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The Missingno.
aka: Missingno

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The Missingno. is a Video Game item or character whose very existence is actually just a flaw in the game's internal programming. Can be considered a Good Bad Bug in and of itself, but all bets are off.

May be found in a Minus World, and often exists for the same sort of reason — the game accidentally tries to load character data from a section of memory that is intended for some other purpose entirely, leading to the resulting "character" appearing. If a Missingno. is noticeably more powerful than anything obtainable at the point in the game that it can be gotten, using it treads into Not the Intended Use territory.

Because this character was never intended to actually exist, merely encountering The Missingno. can trigger an unpredictable bevy of side effects, ranging from other Good Bad Bugs to game crashes, or even more severe bugs. In the rare worst-case scenario, The Missingno. can even corrupt the player's save file, forcing them to erase it and start the game over from the beginning. Some Missingno.s can eventually become an Ascended Glitch, though.


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    Video Game Examples 
  • Pokémon:
    • The Trope Namer is the glitch Pokémon "MISSINGNO."(short for Missing Number) from Generation I. A similarly glitchy creature has a name consisting of a quote mark, the letter M, and two unpronounceable symbols. It has been Fan Nicknamed "M-Block." or "'M" (pronounced "Apostrophe M"). The glitch is actually caused by the game trying to interpret your Player Character's name as random-encounter data.
    • 'M and Missingno. are probably the best-known examples in the series because you can encounter them without modifying the game in any way. With use of a Game Shark and a Walk Through Walls cheat enabled, however, it's also possible to run into a number of different glitched Pokémon and trainers, many of which can do serious damage to your save file if you're not careful (or just plain unlucky). This LP of Blue version details many of them and their effects.
    • From third gen onward, "Missingno." (in gen three, "???????", "? ? ? ? ?" or variants) is intentionally put in to catch these errors.
    • Even in the modern day, Missingno. hasn't stopped causing mischief! Not only does it return in the 3DS Virtual Console re-releases of the original games, but if the player attempts to transfer it to Pokémon Sun and Moon, it will not be let through but will shift all your Pokémon's names over by one.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 had a glitch where using debug mode to create a metric buttload of a certain object would cause Sonic's palette to be overwritten, turning him green, black, and one other color (which would often also be green or black). This miscolored Sonic, nicknamed "Ashura", is a surprisingly popular "character", making bizarrely frequent appearances in fan works.
    • It's also been confirmed that "Ashura"'s color palette was the inspiration for Scourge's.
  • There's also a white recolor of Knuckles in Knuckles Chaotix, nicknamed White Echidna (shortened to Wechnia), who's actually what's left when you take Tails out of the game altogether.
  • Sonic 3 & Knuckles
    • Has Blue Knuckles, who plays like a mixture of Sonic (his palettes and level routes), Knuckles (abilities), and Tails (uses his name at the end of act tally). The only ways to play as him are through hacking, Game Genie, or a massive glitch in Lava Reef.
    • Also, if you turn on Debug Mode, use Stage Select in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, go to the Doomsday Zone Act 1 as Knuckles and beat the level, the ending sequence will feature a palette swap of Sonic, Knuckles, and the Tornado.
    • Generally trying to get either Tails or Knuckles into The Doomsday through this method will make their sprites garbled up, as the game still recognizes both of them as being Super/Hyper Sonic, who is supposed to be the only character allowed to face this level and the game's first True Final Boss.
    • Since the game dynamically loads enemy sprites and tiles as you go through a level, if Sonic goes too fast while in Super Mode, he can outrun the sprite loading and cause enemies or backgrounds to be garbled.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has a mysterious invisible enemy called the ghost of Misery Mire that were an Urban Legend of Zelda that turned out to be true. Investigation of the game's code revealed that the ghosts are actually Kus that are glitched due to being placed on the wrong type of ground tile. Kus can only exist on deep water tiles, but a few have been placed on shallow water. They can't attack but can be killed, although doing so may cause other glitches depending on what weapon was used.
  • The original Mortal Kombat:
    • While it did not have a character named Ermac (it was an April Fool's joke), did give us Glitch Reptile and Silver Goro, two glitch characters that trigger during the game's three Endurance Matches in one-player mode. Glitch Reptile occurs when you do the trick to get to Reptile during one of the Endurance Matches; you'll fight two Reptiles as a result, but the second Reptile will be a graphically glitched version of random characters in the game. You get Silver Goro when you perform a fatality on the second opponent of the last Endurance Match with Raiden or Sub-Zero, then throw your projectile at Goro as he falls from the top of the screen. Do it right, and his colors will be glitched to a weird silver for the remainder of the round. Good memories, good memories...
    • In the Amiga port of the second game, do the friendship on the morphed Shang Tsung, and you're now just controlling the lost brother of Glitch Reptile.
    • The SNES version of Ultimate MK3 has one of these in Tournament mode. Do Random Select and the cursor may land on the Random icon. This creates a "character" that appears to be the leftover data from Sheeva after she was Dummied Out (sometimes called "Ghost Sheeva"). She's represented as only a few blood pixels (or sometimes nothing at all); some characters can't hit her at all, and she's capable of extremely damaging attacks. Oddly enough, you can perform Fatalities on her - she even still has her Babality sprite! - but it's very hard to do anything to her without crashing the game.
