The Goal Ring (ゴールリング,Gōru Ringu?), also called Goal Medal, is an object that appears in the 3D games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. They are giant Rings that mark the goal (thus, the end) of the playable Stages and touching them is often required to complete a Stage. They serve as a modern replacement for the Goal Plates. The Goal Rings first appeared in Sonic Adventure 2 and has appeared in nearly every following game since.
The Goal Rings appear at the end of the playable stage, where they mark that the player has reached the end of the stage. To complete or end the stage the player is in, the player usually has to touch the Goal Ring with the playable character, which in turn will end the playthrough of the stage and rate the player's performance.
The Goal Ring first appeared in Sonic Adventure 2 and its remake Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. In this game, the Goal Ring is exactly what it says on the tin: a giant ring with the word "GOAL" written in the middle.
In Sonic Heroes, the Goal Ring was given a slight change in appearance; instead of having the word "GOAL" written in the center, it had a small revolving gold star floating in the center, with segments of a red ring surrounding it. For some missions in the game that involves completing an objective that can be found in the stage, the Goal Ring will act as a return point that will send the player back to the beginning of the stage. For such missions, the Goal Ring has a back arrow in its center. In this game, it is the first and currently only time that the Goal Ring could be targeted onto with a Homing Attack to reach.
The Goal Rings also appeared in Sonic Advance 3 where they are called Goal Medals In this game, it is a type of smaller ring with a star inside it. When touching the Goal Medal, it will turn gold, silver or bronze depending on the clear time.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
The Goal Ring made another appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Its appearance in this game is identical to those in Sonic Heroes.
The Goal Ring also appeared in Sonic Rush. In this game, it is identical to the ones in Sonic Heroes. Once a player touches it, however, the Goal Ring will show a gloved hand inside it making the peace sign. Unlike the other games, it won't disappear once touched, and it would spin fast unstoppable.
Sonic Rivals 2
In Sonic Rivals 2, the goal ring is changed into a giant gold ring with a big blue star in the center. Like Sonic Rush, it won't disappear once touched, it would spin fast unstoppable.
In Sonic Unleashed, the Goal Ring changed to a giant gold ring with a red star in the center surrounded by rainbow colors inside it (setting the current look for it).
The Goal Ring also appeared in Sonic Colors where its appearance was the same as it were in Sonic Unleashed. On the DS version of Sonic Colors, the Goal Ring only appeared in the first run of Tropical Resort Act 1 and certain missions.
The Goal Ring also appears in Sonic Generations where its appearance was the same as in Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colors. It only appeared in Modern Sonic's stages and challenges.
Eggman makes a joke about the Goal Ring in one of his PA announcements in Sonic Colors, in which he says: "Attention! If you find the Goal Ring, please return it to the lost impound, thank you!". This also breaks the Fourth Wall.