Frightful Five: The Scariest Ghost-Type Pokemon
The world of Pokémon is a strange one indeed, and along with sentient ice cream cones and three-foot bees with drills for hands, one of the strangest things about it is the very existence of the Ghost type. That they even exist at all means that there are straight up ten year-old children running around bottling up the spirits of the restless dead and using them to fight talking flowers and whatever the heck Slowpoke is, and that's weird even without the part where the afterlife has been 100% proven by scientists, and that our souls have been proven to be not all that different from, say, a rat that shoots lightning out of its face, or a snake that's just basically a snake.
So with Halloween on the horizon, we turn to the Pokédex, courtesy of the indispensable Bulbapedia, to look at Pokémon's most terrifying Ghost types!
Chandelure may be the single best example of the school of Pokémon design that involves just looking around at whatever's in the room and deciding to put a face on it. If nothing else, a candle that grows up to be a lamp and then a chandelier is actually a more compelling progression than an ice cream cone that turns into two ice cream cones, and making them creepy gothic light fixtures adds a whole lot of atmosphere.
But rather than being just a simple source of spooky mood lighting, Chandelure is a lot more terrifying than it might initially appear. Here's what the Pokédex — which, I remind you, is the official, canonical, in-game source of information about these things — has to say:
Being consumed in Chandelure's flame burns up the spirit, leaving the body behind. The spirits burned up in its ominous flame lose their way and wander this world forever.
So just so we're clear on this, it will not only absorb and consume your life force, but it will condemn your soul to wander this mortal plane for eternity, presumably as a Gastly or something. And if that wasn't bad enough, its previous evolution's entry literally includes a line about how it hangs around hospitals waiting for people to die.
There are few things in the world of haints and spookums that are more cliché than creepy dolls, but Banette, a Pokémon that evolves from a sentient puppet that feeds on hatred, takes things that extra step into full-on harrowing.
For one thing, there's the zipper that forms the creepy smile, and for another, there's the whole thing where it's a toy that was abandoned by its owner and now seeks to exact revenge on all children by driving pins into its own body:
Banette generates energy for laying strong curses by sticking pins into its own body. This Pokémon was originally a pitiful plush doll that was thrown away.
I've felt guilty about getting rid of stuffed animals ever since I was a kid, but it turns out I got lucky. Kids who grew up with Pokémon also had to worry about having their toys put curses on them .
I've written about Yamask before, but seriously: It has been four years since it made its first appearance in Pokémon Black and White, and I still cannot believe how disturbing this thing actually is. What's really weird about it is that its evolution, Cofagrigus, is ghostly in a very cartoony way, an animated sarcophagus with mummy arms that occasionally traps grave robbers in its body.
Yamask, on the other hand, is the only Ghost type Pokémon that's explicitly an actual ghost — as in, it used to be a person. It used to be human.
These Pokémon arose from the spirits of people interred in graves. Each retains memories of its former life. Each of them carries a mask that used to be its face when it was human. Sometimes they look at it and cry.
I'm willing to accept a whole lot of stuff if you wrap it up in the idea of traveling the world forging the bonds of friendship between you and your Pokémon partner through the tradition of combat, but trapping the soul of a human burdened with memories and the sadness of seeing the face it used to wear as a person is maybe ten steps too far.
Even among the Ghost-type Pokémon, Gourgeist is by far the most Halloweeny. It is, after all, an actual smiling, friendly looking Jack-O'-Lantern that comes in four different sizes and it actually has a move called Trick-or-Treat. That sounds fun, right? Like maybe there's candy involved, and after a battle you can head back to the Pokémon Center and watch a scary movie while you have a fun-size Snickers?
Thing is, that's not what Gourgeist is at all. Gourgeist is a monster.
Singing in eerie voices, they wander town streets on the night of the new moon. Anyone who hears their song is cursed. It enwraps its prey in its hairlike arms. It sings joyfully as it observes the suffering of its prey.
There are Pokémon who like to fight, and there are Pokémon who do horrible things to their opponents (see, for example, the rest of this list), but Gourgeist may be the only one who canonically delights in its victims' suffering.
At first glance, Phantump doesn't seem that bad. It's pretty cute, actually, and definitely doesn't seem to be as scary as its evolution, Trevenant, which is basically a giant possessed tree that looks like it wants to stop Dorothy from getting to the Emerald City. Phatump, though, is a tiny little adorable ghost with an equally adorable tree stump for a head. He's a cute little wisp that lives in the forest! Oh, and he's also a dead child.
These Pokémon are created when spirits possess rotten tree stumps. They prefer to live in abandoned forests. According to old tales, these Pokémon are stumps possessed by the spirits of children who died while lost in the forest.
WHAT IS THAT.
Okay; it's based on an ancient Egyptian motif, so we can at least distance ourselves from that here in the far-off world of the future, but you can go to a forest right now, and they're very easy to get lost in. For a game for tiny babies, that is some next level horror movie stuff.
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