Professor Willow from Pokémon GO has a new look and it’s Fear

Some official graphics for Pokemon GO feature a couple of human characters, with the new Willow at the top, stretching out desperately.

picture: Niantic / YouTube

Saturday is degree to Pokémon GO Fest 2022 saw the arrival of a horde of ultra beasts, the welcome end to the goddamn Rhi story, and Most importantly, Professor Willow has returned from an unwise regimen of illegal steroids.

During the opening weekend of GO Fest in June, Willow mysteriously disappeared into an Ultra wormhole that appeared in the sky and was replaced by Rhi, a sort of doomed Robo-Man from another dimension, a member of the GO Ultra Recon Squad. We then endured three months of Community Days and Special Research with this character at the helm, where the galactic brains at Niantic decided to have him speak in the most confusing language to ensure no kid playing the game would have a clue, what he is talking about. But finally Willow is back! Hooray! Except, um, he did some work and removed a soul.

Willow has never been easy on the eye. An extremely attractive young man, he used to be always leaning into the camera, a crooked grin on his face, with warm, soft, beautiful eyes. Beautiful brown eyes to sink and sink and sink into… I’m sorry. But no matter how handsome he was, he still rambled on about the same abysmally written bullshit dialogue that made him so incredibly difficult to like. Shhh, Professor Willow. shhh Just pssst.


I had hoped Prof. Willow would come back a chattering wreck, eyes sunken and hollow, eyes that have seen horrifying sights he could never explain. We would know wherever he had been had broken him in a way that could never be fixed. Instead, he seems to have spent the summer at Stan’s Discount Reconstruct-U-Good, “facial surgery and used cars for the whole family.” And he’s not okay.

It’s really hard to put into words why I find the new Willow so… creepy. Clearly, going from nice glasses to flashy “LOOK ME!” goggles is not a good start. (We should be thankful he’s not wearing a steampunk top hat, I suppose.) But it’s perhaps the hardening of all those facial features, the brand new square butt-chin and, while not comedically terrifying, a lack of expression in it his eyes. He just looks bored, bored with your stupid request for him to tell you to collect 10 Fire-type Pokémon like he’s just had enough of that shit. Too much of this shit.

That little wrinkle that used to be next to his smile was once a touch of cheekiness, a little irony that suggested he, too, knew better than to pretend he’d never had a Galarian Saw Ponyta. Now, further to the left and set slightly down, it looks like the beginning of a grimace, like a teacher starting his seventh new year.

Old Willow wanted to be our friend and maybe tried a little too hard. New Willow inwardly sighs that we’re still here and wonders when he can return to his real Friends.

The Internet has responded quickly to this peculiar shift. From my extensive research, I’d say opinions are split almost halfway down the middle, with half expressing some degrees of dehydration from thirst while others (rightly) denounce the change. “Why does Professor Willow look like he’s my father who left me when I was a kid and years later came back with a motorcycle and a new wife and is trying to reconnect with me in my teenage years?” asked @lilfishsong. “Sorry why the hell is Professor Willow a cute biker babe flashing in the Blue Steel update?” asked @OhSynapse.

THEORY: It’s not all right. That’s not Professor Willow. That is a impostor from the other side of the wormhole, here for nefarious purposes. Aside from the fact that he’s staring at me like he’s wondering what my spleen might taste like, there’s another clue hidden in the game. Go to the “News” tab and click on “Coming September 1, 2022: The Season of Light” and instead of the usual story summary with a link to the blog, you’ll get a single sentence. It is reading,

Look out for Professor Willow…

This then links to the YouTube video below, which is filled with astronomical clues to upcoming Pokémon in the new season, and… no mention of Willow at all.


Yes. Keep an eye on him. Because he’s not right. He’s dead inside. He’s going to kill us all. Professor Willow from Pokémon GO has a new look and it’s Fear

Curtis Crabtree

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