Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde: Smarter Than You Think (2023)

At the moment, I am haunted by the ghosts of Pac-Man. Unlike regular hauntings, which more often make people go crazy or become possessed or move away, this timely supernatural occurrence has prompted me to write another entry in the games-and-names file.

Way back when, I blogged about a prolonged night at Elsie’s in which I sat next to the Pac-Man machine and ended up watching the attract mode for way longer than I should have. As the lights flashed and repeatedly drew my attention, I watched the introduction of the game’s characters again and again and I noted that the four ghosts have two sets of names. Where as the four are introduced as Blinky (the red one), Pinky (the pink one), Inky (the blue one) and Clyde (the orange one), they’re also given an alternate set of names: Shadow, Speedy, Bashful and Pokey, respectively.

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde: Smarter Than You Think (1)image courtesy of spritestrich

It gets weirder: This particular machine was one of the ones that contains all the major Pac-Man games and therefore scrolled through them, one by one. The included ghosts change. In Ms. Pac-Man, Clyde is replaced by another orange ghost, Sue, possibly in an effort to even out the gender ratio. In Pac-Man Jr., Sue is replaced with Tim, also orange.

(Video) If the Ghosts were smart in Pac-Man

But it all seems arbitrary, right?

In a sense, it is. However, Ashley Davis, a blogger over at Destructoid, put a post up last week specifically on the Pac-Man ghosts and why they got the names that they did. In short, though it might seem like Blinky, Pinky, Inky and the Clyde-Sue-Tim hivemind hover around dot-filled mazes in the exact same way, they don’t. In fact, the way they move is explained by their nicknames.

As Davis explains it, Clyde (a.k.a. “Pokey”) might seem like he’d move especially slowly, but he doesn’t. Instead, he moves around at a normal speed but not at all in pursuit of Pac-Man. He does his own thing; if he happens to snag Pac-Man and make him rotate counterclockwise into oblivion, it’s a total coincidence. His Japanese name, Otoboke, translates to something like “stupid” or “dopey,” Davis explains. Thus, “Pokey” — or, as we shall interpret it, “mentally challenged.” Thus, if Clyde kills Pac-Man, it’s probably as a result of the player being equally as mentally challenged.

Inky, as Davis explains it, is equally unlikely to kill Pac-Man. His Japanese name, Kimagure, translates to “whimsy.” And it might seem like his pattern is based on pure whimsy, but it’s apparently not. As it’s explained on the Twin Galaxies forum, Inky’s position on the screen may seem random, but it’s actually based on a the relationship between Pac-Man and Blinky, the red ghost. More or less, Inky resides on the part of the screen that’s twice as far from the distance between the red ghost and two spaces in front of Pac-Man. It’s very complex.

Pinky (a.k.a. “Speedy”) doesn’t actually move any faster than the rest of the ghosts. His Japanese name — Machibuse, “ambusher” — is more accurate, as she takes it upon herself to trap Pac-Man into corners with the help of the Blinky. (This website, by the way, switches the Japanese names for Inky and Pinky, but since it’s in the minority on the matter, I’ll assume it’s a mistake.)

(Video) Who's The Real Smart One? The Pinky and the Brain Theory

And then there’s Blinky (a.k.a. “Shadow”). In Japanese, he’s Oikake, “chaser.” He bases his movements on Pac-Man himself, always with the goal of reducing the amount of distance between himself and the yellow dot-gobbler. If the vertical distance is greater, he’ll do what he can to reduce that so long as the horizontal distance doesn’t become greater, in which case he’ll reduce that instead. Davis notes that when Pac-Man consumes a certain number of dots, the behavior of Blinky — and only Blinky — changes. He goes into what is known among Pac-Man aficionados as “Cruise Elroy” mode. (Davis supplies some guesses as to where the term might come from, but she rightly leaves it as being obscure.) In this mode, Blinky moves faster than he would normally be able to.

Interesting, in my book, for two reasons: The four ghosts each have their own programmed motivation for getting around a given maze (one) and these motivations are hinted at by their names (two).

Davis leaves out one additional ghost, however, who’s little known even among those who pride themselves in their Pac-Man skills: the especially obscure green ghost, Miru (also translated as “Mil,” unfortunately). I read about her while browsing Wikipedia sometime back and had been meaning to reveal her existence to the world for a while before the Destructoid post gave me an opportunity. Miru appears in the 1983 Japan-only title Pac & Pal, which Wikipedia alleges could be the rarest Pac-Man title.