  • Street Fighter Alpha Anthology's hidden bonus game Hyper Street Fighter Alpha brings us hidden versions of Alpha 2 M. Bison and Sagat with scrambled Missingno. sprites. They both share a partial Evil Ryu moveset, have no super meter, and cannot be hit while standing still.
  • In Ultima VI, one could grab any dead body from the enemies you kill, and have a Healer resurrect it as if it were a party member. The result is a bizarre graphic mishmash (usually depicted as a pile of floating gold coins) with an unintelligible name, now a member of your party. Stats were extremely erratic, but it was good to send on a suicide mission as a distraction.
  • A couple of these can be seen in the Dummied Out "lost levels" of Super Mario Bros. 3, such as a Koopa with Chain Chomp sprites, as well as in certain ROM hacks. With the help of Game Genie codes, you can also create strange power-suits. One of the weirdest turns the player character into a conglomeration of blocks that can swim in the air (a Lakitu Cloud on the map screen).
  • In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, it is possible in the CO select menu screens to choose only one CO and leave the second slot blank, then swap the CO with itself, leaving the first CO slot blank and the second CO slot occupied. Starting the game, you are given control of a "null" CO with glitched graphics and Andy's theme song. Your CO power charges instantly and activating it will freeze the game. Fixed for the European version.
  • Minecraft has Herobrine, an entity that looks like Steve, but with completely white eyes. Herobrine is the subject of a community-made creepypasta. Several players have supposedly seen him and every time they get near him, he disappears. The game client has referenced Herobrine indirectly and directly through joke update logs, such as in Beta 1.6.6 with the line, "Removal of essential Human code"
  • Contra's Energy Zone on the NES: The pallette for the level changes at the end to make room for that level's boss sprite. If one of the soldier Mooks follows you there, it turns into a sprite barf when the pallette changes. The game luckily keeps going as usual, and you can shoot it.
  • Halo:
    • Halo 2
      • The "Honor Guard Councillor" (Honor Guard armor with Ultra palette and Councillor or other random helmet), a Unique Enemy faced during "Gravemind" was supposed to be a Zealot Elite, but is glitched up due to a programming error; it was flagged to have a "dogmatic" personality, but the level contains no data for Elites of that type.
      • From the same game, during "Sacred Icon", there is a single "Needler Sentinel", a Sentinel that fires Needler rounds and will drop one when destroyed. After being discovered, Word of God confirmed that this was an experimental enemy concept that they forgot to remove from the level.
    • Halo: Reach:
      • The Armor hologram glitch. If you use hologram and either go into monitor mode or die, the Hologram model will be randomized, sometimes with impossible armor combos.
      • In another armor ability glitch, if the player goes into Armor Lock, switches to monitor mode, and choose to delete all of the Armor Lock items from the map, the player will have permanent Armor Lock upon returning to player mode, and it will not go away until the player dies.
  • Some enemies from the infamously glitchy Action 52 games seem to fall into this category. For example, the sprites in Level 5 of Ninja Assault are all scrambled, but appear to be birds and a rhino-type boss. Also, most of the enemies in Spread Fire. In Thrusters, your ship turns into one of these when you crash in the second level, which is unwinnable anyways unless you have the right ROM and emulator.
  • There was a custom physics model for Marathon that turned the player's weapons and the BOBs into stuff like this.
    • Glitches (or cheating) could add a "pirated Copland beta" or "copy of Windows NT" to your inventory. Per Word of God, these were placeholder strings for a Dummied Out weapon and its ammo. In Missingno. form, they were ammo for the (normally disposable) Enforcer gun.
  • Tales of Destiny had such a hidden character who was Dummied Out, but still gettable because of a bug. This led to many fans believing the character was edited out of the US version only, when in fact you weren't supposed to be able to get them in the Japanese version either. The developers merely corrected the bug in the US version.
  • One glitch in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link lets you travel to earlier dungeons, only using the graphics from later dungeons, enabling you to do things like see unused window graphics if you go from a dungeon that had no windows to one that did. However, this also results in the boss of the dungeon you're visiting being pieced together from the sprite of the boss of the dungeon you were in before, as can be seen in this video, just under six minutes into the video.
  • Kingdom of Loathing parodies this with the Bugged Bugbear monster, and later the Baby Bugged Bugbear familiar based on it. Neither is actually glitched, but both have chunks of their images replaced with ones and zeroes, and both spit out MySQL error messages with almost everything they do.
  • The Final Fantasy I Game Genie code VYUOKITE allows you to select from 244 of these at the beginning of the game. A large number of those are automatically killed when used, but a surprising number are actually usable.
  • The character models in the PlayStation 2 Rocky game can glitch up horribly, resulting in such things as Clubber Lang having one or two of his legs coming out of his head.
  • In City of Heroes, occasionally you will find yourself fighting someone named BOSS_NAME. They're perfectly normal bosses of the appropriate faction, in all but name.
    • Considering that the Freakshow faction spoke Leet, this could be a reasonable name for one of their bosses.
  • Due to the way Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri loads factions, the player can load a perfectly good faction from the credits, a sound file, some graphics, or even nothing at all.
  • When PS2 emulators became almost fully functional, a lot of dummy data was found in Final Fantasy X. This included several weapons, including a buster sword, but they're very glitchy and crash the game in most cases.
  • Test Drive Unlimited has a neat-looking car substituting for any corrupted car in your save file or game installation. It looks somewhat like an Alfa Brera and clearly has had a lot of work put into it for something that is only supposed to appear in case of a fatal flaw in the game.
