The Removal of Tawna

Tawna happily holds Crash in her arms.

As a character, Crash is known for being an unlikely hero who stops Dr. Cortex's evil plots time and time again. Though saving the world is all the motivation he needs, things were quite different during his first adventure, which was fueled mostly by the "get the girl" cliché.

Tawna was one of the original characters in the series, and a bit of an oddball at that. She was only present in the first game (excluding visual references and Japanese appearances), and she was the only character to fit the ever-so-brief girlfriend role that drove Crash into his first archipelago rampage.

Although Crash managed to rescue Tawna from the clutches of Dr. Cortex, fate had other plans for our bandicoot girl. By the time the sequel came along, Tawna was nowhere to be seen, and there was no mention of her in the game whatsoever. This confused many players for years, but we do know the actual reason behind this decision now.

Why Tawna Got the Boot

Jessica RabbitTawna was invented by Naughty Dog's Jason Rubin, who wanted to create a romantic relationship for Crash similar to that of Roger Rabbit — while the hero is an unattractive and extremely goofy guy, he's involved with a woman so beautiful that everyone is left wondering how she's even attracted to him to begin with. Jason has even admitted that Tawna was partially based on Roger's wife, Jessica.

Charles Zembillas, the artist who brought Tawna to life, produced a variety of different designs for her, and, as per Jason's instructions, they all shared the same, sexy traits. A blunt way to put it is that Jason specifically wanted the character to be voluptuous and wear a revealing outfit.

Sketches of Tawna

This choice eventually caught the eye of Universal Interactive Studios, who were publishing the game. They were concerned that the character's design was inappropriate for a family game, especially considering that Tawna appeared at the end of each Bonus Round. Naughty Dog fought back, but in the end, Universal prevailed and Tawna's design was altered, reducing the character's chest considerably and giving her more humble attire.

Coco BandicootThe unwanted change in Tawna's design was a contributing factor to her removal by Naughty Dog, but not the only one. According to Charles Zembillas, Naughty Dog was trying to get on Sony Computer Entertainment Japan's good side at the time, and the people there weren't comfortable with Crash having a sexy girlfriend. What followed was an effort to create a new character that acted as a female companion to Crash, albeit playing the entirely different role of cute little sister. A few of Charles's sketches later and Coco was born, becoming one of the most recurrent characters in the series, at the cost of Tawna's early goodbye.

Tawna with Pinstripe.It's interesting to note that even though the games never bother to explain Tawna's mysterious and sudden withdrawal, Japan took measures to circumvent the matter by adding a unique event to the sequel's manual not featured in other territories: Tawna left Crash for Pinstripe. Must have been that suave mafia potoroo charm. This was also included in the Dansu! De Jump! Na Daibouken manga, and there were mentions of Crash missing Tawna in later games in Japan, including a hastily-written text epilogue in Crash Bash that describes the two of them getting back together.

Should Tawna Have Stayed?

It's interesting to imagine how different things would have been if Tawna hadn't been kicked out of the franchise. For one thing, Coco probably wouldn't exist. As Crash's younger and much more intelligent sister, the two of them have an interesting relationship that revolves around their differences and how surprisingly well they get along with each other. They're always looking after each other, and it's evident how far they're willing to go to rescue one another.

Coco tinkering with her tools.

Coco's initial role was largely passive, as she was limited to finding out the truth behind Cortex's plans. It was nice to see someone working on Crash's side for a change, but Coco also became part of the action afterwards. This is where things get interesting.

Because of her traits and similar build to Crash, it's easier to make Coco a playable character than Tawna. Not only is the latter too tall compared to Crash, but her design simply doesn't allude to someone people would enjoy playing as. She was created for the sole purpose of being Crash's heartthrob, and it shows. You can argue that they could have made her learn kung-fu like Coco did, but she would still look awkward tackling the usual Crash platforming.

If anything, Tawna's role, had she been kept, would likely have been similar to Coco's during her debut. Her description in the game's production bible reveals that she was considered to be much more than a simple, captive love interest:

The perfect blend of beauty and brains, TAWNA is the only creature to go through the EVOLV-O-RAY without a subsequent visit to the CORTEX VORTEX. (...) More than a simple damsel in distress, TAWNA spends her time matching wits with N. CORTEX, attempting to reason with N. BRIO, and fomenting revolution among CORTEX's henchmen. TAWNA is a force to be reckoned with.

TawnaIt's a bummer that this never materialized in the game, but it would have been interesting to see in hypothetical cutscenes. As it was, we were never given any clues about Tawna's actual personality, which made it harder to care about her removal in the process.

At least we know Tawna was supposed to be smart. Maybe not absurdly intelligent like Coco, but smart enough to hold her own during a pinch. In the end, though, it's unlikely that Tawna would have become more than a supportive character in the background, as even Coco herself was reduced to this role a few times, despite having shown her abilities before. All Tawna had going for her was persuasion, which severely limited her potential.

One other thing to keep in mind is that being able to play as a female character not only adds variety but also potentially makes the game more appealing to young girls, which is what Naughty Dog ended up going for by the third game. Coco's design and personality is much more relatable to this demographic than Tawna was, and she is a good counterpart to Crash's scatterbrained nature.

Coco and Crash lie down on the sand.

There is, of course, the third option of bringing back Tawna while keeping Coco, but at this point, reintroducing a love interest would just feel out of place. In fact, you might argue that Tawna no longer has a place in this series, as Crash has long evolved beyond the point of needing a girlfriend. As it is, removing Tawna seems like it was a sensible thing to do in the long run.


