6 movies and shows that have made us sick, literally

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NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 07: A cosplayer dressed as Pikachu attends the New York Comic Con 2016 at The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on October 7, 2016 in New York City. New York Comic Con is one of the largest comic book and science fiction conventions. The convention brings together fans of fantasy role playing, science fiction, movies and television. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)


It’s the stuff of animation legend. In 1997, hundreds of children in Japan wound up in the hospital after watching a particular episode of the popular Pokémon animated series. In the episode “Electric Soldier Porygon,” Ash and his squad go on a quest to fix a Pokéball transmitter machine and the animation used to illustrate on particular section of their journey turned out to be pretty dangerous. According to a retrospective on the famous episode in Kotaku, it was the flashing red and blue lights during a missile explosion scene that was problematic, health-wise:

"While the exact number of children legitimately affected by the show will likely never be known, in total 685 kids (375 girls, 310 boys) were put in ambulances suffering some kind of medical problem after watching the episode. While most made speedy recoveries – some within minutes after the show’s conclusion – a small number were diagnosed with epilepsy, which had been triggered by the rapidly-blinking display."

The fallout from the episode was so bad, people in Japan started calling it “Pokémon Shock.” And it didn’t help when some news stations reporting on the event re-playing the offending clip. Pop culture has riffed on the incident in episodes of The Simpsons and South Park, but it had a more serious impact, too. New guidelines came out for animation and warnings were added ahead of content that might be triggering, to name a few.