Written by Jonathan Wojcik

DECEMBER 7: The Thirteen Most Disturbing Pokémon!

   Last year, I picked out my choices for the top thirteen Halloweeniest pocket monsters in current pocket monster canon, but creepiness was only one of many criteria by which they were judged. With over 600 monsters in the current canon, even the cutest pokémon can get surprisingly unsettling, and while lists like this crop up regularly on the internet, I've done my best to bring you at least a little fresh analysis! When we're done, feel free to expand the list all you want in the comments!

#13: Sigilyph

   This abstract tricloptic entity seems to symbolize a bird, but otherwise resembles no natural living creature. All we know is that they once guarded the cities of a now extinct civilization, and still dutifully follow the same routes they once patrolled, using their array of psychic abilities to ward off intruders. There are many "ancient artifact" pokémon, already a strange and enigmatic category, but Sigilyph is probably the strangest. Who were these ancient people, able to create telepathic monsters from nothing but clay and stone, and why did they die out?

#12: Drifloon

   A must in any discussion of pokémon's dark side, this strange, balloon-like ghost type seems harmless enough, but has an unexplained drive to abduct human children. It's too lightweight to usually succeed, but tries its damnedest to drag them away, and we can probably assume they pull it off fairly easily with teamwork. They're rumored to take their victims back to the underworld, but I like to think they just dump children off in the middle of a desert somewhere.

#11: Cacturne

   Speaking of which, this is the only one I feel the need to lift directly from the "Halloween" list, as the horror of Cacturne is simply sublime. By day, they apparently stand totally still, like silent, staring scarecrows, but after dark, they hunt for creatures lost in the desert, feeding on those who succumb to heat and dehydration. These bastards won't even let you sleep; you're forced to spend every night fleeing for your life from roving packs of life-sucking scarecrow-plants. Good luck getting any rest in during daylight hours, beneath both the scorching sun and the hungry gaze of cactus eyes. Cactus eyes, watching and waiting, every day, every night, until you're just too weak to fight back as they penetrate your body with their hollow thorns and drink what little fluid you have left.

#10: Muk

   While I'd love to talk about the beautifully deformed Weezing or my beloved Garbodor again, I have to admit that Muk here is by far the most frightening of the pollution-born pokes. A huge, living heap of pure toxic sludge, its slightest touch stagnates water, sickens living things and leaves the very soil in its wake inhospitable to plant life for years to come. These monstrosities would ruin the ecosystem in no time if they didn't keep to sewers, garbage dumps and other polluted places where they freely feed and multiply. Humans of the pokeworld now have essentially no choice but to continue dumping toxins in remote locales, or mutations like Muk would have nowhere else to go. Every ecosystem would be doomed as these things spread out in search of food.

#9: Paras

   There's obviously going to be at least a little crossover with the previous Halloween list, but instead of focusing on Parasect again, let's focus on its unevolved form, Paras. This oversized cicada nymph is, by far, one of the most heart-wrenching designs in the series. Just look at those trusting eyes, filled with such child-like innocence, completely oblivious to the parasitic fungus already sucking away at its lifeblood. The intelligent parasitic fungus, already whispering its dark will to the host's defenseless brain. Eventually, Paras will evolve into Parasect, and if the pokedex is to be believed, the huge mushroom now does all of the thinking. Parasect's eyes are lifeless for a reason; every single one of them is technically dead, and Paras, most likely, has no comprehension of its inevitable fate.

#8: Beheeyem

   This psychic type evolves from Elgyem, a cute little space alien who crash-landed in the pokémon world's equivalent to the Roswell incident. Not all that threatening, until you consider that it immediately evolved a form crudely imitating a human in a trenchcoat, and that according to the pokedex, its flashing fingers can cloud minds and completely re-write memories. We're never told to what extent, but even a limited capacity to edit a mind has the potential to degrade sanity and ruin lives. It's like the pokémon world's Slenderman, or The Silence from Dr. Who. With creatures like this roaming around, who can even be sure what's real anymore? How do we know Beheeyem does not, in fact, have a more evolved form that successfully keeps its own existence a secret?

#7: Shedinja

   Another favorite of mine, and another cicada, which always seem to undergo the most unwholesome evolutions of all bug-type pokémon. When Nincada evolves into Ninjask, it leaves behind an empty exoskeleton which inexplicably continues to "live" as a ghost-type pokemon. It's nothing but an empty skin animated by some entirely unknown force, and completely invulnerable to most elemental types, as though few things can even interact with it on a molecular level. It's rumored to be able to suck out a person's soul through the hole in its back, but this is probably only a legend. Does it even need to be true? A hollowed-out insect husk possessed by some unknown paradimensional consciousness sort of speaks for itself.

