Even before Pokemon GO came out and we gotpeople in pig masks terrorizing teenagers and other weird stories, Pokemon had some strange lore attached to it. Some of these stories are actually true, while others are not…or are they? At any rate, let’s look at the strange events and urban legends that surround the Pokemon franchise.
Lavender Town Syndrome
The most famous Pokemon urban legend is the curse of Lavender Town. It centered around the somewhat discomforting music that plays when you visit Lavender Town in the first Pokemon game. Take a listen yourself as you read the grisly tale.
The story goes that when Pokemon Red and Green was first released in Japan in 1996. When certain children got to the part of the game that deals with the Pokemon graveyard, Lavender Town, they had strange reactions to the eerie tune that played. Many children committed suicide, “usually from hanging themselves or jumping from heights”. However some odd cases had children doing things like “sawing off their own limbs”. Children who were saved before killing themselves were not the same afterwards, only answering in screams and attempts to scratch out their eyes when asked why they wanted to hurt themselves. Some became violent when the game was taken away from them.
The detectives discovered that Lavender Town song contained harmful, high frequencies that only certain children could hear. The frequencies scrambled the kid’s brains and drove them to hurt themselves. Over 200 children died. The whole thing was covered up by Game Freak and the Japanese Government and the Games were quietly recalled and the song replaced. It was all covered up, until this (very fake) leaked report came out:
京极 勝女; April 12 1996 (11). Obstructive sleep apnea, severe migraines, otorrhagia, tinnitus.
千葉 広幸: May 23 1996 (12). General irritability, insomnia, addiction to videogame, nosebleeds. Developed into violent streaks against others and eventually himself. [自殺]
桃井 久江: April 27 1996 (11). Cluster headaches, irritability. Eventually took mixed painkillers. [自殺]
吉長 為真: March 4 1996 (7). Migraines, sluggish and slow behaviour, unresponsiveness. Developed into deafness, and went missing. Body discovered beside road April 20 1996. [死出]
The tale was later expanded on as a very lengthy creepypasta story, which includes a bunch of fake Game Freak employees getting involved in the carnage. You can see it in pastebin here.
There are other versions of the story too, which take a more supernatural bent, saying the game somehow allows children to communicate with the dead and children who recently lost a loved one become eager to join the realm of the dead after seeing the spirits of the departed...and so they commit suicide.
It’s all untrue of course, but a shocking number of people believed it back in the day. The tale taking place in Japan lent it mystery, since not a lot of people knew enough Japanese to check if the death reports were real. There was even a video claiming to show that there were demons in the Lavender Town song frequencies or whatever:
The whole Lavender Town myth was likely inspired by a real life unsettling incident involving harm to children that had to do with Pokemon: Pokemon Shock. In 1997, an episode of the Pokemon anime “Denno Senshi Porygon” (Cyber Soldier Porygon) aired. It resulted in 685 people getting an ambulance ride. A scene in the episode has Pikachu stop some vaccine missiles with a thunderbolt attack. The result is a huge explosion that flashes red and blue very rapidly.
This image has serious effects on some of the people viewing. Some suffered headaches, nausea and dizziness. Others had it far worse, experiencing epileptic seizures, temporary blindness, convulsions and some even passed out. Of the 685 viewers, most recovered on the ambulance ride to the hospital- but about 150 were admitted and two were hospitalized for over two weeks.
Strangely, only some of these children had photosensitive epilepsy and a later study showed most of them had no further seizures. Apparently, even non-epileptic photosensitive people can be susceptible to certain images, a study shows. About 12,000 children showed milder symptoms, but this was thought to be mass hysteria bought on by the news reports of the incident.
The Pokemon episode was never aired anywhere ever again after this incident. The show itself went off air for four months and a special called “Problem Inspection Report on the Pocket Monster Animated Broadcast” aired before it resumed, where a host went over what happened, gave advisory warnings and explained the steps that had been taken so it would never happen again. Japanese television came together and established image guidelines for future cartoons so it would not be repeated. Also, even though the Pokemon was not in the offending part, Porygon never appeared in the anime again.
You can see why such an unexpected thing causing children to be ill would lead to people thinking song frequencies could also hurt them. However, the incident should also tell you mass child death could not be “covered up” by Japan and would make it to American news- this incident was all over news everywhere, even without any deaths.
