Pokémon is the cornerstone of many childhoods and it’s managed to survive decades thanks to Game Freak’s great monster designs. Some would argue that the newer generations aren’t as good as the earlier ones and they may be right, but for kids growing up now, the newer Pokémon are all they know. It’s a series that manages to connect with so many different age groups and it’s quite clear that Game Freak had intended this from the very beginning.
As a kid, Pokémon is a whimsical adventure. It’s every child’s dream, really. You go out into the world, make countless friends, and eventually gain glory for yourself despite your age. It’s the ultimate fantasy but, as an adult, you can find a fair amount of darkness hidden in the shadows.
The world of Pokémon is a fully realized world that adheres to our same laws of life and death. Crime happens, Pokémon can get killed, people pass away, and gangs terrorize communities to their liking. When examined from a mature lens, the Pokémon universe is very disheartening. Fathers are essentially non-existent and kids can simply walk into the local casino and waste away all their earnings.
At ten years old, every child heads out on their own adventure. It’s one of maturity and self growth but, given how much conflict you run into in each game, it’s clear these journeys are more than a bit dangerous. Since the game is marketed towards children, Game Freak has to be subtle and subtle they definitely are.
15 Ash Is In A Coma
“The main character was dead all along!” It’s a fan theory that plagues just about every beloved animated show but, weirdly enough, it kind of works given all the context and lore tucked away in Pokémon’s world. Obviously, Ash probably isn’t in a coma, but the “proof” certainly makes you think twice before dismissing the theory.
In one of the very first episodes of the series, Ash is struck by lightning. Given that Pokémon is an animated show, this is mostly just slapstick but adding in a bit of real world logic dictates that the ten year old would be gravely injured. If he didn’t die, then he would be in a coma.
Some theorists use Team Rocket as the main point of evidence for Ash’s coma. Early on, Jesse and James are incredibly menacing and pose a legitimate threat towards Ash, but they suddenly become more incompetent and humorous. The takeaway being that whatever medication Ash is on is taking effect and stabilizing him.
Ash also sees a Ho-Oh and Ho-Oh is described as being able to grant a person’s greatest desire. In his coma, Ash is allowed to live a full life of adventure where he never ages or has to worry about the world’s many dangers.
14 Ditto Is A Failed Clone Of Mew
What do Mew and Ditto have in common besides both being shades of pink? Quite a lot, actually. Even the most casual fans know that the appropriately named Mewtwo is a clone of Mew. That in itself is already a rather dark story for the franchise, but there’s another Mew clone (allegedly) kicking around: Ditto.
Both are genderless which is not uncommon for legendary Pokémon, while rare for regular Pokémon like Ditto. Both share the same base stats, both are the only two Pokémon in the entire franchise who can naturally learn transform, and both share the exact same weight and shiny color.
The theory gets even darker when you consider that while there is only one Mew, there are countless Dittos, meaning that scientists had been relentlessly trying to clone Mew and failing consistently until they ended up with a Mewtwo. More importantly, however, most Dittos are found in an abandoned mansion in the first generation of games, implying that the failed clones have been wholly abandoned.
13 You Killed Your Rival’s Raticate In Red And Blue
For a series aimed primarily at a younger audience, Pokémon doesn’t stray away form the concept of death. It embraces it, honestly. With ghost type Pokémon and an entire tower dedicated to the graves of fallen pocket monsters, the topic is handled with a great deal of respect. Death is as natural as life and Game Freak makes sure not to shy away from acknowledging this. That said, natural causes are one thing, but murder is another.
If you play close attention in Red, Blue, and Yellow, and by extension Fire Red and Leaf Green, you’ll notice that your rival has a Raticate in his party. Until you visit Lavender Town, that is. Every time you fight your rival up to that point, he’s had a Raticate with him. It can be assumed that this Raticate is one of the, if not the, first Pokémon he’s caught on his journey but, when you encounter him in Lavender Town, he’s standing in front of a grave and when he challenges you, his Raticate is suspiciously missing.
Considering that, at this point, you had to have beaten him at least twice to progress the story it’s safe to say that your Pokémon were a bit too vicious for you rival and you’ve stumbled upon him mourning a dear friend only to subject him to another bitter defeat in front of his beloved Raticate’s grave.
12 The Pokémon World Is Considerably War Torn
It’s incredibly easy to miss considering how blunt the writing is about the topic, but there was an actual war in the Pokémon universe and, given Lt. Surge’s age, it couldn’t have happened too long ago. First thing’s first, Lt. Surge is a literal lieutenant. This is a man who actually served in the military and still wears his uniform with pride.
Secondly, he actually mentions the war before battling you: “Hey kid! What do you think you’re doing here? You won’t live long in combat! That’s for sure! I tell you what kid, electric Pokémon saved me during the war!”
Lastly, Lt. Suge is a pretty young guy design wise. He isn’t a kid like you, but he’s clearly in his 30s at the oldest, meaning this was a pretty recent war. Theorists also use this war to explain your missing fathers and the general lack of adult supervision in the world. Think about that the next time you decide to abandon your mother to catch some Pokémon in the wild.
11 Voltorb Might Just Be Possessed
Unlike the Failed Mew Clone theory for Ditto, which has a fair amount of visual and textual evidence, this theory relies almost exclusively on one piece of evidence: Voltorb’s design.
Voltorb is, quite literally, a poké ball. Its top half is red, its bottom half is white, and on the overworld it camouflages itself to look just like a stray poké ball so it can ambush trainers. Voltorb also has very sharp eyes. In fact, it has the exact same sharp eyes as Haunter, a ghost type Pokémon.
Voltorb being little more than a possessed poké ball explains how a man-made object could be a Pokémon keeping the lore consistent, but it also explains why Voltorb so aggressively tries to kill itself during combat. The only major difference between a Voltorb and a poké ball, besides the eyes, is the switch. Voltorb is lacking the switch that opens the poké ball meaning that Haunter is trapped, implying that self destruction is the only thing it can do to free itself from its new host.
10 Gengar Is Clefable’s Shadow
Taking the best aspects of the Ditto and Voltorb theories, this theory combines visual evidence with subtle textual evidence to create a theory that might as well be confirmed at this point. Clefable and Gengar had a pretty decent amount of exposure in generation one despite not being starter Pokémon or legendaries, though there’s a good reason.
For Clefable, it’s because she was meant to be the mascot Pokémon for a long time before Game Freak decided on Pikachu. For Gengar, it’s because he is literally Clefable’s doppelganger, her shadow.
Gengar is described as a “shadow Pokémon” and both Pokémon have the exact same bodily proportions. They’re the same size, have the same spikes in the same places, and mirror each other near perfectly. More pressing, however, their type differences mean that neither can damage each other. Clefable is a normal type while Gengar is a ghost type. You can’t hurt your shadow, after all.
9 Drifloon Will Spirit Your Children Away
This isn’t so much a theory as it is outright confirmed in its pokédex entries: Drifloon wants to kidnap and kill your child. Game Freak tends to jump around on just how malicious Drifloon is, but all fingers point to very. Drifloon’s pokédex entry in Pearl reads, “it tugs on the hands of children to steal them away. However, it gets pulled around instead.” Simple and harmless enough, but Heart Gold and Soul Silver add a considerable amount of vile intent to the mix.
“It is whispered that any child who mistakes Drifloon for a balloon and holds on to it could wind up missing.” It’s still kind of subtle though considerably darker. This was the standard pokédex entry for a while until Pokémon Sun came and confirmed that Drifloon’s pretty much just interested in killing kids: “Stories go that it grabs the hands of small children and drags them away to the afterlife.” Yikes.