  • The dungeon crawler game Mordor has one of these called the GOBLIE. This is a very weak companion monster that would be completely useless even if they didn't always turn up dead. It arises from a flaw in the acid spit attack that some monsters have. Occasionally an acid spitter will attempt to spit on your companions, but if your character has never had a companion then it generates a GOBLIE and immediately kills it.
  • A common glitch in a number of Bethesda games, including Fallout 3, dead-on-arrival characters may accidentally be spawned as "living" people with no dialogue, usually eerily standing silent near puddles of blood and piles of gore.
    • There's also the "walking gibs" glitch in the Fallout games. Furthermore, in those, autosaving into a looping death will sometimes result in the character melting into a taffy-like mess, similar to the "demon babies" glitch in The Sims 4.
  • The fourth chapter of the Epic Battle Fantasy series has "The Glitch" as a Bonus Boss. It is portrayed as a mix of static and pieces of game sprites, is immune to everything except non-elemental attacks, and has an "overflow" attack which deals zero damage, but causes instant death all the time.
  • In Soldier of Fortune II, enemies that have sustained ordinarily fatal damage may fail to actually die, and continue to wander or follow the player in a "living dead" state.
  • In Lost Isle, there's a Gleeok in Bhalstok Castle, but, due to a palette incompatibility, it displays as an all-black "Shadow Gleeok." Seriously, this guy is almost as cool as Ashura...
  • Red Dead Redemption has the "Manimals" glitch, where NPC's take on the behavior of birds, cougars, and other animals, sometimes horrifically contorting their models.
  • WWF No Mercy has a glitch where, during the Hardcore Championship path in Championship Mode, you can fight "Data-2500", a bald, semi-naked, glitch wrestler who has The Rock's face, no in-game name (both his name plate and Attitude meter have no text on them), no music or titantron, no entrance motion (he will instead float around during the entrance while in his fighting stance), and whose attacks consist of nothing but knife edge chops that barely hurt the opponent at all. Using a Game Shark code to access the extra CAW slot intended for the unused Game Boy Color championship path, one can reveal Data-2500's character slot, but the character itself cannot be cloned.
  • In-Universe example: .hack//MUTATION introduced the Net Slum, which are made of and populated entirely by junk and garbage data given form. Quite notably, while all player character data are rendered in 3D, some sentient AI within the Net Slum are simply 2D sprites, or 3D models with missing meshes.
  • Used In-Universe in Undertale with the hidden character of Dr. W.D. Gaster. You have to mess around with the "fun" values in the game's coding to learn anything about him. He was the royal scientist before Alphys, and rumored to have created the CORE, but he was scattered across space-time after falling into one of his inventions, with all memory of him gone. It's implied that he's aware to some degree and forced to watch the world functioning exactly the same without him. Oh, and did we mention that a later patch removed the need to mess with the files, randomly allowing him to appear in non-edited worlds?
  • Distorted Travesty 3 has an in-universe example: the appropriately named Abomination, an indestructible pile of junk data that got locked into the Vault because of its sheer destructiveness. It's also under the control of Hexor through a parasite implanted into it, and has been secretly begging the player characters to kill it throughout the game.
  • Another In-Universe example occurs in Devil Survivor 2's Record Breaker arc. Miyako was brought into being as a replacement for a character who pretended to be Ret Gone, but wasn't, and was merged with the Eldritch Abomination Cor Caroli during universe generation. Her simultaneous existence with Yamato breaks the laws of the universe, making it possible to destroy Canopus, the divine guiding order of the entire universe.
  • Stellaris has the Despicable Neutral which is an AI personality for any Empire that is contacted prior to the second day of the game's internal clock. This is impossible in normal game play and was built to handle a situation just in case it happened. They favor all things equally.
  • In old versions of Everybody Edits, a fully black block can be selected and placed in levels despite not being a proper block, though it seems to function like any other solid block. The unintentional button for selecting it is a single column of pixels on the Action Bar to the right of the block bar. Eventually, the fully black block was added to the game as a proper block.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, the hidden boss “not_intended” is an in-universe example, since the game itself is set in Cyberspace. She lives in a Minus World-inspired area, speaks in glitchy text boxes and pop-up error messages, and her fight involves copious amounts of Interface Screw.
  • In Borderlands 2 there is a rocket launcher called ERROR MESSAGE ERROR MESSAGE which is intended as an Exclusive Enemy Equipment that never meant to be picked up and used by player.
  • In the NES version of Double Dragon, weapons normally disappear during scene transitions, but if you pick up one just as the last enemy in a scene finishes blinking out, it will instead turn into a graphically glitched baseball bat that can be carried over to the next scene, and the process repeated.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
Anime and Manga
  • Dennou Coil has Illegals, sentient viruses that feed on metabugs, and may or may not have been cyberpets once.
    • The Nulls are an especially disturbing example, as even though the original ones were just 'Null Carriers', intended to temporarily separate cyberbodies from the actual persons for experimental purposes, it's implied that at least some of the "feral" Nulls were once people who have been separated from their real bodies, and undergone severe data corruption and decay.
  • .hack//SIGN and the first set of games had "Data Bugs." Glitched monsters (and corresponding wonky graphics) within the Virtual Reality MMORPG with infinite Hit Points who can send players into comas (not as permanently as the Phases). Only a game reprogramming device like the Twilight Bracelet can defeat them.

