Pokémon is a beloved franchise, held in high regard by its millions of fans worldwide. For countless millennials, the anime, trading card game, and fan-favorite video game series still serve as pleasant nostalgia today. This franchise has not disappeared, however. If anything, its recent resurgence has made the series more popular than at any point since its inception in the late ‘90s. Mobile game Pokémon Go was the hit of summer 2016, and Game Freak’s most recent handheld titles Pokémon Sun & Moon have been setting records as two of Nintendo’s fastest-selling video games.
As beloved as the franchise is, however, Pokémon has not been without its insane and intriguing fan theories as well as its share of controversy, both of which will be highlighted in this article. For this list, we have highlighted 20 factoids surrounding the Pocket Monster franchise that might change the way you look at this cherished property.
Here are 20 Facts About Pokémon That Will Ruin Your Childhood.
20. Pokémon Used to Be People
According to Sinnoh Folk Tales, there was once a time when humans and Pokémon were indistinguishable from one another. It is unclear whether the folklore was referring to the relationship between both man and Pokémon, or whether they simply looked alike. Another folk story tells about a Pokémon who shed its skin in order to sleep as a human. In the morning, it would become a Pokémon, once again, by donning its hide.
It is not just the Sinnoh folklore that speaks of Pokémon becoming humans and vise versa, but also the Pokédex itself. In fact, the psychic-type Pokémon Kadabra is described by the following entry from Pokémon Emerald Version: “It is rumored that a boy with psychic abilities suddenly transformed into Kadabra while he was assisting research into extrasensory powers.” Similarily, Kadabra’s Pokédex entry from Pokémon FireRed states the following: “It happened one morning – a boy with extrasensory powers awoke in bed transformed into Kadabra.”
19. You Missed Out On Catching Mew
In the days of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow Versions, there were more theories surrounding Mew than perhaps any other gaming character in history. It appeared as though everyone had heard a rumor concerning this legendary creature and how to capture it. Completing the Pokédex, defeating the Elite Four X amount of times, and even moving that mysterious pickup truck were all cited as possible ways to obtain the elusive Pokémon, but alas, none of these methods proved successful. In those days, it was believed that the only way to legitimately obtain Mew was to receive it at a Nintendo or a Pokémon sponsored event.
In the years that followed, however, obsessive gamers cracked the code and found out that there was, in fact, a way to catch Mew in the game without having to attend one of the aforementioned events. The method does require utilizating an in-game glitch, but it is possible nonetheless.
18. The Mewtwo Arc is Pretty Messed Up
Okay, so this entry is less of a fact and more of an intriguing observation, but the whole concept of Mewtwo is considerably dark, looking back on it. The poor guy just wanted purpose, but this tragically self-aware character knew that its existence was unlike any other creature out there. Mewtwo is not fully a Pokémon, and yet, it started its life as a tool being utilized by humans. This fan-favorite legendary creature began as nothing more than a science experiment.
If nothing else, Mewtwo serves as a reminder that the Pokémon can hint at some deep, topical issues from time to time. A theme that continues to crop up in the anime, for example, is the idea of Pokémon as partners rather than pets or even slaves. Ash, the cartoon’s main protagonist, consistently advocates for Pokémon as partners and friends, while recyclable rivals continually see the creatures as tools for battle. Yes, Pokémon, as a product, is primarily aimed at a younger demographic, but as proven with the Mewtwo storyline and character, the franchise is not afraid to address (albeit, not fully confront) interesting philosophical issues.
17. Ditto, a Failed Mew Clone?
Like most common properties, Pokémon is no stranger to interesting fan theories. That being said, the rich lore behind the Pokémon universe, along with an unwillingness for either the anime or the video game franchise to explore its interesting heritage, leaves fans with the task of filling in the gaps so to speak. Simply put, a lack of answers leads fans to create insanely creative and intriguing potential answers. For example: Why do almost none of the video game protagonists have fathers? What happened to Ash’s father, and why are 10-year-olds allowed to wonder the world unsupervised? There are, of course, responses to several of these questions – numerous of which can be found in the amine creator, Takeshi Shudo’s novel Pocket Monsters: The Animation – The Secrets of the Pokémon Anime! – but nevertheless, countless other quarries remain unanswered.
An interesting hypothesis which claims shapeshifting Pokémon Ditto to be a failed Mew clone is just another example of this search for answers. There are quite a few parallels that make this theory plausible as well. Firstly, they share a similar color. They are the only two Pokémon that can learn the move “Transform.” Each of these Pokémon can utilize every possible move. Additionally, they are both genderless and share a common weight. There are, of course, plenty more similarities as well, making this rumor even more interesting and even somewhat plausible.
