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Tails from Sonic has the most depressing back story

For almost 30 years, Sonic the Hedgehog has been drawing kids into his colorful world of fast-paced action and almost unbearably cute animals, and it's easy to see why. Those games — and comics, and cartoons, and an upcoming live-action film with some truly horrifying anatomy — are full of friendly characters who fight robotic bad guys with their cool 'tudes and make it home in time to chow down on some chili dogs!

And then there's Tails.

As the youngest member of Sonic's supporting cast and the character who looks up to Sonic as his personal hero, Miles "Tails" Prower is probably the easiest character in the games for kids to identify with. Unfortunately, he's also the one whose backstory gets way darker than you'd expect. From dead parents to nervous breakdowns to being named by his bullies, here's why Tails from Sonic has a ridiculously depressing backstory.

What's in a name? Suffering.

One common thread throughout various versions of the Sonic canon is how Tails got his nickname. Admittedly, this isn't the kind of thing that you'd think would actually need an origin story, since there's a pretty direct line from having two tails to people calling you "Tails," but if there's one thing you should know about Sonic, it's that no detail is too small to have an entire saga written about it.

In real life, there's actually a pretty interesting story here. Originally, designer Yasushi Yamaguchi, who created Tails when Sonic Team decided that their protagonist needed a sidekick, wanted to just call him Miles Prower. The rest of Sonic Team, however, wanted a simpler name that was more reflective of the design, but eventually, they compromised, and decided that "Tails" would be a nickname, and gaming's most egregious pun would remain as the handle his parents hung on him.

In the British Sonic the Comic, however — along with Sonic X and a few other versions of the story — "Tails" was the name he got from bullies who picked on him for being a "twin-tailed freak." In other words, Tails' name has the exact same origin as Daredevil from Marvel Comics, with the added bonus that it's the only thing that Sonic, Tails' hero, ever calls him. When it comes to referencing childhood trauma, Sega really does what Nintendon't.

Born in the crucible of war

It probably won't surprise you to learn that the most complicated version of Sonic's history comes from the 290-issue comic book series that was published by Archie Comics from 1993 to 2017. While it started off as a bunch of simple, cartoony gag strips, it wasn't long before Sonic's popularity led it to have the kind of ridiculous, echidna-filled continuity that makes X-Men look like Nancy.

The original story of how Dr. Robotnik got into power is the kind of complex backstory that requires you to go at least five pages deep into a fan wiki if you really want to understand it — trust us on that one, we know from experience — but here's the short version. After centuries of enmity, there was a five-year conflict between mutated humans and anthropomorphic animals called the Great War, during which Robotnik rose to power as a human traitor who encouraged the big-eyed, fuzzy creatures to commit a full-on genocide. The day the war ended, he launched a full-scale coup, taking over the entire planet, installing himself as its absolute dictator, and then using massive factories to convert animals into his obedient robot slaves.

That's the context for Miles "Tails" Prower's birth. Like, that specific day. In the canon of the Archie series, Tails was born on the day of Robotnik's takeover. He has never, not for one day in his life, known a world without endless conflict.

(Mostly) dead parents

The horrors of war didn't end with Dr. Robotnik's coup d'etat, and neither did their toll on Tails. One of the first casualties of the new reign was Amadeus Prower, Tails' father, who was tossed into a roboticizer and turned into a cyborg at the moment of his son's birth. Before too long, Robotnik's SWATbot forces also showed up and dragged his wife Rosemary off for a similar fate, leaving Tails to be raised in an orphanage with the many other children who had lost their parents in the war.

Except that Amadeus and Rosemary didn't actually die. Instead, they were abducted at the last minute by aliens, who then kept them out in space for the next decade until Sonic stumbled across them while he was goofing around in the stars. Tails grew up merely believing they were dead, which, in its own way, might be worse.

Rather than being allowed to deal with the loss and move on, Tails is instead dragged right back into those feelings of abandonment once his parents turn up, and all that rage against Robotnik — the guy he's actually been fighting for what is quite literally his entire life — is now revealed to be misplaced. For all the good he's done alongside Sonic, his entire existence is rooted in a lie.

The toll of loss

It's worth mentioning that while Tails had a pretty miserable childhood, life wasn't exactly a picnic for his old man (er, fox) either. Even before he was turned into a robot, kidnapped by aliens, and separated from the son that he never knew, Amadeus Prower had been through the horrors of war, losing countless friends in the conflict against Robotnik.

It makes sense, then, that when Tails himself was confronted with that kind of loss, he'd seek out his father to find out how Amadeus dealt with the psychological toll of watching your companions suffer as the result of a seemingly endless conflict. It happened after a particularly bad stretch for Tails, when one of his allies had been turned into a homicidal robot that beat another one of his friends into a coma, and the kingdom taken over by an evil wizard. Tails became convinced that if he stayed hyperfocused on his tasks, he could fix everything and everyone, and eventually he had a breakdown in his father's arms, asking how he could hold up under that stress.

