While it might not be considered a hot topic to many now, Digimon was known for going toe-to-toe against Pokémon back in the 90s. Designed as a series that marketed Tamagotchis for boys, Digimon followed a group of kids transported to another world known as the Digital World. With the help of their fighting monster companions called Digimon, the kids managed to return home while saving the world in the process. On the surface, it definitely seems like your typical kids show of the time, but looking into it a bit further you'll see that that isn't the case.
A big part of what made Digimon such a hit was its cool monster designs and more serious plot. The latter turns out to be even more serious than we thought, however, featuring a huge amount of dark and even downright disturbing references. This is seen not only in how the characters are or the way the storylines go, but also in some outside references from things like H.P. Lovecraft stories. No wonder this show attracted so many kids; it was just a bit more dark and scary than Pokémon was!
Here are just a few things that you might not have noticed or that you wish you hadn't. Did we miss any really dark things or moments that stand out to you? If so, let us know in the comments!
25 The Revival Of Myotismon
On a surface level, Myotismon isn’t all that disturbing. He’s just a vampire who rambles on about his evil plans. In truth however, he’s so much more than some Dracula knockoff. He’s the Digimon equivalent to the AntiChrist.
After being defeated by Tai and Matt in the original series, the DigiDestined learn that Myotismon will return at six seconds and six minutes past 6:00—"the hour of the beast". The people in the city end up mindlessly chanting Myotismon’s name as he returns in his new form, VenomMyotismon.
Myotismon’s return is a clear reference to the Bible’s mark of the beast 666. If that wasn’t enough, it even takes the help of two angels to put VenomMyotismon down for good after his uprising.
24 Evolution Through Abuse
It’s important to remember that the Digimon TV series was created to help promote the Tamagotchi spinoff. If the overall theme of Digimon is that taking care of your pet helps them to grow stronger, SkullGreymon is the result of failing to do so.
To force Agumon to Digivolve, Tai started trying cruel methods make Agumon stronger. Although Tai got his wish, he ended up getting more than he bargained for. Agumon digivolved into SkullGreymon, a violent beast who couldn’t tell friend from foe. It was a harsh but vital lesson for anyone interested in owning a pet.
23 The Unexplained Dark Zone
The second season of Digimon introduced a ton of new characters and plotlines. One of the most disturbing ones was a land known as the Dark Ocean.
Considered to be an alternate world between reality and the Digital World, the Dark Ocean is basically hell. There’s no story of where this world came from, but as the name implies, the Dark Ocean is a twisted place where anyone’s negative thoughts are brought to life. Even creepier is that it’s ruled by Dragomon, a grotesque Digimon based on Cthulhu. If the Digimon world wasn't creepy enough, adding in lore from H.P. Lovecraft stories certainly made it so.
22 Digital Extermination
For a series all about saving the world with the powers of love and friendship, Digimon sure has no problem with Digimon being killed off.
Unlike Pokémon, a world where monsters have taken the place of animals, Digimon have no such purpose. Many Digimon exist for the sole purpose of fighting others and almost all of them end up Digivolving into world destroying mechs. It makes the whole thing a lot more dark even just on a surface level, since it's more violent and the creatures are more antagonistic than other similar shows that aired at the time.
Digimon also go through the act or reincarnation so after they finish wiping each other out, they get to do it all over again later!
21 The Self-Proclaimed Digimon Master
Let’s get one thing straight, Ken Ichijouji is a monster. No matter how you try to justify it, this kid is horrible.
Ken has the dark backstory of wishing his brother would disappear right before losing him in a tragic accident. Feeling guilty, he ends up visiting the Dark Ocean and for whatever reason, he decided to dip the Digivice he got into the tainted water.
Ken’s next genius move is to take on the persona of Digimon Emperor and forcibly enslave every single Digimon he could find in the Digital World. Because he’s a monster. He said sorry after, though, so all is forgiven.
20 The Copy And Paste Hero
For reasons I’ve never been able to figure out, the name of the main character was changed from Taichi Yagami to Taichi “Tai” Kamiya when Digimon aired in America. The stranger fact behind this is that Taichi Yagami is already a character in the Digimon universe.
In the 1988 manga Digimon Adventure V-Tamer 01, Taichi Yagami is introduced along with his partner Digimon Veedramon. Despite going on completely different adventures, both Taichi’s bear the same name and appearance. The only real difference between the two is that this Taichi doesn’t only wear goggles, but a sweet cape as well.
19 The Digimon Overlords
The Digital World has many interesting groups to help its society run. While many of these don’t make complete sense, one that is more fleshed out is a group known as the Royal Knights.
The Royal Knights are a group of God-tier Digimon who banded together to help protect the world, sort of like a Digimon Justice League. Unlike the Justice League, however, the Royal Knights will go to any length in order to protect their world. This includes letting out a virus to kill nearly every Digimon, resetting the world before it became too overpopulated. Oh yeah, they also went out personally kill off the survivors.
18 The Digital Purge
There’s no doubt that the Royal Knights are horrible, but at least they had good intentions. The same thing cannot be said about the D-Reaper.
