was a puppet that could throw his head to attack enemies, and he looked really smug for some reason. That said, his 'tude is rather downplayed compared to the sheer weirdness of everything else; beyond that constant smug expression, it's mostly restricted to his idle animations (including one where he dribbles his own head like a basketball).
  • Sash Lilac the dragon girl from Freedom Planet is a Genre Throwback to this kind of character. Having started out as a Sonic fangame to begin with, even sporting a hedgehog design in early development, it's not all that surprising. While she's confident and has the speed to match, she's more spunky and cute than snarky. Her best friend Carol makes up for it, being a green wildcat ninja with a motorcycle who uses karate kicks that allows her to drive up walls and do backflips. Yes, really.
  • The 1980s page The Great Giana Sisters has the titular Giana's Super Mode, Punk Giana. In particular, we have Punk Giana's depiction in the original game's English cover. The sequel games (which were released in the 2000s and 2010s) heavily downplay this element of Punk Giana.
  • James Pond is both this and a parody of James Bond. Unlike most examples, he actually predates Sonic the Hedgehog by a year (James Pond: Underwater Agent came out in 1990.) He's also less Totally Radical and more Camp.
  • Jazz Jackrabbit started out as this, with Jazz basically being Sonic with a big cartoon gun and a Rambo-like attire, which was emphasized with his expressions and mannerisms. This gets cleaned up for the sequel, where Jazz is more classically heroic, while his brother Spaz takes the subversive role (but much like Crash, he's more an Idiot Hero than edgy).
  • Gex the gecko. His games have him throwing quips almost nonstop during the gameplay.
  • Attempted with Kirby of all things, with North-American promotional material trying their best to subvert his innocent nature into some sort of violent troublemaker (sometimes by just adding angry eyebrows on his face). See Kirby's section in the American Kirby Is Hardcore page for examples.
  • Kay, the hot-headed martial artist hero of Legend of Kay.
  • Mr. Nutz, if only on the box art of the first game and the title screen of the second game, where this little squirrel holds sunglasses at his hip, sporting a cocky expression, has a skinned elbow, and is perhaps throwing out a gang sign. The box art gives him Sonic's Conjoined Eyes and a variant of one of his signature poses. The games themselves take place deep in the Sugar Bowl.
  • Dash the bee of Nefarious, as befits a Sonic Expy. He even has a cocky grin in his dialogue portrait.
  • Oscar was an otter (who looked more like a Cartoon Creature) with a backwards-facing baseball cap, a permanent smirk, and an obsession with movies who moved really fast in his games for no adequately explained reason. Strangely, the owners of the character made a strong attempt to bring him back in the late 2000's, porting not only his game to the Nintendo DS, but reskinning a game based on the Trolls franchise for the character, and making two new games.
  • Pac-Man is one in Pac-Man Party, despite looking too cheerful to be one.
  • Punky Skunk for the PS1. Invoked explicitly in the packaging, with the title character's head floating on a funky background.
  • Radical Rex. In addition to riding on a skateboard, his game actually opened up with a (voiced!) theme song that not only went on about how awesome Radical Rex is, it also threw in more synonyms for "radical" than you could shake a thesaurus at.
  • While not a Funny Animal, the protagonist of Rascal qualifies. Was poorly received and only had one game.
  • Ratchet & Clank went side-by-side with Jak and Daxter and Kingdom Hearts, but Ratchet's characterization in the the original game is more of a deconstruction. Ratchet starts off as a hotblooded jerk with traits of a common mascot with attitude, but his abusive treatment of Clank and his single-minded desire for revenge against Captain Qwark instead showed Ratchet was on his way to becoming a villain. He gets over it, drops the attitude to become a Deadpan Snarker Nice Guy, and becomes a more noble and beloved hero in the sequels. With the PS4 game, the edgy attitude was dropped from his origin story entirely.
  • Arguably, the current incarnation of Rayman from Rayman Origins onwards. A quirky, energetic dude who occasionally adventures through literal rockin' levels. Compare with his personality from the first three games, where he was closer to an Only Sane Man.
  • The localization of Ristar (another game by by Sonic Team) attempted to turn the title character into this, with the international box art giving him a cocky pose and smirk, and his in-game sprites being altered to have a frown and a confident idle animation. This was downplayed (if not entirely absent) in the original Japanese version, which put a greater emphasis on the character's cuteness than attitude, and depicted him with a cheerful face instead.
  • Rockin' Kats, a Platform Game by Atlus for the NES. Its main inspiration seems to be Saturday-morning cartoons, which probably accounts for the spring-loaded boxing glove gun used in the game.
  • Rocky Rodent was essentially Sonic with super hair powers and none of the cuteness or charisma.
  • Scaler is a somewhat obscure modern example. Although his Totally Radical quippiness is especially grating, his game ain't half bad, say a few critics.
  • Sly Cooper is more or less a modern attempt at this kind of character, being way classier and more mature than the usual example (mostly thanks to not relying on Totally Radical and starring games that are the essential opposite of intense), but still keeping a cool and snarky attitude.
  • Another one from the Genesis, the titular Socket is a duck with… an electric plug coming from his butt. Yes, really. The back of the US box for the game boasted about how he's fast enough to switch off the lights and get out of the room before it turns dark and how he has more alternating current than the electric company.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Sonic is, of course, the Trope Maker. He is an unusual example in that his type of attitude flip-flops Depending on the Writer. Sonic had two different interpretations from Sega of Japan as well as Sega of America, resulting in him having similar but distinct personalities. In Japan, he's characterized as self-confident and laidback, which are generally "bad boy" traits for a country prided on its politeness. While he was characterized exactly as the trope describes in America. After this trope started to die out with the Turn of the Millennium, Sonic's personality was slightly adjusted to being much more kind and friendly, but still retaining his rebellious traits and becoming something a Chaotic Good hero. From then on, Sonic's "attitude" and his heroic traits would be in constant flux.
  • The titular Spark the Electric Jester, a furry yellow comedian thing, created by the same person behind the Sonic: Before the Sequel fangame, so it comes with the territory.
  • Spyro the Dragon is similar to Crash (they've even crossed over once or twice). He's a sassy, badbutt Kid Hero who frequently mocks his enemies. This is very much played up in the original game, but for the two sequels, he's more restrained and traditionally heroic whilst still having a hot mouth for villains who deserve it. He underwent a brief Darker and Edgier reboot in the late 2000s that recast him in a more serious fantasy environment, before being rebooted again with the Skylanders franchise. And in Skylanders, many of the characters fit this archetype; not just Spyro. In the Spyro Reignited Trilogy remakes, Spyro's attitude has been toned down as a result of this trope having died out since the 1990s, which is particularly noticeable in the first game.
  • Toe Jam And Earl are a pair of funky aliens who embody the Totally Radical trope of the 90s. Their games are still very memorable to this day.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger. The trailers for his first game showed him beating up Sonic, Spyro and Crash with boomerangs, for one thing.
  • Wally Bear and the NO! Gang, a moralizing but otherwise generic platformer, has a hip skateboarding bear, who wears sunglasses and spends all his time beating up Aggressive Drug Dealers and going to parties (Straight Edge parties, you understand).
  • Wario was definitely this in the 90's (when the Wario Land series was more prominent), albeit with a bigger emphasis on manliness than on coolness proper. Promotional material for those games always depicted Wario acting like the pig he is, eating junk food or posing with a Cool Car, and his games relied way more on combat and slapstick than the Super Mario Bros. series. With the advent of the WarioWare series, Wario was inexplicably redesigned with a biker outfit for those games, but his manliness was somewhat downplayed for a wackier attitude.
  • The titular character of the forgotten Sega CD platformer Wild Woody. He's an extreme pencil.
  • Zool is a Gremlin Ninja from the nth Dimension who spends the game beating up his enemies with his ninja skills.

