We’ve come a long way since the early days of Pokémon, where we were assured that there were totally, absolutely, definitely only 150. Maybe one more?
Fast-forward a few years and Pokéfever is still going strong, with over 700 of these battle-hungry critters revealed and the franchise showing no signs of stopping. Pretty soon, just completing the full Pokérap is going to net you a world record achievement, if you don’t pass out from dehydration in the middle.
And with the number so high, a few are bound to be duds, or even worse. Unholy abominations, you might say, either due to their awful designs or because they just pop up everywhere and make you wish you'd stocked up on repels. Without further ado, to celebrate Pokémon GO introducing these things to the real world, let’s insult a bunch of fictional creatures!
Let’s just get the special case out of the way first. Yep, sure, we all know that Magikarp spends twenty levels being an impotent wastrel before transforming into a Gyarados, a massive engine of draconian annihilation, able to wreak havoc of Eldritch proportions.
But for those first twenty levels, it’s a Magikarp. A useless, good-for-nothing-except-being-a-meat-shield Magikarp, with a single signature move and an impossibly gormless expression. Not even Magikarp knows why Magikarp is allowed to hang out in your party.
Even its Pokédex entry lists it as the most useless Pokémon in history, along with some confusing information that simultaneously has it able to leap up waterfalls but also being a bad swimmer. Magikarp is based on a Japanese legend, stating that a carp that jumps over the Dragon Gate (or sometimes just a waterfall) will become a dragon, hence where the idea for Gyarados came from. That’s nice and all, but until you reach that point, Magikarp just sits at the front of your Poké-party, sapping up valuable experience points and then quickly being stowed back into its Pokéball so one of its teammates can jump in and take the hit. And all the while, it just stares at you with that wide-eyed expression. Magikarp has seen things.
A wild Bidoof appeared!
A wild Bidoof appeared!
A wild Bidoof appeared!
A wild Bidoof appeared!
This isn’t even fun the very first time, since you can tell by looking at this stupid thing that there’s nothing wild about it. Bidoof may have been an attempt to create something ‘cute’, but it ended up being an even more irritating version of Rattata, striking from the long grass at the lofty level of two in the hopes that this time it won’t keel over after being tackled by a Magikarp.
Bidoof does have a slight advantage over Magikarp in that it can learn actual, useful moves and doesn’t spend the first few levels of its life splashing in place and testing your patience. Still, poor old Bidoof is pretty unpopular for one very obvious reason: it’s the perfect example of early game syndrome. There are so many Pokémon to be found, so no one is going to capture this buck-toothed irritation and make it a valued member of the team. No one’s going to brag about the awesome power of their Bidoof. Even its name makes it sound pitiful. That, and the fact that you can’t walk through long grass without one jumping out and trying to gnaw on your ankles.
And no, it doesn’t get any better with evolution.
Speaking of grating irritation, meet Zubat.
Oh, you’ve met before? Every two steps in every cave in existence? Well, okay then.
Zubat is another one of those early ‘mons that people tend to hate for the crime of pure, unadulterated attrition. It plagued every cave in generation I and II with its ugly mug, popping up and making you either put it down for piecemeal EXP or running, which waste time either way. It’s even been plaguing players of Pokémon GO, since the game makers seem to have kept the tradition alive by having you set upon by Zubats at every turn. The only real difference is that the GO versions flap around the screen and make you waste Pokéballs, if you even attempt to catch them at all. The tradition lives on!
And don’t even get us started on Supersonic, a move so diabolical it can only have been programmed into the game by a child-hating sadist. Zubat might not be much of a pain by itself, but it then decides to cause you as much grief as possible by confusing your Pokémon so that they keep smacking themselves around instead of attacking.
Rude. Not ‘Tentacool poisoning your Pokémon in the middle of the sea’ rude, but still bad.
Look at that dumb thing. Look at it.
It’s supposedly a fish, which means we have to awkwardly pretend that we totally see it instead of the obvious: it’s a heart with lips. A heart with lips that doesn’t evolve into anything, evolve from anything and thus will always be stuck as a stupid-looking heart with lips, forever. Also, its name is Luvdisc. ‘Love disc’, get it?
