Knuckles the Echidna (ナックルズ・ザ・エキドゥナ Nakkurusuzaekiduna?) is a fictional, anthropomorphic red echidna with a white crescent symbol on his chest from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Both physically powerful and highly resilient, Knuckles is the last guardian of the Master Emerald, a powerful ancient relic which is his solemn duty to protect from anyone who wants to steal it. For a long time, he was thought to be the last of the echidna race, until the Nocturnus Clan was revealed to still be active.
Knuckles' name is derived from his four knuckles—two on each hand—which are actually sharp spikes. According to official Sonic Team polls, Knuckles is the fourth most popular character in the series, behind Tails, Shadow, and Sonic.
His first game appearance was in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, released on February 2, 1994 for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. He was described as being 15 years old when he made his debut, but since Sonic Adventure, he is now given the age of 16. Knuckles has two spikes on each hand, and his dominant trait is his strength and that can be used to dig. He can also glide by trapping air under his dreadlocks, can climb up walls with ease, and is very skilled at a wide variety of martial art forms.
Conception and creation
Knuckles was originally created and designed by Takashi Thomas Yuda. During conception of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the development team wanted to create a new rival for Sonic. The final design of Knuckles was the result of dozens of possible designs inspired by numerous different animals. The emphasis of the character was to break walls. Knuckles's shoes are based on the colors of the Jamaican flag, and his appearance is overall Jamaican. In fact, he was originally to speak with a Jamaican accent.
Knuckles was born and raised on the Floating Island, an island which hovered in the sky thanks to the power of the Master Emerald. He is the last surviving member of the Knuckles Clan, a long-lost tribe of Echidnas, which were devoted to protecting the Master Emerald after the catastrophe where the Chief Pachacamac incurred the wrath of Perfect Chaos, who nearly completely wiped out the Knuckles Clan 4000 years ago. Following the rival clan, the Nocturnus Clan, disappearance, the survivors of the Knuckles Clan dedicated themselves to protect the Master Emerald, with Knuckles being the latest and last of these guardians.
Despite his peoples' colorful history, however, Knuckles' own past was a mystery to him; he did not know how he came to be, nor what his purpose in life was and he believed himself to be the last of his kind entirely. The only thing Knuckles knew about himself was that for as long as he could remember, he had been living on the Floating Island, protecting the Master Emerald. He did not know why or how he was compelled to fulfilling this task, only that it was his sworn duty to protect the Master Emerald from anyone who wanted to abuse its power. As far as Knuckles knew, this was his purpose in life and he was content with that.
Knuckles is a coldly honest, independent, tough, somewhat gullible and short-tempered echidna with a one-track mind. Like how Sonic embodies the wind, Knuckles embodies the mountain; stern, unmovable and anchored to his duty. Due to having grown up on the isolated Angel Island and having been devoted to his sworn duty of protecting the Master Emerald for as long as he can remember, Knuckles has lived much of his life in seclusion and has become a rather antisocial, reclusive individual and a loner by nature. As such, he cares very little about what others thinks, which makes him bluntly honest and somewhat egotistical in the face of others.
Knuckles is fiercely loyal to his homeland, and does whatever is in his power to protect it and the Master Emerald. He prefers to stay close to the island's current emerald shrine to keep a watchful eye over everything on his home in order to maintain peace. Despite this, however, Knuckles is often willing to go with Sonic and company on their adventures whenever his help is needed, or when he feels the Master Emerald and Angel Island will be safe. Though Knuckles has been known to find other lifestyles appealing, he would never trade away his duties as he is far too devoted to his role as guardian of Angel Island and the Master Emerald. Whenever he is not focusing on his duty, Knuckles spends his time practicing his fighting skills, going treasure hunting or sometimes go hanging out with his friends
Knuckles is most of the time very serious and usually likes to be by himself. He prefers to do things his own way and is very stubborn and headstrong in his choices, which often causes him to clash with others' decisions, especially with Sonic. Though he is cool and determined in battle, Knuckles has a very short temper and sometimes aggressive behaivor which can easily flare up when he thinks he has been insulted, wronged, tricked or is just confused. Though Knuckles' wild-temper has often been known to get him into trouble, such as in his interactions with Rouge the Bat, he has also learned to use it to his advantage by channeling it into fighting whoever might be threatening his friends or his home.
