Geek Trivia

An Episode Of What TV Show Sent Hundreds Of Children To The Hospital?

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Power Rangers
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Auto-Tune, A Widely Used Music Processor, Was Originally Created For What Purpose?

Answer: Pokemon

On December 16, 1997, an episode of Pokemon aired that would make the series infamous the world over. Season 1, Episode 38 of the series, known as “Dennō Senshi Porygon” in Japan, and “Electric Solider Porygon” outside of Japan, would have gone down in history as indistinguishable from any of the other episodes from the popular franchise except for one dangerous flaw.

Twenty minutes into the episode there is a scene where Pikachu, the iconic yellow Pokemon, stops a missile attack with his thunderbolt strike. The missiles explode and the screen flashes red and blue in a rapid Anime animation technique known as “paka paka”. The blinking was long enough (approximately six seconds) and at the right frequency (12 Hz), that it triggered a neurological response in around 12,000 viewers, all children, around Japan. The children complained of blurred vision, headaches, nausea, and in more severe cases, they experienced seizures and loss of consciousness. 685 children (310 boys and 375 girls) were transported by ambulance to local hospitals for treatment.

The series was suspended for four months after the incident, and Japanese television studios released guidelines to prevent future animated programs from causing similar reactions.

Image courtesy of OLM, Inc.