Unfortunately this is one disc you’re never going to love, since its stats are pretty rubbish and it’s a freaking flat pink fish. Its Pokédex entry informs us that Luvdisc got its name from couples spotting it in the water and… noting that it’s disc-shaped and looks like a heart. Golly, what throes of passion led to such creativity? Love truly is the greatest muse of all.
It really says something when a Pokémon can be confused for a novelty cushion, which is surely the leading cause of death for out-of-water Luvdiscs worldwide. The fact that they have no evolutionary tree, no real special traits and a design that looks like it was slapped together on a lazy Friday afternoon has Luvdisc forever relegated to the ranks of Pokémon that are trying and failing to get by being 100% novelty.
One can only imagine the planning process for this adorable monstrosity. The design for Luvdisc had just been finalized, but the only thing closer than the weekend were the approaching deadlines. One of the designers cast his eyes around the breakroom for inspiration, his gaze full upon the freezer…and that, children, was the birth of Vanillite and its equally repugnant evolutionary tree.
This design is so lazy, they couldn’t even name it after an interesting flavour. Vanillite’s name literally implies that not only is it completely ordinary, it’s also ‘lite’. Like, the low-fat ice-cream that you eat on a fad diet when you’re trying to convince yourself that you’re being healthy. Vanillite is named after the worst kind of ice-cream, is what we’re saying. And that’s terrible. At least have it gain flavors as it evolves, until you end up with a triple-coned ‘Neapolitite’. There, I just invented Vanilluxe’s mega-evolution, and you’re welcome.
The best you can say for Vanillite is that it’s all together in a neat, derivative package. After evolving into Vanillish (it’s sort of vanilla…but not, you know?) the whole thing starts to melt into even more of a mess. Then we get to Vanilluxe, and this is where the pity kicks in as you realise that this smiling mass of goop is one ember attack away from instant death. Hope you thought to wrap a napkin around the cone, or you’re getting sticky Vanilluxe corpse all over your fingers.
Even without the blackface implications, Jynx is just an awful Pokémon overall, and living proof that it’s not just later generations that hold the worst designs. Jynx doesn’t exactly look like a human, but it seems to have been designed with just enough human traits to make you nervous and uncomfortable from looking at it.
Maybe it’s the massive, clutching hands. The constant axe-killer expression, as if Jynx is constantly going to snap and murder its trainer and their entire team apropos of nothing. The unsettling bleach-blonde hairdo. And then there’s the fact that its signature attacks revolve around kissing. Just the thought of that thing getting all up in your face and assaulting you by way of unwanted macking is horrific. Most would rather be kissed by a Dementor- at least then you don’t have to live with the memories.
This is how public service announcements are made in the Pokémon world. Just stick up a picture of Jynx with the ‘meth, not even once’ caption, and that’s the end to your drug problem. Jynx is how mothers scare their children into behaving, by telling them that it’ll appear in their bedroom at night if they’re naughty. So maybe there’s a method to the madness.
Oh, for the love of-
I take it back: Vanillite is a magnificently-designed Pokémon. Compared to Klefki, that is, since at least you get the impression that there could be bones, internal organs and something at least inside that cone shape. Klefi is literally a set of keys with a very unconvincing face attached.
This atrocity just raises so many questions. Like what are the keys for? Do they serve some kind of purpose in nature, where you don’t often find keyholes? Was the Klefki species in existence before keys were invented, and how do you explain that one away? It would actually make much more sense to either have it be a product of a genetic experiment from a mad scientist trying to bring their car keys to life (Bill, we’re looking in your direction) or a set of keys magically animated that went on to breed in the wild. Somehow.
No, wait, Klefki mating rituals seem really simple, thinking about it. Which we’re no longer going to do.
But the Pokémon world doesn’t quite contain magic, at least not of that sort, leaving Klefki’s entire existence and how/why it gained that shape unexplained. That is, unexplained in-universe; it’s pretty obvious how this thing was designed in the real world, and it’s even lazier than Vanillite. Next gen, we’re fully expecting a coffee mug-type Pokémon.
The lazy train chugs on with another Gen I creation. At the very least Voltorb has a definite purpose, in that they act as traps for people who think they’re items. Too bad that purpose is freaking irritating and just makes you annoyed that instead of an item, you’re forced into battle with a lazy garbage ‘mon with a sadistic streak. Oh yes, like Final Fantasy’s Bombs and Super Mario’s Bombshell Koopas, Voltorb likes to go out in style. This means that even the most low-level fight can end with it exploding its face all over you and dealing massive damage. Talk about a sore loser.