Created by the United States Department of Defense, the D-Reaper was a program created to destroy every living thing in the Digital World after a certain number of lifeforms are born into it. It’s scary that in a world of rocket launching metal dinosaurs, the government is still the biggest threat. You'll see later about how the adults in this show all seem to be incompetent or evil, and this just seems to solidify that fact.
17 Digital World Tarzan
In the fifth season of Digimon, there is a character named Keenan Crier. He has quite the heavy story behind him.
As a baby, Keenan is lost in the Digital World where he is adopted and raised by Digimon. Keenan’s life is a happy one until humans invade the Digital world and kill all of his friends and adopted family. Keenan wages war against humans until he meets his birth parents. Seeing their lost son causes his mother to have a complete mental breakdown and his father is arrested for researching the Digital World. Both of Keenan’s worlds are destroyed, leaving him with nothing.
Does a story like this make you want to buy toys?
16 The Fallen Angel
One of the major obstacles that the DigiDestined overcome in the first season is defeating the evil Devimon.
In the original series, Devimon isn’t viewed as anything more than a villain looking to destroy our heroes. There’s a lot more to this character than what we’re told though. Devimon was originally the same as the holy Digimon, Angemon. After being lured into sin by DemiDevimon, Angemon fell to darkness and gained the mark of evil that can also be found on VenomMyotismon. If VenomMyotismon is the AntiChrist, Devimon is clearly one of his fallen angel followers.
It’s somewhat ironic that he ends up being defeated by another Angemon.
15 Death Of The Lion
Digimon death may be somewhat of a common thing on TV but there is one Digimon who has it far worse than all the rest.
Leomon is considered to be a protector to weaker Digimon all over the Digital World. With such a noble cause in mind, it’s that much sadder to know that Leomon is killed in nearly every season of the series. Fortunately, his numerous deaths are usually undone by the end of the series, but the emotional pain is still all too real.
The stories may change, but one thing is always certain: Leomon will die. At least they always find a way to bring him back, we guess.
14 Poor Old Joe
When I was a kid watching Digimon, Joe was my least favourite character by far. He was a wimp, whined too much, and he made horribly cheesy jokes. It wasn’t until I recently re-watched the series that those negative feelings changed.
Joe is older than the rest of the DigiDestined and as someone older, he’s much more fearful of the danger-filled Digital World. It also doesn’t help that he’s awkward and under constant stress from the pressures of society. All Joe wants to do is pass his exams, get into a good college and get a decent job and now he has to worry about monsters trying to destroy the world?
I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.
13 The Great Demon Lord
Digimon tends to be pretty on the nose with its names for monsters. Look like a puppet? Puppetmon. A giant walking star? Starmon. The names are usually a dead giveaway to what each monster is based on. This isn't too unlike the naming trends of Pokémon these days, with characters like "trubbish" being a bag of trash.
Daemon is a not-so-clever workaround for the word demon. Although he usually wears a cloak, Daemon’s design is intentionally based on Satan. As one of seven of the great demon lords, Daemon is meant to represent the sin of wrath. The original Taichi battles against him and wins but it isn’t until the second season where Daemon is trapped in the Dark Ocean where he truly belongs.
12 Slave Labour
Even in the Digital World, sleazy business owners can be found all over the place. I guess this isn't something that's just specific to our world.
In the first season, Joe happens to find a nice diner where he and Gomamon go to eat. Unfortunately for them, the diner’s owner Digitamamon only accepts American money as payment. The two end up having to work off their bill, which would be fine if Digitamamon didn’t force them to have accidents that increase their total bill. What a scammer! If that wasn’t enough, it turns out DemiDevimon was paying off Digitamamon to hold them.
It’s a win-win for everyone. Well, everyone except for Joe. He still had to do all that work.
11 A Life Sentence
In most cases, changes for the English dubs of Japanese anime tend to make things tamer. There is one change made the first season of Digimon, however, that I’m not sure is more or less cruel than it’s original.
Gotsumon and Pumpkinmon are two kid Digimon serving Myotismon. After being sent to the Digital World to find the eight DigiDestined, they get distracted my their entirely new world. When Myotismon appeared in the real world, he definitely wasn’t pleased with their failure.
In the English dub, Myotismon simply kills the two Digimon and continues with his master plan. In the Japanese dub, however, Myotismon decides to imprison the two in his dungeon where they’re never heard or seen again.
It’s hard to decide which fate is worse.
10 Bullies In Training
Some of the cutest forms Digimon have are when they’re in their in-training evolutions.
Pagumon are these orderable pug Digimon with a sly look on their faces. They’re undeniably cute and they welcome the DigiDestined to their village after meeting them. Things are rarely what they seem in the Digital World, however, even for cute little puppies. The Pagumon turn out to be villains who seized the village from a group of Koromon and were even starting to hurt Tokomon when no one was looking. Little monsters are monsters nonetheless.
It just gives the message that nobody can be trusted, even those who seem the most harmless. This storyline was a little bit more disturbing than we expected.
9 Eternal Burning Man
Meramon has always been one of my favourite Digimon ever. He’s a man completely engulfed in flames and has the power to burn nearly anything. Twisting this power was far more disturbing than cool.
