Everything We Know So Far About Sonic The Hedgehog Spin-Off Series Knuckles

For better or worse, the next big bet in Hollywood right now is video games. "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is the biggest film of 2023 so far. "The Last of Us" earned strong reviews from television critics, although some game critics were more skeptical. Even the anime series "Cyberpunk: Edgerunners" — a spin-off of "Cyberpunk 2077" — sniped anime of the year at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards.

Leading the charge was 2020's "Sonic the Hedgehog," which survived terrible initial press to score the best opening weekend box office ever for a video game film at the time of its release. A committed performance by Jim Carrey helped, as did a Sonic redesign led by Tyson Hesse and a hard-working team of visual effects artists. (One studio that reportedly contributed to the film, the Vancouver-based Moving Picture Company, was shut down following an intense crunch to finish the film's effects in time. There are few happy endings in Hollywood.) Its sequel, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," made even more money.

Next up we've "Knuckles," a Paramount+ television series featuring everybody's favorite grumpy echidna voiced by Idris Elba. Knuckles has been a fan favorite in the Sonic universe since his first appearance in "Sonic the Hedgehog 3," (the game not the upcoming movie), and Elba is a powerhouse in his own right. So with the success of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" on Paramount+ following its theatrical run, bringing back Knuckles for his own standalone adventure makes perfect sense.

When and where to watch Knuckles

"Knuckles" will premiere on Paramount+ sometime in 2023. An exact date has not yet been announced, although the television series will almost certainly air before the release of "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" in December 2024. They also have not yet announced the number of episodes or the precise length of each episode. I imagine that the CG effects required to render Knuckles and his friends might keep the series on the shorter end, but who knows? This is Sonic's world and we're just living in it.

Curious fans should take a look at "Sonic Drone Home," a CG animated short film included as a bonus feature with the home release of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." The short introduces a villainous Badnick robot named Unit, a poetry-loving robot that is defeated by Sonic only to be salvaged and revived by Tails. A spin-off series like "Knuckles" could be an opportunity for one-off characters like Unit to appear, although it's hard to say considering the scarcity of information about this project.

What is Knuckles about?

Deadline describes the series as "a hilarious and action-packed journey of self-discovery," where Knuckles teaches hapless cop Walt Whipple — played by Adam Pally — "the ways of the Echidna warrior." While I have mixed feelings about teaching kids to venerate cops these days, matching the deadly serious Knuckles with the goof-off Whipple is functional in theory. If the staff of "Knuckles" wanted to, they could easily coast by doing weekly cases where Knuckles overreacts, punches something, and then learns an important lesson about friendship and responsibility.

On the other hand, if you're going to do a "Knuckles" television series, why not go all the way? Knuckles has the most extensive lore of any character in the Sonic universe. Not only do his video game appearances tie him directly to the mysterious Chaos Emeralds, but he is one of the most fleshed-out characters in the Archie Sonic comics.

Infamous comics writer Ken Penders crafted a backstory for Knuckles including sinister father figures, genetic manipulation, and the past, present, and future of the hidden city Echidnaopolis. Knuckles attains the powers of a god and even walks on water. (For more information, I recommend this excellent essay by Bobby Schroeder.)

More recently, Ian Flynn has been doing a fine job with the character in the IDW series "Sonic the Hedgehog" as well as "Sonic Frontiers." I'll laugh if anything from Penders's run makes its way into "Knuckles" but will be pleasantly surprised if Flynn influences the direction of the Knuckles Cinematic Universe.

Who is working on Knuckles?

Jeff Fowler, the director of "Sonic the Hedgehog" and its sequel, is directing the pilot episode of "Knuckles." John Whittington, who has in the past collaborated with Jared Stern on films like "The Lego Batman Movie" and "DC League of Super-Pets," wrote the pilot and is the head writer for the series. Aside from Adam Pally and Idris Elba, Tika Sumpter guest stars as veterinarian Maddie Wachowksi. Other members of the cast include Edi Patterson ("Knives Out") and Kid Cudi (whose TV work includes the animated Netflix special "Entergalactic.")

While the creative staff of "Sonic the Hedgehog" could have chosen to farm "Knuckles" out to another team, they've instead chosen to go all in on the show's production. Could the series match or even exceeds its cinematic counterpart, or will the infamous Sonic Cycle claim yet another victim? Only time will tell. By the way, did you know that Sega recently produced a game called "The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog?" May we see a day when Hollywood video game adaptations take the same creative risks as video games themselves.