The Spin: The Freedom Fighters are Gone (and That’s Okay)

Before you send me a ton of hate mail, let me explain.

First, we gotta go back to the beginning of cartoon adaptions of video games. It wasn’t always easy to do. In the early days of video games you had a protagonist that you played as, an antagonist but no real story tying them together. If there was one, it was VERY bare bones. With very little to go on so the cartoon creators had to come up with some kind of plot that could play for 13 episodes on a Saturday morning.

Look at Pac-Man. How do you make a cartoon based on a series of games where the protagonist is a yellow ball that eats tiny, white dots in a maze while being chased by ghosts? If you’re Hanna Barbera, you rip off one of your own properties (The Flintstones) and make it about a family man who’s trust trying to get through his daily life while being chased by ghost-monsters who are trying to find the power-pellet forest because that’s the only thing they’re weak against. Somehow, that was enough for a few seasons and a Christmas special. That’s just one example. There was all kinds of crazy cartoon adaptions of games. Some faithful to the source material, some not.

“Will you give me my @#$%ing boots back already?!!”

Then, in the fall of 1993, DIC came up with two wildly different adaptations of Sonic the Hedgehog that could not be more different in tone. One was “The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” that aired on weekday mornings. It was a silly, goofy take on the video game franchise. It took inspiration from cartoons such as Ren and Stimpy and Looney Tunes. The other was “Sonic the Hedgehog” otherwise known as “SATAM” by fans because oit played on Saturday mornings. Where Adventures was super goofy, “SATAM” was much darker and took a more serious tone.

Now at this time, there was only two Sonic games and both took place in fantastical lands with only Sonic, Tails and Dr. Robotnik (Knuckles and Amy did premiere in games that year, but that was after the shows had been released). Even the planet they were having their adventures on had no name. Just “zones”. Since like many video game adaptations there was little to go on, DIC (along with Archie comics) made a ton of characters and world-building of their own. Now, I’m not going into what they did with “Adventures” because that’s not important. “SATAM” is what we’re going to focus on. On that show, Dr. Robotnik basically won. He had taken over and polluted the planet to near devastation. The only ones in his way were Sonic, Tails (who was barely used) and the Freedom Fighters. Sally (co-lead character and Sonic’s love interest), Antione (love rival and comic relief), Bunnie (strongman and very encouraging) and Rotor (genius mechanic with the personality of wet toast). The Freedom Fighters were added mainly due to Sonic having a small cast of characters at the time of production.

“I like fish sticks! That’s the closest thing I have to a personality quirk!”

Sonic fans LOVED this show and for most, it’s still their favorite and why not? Sonic and Sally’s constant struggle to end the grotesque and evil Robotnik’s reign of terror made for delicious drama. This series gave us a ton of Sonally fans (fans who ship Sonic and Sally) and who can blame them? Seeing these characters struggle so hard to defeat this tyrant only to fail or achieve very small victories was heartbreaking. They lost friends. They lost family. The only joy they seemed to have was in their comradery with each other and we loved seeing that relationship grow. For a while, Sally was HUGELY popular with fans. So popular that she was the third hero at the Sega amusement park “Sega World” in Australia, had a puppet musical show with her in it and she even got some of her own merchandise.

Sally was a big part of Sega World.

But all good things must come to an end and the series only lasted two seasons. From there, it continued on the in pages of Archie comics for nearly 25 years. Originally, Archie went the comical route with the book, but after the success of SATAM, they turned it into pretty much a continuation of the series, only now with game elements added in as well. However, after many adventures in the Archie comics, the series met it’s inevitable end. When the Sonic comics were picked up by IDW comics, it continued off not from Archie with the Freedom Fighters, but a non-cannon continuation of the 2017 game “Sonic Forces”. For those who didn’t play Sonic Forces, the same basic premise applies. Dr.Eggman (formerly Robotnik) won and had taken over the earth and a small band of resistance fighters led by Knuckles (Who’s brilliant idea was that?) fought back to end Eggman’s tyranny. Sound familiar?