Despite being a silent loner, Knuckles is also heroic and kind-hearted, as proven in Sonic Adventure 2 when Knuckles wanted to hunt Rouge down for stealing his Master Emerald. When he finally found her, the two engage in a fight, during which Rouge trips causing her to fall into lava, but is saved by Knuckles before she does, and he even apologized to her if he hurt her. Also in Sonic Rush, when Blaze got away from Knuckles when he was going to hurt her, when she got away along with Cream, Cream told her, "Don't get this wrong Blaze, but Knuckles is actually a nice guy!" and in Sonic Rivals 2, Knuckles seems to be more caring to Rouge than she is to him, like when they got separated Knuckles said, "I hope Rouge is alright!" He is seen also coming to the rescue of Shade the Echidna in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood when she almost falls off Angel Island as a result of an explosion caused by Ix. This occurred even before Knuckles and Shade became allies. Overall, despite his temper and tough facade, Knuckles is a loyal friend, a true hero and a good-hearted guy, who is always willing to help out his friends in tight situations.
Since meeting with Sonic, Knuckles has had a strong rivalry with the blue hedgehog. The two of them initially started as antagonists, due to Dr. Eggman's trickery, but after Knuckles realized that Eggman had fooled him, he and Sonic came to have a more friendly relationship. Despite being more friendly towards each other, however, Knuckles still held an inhospitable attitude towards Sonic, due to their different points of view and natures. This however stem from the fact that Knuckles is sometimes jealous of Sonic's independent nature and freedom, finding it enviable, though he would never admit it. Over time, Knuckles' relationship with Sonic has improved and he has come to see Sonic as both a rival and his best friend.
Often, Knuckles displays a distrusting demeanor towards strangers and people he thinks has questionable motives, making him rather aggressive towards the person(s) in question; this behaivor is not without its reasons however. Having been living on the isolated Angel Island for much of his life, Knuckles grew up believing in honesty, but because of his lack of social ingenuity, it has made him very naive and extremely gullible. Since he has a history of being easily tricked by Eggman - namely into believing Sonic is the bad guy - it has become a recurring theme in the Sonic series, even to the point of being a running gag, particularly when Sonic shouts, "Way to go, Knucklehead!". Over time, however, Knuckles has gotten better about this and is more suspicious concerning Eggman's trickery.
Knuckles is rather simple-minded, but not necessarily dull witted. He is often prone to rash and ill-advised actions, especially when enraged and is not one for choosing complex strategies. Instead, Knuckles often chooses force to be the solution, pushing himself through his troubles while focusing on his original goal and ignoring all other factors or questions along the way. When in his right element, however, such as on Angel Island, Knuckles can be quite clever and sneaky, as seen when he managed to set several successful traps for Sonic and Tails when they first arrived.
Despite his long history of being tricked by Eggman, however, Knuckles holds a strong and steadfast belief that there is good in everyone, which is the reason he has given Eggman so many chances over the years and why he tried to appeal to Pir'Oth Ix rather than fighting him. Once he finds out he has been tricked, however, Knuckles can get quite angered, but quickly regains enough of his composure to immediately start working towards a resolution and will stop at nothing to punish the perpetrator as evidenced by Sonic & Knuckles when he helped Sonic gain entrance to Sky Sanctuary and in Sonic Adventure when he helped subdue Chaos 4.
Because of his secluded lifestyle on Angel Island, Knuckles feels very uncomfortable in industrialized or crowded cities and places, and being around hi-tech objects or gadgets (mostly because he's uninclined).
Knuckles seems to have mature somewhat in Sonic Generations. While he still displays some aggressive, headstrong and stubborn behavior, he is shown being better to acknowledge his shortcomings and displays more personal restraint and better social interaction. He still displays some rivalry towards Sonic and tries to hide his feelings of being impressed with Sonic's abilities by saying phrases like, "You weren't half-bad." or "Thanks for the help, not that I needed it!".
