Shadow the Hedgehog is a recurring character in the Sonic the Hedgehog video games and other related media. First appearing in Sonic Adventure 2 in 2001 on the Sega Dreamcast, he has since become one of the franchise's most recognized and popular characters. He has been both an enemy and ally to the heroic Sonic and while their abilities are very similar, their personalities couldn't be more different.
Shadow is not like the other anthropomorphic animals of Sonic's universe; he was genetically engineered by humans and designed to be the "ultimate life-form", being ageless and immortal and possessing extraordinary powers and fighting abilities. Though essentially created to be a perfect living weapon, Shadow is still a sentient being and is capable of making his own choices. For now, his interests lie with protecting humanity and so he currently works as a special agent for the global peacekeeping force G.U.N.
Shadow the Hedgehog was created by Professor Gerald Robotnik, the greatest scientific mind of his day. Prof. Gerald was being backed by the United Federation military and had devised Project: Shadow as a means of developing a cure for Neural Immuno-Defficiency Syndrome, a disease afflicting his granddaughter Maria. However, the military were more interested in acquiring a new weapon and back the professor for just that purpose.
Prof. Gerald's initial experiments failed, but his research would advance after he was contacted by the alien Black Doom, who provided Gerald with a sample of his blood. In exchange, Black Doom demanded that he use Shadow to acquire the seven Chaos Emeralds when the Black Comet next passed over Earth. The professor did not trust the malevolent alien and so he took steps to ensure that Shadow would be able to resist Black Doom when he returned, installing emergency programs aboard the Space Colony ARK and leaving secure messages for Shadow to find informing him of his intention for Shadow to correct his past errors.
Shortly after Shadow's creation, the Guardian Units of Nations (G.U.N.) deemed Project: Shadow as a threat to humanity and forcibly shut down the ARK and all of Prof. Gerald's research. Gerald was captured, his colleagues and even his granddaughter were all killed, and Shadow was ejected from the colony in a capsule. The capsule would fall to Earth and Shadow would be recovered by G.U.N. who then forced the captive Gerald to make adjustments to his creation so that it could be easily controlled. However, following Maria's death, Gerald had descended into madness and became concerned only for revenge against the ungrateful human race that had ruined his life and his work. Gerald was able to complete his work on Shadow before he was executed and Shadow was placed in cryogenic stasis where he would remain for 50 years.
Sonic Adventure 2
Almost fifty years after the shutdown of the ARK, Shadow was released from stasis by Prof. Gerald's grandson Doctor Ivo Robotnik, aka Dr. Eggman. Eggman intended to use Shadow to conquer the world and Shadow seemingly pledged himself to the doctor in gratitude for awakening him. Together with jewel thief Rouge the Bat, Shadow and Eggman went about gathering the Chaos Emeralds and taking them to the ARK where they were plugged into the Eclipse Cannon, a massive energy weapon that harnessed Chaos energy and was capable of destroying an entire planet.
Though Shadow claimed to be aiding Eggman's plans for world domination, he was actually being compelled by false memories implanted by Prof. Gerald and sought to avenge his lost friend Maria by destroying the planet. Despite the efforts of Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends, the Chaos Emeralds were brought together aboard the ARK, triggering a hidden program left behind by Gerald before his death. The core of the Eclipse Cannon was overloaded and the colony's orbit collapsed, causing it to descend on a collision course with the Earth that would shatter the planet.
Sonic and friends allied with Dr. Eggman to try and stop the ARK's impact with the planet and Amy Rose even managed to convince Shadow of the futility of his quest for revenge and that the safety and happiness of the humans on the planet below were worth fighting for. Shadow recalled the true final words Maria spoke to him and realised that she would have wanted him to protect the world, not destroy it.
Shadow joined Sonic and the others as they tried to get the Master Emerald to the Eclipse Cannon's core in order to nullify the power of the Chaos Emeralds, but their progress was impeded by the Biolizard, the ultimate life-form prototype Prof. Gerald had made before Shadow. Shadow fought the Biolizard and seemingly defeated it, but the creature used Chaos Control to warp itself on to the outside of the ARK and fuse itself to it, keeping the colony on its collision course. At that point, Shadow and Sonic absorbed the energy of the Chaos Emeralds themselves and transformed into their Super forms, attacking the Finalhazard and destroying it. They then combined their power to warp the ARK back into its original orbit, thus saving the Earth, but Shadow became exhausted after the battle and he fell to Earth, presumably dying during re-entry.
Shadow survived planetfall following the ARK battle and at some point was recovered by Dr. Eggman. He was placed in stasis and allowed to heal while Eggman experimented with the possibility of controlling him, but the doctor's research apparently ended in failure and so he was left inside the pod when Eggman later abandoned his laboratory.
