What's Under Cubone's Mask in the 'Pokemon' Games?

Is it a baby Kangaskhan? Or something else?

Cubone Pokemon
What's under that skull?.

The Pokemon Company 

Most of the creepy stories and urban legends involving the "Pokemon" series are of human invention. Contrary to popular myths, listening to the music in "Pokemon Red" or "Pokemon Blue"’s Lavender Town won’t cause you to go mad, "Pokemon Lost Silver" doesn’t exist outside of fan projects, and Gary’s Raticate probably didn’t die on the SS Anne.

That’s not to say the "Pokemon" games lack instances and characters worthy of double-takes. Each game’s Pokedex directory is filled with multiple examples of Pokemon that are not necessarily kid-friendly. One Pokemon that’s long been the target of legend and speculation is Cubone.

Who Is Cubone the Pokemon?

Cubone is a small, brown, dinosaur-like Pokemon that carries a club. This ground-type warrior is a super-effective smasher of electric-types, but it’s better known for the skull it wears on its head. That’s because, according to the Pokedex entries in several "Pokemon" games, Cubone’s boney mask is actually the skull of its dead mother. Eternally lonely, Cubone frequently isolates itself and cries for its loss. According to in-game lore, its mask is even stained with tear tracks. Yikes.

The 'Pokemon' franchise has been around since 1995, and we still have zero confirmation of what Cubone looks like beneath its tear-stained skull.

All of Cubone’s Pokedex entries across several game generations speak of a lonely critter that wails at the moon. Many Pokedex entries also make mention that no one knows what Cubone looks like under its mask since the Pokemon never seems to remove it.

Baby Kangaskhan Pokemon
A baby Kangaskhan in its pouch.  The Pokemon Company

Cubone Is a Baby Kangaskhan

One popular theory holds that Cubone is a baby Kangaskhan that witnessed the death of its mother and crowned itself with its parent’s skull. You don’t have to stretch your imagination too far to understand why this might be the case. Kangaskhan are depicted with babies in their pouches and exit the pouch and stand up on their own when Kangaskhan Mega evolves in Pokemon X and Y. When you get a good look at the infant, its stature does indeed resemble a Cubone’s.

So are Cubones actually an orphaned collective of Kangaskhan joeys? Game Freak, one of the companies behind the franchise, isn’t saying one way or the other, and it probably never will.

Cubone Is an Orphaned Pokemon

Believe it or not, alternative explanations would be potentially grimmer than the Kangaskhan baby theory. One blogger, Matthew Julius, points out that Cubone is a species. So, according to the Pokemon’s Pokedex entry, every single Cubone born into the world quickly loses its mother, then pries the dead skull off her body and claims it:

"The Lonely Pokémon because of its tendency to keep to itself and avoid social situations, as it was apparently traumatized by the death of its mother. Cubone will often weep at night in mourning of its mother."

Nature is not kind, even in the world of Pokemon, but Cubone’s story is a particularly twisted take on the Circle of Life. Even Julius’s breakdown of Cubone’s life cycle neglects to answer important questions.

Pokemon Lavender Town
Lavender Town from Pokemon Red and Blue. The Pokemon Company

The Mystery of Lavender Town and Cubone

In "Pokemon Red" and "Blue," Lavender Town is haunted by a Marowak (an evolved Cubone) that died defending her Cubone child. Said Cubone, by the way, has the same skull mask characteristic of its species. Going by in-game dialogue, the Marowak’s death happens not long before the player arrives in Lavender Town. Moreover, Team Rocket was attempting to steal the Cubone to sell its skull mask.

Both tidbits of info indicate the Marowak and Cubone lived together long after the Cubone’s birth, so it couldn’t have been orphaned or abandoned in its first moments of life. Also, if Cubone’s mother was still alive, how did the Cubone get the skull mask that Team Rocket coveted?

The Mystery of the Loneliest Pokemon seems poised to keep "Pokemon" fans speculating for years to come; until then, we may never know what lays beneath the mask of the Cubone Pokemon.