But at least Voltorb does have a certain charm, with its angry little eyes and huggable shape. The same can’t be said for Electrode, who has a couple of tic-tacs for eyes and a perpetually grinning mouth, as if it knows how much you suffer when it turns itself into a Poké-suicide bomber and enjoys it immensely. The faux-surprised eyebrows are just the icing on the cake.
What a jerk. And don’t think we’re fooled by you just switching colors; you’re just an upside down Voltorb with an inferiority complex.
We hope you just love collecting stupid stuff and the alphabet, because Unown is both of those in one grating package. Introduced in Gen II as part of its own side-quest, Unown comes in 28 great flavours, ranging from A to ! No, really. Some are shaped like exclamation marks. Look, we know the guiding principle of every Pokémon game is ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All!’, but this isn’t what we meant. No one except the most rabid collector has time to catch every single version of Unown, all of which are pretty low in terms of power and don’t offer anything except slightly different forms.
The game tried to make out that Unown are from a different dimension, but they also represent an ancient language. We already know that’s utter bull, since they perfectly resemble the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet plus an exclamation and question mark, unless those have been borrowed from ancient Egyptian without anyone noticing. Thus, Unown’s entire existence is due to a pointless distraction that nets you some nice items, but not much else. But no, really, have fun filling up your computer box with every version of Unown you can find, instead of doing literally anything else in the entire game. It’s all a lot more fun.
Otherwise known as ‘GAH, kill it’, Trubbish and Garbodor are based on garbage. As in, they’re literally piles of garbage. That’s their ‘thing’.
As Pokémon, they aren’t actually too bad in terms of stats. This makes it all the more awful that they look the way they do, since you have to sacrifice a good deal of your dignity to include one on your team. Because who wants an elegant Milotic or a Machamp powerhouse when you can have a walking cesspool? Hope that Pokéball keeps in the stench!
The gormless, gaping eyes return, making us wonder why this keeps happening. Are eyes that hard to draw? Have the designers heard of CTRL-V? Nurse Joy’s entire family would suggest that they had, and it would definitely help a few poor Pokémon who seem to be undergoing constant PTSD-flashbacks. Not that we can blame them, living in a world of carnage and glorified cock-fights, but eyes can be drawn in so many different ways that aren’t blank white with a little dot in the middle. Maybe one day Garbodor took a look at himself in the mirror, with his big broccoli ears and sludgy misshapen form, standing in a pool of his own bin juice, and his face just froze like that. And then that expression was mimicked by pretty much every trainer who ever saw one.
Yeah, so we’ve officially reached the point where they’re mashing together shapes, half-heartedly adding a face and calling it a day. Because the world needed something even more annoying and useless than Zubat, meet his extremely special cousin, Woobat. It’s apparently based on the Honduran white bat, but that can’t be possible as those things are cute and Woobat most definitely is not. Looking like a puff of fur with bat wings and a single-fanged mouth (along with a…heart nose?), this is another early-game ‘mon with no real value and a whole lot of encounters to its name.
Like all Pokémon that are just the worst, Woobat is plentiful and can use Confusion as a move right from the get go. At least Zubat doesn’t have the gall to look like it’s constantly laughing at you while your Pokémon repeatedly injure themselves. Woobat gives you no such quarter.
If you manage to level Woobat up with ‘high friendship’ (snort) it turns into Swoobat, which looks like even more of a random shape mish-mash. Now boasting two fangs, bigger wings, a weird cone head and a tail that doesn’t even look like it belongs to its species, Swoobat is perhaps the ultimate in Pokémon that just look wrong. As in, you can’t put your finger on it, but you know it shouldn’t exist. Or at least someone should’ve spent a bit more time on the design process.
Got to give whichever intern designed this one some props; at least Burmy has some interesting evolutionary branches, evolving dependent on their gender. Sure, Burmy and all its evolutions are violently ugly, but they get props for trying.
