It's another peaceful day on the island, and Sonic and Knuckles are playing a game of Gopher Ball. Knuckles boasts to Sonic about his assured victory with some rhyming before calling for tails— as in the fox Tails— to flip the coin because he doesn't trust Sonic to do it; the coin lands on tails instead of heads. Sonic is able to get his ball in the hole immediately, but when Knuckles' turn comes, he fails to hit the ball into the hole thanks to a leaf. He tries again, but he hits some birds. He continues to try, but every attempt ends in failure. Eventually, Sonic is relaxing in a beach chair while Tails tells Knuckles that he needs to work on his swing. Knuckles' rebuttal is that it has nothing to do with his swing; it has everything to do with luck. Then, he tries again, but the ball stops in midair close to the hole and falls down. Irritated, Knuckles throws his golf club... which lands perfectly in the hole, causing him to scream in frustration.
In Amy's garden, an angry Knuckles stomps on her grass, which causes Amy to tell him to stop killing the grass. Knuckles then explains that Sonic beat him at Gopher Ball by getting lucky. Amy tries to talk to Knuckles to no avail, but Sticks pipes up with another one of her crazy theories; there is a disturbance in the luck balance of the universe. Sticks then tells Knuckles that he needs to have bad luck as fast as possible to shift the luck balance back in his favor. Taking her insane advice all too well, Knuckles decides to go through with it.
The echidna begins to cause as much bad luck for himself as possible by dropping rocks on himself, jumping off the edge of a canyon, shooting himself out of a cannon, crashing into a tree close to where Amy and Tails are having a nice picnic (well, were), and letting a beehive fall onto his head, all while monologuing about how the "luck balance of the universe" thing makes perfect sense to him.
As Sonic reclines once more on a beach chair, Knuckles approaches him and, boasting about himself again, challenges the hedgehog to a rematch, coughing in the process due to injuries that he received because of the bad luck he caused himself. However, one look at the echidna's battered body convinces Sonic that he isn't in much condition to play anything. Undeterred, Knuckles tells Sonic that he tipped the luck balance of the universe back in his favor before proclaiming that Sonic's lucky streak is over. He then tells Sonic to brace himself, because— in Knux's own words— "there's nothing but sunny skies ahead" for him... and then he gets crushed by a falling fridge.
Meanwhile, at Eggman's island fortress, Eggman has Orbot, Cubot, a Bee Bot, a Crab Bot, and a Moto Bug help him with his target practice. However, Eggman is at a disadvantage, and he finds himself cornered. He then pretends that someone's stepping on his moustache, taking the opportunity to run; he trips, causing the laser to accidentally fire a single shot, which hits Cubot, the Moto Bug, the Bee Bot, Orbot, and the Crab Bot in that order. Orbot then suggests that there was a shift in the luck balance of the universe, and Eggman, inspired by his words, begins to set in motion another evil plan...
Back at the canyon, Knuckles is risking his life by attempting to get meteors to fall on him; Sonic, Tails and Amy discuss a way to make Knuckles stop hurting himself. Tails suggests that Sonic loses to Knuckles on purpose. Refusing to do so (most likely because it would wound his ego), Sonic offers to talk some sense into Knuckles and jumps down. He then runs to Knuckles, dodging a meteor at super speed and trying to tell Knuckles that he's wasting his time. He and Knuckles begin to argue about the method of how he always beats Knuckles, with Sonic saying skill is the culprit and Knuckles saying luck is. Sonic attempts to use the fact he's winning the argument with skill as proof, but stubborn Knuckles says that the argument is still on as long as he's still saying the word "luck", yelling "LUUUUUUUUUUCK!" to prove his point... before getting hit by a meteor. Sonic suggests that they should discuss the issue somewhere else.
At Eggman's fortress, Eggman says that Sonic beats him with the slimmest of margins, but with the luck balance shifted in his favor, there's no better time to attack. He orders an attack with everything he has, even ominously stating to "bring the Mega."
Meanwhile, at Sticks' burrow, Amy tells Sticks to help make Knuckles stop trying to kill himself, but Sticks says that Knuckles won't get hurt if he shifts the luck balance in time. Tails asks what would happen if the luck balance is not shifted in time; Sticks guesses that Knuckles will get eaten by a plant, but she has confidence in him, even if something worse happens. Tails, his logical mind rightfully convinced that this situation makes no sense, calls Sticks' theory crazy, which annoys her.
