For a franchise that's been around for more than 20 years, the Pokémon series has had its fair share of highs, lows, and everything in-between. It's wowed us with its addictive gameplay, disappointed us in its terrible decisions (read more about that here), and overall cemented itself as one of the most prolific and beloved franchises in video game history. That doesn't mean that history hasn't been more than a little muddled at times, though.
Despite being a "family-friendly" video game series that children everywhere beg and plead their parents for, and an anime that is doing quite well in its 20th season (no small feat!), it has taken things way too far time after time in the past. From taking a joke much farther than it should have been to horrifying us in ways we didn't think possible to even causing actual pain and suffering across the world, it is no doubt that Pokémon has made us go "Woah, slow down there!" many times in its long and rich history.
I, personally, adore the series and its nigh-endless repetitive cycle of catch, battle, catch, battle some more, breed, and so on. Even so, I have been shocked many, many times by the sometimes astonishing methods that the series' creators have attempted to convey a specific message or theme. Whether you like it or not, Pokémon has taken it too far too many times. Maybe you didn't even know about some these, or you yourself are a victim of the shock and terror, but regardless, here are 15 times that Pokémon took things way too far.
15 Registeel Controversy
All hail, Regigigas! Registeel and his compatriots Regice and Regirock are known for their interesting background. They are each inspired by the golem, a somewhat sentient clay creature that is brought to life, originating from a Jewish legend.
This alone is intriguing in and of itself, but Nintendo took it one step further. In fact, it took it a step way too far with the introduction of Registeel in the third generation of games, Ruby and Sapphire. In these games, Registeel’s sprite is seen clearly raising his left hand in salute, very similar to the same Nazi salute that is infamous across the world.
Because of this, it had to be edited for the European version of the game, as any sort of Nazi imagery and symbolism is banned in Germany. In fact, Nintendo would later realize its misstep and change all further sprites for Registeel to a non-fascist stance. Whether intentional or not, Nintendo made a tasteless statement with its ironic usage of a facist-like salute from a Jewish-inspired Pokémon
14 Pokémon Go's String Of Corpse Discoveries
Released nearly a year ago (I know, hard to believe!), Pokémon Go set the world on fire like no other mobile game has before. Everyone from you, your friends, your family, and maybe even your dog set out on real world adventures to find, catch, and battle Pokémon.
The unfortunate and unique requirement of having to physically get off the couch and go outside and explore led to countless interesting stories sweeping the web from totally not sketchy 3am strolls through the park to teaching a police officer about the mobile phenomenon.
But, none were as interesting as the people that discovered actual dead bodies. Take for instance, the Wyoming girl who was just minding her own business, attempting to catch a water Pokémon by the river, only to find a corpse floating in the water. This is but one of the many such stories. While some were found to be fake, it is still a surprise that what was meant to be a fun and addictive way to get everyone to exercise became a quick lesson in forensics.
13 Jynx Blackface
Oh, Nintendo. Pokémon can be the oh so cute and cuddly type, but they can also be an absolute abomination. Almost all of the humanoid Pokémon are creepy and disturbing, Jynx most of all. This Generation 1 Ice and Psychic-type came at a time long before the Internet was so prevalent and, of course, before anyone would start the social justice movement.
However, this Pokémon still made news across the world, even in the 90s, and outraged many people over its controversial design. The puffed up lips and pitch black sin tone led many to believe this was a racist depiction against black people. Many believed that The Pokémon Company had indeed created a "blackface Pokémon."
Blackface dates back to long before slavery had been abolished in the United States and remained prominent even into the 20th century. It is a form of makeup style that was used in performances primarily for turning a non-black person into a black role. Obviously, this is highly offensive and Jynx's appearance created much controversy. Nintendo would later change her skin color to purple, but not before the damage had already been done.