Powers and Abilities
Knuckles's trademark ability is his immense amounts of superhuman physical strength, so vast that it enables him to accomplish incredible feats, such as shattering boulders to smithereens, punch holes through thick steel and lift objects several times his own size and weight. His super strength seems to lie in his upper body, particularly in his arms and hands. Knuckles' strength is believed to be equal to Sonic's speed, which would make him able to lift and press 100 metric tons, making him physically stronger than all other characters in the series.
Another testament to Knuckles' monstrous brute strength is that he is able to split the hydrogen in the air by punching, strike out with his fists or throw object through air with such force that he can make them ignite fire and punch the ground with enough strength to cause fissures, tremors, explosions and even kick up small volcanic eruptions over a wide area.
Like most other character in the series, Knuckles is shown to be very fast on his feet, being able to run at remarkable, near-superhuman speeds, though he still not quite as fast as Sonic, Tails or Shadow. Additionally, his high speed does not seem to extend to his upper body, and he has been noted for having slow movements in combat. Over time, Knuckles began to lose some of his speed, but also gain a lot more power.
Knuckles also possess near-maximized phycial endurance to match his strength, and is capable of taking as much major punishment as he is able to deal out. Knuckles is as well strong enough to hold out against an army of robots without rest.
Unlike Sonic, Knuckles is a very experienced swimmer, due to his interest of being a treasure hunter, and can swim to incredible depths and with both great speed and skill.
Knuckles is also shown to have sharp reflexes and acrobatic skills, being able to do special tricks and movements while in mid-air, though he is not nearly as acrobatic as Sonic or Shadow are, nor can he jump very high. To make up for his lack of agility, however, Knuckles possesses a wide range of movement abilities. By stretching his arms and legs outwards while airborne, Knuckles can catch the wind under his dreadlock-like spines, allowing him to glide long distances through mid-air and can do so with great control over his movements. Also, by using the spikes on his fists, Knuckles can attach himself to walls and climb up any kind of surface with ease, no matter the material.
Knuckles is also a proficient burrower, able to dig into any wall or floor and excels at tunneling through subterranean regions with great speed.
Besides physicals strengths, Knuckles is also expert treasure hunter, which is shown during his several hunts for Emerald Shards, and can be considered one of the best treasure hunters in the world. While not exactly highly intelligent, Knuckles is well-versed in ancient cultures, ruins and legends, and is very knowledgeable on the subject, such as when he was able to translate the ancient texts at Gigan Rocks with little effort.
Knuckles is also one of the few who knows how to access and utilize the powers of the Master Emerald, allowing him to harness the powerful emerald's various abilities. He can also sense the Chaos Energy of the Chaos Emeralds from a distance, or objects similar to them, such as the Sol Emeralds. Like Sonic and Shadow, Knuckles can also harness the power of the Chaos Emeralds to empower himself.
Being the guardian of the Master Emerald and Angel Island, Knuckles is a very powerful and fierce fighter. He is a master of a wide variety of martial arts, focusing on hand-to-hand combat, and is capable of taking on even the most powerful of opponents without rest, such as when he was able to take down several of the military trained Nocturnus Clan soldiers, before being defeated by Shade. Even more so, he has been able to fight Sonic the Hedgehog one of the series most powerful characters to a standstill on several occasions. In Sonic Chronicles Tails notes that anyone capable of beating Knuckles in a fight is a very powerful and dangerous opponent a testament of his amazing fighting abilities.
When in battle, Knuckles makes most use of his powerful arms and fists to take on his foes, with his specialty lying in punching moves where he uses his spiked fists to their fullest. In terms of fighting style, Knuckles' focuses specially on power, using strong and powerful punches, such as powerpacked jabs or piercing uppercuts, to deal damaging blows to his opponents. Once he catches an opponent in his combos, he keep them trapped by keeping up his strikes, not allowing his opponents a chance to counterattack. For stronger strikes, Knuckles tend to build up momentum with his fists by swinging them around, before hitting his opponent with full force. In his Major Eruption move in Sonic Battle he takes advantage of his burrowing abilities hiding underground and hitting them with an uppercut as he leaps out when his opponent least expects it.
