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"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 spinoff in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise which centers on the anti-heroic black hedgehog, Shadow. The game picks up after Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes and references many events and characters from the former, most notably Dr. Eggman's late grandfather Professor Gerald. Most of the playable characters from SA2 also appear as NPCs, along with E-123 Omega (from Heroes) and Team Chaotix (Knuckles Chaotix and Heroes).

After his apparent death and return, Shadow resurfaces in Westopolis just as the skies turn red and a UFO starts lasering the city to pieces à la Independence Day. Shadow is about to turn away, uncaring, but the alien leader calls out his name, insisting that Shadow fetch him the Chaos Emeralds. Thus begins Shadow's quest of self-discovery, culminating in an assault on the aliens' organic mothership, the Black Comet: In the Golden Ending, Shadow learns that he was created by Gerald not to destroy humanity as previously assumed, but as a counter-measure against the alien threat.

While the typical controls of the 3D entries in the Sonic series apply to some extent, the game has Third-Person Shooter elements. Pistols, SMGs, and rifles can picked up to use against enemies and you can even drive vehicles in some places. Each level has two objectives that either serve the heroes (as embodied by Sonic) or the villains (the self-interested Eggman or the human-hunting aliens). Players can take any one of 326 routes through the game's 22 levels: Option A, destroy the damn planet; Option B, have Shadow suffer alone from existential depression; Option C, let Eggman convince him he's really an android; or Option D, actually be a hero.

On another note, this game marks the debut of the 4Kids cast from Sonic X into the video games (along with Sonic Rush, which was released on the same day). Ironically, they began with the least kid-friendly Sonic game.


This DAMN game provides DAMN examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Taken to a truly absurd extreme. There are ten endings (plus the Golden Ending), but if you want true 100% completion, you can't just get all ten and call it a day. You can't just complete all 39 missions, either. You have to take all 326 possible paths. Yes, the game really keeps track of this. And they're all individually named. The fastest time anyone has ever accomplished this feat in is 181 hours, which is among the longest speedruns in gaming history.note 
  • 100% Heroism Rating: For such a brooding, lonesome fellow, Shadow's never been more popular with Sonic and his friends than he is in this game. Everybody's pleased to see him when they encounter him, and Rouge, Amy, and Charmy are all quite admiring in their own ways.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: Notably, only Sonic, Vector, and Omega can assist Shadow in his various endings. Rouge and Knuckles can help him during boss fights, but they won't show up in the corresponding cutscenes.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Following the formula started by Sonic Adventure, in the last story mode Shadow uses the power of the 7 Chaos Emeralds to fight against Black Doom's true form from destroying the planet.
  • '90s 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.
  • Aborted Arc: Sonic Heroes ended with Shadow and Omega carrying Metal Sonic, which implied something about their similar origins would be touched upon in a future story. Shadow the Hedgehog ignores this element, with Metal being absent and Omega having a downplayed role, which, according to the Final Story, is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
  • Alien Blood: The Black Arms have green blood. Also a case of Black Blood, as they were originally planned to have red blood, but it was changed to green to avoid a T rating.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Black Arms are a race that go from planet to planet consuming all life. The leader, Black Doom, outright states how inferior humans are and that his race is liberating them from themselves by eating them.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Black Doom, though none of the other Black Arms.
  • 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 There in the Manual: Expert Mode reveals that the GUN Commander recently became a Grandfather.
  • Alternate Catchphrase Inflection: In every ending, Shadow gives a speech that ends with "This is who I am." In 9 of the 10 endings, Shadow says this with a triumphant tone at having ascertained his identity; however, in the Hero Ending to the Semi-Hero path, Shadow says it in a depressed tone because he feels that he should have never been born due to all the suffering he caused.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Shadow, who struggles to remember anything from his past and he doesn't know who he is, why he cannot remember anything, or why certain names like "Maria" have significant importance to him or why the government is hunting him down. But his goal is to remember. Depending on the outcome of the Hero, Neutral, and Dark endings, he gets his answers.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: An odd case is the Semi-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.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: All melee weapons have limited uses, which can be replenished by picking up another of the same weapon.
  • Animation Bump:
    • In the trailers, there are a few very well-animated cutscenes. Obviously, this is from a time when cutscenes were considerably better animated than the game. But then you play the game and realize that despite the many, MANY cutscenes in the game, these are the ONLY cutscenes with high animation; the rest are animated with the more blocky, cheaper in-game models — despite two of them taking place mid-game.
    • In general, coming from Sonic Heroes, the in-game animation is a lot more fluid and smooth, with Shadow especially being quite cartoonishly stretchy and bouncy.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
  • Arc Words: "This is who I am."
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Shadow. It shows in the Pure Hero-Dark Path where he ended up challenging Sonic as earned to being his rival, then boasted highly about his own strength after he defeated him, and even laughing about it.
  • Astral Finale: Three out of five final stages will lead Shadow to either the ARK or the Black Comet. The other two avert the trope by taking him to GUN's headquarters or to Lava Shelter, one of Eggman's fortresses on Earth. After The Last Way, which is set on the Black Comet, the True Final Boss subverts the trope by taking place back on Earth.
  • 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: Sega went out of their way to make sure this game received age ratings higher than previous games. This resulted in the addition of firearms to the gameplay. On the writing side, the words "hell" and "damn" are constantly peppered throughout the dialogue. Shadow says it almost every time he gets hit, or whenever he falls into a death pit.
    Shadow: Damn! Not here!
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Despite the fact that filling either of your 2 Chaos meters grants you access to really powerful moves, the best use of either of them is often just the passive invincibility/unlimited ammo perks that come with filling either meter:
    • 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 that involve simply getting to the end.
    • Chaos Blast allows you to unleash a powerful explosive attack, which does come in handy in a couple of missions, but typically A) there usually aren't enough mooks to make it worthwhile (especially since most enemies are just fodder), B) when there are enough enemies that would otherwise make it worthwhile, 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).
  • Badass Biker: Shadow rides a motorcycle in some of the cutscenes and the player can choose to make him ride one during the game. The bike is rather impractical during gameplay, though, at best providing Shadow with an temporary armor.
