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Even while doing laps between big-time movie sequels, Sonic the Hedgehog still has plenty of juice to make a much-welcome pit stop as the star of his own new Netflix series. Sonic Prime arrives today at the streamer as the latest TV take on SEGA’s hallowed hedgehog hero, debuting a bonkers-sounding multiverse setup that only an adrenalized athlete like Sonic could handle.
Featuring Deven Mack as our titular top ‘hog, Sonic Prime brings Sonic and pals up against Doctor Eggman (Brian Drummond) and a new spacetime rift that opens up a portal into a problematic new multi-dimension called the “Shatterverse.” But as we’ve seen before in both the movies and on TV, Sonic’s not about to let being stranded far from home slow him down. After all, there’s a whole animated universe to save, spacetime to contain, and — most importantly — a reunion to make with friends before his memory fades from their Eggman-altered existence.
If the past three decades of Sonic TV has taught us anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as too much of SEGA’s speedy blue streak. That’s why we’re ringing in the Dec. 15 launch of Sonic Prime with a nostalgic tour through the small-screen Sonic series that’ve come before, counting down to our pick for the very best Sonic the Hedgehog animated show of them all.
So let's lace up and get set for a race down memory lane…and see how your Sonic favorites stack up.
5. Sonic Underground (1999-2000)
This turn-of-the-millennium animated series was the third TV outing for SEGA’s blue mascot, and between that and the games, most fans already had plenty of preconceived ideas about the way Sonic’s story-verse was supposed to work. But the cool thing about Sonic Underground is the way it reimagined the basic moving parts of Sonic lore that had come before. Running for a single 40-episode season, Sonic Underground featured a story that strapped Sonic with a pair of siblings (Sonia and Manic), sent them on a search for their mother (Queen Aleena), and set Doctor Robotnik at the head of a wild alternate Sonic-verse tale laced with prophecy, politics, and mechanical baddies whose mission was to keep the Queen and her three offspring from rising to their foretold royal station. Even by Sonic standards, it’s offbeat and just a little bit weird — but that’s also what makes Sonic Underground an endearing fit within SEGA’s ever-expanding hedgehog media kingdom.
4. Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (1993–1996)
One of two more or less concurrently running Sonic series to feature Family Matters main man Jaleel White as the voice of the titular blue speedster, Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog is a total comfort-food vibe compared with the more story-focused Sonic The Hedgehog, the other White-voiced Sonic series that also arrived in 1993. Adventures is totally the Sonic and Tails show, with a free-flowing episodic setup that was more about just sitting back and watching the dynamic duo do their daily thing than edging the plot along with ever-higher stakes over the course of the single-season series’ 65 total episodes. Lighthearted, lore-faithful, and punctuated in every episode with a “Sonic Says” PSA segment to encourage young viewers to be their best, Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had the familiar and fun feel of even older Saturday morning serials — which in hindsight, makes it one of the franchise’s most nostalgic and accessible TV ‘toons.
3. Sonic X (2003-2006)
Sonic X amped up the art style and threw a ton of both familiar and new characters into the mix for a unique, anime-inspired take on what’s essentially a classic tale of Chaos Emeralds, teleportation, and teamwork. An early emerald mishap on their home planet drags Sonic, Doctor Eggman, and literally every other friend and foe in Sonic’s circle all the way to Earth, setting up a killer tension as Chris Thorndyke — Sonic’s new, 12-year-old human pal in their California landing spot — tries to keep a lid on all the imported alien-animal mayhem that’s plopped down in his family’s backyard. Having humans along for the ride added a new dimension to Sonic’s find-a-way-home tale, as did the enormous gaggle of creatures: Sonic X made space for a full constellation of SEGA standouts, including Knuckles, Tails, Amy Rose, Big the Cat, Rouge the Bat, and tons more.
2. Sonic Boom (2014-2017)
Until Netflix came along this year with Sonic Prime, Sonic Boom was the latest and greatest evolved TV look for our fleet-footed hero, racing across a pair of sprawling seasons with an updated CGI style that aligns, more or less, with what fans of the also-evolving video games had seen. But there’s more to Boom than cartoon tech: The 104-episode series featured a surprisingly deep voice cast (anchored by Resident Evil veteran Roger Craig Smith as Sonic himself); one that deftly balanced the franchise’s fast-falling cascade of smarty-pants wisecracks with well-defined character traits that instinctively oriented viewers and lent Boom an easy accessibility — even to Sonic newcomers. The gang mostly grappled with story-of-the-week problems rather than an overarching serial plot, but it all felt apt for the show’s imaginative, breezy Seaside Island setting, replete with video game-style areas that expanded the show’s eye candy…even as Doctor Eggman and a whole menagerie of new and returning baddies kept things interesting.
1. Sonic The Hedgehog (1993-1994)
We think the original 1990s Sonic series is still the toughest one to topple: Nearly 30 years after its 1993 debut, Sonic the Hedgehog still checks all the boxes that continue to make SEGA’s prickly, perked-up mascot stand out. All the early elements that still define the franchise are well served in the original Sonic TV series, grounded by a two-season plot that, while ending on a cliffhanger, nevertheless plied some pretty serious and even dark story territory that later Sonic shows weren’t always ambitious enough to tackle.
The show served up an origin story of sorts for the evil Doctor Robotnik, putting our Jaleel White-voiced hero on the offensive alongside a team of “freedom fighters” to defend their conquered home of Mobotropolis — a remarkably gloomy, doomy place thanks to Robotnik’s dystopian, industrialist vision of what it means to rule with a robot-fisted army. By 1990s standards, Sonic The Hedgehog looked and felt like a premium product, airing at ABC in the time-honored Saturday morning slot where all great cartoons once roamed. If there’s a downside, it’s that the network hedged (so to speak) on following through to the end, deciding against a Season 3 that might’ve offered definitive closure for the show’s escalating story stakes.
Looking to watch another video game adaptation? Stream Warcraft on Peacock.