The Best References In OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes – Let’s Meet Sonic

Sonic the Hedgehog recently made his appearance in an action-packed episode of OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, in which the nods to Sonic the Hedgehog history came thick and fast! Here is our comprehensive TSS guide to the many references contained in the episode!

Warning – MANY spoilers ahead!

Sonic OVA references (by Alex P)

When I first heard about the OK KO Sonic cross-over episode, I was definitely expecting some deep references – but I was not expecting so many references to one of Sonic the hedgehog’s lesser-known animated outings, namely the two-part 1996 OVA, released in the west as “Sonic the Hedgehog The Movie.”

Many older Sonic fans are likely to be familiar with the OVA (unless you’ve managed to source a copy of it on DVD or found it online) – and there are two big acknowledgements in the OK KO crossover.

The first reference is visual and is Sonic sitting in a beach chair, enjoying a soda while he waits for KO to figure out how to spindash (which anyone can do, apparently if you visualise it). But this isn’t just any beach chair: it’s an exact replica of the beach chair and radio from the Sonic OVA:

Pretty accurate, right?

The second reference is far more explicit, and as it takes place during the climax of both the episode and the OVA. Sonic knocks the roboticized Metal KO into the water, and Sonic reaches out and tries to save him. Tails warns him that Metal KO might try to drag him in with him, but when Sonic reaches for him anyway, KO bats Sonic’s hand away and says “there can only be one little buddy” (referencing a plot point in the episode).

This is a nearly word-for-word remake of the Metal Sonic “death” scene from the OVA, although that had a more tragic ending (and involves lava, not water). I’d argue that this scene even made more sense in-context in the crossover than the OVA.

I’m pretty impressed with the dedication the OK KO team showed to referencing such an obscure piece of Sonic media. Props to everyone involved!

Sonic Cartoon references (by IndigoRush)

So, I really loved this, but what really tugged on my nostalgic heart strings the most was the sheer amount of love for the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon! The cartoon was probably the most referenced source in the episode alongside the games, and mirrored the show’s frantic, goofy pacing – I was grinning from ear to ear throughout!

I have to give props to the music: Aside from the use of the 16-bit era chiptunes, I was pleased to hear the use of the medley of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and “Flight of the Bumblebee”, which was used as a part of the show’s theme song; a clever way to pay homage to the familiar (and following suit with the original show as a way of dodging a license fee to use official SEGA music!)

In general, the silly gags from start to finish exude an AoStH vibe, or just downright reference it directly. Sonic says “Gotta (light) speed, keed!” just like he did in the original show. The robot henchman Darrel laughs just like Scratch, the evil Lord Boxman (who’s already a reference to Robotnik to begin with) offering “promotions,” calls his subordinates “dumbots” and finishes his appearance with the iconic “I HATE THAT HEDGEHOG” – the line that would often find it’s place at the end of each episode of the original cartoon.

On a side note, the voice actor of Boxman is none other than the legendary Jim Cummings, who gave his voice to Dr Robotnik in the “other” Saturday Morning Sonic cartoon (SatAM). While he doesn’t bring the more sinister performance, he does occasionally tip his hat to that performance. Bonus points for using the term “roboticized.”

The show wraps up with a traditional “SONIC SEZ” segment, as KO felt like he hadn’t learned a valuable moral lesson. For those not aware, every episode of the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog would end with a PSA regarding anything from eating your veggies, sharing, and yes, climbing into a clothes dryer. Today’s moral is to not sleep too much, or else you’ll miss your chance to meet Sonic! “That’s no good!” he states, again, another reference to the most famous PSA of them all:

I have to admit that this is the first time I have watched the show – and it is obvious that the animators have a lot of love for the Sonic franchise as a whole – and not just the games, but also the cartoons and comics (even one of the comics held in the episode was a replica of an old Archie issue!). The episode is a must-watch for Sonic fans of any age, and a walk down memory lane for those who have been fans since the beginning.

Sonic video game references (by Adam T)

Like Alex, this is my first exposure to OK K.O., and I’ve got to say, the creators have done an incredible job of loading the episode with a tonne of video game references!

Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2:

Sonic’s introduction in the episode is shortly followed by a re-enactment of the Sonic 2 title screen (complete with the wonderful twinkling sounds) and continues the thematic throughout through clever use of sound-a-like jingles to many of the classic stages. Tails’ backstory even takes place in the ever-familiar Emerald Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone’s tubeways are used during the chase sequence, and portion of the episode centres around overcoming a loop-de-loop through use of a spin dash (a skill we’ve all had to learn in our lives!)

It’s also inferred in the episode that Sonic “kills” Tails when he pushes him away after questioning his choice of buddy (the familiar “bum bum!” sound can be heard) – but it’s ok; just like in the game, he Tails comes back to life, by flying in from the heavens.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

No caper involving Sonic would be complete without a theft of the Master Emerald from Knuckles – and the OK K.O.! episode is no different! They’ve even snuck in the very satisfying “charge and fire” sound effect! Tails’ Biplane at the conclusion of the episode is also equipped with its tow cable, as seen at the end of the Sonic & Knuckles.

Sonic CD

While the “Metal K.O.” segment heavily references the Sonic OVA, the chase segment is an homage to the Sonic CD animatic, when the pair dual their way through Stardust Speedway-esque roads that segue into…

Knuckles Chaotix

…the Knuckles Chaotix special stage (probably a reference many will have missed!)

Sonic Adventure Series

K.O. gets into the Sonic Adventure references seconds into the episode, by striking the “bendy” SA pose created by Yuji Uekawa and featuring on the game’s box art. Along with the earlier reference to spin dash, Sonic also makes use of his light speed dash.

Probably my two favourite references of the episode are the leitmotif that occasionally accompanies Tails’ appearances, which many will recognise as sounding very similar to the opening riff to of “Azure Blue World” [corrected from our earlier mistake of saying it was Believe In Myself  – thanks to those who pointed it out!], and the great bit of fan art from K.O. –  no prizes for knowing this SA2 references however!

K.O. even sneaks in a “Live and Learn” towards the end of the episode too.

Have we missed any references? Which are your favourites? Let us know in the comments!

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Nuckles87 has been an editor at Sonic Stadium since 2007, and has been covering events like E3, PAX, and SDCC since 2010. An avid retro gamer, he runs a monthly stream on Twitch where he explores obscure Sonic oddities, and how aspects of the franchise have evolved over the decades.


  1. Two things:
    Tails’ leitmotif is based off of Emerald Coast (Azure Blue World)
    And there’s one more reference: when Sonic describes Eggman and sings “He’s the WOOOOOOOOOORST”, that’s a shout out to Ben Schwartz’s character in Parks & Recreation. And of course, we all also know Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic in the upcoming movie

  2. I have yet to watch the whole episode, but I am pretty sure that the part where Metal KO is chasing sonic, followed by Sonic taunting KO from the robot POV, is heavily frame-per-frame referencing a scene in SatAM which uses the same shots.
    EVERYTHING I’ve seen so far looks too awesome, I can’t wait to watch the episode in its entirety.

  3. I thought Tails’ jingle used was emerald coast not Believe in Myself. Sonic’s was a riff from Green Light Ride

  4. The capsule wich K.O are traped is the same wich Robotick used in Panic Pupet Zone (3D Blast) to trap the flickies.

    When Sonic rescue the K.O in the Pool is the same scene of the first episode of Sonic X. When Chris rescue Sonic.

    The Tails’ tablet (Lost World/Unleashed)

    Just that. I think… =\

  5. Having recently watched the episode yesterday, I enjoyed it. Some of the face expressions of Sonic and Tails were funny as hell. XD I was also not expecting all the references to the Sonic OVA, those were really nice. And ending the crossover episode not only with a “Sonic Sez” segment but also at the famous “And that’s no good!” line made my day. 🙂

  6. When Boxman was talking about how he tricked Knuckles into giving him the Master Emerald, they show a little crude crayon drawing of Knuckles, similar in style to Tyson Hesse’s illustration of Knuckles getting tricked by Eggman in the Archie mini-series Sonic Mega Drive and again as a cleaver flashback to S3K in Sonic Mania right before he fights the Heavy King. So once again, another nod to an instant Archie comic classic as well as another instant classic (and, uh, modern, lol) game. These guys didn’t just grow up with Sonic, they’ve kept up with Sonic all this time too, probably still are, considering how recent that visual gag is, lol.

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