    Video Games (Other) 
  • Bomberman has its roots in the 1980s, so its eponymous protagonist wasn't initially designed as one of these. As it happens, though, the series' fast-paced and noisy gameplay fit the edgier trends of the mid-'90s perfectly—so to match, Bomberman picked up a sleeker, more dynamic redesign compared to the short, chubby Ambiguous Robot of previous games, was often seen with a cocky, confident look in artwork, began to do stereotypically "cool" things like ride motorcycles and skate, and started to pick up a large supporting cast of friends and rivals, many of whom screamed Totally Radical (just look at Max!). He even crossed over with fellow Mascot with Attitude Wario once. That said, the games released during this time frame were never as in-your-face with their attitude as some of their contemporaries.
  • In 1990, Acclaim came up with Kwirk, a tomato who sports a mohawk and wears Cool Shades and white sneakers. His only video game was a localization of Puzzle Boy, but he displayed more of the typical traits in his appearances on the Video Power cartoon segment The Power Team.
  • Mohawk and Headphone Jack, though the title characters are protean Cartoon Creatures, largely keeps with the trend. This game was apparently made for players who thought Sonic the Hedgehog didn't have enough spinning things.
  • In contrast to previous Persona mascots, Morgana the cat from Persona 5 has a smart mouth and enjoys belittling the rest of the team, and Ryuji in particular (no surprise there). Not even Ann, the subject of Morgana's affections, is immune.
  • Psycho the Aardvark from Psycho Pinball, who's never seen without a smirk.
  • Skunny Squirrel from a series of 90s Shareware games, that ripped off whatever franchise seemed to be peaking at any individual moment. Watch Skunny eat Super-Nuts to reach super-speed and roll over enemies! Watch him bounce on enemies and collect coins, to rescue his Trademark Favorite Food pizzas from a barely-copyright-uninfringing Italian! See him take on "Sadman Insane" in inexplicably rail-shooter combat! See him race go-karts with his squad of animal friends, none of whom had ever been seen before or since, mere days before Wacky Wheels was released! Not surprising that the company who made him was called Copysoft.
  • Splatoon's Inklings are a very deliberate modern attempt at one of these: squid-kids with attitude who participate in heated Turf War games, listen to rock music, liberally slather their dialogue with early '90s slang, and are rarely seen without some variation of the Dreamworks Face... and in between all of that, they still have the capacity to look absolutely adorable. They're about 20 years late to the party, but we love 'em anyway.
  • Jibanyan from Yo-Kai Watch is a toned-down, post-90s example from Japan. He is a Funny Animal cat (though in life he was just a normal kitten) who can be very sassy (especially in the anime). He's known to use slang and is a Big Eater with a Sweet Tooth for chocolate. Jibanyan however is also very lazy and is not actually that cool (though he likes to think he is). Baddinyan, a Japanese Delinquent version of Jibanyan, also has some traits of this but isn't a mascot.

