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|Species: A.I., holo-lynx
|Age: Unknown, physically 16
|Series: Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series)
|First seen: "Sonic Boom"
NICOLE, also known as Nicole the Holo-Lynx, is a fictional artificial intelligence created by DiC for the 1993 Sonic the Hedgehog animated TV series (SatAM). Originally appearing as little more than an analytical handheld computer belonging to Sally, she was greatly expanded upon in Archie Comics’ Sonic the Hedgehog comics, eventually gaining sentience and becoming a full member of the cast.
Little is known about the development of NICOLE, but of what is known by fans, Sally was planned to have some sort of pocket computer as early as the revised SatAM bible from March of 1992. This draft of the SatAM bible does not name Sally’s computer, implying that it did not have one yet, but it establishes NICOLE’s ability to display 3D holograms, and it is described by Sonic as “excellent”. A later draft dated to March of 1993 finally gives the computer its name of NICOLE, and shows that NICOLE is voice-activated..
Head writer of SatAM Ben Hurst originally planned for NICOLE to have been an organic girl before becoming a computer. This girl would have been friends with Sally, and a child genius, but would have had her mind transferred into a computer by Dr. Robotnik, leaving her body dead. NICOLE would have then been given back to Sally, unbeknownst that it was her former friend. This information would have been revealed in a movie continuation of SatAM, but said movie was never produced, and NICOLE would be given a completely different backstory in the Archie comics.
In 2005, NICOLE underwent a revamp of sorts, gaining further sentience and receiving an anthropomorphic design in Archie Sonic issue #151 - which would culminate in her creating a physical body for herself in issue #176. It is presumed that her Mobian design was created by Tania del Rio, who wrote and penciled the story introducing it.
Along with the rest of the SatAM-original characters, Nicole received a redesign during the Super Genesis Wave reboot in 2013. These were designed collaboratively by the Archie Sonic staff, but were finalized by Rafa Knight in 3D model form.
In the second American Sonic TV show (usually referred to as SatAM), NICOLE is Sally’s personal handheld computer, implied to have been given to her by her father. Sally often brings her on missions, carrying her on the side of her boot, and she’s usually used to hack systems or display maps.
Generally, Sally is the only character who interacts with NICOLE, but other characters do as well on occasion. In one episode, Sonic uses her to save Sally and Bunnie from The Void, though NICOLE’s time with Sonic caused her to start talking like him.
Oddly, a computer appears in the pilot Heads or Tails that uses the same voice as NICOLE, but is never called NICOLE and doesn’t appear to share the same handheld body.
Pre-Super Genesis Wave
Despite being conceptualized early in SatAM’s development, it would take over a year for NICOLE to be added to the Archie comics. Her appearance was built up in issue 17, as a mysterious orb which appeared out of nowhere. This orb eventually disappeared to reveal NICOLE’s handheld form in the special Sonic in Your Face!. Later in the issue, it’s revealed that NICOLE was created by an alternate future version of Rotor, and sent back in time to the present version of Sally.
This version of NICOLE is shown to have more of a personality than the show’s NICOLE, even shocking Sonic when he tries to shake her. She’s also more of a friend to Sally, as Sally confides her secrets in her - such as when Sally secretly offers love advice in the Knothole newspaper under the name “Aly”. NICOLE also gained something of a taste in music, given that she called Mina’s music overrated.
The most drastic change in NICOLE’s character would come when she and Sally, in a freak accident, switched bodies with each other. Sally was incredibly confused by being in a computer, but NICOLE was completely in awe at the new senses she had. Unfortunately, this body switch only lasted a few minutes, but it left a lasting impact on her.
In the story Stargazing, she would use that experience as the basis for an artificial body. She tested it at night, but was discovered by Sally. NICOLE explained that she’d grown a desire to be alive like her friends. Though the princess thought NICOLE should stay in her new body, it took up too much power for the AI, and she couldn’t keep it up for long. Nevertheless, the two stayed outside, gazing at the stars until NICOLE ran too low on power to keep her body running.
Later on, NICOLE would be infected with microscopic Nanites by Dr. Eggman’s own malicious A.I. A.D.A.M. These nanites attempted to take control of her, although she resisted their attempts. A.D.A.M. also used the Nanites to create an artificial city - but when he was destroyed, NICOLE took control of them. Out of the Nanite city, she constructed a recreation of Mobotropolis dubbed New Mobotropolis, as well as creating a new artificial body for herself out of them. When Dr. Eggman destroyed Knothole and abducted its citizens to power his Egg Grapes, NICOLE helped Sonic rescue them, and transported all of them to New Mobotropolis, revealing it and her new body to them in dramatic fashion. She also used her powers over the Nanites to protect the city with a force field.