  • 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 about — he will only share this information if Shadow retrieves the Chaos Emeralds for him. The entire scheme revolves around Black Doom expecting Shadow to collect the Emeralds, under the assumption that 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.
  • 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: While the game has a definitive main villain in Black Doom, Eggman acts as the secondary villain until he forms an Enemy Mine with Sonic and the others toward the end. The GUN commander also acts as the third primary antagonist of the game, being a Good is Not Nice Knight Templar Hero Antagonist.
  • Big "NO!": Used during some of the endings by Eggman, as Shadow violenly snaps his neck.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Eggman says these in any of the four endings after Shadow declares who he is.
  • Black Screen of Death: On all but one of the Shadow vs. Eggman endings, it's implied that Shadow killed Eggman.
  • Blamed for Being Railroaded: Follower characters (usually Black Doom) will often complain about you attacking their allies, even if it's the only way to progress in the level.
  • Blood Knight: After clearing Lethal Highway, Black Doom summons Black Bull to kill both Sonic and Shadow. Sonic's response to seeing the massive, fire-breathing alien dragon thing?
    Sonic: Woohoo! Now we're talkin'! Bring it on!
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: In the Last Story, after Black Doom receives the Chaos Emeralds he decides to teleport out of the way of Shadow's attack, leaving the emeralds behind. Rather than teleporting with the emeralds (something he is capable of doing so), Black Doom taunts Shadow as he transforms into Devil Doom off-screen. This mistake allows Shadow to use the emeralds to obtain his super form, and defeat him once and for all.
  • 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 some are rather 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! Also bad are the secret doors for Westopolis (similar to Lost Impact, it gives you a bad-controlling lowrider with no special weapon which you get 75% of the way through the level) and Lethal Highway (a minigun with 80 ammo, which is pathetic if you were hoping for a More Dakka rampage). The worst is Mad Matrix, which only gives you an alternate path to the Goal Ring. This is only remotely useful if you're trying to save some time to A-rank the neutral mission, and even then it's far from necessary.
    • The weapons you unlock for completing certain endings are extremely Nerfed Infinity -1 Swords, particularly the Omochao Gun and Egg Vacuum, which are powerful but have a laughable ammunition capacity (even when leveled up!) that hardly makes it worth the effort.note 
    • Getting an A rank on every mission on every stage would unlock Expert Mode, supposedly like Sonic Heroes's Super Hard Mode, where the levels' layouts are changed to be a lot harder, and you go through every stage, one after the other, without stopping. But in Shadow, they barely changed any of the layouts at all.note  And by that point, you've probably played through all the levels so many times, there isn't any point to playing what's mostly the same ones all in a row.
  • Bookends:
    • Sonic is the first heroic partner in the game. If you go on a pure hero run, he is the last heroic partner in the game. If you go on a pure dark run, he is the last opponent in the game.
    • 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.
    • That said, Sonic Adventure 2 introduced Shadow struggling with his memories. The Omega Ending here has him putting the past behind him and becomes his own person, while carrying on with Gerald and Maria's legacy.
  • Boss Battle: Certain stages from the second set on end with a boss fight against G.U.N.'s aircrafts, Dr. Eggman's Egg Breaker or the Black Bull alien. If you play neutrally up to Sky Troops, however, you can reach any of the final stages without fighting a single boss.
  • 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.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Playing on Expert Mode changes your allies' Dialog During Gameplay so they encourage him not to get tired, keep stock of extra lives, and head to the Goal Ring no matter what.
  • 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 Rush, Sonic'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).
  • 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: Shadow has a few of these:
    • "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!"
    • "Stupid humans."
  • Central Theme:
    • The quest for identity. The story of Shadow is about unconvering his past and true origin, and depending on the player actions, Shadow can become a brave-hearted hero, a black-hearted villain, or discover he was just an experiment gone deadly wrong.
    • The past doesn't define who you are. The "Last Story" would reveal Shadow's true purpose to save humanity from the Black Arms, but in doing so, Shadow would say good bye forever to his old life and never turning back.
  • 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 brooding in the next games he would appear in.
  • Characterization Marches On: Shadow in the previous games is a bit moody and serious while having some cockiness to him. This game takes away the cocky aspect of his character and made him more serious and cynical. He regains his disdain for humans for some reason, he has a rebellious attitude ("No one tells me what to do!"), and he's annoyed with Sonic's presence, unlike in Heroes where he seems to be fond of fighting against him.
  • 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.
  • Checkpoint: Checkpoints are used as teleporters to help with the exploration-driven missions. They also award rings or an extra life upon activation.
  • 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...
  • Circus of Fear: Circus Park.
  • 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.
  • The Comically Serious: Shadow when paired with an energetic and chummy Sonic in the Hero path.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Shadow, when he isn't contemplating his over-expressive hands, and just about everyone who works for GUN.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the opening FMV, we can see that the moon is still broken as per Sonic Adventure 2.
    • In the cutscene after Mad Matrix, Eggman tells Shadow that he has no past, which is what he (Metal Sonic in disguise) said to him in Sonic Heroes.
    • In the neutral path, Shadow must find the gray Chaos Emerald in Prison Island. It was the same Emerald Eggman used to awaken him from his capsule in Prison Island.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Covers Always Lie: The gun Shadow is holding on the cover isn't actually in the game.
  • Creator Cameo: One line of Enemy Chatter from GUN troops references Yuji Naka, one of the founding members of Sonic Team.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Several stages share a theme and some have noticeably repetitive level designs. One major example is Lost Impact, where the indoor areas are quite literally a set of 3 or so rooms being repeated over and over. Its twin stage, The Doom, is even a labyrinth, so have fun completing the Hero or Dark objectives.
  • 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.
  • The Cynic: Due to his past experiences, Shadow has a pretty pessimistic and dark worldview. He also has high disregard for Sonic's carefree nature, and is quite annoyed with his cheerful and unserious behaviour.
  • Cyberspace: Digital Circuit and Mad Matrix.
  • Daddy Issues: Shadow has these with Black Doom.