Fan Fiction


  • Inception has stray projections that get in the way of dreamsharing. There's Mal, a violent, nigh-unstoppable projection born from Dom's guilt, who takes the form of his dead wife. She rages through the dreamscape, generally fucking everything up for the crew. There's also Dom's kids, who are less violent, but always faceless and whose appearance usually indicate danger.


  • Homestuck's Lord English is implied to be this, being the result of two players who share a single body entering a SBURB session that was designated for one player only, something that was explicitly stated to be impossible. Appropriately enough, he's even caused the game to glitch, causing spans of Missing Time for the protagonists.
    • It gets worse. A single-player session, though radically different from the base game and incredibly difficult to set-up, can have one of two possible outcomes: Either the player 'gives up all ambition' and dies, but becomes instrumental in stopping a great evil... or tackles an incredible challenge and gains unconditional immortality and the power to destroy anything he or she wishes. The only way to stop them? Glitching reality.

Web Original

  • The SCP Foundation: SCP-951, an anomalous (but apparently friendly) video game glitch named "LUCAS" AKA LOGICAL UNIFIED CENTRAL ANOMALY SYSTEM. It was deliberately engineered but flawed as it would "die" when the game ended and couldn't remember anything when the game restarted. Missingno gets a shout-out in a chatlog about the mysterious glitch:
    Lizalfos ██ ███ ████, 9:40
    Hey, has anyone played Pauper Rise of the Monster King? I found it at a garage sale recently and so far it's pretty cool. Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because I found a pretty awesome glitch monster that kind of breaks the game and I was wondering if anyone else found it.

    ReGGie ██ ███ ████, 9:42
    @Lizalfos, are you talking about lucas? lucas is fucking bro tier

    Wetualo ██ ███ ████, 9:45
    LUCAS is definitely up there with shit like Missingno, although I didn't care much for the way he fucked with my screen.
  • An Alternate Universe version of the Trope Namer turned out to be the true Big Bad of a rather memorable Story Arc on Atop the Fourth Wall.

Western Animation

  • Wreck-It Ralph, which is about video games at an arcade, has Vanellope Von Schweetz, from the racing game Sugar Rush. She mostly looks like an ordinary Sugar Rush character, but glitches in and out (replacing her normal appearance with lines of code) whenever she's emotionally compromised. It really sucks to be her — she's a bullied outcast, not allowed to race despite wanting to be a racer, and she has to live in a Dummied Out bonus level. She is actually a real and intended character in the game, but was turned into a glitch by Turbo, who disguised himself as King Candy to take her place as the game's ruler.

Real Life

  • One of the theories for why we dream is that the brain mistakenly interprets vital maintenance information as sensory stimulation while asleep, which would explain why dreams are often so weird. For example, the theory that dreams of flying/floating come about as the brain's best attempt to reconcile the sensation of moving about in some way with the fact that it can't actually sense your arms or legs moving.

Alternative Title(s): Glitch Character, Missingno


Example of: