Trying to write a theory on Cody is extremely difficult. Much like Ken, too much of his story is in the open to say that he has anything at all to reveal. However, there was one thing in Cody’s background that has yet to be revealed: his breakup with Jessica. While there is nothing in-game that states why they’re no longer together, it’s Cody’s actions throughout Street Fighter Alpha 3, Street Fighter 4, and Street Fighter 5 that paint a picture of Cody’s perspective on life and why the split happened in the first place.
It’s revealed in Alpha 3 that Cody went from being one of Metro City’s heroes to being one of its biggest troublemakers. Over the course of his story from game to game, we find out a few things about him. First, he’s become bored out of his mind with his life and where he’s ended up. Second, he’s nostalgic about his days fighting with Guy and Haggar to clean up Metro City. Third, he’s irritated when looking at the past, seemingly accepting that he’s become a bad guy. Lastly, despite it all, he was elected mayor of Metro City and became Haggar’s successor.
Cody has made some leaps and bounds and is seemingly on the side of good again, but the question remains: is Cody really a good guy now? Has he truly reformed?
The answer, sadly, is no.
This isn’t to say that Cody doesn’t have a sense of justice. His mission from the start was to excise Belger’s influence and eliminate all corruption in the city. He succeeded to an extent, but the corruption continued despite his, Guy’s, and Haggar’s best efforts, and eventually Cody became a part of the seedy underworld himself.
While I could point out that Final Fight: Streetwise showed that Cody became addicted to a drug and was a willing participant in Father Bella’s schemes in order to get more, since that game is non-canonical, I’m not going to use any plot points from that game in this theory. However, there is a quote I found that explains Cody’s instability pretty well:
“All my life I’ve been a fighter…. Without it, I’m nothing….”
In other words, Cody lives for the fight. Unless he can fight, his life has no meaning, and he’ll just end up slipping back into his self-imposed funk, fighting random people and getting into more and more trouble. The end….
See, here’s the thing: I don’t think the funk is what caused Jessica to leave him. Granted, no person wants their significant other to be constantly in and out of jail for picking fights with strangers, but don’t forget: she is Mike Haggar’s daughter. Haggar is a fighter through and through himself. Jessica is used to this. This is normal. Since the people around her are fighters, this wouldn’t be enough to have them break up.
There is something much darker going on with Cody.
The exchange between Guy and Cody in Cody’s Super Street Fighter 4 ending hints at this. After Cody beats Seth, Guy finds him and tells him that since he beat a “great evil”, then “this means that you must still hold a shred of goodness in your heart.” Cody responds in the negative, stating simply, “he was in my way,” and would return to the prison cell he broke out of because “[t]hat’s where I belong.” It isn’t stated anywhere in canon as to why Cody feels the way he does. He may live for the fight, but it isn’t a good enough reason for why Guy sees him as broken or why Cody believes he belongs in a jail cell. However, there are two main possibilities we can speculate on.
First, Cody simply feels inadequate compared to Guy and Haggar. As he states in his prologue, he thought that ending Mad Gear would make everyone happy, but in his words, “Everyone else goes on to live the high life and I get left behind in a prison cell.” Haggar continues his role as the influential mayor of Metro City and Guy keeps his freedom while pursuing the teachings of Bushinryu. Cody, however, has nothing to show for it but his own strength. While he can punch through brick walls with ease and take his handcuffs off at will, he doesn’t have financial independence and has little in the way of a formal education, as proven in his win quote to Ibuki in Street Fighter 5 in which he says, “I’d stick to school if I were you. You’ll end up like me if you don’t.” Granted, he didn’t need either to become mayor in 5, but it’s also clear he has zero tolerance of the responsibilities he needs to oversee as an elected official. He himself states just how bored he is with having to put up with all the deskwork, preferring to beat up thugs like in simpler times.
This leads to the second possibility, one that is much more sinister and far more likely: Cody has an issue with control. By beating up thugs who threaten the city, he can control the way gangs move around in it. In Cody’s eyes, everything should be okay if he can beat people up. It’s the reason why he went after Abigail pretty much unprovoked in Street Fighter 5. Plus, he doesn’t want to give up that control to anyone. He zones out when Haggar or his assistant, Marlowe, try to dictate to him what needs to be done; if he listens to what they say, he won’t be the one in control anymore. Yes, Cody controls Metro City now, but he wants to do it his way instead of the right way. If his complete blowing off of Marlowe is any indication, it’s likely this control issue ended up affecting his relationship with Jessica.
However, having a control issue wouldn’t put you in jail unless you did something that would put you there. Sure, he beat up thugs, and that would normally be enough, but Cody himself has no qualms about beating people up who he felt deserved it. So why would he say he belonged in jail with those people? Well, what if he beat up someone that didn’t deserve it and his guilt, combined with his sense of justice, led him to believe he was a criminal?
It leads to an uncomfortable question: Did Cody, hero to and mayor of Metro City, beat up Jessica?
Evidence points to yes, and there are three pieces that stand out. First, Cody himself has no issue fighting women. Then again, all of the women he does fight in the games are trying to beat him up too, so this is more or less a wash. Second, before he became mayor, everyone he knows seems to be rather distant to him. Even Guy seems somewhat reluctant to actually ask him to fight alongside him. Also, in the letter teasing Cody’s reveal, Haggar himself states, “I’m only sending this because I was required to… so don’t think I’m over our past differences.” It’s clear that while he feels Cody is the right man to be mayor, he still wants nothing to do with him on a personal level, and Cody beating his daughter up would be a very good reason why.
The last piece of evidence is strongest. While we have not seen Jessica since the Alpha series, and while it’s shown that Cody still loves Jessica in his Street Fighter 5 ending, it’s been established that the two have had a violent relationship. Cody and a smitten Jessica make an appearance in an Alpha 2 stage, and if the player selects a female character and walks by him, Cody turns his head to look at that character, leading Jessica to become enraged and slap him hard enough to spit blood.
The relationship was over as soon as Cody slapped her back.