But enough of the history lesson. While the IDW comic has introduced two new heroes, Tangle and Whisper, the Freedom Fighters are nowhere to be found. Why? Who knows? Could be they are tangled in some kind of copyright issue, could be Sega would rather focus on the cast that appears in the games rather than a 25 year-old cartoon. Whatever the reason, Sally, Bunnie, Antione and Rotor are gone….for now. But in my personal opinion, that’s fine. Maybe, just maybe it’s time to let them go. Why? Several reasons.

Reason #1: They are characters that only exist outside of the games.

One of their final appearences.

Like I mentioned before, when SATAM premiered, there was only TWO heroes in the games, Sonic and Tails with Amy and Knuckles only premiering in brand new games that year. Nowadays, our heroes include Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, Big, Cream, Blaze, Vector, Espio, Charmy, Silver, Rouge, Shadow and…did I leave anyone out? These characters exist in the games and the comic needs more focus on them rather than characters who are cartoon and comic exclusive with their only game appearance being a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Sonic Spinball. The comic exists to expand the world of the games. The CURRENT games. With a cast so huge that a lot of nerds bitch about it while hypocritically complaining that Luigi’s evil twin brother isn’t playable in Smash. My main point is that the comic’s are there not only to make a profit, but to help promote the games. Something the Freedom Fighters have never been a part of.

Reason #2: Thanks to shows like Sonic X and Sonic Boom, The SATAM fan base is shrinking.

“Sally? Sally who?”

Remember when I mentioned that the 90’s were full of Sonally fans? This was very true. If you browsed the internet on the Sonic fan base during the late 90’s early 2,000’s it was all about Sonic and Sally. Then Sonic X happened and there became more and more kids who grew up on that cartoon rather than SATAM and gradually a good chunk of Sonic discussion and fan art went from mostly Sonic and Sally to Sonic and Amy and that’s only getting bigger. In fact, I rarely see Sally or the Freedom Fighters in fan art on my Twitter anymore.

If you need any more proof that they are not needed anymore, just look at the reaction when the IDW comic premiered without them. There was no outrage. No controversy.  Almost zero. The only thing close was an online article where they were upset about Ian being vague about their return and that’s it. Instead, the internet got flooded with fan art of the newest hero for the Sonic book, Tangle the lemur.

Reason #3: The comic has a new band of Freedom Fighters AKA “The Resistance”

“So wait, I’M the leader?! On a scale of 1-10, how %$#@ed are we?”

As I said before, the IDW Sonic comic is a non-cannon continuation of the Sonic Forces story line. A story where Sonic has a new band of freedom fighters all based on game-related characters and is pretty much twice as big as the original Freedom Fighters. Knuckles is the leader this time with Amy as the strategist which allows Sonic the freedom to world travel and help build up the resistance to the currently-defeated Eggman and any new villains that may rise in his stead. This includes brand new characters to help freshen up things, making bringing back the original Freedom Fighters a moot point. They’re not needed.

Reason #4: Their stories have been told.

“Our children are cute and biologically impossible!”

Let’s face it. Archie did just about everything they could with them. Twice, we’ve seen Sonic and Sally’s future where they were king and Queen. We’ve seen Eggman/Robotnik fall, rise, fall again then rise again like a rollercoaster. Antione finally gave up on Sally and eventually married Bunnie. Finally Rotor became more useless than ever after Tails became the mechanical genius. The character evolution was basically in limbo. Even in a reboot, what more can they do with them?

Now, all that said, does this mean they’re gone for good? Who knows? Just because they are not being used in the comics anymore doesn’t neccesarily mean IDW can’t use them in the future. Like I said, could be legal entanglements, could be they just have no current use for them. Maybe rebooting them and introducing them to a new audience would be great, but as I see it, it’s unnecessary.

Would I like to see them back? Sure! Who wouldn’t? But I think there NEEDS to be a reason to bring them back and currently, I just don’t see it. If you want more of the Freedom Fighters, there’s always other methods like fan-fiction or fan comics like Archie Sonic Online. A fan-created continuity of the Archie Sonic comics. Thing is, sometimes it’s good to let things go if it’s outlived it’s purpose rather than let things drag on. Here’s hoping to see more of the Freedom Fighters in the future but if we don’t, well that’s okay too.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not neccesarily those of Sonic Stadium.