  • 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 during the prologue: "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." The dialogue was altered for the opening of Black Comet, in which he says: "Shadow, the day of reckoning is near. Bring all of the Chaos Emeralds to me, IMMEDIATELY!"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Shadow, often.
    Shadow: Stupid humans.
    Shadow (to Doom's Eye): Having a little trouble with those GUN Agents, are we?
    Shadow (to Sonic): Don't waste my time.
  • Death Mountain: Glyphic Canyon.
  • Degraded Boss: The bosses Big Foot and Hot Shot from Sonic Adventure 2 are a part of GUN's arsenal in the stages Black Comet and GUN Fortress, but they're reduced to being elite mooks that are easily blown up by gunfire.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: In one scene, Sonic offers Shadow a chance of friendly competition, with Shadow telling him not to waste his 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 enthusiastically gush about a particularly well-designed gun turret.
    Tails: That turret is so cool! I've never seen vulcanized ceramic used for this sort of thing before!
  • 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]
  • Dramatic Irony: The President of the United Federation holds both Sonic and Shadow in high regard and in the Dark routes is completely oblivious to Shadow's involvement with the Black Arms even if Shadow helps set up bombs right on Central City or attempts to directly assassinate him. Only in the intro to G.U.N. Fortress is the President told about Shadow, much to his disbelief. Even more odd is the the G.U.N. Commander holds a grudge against Shadow, knows the President is a fanboy and yet never says anything.
  • Driving Question: Who is Shadow, and is he even the original?
  • Dual Boss: In the Pure Hero-Dark, Semi Dark-Dark, and Pure Dark-Dark endings, Sonic fights you alongside G.U.N.'s Diablon mech as the Final Boss.
  • 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: To truly get what he wants, Shadow has to go through the game ten times, and then defeat Devil Doom. He damn well deserves a happy ending when he does.
  • Easy Level Trick:
    • The Hero mission in Lethal Highway requires Shadow to chase a enemy ship and destroy it. The ship has so much HP that it may take most of the level to even get its shield to flash green, but damage done to it remains if you die. You can exploit this to clear the mission and get an A rank.
    • The Hero mission in Circus Park requires Shadow to collect and keep 400 rings. One of the stage's gimmicks is a target that awards 50 rings upon being hit and it happens to be the one thing that resets upon teleporting between checkpoints. This can be exploited to earn an A rank without making your way through most of the stage.
  • Elite Mook: Each of the three factions has an enemy type that might be more challenging than the rest if you take on it without weapons.
    • The Black Arms have giant soldiers and teleporting gunfighters.
    • G.U.N. has the Big Foot and Hot Shot mechs previously seen in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • Dr. Eggman has Shadow Androids, slightly low-poly renditions of the protagonist who can fire missiles. They'll respond to Homing Attacks by bouncing off them with ones of their own.
  • 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: 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.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The game does not care whose side you're on; all the enemies will try to kill Shadow, even if his partner is allied with them.
  • 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. Cryptic Castle, Sky Troops and Mad Matrix also have both Eggman's robots and Black Arms as enemies, where killing the robots gives you dark points and killing the Black Arms gives you hero points, which leads to unintentional hilarity in A-ranking the Dark mission for Eggman in Cryptic Castle as you have to deliberately smash up his robots.
    • 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.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Why Eggman takes on the Black Arms with his fleet in Sky Troops.
    Eggman: How can I conquer the city and build the Eggman Empire if there is no city?
  • Fantastic Racism: Black Doom's general opinion of humans. In some endings, Shadow has a tendency to agree with him.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Map: The map of Earth seen in one of the cutscenes is certainly not one of the real-life planet, but most continents depicted can be recognized as twisted versions of America, Eurasia, etc. All other Sonic games use either the same geography as the real Earth or completely unrecognizable continents, they never settled on one look.
  • Fighting Back Is Wrong: A major complaint about the game is that even though all enemies of all sides will attack you even when you are helping them, your partners will still reprimand you for killing their allies even though they are trying to kill you and you are defending yourself. Sonic and his friends call you out on attacking the GUN soldiers even though the GUN soldiers are attacking you (but will encourage you to destroy GUN robots, and then call you out on it), Eggman and Black Doom get mad when you destroy/kill their robots/henchmen while making no attempt to get their forces to stop trying to kill you, and Maria even calls you out for attacking the GUN soldiers in her level even though they are trying to kill you both.
  • Final Dungeon Preview: The Last Way, the only level in the game's Last Story, is a remixed version of Final Haunt, the last level of the Pure Hero path. Since the Last Story unlocks after reaching all ten of the regular (non-canon) endings, and those endings can be reached in any order, this trope can be Played Straight, if the player does the Pure Hero endings early; Downplayed, if they save them for last; or both, if they do one Pure Hero ending early on and save the other for last.
  • Flanderization:
    • Shadow did partake in some minor brooding in Sonic Adventure 2, but that wasn't a primary character trait. However, in his game, Shadow would never stop brooding and pondering about his past. However, once he learns about his past, that apparently satisfied his ponderings and he relaxed into a characterization closer to his original portrayal.
    • To a lesser extent, Sonic in this game is more carefree and fun-loving than he usually is in previous titles. He shows his excitement in battling the Black Arms and barely takes Shadow's brooding about his past seriously.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Whatever the choice you make in Cosmic Fall, unless you let the timer run out, the ARK is stopped from falling in either path.
  • Foreshadowing: At Glyphic Canyon, Knuckles will wonder why the Black Arms's ruins are bird-shaped. Regardless of Shadow's actions, reaching the Sky Troops stage reveals the ruins were flying fortresses the whole time.
  • Free-Sample Plot Coupon: The Chaos Emeralds are generally acquired at the end of every level, but the green emerald is simply sitting in a cage at the very start of the first level and is mandatory to collect to progress, to justify Shadow's Chaos abilities, as they require an emerald.
  • 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", but if you choose to turn on Sonic in Final Haunt, Shadow will reciprocate in the Pure Hero - Dark ending, where he decides that he is the Most Powerful Hedgehog In The World.
    Sonic: Shadow! Why are you siding with those black creatures?
    Shadow: Siding with them... you're joking, right? I'm just siding with whomever goes up against you. This time you're going down, Sonic!