Amadeus's response? "You take it one day at a time." There are no shortcuts in the game of grief and loss, Tails, it's just something you have to deal with yourself and hope that you're strong enough to make it through each excruciating hour. By the way, this story takes place when Tails is 11 years old. Life is pain, kid. Get used to it.

Rejected by birds

The comics are far from the only version of Tails and his tragic origin, though. There are plenty of different takes, like the otherwise kid-friendly (and incredibly bizarre) Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon. It aired in 1993, starred Jaleel White as Sonic, and was apparently made by people who decided that just having dead parents wasn't quite bad enough for everyone's favorite two-tailed fox.

In the seventh episode of the cartoon, "Tails' New Home," it's revealed that Tails was "lost for a long time," wandering alone through the strange wilderness of Mobius. Just before meeting Sonic, he attempted to live with a family of birds because, since he could fly, he assumed he was one. In response, the birds physically threw him out of their nest, sending him crashing down onto Sonic, who just happened to be passing by.

The good news, of course, is that this is first meeting eventually led to Tails finding some form of acceptance and family with Sonic, which had been denied him for his entire life up to this point. The bad news is that it took a while to actually get to that point — after Tails relates his heartbreaking tail of woe, Sonic's immediate response is, "Well I can't slow down for stuff like that. Gotta juice, kid!" Sonic then runs off, leaving Tails, who is a straight-up baby, abandoned in the middle of the road to fend for himself. It's only after Tails proves he can keep up with Sonic by flying that the Hedgehog agrees to give him a home. Good thing he was useful to someone, right?

Drowned in a shallow grave

If you think Tails' origin story is bad in the regular continuity, just wait until they start diving into alternate universes. That's where things really get dark. That's not exactly unexpected, though. Most alternate universe stories that you find in comics tend to present the main timeline as the only one where things even came close to working out okay. Pretty much every issue of Marvel's What If series, for instance, ends in misery and despair, even the one about what would happen if the Punisher's family hadn't died. Spoiler warning: they die anyway.

For the British Sonic the Comic, the starting point is already grim. In this continuity, Tails' parents are very much alive, but they're in another dimension, with Tails trapped in Sonic's native reality instead. When that comic did a standard-issue "what if the bad guy won" story called "Robotnik Reigns Supreme," however, it got way worse.

In this reality, Tails still found himself transported to Sonic's dimension and plopped down in the swamp from which Sonic rescued him. The thing is, in true It's a Wonderful Life fashion, Sonic wasn't there to save him since he never existed, leaving Tails to drown in dirty swamp water without anyone ever knowing he was there.

Soul Reaver

Hey, you ever wonder if there's a such thing as a fate worse than death? You will if you read Sonic Universe, the Archie Comic that's focused on the larger supporting cast of Sonic rather than the speedy blue hedgehog himself. Not because it's bad in and of itself, but because it actually raises that question.

Sonic Universe #25 kicked off a story about Silver, one of many different hedgehogs that have spin-dashed their way into the franchise over the years. He's a time traveler, and through a series of the exact sort of complicated events that always accompany time travel in comics, he finds himself in an extremely bad timeline known as "Dark Mobius." In this reality, Knuckles went full Doctor Doom, adopted the identity of "Enerjak" and set about vaporizing Eggman and taking over the planet for himself.

His preferred method of dealing with his enemies was, as you might expect from a comic for children, literally punching their souls out of their bodies and then displaying their lifeless husks as trophies, which is what happens to Tails in this reality. So, what's worse: drowning in a swamp, living with the pain of being abandoned as a child, or having your soul punched out by a bright red echidna? Truly, this is the philosophical question of our times.

Infinite breakdown

Okay, so the comics can get dark, but those are just weird offshoots of the games, right? Those are the pieces of the Sonic mythos that really matter, so all of the tragedy and drama that's been used to flesh out the characters doesn't really count if you're a purist. It's not like there's a game where, for example, Tails is forced to watch Sonic die and then has a complete nervous breakdown while blaming himself for it. Unless, of course, you count 2017's Sonic Forces, where Sonic forces him to do pretty much that. In the tutorial level, no less.

The game opens with a new villain called Infinite showing up and joining forces with Eggman's army. As his name implies, Infinite has an incredible amount of power, and at the start of the game, he utterly destroys Sonic in a fight while Tails looks on helplessly, convinced that he's watching Sonic die. That's not the case, of course — very few developers kill off the character whose name is in the title of the game right at the start of things — but with Sonic captured and apparently tortured by Infinite for six months, all of Sonic's friends truly believe he's dead.

Tails, of course, takes it the worst. When the Resistance gathers together after the six-month time jump, there's a conversation about how weak their forces are now that Sonic's dead and how "Tails has just lost it." They're not kidding, either — when we finally see Tails, he's standing in a ruined city, trying to reprogram Eggman's robots while talking to himself about how he "wasn't smart enough" to save his friend. That's pretty grim by Dark Souls standards, let alone Sonic the Hedgehog.