Anyone who’s been keyed into meme culture for the last few years likely remembers the moment that the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer came out for the 2020 film, and how visceral the response was that quickly followed it for Ugly Sonic. So strong was the response that it almost destroyed an entire movie before it even came out, and it arguably popularized the internet tradition of memeing horribly looking film trailers and the movies themselves.
If you’re still not sure what we’re talking about, or who “Ugly Sonic” is, then lace up your shoes, because we gotta go fast. Here’s what you need to know about this particular meme’s history and why it recently came back into the limelight.
Where does Ugly Sonic come from?
Ugly Sonic was the first iteration of Sonic’s design, used for the 2020 film Sonic the Hedgehog that was originally set to release in 2019. The first trailer that showed the blue blur received such a red streak of negativity that the movie itself was pushed back half a year while emergency fixes were done to the design, which some would argue was successful in saving the movie and spawning a subsequent franchise. The original design can still be seen in the old commercial uploaded to YouTube.
As impactful as the character was on meme culture, he was still referred to as simply “Sonic the Hedgehog” for the next few years, until the Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers reboot film happened in early 2022 and “Ugly Sonic” was given life again (and his name). This was possible due to several things converging at the same time.
Within the universe of the movie, which is shared with Who Framed Roger Rabbit, cartoon characters like Sonic exist side-by-side with humans, which means Ugly Sonic was able to be defined as his own person, an actor, who just looks like an ugly version of Sonic. How he’s reintroduced in the movie has an in-universe explanation, as he’s considered a failed actor whose acquaintances of Dale by way of Dale being a washed-up failure.
The final piece of the puzzle was put into place with the Moving Picture Company, who created the original design for Ugly Sonic, also working on the Chip ‘n Dale movie — slotting him into place as a joke at their own work was simple because they had all the original files ready to go.
Ugly Sonic Usage In Memes
Ugly Sonic is used in a myriad of memes from both his original introduction as part of the Sonic movie, as well as his design refresh in Chip ‘n Dale. However, most memes are simply used to poke fun at him. In memes featured from the Sonic movie, there is usually a contrast made between Ugly Sonic and the official Sonic redesign, overplaying how horrifically gross Ugly Sonic’s design is by comparison.
Likewise, in memes that use his Chip ‘n Dale appearance, there is a lot of focus placed on his face, specifically his human-like teeth and how unnerving he looks because of it. However, Ugly Sonic did seem to touch a soft spot in a lot of meme creators online, as the character ended up receiving tons of memes that expressed happiness at his return, or rather, that he never gave up the fight to stay alive after the destructive social campaign that was aimed directly at him.
For the full history of “Ugly Sonic” be sure to check out our entry on the meme here for even more information.