    Sonic: (chuckles) Well, if that's how it's gonna be, Shadow... Then bring it on!
    Shadow: Just say when!
  • Galactic Conqueror: Shadow intends to become one in the Pure Dark - Hero Ending.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In the GameCube version, one of the GUN Troopers in The Doom will always fail to spawn the first time. It will spawn if you come back, but it is nonetheless frustrating because it can require you to backtrack quite a bit when you miss it.
  • Game Over: Upon losing all lives, you can start over from the beginning of the current stage. Interestingly, the screen reads "black out", in a rare case of the term "Game Over" not being used in the series.
    "I will find the truth!"
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The GUN soldiers will try to kill Shadow in every stage except for Westopolis (since the Commander hasn't learnt Shadow is alive at that point and thus hasn't given out the order yet) and Lost Impact (which is a flashback taking place before the GUN raid on the ARK).
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: If you have a dark/hero side character following you, they will obviously get mad if you attack soldiers that are on their side; however, sometimes you are forced to do so in order to proceed in the mission. Also, all enemies will attack you on any level, regardless of whose side Shadow's on. The worst case of this is Black Doom. You can repeatedly go against him and even battle him, yet later missions still have him try to get Shadow to work for him.
  • Gang Up on the Human: The Black Arms have invaded and human soldiers are apparently trying to fight them off. And the aliens you would be expecting to be killing off the soldiers. Except they don't; all they do is gang up and fire rapidly at you, even when you're on their team. Justified in that GUN has orders to bring Shadow in dead or alive. And in the only two stages set before they get those orders, they actually do ignore Shadow. Black Doom, however, given he is trying to get Shadow on his side, has no such excuse.
  • Gleeful and Grumpy Pairing: Sonic and Shadow have this kind of interaction in the Hero Route. Sonic is portrayed as cheerful, adventurous and treats Shadow as a friend, but Shadow is serious, cynical and is annoyed by his carefree nature. This dialogue in one scene before the ARK stages tells the story:
    Sonic: What's up, Shadow!
    Shadow: Not you again.
    Sonic: Nice to see you, too.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: There are three factions Shadow can ally himself with over the course of the game:
    • The "Good" consists of Sonic, his friends, and GUN, who want to protect the Earth from the Black Arms as usual. Sonic and his friends provide the "Hero" mission for each stage.
    • The "Bad" consists of Dr. Eggman and his Eggman Empire. Eggman is still as evil as he usually is, but he also wants to protect the Earth from the Black Arms (albeit only so he can conquer it for himself) and even pulls an Enemy Mine with Sonic and his friends in the Last Story. Eggman provides the "Dark" mission on every stage he's on except for Sky Troops, where he is instead the "Hero" to Black Doom's "Dark".
    • The "Evil" consists of Black Doom and his Black Arms. Black Doom wants to destroy the Earth and consume all of humanity. Black Doom provides the "Dark" mission for each stage without exception.
  • 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 everyone.
  • Graffiti Town: Westopolis, Lethal Highway, and Central City.
  • 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.
  • Guide Dang It!: Some of the objectives are utterly obtuse in finding, like rescuing Cheese from behind a slowly-retracting wall that has little sign of it being able to do so, or hunting down that single target in the entire stage that you may have skipped over by accident. The game also is ready to explain that your Hero/Dark versions of Chaos Control have exceptional power, but doesn't bother explaining that not using your meter is arguably more useful than both thanks to becoming an invulnerable One-Man Army with infinite ammunition.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: In the introductory cutscene, Shadow pumps his MP5 SMG like a shotgun. SMGs do not pump.
  • 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. A few people think Rouge may have had something to do with it.
  • 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.
  • Heinousness Retcon: In his introduction in Sonic Adventure 2, it's implied Professor Gerald Robotnik built the Eclipse Cannon as a Weapon of Mass Destruction either due to the loss of his granddaughter Maria driving him to insanity (or else he was mad even before her death); with the twist being he planned to destroy the planet via crashing his space colony into it. Come Shadow the Hedgehog it's revealed the Cannon was in fact created for a good reason: to destroy the Black Comet — as Black Doom offered his blood for the creation of Shadow the Hedgehog, in exchange for the Chaos Emeralds to conquer the planet. Of course, then Maria dies and Gerald decides to repurpose the cannon and the whole ARK for his revenge plan...
  • Hero Antagonist: G.U.N., no matter whose side you're on... with Rouge being the exception since she's both technically a freelance agent and has a personal motive for sticking with Shadow, for good or ill.
  • Hero-Worshipper: The President keeps a picture of Sonic and Shadow on his desk, remarking they taught him to never give up and that he must uphold the peace they've been fighting for.
  • 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 RPG weapon, which also has lock-on capabilities. Once you've done that, you can do serious damage, and knock off more of the RPGs, 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 Black Doom being hoist by Shadow, who's meant to be his tool.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The attitude of the Black Arms. Black Doom uses G.U.N.'s assault on the ARK to turn Shadow against humanity.
  • Idiot Ball: Some implements from Shadow the Hedgehog have left fans scratching their heads.
    • Eggman's final boss battle involves the Egg Dealer, a gambling machine Eggman uses to fight Shadow. If Shadow presses the buttons, it will redirect Eggman attacks at him. Thing is, why does Eggman put buttons there for Shadow to attack? Why does he have a Shadow Fever option that allows Shadow to get more power? Because otherwise there wouldn't be a boss battle that uses Shadow's homing attack.
    • During the Last Way story mode, Eggman and the heroes go where Shadow is with the Chaos Emeralds, telling him to not give Black Doom the emeralds. Eggman goes with the heroes on his own, being more likely to be a attacked by the aliens instead of using some machine like the Egg Walker or having a pair of robot allies. You could argue those were destroyed off-screen by the Black Arms, but nothing in the story suggests this.
    • The cutscene leading into Lost Impact has Shadow discover the ship he's on has a Chaos Emerald as its power source. Despite this being on the True Hero path, his response is to bust the glass open and steal the Chaos Emerald.. leading to a presumed, impromptu crash landing that he's apparently shocked and surprised by.