16. Doduo Can Fly?
Widely known for its impressive speed, Doduo is not necessarily one of the first names that fans would think of when asked to identify a flying-type Pokémon. However, it is possible for Doduo to fly, and the little creature proves just that in the popular Nintendo 64 title Pokémon Stadium.
In the aforementioned turn-based brawler, Doduo can actually learn the move Fly. The bird Pokémon does not execute this move by flapping its nonexistent wings, but instead by moving its feet rapidly. This may not necessarily obey the laws of physics, but it gets the job done regardless.
Doduo’s intriguing qualities don’t stop there, however. According to various Pokédex entries, the brains within the Pokémon’s two heads are believed to communicate with each other by utilizing telepathic powers. Additionally, it is said that Doduo’s two heads never sleep at the same time; one is always awake, keeping an eye out for potential enemies and predators.
15. People Eat Pokémon
The magical wonder of the Pokémon universe begins to unravel a bit when considering the unsettling fact that people actually eat Pokémon. It is not advertised in the anime, or even in the game really, but it is a documented fact. In Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver, it is said that Slowpoke are considered a rare delicacy, and are quite expensive if sold in the right market. Additionally, Farfetch’d were hunted to near-extinction due to their delicious taste and flavor.
It might be harder to consider Pokémon partners or even friends if several of them may become a future meal. Again, this is an aspect of the franchise that is largely glossed over, but it is still interesting to note that it is addressed, albeit briefly. Similarly, animals are mentioned as well, but they are quite elusive to the common fan. Why don’t people in the Pokémon universe eat animals instead? The simple answer is that they do, but it should be noted, however grim this may be, that they eat Pokémon too.
14. Voice Actor Changes You May Not Have Noticed
In quite the controversy, the English voice dub of the Pokémon anime received a massive overhaul in 2006. To the dismay of fans, as well as the cast of the show, numerous voice actors were replaced with ‘sound-a-likes’ in order for the series to reportedly cut costs. Most notably, voice actors such as Veronica Taylor, who portrayed Ash Ketchum, and Eric Stuart, who voiced both Brock and James, were replaced – along with most of the other cast members.
This controversial move took place in the spring of 2006, first with a special entitled The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon. This test must have worked out fairly well because the franchise decided to move ahead with the crop of new actors and actresses. Interestingly enough, a number of casual fans are still not even aware that this move ever took place. A change in voices is noticeable to the discerning ear, but for those who do not follow the anime so closely, this monumental shift behind the cameras went off without so much as a hiccup.
13. Banned Episodes
It is not uncommon for anime localizations to censor content or even ban episodes in the west. What is considered appropriate for children in Japan, or in any other country for that matter, does not always line up with what is deemed appropriate for children stateside and visa versa. For that reason, a localization team is tasked with, not only translating dialogue but also potentially censoring specific content.
There are several reasons that an episode might be censored – language, sexuality, violence – but this sometimes results in wonky translations or even missing episodes. This entry focuses on the latter. Episode 35, “The Legend of Dratini,” was removed from the rotation due to the heavy presence of firearms while episode 18, “Beauty and the Beach,” was initially banned due to James’ inflatable breasts and some other sexualized scenes. Two additional episodes, “Tentacool and Tentacruel” and “The Tower of Terror,” were temporarily pulled due sensitivity in the wake of terrorist attacks on September 11.
12. Seizure-Inducing Episode
One endeavor, which was universally banned, was the infamous seizure-inducing episode. On December 16, 1997, an episode aired in Japan that caused seizures, blindness, and convulsions in over 685 viewers, each of which were taken to the hospital by ambulance. Countless other viewers complained of headaches, dizziness, nausea, and blurred vision.
Due to bright, strobing lights about 20 minutes into the episode, hundreds of children were hospitalized, two of which were admitted for over two weeks. In fact, this particular scene was so bad that a few people had seizures when they have briefly broadcast clips of the scene during later news reports. This case was simply unprecedented, earning the anime a spot as a Guinness World Record holder. It was later reported that over 12,000 children reported much more mild symptoms, but the vast majority of these reports were chocked up to mere mass hysteria.
11. Professor Oak is a Boss Trainer
Due, again, to an in-game glitch (not unlike the glitch earlier mentioned in regard to capturing Mew), it is possible to fight Pokémon Professor Oak in Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow Versions. Professor Oak is no ordinary Pokémon trainer either. In fact, he has one of the most well-rounded, highest level teams in the entirety of the original game series.
Why Game Freak decided to forgo a proper fight with Professor Oak is anyone’s guess, but it is interesting that they decided to include the coding nonetheless. It stands to reason that one of the brightest minds in all of Pokémon would be pretty proficient at constructing a team, but who would have guessed that Oak trained a level 70 Gyarados. Additionally, Professor Oak’s team contains the likes of Exeggutor, Arcanine, Charizard, and Tauros. Seriously, why was this guy not the Pokémon League Champion? Perhaps he used to be, or maybe Oak prefers the life of a scientist rather than that of the trainer.
10. Koffing and Weezing Were Nearly Named after U.S. Cities
Pokémon names are generally pretty self-explanatory. Take the name of an animal or character that a Pokémon resembles and sort of go from there. However, it appears as though some titles do not fall into that general category. For example, popular first generation Pokémon, Koffing and Weezing, did not always have these, somewhat, on the nose monikers.
Before Koffing and Weezing were known by onomatopoeia alone, potential names such as ‘NY’ and ‘LA’ were considered possibilities. NY and LA are, of course, acronyms for American cities, New York City and Los Angeles. However, these titles were likely teasing jabs rather than affectionate nicknames. Seeing that both Koffing and Weezing are both poison gas Pokémon, the names NY and LA were originally assigned to these characters due to the high air pollution levels in both the cities respectively. Assuming residents of these two major metropolitan cities would likely not appreciate the reference, the two names quickly changed to Koffing and Weezing ahead of the franchise’s release in the west.
9. Wailord and Ditto Can Breed
Since the gameplay mechanic made its debut in the game series’ second generation, Pokémon breeding has become essential for trainers looking to maximize their stats and collectors looking to find those ever-elusive shiny Pokémon. Generally, Pokémon breeding is done by combining two Pokémon of the same species, or any creature along with the transforming Pokémon Ditto. That being said, it is possible for two different species of Pokémon to breed as well. However, some combinations make absolutely no sense.
For example, it is possible to breed a Wailord, the massive blue whale Pokémon, with Diglett, one of the franchise’s smallest characters. For context, Wailord can grow to be well over 45 feet long, weighing upwards of 870 pounds. Diglett, on the other hand, stands at a mere 8 inches tall, weighing less two pounds. The physics alone are astounding. We won’t dare venture into the physiology of this breeding process, but the fact that these two Pokémon can procreate is incredible, to say the least.
8. Psychic-type Pokémon Fear Bugs?
Again, this entry might fall into the intriguing observation category rather than pure fact, but it is certainly interesting regardless. It would appear as though psychic-type Pokémon are afraid of bugs, or at the very least, bug-type attacks hit psychic Pokémon for super effective damage. Along with bug-types, psychic Pokémon are also weak to dark and ghost-types.
Interestingly enough, bugs, ghosts, and darkness are among three common fears for children (as well as numerous adults). Psychic-type Pokémon, which were viewed as overpowered in the first generation, are the only demographic to be weak to all three. This could just as easily be a coincidence, but even if it is, it is a fun little theory that psychic-type Pokémon are afraid of bugs and the dark. And if it is true, Shedinja, a creature who currently maintains the distinction of being the only bug and ghost-type Pokémon in existence, must be atop the list of psychic Pokémon’s greatest fears.
7. Drowzee & Hypno Kidnap Children
Hypno and Drowzee might appear to be a silly Pokémon with oddly shaped noses (and it most certainly is) but they are also fairly creepy. Known as the hypnotic Pokémon, Hypno carries a pendulum which it uses to put people and Pokémon to sleep. Once the prey is asleep, Hypno feasts on their dreams. The madness does not stop there, however.
According to Hypno’s Pokédex entry from the latest hit game Pokémon Moon, “it makes anyone it meets fall asleep and has a taste of their dreams. Anyone having a good dream, it carries off.” And the reason that children are more sought after targets for these Pokémon is the simple fact that Hypno, as well as its previous unevolved form Drowzee, prefer children’s dreams because they are “much tastier.” On a much lighter note, it is also said that if someone has a good dream that they cannot recall, it is likely due to the fact that either Drowzee or Hypno already ate it.
6. Disturbing Pokédex Entries
Hypno, Drowzee, and Kadabra are not the only Pokémon with unnerving Pokédex entries. In fact, ghost-type lore is riddled with surprisingly dark content. For example, ghost balloon Pokémon Drifloon is known for carrying children away after they mistake the creature for an actual balloon. First generation fan-favorite Haunter is said to hide in the dark, waiting to take the life of the next living thing that crosses its path. Additionally, Haunter’s tongue is made entirely of gas, and if a person or Pokémon is licked by it, it is possible that the victim could begin shaking and even die if untreated.
Gourgeist, a fifth-generation ghost-type, “sings joyfully as it observes the suffering of its prey,” and Dusclops’ body is rumored to be like a black hole that absorbs anything into itself but nothing ever comes back out. Phantump, another fifth-generation ghost-type, perhaps takes the cake with arguably the darkest Pokédex entry to date: “According to old tales, these Pokémon are stumps possessed by the spirits of children who died while lost in the forest.”
5. Pokémon Could Have Sent You to College
Yup, you read that right. Pokémon could actually have sent you to college – it still can too! Perhaps convincing your parents that the countless hours you spent playing Pokémon was not a complete waste would have been much easier if you would have informed them that, each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship money is offered to those who place in tournaments for both the Trading Card Game as well as the highly competitive Video Game Championships.
That said, both scenes are highly competitive, so those looking to earn scholarships might still be better off hitting the books. Still, it is not a bad way to earn money for college. Being awarded a major scholarship and the title of Pokémon League Champion simultaneously is an accomplishment that few ever get the opportunity to achieve. The winner of the Pokémon Trading Card World Championships earned $25,000 for the victory while the Video Game World Champion brought in $10,000, all for winning one tournament.
4. Banned in Saudi Arabia
Pokémon is widely regarded as a lighthearted children’s franchise, but apparently, not everyone agrees with this sentiment. In 2001, the highest ranking religious leader in Saudi Arabia, the Grand Mufti, issued a ban on the entire Pokémon franchise. The religious leader claimed that the franchise promoted gambling and Zionism. This may appear to be an isolated incident, but numerous Muslim leaders followed suit, deeming the property inappropriate. Other Arabic-speaking countries ceased to air any current or previous episodes of the Pokémon anime, however, this is likely due to waning audience interest rather than religious beliefs.
This may sound like an overreaction to the millennial craze, but religious leaders across the board felt the need to address the unprecedented phenomenon. In fact, numerous respected media outlets were reporting the story that, the pope at the time of the franchise’s inception, had approved of the property. The religious issue arose once again when the viral mobile game Pokémon Go became one of the most talked about stories of summer 2016. Luckily, the current pope appears to approve of Pokémon as well.
3. Racial Stereotypes
As beloved as the Pokémon franchise is and has been throughout its twenty-year lifespan, it has not been without its controversies. One issue that plagued the series early on was that of stereotypical characters. Most infamously, the first-generation Pokémon Jynx, was viewed as a negative racial stereotype of African-Americans, and thusly, was altered to feature a purple face rather than a black one. This alteration took place at the beginning in the game series’ second generation internationally and in all versions from generation three onwards.
Another character who was viewed as a potentially offensive stereotype, albeit one who did not receive the backlash that Jynx did, was Brock. Brock’s story is a bit different, however. Rather than reactively removing Brock from the anime, or even altering his appearance, the creators – worried about potential flak given the character’s somewhat stereotypical aesthetic – proactively pulled the companion from series altogether. Although, after the team replaced Brock with new male companion Tracey, the creators and writers realized that fans missed having the goofy, girl-crazed character in the show and ended up bringing him back for multiple seasons.
2. Clefairy: The Original Pikachu
It is hard to imagine, but it could have just as easily been Clefairy, and not Pikachu, who became the mascot for the Pokémon franchise. Of course, today, Pikachu is almost synonymous with the word ‘Pokémon,’ but originally, the creators behind the anime were considering Clefairy for the lead role rather than the adorable electric mouse.
Would the franchise be the same today if this were the case? That question is almost impossible to answer, but it is interesting to consider nonetheless. Perhaps kids today would be walking around in Clefairy t-shirts and backpacks with the fairy-type creature’s face on it. Who knows – there might even be a Clefairy float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In the end, however, the showrunners decided that it would be best if Pikachu were the antagonist’s partner, due to its color. Apparently, yellow is a much more recognizable color, and that fact alone perhaps changed the course of the franchise’s history forever.
1. Lavender Town Myths
Creepypasta, an internet site dedicated to horror stories and disturbing tales designed to frighten and entertain readers, could perhaps survive on the name ‘Pokémon’ alone. The Pokémon franchise is simply a treasure trove of myths and spooky tales, many of which can be found on the Creepypasta website.
One area, in particular, that appears to be the center of creepy myths is that of first-generation seaside village Lavender Town. As the location of a massive Pokémon graveyard, it should come as no surprise that Lavender Town plays host to numerous ghost stories.
A few tall tales concerning Lavender Town surround the musical theme that plays when a character enters the village. One urban legend claims that this theme led to suicides in young children around the globe. Even more myths surround the mysterious town and report there to be hacked versions of the original game in which the main protagonist comes back as a ghost, claiming souls of Pokémon and their trainers. These are all mere fictional tales, of course, but regardless, very, very creepy.
What are a few of your favorite mind-blowing Pokémon facts? Make sure to let us know your favorites in the comments section.
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