12 The Cross-dressing Episode
Family friendly channels like Disney and Nickelodeon are known for injecting more mature subjects and humor into their shows (we're looking at you, SpongeBob), but Pokémon did it in a less subtle and even far more inappropriate way. Take, for example, the delightfully named episode "Beauty and the Beach."
In this Season 1 episode of the show, a beauty contest is held and many of the core cast members join, including Team Rocket's own James. James is seen dressing up as a female, which is not necessarily new to the series (a common humor device), but they took it way too far in this specific scenario.
James' beach attire is a skimpy bikini complete with fake, inflatable breasts. In one scene in particular, he is shown inflating his humongous chest to unnatural proportions and then proceeding to taunt Misty about her own size.
11 Yamask's Pitiful Existence
Now, time for some Pokédex entries that are unnecessarily controversial, starting with poor Yamask. Not only is Yamask a pretty unremarkable Pokémon to begin with, his Pokédex entry only makes things more depressing.
Coming directly from Pokémon Black's entry: "Each of them carries a mask that used to be its face when it was human. Sometimes they look at it and cry." Wow, that's dark. While it was already known long before Yamask's introduction in Generation V that humans can and do turn into Pokémon, this is too much.
Not only did Yamask somehow die when it was human and possess a mask (already pretty twisted), but the mask resembles its former human face and it is now forced to carry on that sorrow and pain for the rest of its existence. Brutal.
10 The Vengeful Dolls
Jumping to the other side of the Pokémon spectrum, we have the Ghost-type Banette. Banette is completely terrifying just to look at with its creepy eyes and that horrific zipper smile. This is all before we begin to dig into its backstory. Some Pokédex entries tell us that Banette will stick pins into itself to send curses on its enemies.
That alone is too far, but, once again, it's taken a step even further. Other entries give us Banette's origins as a doll that was once abandoned by its child owner and now focuses solely on seeking out them for revenge. That'll make you regret all those beanie babies you got rid of.
9 All Life Is Bound To Yveltal
We all know that life is precious and we should always be nice, considerate, and loving to each other, but what does it matter if all of existence could be snuffed in an instant? Pull your loved ones close because that could happen any second now in the Pokémon world.
Pokémon Y's legendary Yveltal is an impressive-looking bird, but it holds a sinister secret. Its Pokédex entry tells us that it is essentially a God of destruction and all life as we know it is bound to it.
That might not seem like a big deal at first glance, but if Yveltal were to somehow die, it would absorb all life force in the universe. Everything would come to an end. Good to know that the fate of every living thing can be commanded by a 10 year old trainer.
8 That's A Weird Way To Stay Warm...
While the Pokémon world does feature cars, telephones, televisions, video game systems, and all sorts of modern technology that is reminiscent of our own, it is apparently very hard to keep warm. This is shown in the insane methods that citizens of the world utilize to keep thesmelves from freezing to death during the dark days of winter.
The fire-type Pokémon Darumaka is known to release droppings (aka poop) that are quite hot. The people are so desperate to keep warm that they will literally take that poop and put it inside their clothes. We're not joking about that. There are no more words needed for this one.
7 All Of Lavender Town
I'm not sure what the developers were thinking when they made Lavender Town in the first Pokémon games. It's true that this small town exhibits a tranquil and quiet peace, but it is also one of the most disturbing places in video game history.
From the purple hue to the ghost-filled cemetery tower to the haunting theme, the town has a lingering atmosphere of death all over it. There are countless theories and legends about this crazy place, but none more disturbing than about its music.
Legend says that the music is actually hypnotic and that only small children can hear it. It's said to have a level of mind control to it that led many children in Japan to suicide. This has long since been debunked, but with the creepiness that is Lavender Town, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a little bit of truth to it.
6 Letting Children Do Whatever They Want
I get it; it's a video game. And not only that, but one that is catered to young children and adults alike. However, it is quite the stretch to build a world in which adults allow a 10 year olds to go off on a journey with creatures they just met to battle other trainers.