  • It's All My Fault:
    • Shadow feels this way in the Semi Hero - Hero ending after G.U.N. falsely accuses him of causing the deaths of the ARK.
      "I'm Shadow the Hedgehog. An experiment gone deadly wrong! I've caused so much destruction... I should never have been created... This is who I am..."
    • Professor Gerald also proved to feel guilty for making the deal with Black Doom to carry out revenge on humanity.
      "Shadow, my son... If you're listening to this, then the worst has happened... you need to know the truth. The government plans to shut down this research facility... The government plans to cease all of our research... and imprison all who know about you. I made a terrible mistake, Shadow... It's all my fault... making contact with that Comet..."
  • I Fell for Hours: "Cosmic Fall" takes place in a section of the ARK that's falling apart from years of neglect and the colony speeding towards Earth, with Shadow racing to reach either a Chaos Emerald or the infamous Computer Room depending on if the player chooses the Dark or Hero mission for the level.
  • 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.
    • 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 does a ton of damage to the point where it can kill every normal enemy in the game, except Artificial Chaos, with a single shot. This also makes it great in Lethal Highway, Air Fleet, and Iron Jungle for dealing with the fleeing vehicles.
  • Insistent Terminology: The Black Arms are constantly referred to as "Terrorists" by G.U.N. when they behave more like standard alien invaders.
  • Ironic Echo: After the fight with Sonic and the GUN Commander's Diablon Mech on the Pure Hero - 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.
  • Jerkass: Black 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hero Shadow is ruthless in achieving his goals, acts callous, and is apathetic to (most) things that are going on in the world. However, he tries to stay on the side of justice, while still focusing on getting answers to his past. He also blames himself for Maria's death and views the humans as terrible beings for what they did, saves Sonic early on despite his annoyance at his presence, and is ready to go against Black Doom after realising that he wants to use the Chaos Emeralds to destroy the planet. This is best shown in the Slightly Hero ending, where Shadow is completely emotionally destroyed after finding out that the world views him as a nightmare, going so far as regretting his own existence.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Shadow can be played as this, especially in the Pure Hero path if you turn on the good guys in Final Haunt.
  • Joke Weapon: There are healing weapons in the game that make enemies stop attacking Shadow. It's amusing and grants some score for the alignment the enemy represents, but hardly useful outside of Lost Impact's Hero mission, which does require Shadow to look for injured scientists and heal every last one of them.
  • Jungle Japes: Prison Island, Death Ruins, and Iron Jungle.
  • 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, except in the boss levels where it freezes time.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The Samurai Blade, the unlockable melee weapon, is stronger than any other melee weapon. 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 to humanity, all by destroying everyone and the world.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Shadow still remembers little of his past since Rouge found him in Sonic Heroes. In fact, he even reacts to the Shadow Androids with shock and confusion, despite having seen a destroyed one at the mid-point of Team Dark's story in Heroes. He's also surprisingly quick to fully and angrily embrace being an Android depending on the path and going on a murderous rampage against Eggman for it despite having calmly accepted the possibility near the end of the same Team Dark story before the assault on the Egg Fleet and then dismissing it as unimportant since it wouldn't change the fact he's still the Ultimate Life Form.
  • 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, "Well, Shadow, it looks like we've reached the climax of this little game. Time to make the big boss man responsible for this invasion step up and play." at the beginning of Final Haunt, one of the potential final levels. Before the battle with Black Doom, Sonic says "Like it or not!... THE GAME'S OVER!"
  • Lethal Lava Land: Lava Shelter.
  • 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 takes place on the now flying ruins previously seen in Glyphic Canyon, with Dr. Eggman's Air Fleet attempting to take them down.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Downplayed for most of the game, but played straight if the player chooses to complete the Dark mission in The ARK. The following cutscene, of Black Doom telepathically ordering Earth's forces to surrender and then firing the Eclipse Cannon at Central City, is broken up into several parts, and every single part is preceded by a loading screen that, in some cases, lasts longer than the cutscene itself.
  • 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.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • As parodied by some fans, in one cutscene, the Commander will say Maria was like a sister to him and the only family he knew, but in a later cutscene, he will yell that because of Shadow, Maria and his family were killed. In the original text, the Commander just says Maria was like a sister to him as he didn't have any siblings.
    • Charmy not knowing what a "top secret disk" is makes him sound dumb to Western players, but in the original text the item is named in Gratuitous English. That's why he asks Shadow what it means.
    • The game's final line, spoken by Shadow as he leaves the photo of Maria and Gerald behind, is supposed to be the same as Maria's final words to Shadow before her death. This is missed completely in the localization, which renders it as the rather generic "Goodbye forever, Shadow the Hedgehog", removing the intended Book Ends.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: As revealed in the Last Story, Shadow was created from Black Doom's blood.
  • MacGuffin Super-Person: In the game (depending on the story and the player), Shadow is a super hedgehog Anti-Villain being sought after by both G.U.N. armies and Black Arms extraterrestrial monstrosities.
  • Mass Monster-Slaughter Sidequest: Kill all aliens, soldiers, etc.
  • The Maze:
    • The Doom and Lost Impact, both flashback levels set aboard the ARK. The Doom is a proper sprawling maze where players are meant to view maps on the walls to keep track of their location. Lost Impact is more linear with rail shooter corridors breaking up the indoor sections, but finding and destroying the Artificial Chaos will require players to check out hidden paths and dead ends.
    • Mad Matrix features a web of many automated paths that links a set of towers together. For the Hero mission, you must find the way to each tower and obtain certain items in them. For the Dark mission, you must scour the maze itself to detonate a large amount of bombs, which is quite the difficult task. Even for the Neutral mission, you must figure out just which one of the towers contains the goal ring.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Black Arms versus Team Sonic/GUN versus the Eggman Empire. While each level only features two of these teams at a time, Shadow can potentially fight against both of them, thus still playing this trope straight. Annoyingly, there's no way to actually "befriend" one of the enemy factions; no many how many missions you complete on their path (Hero for G.U.N., Dark for Black Arms), they will still be aggressive to you in every level.