DanielKroth | November 8, 2015 - 01:18 PM
It's really surprising for me that Tawna was going to be smart. When we look at her, we see that american stupid blond girl stereotype. If she really left Crash for Prinstrippe, it kinda confirms that. The mafia guy with the ***y girl. I think that she still have space in Crash history, but not the way we think. Tawna stayed at Cortex Castle until the end of the game, so she must have met the other evolved animals. Maybe she just got attracted to Pinstrippe, and turn into a bad girl. If she return as Pinstrippe's girl, she could use her intelligence to help him (and maybe other villains too) at some treat. Would be pretty emotional to see Crash heartbreaking as he realizes that she abandoned him for the bad guy. It could be a motivation for beat the bad guys, and make her a good girl again. She is a Bandicoot after all, and we know that them all are good. Crunch was used by Cortex, and them turned into Crash's big brother. Tawna could be used by Pinstrippe, and them realizes that she was in the wrong way. Just imagine Tawna watching Crash fight Pinstrippe, and after his defeat, begging Crash to apologize her. I would love to see this. AND, if they use her the right way, she must be a rival of Coco. You know, Coco took her place, and joke with this plot would be really funny. Nina seems to be meant as the support girl, as Coco does, but she really don't care about it. Cortex vs Crash and Nina vs Coco makes sense, but changing things to Tawna vs Coco would be a really intense surprise.

WesleyIriza | May 5, 2016 - 11:51 PM
Good article ; )

CSyde65 | August 22, 2016 - 07:15 AM
I don't consider Tawna's relationship with Pinstripe to be canon, but that's just me. I still think the developers should consider bringing Tawna back as an ally of Crash, Coco, and Crunch, although it seems unlikely that that will happen.

KokoB | June 24, 2017 - 02:34 PM
One of my favorite articles! Personally, I stick up for Tawna and I don't consider this whole Pinstripe business cannon. Crash deserves to be with her, after all he's been through and she deserves more time in the spotlight. I hope we can see more of her, in the N. Sane Trilogy and that the developers, will emphasize on her personality and make her the character she was meant to be: "More than a simple damsel in distress". As for Coco, I think it would be cool to keep both of them in the story, as friends (or sisters-in-law, if you prefer the definition) and have them show some Girl Power!

johnny123 | November 9, 2017 - 05:06 PM
If tawna was removed, why was rouge from sonic the hedgehog removed if she worse than tawna

AcesFullMike | July 24, 2019 - 08:37 PM
I seriously can't believe that Tawna has been so humiliated over the years. I mean, she's a great character based on her description in the production bible and by just looking at her character, you can tell the same thing, which means that this Pinstripe thing is nonsense. It's just a pity that ND didn't do or say anything. If they just would have shared her decription at once, saying "She's still Crash's girlfriend and here you have the proof" then she would have been much more appreciated, and that pathetic manga in Japan would most likely never have been made, and this confusion about her disappearence wouldn't exist.
The proof is in her description. When you read the producion bible above, it says clearly that Tawna did everything she could to help Crash foil Cortex's plans. She's also called "The perfect blend of beauty and brains". Brains = smart. It also says "Tawna is a force to be reckoned with". That sentence means loyalty, respect and strengh, that you can count on her.
If she's loyal and smart, it's bullsh*t that she would ever betray Crash.
Also keep in mind that ND (the CREATORS of Crash) have never confirmed this Pinstripe theory, therefore it's not true.
In the Crash 2 intro for instance, it's Coco's debut and therefore Tawna maybe just gave her and her brother a little privacy alone while she would join them later on?
A problem with so many people is that they seldom criticize. As soon as someone comes up with a random stupid theory that lacks any logical reasons (like this Tawna-Pinstripe sh*t) most people just believe it. They seldom research further on the subject to find the truth, which led to this confusion.
In fact, Crash's girlfriend has actually been one of the most important characters, who deserves credit among other things for making Crash a legend, for reasoning with N.Brio which led to his hatred towards Cortex in Crash 2 and for making Cortex's henchmen leave him after Crash 1.
A force to be reckoned with indeed.

AcesFullMike | July 24, 2019 - 10:08 PM
Another proof that strenghens Crash's and Tawna's relationship is the picture of them made by ND that's on the top of this article. It's the rebuilt Castle Cortex in the background that proves that this picture is not from the moment when Crash and Tawna were reunited after the first game. At that time, there was a sunset and Castle Cortex was burnt to the ground. In Papu Papu's outro he sold the RUINS of the castle so it couldn't have been rebuilt then. In the sequel, the castle was still in ruins, as you were standing on it when you were in the secret warproom.
In Crash Bandicoot 3 however, you never see the castle which could be a result that it's been rebuilt again, but most likely not by Cortex, since he had other plans with Uka Uka and Dr. N.Tropy at the Time Twister Machine.
Why did Crash, Coco and Aku Aku left little Polar alone in the house in Crash 3? Most likely because there was someone there already who could take care of him? Maybe Tawna had fallen ill and she couldn't come with them just then, but at least she took care of Polar?
In fact, the picture proves that the couple are together after the first game. And you can truly see their relationship in the picture: Crash is victorious and Tawna (who proudly lifts him up) is strong and bold, but at the same time, you see in her eyes that she truly loves him. Since this picture was made by the developers themselves, it's 100% true.
Also the picture of Tawna in their house doesn't feel out of place anymore. Crash would keep a picture of his girlfriend if they had never broken up.
By combining Tawna's description from the production bible with this picture, the problem is solved.
The couple is still together and still have a good relationship.
Tawna didn't just appear in front of the camera in the main games, but hopefully soon she will... and even if she wouldn't appear, the mystery is solved and the couple will have a little privacy alone behind the cameras.

Deslizar para o topo
English | Français | Português | русский