Nicole continued to (attempt to) protect the city from outside forces, but everything changed when the Iron Dominion attacked. Nicole attempted to stop them, but was brainwashed by the technomage Iron Queen, becoming Iron Nicole. Since Nicole controlled the entire city, this meant that the Iron Queen effectively controlled it as well. Luckily, Sonic and Sally were able to escape and save her, but she was forced to play double agent while her friends gathered the means to defeat the Iron Dominion.
Unfortunately, this incident ended up traumatizing the entire city, leading to a common distrust of Nicole and the amount of control she had. A concert by Mina Mongoose to raise awareness of this heightened that distrust, and Ixis Naugus used that opportunity to convince the Mobians that he could shut down Nicole if he were made king. Not long after, Dr. Eggman attempted to use his Death Egg's Roboticizer to destroy the Nanite-created city, but Sally used Nicole to reverse the Roboticizer on herself. Now having lost both the trust of the Mobians and her best friend, Nicole was finally banished from the city she created by the city council.
While there, Nicole spiraled into a deeper depression, and since she was unable to use the Nanites herself, the city took way longer to protect and repair itself. Eventually, Mina and Nicole settled their differences, and later, Harvey Who used Nicole's services to create a base for his Secret Freedom Fighters. Not long after, the city council elected to reinstate Nicole under monitored conditions, on a proposal from Isabella Mongoose.
Post-Super Genesis Wave
In the continuity established after the Super Genesis Wave rebooted the Archie Sonic series, Nicole again has a completely different backstory. She was an AI created by Dr. Ellidy, a lynx, to preserve his daughter Nikki's mind digitally. Ultimately, this failed, but rather than delete his new AI, he gave her to Sally as a gift. King Acorn named her NICOLE, after a previous queen of the Acorn kingdom.
After this, NICOLE's past generally follows the same path as her pre-SGW counterpart. She started out cold and calculating, but over time grew a desire to be alive like her organic friends, eventually culminating in her creating a physical body in a scene based on Stargazing.
By the point the post-SGW run begins, Nicole is mostly similar to her previous incarnation, with a few minor differences. Her lynx form has a different design, and rather than being formed through nanites, she powers it through a Ring. In the aftermath of the Super Genesis Wave, Nicole unintentionally absorbed its excess energy, causing her to glitch out. Being held by people from the previous timeline transferred the energy to them, thus restoring their memories of their previous lives. She did this to each of the other Freedom Fighters, as well as Naugus by accident.
While her previous iteration took more of a defensive role in the later years, this Nicole once again goes on missions with her friends in a support role. Here, though, she's able to use her Holo-Lynx form to carry her own computer - her friends took advantage of this when they infiltrated Eggman's Bullet Train. In the Sonic Universe arc Spark Of Life, she reunited with her creator Dr. Ellidy, while also defending him from a malicious virus named Phage. Though Ellidy was initially unnerved by the fact his AI creation became sentient, in the end he warmed up to her. The arc also delved into her backstory, and gave her a new transformation called Overclocked Nicole. Nicole uses her newfound power to seal Phage out of Ellidy's computer systems.
Nicole continued to assist the Freedom Fighters during the Worlds Unite arc, as well as when Dr. Eggman attacked them just before their assault on him. Phage infected the system of their base, the Sky Patrol, leading to a rematch between her and Nicole. Nicole transformed into Overclocked Nicole one more time, but discovered that Phage was only stalling and accidentally overpowered her systems. This destroyed her handheld body, but luckily her mind was safe elsewhere.
Nicole helped maintain the Sky Patrol's systems as Rotor piloted during their fight with the Death Egg. Unfortunately, the Death Egg destroyed the Sky Patrol's wing, causing it to crash - though luckily both Rotor and Nicole survived. Nicole was last mentioned as being safe within the air base's servers.
Cancellation of Archie Comics
Because of the cancellation of the Archie Sonic comics in 2017, it is unknown if Nicole will ever appear in any official Sonic media again. Neither she nor the rest of the Freedom Fighters have appeared in the IDW Sonic series that followed the Archie series.