During the first season, a number of black gears were sent out to infect strong Digimon. When Meramon becomes infected, his flames start to burn hotter and hotter until they become so intense that even he can’t tolerate them. Meramon begins burning everything, screaming in pain as he’s unable to put himself out.
It’s hard to look at Meramon the same way now without thinking about how screamed, wishing for his own death to stop the pain. It's one thing to have a Digimon hurt someone else, but to have them being hurt and unable to stop it was terrifying.
8 The Internet Is Over
The Digimon movie sounds far more like some sort horror story, given how integral the internet has become in our society. It's the kind of thing that might become true given the state of our world right now. That is if something like Digimon existed.
A Digi-Egg hatches on the internet, releasing a virus Digimon that continues to grow and take over every network that it latches onto. The Digimon becomes so powerful that it shuts down the entire city, affecting traffic and hospitals. Luckily, the power of lag was enough to help the DigiDestined take down the virus.
Still, the virus brought about the true meaning of breaking the internet. Kim Kardashian only wishes she broke it this well.
7 An Existential Crisis
Similar to a computer program, most Digimon live to fulfill one purpose and nothing more. There’s only one Digimon that does more than that and it’s a depressing sight.
BlackWarGreymon was created from evil control towers placed all over the Digital World. Unlike other Digimon, BlackWarGreymon possesses self-awareness. This results in him having a bit of an existential crisis. After going against his orders to destroy, we get to watch him question his life and what he’s meant to do. We never got the chance to see him find his true purpose before being killed off. It's a sad story for a Digimon hoping to belong. This is just one of the many times Digimon really gets too dark for kids.
6 The Evils Of Adulthood
Adults are rarely competent in the Digimon series. They are more stupid or immature than the children in some cases. Even worse, any intelligent adults are either dead or evil. Yukio Oikawa is a perfect example of this.
Making his debut in the second season, it’s incredibly obvious that Yukio is not going to be a good guy. He’s pale to the point of looking like a corpse, has no eyebrows, and acts extremely suspicious. He has all the traits If you look closely, he almost looks like a vampire.
Oh wait, it turns out he is one. I guess that explains it all. Why can't we have a smart, normal adult that doesn't want to end the world?
5 Reality Bites
Digimon don’t typically spend too much time in the real world. As it turns out, there’s a very good reason for why that is.
The second season of Digimon showed us that when a Digimon spends too much time in the real world they begin dying. This happens even faster when a Digimon isn’t close to their human partner. This is really upsetting, especially when you think about how these Digimon really bond with their partners. They're not just pets; they're more like best friends. The urge to keep them in the real world is strong.
There’s a good chance this ties into the whole Tamagotchi thing where if you leave it alone too long, your Digimon is likely to die.
4 The Digital Battleground
The third season of Digimon was the first to take place in its own separate world. This meant they could make whatever changes they wanted to what we know as Digimon. This includes changes to the Digital World itself.
Unlike the surreal and colourful place that the Digital World was in the first two seasons, this iteration is mostly desolate. The fact that Digimon exist to find in this world is more prevalent than ever. It’s a world where Digimon fight to kill each other and absorb the data of the defeated in order to get stronger and eventually Digivolve. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where no one is safe and where no kid should end up.
3 Terriermon Out For Blood
Terriermon is the absolute opposite of what you’d expect from something so cute. But then again, it's always the cute ones that we have to watch out for.
The version of Terriermon that we're looking at is from the Digimon Tamers anime. Starting off life as a wild Digimon in the Digital World, he roamed the land as a video game character before being selected by Henry Wong. Henry was enjoying his new game until he realized that Digimon were real. He was forced to watch Terriermon kill again and again before coming to the real world… where he killed again and again.
Terriermon did get his savage streak under control eventually, sort of. He developed a more laid-back vibe and became friends with some of the other Digimon.
2 Saying Goodbye
This disturbing fact managed to hit me right in the nostalgia.
In the latest Digimon series, Digimon Tri, we got to see Tai and the other DigiDestined reunited with their digital partners after all these years. It was a touching moment, seeing how happy it made all of them. Their meeting wasn’t all sunshine, though. A virus spread through the Digital World, affecting every single Digimon. The only way to save their friends was for the DigiDestined to perform a hard reboot on the Digital World, resetting everything, along with their Digimon.
It was a sad goodbye, but on the bright side, they can still create new memories together. It was still tough, though, since these are characters that we've grown to love.
1 He Is Legion
Fitting its appearance, Apocalymon is a ball of negativity. He was originally sealed away and was finally released from the prison that kept him hostage by Millenniummon.
At the end of the first season, the DigiDestined face off against Apocalymon, a creature made up of dead Digimon that didn’t reincarnate and powered by their despair. These Digimon weren't able to digivolve. Apocalymon is a reference to Legion from the Bible, a mass collection of demons put together. Like Legion, Apocalymon even refers to itself in a plural sense. A really ancient book had prophecized his coming. This is much like how the Bible prophecizes the coming of certain beings, as well... notice the parallels here?
Digimon sure loves its Bible references.