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  1. I don’t know, as the only set of characters with any real development or interesting qualities in Sonic, it’s pretty unfortunate to see them go. It’s like, what now? Forces?

  2. Well said! I wouldn’t mind if Sally and the gang would someday come back but as you said it is not necessary for this day and age. I never really grew up with the comics but I did see Satam when it was aired on Swedish television as a kid and later in the years got my hands on a complete DVD set of the series.

    Only got my hands on some parts of the comics when I was at a comic store in London on a school trip. I would like to get my hands on physical copies of the IDW Sonic comic but now you have to bay extra for importing from outside of EU so I only have gotten the first 4 nr of it on digital form and to me that is not the same as physical. I am a bit old school when it comes to some stuff.

  3. That graphic of the Freedom Fighters in their graves makes me interested in seeing an official story that detailed the events leading to their deaths.

    Not in a malicious way. I’m genuinely interested in seeing that story get told and how it would play out.

  4. Good riddance, the Freedom Fighters have always been bad characters that people cared about only because of nostalgia.

    1. Bad characters? Huh its not like the official sega characters are any bloody good.
      Shadow is just a emo and a Vegita wannabe
      Amy Rose is a annoying brat
      Silver is bloody useless
      Big is bloody useless
      And when was the last time anyone gave a damn about the Babylon rouges?
      Yeah I went there, segasonic purists get on my nerves

  5. The freedom fighters, I’ve known them since the comics around the time issue #135 came out. The cartoon was non-existent to me and the only connection to Sally I had was the pink Sally in Sonic Christmas Blast which would rerun sometimes on ABC, (at least in 2003), so it was interesting to see the character in the comic but in a different color… and talking of course.

    Surprisingly the characters never grabbed me, I disliked the non-Sonic design, despite being more developed characters than the game crew. Things really sealed it for me when I started watching Sonic X, I found it much much better.

    But still I kept reading them as it didn’t really bother me, in the end I still acknowledge them as Sonic characters, I can’t say the same for OC Boom characters obviously.

  6. I never understood the appeal of these characters and why everyone and their mom loved them, but they did have a fanbase and it would be kinda shitty if they didn’t give them proper closure.

  7. As much as I miss the Knothole Freedom Fighters, I agree with this article that their niches have been filled by other characters:
    – Despite what many claim, Tangle is NOT the new Sally: that role is now Amy’s
    – Rotor’s technical prowess is redundant with Tails around
    – Bunnie’s strongman role is covered by both Knuckles and Big (assuming the latter turns up at some point)
    – Omega and Team Chaotix are more than capable of contributing the comic relief Antoine used to provide, and even if they aren’t, you don’t need a specific character in that role when you have witty banter all around already
    – Nicole (who will always be a favourite of mine no matter what) was basically little more than an exposition device (‘Spark of Life’ excepted, of course), and there are many ways to achieve that without putting a character in that role

    In summary, it’s a shame the KFF are gone, but times change, and things move on. Besides, the KFF are still with us in our hearts and our memories, and nothing will ever change that 🙂

  8. even as a kid i never aknowledged them as sonic characters – i still dont and am glad they’re finally wiped out. that was the best news about IDW

    1. Another segasonic purist…. joy!

      Again its not like the sega created characters are any better.

  9. I wouldn’t mind having them back, but I’m not necessarily lining for their return either. Like you said, it’s gotta feel warranted, and so far it’s not too necessary. If legal rights to certain characters are ever going to be an issue in the future, I’d rather they fight for Team Holigan instead, they were game characters to begin with and I really miss their antics.

  10. Thank you Jason for this post, well written, and a palatable argument … though I still believe the Freedom Fighters can have a comeback … not soon but … eventually … somehow. Here’s why (and don’t worry, I’ll stay civil):

    The IDW Sonic series has just got its start in April 2018. That’s virtually little time to develop the grounds for the new plot. So the focus has to be put on the mainstream characters first (with a few new and welcomed entries) who are also the main faces you will see in the current Sega games, for all the reasons you mentioned above.