Back at the canyon again, Sonic pulls Knuckles out and says that he needs to stop before an asteroid turns him into baby food. Knuckles, refusing to back down, tells Sonic to admit that it's luck that causes Sonic to beat him, and Sonic requests a rematch. They do so, but Knuckles' shot hits Eggman's Egg Mobile, which just so happens to be heading right for the town. He fires lasers from the Egg Mobile, and this prompts Sonic to rush over to see what's going on. Eggman then says that the invasion is going well, but Sonic arrives, and Tails is shocked that Eggman believes in the luck balance theory too. Knuckles arrives as Eggman says that today is Laundry Day and, with the aid of metal debris on account of Knuckles' rotten luck, heads off to town. Sonic tells Knuckles that his bad luck isn't helping matters, adding that maybe the echidna should go join up with Eggman; hurt by his words, Knuckles decides to run off to do so. Amy begins to call him back, but Sonic says to let this play out.
Back at the village, Eggman then unleashes the Mega, which promptly rolls in as he states the robot was named for the fact that it's bigger than his other robots. Knuckles arrives, telling Eggman that he's joining the dark side, much to the Doctor's happiness. Knuckles approaches the Mega, and Eggman presses a button. The Mega prepares to attack, but its head blows up. Eggman attempts to cover his tracks by saying that the Mega is a prototype. The robot, glitching out further, then grabs a bomb and puts it in itself, afterward launching itself into the air where it finally explodes. Having been defeated once more, Eggman retreats, leaving a disappointed Knuckles to say that bad luck follows him wherever he goes. Sonic, followed by the rest of the team, shows up and asks "Or is it good luck? After all, our side won." Still irritated at Sonic's earlier statement, Knuckles corrects him, saying that he was on Eggman's side, but Sonic reveals that he sent Knuckles on a secret mission— so secret that Knuckles didn't know about it. Sticks, her seemingly insane theories having yet again been proven right, tells Knuckles that his bad luck overpowered Eggman's good luck, so by losing, Knuckles actually won. Knuckles is amazed, but as the team begins to walk off, he wonders what happens to his bad luck. With incredibly convenient timing, Tails is crushed by a piece of the Mega; attempting to lift it off himself, he reasons that there's a perfectly good explanation for this.
Tropes featured in the episode:
- Continuity Nod:
- During Eggman's training session, Orbot and Cubot wear their masks of Sonic and Tails from "Buster".
- When a badly injured Knuckles walks up to Sonic, Sonic is seen reading his autobiography, which is one of the collectibles that can be obtained in Q-N-C's toy shop in the Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal game.
- Conveniently Timed Distraction: Sonic and the gang have Dr. Eggman cornered but when Knuckles arrives, metal debris comes falling from the sky and almost hits Sonic and the gang, allowing Dr. Eggman to escape.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: Sticks' theory about the luck balance of the universe being thrown out of whack, giving Knuckles constant bad luck, is proven to be true when Sonic manipulates Knuckles into joining up with Eggman (temporarily) to save the day, with the echidna's bad luck overpowering the evil scientist's newfound good luck.
- A Day in the Limelight: This episode features Knuckles as its main character.
- Epic Fail: While Sonic's turn at Gopher Ball goes fantastically, Knuckles fails at every try, including one where the ball stops in mid-air instead of flying into a hole at the top of a hill. Frustrated at this, Knuckles throws his golf club... and it lands in the hole, prompting the echidna to yell loudly.
- Heads or Tails?: The episode begins with Sonic and Knuckles playing Gopher Ball. To decide who goes first, Sonic flips a coin and Knuckles calls, "Tails!"... to flip the coin, since he doesn't trust Sonic to be fair.
- Human Cannonball: Knuckles fires himself from a cannon at the bottom of a deep pit in an attempt to shift the luck balance of the universe, the idea given to him by Sticks.
- Humiliation Conga: The entire episode is this towards Knuckles.
- The Jinx: Knuckles.
- Production Throwback: The idea of the universe bending over backwards to dump on the protagonist in "Unlucky Knuckles" is used nearly identically to another Dave Polsky script, "Feeling Pinkie Keen".
- Superstition Episode: Knuckles thinks he has bad luck and tries to restore his luck by putting himself in harm's way.
- 13 Is Unlucky: This episode is the 13th episode in the series, and the year before its airing date was February 13th.