  • Metropolis Level: The game has three — Westopolis (the first level, which every playthrough starts with), Lethal Highway (reachable by completing the Hero mission of Westopolis), and Central City (reachable by completing the Dark mission of Cryptic Castle). All three take place at night, in cities that are being devastated by the Black Arms, and you can choose whether to help fight them off, or side with them and make things worse.
  • 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.
  • More Dakka: The gatling gun equipped on the Bigfoot mechs.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Played with, but ultimately subverted. The different endings each have Shadow coming to different conclusions about his true identity, including some objectively false ones like believing that he's a robotic duplicate of the real Shadow. However, the true ending settles once and for all who Shadow really, canonically is.
  • Multiple Endings: There are ten end goals, all of which need to be seen in order to get to the True Final Boss and Omega Ending.
  • 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 respectfully accept my fate", making it very clear that he really cannot remember it.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • After the Hero mission in Westopolis, Sonic references a Sega slogan from the Sega Genesis era: "Welcome to the next level"!
    • Circus Park features the infamous barrels from Carnival Night Zone as moving platforms. Giant ones are even part of the scenery during certain setpieces.
    • The ARK stages Space Gadget and Cosmic Fall are titled after Sonic Adventure 2 stages set in the space colony: Crazy Gadget and Cosmic Wall.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Black Doom.
  • Never My Fault: Eggman and Black Doom both get mad at you for destroying their armies, ignoring the fact that their armies are trying to kill you and neither of them make any effort to get them to stop.
  • Nintendo Hard: While the platforming is not all that difficult, many Hero and Dark missions can require a tedious amount of exploration for a Sonic game. One could take upwards of twenty minutes looking for that Last Lousy Point on Westopolis, the very first stage!
    • Three missions require Shadow to hunt and destroy an aircraft that's fleeing throughout the stage. Those vessels have a very high amount of health and will not be taken down unless the player masters the level designs to truly make use of the weapons and shooting opportunities they provide.
    • 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, are mazes with repetitive level designs and high requirements on their non-neutral missions. 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 "significant damage and 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.
    • Eggman is this too, only teaming up with Sonic and his friends to stop the Black Arms from destroying earth, so he can conquer it.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "Black Arms" are actually gray in in color, but everyone in-game says that they're black (amusingly, one of the Black Arms Elite Mooks looks like a really muscular gray alien).
  • Nostalgia Level:
    • Space Gadget, which appears to be a mixture of Final Rush (taking place primarily outside of the Ark), Crazy Gadget (the gravity gimmick, the indoor sections with acid), and Final Chase (the pillars Shadow has to move up).
    • Subverted by The ARK. It's Final Rush with a remix of its music, but all the platforms and rails Sonic once ran on have drifted apart and the entire stage is played like a rail shooter with Shadow riding one of the flying aliens.
  • No Name Given: The President of the United Federation remains unnamed. And so is the G.U.N. Commander despite his major role in the story.
  • Noodle Incident: At one point, the president will receive a message from his secretary and will later monologue to himself about how the world was saved by two heroes, a Continuity Nod to Sonic Adventure 2. However, he will look at a photo of Sonic and Shadow, which is unclear at what point it was taken.
  • No Points for Neutrality: Averted. There's a "neutral" objective in most stages, which is just "get to the end of the stage" every time. Going invokedTrue 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: For the final battle, Black Doom transforms into Devil Doom — a combination of himself and a Black Bull with Doom's Eye serving as a weak spot.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Shadow in the Pure Dark - Dark ending. After defeating Sonic and Diablon, he declares his intention to use the Chaos Emeralds to destroy the world.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Shadow will say this line after clearing the dark mission for Lava Shelter.
    Shadow: The doctor knows the truth to my existence. No one lays a hand on him except ME!
  • Optional Boss: The game is specifically set up so that players can reach any of the final stages without fighting a single boss. This is done by playing the Neutral missions up to Sky Troops and then clearing either its Hero or Dark mission.
  • 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 Last Story.
  • Plot Hole: A subplot of the game that ends up being important to the final story is The Chaotix looking some information through Eggman's base that leads them to (presumably) the Space Colony ARK, which will unlock a final message from Gerald Robotnik to Shadow. The game never answers who hired the Chaotix for this endeavor.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Shadow apparently never thinks to ask any of his friends about his past, even though every single one of them both know him well as well as found out about his past in Sonic Adventure 2.
  • 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?!
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    Shadow: Death to all who oppose me!
  • Precision F-Strike: While the use of the word “damn” can come of as Narm to some, there are some accurate times when the word has been said, such as "damn you!"
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics: The opening cutscene before the title screen, and most cutscenes involving Shadow talking with Black Doom or learning about his past onboard the ARK are pre-rendered.
  • Promoted to Playable: Maria is playable in The Doom and Lost Impact for second players, as an Easter Egg.
  • 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.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Shadow has this kind of attitude. He makes this his entire 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.
  • Recurring Boss:
    • Black Bull, faced after the Hero Stage 2 and True Hero Stage 4.
    • Egg Breaker, faced after the Dark Stage 3, Neutral/Hero Stage 4, and True Neutral Stage 5. (Note that it's impossible to get to both of the first two appearances in a single playthrough, but possible to get either of them and the third.)
    • To a lesser extent, Heavy Dog (faced after Neutral-Dark Stage 4) and Blue Falcon (faced after True Dark Stage 5) are essentially the same boss, as well, only time-shifted 50 years because Neutral-Dark Stage 4 is a flashback level. You're probably more likely to see one of these bosses twice in a playthrough than to see all three of them in the same playthrough.note 
  • Retcon: Shadow the Hedgehog reveals new information that affects how one can read Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes.
    • This game definitively establishes that Shadow was created on the Space Colony ARK and that his memories of Maria are the real deal—Shadow's true backstory was an Ambiguous Situation in Adventure 2, where Shadow's memories were shown to be tampered with and the ARK's computer files have no data on himnote .
    • This new backstory also implicitly rewrites what Sonic Battle established, that Shadow was a Living Weapon created for the military (implying thereby that he was created on Prison Island after Gerald Robotnik was taken into G.U.N. custody).
