With the advent of 3D gaming, something was made possible that we had yet to see much of in a Sonic game... character development. In the Adventure games, and a few others, we saw some bold new steps taken with certain characters. We saw them pushed in new directions, and who knows where they could wind up if allowed to continue along this path? Unfortunately, when 06 came around, Sonic Team threw that out the window. It was pretty much the last game that showed any of the characters doing things that could still surprise us. After that, the writers sorta just... gave up and trapped most of these characters in some sort of purgatory where they never change and only appear in a story as fanservice for those who want to see those characters appear in a game, and NOT to actually contribute something inspired or meaningful to the story. They don't really do anything, they're just... THERE. Characters can't exist in a vacuum where nothing new ever happens to them. They need to grow, they need to change. No, this is not as simple as having a character switch sides or something like that. They have to become something bigger than whatever they used to be, to have a greater presence. I'll give some examples of how certain characters could've developed had the writers not locked them all in this state from which they may never advance. Tails- In Sonic Adventure, Tails had a lot of potential as a hero, and near the end of his character arc, he manned up and saved the day without any help from Sonic, defeating Eggman in battle. In Sonic Adventure 2, he basically organized the plan to shut down the Eclipse Cannon and became about as competent as we'd ever see him being. In HEROES, THEY TOTALLY THREW THAT OUT THE WINDOW. In that game, he was a nasally, helpless little twerp who was lucky to have his buddies Sonic and Knuckles there to save his tail(s). Sure, he was the strongest character GAMEPLAY wise, once fully leveled up, but in terms of storytelling, all the character development of the Adventure games was undone. Sure, he's been helpful to varying degrees since then, and we haven't seen any interpretation of him that could be called quite as offensive as that of Heroes after that, but honestly, "threw together a translator thingamabob that never really worked until the final cutscene" seems like a bit of a step down from "made a counterfeit chaos emerald that could shut down a space station and backfire an Earth shattering doomsday weapon", doesn't it? Hell, at the rate he was growing up, HE could be the leader of a freedom fighters-esque team of his own someday. Amy- When we first see Amy in CD, she's just a dumb little fangirl who's probably heard lots and lots of stories about Sonic and wants to meet him. One day, he just HAPPENS to come her way and she's like "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOMAGEEERRRRDISSOAWNEEEEE~K" and seemingly moments later, Metal Sonic nabs her, and Sonic takes responsibility for endangering her and saves her... though it was mostly her fault. When we see her in Sonic Adventure, she's a little older, a little tougher, a little more independent. She does get nabbed again later on, but with a little help from Gamma, she breaks out and has some wacky adventures of her own. By the time her story arc was over, she'd gone from damsel in distress and ass (is it okay for me to say that here or will I get banned for that?) kisser, to independent butt kicker! How she could be developed further- Sadly, it was mainly SA2 that really made Amy regress. Sure, she helped near the very end of the game, but for the entire game leading up to her scene with Shadow.... she didn't actually CONTRIBUTE anything to the story. Her role was exactly what we see a lot of in later Sonic games. She was just.... THERE, for the sake of it. At this point, there is NOTHING special about her character. She's just a screechy, annoying little moeblob who follows Sonic around endlessly and is there for no reason other than to cater to weeaboos who think that's all it takes to make a good character. She's been this way for a long while, and may never grow as a character beyond being "kawaii", as if that's a legit character trait. I wanna see her grow MORE independent and tough! I wanna see her on more adventures of her own, actually... you know.... HELPING Sonic! I want her to stop TRYING to woo and impress Sonic, and actually DO something that would give him any reason TO be impressed! The closest we ever came to seeing this sort of development was... well.... that one scene in 06. You know, the scene where she defends Sonic from Silver. Yeah, her character was still samey throughout the rest of the story, but that one scene was cool. Oh, and her part of the Final stage, where she faced almost impossible odds against overwhelmingly terrifying enemies in one last bid to save the one who inspired her to become this strong was cool too. Too bad it's kinda, you know, NON CANON. Oh, well. Knuckles- Now, sadly, there just isn't much we can do here. Knuckles' story has pretty much ended. His story was in Sonic 3K, and Sonic Adventure 1, since that resolved a lot of things that started with S3K. I mean come on, the whole game seems to center around the past of his people, the presence of the emeralds, all that stuff. After SA2, what more is there to do with him? He was a cool character in the Adventure games, and Heroes, but as soon as the 4Kids VAs came around, he became a dimwitted lumox who's constantly losing that darn Master Emerald, or just neglecting to watch it entirely, leaving his shrine behind for entire games at a time. He isn't the brightest guy out there, sure, but he isn't downright dumb... or at least, he SHOULDN'T be. Now, he's only there to be "that guy who's dumber than the rest and gets angry and gruff all the time and is funny because of that". How degrading. It's implied that when he goes "out for lunch", he summons Chaos to guard the Master Emerald in his place for a little while, but still... How he could be developed- Here's an idea- If you want him to leave Angel Island, have there be a REALLY good reason for it. Let's say something terrible happened to it or the Master Emerald itself that rendered the island unable to fly at all anymore? What if it fell in the ocean and there was