I DID NOT CREATE THIS THEORY! All credit goes to whoisthisgit on YouTube who came up with this. I am merely doing my own interpretation, but adding in my own understanding of it along with going into greater detail about certain things to make it more interesting. With all that said, let's get right into this. Enjoy!
Now I know what you're thinking: This can't be possible, right? Well, there's far more evidence than you might believe.
For those who are completely oblivious to what I'm talking about (Or just so happened to not have grown up in the 80s or 90s), Sonic The Hedgehog is Sega's video game mascot, in a manner of speaking. He's known to have many games over the years, the first few games he had being the most popular.
But what you probably don't know is that the first two Sonic games were not released on the Sega Genesis, at least not at first. This may come as a surprise to you, but the first two Sonic games were first released on the Sega Master System, and were soon remade for the Genesis (The Genesis versions being more well known).
But what if I told you, that the Master System and Genesis versions of Sonic 1 and 2 are in fact two separate universes? What if in one of those universes, the team of Sonic and Tails is split apart forever?
What if I told you that Tails...was dead?
Now, please don't crucify me for making such a bold claim right off the bat. It's obvious that Tails has appeared in so many Sonic games. So this couldn't possibly be the case...right?
Well, it's more likely than you think. First, let's back up and talk about the timeline that the Sonic games seemingly follow.
For those that grew up playing Sonic games, you'd assume that the chronological order for the games would be straightforward, right? We have Sonic 1, 2, 3 & Knuckles and finally the Sonic Adventure games. But what if I told you that the actual timeline wasn't so cut and dry? Could it be that Sonic 3 & Knuckles actually belongs to the 8-bit Sonic Universe instead? Let's find out.
So, for convenience sake, we'll refer to the Master System version of Sonic 1 and 2 as the Original Timeline, while the Genesis versions will be referred to as the Main Timeline. Now that we got that out of the way, let's begin.
Now, looking at Sonic 1, both the Original and Main Timelines have a very similar story to one another, in which Sonic comes to South Island to save the wildlife and defeat the evil Dr. Robotnik. However, that's where the similarities end for the most part. The means of which both timelines branch off is due to the setting in itself. While yes, both games take place in South Island, both timelines have South island depicted differently in appearance.
Also, in the Original Timeline, there are a multitude of zones that do not appear in the Main Timeline at all, making it clear that both timelines are in fact two different continuities altogether. The differences become far more apparent in Sonic 2, in which the story of that game is different in both timelines.
We all know the Main Timeline's story of Sonic 2, in which Tails joins Sonic in his adventure to stop Robotnik. However, the Original Timeline spoke differently. In this case, Tails is actually captured by Robotnik, and it's up to Sonic to save him.
Again, like in the previous game, Sonic 2 takes place on South Island in both Timelines. However, much like Sonic 1, Sonic 2 in the Original Timeline has even more zones never seen in the Main Timeline. You still with me? Good. If not, read over everything as many times as you need until it all makes sense to you.
Now, after Sonic 2, there were no more Sonic games made on the Sega Master System. But that doesn't mean the story of the Original Timeline was over. It's very likely that the Genesis continued where the Master System left off. What do I mean? Well, allow me to explain in a bit more detail.
Would it be safe to assume that Sonic 3 & Knuckles is merely the missing true Sonic 3 of the Original Timeline, and just so happened to be on the Genesis? Even more so by the fact that one of the endings of Sonic 2 in the Original Timeline correlates with this?
That's right, even during the time of the Master System, Sonic 2 had only two endings to its name. Though, in the case of the Main Timeline, there were more endings, and they all weren't that much different, if I recall correctly.
However, the Original Timeline had a completely different way of doing things. Both endings were vastly different. If you didn't get all of the Chaos Emeralds, you get the bad ending. In this ending, Sonic fails to save Tails and proceeds to return home. However, during that time, he notices a picture of Tails in the night sky. If that's not an implication of Tails being dead, I don't know what is.
So what if that bad ending was the canonical ending of Sonic 2 in the Original Timeline? Most, if not all games with good and bad endings usually have the good ending as the canonical one, meaning that Sonic saved Tails, and the two go on many adventures together...or did he?
One example I can potentially give for bad endings being canonical is from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. And we know that game wasn't as good as the first, or even as long for that matter. However, we know that the bad ending was used as an avenue for the only DLC released for the game.
Is it really so hard to believe that Sonic failed to get all of the Chaos Emeralds, leading to the death of his best friend? After all, the Master System version of Sonic 2 is a very difficult game in itself, or so I've heard. Every character has their limits, and Sonic is no exception. There's a good chance that Sonic failed to get the job done, and Sonic 3 happens to be when it begins to hit him hard.
So in Sonic 3, Robotnik is up to no good again. However, Sonic is alone now. Tails is gone forever, and Sonic hasn't gotten over it. He may be capable of hiding his pain from others, but that doesn't change the fact that he's a broken hedgehog.
