Much to the chagrin of hedgehog owners everywhere, pop culture has historically been unkind to the animal. From the ubiquitous Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which introduced “Spiny Norman,” a hedgehog capable of driving Dinsdale Piranha to murder, to the much lesser-known “The Hedgehog’s Song” by The Incredible String Band, which paints the ’hog in question as a complete buzzkill, hedgehogs have gotten a bum rap. Even Sonic The Hedgehog comes off as an asshole with tunnel vision, focusing solely on collecting gold rings and winning a trophy. But none of this compares to the five instances below when pop culture was brazen enough to abuse—and in most cases even murder—a hedgehog.
1. Alice In Wonderland (1951)
With the Queen Of Hearts, from Lewis Carroll’s famed Alice In Wonderland, it could be worse. After all, her best-known line is a death decree of “Off with their heads!” to any who disobey her. But the hedgehogs don’t have it much better. When Alice is asked if she plays croquet, she attempts to appease the Queen by responding, “Why, yes, your majesty.” Little does Alice know what animal cruelty lies ahead. Employed as croquet balls, the poor—and in the above Disney adaptation, playfully colored—hedgehogs are whacked to and fro by makeshift mallets (yes, those are flamingos). Ultimately Alice ends up smacking a pink hedgehog into a tree trunk, and dares to give the concussed fella a stern look of disapproval. Whoa, Alice, it’s obvious you want to get home, but did you have to take it out on the vulnerable?
2. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011)
In the sequel to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey Jr. is up to his usual antics as the title character: sleuthing and spitting game. This time, he sets his sights on Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace), a Romani who joins Holmes and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) in an effort to save herself and her brother. Holmes, meanwhile, tries to flatter Heron by complimenting her hedgehog goulash—“This is a glorious hedgehog goulash. I can’t remember ever having had better.” Watson quickly calls him out—“Do tell me: When was the last time you had a hedgehog goulash?” Unfortunately, though, no one comments on the slaughtering of a defenseless hedgie and its family all to make a subpar, quill-filled soup.
3. Yoshi’s Island (1995)
The Cave Of Harry Hedgehog exists in Yoshi’s Island (level six of world three in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island and Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3). For some reason, it’s Harry’s fault that an Italian plumber riding a dragon (who is probably pooping all over the place like a horse) is in his house. So when Harry and his friends try to boot Mario and Yoshi, they’re met by Chomp Rocks, boulders used to crush enemies. Not to mention the rest of Mario’s arsenal, which is used to “deal” with the hedgehogs.
4. One Foot In The Grave, “Timeless Time” (1990)
In “Timeless Time,” a season-two episode of the BBC television show One Foot In The Grave, Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson), is continuously awoken by his car alarm. The cause? Bird droppings, cats, and a variety of other outdoor critters creating a restless night. He’s understandably frustrated when he finally goes outside to remedy the situation, but in his late-night haze, he smashes a hedgehog with his foot, then walks into the house with it worn like a slipper, much to his wife’s horror. And she should be afraid. Because when Meldrew asks, “Where do they come from?!” before carelessly tossing the hedgehog out the window, the answer is a beloved family of hedgehogs—hopefully one that will seek revenge.
5. The Animals Of Farthing Wood, “Between Two Evils” (1993)
After The Animals Of Farthing Wood discover their home has been paved over by developers, they set out for White Deer Park, making a pact that they will ignore their animal instincts in order to protect one another throughout the journey. But let’s be honest, no one seems to give a fuck about the two hedgehogs in the British animated series. Although none of the other animals bat them around, or wear them as a slipper, they certainly don’t lift a finger to save the hedgehog couple before they’re run over by a semi. Later, some bullfrog drops some bullshit about instinct getting the better of them, and the rest of the animals shed a tear or two. But then they charge ahead and an ass of an owl says, “Those cowering hedgehogs just curled up and died.” Harsh. Way harsh.