So many moments from the original Pokémon generation are stuck in my brain. Seared like a cattle brand, if I’m ever bored I can shut my eyes and essentially imagine a playthrough of Red or Blue from start to finish. Those moments are entangled with a lot of formative memories, and among the cheerful and often amazing pockets of monster-catching, are some surprisingly dark secrets.
The cuddly design of Pikachu and the squeaky-clean branding betray a dark underbelly, one that is essential to the Pokémon tone. Plus, it’s a dark streak in Pokémon’s very first moments, with even the fledgling steps of this near 30-year-old franchise being fraught with terrifying Pokédex entries and some deeply unsettling lore.
To celebrate the spooky season, we’re diving into just why these creepier moments work so well in Pokémon, and what they add to the franchise as a whole. There’s a reason many folks love the terrifying stories behind creatures like Drifloon and Mimikyu, and it’s the smart balance of cute and dangerous that only a wildly imaginative world like Pokémon’s can create.