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde: Smarter Than You Think (2)courtesy


I’m fairly certain that Miru is the only truly female ghost in the series, Sue and Pinky’s names notwithstanding. You can tell by the fact that she, like Ms. Pac-Man herself, wears a bow on her head. And that’s a sure a sign of femininity as there ever was. (She looks like “a gooseberry with legs,” according to Wikipedia.) She apparently zooms around the maze, unaffected by the evil ghosts, and will grab items. If Pac-Man doesn’t intercept them from her, they get dropped in the “ghost box” in the center of the maze, where they become lost forever.

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde: Smarter Than You Think (3)
In short, Miru doesn’t sound like all that much help. In some versions, she’s apparently replaced by Chomp-Chomp, Pac-Man’s dog. If that’s not a slap in the face to early gender equality in video games, I don’t know what is.

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde: Smarter Than You Think (4)courtesy of

And that, my friends, is everything I know about the Pac-Man ghosts, their weird alternate personas, their additional American alteregos, and their dumb little sister that no one talks about anymore.

(Video) Pac-Man Ghost AI Explained

EDIT: I’ve found a bit more on the ghosts. First, what’s in the comments below is accurate. Pac-mania did, in fact, introduce new ghosts into the mix. The green one is, in fact, named Funky and the gray one Spunky, though they’re also apparently known as the far less fun-sounding “Common” and “Gray Common.” And Sue does reappear, now purple.

However, these aren’t the last of the ghosts. There’s also one named Yum-Yum, who appears in Jr. Pac-Man as some kind of Juliet to Jr. Pac-Man’s Romeo. The latter’s boyhood is represented by the fact that he wears a little propeller beanie on his head, while the former’s femininity is once again represented by the fact that she wears a bow. Below is a screenshot, which I nabbed from this YouTube clip.

Here’s Jr. Pac-Man, just after he’s dropped off by the stork.

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde: Smarter Than You Think (5)
And here’s little Yum-Yum meeting Jr. for the first time.

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde: Smarter Than You Think (6)
Finally, regarding the big four ghosts, I noticed in Chris Kohler’s Game Over a little section on their names. He translated the Japanese names of Clyde, Inky, Pinky and Blinky as “Slow,” “Capricious,” “Ambush” and “Chaser.” He also notes that the four Japanese versions of the ghosts have their own Japanese nicknames, just as the American versions have nicknames. The nicknames, in order are Guzuta, Aosuke, Pinky and Akabei, three of which are references to their respective ghosts’ colors. “Pinky” is obvious. The Japanese word for “red” is aka, and the word for “blue” is ao. Kohler theorizes that Guzuta comes from the Japanese guzutsuku, meaning “to linger” or “to languish.” Now we know.

(Video) Playing: Pac-Man World Series Retrospective

Pac-Man, previously:

The intersection of video games and all things verbal, elsewhere on this blog:

Game geek? Subscribe to the video games-only feed for Back of the Cereal Box.


Who is the smartest ghost in Pac-Man? ›

In Pac-Man Party and Ghostly Adventures, Inky has little to no resemblance to his original design; he is very skinny, has twirly hair, and teeth. He is also a darker shade of blue, and is portrayed as being the smartest of the four ghosts.

Who are Inky Pinky Blinky & _______? ›

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde, collectively known as the Ghost Gang, are a quartet of characters from the Pac-Man video game franchise. Created by Toru Iwatani, they first appear in the 1980 arcade game Pac-Man as the main antagonists.

What are the 4 ghosts in Pac-Man? ›

It was not until later that they were known as ghosts. Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde were each created with their own distinct personalities so that the game would never get boring yet would have behaviors that players could learn. For instance, Blinky has a chaser personality while Pinky likes to ambush Pac-Man.

Does Pinky have a crush on Pac-Man? ›

In Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, Pinky is shown to have a crush on Pac-Man. As with the other members of the original Ghost Gang, she is now an ally and friend of Pac-Man rather than an enemy.

Who is the strongest ghost in Pac-Man? ›

Blinky (ブリンキー Burinkii), also known as Akabei, is the leader of the Ghosts and the arch-enemy of Pac-Man. He is also portrayed as the most aggressive ghost who always chases Pac-Man, and is hard to shake once he starts.

Who is the oldest ghost in Pac-Man? ›

Clyde made an appearance in the Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures TV series. Rather than an enemy of Pac-Man, he (along with Blinky, Pinky and Inky) act as Pac-Man's allies and the oldest of the ghosts.

Who is Winky in Pac-Man? ›

Winky is a purple ghost with blue eyes much like Sue's common depiction although, unlike the other ghosts, she wears clothes. She has dark purple hair that is tied into a side-ponytail, with cherry accessories. she also wears a magenta headband and crystal blue Pac-Man shaped earrings.

Is Blinky the leader of the ghosts? ›

Blinky is a red ghost from the Pac-Man series. He is the archenemy of Pac-Man and his wife and the leader of the other ghosts Inky, Pinky, and Clyde.