#6: Glalie

   I always felt the freakishness of this globular ice type was under-appreciated. It's nothing more than a huge, disembodied, devilishly horned head, encased in a giant "hockey mask" of solid ice. It's a demonic, Jason Vorhees snowball and exactly as malicious as that implies; according to the 'dex, it uses its control over temperature to "immobilize" its prey - not kill, mind you, only "immobilize" - then, and I quote, "eat them at a liesurely pace." It freezes you, alive, and then it eats you...slowly. You may be too numb to feel the giant face crunching through your frostbitten limbs, but you may at least get the opportunity to watch.

#5: Cubone

   Another one that no self-respecting list of "creepy" pokémon can pass by, this fan favorite is never seen without its trusty bone and skull, which are said to have belonged to its mother. Yes, the story conflicts with the fact that we can endlessly breed them in the video games like any other monster and conflicts with the species even still existing, but in any case, Cubone have to get those skeletal remains from somewhere, and if they have them since the day they're born, we know that something has to die every single time a Cubone comes into this world, and that it's very quickly reduced to a clean, polished skeleton. Fan theories vary, but I like to take the "Cubone have to eat their way out of their mother's body" option.

#4: Hypno

   With its just-wrong-enough resemblance to a human being, Hypno is, in my book, the creepiest looking pokémon by far, and giving this squinty-eyed goblin hypnotic, psychic powers is exactly the only way it could have been any worse. It feeds almost entirely on dreams, which could explain why its design never shows a visible mouth. Great. A mouthless, bearded, jaundiced troll watches people sleep and probes into their minds to consume their unconscious thoughts. It's also officially mentioned that Hypno, like Drifloon, attempt to steal children. No wonder this one inspired a creepypasta and in turn a deliciously uncomfortable song.

#3: Swalot

   One of the oddest creatures in the series, which is saying quite a bit, Swalot is a pure poison type resembling nothing so much as a fleshy, rubbery sack, which is the whole idea, since it's a "poison bag" pokémon, whatever that's supposed to mean. As its name implies, Swalot's claim to fame is swallowing things, and this is where Swalot becomes either prime nightmare fuel, fetish fodder or an awkward mix of both, depending on the depths of fandom we're willing to delve into, and by popular demand, the link I previously had here to an ungodly haunting piece of Swalot fan art has been retired, but use your imagination. I, personally, can imagine no death more horrific than to be digested alive in something else's stomach, and that's exactly what happens to those who cross a hungry Swalot; the pokédex explicitly tells us that Swalot is a predator, incapacitating victims with its poisonous secretions before ingesting them whole and rapidly dissolving them in its powerful enzymes. This is also true of Victreebel, who can "melt prey in a day, bones and all," though I find Swalot's goofy little Ziggy-face just a smidgeon more disquieting. More of that lovely "uncanny valley" aspect.

Just imagine Swalot in cahoots with a Hypno. One puts you to sleep, the other swallows you whole, and together they consume your mind and body at once. This is absolutely a thing that can happen in the pokémon world, straight from its own canon.

#2: Yamask

   Yamask's evolved form, Cofagrigus, made it onto last year's list for its balance of the spooktacular with the positively kick-ass, but wee Yamask is all creep factor, the first ghost-type pokémon officially described as the ghost of a human being. Up to now, it had always been ambiguous whether "ghost" types were truly spirits or just very spirit-like organisms, but now, we know that at least one is a plain old dead guy, raising questions nobody in the pokémon world is asking hard enough. If a human isn't a pokémon, then how and why does a human soul become a pokémon? Why does nobody think twice about children capturing human souls in pokéballs and training them like pets? How do you know your pokémon wasn't a serial killer?

#1: Missingno

   It may be cheating a little to include a glitch that was never officially recognized as a "pokémon," and Missingno isn't even the creepiest glitch in the game (that award goes to "Female"), but I've my own personal theory regarding this game-corrupting error, and I'm surprised I seldom see anyone drawing similar conclusions; though pokémon are living things, they can be stored in a pokéball as nothing more than weightless energy, and by the time of Pokémon Red and Blue, a system exists for translating that energy into raw computer data, storing and transferring pokémon digitally.

...Digitally. In a computer. A complex, sentient living being, broken down into zeroes and ones to be filed away and reconstituted at our convenience. Now, in the real world, we still can't always keep jpegs from getting corrupted or lost every so often, and you're telling me that millions of people in the pokémon world are uploading and downloading MONSTERS without a hitch? What happens when there's a hiccup in such a delicate process? For that matter, where did the original pokémon really go? Wouldn't the one in the computer technically be nothing but a digital duplicate? Things had to go horrendously wrong at least a few times before such a sophisticated technology was perfected, and we're looking at the results. "Glitch" pokémon are exactly that; pokémon who broke.