    That said, it could be a matter of time before the “Resistance” run into the “Freedom Fighters”. True the F.F. have had a good and long run in the Archie’verse, so this time, they could come back to the limelight in a whole new setting, with the characters being revamped, having new roles, backgrounds, personalities, abilities, and emphases that are differentiated, if not improved, from those in the Archie’verse, so as to be more lined up with the new IDW’verse.

    This could happen as the IDW story line continues to develop, in say 1, 2, 3 more years maybe, since the F.F. are not officially confirmed dead. Apart from all the presumed legal issues, shrinking F.F. fan base, creators – writers – board disagreements / reluctance / arrogance / willful ignorance, exchanged tweets on the internet, disinformation, and all other conspiracy theories, I think there is nothing wrong with bringing back old characters with a new take to keep the story rich and the fans happy. In fact, I think this would make a great teaser marketing tactic (least to say, Sega and IDW can give this a test-trial, since Sega owns the F.F.) and it would be a matter of time, fans, audience, and petitioners, before the F.F. get back front and center. In the comic, and who knows, the games.

    And when that does happen, chances are we’ll get a whole new Sonic & Sally affair in the making. To that l’d say: Way Past Cool!

  11. The fact that it took a day or more for someone to comment is even more evidence. I was always annoyed at Sega never putting the freedom fighters in a game (with the Sonic spinball bonus level as an exception). I’m still holding out for a SATAM reboot, but as you pointed out they now have plenty of characters to work with.

  12. For me the fight will live on until I die, and legacy will be preserved.
    For Me Sally, Bunnie, Dulcy, Antoine and Rotor are like Jimmy Olson or Harley Quinn, not from the DC comics originally bt have become legends.
    To hell with legal gobbledygook or Sega’s mandates

  13. Fuck ’em. That show ran for two seasons in the early 90s and should have stayed as its own canon. Just my opinion of course, but I can’t believe anyone is even talking about these characters in 2019. SegaSonic all the way for me!

  14. The Freedom Fighters and the Fleetway canon are pretty much the only Sonic stories with any *depth* whatsoever. Sonic Adventure (and maybe 2 to a point) aside, pretty much every Sonic game has had a very poor story.

    Say what you like about the SegaSonic characters, but compelling is not a word I would use to describe them. If i had my way, the FF would be canon and pretty much every post Adventure 2 character resigned to the dustbin, but I guess that shows my age on these things.

    When the soft-reboot happened with Archie, the quality of the stories went downhill. I don’t blame Flynn for this – more that there’s only so much you can do within ‘official’ guidelines. It makes for much more bland storytelling.

  15. As a lifelong fan of SatAM, the Archie Comics, and all the weirdness they brought, I was actually fine with the change. I was a little sad, but I understood. I felt like the direction they were taking and the writing they were doing with the characters was great. That being said, that picture of Sonic visiting their literal graves has me on the verge of bawling my eyes out and questioning why I ever let them go…

    1. That picture is honestly what is hitting me the most. But it’s done in such class to the characters, that I can’t feel bad about seeing it. If anything, it reminds me that life goes on. And as much as the childhood love is there…sometimes, things are best remembered than to be forced to continue and continue.

      I’m not saying to only like something because of childhood reasons, but to be able to smile and look back at those times is quite meaningful to me, now that I’m old enough to look back at high school thoughts and be happy about those times. Aside from that, the article was perfect in about how the Freedom Fighters, if they do come back, needs to have meaning than to just be there. And it reminds me of whenever I would read the Archie comics and they would do the “Another world” stories where it’s just based on the video games made me so excited to read those stories, of just the game characters.

      They continued the storyline of a 2 season 90s cartoon for 20 years. That’s something to be proud of, but it’s time to realize how long that truly is. That’s not to say old series can’t have new stories (I love the Boom Power Rangers comic for example) but it’s as this article says, there needs to be a good reason. And to continue the characters just to have them around is not a good enough reason.

  16. “They are characters that only exist outside the games”
    So do whisper and Tangle
    “Sonic X and Boom has bigger fandoms”
    And both suck, with X taking 2 seasons and 4 arcs to be good
    “there are new freedom fighters, the resistance”
    Wich are poorly written versions of good characters
    Only the 4th point is good. But it doesn’t even matter

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