nothing more he could do about it, and as a result, had to move on, and decided to explore the rest of the world? What if Robotnik or some other villain just obliterated it overnight and Knuckles went on a quest to find whoever's responsible for this? I dunno... there really isn't much that can be done with him, but I'd rather see him go do his own thing than just have him hang around Sonic to make Sonic look smarter by comparison. Rouge- When she first appeared, there was no telling when she may stab the other characters in the back. She was suspicious. She was a potential threat to be wary of. After a while, though, that was sort of dropped and we never saw that side of her again, unless it was for the sake of weaseling something she wanted out of another character. She still screws them over sometimes, in little ways, but seems to have an understanding with Sonic and co., now. Like so many other characters, she doesn't really ADD anything at this point. She's just there to take up space. How she could be developed- Why not have her start acting friendlier with Sonic and his friends? Not flirty, I mean acting like she actually kinda... cares. It's the only thing that can really be done with her, now that she isn't an enemy of their's. This could easily be done in little ways. For example, what if she was, for whatever reason, drawn to a character like Tails and became more nurturing and supportive of him? Like, let's say there's a scene where the increasingly competent Tails comes up with a brilliant plan to save the day like he would've in Adventure 2, and she praises him for it, maybe becomes a little protective of him in the field, becoming something of a nanny or a surrogate auntie to him? It may sound incredibly silly, but they could do SOMETHING like that to show some sign that she might genuinely give a crap about Sonic and so on and isn't just using them somehow or waiting to use them. If not that, well, then what is she even doing here? Robotnik- Robotnik's a great villain. He's actually changed a lot over the years, for better or worse, but at this point, we've pretty much seen everything he can do, unless the writers come up with something bold and new that totally hasn't been seen before. Here's an idea. Why not make a story that begins with him acting as villainous as usual, maybe terrorizing an island and burning down villages, and taking over with his robots and all the usual stuff, which convinces Sonic that he's up to no good again. However, at some point later in the story, we find out that Robotnik is actually trying to SAVE the world for once. Let's say there's some impending disaster that's totally out of his control and he's desperately trying to stop it from happening, but he doesn't mind burning a few bridges or terrorizing a few people to get the job done, and that you, in trying to stop him, are just putting the world as a whole in trouble. THAT would be interesting. Sonic- At this point, Sonic's character has grown rather stale. The way he talks and acts just makes him seem like some guy who never quite grew up and is forever stuck in that college fratboy mentality. Basically, he acts like a manchild. Now, regardless of how old he actually IS, that's just how he FEELS. And it's not in that loveable, endearing way that a character like Goku is. It's just an obnoxious, boisterous sort of manchild that SHOULD'VE made his classic self cringe at some point or other in Sonic Generations. How he... COULD'VE been developed. Had Shadow died for real at the end of SA2, Sonic would be forced to come to grips with the reality that he and his friends are never really safe. Even seemingly unstoppable super-beings like Shadow could be killed at the drop of a hat, and so, Sonic realizes that he can't be so cocky and nonchalant about everything from now on. I'm not saying he has to act dead serious about everything, basically becoming a fusion of himself and Shadow, just.... smarter, and less hammy. It appeared as if Chip was going to to be the catalyst for this in Unleashed, but sadly, subsequent games have made that redundant. Omega- Now, say what you will, but I actually LIKE Omega as a character. We don't really see them doing much of anything with him, though. There's not much I can say about him, but I would like to see him get his own personalized story arc, in which he's out to prove himself as the greatest of Robotnik's machines, taking down massive bosses and letting out one liners like "It's all garbage" or "Your success is utterly improbable". I'd like to see him eventually break away from this, though, and find his own identity, not to be Gamma's replacement or whatever. Now, as I alluded to, Sonic 2006 was the last game that had significant character development... at least for some of the characters. Take Shadow's story, for example. We haven't talked about him yet much, have we? He, Rouge and Omega really shined. Rouge's proven loyalty to Shadow, showing that she basically sees him as her best friend, and Omega's loyalty to the both of them was really moving, and they just had a much stronger presence than that of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. By simple comparison, the latter's time together really was just kid's stuff. So, why is that? Because Team Dark actually managed to CONTRIBUTE something new and interesting and MEANINGFUL to the story. You can't just have characters there for the sake of having an appearance and not have them DO anything. They've gotta move forward into bold new territory, find their own path, which WAS happening in 06. It doesn't seem like Shadow's story, Rouge's story, or Omega's story can go anywhere, but that game proved that it could! It showed that there WERE still new things that could be done, that they didn't have to just act the same all the time. ALL the characters should be treated this way, or not even be there at all. Let's face it, though. 06 is worthless, otherwise. After 06 bombed, they totally gave up on this whole "character development" thing, you know? We may never see these characters grow beyond the confines that have been placed around them, forever locked in this purgatory of nothingness. Whether you like these characters or not is irrelevant. There's more to this than that. There could be SO MUCH MORE.