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17 Pokémon Scandals You Might Have Missed

Pokémon may seem like an innocent, family-friendly franchise, but like any other pop culture phenomenon, it has some skeletons in its closet.


1. Japanese Children Hospitalized with Seizures

There are countless video games out there that are plastered with epilepsy warnings, but it was the Pokémon TV show that triggered a seizure epidemic in Japan back in 1997. More than 700 adults and kids developed epilepsy-like symptoms after watching Pokémon. Episode 38, "Denno Senshi Porygon," was forever taken off the air because of the health risk.

2. Uri Geller Sues over Kadabra

The famous psychic Uri Geller is known for his uncanny ability to bend spoons solely with the power of his mind. He sued Nintendo when they introduced Kadabra, a psychic Pokémon that carried around a bent spoon. However, he lost the case.

3. Teacher Creates a Christian-Themed Competitor

Concerned by the increasing popularity of Pokémon trading cards, David Tate, a British schoolteacher, designed his own version that introduced Biblical characters that battled against one another, called Christian Power Cards. Jesus was the only missing character, so that it wouldn't be possible for him to be defeated by an evil character.

4. Compared to Gambling

Parents became concerned that the trading of Pokémon cards could encourage kids to become addicted to gambling. Nintendo even took out the planned slot machines from "Pokémon Platinum" to deal with this controversy. A San Diego law firm filed a class-action lawsuit against Nintendo alleging that the game supports illegal gambling.

5. Jynx Incites Racial Backlash

Jynx is one of the original sets of Japanese Pokémon. It has black skin, swinging hips, and huge lips, and it appears like a racist caricature of a "blackface" entertainer from the minstrel show days. Jynx was later recolored as purple.

6. Saudi Arabia Bans Pokémon

Apparently, the religious leaders of Saudi Arabia are not happy with Pokémon. They issued an edict in 2001 banning the game, alleging that Pokémon promotes gambling and Zionism. Some have even claimed that Pokémon is a Jewish ploy to make Muslim children give up their religion, and that "Pokémon" actually means "I am Jewish."

7. Child Suffocated by Pokéball Toy

Stuffing toy Pokémon inside three inch Pokéballs made out of plastic might sound like an effective idea for a children's meal promotion, but it can result in tragedy. Burger King tried the strategy, which resulted in the suffocation of a 13-month-old child in 1999. Unsurprisingly, the toy was recalled.

8. Promotes Human Trafficking?

How far do you think a rabid Pokémon junkie can go to get that coveted card? An eight-year-old British resident, Harvey Flexman, told the listeners on a Brainfalls radio station that he was ready to trade his sister Mollie for the card. The card in question? The rare Holographic Vaporeon. He did get the card in the end, without having to use his little sister as leverage.

9. Animal Rights

The animal rights group PETA is one of the most recent opponents of Pokémon. The group created its own parody of the Nintendo series in order to highlight the unsavory nature of the on-screen action Pokémon offers. They especially object to how the Pokémon are caged in Pokéballs.

10. Pokémon Causes Greed in Children

When the Pokémon craze was at its peak, children started trading cars with each other at school. As a result, some parents began accusing Pokémon of making their children competitive and greedy.

11. Pokémon Promotes Satanism

Some people believe that Pokémon promotes Satanism, which is one of the most amazing accusations that surfaced in the past few years. They say that Pokémon is indeed the work of Beelzebub himself and is used to corrupt and subvert children. Pokémon themselves are demons, who are summoned to fight or accomplish tasks.

12. Nazi Imagery

Although the swastika is perceived as a symbol of Nazi Germany, it has a history of being a token of peace and good luck. Its use on the Ninja Trick card raised enough objections to cause its removal from the international version of the card. Furthermore, Nintendo has also edited out "Hitler-like salutes" from some of the English versions of Pokémon anime, such as "All Things Bright and Beautifly!"

13. Lenora Is a Mammy Archetype

Early depictions of Nacrene City Gym Leader Lenora had her wearing an apron and handkerchief; and because of her dark skin, people likened her to the raciest Mammy archetype. Later versions of her removed the apron and had her slinging it over one shoulder.

14. Pokémon Supports the Theory of Evolution

The fact that Pokémon evolve has come under fire by fundamentalist Christian groups as being blatantly supportive of the theory of evolution. Just when you thought that Pokémon getting stronger was a good thing, remember that Blastoises and Charizards have a subversive agenda.

15. Spanish Pokémon Players Have a Fight with Their Feces

A drunken Pokémon championship team from Spain was caught throwing their poop at each other in the UK hotel they were staying in. Cops were called, and the team was thrown out of the hotel.

16. Pokémon Promotes Violence

Many overprotective parents around the world claim that Pokémon is incredibly harmful for kids because it promotes violent hobbies and fighting. It also encourages the unholy tradition of summoning demons for settling disputes.

17. The Easter Island Controversy

The Rock-Steel Probopass was introduced in the fourth generation of Pokémon. It has drawn some ire for its appearance, because it looks like the Moai statues of Easter Island.