An earlier version of this article originally appeared on this site on April 22, 2010.
To the general public, all Pokemon are perceived as cute and cuddly creatures. Sure, there are some oddballs like Koffing or Voltorb - but they're nowhere near as popular as the Pikachus, Togepis, and Evees that dominate Poke-merchandise. How could such a wildly popular, kid-friendly franchise be anything but cheerful? If only all those unwitting parents knew what horrors awaited their children in the untamed wilderness that is the Pokemon universe.
It's a world much like ours: for every adorable entity found in nature, there are dozens of vicious predators and revolting parasites skittering through the environment's dark underbelly. Those who take the time to read over the Pokedex entries will find some truly grotesque, disturbing, and all-around skin-crawling behaviors that are central to the lives of seemingly inconspicuous pocket monsters. With memories of Pokemon X and Y (opens in new tab) fresh in our minds, we thought it was time to comb through all 649 Pokemon in search of the mutants, freaks, and deeply unsettling outliers. Here are the most disturbing Pokemon in existence, beautifully interpreted by the Poke-illiterate paintbrush of GR alum Tyler Wilde. Enjoy...
Pokedex entry (Sapphire): "GLALIE has the ability to freely control ice. For example, it can instantly freeze its foe solid. After immobilizing its foe in ice, this POKeMON enjoys eating it in leisurely fashion."
You awake to a crunching sound. Your body is cold; your limbs are numbed and unable to move, encased by a prison of solid ice. Only your eye muscles can respond to your brain, but you feel everything. Crunch. Crunch. What is that noise? It sounds like bones and meat being processed by a rusty machine. You glance down. Staring back at you is a Glalie, looking you dead in the eyes with indifference. That sound you're hearing is this large-toothed Ice-type Pokemon, slowly nibbling away at the blood-red ice shavings that occupy the space where your arms used to be.
Pokedex entry (Ruby / Sapphire): "SHUCKLE quietly hides itself under rocks, keeping its body concealed inside its hard shell while eating berries it has stored away. The berries mix with its body fluids to become a juice."
Besides its barnacle-spotted carapace, Shuckle seems inconspicuous enough. But, like the man who decided to drink whatever came out of a cow's udder, who the HELL decided it was a good idea to imbibe the viscous, gooey excretions found in a Shuckle's shell? We shudder to imagine the taste: tart, fermented berries mixed with greasy, red-orange body fluids that reek of mold, sweat, and oil. A sip of that juice will make you barf quicker than the syrup of ipecac.
Pokedex entry (Black 2 / White 2): "The spirits it absorbs fuel its baleful fire. It hangs around hospitals waiting for people to pass on."
When you die, does your soul ascend to heaven? No. It serves as nothing more than a mid-afternoon snack for this living light fixture. Imagine lying on your death bed, looking with dread and hatred at a lone Lampent gently hovering outside of your window. There is no great beyond. There is only the nothingness that comes after your spirit burns in Lampent's flames like dry leaves in a furnace.
Pokedex entry (Black 2 / White 2): "A doll that became a Pokemon over its grudge of being thrown away. It seeks the child who disowned it."
What the Pokedex is really telling you is that a discarded doll managed to animate itself through pure force of will, brought to life solely by vengeful malice. If his hateful eyes and zipper-toothed grin weren't terrifying enough, consider this tidbit from Pokemon Ruby: "BANETTE generates energy for laying strong curses by sticking pins into its own body." One can only wonder what kind of acupuncture-induced agony will befall Banette's previous owner should he manage to finally track them down. If they weren't already afraid of needles, they will be.
Pokedex entry (Black): "Each of them carries a mask that used to be its face when it was human. Sometimes they look at it and cry."
Pardon? Are you saying we've been capturing the incorporeal remnants of sentient people, trapping their tormented souls inside a Pokeball? Dear God. Forgive us; we couldn't have known. We simply came across a Pokemon weeping in the night, slumped in a puddle of tears and softly caressing its vacant, expressionless mask. We responded to its dismal, existential sorrow the only way we knew how: by attacking it and keeping it as a pet.
Pokedex entry (Diamond / Pearl / Platinum / Black / White): "It grips prey with its pincers until the prey is torn in half. What it can't tear, it tosses far."
There aren't many cases of Pokemon attacking humans, but it certainly must happen. If Pinsir were ever pushed to the edge, we imagine the victim would be an unrecognizable assemblage of limbs, bones and lots of red stuff. It's also weird how Pinsir throws whatever he can't rend from its prey, as if vaulting the carcass in berserk frustration.
Pokedex entry (Silver): "Its tongue is made of gas. If licked, its victim starts shaking constantly until death eventually comes."
This basically amounts to intense physical torture. Haunter is already a badass-looking Pokemon, so it's bound to get into some seriously messed up situations. But going so far as to intentionally cripple its victims with fatal convulsions is a whole new realm of fear.
Pokedex entry (Silver / FireRed): "It has an active, playful nature. Many women like to frolic with it because of its affectionate ways."
The idea of a Poke-harem is suitably disturbing, but we also wonder how women are supposed to frolic with a frowning, gruff-looking dog-thing that's half as tall as they are. This one's distressing in a different, more alarming way. What we don't see of Snubbull could very well be grounds for Pokemon becoming an Adults-Only game.
Pokdeex entry (Silver): "It always wears the skull of its dead mother, so no one has any idea what its hidden face looks like."
Norman Bates would be proud of this perpetually guilt-ridden beast who dresses up like his own mother. Only, instead of wearing mom's clothes, Cubone apparently delights in collecting his parents' bones. We wonder if Cubone donned his mother's severed head before it had fully decomposed; bleached bone is all that remains after the passing years of his grotesque ornamentation.
Pokedex entry (Silver): "It remembers every dream it eats. It rarely eats the dreams of adults because children's are much tastier."
Drowzee is already pretty freakish, what with his articulated snout and two-tone hide. But the idea of him savoring a child's dreams makes our toes curl into tightly clenched spirals. Imagine that thing, eating a dream, rolling it around in his mouth, really sucking the juices out. All with this unsettling smirk on his face. Horrible.
Pokedex entry (Silver): "Its brain cells multiply continually until it dies. As a result, it remembers everything."
While Alakazam itself may not be all that weird, its grisly brain-popping fate is startlingly macabre for a series that prides itself on being suitable for all ages. Even worse is the idea that it remembers every painful second of its brain matter expanding through its frail skull. Maybe Cubone can find a good use for it?
Pokedex entry (Silver): "Wherever Grimer has passed, so many germs are left behind that no plants will ever grow again."
With all the filth that surrounds it, we wouldn't be surprised to find Grimer lurching over an emaciated man vomiting bugs. Meanwhile, Grimer just looks and smiles, as if it's a good thing that he's transforming the world into a wasteland. If there are multiple Grimers in the Poke-world (and there are), wouldn't that suggest large portions of the planet are inhospitable ground-zeroes? A cruel fate for Ash and Pikachu, to be sure.
Pokedex entry (Diamond): "Its cries sound like incantations. Those hearing it are tormented by headaches and hallucinations."
As with Grimer, this effect suggests a hostile, nearly unlivable world filled with terrifying creatures. It's not like there's one Mismagius causing grief out there -
no, there's probably hundreds, if not thousands, of these things floating around, apparently sending untold numbers of people into fits of hysteria. Where are all of these people in the games? Were they buried alive? Did they all leap from cliff tops in a desperate attempt to escape their mental pandemonium?