5 reasons Dr. Robotnik is actually a hero

Here at GameCrate we're dedicated to keeping open minds and examining all sides of the important issues of our time. In that spirit we're beginning a new series of articles in which we'll look at the good sides of some of gaming's biggest villains.

Today we celebrate a true visionary and genius. Here are five reasons Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik should properly be regarded as a hero.

Note: I will be referring to this character as Dr. Robotnik during the rest of this article, not "Eggman," a nickname which I feel is disrespectful. 

#1 He never gives up 

robotnik fails again

One of the defining traits of a hero is perseverance, and over the course of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, no figure demonstrates that quality better than Robotnik. The good doctor loses over and over again and never stops trying. His plans are foiled in more than a dozen different games, but there's even more to the story than that; in games that follow the classic Sonic formula, Sonic faces off against and defeats Robotnik multiple times over the course of a single game!

Imagine the strength of will and character it takes for Robotnik to construct some elaborate death machine, ride it out against Sonic, get his butt totally handed to him, and then do it again at the end of the very next stage! Robotnik never says die. He never lets doubt slow him down. He always manages to find the courage to believe that this time, this floating orb that shoots spike balls or whatever will be the machine that finally brings that cursed blue beast down.

Thomas Edison famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Clearly, Edison and Robotnik would have a lot to talk about if they ever met -- and they'd probably construct some terrifying elephant-electrocuting machine while they were at it.

#2 He cares about the world

Most of Robotnik's "evil" schemes involve world domination of some sort so, sure, that doesn't reflect very well on him I guess. But if Robotnik is guilty of a single crime, it's loving the world too much.

When the world he wants to rule is in danger of complete destruction, Robotnik will team up with his greatest enemy in order to save it. In games like Sonic Adventure 2 and the 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik clearly demonstrates his willingness to cooperate and work as a part of a team for the greater good. The fact that he will work alongside the figure who has destroyed his creations countless times shows the tender soul beneath the gruff, egg-shaped exterior.

#3 His tragic backstory explains his darker impulses 

gerald robotnik sonic

If you don't know who Professor Gerald Robotnik was, then you cannot fairly judge the actions of his grandson.

Take a look at this summary straight from the Sonic News Network Wiki:

"Gerald Robotnik was one of the most brilliant and gifted scientist {sic]}the world has ever known and was immensely adored and respected by his grandson, who dedicated his life to becoming a great scientist like him. However, despite Gerald having nothing but the purest intentions to use his genius to better humanity and his family (specifically his granddaughter, Maria), he was brutally manipulated by the government into producing research that they hoped to twist and exploit towards their own ends to create weapons of mass destruction and even discover the secrets of immortality.

"When they deemed Gerald's research too dangerous, they viciously murdered all his colleagues, arrested him, and killed his twelve year old granddaughter, who was also a cousin to Eggman, simply to cover the truth about the research and experiments. Forced to continue his experiments under direct military control within a prison facility, Gerald completely lost everything to live for and went insane, eventually being executed by the military under government orders to keep their crimes quiet once they deemed his research a failure."

tl;dr: Robotnik's kindly and brilliant grandfather was forced by the government to commit acts of evil. In order to hide the evidence of what they had done, the government killed Professor Robotnik along with all of his colleagues and his granddaughter, Dr. Robotnik's cousin.

After seeing what happened to his hero and inspiration, Dr. Robotnik can hardly be blamed for having a bit of a warped sense of right and wrong. Of course the best heroes often come with a dark side, and Robotnik deserves credit for not turning out a great deal more murderous than he actually did.

#4 Dr. Robotnik is far more relatable than Sonic 

sonic the hedgehog doesnt like slow things

One look at the Likes and Dislikes for Robotnik and Sonic on the SNN Wiki will make it very clear which character has more in common with you, the average person who reads articles about Dr. Robotnik on gaming websites.

Dr. Robotnik likes "his plans succeeding." Who doesn't? He also likes designing and building robots, which sounds like a lot of fun to me. Sure, he also likes "Conquering the world," and "His empire," but those aren't too far off "Conquering paperwork" and "His World of Warcraft guild," right?

And what does Robotnik dislike? Being defeated. Losing. When his plans fail. Anyone who betrays him. Being insulted. His robots or empire being destroyed. His mustache being ruined. His robots or his assistants being incompetent.

I've got tears in my eyes here. Robotnik is me! And he's you too, if you're being honest with yourself. The same things that bother you and me bother a great man like Dr. Robotnik. He too gets upset when his mustache is ruined!

And how about Sonic? What does he like? Running, break-dancing, showing off, proving he is the fastest, speed, and "his Werehog abilities," among other things. Of course the list also includes a lot of junk about how much Sonic likes his friends, but it's clear that his real loves include 1) himself and 2) his fastness. Oh, and Sonic also likes "McDonalds" and "Happy Meal Premiums," which is just gross and a terrible example for children.

How about Sonic's dislikes? Well they include slowness, when someone insults his speed, waiting, when someone claims to be faster than him, being unable to run, acting slow, and slow things. Okay, seriously, WE ALL GET THE MESSAGE SONIC. You do not care for slow stuff. That's understood.

Sonic also dislikes deep water, getting wet, eggs, looking scary, ugly, and unrecognizable as a Werehog, and being impersonated and thought to have turned evil. Compare that list of weird garbage to Robotnik's painfully familiar list of worries and you tell me which one has more in common with you.

#5 He values science and education

Everyone knows that the world would be better off if people were more interested in things like books, school, physics, engineering, and similar academic pursuits. But it's hardly a surprise these topics don't get the respect they deserve, when they were the domain of the "villain" of one of the most popular video games series of all time.

Unlike the Mario series, which has very little in the way of science or technology on either side of the battle, or Mega Man, which features scientist villains AND heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog portrayed the educated scientist character as a heartless villain. According to the Sonic News Network Wiki, Dr. Robotnik came about as an attempt to create a character who was "the opposite of Sonic." And since Sonic was a forest creature, Dr. Robotnik was all about machines and technology, and was a stand-in for the evils of industry and development in a way that was very common in entertainment aimed at children in the 1990s.

But this trend of bad-guy industrialists had a dark unintended consequence. If the bad guys were almost always the ones using science and machines, why would kids ever be interested in those things?

In many ways, Dr. Robotnik is everything we want our children to be. He's brilliant, passionate, interested in science, and never gives up even after suffering failure after failure after failure.

These days, science is "cooler" than it has been in a long time. Indeed, popular science figures like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have millions of Twitter followers, and those two have a lot more in common with Robotnik than they do with Sonic the Hedgehog.

Dr. Robotnik is dedicated, caring, resourceful, relatable, and intelligent. He doesn't deserve to be viewed as a one-dimensional villain and he certainly doesn't deserve the cruel nickname "Eggman" bestowed upon him by that pompous jock Sonic the Hedgehog.