Despite being a powerhouse in close combat, however, as stated by Sonic, most of Knuckles' fighting moves are slow and easy to read, making Knuckles more vulnerable to those who give themselves time to read his moves.
Techniques and Moves
Knuckles' various moves and techniques revolves around his trademark Punch Attack, where he attacks his opponents with various punching combos. His Spiral Upper allows him to strike foes above him with a spinning uppercut, and his Drill Claw sends him spiralling down on his foes from above. For wider impacts, Knuckles can use his Hammer Punch or Knuckle Slam to create wide tremors or explosions that effect everything within their effect range.
Knuckles has also been shown being able to use Sonic's trademark Spin Attack and Spin Dash to curl himself up and spin into a spiky ball when in motion that can damage, destroy or mow down many obstacles or foes or even burrow underground. He does, however, not use these moves or their variants, such as the Homing Attack, as often as Sonic and Shadow do.
When gliding, Knuckles can also use his Grinding Knuckles Attack in conjunction with his movements, using the spikes on his fists to damage any foes he comes into contact with during his descend. With his Maximum Heat Knuckles Attack, Knuckles glides through air at high speeds, destroying any foes within his attack range.
Knuckles has been shown to possess some mystical abilities of his own on several occasions, such as in Sonic Battle and Sonic Adventure 2, possibly due to his close connection to the Master Emerald. In Sonic Battle, Knuckles displayed some limited geokinetic abilities, such as harnessing elemental earth energies to protect or heal himself, or calling forth meteor-like rocks from above to strike his opponents, which is described as "supernatural control of earth". Also, in Sonic Adventure 2, he can call forth lightning bolts called Thunder Arrows to strike and stunt his opponents.
Knuckles has also proven himself to be a skilled Extreme Gear in the Sonic Riders series, having shown himself a worthy competitor against many of the world's best Extreme Gear riders. To best put his skills in perspective, Knuckles was able to beat Storm the Albatross in a race, who is a part of the world's best Extreme Gear rider team, the Babylon Rogues. When riding his Extreme Gear at high speeds, Knuckles can bash his way through certain obstacles effortlessly, and, when someone gets near him on their Extreme Gear, he can engage in close combat with his opponents, without losing control over his Extreme Gear.
Like Sonic and Shadow, Knuckles has the ability to power up into stronger forms of himself, usually by using Chaos Energy from the Chaos Emeralds and Super Emeralds. These transformations grants Knuckles overall improved physical abilities, such as greater strength and speed, and abilities he did not have access to before.
- Main article: Super Knuckles
In Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, with the seven Chaos Emeralds, Knuckles is able to become Super Knuckles. In this mode, Knuckles glows Pink, as opposed to most other character's Golden glow. When Knuckles is in his Super State, he gains invincibility and all his powers and natural abilities are enhanced up to their full limit. Super Knuckles is several times faster and more powerful, and can climb walls twice as fast and fly. He however need rings to maintain this transformation.
- Main article: Hyper Knuckles
In Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles, Knuckles can also transform into an extended version of Super Knuckles, called Hyper Knuckles with the seven Super Emeralds. Unlike Hyper Sonic, who blinks multicolored, Knuckles blinks between bright and dark shades of Red and Pink. In this form Knuckles is faster and stronger than Super Knuckles and he can destroy all on-screen enemies by gliding into a wall, causing the stage to shake. He also have the ability to fly at a fast speed without staying in the air long enough to reach the speed when he is in normal form. Hyper Knuckles is also incapable of drowning. Like Hyper Sonic, Hyper Knuckles has an after image effect when moving.
- Gail the Echidna
- Sonic the Hedgehog (best friend, rival)
- Miles "Tails" Prower (good friend)
- Cream the Rabbit
- Cheese the Chao
- Vector the Crocodile
- Espio the Chameleon
- Charmy Bee
- Blaze the Cat
- Silver the Hedgehog
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- Rouge the Bat (also rival)
- Princess Marshalia (good friend)
- Wario (in the Mario & Sonic series)
- Rouge the Bat (friendly rival)
- Blaze the Cat (formerly)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (friendly rival)
- Storm the Albatross (rival in strength)