A little Pidgey told me...
Time for the understatement of the week: the Pokemon franchise is big. 60+ games, five anime series, a small planet's worth of merchandise and over 700 colorful, brawling critters--it's really, really big. Like, Snorlax big.
So it comes as no surprise that a few rumors about it crop up, and while some have a hint of legitimacy, others not so much. Here we have nine totally false Pokemon rumors that everyone believed, and I will do my best not to make a "catch 'em all" joke in any of the entries. (No promises though.)
There's a Mew beneath the truck in St. Anne's harbor
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and an object in a Pokemon game is just a smattering of code a dev threw together before lunch. Thats undoubtedly the reason the truck in St. Anne's Harbor exists in Pokemon Red and Blue, yet many found its benign presence suspicious. Eventually rumors began to circulate that there was something special about that truck--and by special, I of course mean, "There's a Mew in there."
Given that Mew was an event-exclusive catch until Generation III that some players could never get their hands on, many waylaid their despair by convincing themselves there was another way to catch it. That was the seed of about 1000 Mew-related rumors, but one that really stuck was that using Strength on St. Anne's truck would reveal a Mew underneath. The claim was dispelled when players actually tried it and inevitably failed; still, it took on a legendary status all its own, to the point that Game Freak coded a Lava Cookie next to the truck in FireRed and LeafGreen as a throwback. Cheeky jerks.
MissingNo will delete your save file
MissingNo is basically creepypasta given form--or five forms, just to mess with you. A glitched Pokemon that manifested as a bizarre geometric shape, a skeleton Kabutops, or some other unnerving being, it supposedly caused crazy problems for anyone who encountered it. Some of these tales of programming woe were true, like sudden duplication of items in the inventory and the glitching of the Hall of Fame. However, small truths breed tall tales, and it wasn't long before "Catastrophic Game Deletion" was added to MissingNo's list of rumored abilities.
The idea that meeting a MissingNo could lead to sudden game erasure was persistent when the glitch was first discovered, but only blasted into infamy when Nintendo Power got wind of it. First acknowledging MissingNo in May 1999, the magazine claimed that "any contact with it (even if you don't catch it) could easily erase your game file..." Cue instant panic and belief that lives on to this day, though there hasn't been a documented case of game destruction yet. Don't let facts cloud your judgment.
Magikarp's splash attack as a small chance of being an insta-kill move
Oh, Magikarp. Poor, sad Magikarp. The most useless of useless Pokemon, training it until it evolves into Gyarados can be a brutal chore, since it can't do anything of use in battle. With the useless Splash as its go-to move, players are left wishing for something better--one good, brutal attack that blew away its unsuspecting enemies. Man, wouldn't that be nice so nice that some people really started to believe in it. Poor, sad suckers.
This rumor, like all things involving Magikarp, started off as a joke. Some players thought it would be hilarious if Splash was secretly a one-hit kill with a low chance of success, because how epic would it be to take down a legendary enemy with the weakest Pokemon ever? Eventually humor became consideration became belief became rumor, and now there are players who swear by this rumor's legitimacy. Sadly, a joke is a joke, and no such Splash damage boost exists. Too bad--imagine a Magikarp beating a Mewtwo. The stuff of legends.
Dratini can evolve into Yoshi and Lickitung can evolve into Luigi
Never underestimate Nintendo's ability to troll its fans. Like the hysteria they stirred up about MissingNo with none of the good intentions, the company devised rumors about new evolutions for Dratini and Lickitung that players fell for in droves. That sounds believable--and kind of boring, actually--until you realize that the evolutions Nintendo named were Yoshi and Luigi. Oh my God, that's beautiful.
Part of April Fool's Day jokes published in Nintendo Power and on their website, Nintendo claimed that Dratini and Lickitung could evolve into the iconic Mario characters through completing a series of weird and useless actions. The Lickitung-to-Luigi method involved catching Lickitung in a certain kind of Pokeball while the Gameboy was upside-down (*snerk*), but the Dratini-to-Yoshi breakdown was downright insidious: one player would have to catch the Dratini and trade it to another for training, only for both of them to find out that it was never going to work after hours and hours of effort. Harsh, Nintendo. Harsh.
Exposing Pikachu to a water stone creates Pikablu
You kids these days don't know how good you got it, with your new wave of Pokemon every few years. In my day we had to walk five miles uphill in the snow--both ways, in summer!--to get a Pokemon game, and every hint at a new monster sent us reeling to find this treasure we somehow missed. The best example was Pikablu, a rumored evolution of Pikachu that, despite fan belief, turned out to be something completely different than expected.