Nicole was intended to appear in at least one story that went unpublished because of the cancellation. One of them, issue 97 of Sonic Universe, would have had her meeting with Dr. Ellidy again, and was partially sketched before being shelved.
Personality and traits
At first, NICOLE was devoid of most emotions, being purely analytical in nature. She did pick up on Sonic’s manner of speaking, and expressed stress during the later SatAM episodes. Over the course of the series, she began developing more emotions, becoming more friendly with the Freedom Fighters and talking to them on a more casual level.
Nicole is polite, well-spoken, and although she speaks more casually than she used to, she is still highly analytical. She has picked up some snark over the years from those around her, but as a program, she puts her primary objective first and foremost. In some way, she acts almost like a hostess. She prioritizes her friends over herself, and loves them dearly - especially Sally.
Nicole doesn’t enjoy fighting, and will almost always stay out of fights when she can, helping her friends from a defensive or supportive position. If she can’t stop a conflict herself, she is unafraid of contacting somebody who can. Nicole is confident in her own abilities, but isn’t afraid to admit if something is out of her reach. She’s also shown to be shy at times, and as she is still developing her emotions, she tends to have trouble defining or coping with them.
Powers and abilities
As NICOLE is an AI housed in a computer, she can solve just about any technology-related issue the Freedom Fighters require. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, can solve complex problems and strategize solutions to whatever the team needs. She can also display 3D holograms, as well as download data from other computers. On top of that, she can hack into computers with relative ease.
In the Archie comics, Nicole is also capable of creating a physical body for herself, which she designed herself. The method differs between the two continuities - in the original continuity, the form is composed of Nanites, while post-Super Genesis Wave it is a hologram projected from her handheld and powered by a Ring. Despite being a hologram, it is able to physically touch things, and she can even feel the wind in this form.
When she is powered by a Red Star Ring in the digital world, Nicole transforms into Overclocked Nicole. Here, she gains a huge burst of energy, not unlike a Super transformation, and has been shown to defeat even powerful viruses like Phage with it. Overclocked Nicole is also the first Super transformation to be given to a female character not made by SEGA themselves, and the second to be attained by a female character in general outside of Blaze.
Nicole’s most obvious relationship is with Sally. The two of them are best friends, and Sally confided her deepest secrets in Nicole and saw her as a mentor. Nicole in return cherished Sally for showing her the value of life, and was distraught with grief when she was roboticized. In the reboot, they are implied to have romantic feelings for each other, though this was not explicitly made canon.
Nicole is also very good friends with the other Freedom Fighters. She interacts with Sonic often (since he is the hero), and it’s thought that his wit is what initially awakened her personality. She also spends a lot of time with Rotor, since he is the resident mechanic, and has collaborated with him on many projects. She also appears to be friends with Espio, given that they have helped each other on a few occasions.
Her relationship with Mina is somewhat rocky. They started on good terms, but Mina became terrified of Nicole under the Iron Dominion, and voiced her concerns during a concert. This led to the city turning against Nicole, and her being exiled. However, Mina admitted that she didn’t intend for it to go that far, and the two made up - Mina even held a concert in support of her.
One of Nicole’s more intriguing relationships is with Shard the Metal Sonic. The two are shown to be friends, even playing chess matches with each other, and bonded over the fact that they’re both AIs. Shard, however, is implied to have romantic feelings for Nicole. It’s unknown if Nicole reciprocated those feelings, and given that Shard got blown to smithereens and does not appear in the post-Super Genesis Wave universe, it’s likely we’ll never find out.
- File:SonicTH-SatAM Revised Bible 1992-03-11.pdf, page 6
- File:SonicTH-SatAM Revised Bible 1993-03-10 Page 7.jpg
- http://www.saturdaymorningsonic.com/features/bens_notes/ (Wayback Machine: 2022-03-16 21:57)
- https://www.cbr.com/archie-redesigns-sonic-the-hedgehog/ (archive.today)
- The Void
- @IanFlynnBKC on Twitter (Wayback Machine: 2020-05-31 20:10)
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The Complete Sonic Comic Encyclopedia
|Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series) characters
|Sonic the Hedgehog | Princess Sally Acorn | Tails | Rotor Walrus | Bunnie Rabbot | Antoine D' Coolette | Dr. Robotnik | Snively
|Cluck | Dulcy the Dragon | SWATbot | Uncle Chuck | NICOLE | Lupe | Ari Ram
|Ixis Naugus | Muttski | Lazaar