  • The duck from the The Duck comics site comes complete with smug expression and crossed arms indicative of his 'tude.

    Subversions, Parodies and Deconstructions 
  • Banjo-Kazooie is something of a subversion. Both characters are adventurous funny animals, but Banjo is portrayed as a clueless and easily duped country boy. Kazooie has a sharp tongue and a tendency to snark at anyone and anything that crosses her path, in a manner typical of "straight" examples... but all the other characters (except Banjo) realize she's obnoxious and usually can't stand to be around her.
  • Conker the Squirrel, at least in Conker's Bad Fur Day, is somewhere between a parody of this and the "cute and cuddly" animal mascot which he originally was to have been. His first appearance, Conker's Pocket Tales, as well as his appearance in Diddy Kong Racing, have almost none of the qualities mentioned above (only the first applies).
  • Earthworm Jim is an example of this combined with Captain Space, Defender of Earth!. As you can see, he was never meant to be taken seriously. Groovy!
  • "Dippy Fresh" from "Weirdmageddon Part 2: Escape From Reality" in Gravity Falls. A Totally Radical, catch-phrase spewing, skateboarding idealization of Dipper that was created in Mabel's fantasy dream dimension. He even looks similar to Kid Vid and according to Word of God, he’s based on both him and Disney XD’s aesthetic. Of course, the real Dipper absolutely despises him.
    Dippy Fresh: Wiggity-Wiggity what's up dudebros! I'm Dippy Fresh! I like skateboarding, supporting my sister, and punctuating every sentence with a high-five!
  • Jazz Jackrabbit is generally a straight example; his games are solid, have a bit more of a Looney Tunes vibe and have some lampshading as evidenced in the manual.
  • Max from Sam & Max, though not The Hero of his own games, was the unofficial mascot and recurring Easter Egg cameo character for LucasArts. Even in his own games he fits the trope, particularly in contrast to Cool Old Guy Sam, though involving violence beyond the child-friendly. So much so that he's more a Heroic Comedic Sociopath than your typical mascot with attitude.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Dash Dingo, the Australian baby-eating video game character featured in a video game Lisa plays in the Season 10 episode "Lisa Gets an A". Specifically based on Crash Bandicoot and the story of Azaria Chamberlain, a baby girl who was killed by a dingo in the 1980s.
    • The infamous Poochie is a cartoon dog "with attitude". He even has his own rap song, in which he dubs himself "the kung-fu hippie from the gangster city". Nonetheless, the Itchy & Scratchy audience hates him. Because of this, "Poochie" has become fan-speak for particularly cringe-worthy examples of this trope in general, especially if they are also a Spotlight-Stealing Squad like the original Poochie.
  • Parodied by the fictional "Adventurous the Cat" franchise seen on various SNES cartridges in Gone Home; as a 90s period piece, it wouldn't be complete without it.
  • Sonic Boom: Swifty the Shrew is what you get if you take Sonic, ramp the Mascot with Attitude personality Up to Eleven, add a whole bucket of Totally Radical-ness and get ride of the Blue Blur's redeeming qualities. The result? An incredibly arrogant and patronizing tool with absolute no tolerance for "losers" who disagree with anything he says and who isn't above sabotaging and cheating his way to victory. He's eventually revealed to be a creation of Doctor Eggman tasked with the objective of overshadowing Sonic and getting him banished from the village.


Video Example(s):


Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic is, of course, the Trope Maker. He is an unusual example in that his type of attitude flip-flops Depending on the Writer. Sonic had two different interpretations from Sega of Japan as well as Sega of America, resulting in him having similar but distinct personalities. In Japan, he's characterized as self-confident and laidback, which are generally "bad boy" traits for a a country prided on its politeness. While he was characterized exactly as the trope describes in America. After this trope started to die out with the Turn of the Millennium, Sonic's personality was slightly adjusted to being much more kind and friendly, but still retaining his rebellious traits and becoming something a Chaotic Good hero. From then on, Sonic's "attitude" and his heroic traits would be in constant flux.

How well does it match the trope?

4.79 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / MascotWithAttitude

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