    • While the existence of the Black Arms is vaguely and obliquely foreshadowed in Adventure 2note , nothing in the game indicated Gerald Robotnik made deals with beings from other planets.
    • What's more, Maria knowing about them as revealed in Gerald's message to Shadow in The Last Way changes the reasons for Maria to send Shadow to Earth.
    • In Adventure 2, G.U.N.'s reason for attacking the ARK 50 years ago was unknown. Gerald questions in the journal if they were opposed to his research. In this game, the G.U.N. raid is implied to result from the not-yet G.U.N. commander discovering Shadow's creation.
    • The G.U.N. Commander's existence, and him knowing who Shadow is. While G.U.N. has a role in capturing Sonic and fighting Doctor Eggman, Adventure 2 never implied G.U.N. had a specific grudge against Shadow beyond hiding it as one of Gerald's weapons. If anything, they confused Sonic for him, which doesn't add up with the timeline.
    • The purpose of the Eclipse Cannon. In Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow establishes that the Space Colony ARK was secretly meant for Weapon of Mass Destruction research and development, but this game introduces a revision to further establish that the ARK's premiere weapon, the planet-shattering Eclipse Cannon, was secretly meant to destroy the Black Comet.
  • Ridiculously Human 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.
  • 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 by this point the Black Arms are effectively screwed, so it may not really be "evil").
  • Route Boss: Depending on which story path Shadow takes, the player may end up facing one kind of boss or another:
    • In Lethal Highway, the second stage of the Hero path, Shadow faces Black Bull, a Black Arms-aligned beast.
    • In Cryptic Castle, the third stage of the Dark path, Shadow faces Egg Breaker, one of Eggman's mechs.
    • The fourth stage has different bosses depending on the route Shadow takes. In The Doom, Neutral / Dark route stage, Shadow faces Heavy Dog, a ground-based G.U.N. mech. In Neutral / Hero route, Shadow faces Egg Breaker in the Mad Matrix. And in Pure Hero path, Shadow faces Black Bull again in the Death Ruins.
    • In the fifth stage, the True Neutral path pits Shadow against Egg Breaker in Iron Jungle, while Pure Dark path has Shadow face Blue Falcon, an aerial G.U.N. mech, on the ARK.
    • The final boss of each ending is determined by the mission Shadow completes on the sixth stage. Dark path pits Shadow against Sonic and Diablon, Neutral path pits Shadow against Eggman in Egg Dealer mech, while the Hero path has Shadow fight the Black Doom.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Downplayed; Shadow is the only game to use profanity regularly in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, but never uses any expletive stronger than "damn" to avoid the T rating.
  • 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.
  • Schrödinger's Canon: Somehow, the game manages to have this with itself. The Last Way alone implies many of the routes Shadow takes are canon, which should be theoretically impossible unless Broad Strokes are being accounted for. And this is not even taking in account the status of the game itself, considering how much it contradicts the events of Adventure 2 despite solving the plot threads introduced in Heroes.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: As the player moves through the Story Branching, Shadow will always come across each Chaos Emerald no matter where he goes and their power will somehow confirm whatever it is that he learned in the last couple of stages as the truth of his past.
  • 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 inverse 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.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In the Sky Troops level, Shadow will remark that "This blue sky... staring at it from afar... have I seen it before?". His memory must be really bad, since yes, he did saw that blue sky from afar last game during the Egg Fleet level.
      • Alternatively, he might be talking about his childhood on the Space Colony ARK, in which case "from afar" remark makes more sense — after all, he was staring at it from space.
    • In the scene before the Iron Jungle level, Shadow is shocked to face a Shadow Android and wonders if he, too, is one. Nevermind the fact that in Sonic Heroes, he saw a destroyed Shadow Android before and ultimately came to the conclusion that despite him not possibly being the original, he is still Shadow.
  • 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 implies 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!
    • If you do all dark missions before Cryptic Castle (where Amy is the hero character) and then do all hero missions from then on, the pathway is titled "Miracle of Love", because Amy made Shadow a hero.
    • Rouge gets in on this too. If you do Dark Westopolis then Hero Digital Circuit, then do all the hero missions from then on, that pathway is called "For Love's Sake". If you do the normal Prison Island mission after Dark Westopolis and Hero Digital Circuit, then the rest of the Hero missions, it's called "The Power of Love". Granted, there is one normal mission in this one, but Shadow doesn't go dark after Rouge's influence either.
  • Shout-Out:
    • There are a pair of bosses are "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 Federation 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.
    • The Egg Vacuum weapon is based on Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg, since it's an egg from the game with a chicken's head.
    • In the Dark path, the Black Arms uses the Eclipse Cannon to destroy the Sonic universe's equivalent of the White House, similar to the famous scene from Independence Day.
    • Scattered throughout the ARK & Black Comet missions are stationary energy shields extremely similar in form and function to those from Halo.
  • Slave Mooks: The Shadow Androids, physically identical replicas of the original Shadow the Hedgehog. In the Neutral endings, Shadow becomes convinced he's one of them that somehow went rogue.
  • Space Zone: The Doom, The ARK, Space Gadget, Lost Impact, and Cosmic Fall all takes place within the general area of Space Colony ARK in outer space. The Doom and Lost Impact specifically take place within colony, itself, while The ARK, Space Gadget, and Cosmic Fall take place around the outer areas of the colony.
  • The Starscream: The Pure Dark - Hero Ending has Shadow defeating Black Doom so that he can conquer the universe for himself.
  • 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 Good ending against the obvious Big Bad is considered to be the game's Golden Ending from the creator standpoint.
  • Story Branching: Throughout each stage you have the option of finishing a Hero, Neutral, or Dark Mission that determines your progress through the game; there are six stages per playthrough, and finishing either the Hero or Dark mission in the 6th stage determines what final boss you fight and one of 10 different endings. There are a whopping 326 different routes (all with unique names), but you must see all ten unique endings at least once to unlock the canon Secret Final Campaign and the Omega Ending.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss:
    • The fight against Black Bull in Lethal Highway involves chains of flying aliens spawning in front of him. Shadow can bounce off them to get enough height to attack the beast with Homing Attacks.