Due to a lack of dialogue and Sonic's stoic nature, it is hard to believe that Sonic is trying to cope with Tails' death throughout the game. But that doesn't mean there aren't a fair amount of hints to his pain and anguish that make it plausible. In fact, almost all of the zones in Sonic 3 (Minus the last one) represent the five different stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
Denial - Angel Island
If we are to believe that Tails is dead before Sonic 3 happens, then that means the opening cutscene of the game is the start of Sonic going through Denial, as is the entirety of Angel Island Zone.
The first signs of Denial are shown by how the game's opening cutscene goes. We see Sonic flying on top of the Tornado, eventually turning into Super Sonic as he entered Angel Island. However, something about the cutscene seems off. For those who are completely unaware, Super Sonic is impervious to enemy attacks during gameplay. That would also include Knuckles' attacks as well. However, we see him get knocked out of Super Sonic and loses all of the emeralds. Which should be impossible, if it wasn't for the fact that Sonic thought he was Super Sonic at that moment.
So basically, everything in the opening cutscene up until Sonic is attacked by Knuckles is all just made up in his head because he denies that Tails is dead.
But wait, there's more! When reaching the first mid-boss of the game the first time around, the entirety of the jungle ends up on fire. While other people would be absolutely terrified by this, Sonic doesn't seem bothered by this at all. Another sign of Denial right there.
And thanks to being attacked by Knuckles suddenly, Sonic ends up falling into the next zone, in which he enters the next stage of Grief due to Sonic's reaction towards how hateful Knuckles is to someone he had only just met.
Anger - Hydrocity Zone
We all know that Sonic's greatest weakness is water. That much is obvious. So the fact that he's been put into another water-themed stage shouldn't be all that surprising. Especially since it reminds him of the many times in the past where he almost drowned in the previous games in the Original Timeline.
While Sonic is definitely angry at Knuckles for committing such a callous act towards him, it is still as likely that something else is making him angry. And it stems from the phrase "Anger born from fear".
The drowning theme in Sonic games is said to be the most terrifying track in all of gaming for a lot of people. And they will do anything to keep from hearing it. Sonic's fear of drowning is also the catalyst for his anger, since he likes to go fast. However, being underwater slows him down, which must be frustrating.
The most annoying thing in games for most people is losing control and feeling helpless. And that's definitely the case in Hydrocity Zone. Strong water currents forcing you to places you don't want to go, Knuckles dropping you into water without allowing you to fight back, Robotnik's whirlpool attack being inescapable the moment it sucks you in, etc.
After all of that, a giant pillar of water jettisoned Sonic out of Hydrocity Zone and into the sky. From there, he then lands into the next zone, thus setting him up for the next stage of Grief.
Bargaining - Marble Garden
In the zone, Sonic proceeds to helplessly fall into a number of very steep hills. Consider this to be a near-death experience that represents his further descent into grief and worrying about his own future.
At this point, Sonic is feeling vulnerable and regretful of his past mistakes. One of those mistakes being not collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds in Sonic 2 in the Original Timeline, which lead to Tails' death. Even though he can't change the past, he can at least attempt to get all the Chaos Emeralds to prevent his own death and extend his lifespan. A what a better way to do that than to turn into Super Sonic?
And fittingly enough, Marble Garden happens to have more Giant Rings and Special Stages than any other zone in the game, so it only makes sense that you would be given every chance possible to collect all of the Chaos Emeralds in this zone before fighting Robotnik. It gives Sonic plenty of chances to ease his guilt and pain, and do things right this time.
And then there's the fight with Robotnik at the end of Act 2 in the zone. There's a lot about it that seems wrong. First, Tails seemingly reappears to help Sonic fight Robotnik. Since we're to believe that Tails is dead, this should be impossible.
Second, Tails is able to fly forever in this battle, which is also impossible, as Tails has always had a limited amount of time in which he can fly. And finally, if you reach this boss battle as Super Sonic, you'd think the game would be programmed for Sonic to be flying himself to fight Robotnik (Instead, this happens at the end of Death Egg Zone in Sonic & Knuckles when you're able to collect all of the Super Emeralds). With all of that in mind, it's very likely that this is just a hallucination.
With the second point in mind, when people pass away, we tend to forget their flaws after enough time has passed and are left with only their positive aspects.
If anything, I see two other ways this fight could have gone that are more believable. Firstly, Sonic could have in fact fought Robotnik on the ground as per normal rather than in the air. Second, he could have turned into Super/Hyper Sonic and flew to face him, but only if you got all Chaos/Super Emeralds before the battle. Personally, I think the latter's more likely since Tails is but an illusion.
There's also the fact that when Sonic beats Robotnik again, the time of day shifts to nighttime, and he lands into Carnival Night Zone. This is something that could only be done as Super Sonic, as Tails is now dead.
Regardless, as Sonic enters the zone, he is now left to face Carnival Night and the worst Stage of Grief alone.
Depression - Carnival Night
As cheerful as the stage looks, things look grim for Sonic at this point. While yes, the upbeat music and visuals in the zone are meant to keep him happy, the night represents the darkness that looms over his own mind and heart.
