With the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield growing near, the hype level of the Pokémon fanbase has slowly risen to a fever pitch. Leaks have provided tantalizing glimpses of information to dedicated fans, and some Pokémon enthusiasts have already begun to unravel the complexities of the new games’ mechanics and narrative.
But before the new Pokémon titles arrive on November 15th, we at G FUEL would like to look back at some of the weird and surprising lore that has allowed Pokémon to remain a cultural touchstone for back-to-back generations of gamers. Not all of this lore is necessarily canon, according to Nintendo—but all of it is true. Trust us.
Blue’s Raticate is no more
Anyone who’s played Pokémon Blue or Red versions knows Lavender Town, one of the spookiest and most memorable locales in the history of the franchise. When Red, the player-controlled character, enters the town’s “Pokémon Tower,” he stumbles upon gravestones, spooky background music, and ghost-type Pokémon. The climactic battle of this portion of the narrative is a confrontation against Red’s rival, the aptly-named Blue. But why is Blue in the Pokémon Tower in the first place?
In previous battles against Blue, the rival’s Pokémon team includes a Raticate. In Lavender Town, however, Blue’s Raticate has disappeared—and the rat Pokémon never returns for future battles against Blue. This has led many fans to theorize that Red inadvertently kills Raticate during his battle against Blue on the S.S. Anne; since the battle takes place on a cruise ship, there’s no way for Blue to bring his fainted Raticate to a PokéCenter in time to save him. So when Red fights Blue in Lavender Town, he’s battling a rival who has traveled to a Pokémon graveyard in order to mourn the passing of a beloved friend. Bet you’re rethinking who the good guy of Pokémon Red is now, huh?
The Pokédex gets a little too real
The Pokédex is a great resource to have on hand. Not only does it provide information about the basic stats of every Pokémon—a necessary resource for the more serious min-maxers of the Pokémon world—but each entry also includes a blurb describing each Pokémon’s more intangible and unique properties. However, some of these properties are absolutely terrifying.
Here are a few examples:
Yveltal was introduced to the world of Pokémon as the mascot of Pokémon Y. Here’s his Pokédex entry from that game: “When its life comes to an end, it absorbs the life energy of every living thing and turns into a cocoon once more.”
Okay, what the deuce, guys. So when Yveltal dies, everything else dies with it? Note that the ‘dex entry doesn’t mention any limits to this property, so we have to assume that this includes all plants, microbes, and even extraterrestrial life in the Pokémon universe. Let’s just say that, for the sake of the universe, we should keep Yveltal as far away from Red and the S.S. Anne as possible.
Introduced in Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, Drifloon is, at first glance, innocent-looking—arguably even kind of cute. After all, he’s a living balloon! Sounds harmless, right? Wrong.
Here’s Drifloon’s Pokédex entry from HeartGold/SoulSilver: “It is whispered that any child who mistakes Drifloon for a balloon and holds onto it could wind up missing.”
Yep, Drifloon is a race of child-kidnapping living balloons. Doesn’t sound cute anymore, does it? Other PokéDex entries include even more bizarre info-nuggets; according to Pokémon Sun, Drifloon’s goal is to drag children directly into the afterlife, and according to Moon, its body is stuffed with souls and releases a screaming sound when it bursts. Just peachy.
For those of you who wish you could go back to a time before you knew about Drifloon’s horrifying habits, you can take solace in his Pokémon Pearl ‘dex entry: “It tugs on the hands of children to steal them away. However, it gets pulled around instead.”
So it sounds like, most of the time, Drifloon’s attempts to drag children into the afterlife are unsuccessful, particularly if the children are on the larger side. So it’s probably mostly babies who are stolen away by the Balloon Pokémon. That’s not so scary, right?
This Pokémon X/Y newcomer is bizarre from a purely aesthetic standpoint—he looks like a jack-o-lantern with a hairy Diglett sticking out of its top. But things take a dark turn when you read his Pokédex entry from Y: “It enwraps its prey in its hairlike arms. It sings joyfully as it observes the suffering of its prey.”
Wait, is this a Pokémon game or a Junji Ito horror comic? Because it sounds decidedly like the later. And according to Gourgeist’s X Pokédex entry, anyone who hears him singing is cursed. So that’s cool, too.
I’m just going to let this Pokédex entry from Pokémon White speak for itself: “Darumaka’s droppings are hot, so people used to put them in their clothes to keep themselves warm.”
Azurill can change genders when it evolves
That’s right: between Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire and Black/White, female Azurills have a one-in-three chance of switching genders when they evolve into Marills. This might be one of the most surprising bits of Pokémon lore out there, but it can be easily explained by in-game data from some of the earlier entries in the Pokémon series. It’s a matter of gender ratios: Since Azurills have a balance of 75% females and 25% males, while Marills (and Azumarills, for that matter) have a 50-50 gender split, some female Azurills would naturally switch genders while evolving in order to maintain the balance.
Some might call this a glitch, since the phenomenon was finally removed from the game in Pokémon X/Y. But I’m the proud owner of a boy Azumarill who was once a girl Azurill, and nothing can change that fact.
Wobbuffet’s body is a flesh decoy
Okay, that’s a weird phrase, but I’m prepared to back it up. Just take a look at Wobbuffet:
See the eyes on the little black character where Wobbuffet’s tail should be? That’s the real Wobbuffet.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Wobbuffet’s defining characteristic is that he can take huge amounts of punishment without batting an eye. I mean that literally: the V-shaped eyes on Wobbuffet’s blue body never change, not even when he’s getting smacked by a Hyper Beam. The logic follows that the blue body is simply a defense mechanism growing out of the smaller and more sensitive black “tail,” which is where Wobbuffet’s real eyes (and brain) are located.
This theory has never been 100% confirmed by the authorities at Game Freak, but information revealed in various Nintendo titles has gestured towards the truth. Take, for example, the description of the Wobbuffet trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (emphasis my own): “A Patient Pokémon. A nocturnal, cave-dwelling creature, Wobbuffet is calm and collected, but it will fight back viciously if its black tail is attacked—this hints at something secretive about its tail. If Wobbuffet is put into battle, the opponent cannot run away or switch. Females have lipsticklike markings around their mouths.”
Some Pokédex entries also seem to allude to the fact that Wobbuffet’s true power is hidden inside his tail, such as the ‘dex entry from Diamond/Pearl: “It desperately tries to keep its black tail hidden. It is said to be proof that the tail hides a secret.”
It’s only a matter of time until the truth about Wobbuffet comes out once and for all. My theory is that his secret will be revealed in the anime, perhaps in hijinks involving Jessie’s Wobbuffet.
These bizarre aspects of the Pokémon story are just the tip of the iceberg. Since the first Pokémon game came out in 1996, the Poké-verse has been fleshed out by countless sequel games, spin-offs, television shows, movies, books, and even a few radio plays. With the release of Sword and Shield, a new generation of fans will dive into the world—and they’re sure to create weird lore of their own when they do.
This article was written by Alexander Lee, an esports journalist, lifelong Nintendo fan, and proud cat dad. Follow him on Twitter @alexleewastaken, and check out more of his work on his website www.alexlee.work.