What is pinky ghost personality? ›

Pinky has a sweet, flirty, girly, and ditzy personality, though on several occasions she can get pretty mad. She usually hangs out with Blinky, Inky and Clyde. Pinky views Cyli as a rival for Pac-Man's affection, while Cyli views Pinky as a bit of a ditz.

Is Pinky a girl? ›

Pinky Origin and Meaning

The name Pinky is both a boy's name and a girl's name meaning "pink". This affectionate nickname was historically used for children with strong pink undertones, and was given as a first name several times throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

Who is older Pac-Man or Mario? ›

Palutena: Yes, that's PAC-MAN. He was born in 1980, which means he's one year older than Mario.

Who is the purple girl in Pac-Man? ›

Sue (スー Suu) is a female ghost from the Pac-Man series, commonly shown as being purple (but is orange in some other appearances).

What happens when Pac-Man eats a ghost? ›

Information. While the ghost is blue, Pac-Man is able to eat them, in which case their eyes will pop out; they will regenerate after entering the Ghost Home in the center of the Maze. The blue effect will wear off rather quickly, and will start to flash white when it is about to.

What gender are the Pac-Man ghosts? ›

Most recent non-Smash appearancePac-Man World Re-Pac (2022)
Console/platform of originArcade
GenderMale (Blinky, Inky, Clyde) Female (Pinky)
5 more rows
May 6, 2023

What is the black Pac-Man ghost name? ›

Spunky. Spunky is a gray/black ghost from the Pac-Man series.

Who actually beat Pac-Man? ›

William James Mitchell Jr.

(born July 16, 1965) is an American video game player and restaurateur. He achieved fame throughout the 1980s and 1990s through claiming numerous records on classic video games, including a perfect score on Pac-Man.

What is the red ghost name? ›

The Red Ghost (Ivan Kragoff) and his Super-Apes (Mikhlo/Михло, Igor/Игорь, and Peotr/Пётр) are a group of supervillains appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The characters started their career fighting the Fantastic Four, before confronting other Marvel heroes, such as Iron Man and Spider-Man.

Why is Clyde called Clyde? ›

A man who lived on the Clyde River in Scotland came to North Carolina to live. He thought the area reminded him of home and named the area Clyde.

Is Clyde the Red ghost? ›

In the Pac-Man World series, Clyde is erroneously depicted as the red Ghost, and Blinky is depicted as orange. The personalities of the Ghosts are kept the same, however, with the red Ghost acting as the leader (despite being named Clyde) and the orange ghost being somewhat cowardly.

What did the original Pac-Man look like? ›

The arcade created an official art on the original Puck-Man designed by Namco Artist Tadashi Yamashita, portrayed him as a yellow circle with a large mouth as well as hands, feet, eyes and a long nose.

Who married Pac-Man? ›

Pac-Man (ミズ・パックマン Mizu Pakkuman), also known as Pepper in the animated series or Pac-Girl (パックガール Pakkugāru) prior to her relationship with Pac-Man, is the deuteragonist of the Pac-Man series. She is Pac-Man's wife and sidekick, and is the mother of Jr.

Who is Pac-Man's son? ›

Pac-Man (パック・ジュニア Pakku Junia), also known as Pac-Man Jr., Pac-Jr., or simply Junior, is the first-born son of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. He is also the older brother to Baby Pac-Man.

Who is Pac-Man's girlfriend? ›

Pac-Man (occasionally stylized as Ms. PAC-MAN) is the wife of Pac-Man.

Who betrayed the Ghosts? ›

Ghost managed to get Roach to the LZ, but both were ultimately betrayed by Shepherd, who fatally shot the two in the chest at point-blank range with a .44 Magnum, just before Ghost could use his ACR. After Shepherd retrieved the DSM from Roach, Ghost's body was thrown into a ditch and set on fire along with Roach's.

Who is the main villain in Ghosts? ›

Commander Gabriel T. Rorke is the main antagonist of the 2013 video game Call of Duty: Ghosts, and also appears as one of the main antagonists of the Call of Duty: Mobile comics, and a playable character in Call of Duty: Warzone and Call of Duty: Vanguard.

Is Blinky faster than Pac-Man? ›

As the game progresses, Blinky's speed increases to the point that he becomes marginally faster than Pac-Man at which point he becomes what fans refer to as “Cruise Elroy”.

What race is pinky? ›

She knows that Pinky was her late cousin's nurse; more to the point, she knows that Pinky is black.

What is Kitty in ghosts? ›

Katherine “Kitty” is the ghost of a Georgian noblewoman who died somewhere in the late 1700s. She is portrayed by actress Lolly Adefope.

What are the pink ghost names? ›

Who is the pink ghost? Oddly – despite Blinky being the ghost known to speed up – the pink ghost's 'real' name is Speedy. However, she's more commonly known by her nickname, Pinky. Like the other ghosts, she has her own, very specific patterns of movement.

