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Sonic 2’s post-credits scene brings back a long-lost rival

A quick Sonic 3 teaser hints at who might replace Jim Carrey in the sequel

Image: Paramount Pictures
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is in theaters, and the blue hedgehog has officially been reunited with his fox pal Tails and the burly red echidna Knuckles on the big screen. The second iteration of the live-action movie series follows Sonic as he squares up against Knuckles and Jim Carrey’s absurd Dr. Ivo Robotnik, aka Dr. Eggman. Director Jeff Fowler and the writing team served up more than enough Knuckles and Tails to steal the show from Sonic, but in the post-credits scene, they go further, teasing a new character from the games and hinting at what’s next for the franchise.

[Ed. note: Spoilers ahead for Sonic the Hedgehog 2.]

At the end of the film, Sonic and friends kick Robotnik’s butt once again, and they agree to forge a new order to protect the Chaos Emeralds. But a post-credits scene shows one character who might be able to stand up to the indomitable heroes: Shadow the Hedgehog.

Is Shadow the Hedgehog in Sonic 2?

Just for a moment. In a mid-credits scene, the movie cuts to a high-ranking FBI agent who mentions a secret government project. Then the camera flashes to a high-tech, windowless lab and a cinematic tease of Shadow the Hedgehog. We don’t get a particularly long look, but it’s enough to show us what he’ll look like in Sonic 3. He rocks his classic black-and-red design. He looms over the lab in a giant test tube, and as the camera focuses in on his eyes, they glow gold with power.

Who is Shadow the Hedgehog?

Shadow the Hedgehog is an antagonist from the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series. He’s the series’ “anti-Sonic,” created by Gerald Robotnik (Dr. Eggman’s grandfather) as part of the ambitious world-improving Project Shadow. Shadow first appears in 2001’s Sonic Adventure 2 game, which was initially released on the Sega Dreamcast, and then re-released on the Nintendo GameCube as Sonic Adventure 2 Battle.

Shadow is first introduced after Dr. Eggman releases him from a top-secret government facility. In Sonic Adventure 2, we get to see the story from multiple characters’ perspectives, and Shadow grapples with his fraying memory of his friend Maria Robotnik, Gerald’s granddaughter. He’s since become a staple of the series, and he’s a playable character in Sonic spin-offs like Sonic Riders. In 2005, he got his own game, Shadow the Hedgehog, in which he uncovers the origins of his being.

What do we know about Sonic 3?

There’s still a lot we don’t know about the third Sonic movie. Paramount confirmed that it’s green-lit a third installment to the live-action Sonic movies, with a planned release window of February 2023. But Jim Carrey recently said he might retire from acting after Sonic 2, and even within the recent movie, the future of Dr. Robotnik is uncertain. In Sonic 2, Sonic uses the power of the Master Emerald to smash a giant evil mech to pieces, and we see Dr. Robotnik fall and disappear into the rubble at the end. If Carrey doesn’t return, that would leave a wide open space for Shadow as the movie’s next antagonist.

In a recent interview, Sonic 2 director Jeff Fowler told Polygon about the planned dynamic for Sonic and Shadow in the third film. He said that while everything is in its early stages, Shadow is just a “totally a different character” when compared to Knuckles or Tails. Speaking via Zoom, he said, “I think what fans respond to about him is that he’s a bit more no-nonsense, and definitely very in contrast to the other characters.” Shadow’s presence does suggest a possible new tone for Sonic 3: It wouldn’t make sense to apply the sort of fish-out-of-water humor used with Knuckles to Shadow.

Fowler says teasing Shadow at the end of Sonic 2 was an exciting callback for him. In 2005, he worked on the cinematics for the 2005 video game Shadow the Hedgehog. “It’s amazing to come full circle,” he said. “We were so proud of the cinematics that we created for the game. And it was just three shots at the end of this film, but getting to do a cinematic tease for him was just a dream come true.”