The PTSD eyes return yet again, because they still haven’t found that CTRL-V key and drawing is so hard, you guys. The rest of Burmy is just some round black shapes with an inexplicable cone-head, topped off with a puckered mouth that suggests that their entire species is really into lemon juice. Either that, or they’re constantly struggling to hold themselves back from making a sassy comment on your shoes. In which case we salute you for your restraint, Burmy.
It’s not a good-looking Pokémon, basically, and it gets worse from there. Females will become Wormadam, which are…how do you even describe that thing? It’s just a pair of blank gaping eyes (take a sip!) sticking out of a weird-shaped bush, or clump of sand or pile of trash, topped with an antenna. What secrets does Wormadam hold that cause it to cower with such an expression?
Then we have the male version, Mothim. It’s alright, if not particularly progressive. The female hides in a bush while the male spreads its magnificent wings out in the open? Don’t anybody tell Tumblr!
That’s a hefty choice of name for something that looks like it can be killed by being lightly stepped upon. Also, one of them seems to be constantly walking (rolling?) around with its brain hanging out. There apparently always have to be six, so presumably what happens once they join together is some kind of macabre ritual skull-smashing. Aww, look at the cute little eggs all playing toget-what are they doing to that other one?!
It’s not the ugliest of the bunch, but Exeggcute is here because the entire concept is just bizarre. The whole bunch deal technically makes them six Pokémon rolled into one and thus how they all fit in the same Pokéball/participate in team battles is left kind of up in the air. How is it fair, when they can just separate during a battle and attack from all sides? Do you have to take down all six of them to actually win the battle? Games have them neatly collected so that they all seem to take the hits at once, but while it’s a mildly amusing concept, it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Also available is this gem from the Pokémon Yellow Pokédex: The heads attract each other and spin around. There must be 6 heads for it to maintain balance.
Yeah but what now? Why are they spinning, and what is this balance that they clearly don’t need? This thing was clearly a bunch of blanks filled in via mad-lib.
Okay, no, stop. That’s not a Pokémon. That cannot be a Pokémon.
Swirlix is supposedly a fairy-type, except it swaps out all the cool and interesting types of being a fairy with a perpetually-gormless expression, as if it can’t quite remember this ‘tackle’ that you speak of. Its eyes do have a little bit of definition, but are still pretty blank, along with the rest of its body because this thing is genuinely just a cloud with a tail.
Swirlix is the perfect poster child for the abolition of Pokémon battles. If the anti-battle lobby, if what mercy is left in the Pokémon world allows such a thing to exist, ever needed to make a case to the public, all they’d have to do is make a TV ad featuring a Swirlix, just floating along and doing its own, peaceful, adorable thing.
“Does this creature look like it wants to violently assault other animals? Next time you face off against your rival…think about Swirlix. #Pokémonlivesmatter”
*sad piano fade-out*
And then we get to the evolution, Slurpuff, which again proves by its very existence that Pokémon battles are immoral. This thing is just a weird blob of melted non-aggression with pinchable cheeks and a tiny button nose. Just picture sending out your beloved Slurpuff against, say, Charizard.
One final time, we’re delving into the glassy, wide-eyed gaze of a Pokémon who has seen too much, or was just designed with too little effort (more likely). That pretty much sums up Stunfisk, who may or may not be a mouldy pancake brought to life by dark magic. Just look at those eyes, stuck on the topside of its flat, liquefied body, rendering it incapable of looking in any other direction. Look at the exclamation point markings on its bizarre, crushed abdomen, as if it’s constantly surprised at its own existence and wondering how such a thing could’ve happened. To say nothing of the fins, which seem like a last ditch effort to make people take this Pokémon seriously. Sadly, the out-of-place crown thing just brings it right back down to ridiculous.
Again, it has no chance of ever changing itself since no one thought to give Stunfisk any evolutions. It just hides in the dirt, shocking people for fun like some kind of trigger-happy electro-maniac. It’s true: we’re told that ‘Stunfisk smiles when electrocuting its foes’. This psychopath has turned the pain of its own worthless life into a hunger for pointless electricution. And then it grins all the while. Then again, we can hardly blame them; the very sight of its own reflection is every Stunfisk’s supervillain origin story.
But hey, he gets his own appreciation blog. Isn't that nice?
Honorable Mention: Dunsparce. Everyone seems to hate it for some reason.
With so many 'mons running around, there are bound to be a few more duds. Let us know your ultimate un-favorites in the comments!
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