Let alone, the fact that many of the same creatures have the ability to kill a person in an instant without having to really try. What's worse is that the game has hinted in the past to a slight excuse for why this is alright.
It is widely known that before the original games there was an infamous war that occurred between countries. Countless casualties were recorded, leaving many children possibly without a parent or two and the world with way less adults.
5 Cubone's Mommy Issues
Cubone is easily one of the best looking Pokémon around. He's sort of a lookalike of Agumon from rival franchise Digimon that wears a totally rad skull and wields a boomerang-esque bone. A total rebel. Also, he's a surprisingly tragic pocket monster. Just a glimpse at its Pokédex entry reveals the startling revelations Nintendo could've left under wraps.
It is revealed that the skull on its head is actually the former head of its mother, Marowak. That's morbid enough, until you find out more. If you ever see unique marks on the skull, those are just the stains left by Cubone's tears.
The most recent entries in the series, Sun and Moon, tell us that the Alolan Pokémon Mandibuzz flies around and when it hears Cubone's cries, it swoops down for the attack. At the very least, this all makes Cubone even more likely to be a grungy symbol.
4 Banned Tentacruel Terrorist Episode
Unlike the previously mentioned James inflatable breasts fiasco, there are episodes of the Pokémon anime that couldn't just be edited a little bit to fix their mistakes, but had to be totally banned, even if it was temporarily. Such is the case for episode 19, "Tentacool & Tentacruel."
In this action-packed episode, Ash and the team arrive to a port city to find it under attack by an unstoppable Tentacool. A plan to defeat the creature backfires and, instead, turns it into Godzilla Tentacruel. From there, it begins to destroy skyscraper after skyscraper. The very sad problem was this aired around the terrible 9/11 terrorist attack, obviously leading to a swift ban that lasted a few years.
3 Absolute Genocide
The actual storyline in most Pokémon games is forgettable at best, including the almost nonexistent one in Pokémon X and Y. That being said, what is there certainly goes beyond anything the developers have written before. The main villain in those games attempts to use a deadly weapon to basically wipe out the world.
That's crazy enough on its own, but what's even crazier is that it has already been used once before. A man named AZ created it after his beloved Pokemon was killed in a war. The purpose of the weapon was to revive his dead partner. The cost? The lives of countless Pokémon.
He did end up using the weapon and it succeeded in reviving the Pokémon, while committing mass genocide in the process. In the end, his Pokémon saw what he had done and left him, devastated.
2 That Time Pokémon Gave People Seizures
Admittedly, it is hard to top something like our last entry, but this is even worse, simply because it affected people in the real world. What I'm referring to is the most controversial episode in Pokémon history, episode 38 of the first season. This so called "Porygon" episode is infamous for its usage of visual effects like extreme flashing lights.
These effects had a profound effect on a large number of people in Japan, causing hundreds of seizures. There is known to be nearly 700 citizens that had to be hospitalized because of this episode, with some staying in the hospital for more than two weeks.
This would lead to the episode being banned, the show going on hiatus for four months, and Porygon (though innocent) being never really shown again in the TV series to date. Nintendo has been reminded of its extreme error through numerous parodies and references from shows like South Park and The Simpsons.
1 Ash Is Still 10 Years Old
It's been joked about, made fun of, created frustration, and also made its creators a lot of money. The fact that more than 20 years after the beginning of the Pokémon anime we have the same exact protagonist and he hasn't aged one bit, well, that's quite the issue.
Whatever the reason may be, branding or familiarity and the like, Ash is still the same age as he was the day he set off on his journey to become a Pokémon Master. To Nintendo and The Pokémon Company's credit, it has been quite successful for them, but they've taken it too far. It's time to move on.
If the new movie coming this year is anything to go on, they may very well be gearing up to do so. The new Pokémon film will go back and do a strange retelling of when Ash got Pikachu. This is hopefully a sign of Pokémon of bringing to a halt this train that has gone way too far. If that fails, at least Ash is finally going to school.