An illustration of Grimsley.
Image via the official Pokemon TCG

The Newest Pokemon Trainer Figure Drops Dark Lore About Grimsley

A backstory heavier than a Guzzlord

Pokemon lore can come from all sorts of places, from the games themselves to the movies and tv series. Getting lore from the merchandise, however, is a lot less common. The United States online Pokemon Center store recently unveiled a figure of Grimsley, one of Unova’s Elite Four members, with Tyranitar. While the figure is a pleasant surprise, its description is a huge shock.

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Like all items on the Pokemon Center website, the description includes some flavor text. According to the website, Grimsley “loses his family’s fortune” before becoming a member of Unova’s Elite Four. Wait, he does what? I couldn’t think of a single time something this intense about Grimsley’s backstory was mentioned in any of the games. 

The acclaimed fan-run database Bulbapedia describes Grimsley as “the son of a distinguished family that fell into ruin. As a result, he developed a gambling addiction.” But it doesn’t cite where this information comes from. According to the site’s collection of his in-game quotations, he doesn’t mention this in dialogue, either. The closest reference is from the mobile game Pokemon Masters EX, where he says that “when [he] lived at the family estate, [he] had to learn how to read people” because some members of his family were “trying to use [him].” But again there is no mention of the family falling into ruin. 

The TV Tropes page for Pokemon Black and White characters also mentions this backstory: “[H]e was the son of a wealthy family that lost their fortune and fell into poverty. This led to him betting on Pokemon battles in an attempt to regain his family’s wealth… By the time he reached adulthood, he was a Dark-type master and full-blown gambling addict.” Again, there is no source for this information’s origin.

Just because something is repeated doesn’t make it true. However, the Grimsley figure’s description now confirms a similar idea, so it’s safe to say this information has its origins in truth—likely from a Japan-only interview or other official source. But it also brings up an interesting deviation: the “original” backstory mentioned on sites like Bulbapedia and TV Tropes claims that Grimsley develops his gambling addiction in an attempt to regain his family’s lost fortune. The Pokemon Center site, however, claims Grimsley himself lost the fortune—very likely by gambling it away. Considering Pokemon Masters EX makes it clear Grimsley doesn’t think fondly of some of his family, this may have been intentional—or at least without regrets—on his part.

Perhaps the reason why Grimsley’s backstory isn’t brought up in any of the games is because gambling addictions are a highly serious and heavy subject matter to begin with. On top of that, the Pokemon series has excluded Game Corners starting in the early 2010s likely due to their similarities with casinos. While this does raise questions as to why Grimsley would be written with such a backstory if it wouldn’t be appropriate to include in the games themselves, it’s good to finally have official confirmation about the validity of these claims surrounding Grimsley’s lore.

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Image of Niki Fakhoori
Niki Fakhoori
Niki’s love for video games encompasses a wide range of genres, but she is especially fond of RPGs, adventure games, visual novels, simulation games, and fighting games. Her favorite video game-related pastime is asking her unwieldy backlog why she doesn’t have any new games to play. When she isn’t playing or writing about video games, she’s playing with cats, journaling, painting, or obsessing over the latest news in the world of stationery and planners.