    • The Diablon has an invincible shield that is turned off anytime it attacks Shadow. In the first phase, this is done by bouncing off Sonic, which causes the mech to attempt to shoot Shadow out of the air. Then in the second phase, Shadow needs to move in to lure Diablon into punching and then dodge out of the way.
    • The Egg Dealer is an extreme case that amounts to a Zero-Effort Boss despite being one of the potential ending bosses. It activates attacks from the results of a slot machine, but those backfire if Shadow is the one who hits the buttons and it's so easy to do so that the machine can be rendered completely defenseless until it is destroyed.
    • Black Doom is a very forced example of the trope, as he can only be attacked after he finishes a sequence of attacks but there's zero in-universe justification or even a visual indicator for why he becomes vulnerable and floats in place for so long.
  • Take Over the World: Shadow reveals this motivation in the Pure Dark - Hero Ending and the Neutral - Hero Ending.
  • Telephone Polearm: You can break traffic signs and various other objects, and then use them as melee weapons.
  • Timed Mission: Several missions run on a timer. Space Gadget in particular is framed as a race against a Sonic who isn't actually an entity in the level. The story at this point makes no sense because failing to reach the Chaos Emerald before Sonic will still award Shadow with the same Chaos Emerald.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: It's revealed that Shadow's at least partially a Black Arm.
  • To Serve Man: Black Doom's will boast about saving humanity because they are in a path of self-destruction, but the honest truth is that Black Doom consider humans to be an excellent energy source for the Black Arms, and needs the Chaos Emeralds for the Black Comet to arrive to the planet.
  • 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.
  • Tragic Hero: Throughout the game, Shadow has difficulties deciding which path to choose. He is unsure on whether to destroy the humans as revenge for murdering Maria, or if to keep his promise to her by protecting them.
  • True Final Boss: After completing each of the five final levels twice (by completing the "good" and "evil" objectives in those levels across multiple playthroughs), a final campaign and story is unlocked, culminating in this. It is Black Doom's One-Winged Angel form by the name of Devil Doom.
  • Undying Loyalty: In the Slighty Dark - Dark ending, Shadow declares that his purpose is to serve and protect Black Doom, having no mention of what he personally desires.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The Dark mission of Air Fleet requires Shadow to assassinate the President by destroying his escape pod. If this is done, the President is shown arriving alive at G.U.N.'s headquarters with the pod completely undamaged. The game never bothers to explain if the one targeted by the aliens was a decoy.
  • Unfortunate Names: Black Bull. It's an F-Zero reference but still.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • Some missions will become unbeatable if you missed something early on and didn't activate the stage's first checkpoint either.
    • In the fights with Sonic and Diablon, it's possible for Sonic to bounce off of you while doing a Homing Attack and fall off the stage. If he does so, he doesn't respawn, making it impossible to attack Diablon and thus forcing a restart.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Does Shadow actually learn anything about his past? The Emeralds always tell him a different story depending on which ending you've unlocked, as if his past is defined by whatever he's just learned about himself.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Shadow, by both Doom and Eggman who use him as a tool to further their plot for revenge against humanity and take over the world. Depending on which story ending you go for, this may or may not backfire.
  • 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 or shoot Cream if you're feeling particularly dastardly. Notably, the player's dark meter goes up extremely quickly if they do this.
    • 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.
  • Viewers Are Morons: The game never stops giving you tutorials about how to play it. Even in the Last Way, the very last level of the game, it still puts up messages on how to use basic mechanics like the homing attack.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Certain pathways have major characters that inexplicitly disappear from the story completely with no explanation or resolution. For example, the Pure Hero ending introduces the player to the GUN Commander, the President, and Eggman's subplot respectively. However, the former two completely vanish from the story after the halfway point, with the GUN Commander still believing Shadow is evil despite how much he's helped them, and he never actually confronts Shadow outside of Diablon and learns about his amnesia with the sole exception of the Semi-Hero route (meaning this plot point is never resolved on the Pure Hero route). Eggman, meanwhile, only appears for one level where Shadow helps Tails collect rings, and the whole thing has absolutely nothing to do with GUN or the alien invasion, while the doctor himself is completely forgotten about after the fact in favor of stopping Black Doom.
    • The most blatant example is the Neutral pathway, where both GUN and the Black Arms vanish completely from the story in favor of Shadow going after Eggman. Even after defeating Eggman, no explanation is made as to what happened with the other two sides, or how Shadow's actions play a part in it.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dark and edgy the game may be, but while tearing the Black Arms to pieces is fine you can only defeat human G.U.N. minions via Non-Lethal K.O.. The story also goes out of its way to mention that little, if any, casualties have occured despite the destruction of whole cities. The possible exception is the pilot of the Blue Falcon, who plummets offscreen in horror upon defeat.
  • 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 and that you'll often be required to destroy them to unlock the way foward.
    • Cryptic Castle features the Black Arms as the bad guys and Dr. Eggman's robots as the good guys, but Eggman is the Dark questgiver of the stage. So then he'll be constantly complaining about Shadow destroying his robots even though that is what gives points for the mission! Even worse, Amy (who's firmly on the side of good with Sonic and friends) will even yell at you for destroying them, so you'll have to hear your ally complain no matter which side you pick!
    • In a cutscene example, before the Sonic and Diablon boss fights, Sonic calls out Shadow for siding with the Black Arms. Subverted in the Pure Hero-Dark ending where Shadow clarifies that he's not siding with them, he just doesn't want to side with Sonic (although you still have to fight Diablon).
  • 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 Man: After defeating Sonic and Diablon in the Pure Hero - Dark Ending, Shadow proclaims himself as the most powerful hedgehog in the world with the power 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 who was like a sister to him.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: "The Doom" and "Lost Impact" take place as flashbacks, but Shadow can still manipulate his morality during these events.

Can you see all of me?
Walk into my mystery!
Step inside, and hold on for dear life!
Do you remember me?
Capture you or set you free?
I am all, I am all of me!

 
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Shadow betrays Black Doom

After the Hero Mission of GUN Fortress, Shadow turns against Black Doom, wanting the Chaos Emeralds for himself.

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