Back when new iterations of Pokemon weren't common, newly introduced creatures were thought to be sitting in our Gameboys already, just somehow missed by the millions playing Red/Blue. When images of a blue, mouse-like Pokemon started filtering from Japan to the west, rumor had it that it was an evolution of Pikachu exposed to a water stone. Then came the Pikachu's Vacation anime short, and it turned out that Pikablu was actually Marill, a Pokemon with a unique evolution tree that debuted a year later in Gold and Silver. Hey, I never said we were smarter back then.
Button-mashing (or holding down + B) during captures and battles increases their chances of success
It's nice to feel like you're in control of things, especially when those things are inherently uncontrollable. We like to check what's outside when we hit airplane turbulence, or breath on dice to make them win better, or any number of inane things that don't actually affect the situation but make us feel good. Pokemon is no different: mashing B (or holding it and down on the d-pad) while trying to catch your next monster doesn't do anything at all, no matter how many people assume it will.
There are about a million iterations of this rumor that people want to believe very, very badly. Using certain button combos (or just mashing with as much vigor and faith as you can muster) is said to have a variety of desirable effects, such as increasing the occurrence of critical hits or upping your catch ratio. Of course, none of these are true, but it's hard to convince people of that--one instance where it "works" and it's effectively proven true, so best quit now.
Pikachu hates Playstation and SEGA
Remember Hey You, Pikachu, the voice-recognition game for the N64 where you get to boss Pikachu around? And what about the rumor that saying the names of Nintendo's direct competitors made Pikachu express his wrathful brand loyalty? Kind of? Good enough.
While it's uncertain where this rumor came from, it was undoubtedly tied to how little there actually was to do in the game. Sure, you spent a couple of minutes telling Pikachu to play and fish or whatever, but eventually you started blurting out all manner of bizarre things just to get an interesting reaction out of the little guy. It was eventually decided that Pikachu letting loose his Poke-wrath when the player says "PlayStation" or "SEGA" is amusing, and from there it seemed to take root, prompted by a couple of videos proving the rumor true. Except none of them actually showed the player saying anything, and neither company name appears in the game's word library. My guess? Nobody could even play the game for the five minutes necessary to check for themselves. Seems about right.
Bill's secret garden contains legendary Pokemon
Sometimes you almost feel bad when a rumor gets summarily crushed. Sure, some are just silly or bizarre, but others are the culmination player hopes, the projection of desperate faith that says this might finally be it. The rumor of Bill's secret garden is like that, suggesting that the path behind his house leads to a hidden area where legendary Pokemon or copies of the starters reside, just waiting for the trainer clever enough to claim them. However, reality is a harsh mistress, and as much as they might want to believe, there's no denying blank space.
Granted, there does appear to be a path behind Bill's house leading somewhere, so it isn't outlandish to think that there might be a means of reaching the hidden area. The line into just-plain-sad comes in believing that rare and powerful Pokemon are to be found there, or the other starters you have so hoped to catch. Not exactly logical, and the evidence proves it out: using a GameShark cheat shows the area to be empty. Better luck next time, kids.
You can ride a rocket into space to catch Jirachi and Deoxys
Okay, that last slide? Imagine that same scenario, but in spaaaaaace. The Mossdeep Space Station inspired a lot of hope when it appeared in Ruby and Sapphire. Given its plethora of successful launches, some players believed that those rockets could take them to the stars and the rare Pokemon hiding there. But no--the station is a set piece, and no amount of launch-counting will change that.
To its credit, this rumor is a little more thoughtful than Bill's Garden in that it has imaginary conditions to be met. According to its believers, once the station has reached a certain amount of successful launches (55, 99, and 100 are crowd favorites), the player will be able to ride on the next rocket into space, where they will be able to catch the likes of Jirachi and Deoxys. That all sounds workable, except for the fact that the rocket isn't coded for that and theres no space level to speak of. One small step for man no giant leap for Trainer-kind.
It's not very effective...
There you have it: nine of the most persistent Pokemon rumors of all time, all quite fake. Which of these did you once believe? Or try to prove for yourself? Or still believe viciously despite all evidence to the contrary? Tell us in the comments below, and let us know if we managed to catch 'em all, just you and me.
And if you're interested in more, check out 10 Pokdex entries that make absolutely no sense and 8 reasons Pokmon Ruby/Sapphire's remakes might be the best yet.