Sonic the Hedgehog’s social media shares an adorable image to celebrate New Year’s Day that hides a surprisingly morbid detail.
One major Sonic the Hedgehog character may have met an ultimately demise, if a New Year’s Day image shared by the franchise’s Twitter page is any indication. Although almost assuredly not a serious plot point, it’s both darkly humorous and a deep-cut reference to one of Sonic’s very first games.
While the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise is typically not known for a mature plot, its characters have sometimes found themselves in mortal peril. For example, the most recent mainline game, Sonic Forces, implies that thousands of soldiers perish during the fight to reclaim the world from the grasp of Eggman. A more direct example comes from the infamous 2006 game Sonic the Hedgehog, where Sonic is shot and killed by a laser on-screen. It doesn’t stick, though; Sonic ends up revived thanks to the power of the Chaos Emeralds, and his death ends up erased from the timeline.
The new Sonic image contains many nods to Sonic’s past, but the most jarring is the apparent death of Miles “Tails” Prower, Sonic’s much-loved genius sidekick. It appears that Tails experienced severe motion sickness from a fast-paced amusement park ride, with unfortunate results. He appears slumped over, with crossed-out eyes and his soul flying out of his body. The other characters enjoying the same ride appear to be perfectly fine, so Tails is probably especially sensitive.
The Tails-shaped constellation in the sky may be especially alarming for fans familiar with the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which has a separate story from the better-known 16-bit version. While other 8-bit Sonic games get more attention for fun gameplay, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is infamous for its ominous bad ending. At the start of the game, Eggman kidnaps Tails and demands Sonic bring him the Chaos Emeralds in exchange for Tails’ freedom. If Sonic does not collect the Chaos Emeralds, the game ends with Sonic running alone under a starry sky that features a ghostly image of Tails, implying his sidekick had been killed.
Still, fans of Tails shouldn’t be too worried. For one, the image is clearly not intended to be canon; for example, it’s hard to believe Eggman would serve as a carnival vendor in plain sight of his nemesis. For another, the image doesn’t take place in any known location from the Sonic universe. While the festive winter carnival bears a passing resemblance to White Park Zone, a level from Sonic the Hedgehog 4, it also mixes and matches details from other iconic levels, like Sonic Mania‘s Mirage Saloon Zone.
Apart from Tails, the New Year’s Day image features more clever callbacks to obscure Sonic trivia. For example, Amy Rose can be seen providing a tarot card reading to Ray the Flying Squirrel. While some might think this is a nod to tarot cards in recent games like Cyberpunk 2077, the Japanese manual for 1993’s Sonic CD mentions that Amy is a fan of fortune-telling. The most obscure reference of all is likely the appearance of Honey the Cat, a partially-incomplete fighter found within the the files of the game Sonic the Fighters, as Tails’ seatmate on the ride. Perhaps fans should take Honey’s lead in enjoying New Year’s Day, rather than concerning themselves with Tails.
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