The White Hand and Buried Alive
Another big urban legend involving Lavender Town is the legend of the white hand. When you talk to an NPC outside Pokemon tower and she asks you if you believe in ghosts, if you answer no, she’ll say “Haha, I guess not. That white hand on your shoulder, it’s not real.” Of course, this led to many players claiming a white hand appeared on their shoulder in real life during this part.
It also spun off into a myth that there was original supposed to be a battle in Pokemon tower with a Pokemon called “Buried Alive”, a rotting human corpse trying to claw its way out of the ground. It would have two Pokemon called “White Hand”. The story goes if you lost to Buried Alive, it would say “finally, fresh meat” and violently devour the player character, resulting in a Game Over.
Pokemon Creepy Black
Pokemon Black "Creepy"(not to be confused with the ACTUALPokemon Black that came out later) is the legend of a hacked Red and Green cartridge. In this game, the player had a Pokemon called GHOST. This Pokemon was unstoppable- when it faced other Pokemon, they were too scared to move and when it cursed them, the opposing Pokemon would die. The player could plow through the game this way, killing everything.
But at the end of the game, the player would be shown as an old man. There would be no NPCS left, no Pokemon, no anything…just graves. The player would be utterly alone. The Ghost would appear and challenge the player itself. The player would be shown all the Pokemon they killed and all the grieving trainers. Then Ghost would use Curse on you, the player, and the screen would go back.
(SPOILER WARNING FOR UNDERTALE IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH)
The hack is not real, but the ending sounds similar to the ending of the no mercy route in Undertale. It has a similar message about indiscriminate killing too. I wonder if there was some inspiration taken there?
Wrinkles the Clown
Deranged Clown Stalks Innocent 'Pokemon GO' Players in Florida https://t.co/jXHhVTo68c via @creators
— HvUSeen Wrinkles? (@spotwrinkles)
August 9, 2016
Wrinkles the Crown is a 65-year-old man who dresses up as a creepy clown and terrorizes misbehaving kids at their parents behest. It sounds weird, but it’s a real thing. And he’s recently been randomly appearing in people’s Pokemon GO pictures. He’s appeared in two within the space of a week. Is he stalking Pokemon Go players, playing the game himself or is it just a coincidence? Well, just in case, if you live in Florida, watch out.
Pokemon Strangled Red
Pokemon Strangled Red stands out from other Pokemon creepypastas mostly for its causal tone- it acknowledges the existence of the other creepypastas and makes sarcastic side-remarks. Legend Hunters did a video version of the tale that you can see here:
If you don’t want to hear the whole story (though the way its told is what helps it not be totally stupid), here’s the Cliff Notes versions: This hacked game is set about a year before the original Red and Green. You play as a character named Steven, who has a Charmander named Miki who’s super strong. He beats the Elite Four and beats his own Brother. The brother asks to borrow Miki through the Poketransfer system, but an accident happens and Miki dies.
A year later, Steven is now a shell of his former self. He decides to attempt to bring Miki back from the dead. He uses the famous glitch Pokemon, MissingNo, to do so, But Miki is a rotting corpse, an abomination, and Steven has turned monstrous as well. At the end of the game, you can choose to strangle your undead Pokemon and the game will end.
Pokemon Lost Silver
Another popular and grisly Pokemon creepypasta is Lost Silver, which is also one of the few that focus on a game that’s not the original one. This tells of a hacked version of Gold and Silver. Again, here’s a narrated video version:
Basically the story has the protagonist slowly losing parts of their body as Unowns spell out creepy messages, until they finally die.
You Killed Your Rival's Raticate
This one is more a fan theory than a legend. In the original Pokemon game, when you meet your rival in Lavender Town, he askes whether you know what it’s like to have your Pokemon die. Earlier in the game, your rival had a Raticate you fought, but when you fight him in Lavender Town, it’s no longer in his party. You also battle him in a Pokemon graveyard. The theory is you injured your rival's Raticate during the battle on the S.S. Anne and he was unable to get it to a Pokemon center in time and it died. Your rival was in the graveyard to bury his Pokemon and his grudge against you only intensified after your callous murder. Weirdly plausible, even if I doubt it’s what the gamemakers intended. This video debunks it though.