Who does pinky love? ›

Pinky is an animal resident of Portia with whom the player can develop a friendship. She is a stray cat who wanders the streets of Portia. Pinky loves fish and will become affectionate for a short amount of time when given fish, following the player around.

Why did pinky say narf? ›

The Rice University Neologism dictionary includes not only "narf" as a random sound or nonce word, but also "narfed" as a verb to mean "to be struck completely" with some embarrassment or folly, much as Pinky would be hit on the head by Brain after his follies ruined Brain's plan.

Why is pinky swear? ›

To make a pinky promise, or pinky swear, is a traditional gesture most commonly practiced amongst children involving the locking of the pinkies of two people to signify that a promise has been made. The gesture is taken to signify that the person can break the finger of the one who broke the promise.

Is Mario 45 years old? ›

Back in 2016, The Independent unearthed an interview from 2005 with Shigeru Miyamoto. In this discussion, Mario's creator made a pretty definitive statement on the issue of how old Mario is — "he's about 24-25 years old", Miyamoto responded.

Is Mario or Luigi older? ›

Luigi is portrayed as the taller, younger brother of Mario, and is usually seen dressed in a green shirt, dark blue overalls, and a green hat with a green "L" insignia.

Is Mario the older twin? ›

Mario and Luigi are twins who were to be delivered by a stork in Yoshi's Island, with Mario being the elder twin.

Does Cylindria have a crush on Pac-Man? ›

In Episode 7 it was revealed that Cylindria has a crush on Pac-Man as she said "I love you, Pac!" at the same time as Pinky.

How old is Cylindria Pac-Man? ›

Cylindria (voiced by Andrea Libman) is a 14 year old pink Pac-Girl with glasses who is over 3'5" tall, over 4'0" including hair.

Is Pac-Man a girl? ›

Pac-Man is widely considered the first female protagonist of a popular video game, but also one of the most divisive. Sarkeesian criticized the Ms. Pac-Man game for perpetuating the “Ms. Male” trope in video games, saying that Ms.

Who is the fifth ghost in Pac-Man? ›

Ghost Gang

The group is comprised of four ghosts named Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. In some appearances, they are joined by a fifth member named Sue, who originated from Ms. Pac-Man in place of Clyde.

Who is the GREY ghost in Pac-Man? ›

Spunky (スパンキー Supankii) is a grey Common ghost in the Pac-Man series. She originated in Pac-Mania, and serves as a counterpart to Funky.

Why are the ghosts chasing Pac-Man? ›

In the original Pac-Man, the Ghosts chase Pac-Man around a maze to keep him from eating all of the dots. It was the player's objective to avoid the ghosts and collect all of the dots. Power Pellets are the ghosts' ultimate weakness. When Pac-Man eats one, the ghosts turn blue, and Pac-Man can eat them.

What happens when Pac-Man eats a bomb? ›

Bomb is a Power-Up found in Pac-Man 256. When consumed, the player gains the ability to run into a ghost, triggering a massive explosion that destroys ghosts within a certain range around Pac-Man. If the player does not come in contact with a ghost when the time expires, the same explosion will trigger around Pac-Man.

What is the 256 glitch? ›

Otherwise known as the "split-screen level" or a "kill screen", the Map 256 Glitch refers to the 256th level in the original Pac-Man. On this stage, the right side of the screen turns into a jumbled mess of numbers and letters, while the left side is normal. It is impossible to beat.

Is there a purple Pac-Man ghost? ›

Sue (スー Suu) is a female ghost from the Pac-Man series, commonly shown as being purple (but is orange in some other appearances).

Who is glitchy in Pac-Man 256? ›

Glitchy is the only Ghost made simply for Pac-Man 256 as every other ghost has made a previous appearance in other games. When viewed in the Ghost records, Glitchy appears to have multiple colors, instead of changing colors like he does in-game.

What does the pink ghost do in Pac-Man? ›

Pinky the pink ghost will attempt to ambush Pac-Man by trying to get in front of him and cut him off. Inky the cyan ghost will patrol an area and is not very predictable in this mode. Clyde the orange ghost is moving in a random fashion and seems to stay out of the way of Pac-Man.


1. Pac-Man with a TWIST: You're the GHOSTS!
(Distracted Coder)
2. Pinky is THRIVING at Jerry's!
(Kamp Kenan)
(LankyBox World)
4. How Do the Ghosts in Pac-Man Decide Where to Go?
(Today I Found Out)
5. Machinations and Nine Inch Nails
(Neo Lee)
6. This Minecraft PAC-MAN MAP is IMPOSSIBLE
(OMGcraft - Minecraft Tips & Tutorials!)


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