A Case For Missingno.: The Glitch Who Could Be Canon


Ah, Missingno., the famed zeroth pokémon. The product of a coding error found in the original Pokémons Red, Blue, Yellow and, to a Japanese extent, Green. Missingno.’s found by doing a certain set of actions in a certain order, one of which requires you to have a compatible player name (sorry, DrButt69). Depending on different circumstances, Missingno. will have different looks, but the most ubiquitous one is that sort of reverse L-shape with a texture that resembles a rug you thought looked cool in your dorm. But then once you got married, your spouse hated it and ended up secretly donating it to Goodwill while you’re off on a fishing trip (“Perfect simile, Steven.” “Thanks, Steven.”) Finding a Missingno. can also cause an exploit that can spawn infinite items and powerful pokémon. In rare cases, it can also corrupt your save file, making it unplayable. But that’s okay. Tons of things in this world are unplayable, like scratched CDs, or Fallout 76 (Swish).

Missingno. (I should mention its proper name is indeed “Missingno.” with the period at the end. Please don’t think I’m inadvertently filling this thing with a bunch of weird, poorly punctuated sentences. Also, forgive me if there actually is an error. That period is hell on my auto-capitalization function.) is a thing of glitchy legend, like Super Mario Bros.’s Minus World, Red Dead Redemption’s Cougar Lady or Fallout 76’s lack of quality (Swish.) So much so, that by not including Missingno. in a Pokémon game proper is developer Game Freak straight-up dropping the ball (Pun intended, but regretted.)

Here are five reasons why I, as well as entire Pokémon player base throughout the world (I can only assume.), think Missingno. should be a canonical pokémon in the series:

1. There’s precedent.

Including Missingno. wouldn’t be the first, third or heck, even second instance of making glitches and hidden content official in a later game of a series. The “so-famous-your-grandma-probably-brings-it-up-in-casual-conversation-during-her-bridge-games” Konami code started out when a programmer for Gradius was having such a hard time getting through it during playtesting that he created a secret input to give him extra power ups. Mortal Kombat, the “so-infamous-your-grandma-and-the-rest-of-her-uptight-bridge-club-probably-wrote-their-senators-about-it” fighting game had the word “ERMACS” in its debug menu. The word was actually a shortened version of my online banking password, “Error Macros,” but everyone, from nerds to dorkuses, thought it was the name of a secret character. The rumor grew to “slightly below Richard Gere and...you know...that thing” proportions and they decided to create the character Ermac and add himto the game. In 1995, when Rockstar, then DMA, were working on a game called Race ‘n’ Chase, they encountered a bug where the cops pursuing the player started aggressively crashing into the player’s car. This was deemed more fun than racing and/or chasing, so that game was scrapped. And from that burnt phoenix carcass emerged Grand Theft Auto, the “so-infamous-your-grandma-and-her-entire-bridge-league-wrote-their-senators-and-preachers-even-though-you-know-even-they-totally-did-the-hidden-Hot-Coffee-minigame” series of open-world crime ‘em ups.     

2. Just make it some sort of Porygon or whatever.

Porygon, the one that looks like a motorbike from a cruddy MS-DOS game, is categorized as a “virtual pokémon.” (Technically, all pokémon are virtual pokémon, but we’re not here to argue semantics. We’re here to take a glitch’s exclusion from a beloved video game series way too seriously.) Just make Missingno. one of those a virtual pokémon and call it good. You could even have different evolutions, like Foundno. or Missingyes.; I don’t know. I don’t get paid to come up with cutesy, often creatively-flaccid pokémon names (Ekans? Arbok? Really?)

3. It’ll lessen the sting of Bowsette.

Last year, the internet went butts-to-the-wall bonkers when it was announced New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe: The Quest to Make a Title Longer Than That of a Fall Out Boy Song would include a magic crown that turns Toadette, an anthropomorphic mushroom, into Peachette, an anthropomorphic Princess. This led to the immediate rationale that, if the same crown were to be put on Bowser, it would turn him into Bowsette, an anthropomorphic waifu. The popularity of this led to a wave of DeviantArt drawings that made sexified Sonic characters look as tame as sexified Pong characters by comparison. Soon after, Nintendo had to force A HUMAN EMPLOYEE, A HUMAN EMPLOYEE WITH A HOME AND PROBABLY A BABY ON THE WAY to add an addendum to Deluxe’s official website, saying the crown will only work on Toadette (Strangely also denying Luigi his apparent desire to break the shackles of the gender binary.) This took wind out of many Nintedorks’ sails by not letting them get super horned-up while playing the Switch (Which, by the way, you still totally can. Have you ever even played Snipperclips?) The point here is that, officially including Missingno. to pokémon’s intimidatingly-extensive menagerie of enslaved animals would show Nintendo fans that even though the buxom version of an imperialist dinosaur isn’t canon, they’re still listening. Also, just imagine the possibility Missingette.. Hubba hubba!

4. Unown

Unown is a pokémon with 28 variations. 26 of these represent the letters to a secret language and the remaining two represent “?” and “!” Are you fudging pooping me, Game Freak? You can make a rudimentary language a sentient creature, that is trainable, can fight and possibly even fall in love, but you can’t make an unintended pokémon that’s been around since the beginning part of the official lore?

5. Seriously, Unown

Really, what is wrong with you Game Freak? Letters. Letters that clearly came from Ken Sugimori falling asleep at his desk, only to wake up 30 minutes before the design deadline. Letters that can come together to form a word the same way signs people hold up at football games say things like “GO FOOTBALL!” or some other example I could reference if I payed more attention to football. I’d like to know how hard it’d be to catch specific ones that would spell out “fuck u!” If so, they’d be in my main six forever. That would actually pretty cool, but it doesn’t escape the fact that you’re doing Missingno. dirty.

Last year’s Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, The Other One!, remakes of Yellow, were the perfect opportunity to make Missingno. not so missing, but it was, much like a poorly planned Dungeons and Dragons session, no dice. I have a smidgen of hope that this (Let’s be honest, needlessly long.) opinion piece might help Game Freak get the message and officially include Missingno. when the announced Switch Pokémon comes out in 2021 (probably a joke). But in reality, I doubt this article will be super effective, much like Bethesda’s attempts to fix Fallout 76 (Swish.)


FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve never caught a Missingno., let alone beaten a Pokémon game. I’ve tried Yellow, SoulSilver and X, but gave up each after about three hours. They’re not really for me, I guess. Thanks for reading!