An earlier entry also mentions that Drifloon is formed “by the spirits of people and Pokémon,” so it’s entirely possible Drifloons are whisking away children to either add to the collection or reunite some families. Either way, it’s one of Game Freak’s more disturbing Pokémon.
8 Your Father Is Quietly Watching Over You
Where’s your dad? In every game in the series, with the exception of Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Omega Ruby, and Alpha Sapphire (which are, for all intents and purposes are one narrative), your father has never been present. Your mom is always around, thankfully, but the old man’s gone missing. One theory, however, offers a rather tragic explanation for your father’s disappearance.
One anonymous 4chan user offered the theory that the player character’s father (in the first set of games and its remake) abandoned your mother once he found out she was pregnant. After ten years, you head out on your journey and your dad, feeling guilty, starts to follow you around offering you words of encouragement.
Yup, he’s the guy at the beginning of every gym who gives you super obvious advice. He is so guilty that he can’t separate himself from your journey, but he also can’t seem to admit the truth, resigning himself to calling you “champ” and rooting for you from afar.
7 Some Pokémon Are Experiments Gone Wrong
Koffing and Weezing are almost synonymous with Team Rocket and when Team Rocket’s afoot, so is trouble. One Reddit user theorizes that the Koffing evolution line is actually the result of a failed experiment Team Rocket participated in.
“Rather than catch Gastly/Haunter/Gengar (the only Ghost types in Kanto), Team Rocket instead attempted to create their own Ghost type, their own version of Gastly and Haunter. Similar to how Gastly is a living ball of gas, they genetic engineered their own gas particles from other Poison Pokémon, like Grimer and Zubat (which team rocket weren't in short supply of), and put them into flimsy balloon like constructions (Since they didn't have the technology to keep the gas in place), thus they created Koffing.”
The user also points out that the skull and crossbones on Koffing and Weezing’s chest couldn’t be natural, since it’s a manmade warning for toxicity meaning that it was put there deliberate by design. The theory begs the question, what other Pokémon aren’t actually natural?
6 You’re The Real Villain Of Red, Blue, and Yellow
Ask anyone who the main villain of Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, Fire Red, and Leaf Green is and most people will tell you it’s Giovanni. He is by far the most iconic antagonist in the entire franchise, constantly being foiled by your efforts and serving as a final boss to the badge earning portion of the first generation. But is he really so evil?
Throughout the story, Giovanni commits a series of crimes that you end up having to clean up. He tries to steal the silph scope, the master ball, gets his grunts to steal fossils from Mt. Moon, and kidnap Pokémon from other trainers. But why? Simple, he’s trying to stop Mewtwo.
In canon, Giovanni was part of the experiment to clone Mew and the result was the incredibly dangerous Mewtwo. Now, trying to restrain the monster he created, Giovanni is forced to use Team Rocket maliciously to get the tools he needs to stop Mewtwo. Mewtwo is weak to ghosts, so Giovanni needs the silph scope to catch a ghost that can injure Mewtwo. Once injured, Mewtwo can be caught with the master ball. If all else fails, Giovanni now has a roster of stolen, powerful Pokémon to serve as a contingency plan. And you messed it all up.
5 Cubone’s Mother Is Not A Marowak
Logic dictates that Marowak is Cubone’s parent. It makes sense. Every Pokémon that evolves is related to their evolutionary line in some way. Breeding in the Pokémon world is a bit convoluted, but it makes a bit of sense to assume that a female Marowak will lay a Cubone egg. But maybe that’s all wrong, maybe Cubone’s natural parent is an entirely different Pokémon. Maybe it’s Kangaskhan.
Cubone is described as wearing its mother’s skull. Were you to remove that skull, Cubone would look very much like that baby Kangaskhan keeps in her pouch. A Cubone in adolescence would evolve into Marowak and then, once adulthood is reached, Kangaskhan. This means that every Cubone has lost a mother. Perhaps something in the birthing process causes Kangaskhan to pass away. Eventually, the Cubone would grow into a Kangaskhan and repeat the process, with its child wearing her skull. None of this is reflected in gameplay, but the evidence is there that there’s something up with Cubone’s lineage.