Rouge the Bat would later discover the abandoned lab where Shadow was stored, believing that Eggman had left behind some secret treasure. She discovered Shadow and released him, also inadvertantly reactivating one of Eggman's discarded robots, E-123 Omega, which attacked. A brief fight ensued between Shadow and Omega, but Rouge was able to break them up. Shadow then revealed that he couldn't remember anything about his past and Omega sought revenge against Dr. Eggman for abandoning him, and so Rouge proposed that they all work together to find the doctor. Thus, Team Dark was formed.
Shadow brought his super-speed and acrobatic fighting skills to Team Dark, which proved to be invaluable to the group's search for Dr. Eggman. When they caught up to the doctor, they also discovered a series of stasis pods aboard the flagship of the Egg Fleet, each containing an android replica of Shadow. Rouge was concerned that the Shadow that had accompanied her might also be an android, but Omega assured her that the original Shadow must still exist somewhere.
After helping Sonic and his friends defeat the rampaging Metal Sonic, the members of Team Dark went their separate ways. Shadow remained lost and confused, uncertain of who he was and what he was meant to do.
Shadow the Hedgehog
Fifty years after Shadow's creation, the Earth was invaded by the Black Arms. Shadow, still suffering from amnesia, is unconcerned for the humans as they are attacked by the aliens. However, he is contacted by Black Doom who informs Shadow that he knows about the amnesiac hedgehog's past and will reveal what he knows if Shadow finds the Chaos Emeralds and delivers them to him.
Shadow is uncertain if he can trust Black Doom, but believes that the seven Chaos Emeralds are the key to finding the answers he seeks and so sets out to collect them. As he searches for the gems, he finds himself being dragged into the war for Earth by the various parties involved: the Black Arms, G.U.N., Sonic and his friends and even the Eggman Empire. Though Shadow fights for each side at different points, he eventually recovers the Chaos Emeralds and delivers them to the Black Comet.
After Black Doom claims the emeralds for himself, he reveals that Shadow was created using Black Doom's own blood, making him a Black Arm by extension. However, a recording left behind by Prof. Gerald revealed that he had intended for Shadow to protect the Earth and that he wanted Shadow to use the Eclipse Cannon aboard the ARK to destroy the Black Comet.
Shadow resisted Black Doom's attempts to control him and transformed into Super Shadow. In his Super state, Shadow battled against Devil Doom and defeated him, thwarting his plan to harvest Earth's population as food for the Black Arms. He then used Chaos Control to warp the Black Comet back into space and used the Eclipse Cannon to blow up the comet, ending the Black Arms threat forever.
During the final battle, Dr. Eggman also admitted to Shadow that he was, in fact, the real ultimate life-form and not one of the doctor's Shadow Androids. After this, Shadow decided to put his past behind him and move on.
Ever since the Black Arms invasion, Shadow has become a special agent for G.U.N. and works alongside Rouge and Omega as part of Team Dark. The trio continue to serve in this fashion and Shadow has still had various encounters with Sonic and enjoys a friendly rivalry with him.
Shadow is calm, soft-spoken and brooding. He doesn't like to socialise and distances himself from everyone around him. He has no interest in friends and generally cares little about the needs of others. While cold and moody, Shadow can also be snobbish and arrogant. He was designed to be the Ultimate Lifeform and he regularly reminds others of that fact. His arrogance would seem to be justified, however, as he has performed several feats of extraordinary power and survived at least one certain-death situation. He has also proven to be aggressive and even merciless on occasion.
Powers and abilities
- Super Speed - Shadow is capable of running at incredible speeds and can perform a number of acrobatic stunts and techniques. In terms of speed, he is even capable of matching Sonic.
- Durability - Shadow has a very dense physical makeup and has been shown to be bulletproof as well as being unfazed by various other attacks.
- Chaos Powers - Shadow is capable of harnessing Chaos energy to perform a number of awesome techniques. His most well-known Chaos powers are the Chaos Spear, a projectile that can stun or kill enemies, and Chaos Control, which allows Shadow to teleport and manipulate time and space around him. These powers are increased exponentially when Shadow has a Chaos Emerald in his possession.
- Immortality - Shadow was created to be self-sustaining; he does not grow old and cannot die a natural death, and there is very little that is capable of killing him.
- Super Form - By absorbing the power of all seven Chaos Emeralds, Shadow can transform into Super Shadow. In this form, all of his abilities are magnified to phenomenal levels and he also gains the power of flight. He is completely invincible in this state.