Sonic is at his most miserable at this point. And it only gets worse over time, especially when Knuckles turns off the lights, making Sonic descend even further into depression. While he's able to improve his spirits slight by getting the lights back on, it won't prepare him for his biggest hurdle yet: The Barrel of Doom!
We all know the phrase, "It's gonna get worse before it gets better." Those that played Sonic 3 will know that the Barrel of Doom is the most infamous part of the game. Many players got stumped at this one section and had no idea how to get past it. But when the player (And in conjunction, Sonic) find out how to get past it, things will begin to get better over time. Perseverance is key.
From there, things start to look up for Sonic as he enter the next zone and enters the final stage of Grief: Acceptance.
Acceptance - Ice Cap Zone
Winter is usually seen as the season where everything dies. It's the harshest season out of the year, leading to many animals to hibernate and protect themselves from the dangers that come with it, including most hedgehogs. However, Sonic is no ordinary hedgehog. To put it lightly, Sonic stares death in the face and laughs.
At this point, Sonic is ignoring the dangers he's facing and chooses to have fun. Snowboarding down a mountain, riding an ice block through a deadly cavern, etc. Sonic now has very little regard for his own safety. This implies that he no longer fears death and has finally accepted Tails' passing. Now, he can continue living life to the fullest as ever.
But What About Launch Base Zone?
Don't worry, there's an explanation that goes along with this as well.
Obviously, Sonic's job isn't over yet. Now that he's accepted Tails' death, he can focus on taking out Robotnik for good. However, there's still some lingering doubt and guilt still within him. And since this is a Boss Rush zone, in a manner of speaking, this gives Sonic a chance to end everything, at least as far as Sonic 3 is concerned.
Once Sonic defeats Robotnik for the last time in Sonic 3, the Death Egg flies into the air and explodes. Robotnik is now defeated, Sonic's remaining doubt and guilt now fading along with the night sky. His fears are gone, and Tails' ghost has finally moved on to the afterlife.
And Then There's Sonic & Knuckles...
Now that Sonic is no longer focusing on the death of his best friend, he can focus on living out the rest of his life. And while the pain will never leave Sonic's heart, he can now cope with his grief. But of course, the battle isn't over yet. Robotnik is still a threat, as is Knuckles. One way or another, he'd finish the job. And since we're introduced to Hyper Sonic in this game, and only this game, it could be assumed that this was meant to be the final game in the Original Timeline.
And as the years pass, I am positive that he still has a lot of love to give. coughSonicUndergroundcough
Now, some of you might just dismiss this theory because there's no direct evidence that connects Sonic 3 with the Master System counterparts of the previous games. And I agree. But there's also no direct evidence that Sonic 3 isn't connected with these games either. If you are actually willing to give the benefit of the doubt, looking at everything I've presented, I hope you come to the conclusion that this theory makes sense, at the very least being plausible.
There's also the fact that Tails is in fact playable in both games, which would probably blow this theory out of the water. However, most people will probably play the games on their own as Sonic. And if you do that with the mindset I've given you, I'm sure you'd find the theory much more likely.
And probably the biggest thing that could debunk this theory is with the ending of Sonic 3 & Knuckles when you play as Sonic (It doesn't really matter if you collect all the Chaos/Super Emeralds as the ending is more or less the same minus what happens after the credits and if you caught the Master Emerald or not). In this ending, you can see Hyper Sonic flying back down to the planet, the Master Emerald in hand. When suddenly, you land right on the Tornado, piloted by none other than Tails, who caught the Master Emerald using the plane.
So, how would I justify this? Well, I can't say it's a hallucination again. That would be redundant. So, I have two ways, and both of them don't work completely:
1. Reconsider this entire theory as Sonic only presuming Tails to be dead since he failed to save him, and was able to come back last minute and help Sonic. But how he got the Tornado to begin with is still a mystery.
2. If this theory were to be true, then I would definitely go so far as to say that this is a plot hole. Sonic could have only brought the Master Emerald back himself via flying as Hyper Sonic since he didn't have access to the Tornado.
However, if one were to overlook that particular detail and believe the second means of justifying that moment, how would I justify Sonic getting his hands on the Tornado in Knuckles' ending, if everything I've brought up is to be believed? Well, as far as that is concerned...
But anyway, that is the entire theory, guys. It was a long one, I know, but I thank you for giving this a read either way.
Credit to whoisthisgit once more for creating this theory. You can watch the original video below (Pinkie Pie in the video's thumbnail is irrelevant, BTW):
I honestly loved this theory, but I felt there were certain things that weren't focused on that I myself wanted to add in for the sake of credibility and extra plausibility of this theory. I honestly loved writing this, and I hope you all liked what I did. And hopefully it changes your perspective on Sonic The Hedgehog.
I wouldn't be surprised if you guys were like "Good riddance" and what not. XD
So, what did you think of this theory? Were there things that I missed (Whether it be from Sonic 3 or Sonic & Knuckles) that would potentially debunk this theory? Do you have any more evidence that I might have overlooked that could make this theory all the more plausible? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
But anyway, that is everything for today guys. Thanks again for giving this a read, and I will catch you guys later. Peace. Out! ;)