4 Psychics Live In Fear
Type advantage is perhaps the most important battle element in Pokémon. If you aren’t paying attention to the type of each move and Pokémon, you’re in for a bad time. Most type relationships make sense. Grass is obviously weak to fire, fire is weak to water, ice is weak to fire, and so on and so forth. Natural elements counter each other, but some type relationships require some extra thought to make sense of.
Psychic type Pokémon are only weak to bug, dark, and ghost type Pokémon. Psychics are typically described as intellectual and enlightened Pokémon and they’re very close to humans in terms of design and mannerisms, so it makes sense that their weaknesses would be common human fears.
Because of their humanity, psychic type Pokémon are weak to bugs (afraid of spiders), weak to dark (afraid of the dark), and weak to ghosts (afraid of ghosts, the afterlife, etc.) Were they not so in tune with human emotions, they would be unstoppable. For them, it’s a curse. For us, it’s a blessing.
3 Cubone Is A Natural Predator
Cubone and Kangaskhan go together like peanut butter and jelly, which means that it’s only natural another theory revolves around their relationship. Instead of being familial, however, this time the theory pits them against one another, painting Cubone as Kangaskhan’s natural predator.
Reddit user CAPSRAGE uses the link between Cubone’s boomerang and Kangaskhan’s kangaroo influence to create a theory that plays with the Cubaskhan Connection:
“Marowak have various tribes all over the world, and when these tribes were beginning to be formed, to tell the difference between members of the tribe, the original members all went on a mass hunt of Kangaskhan, took their skulls, gave them tribe markings, and used them as headdresses.
When each member pass away, their eldest child took their headdress and wore it, part in remembrance, and part to honour tradition. This practice still continues to the present day. We interpreted the pokédex entry wrong, they don't wear the skull of their ancestor, they wear the skull their ancestor wore as a headdress.”
2 Almost Every Pokémon Is Actually Ditto
According to Elegant Wallace on Pokémon Amino, it might just be that every single Pokémon either is Ditto or descended from Ditto: “Assuming Pokémon agree with evolution. . . there has to be a genetic beginning starting with the simple cell. Ditto could fit this one true parent. With the transformation ability. . . Ditto could. . . be just taking an evolutionary route based on its surroundings. In battle Ditto changes back after a battle but wild Ditto don't necessarily do this. This essentially means that any Pokémon could be a Ditto transformed and doesn't want to transform back. . . this could mean multiple legendaries can exist and so can shiny legendaries.”
What’s particularly interesting about Wallace’s write up is that it explains why there are multiple versions of each legendary available, even though each game typically only has one of each canonically. This also serves to explain Pokémon biology a bit more. After all, if everyone is Ditto, no one is.
1 Humans More Than Likely Eat Pokémon
“Farfetch'd, a Wild Duck Pokémon. Farfetch'd makes a delicious meal, especially when cooked with leek. Because of this, Farfetch'd is nearly extinct." - The Pokémon anime
That’s right, those cute little critters you raise and make fight other monsters are actually quite delicious. It makes sense to a degree. Pokémon are analogous with animals and we eat animals, so the resident of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and so forth must eat Pokémon. This isn’t the only reference to Pokémon consumption in the anime either. Prof. Oak also mentions that a Krabby Ash once caught was too small to eat.
In Gold, Silver, Crystal, Heart Gold, and Soul Silver, Team Rocket actively seeks out Slowpokes to cut off their tails and sell as food. It’s entirely possible the rest of the Slowpoke might make for a fine meal, as well. It’s not so much a theory as it is a dark, understated reality but that’s the beauty of Pokémon and Game Freak’s writing. The dark elements are there, but they aren’t shoved in your face. They’re simply hiding in the background, waiting to ruin your childhood.