Pokémon’s Backstory Might Be Darker Than Most People Realise

Pokémon’s Backstory Might Be Darker Than Most People Realise
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The cute monsters are a distraction — there seems to be something much more sinister going on in Pokémon.

Hardcore Pokémon fans know this as the “Pokémon War Theory,” which PBS Idea Channel recently outlined in the video above. To understand it, you have to take into consideration a weird quirk of the games: have you ever noticed that the games don’t feature many adults? Mostly, it’s kids, teens, and older folk. Any adults that exist work for institutions like The Pokémon Center. There’s likely a good reason for that. The theory postulates that most of the adults of the Pokémon world must have died in the war that’s said to take place before the games actually start.

The whole war detail is pretty easy to miss in the games, but it’s still there. After you beat Lt. Surge in the games, he tells you that a Pokémon saved his life in the war. This detail spawned an entire creepypasta around Pokémon, and it goes like this:

You have no father, and your best friend is an orphan.

Children are going to a journey around the world.

Your mother accepts you as the man of the house, making your own decisions.

Old man warns you of dangers around the corner.

Most people you meet are children and/or gym leaders.

Most adult men are either very old, or have a job related to the military or organised crime.

Hospitals and gyms are everywhere, but no forms of entertainment such as movie theatres.

LT. Surge:

“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 Pokèmon saved me during the war!”

You now realise that there was a war in Kanto.

Your father died, and your rival lost his parents.

You are among the first generation of people to live in peace at post-war time.

Maybe that all seems absurd, but as Idea Channel points out, it would explain why the games feature a society where even children are obsessed with combat. It would also explain smaller details within the game, like why you always have a mission to “catch em all” and complete your Pokedex: the Professors want to know what Pokémon actually survived the war. Geeze. Now I feel bad for never bothering with that quest.

This, of course, is just a theory. The video dives into some of its pitfalls, and also explores why people would want to believe in a theory like this anyway. If nothing else, right now it’s pretty fun to think about the creepier things that Pokémon culture has spawned — it is October, after all!


  • Later games and films have mentioned at least one large scale war that involved Humans and Pokemon, however it appears to have occurred during the Feudal era of their cultures.

  • No way! A game that aggressively targets a young audience features predominantly young characters? And they’re all interested in the same parts of the game that I am?

    Would anybody play a Pokemon game where you can’t find anybody to battle in the city because everybody you talk to is 30-something and grumbling about being too busy with their job or kids to speak with you? Complaining that you should be in school or studying? Reminding you that there can only be one Pokemon Master, and statistically speaking, it’s probably not going to be you? Arrogantly telling you that, no, they’re not a Pokemon trainer, they have a real job?

    Fortunately for those of you who prefer conspiracy to reason, I have prepared a number of other crucial parts of real life that are suspiciously absent from the assorted worlds of Pokemon games:
    * government of any type
    * retirement homes
    * Non-Nintendo consoles
    * pediatricians
    * dictionaries
    * toilets

    Please feel free to infer what you will. Who knows, this could lead to you being a Youtube star or a Kotaku journalist!

  • Actually I thought it might be virtual reality and the pokemon are interactive sprites training children to think a particular way. The ghost girl is a ghost in the machine.

  • I would imagine in the wold of pokemon, wars would be fought via the titular creatures. Without the need for humans to be on the front lines it’s difficult to see how adults everywhere would be wiped out.

    Lets say Kanto did try annex Johto, if they’ve lost 99% of the adult population did that mean they’d lost? Or was it a mutually assured destruction sort of deal?

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