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During the course of a Pokémon's development, under certain circumstances specific to that Pokémon's species, it may evolve (Japanese: 進化 shinka) into a different Pokémon. This change is not merely physical, however, as Pokémon of a higher evolutionary stage have different (and usually more powerful) base stats than their predecessors, may have different moves that can be learned, and sometimes change their types, though usually at least one of the types of the previous form is preserved. Other statistics, such as nature and EVs, as well as alternate coloration, are preserved.

Evolution families

An evolution family is a group of Pokémon who will all, if bred with Ditto, make a Pokémon egg that will hatch into the same Pokémon, excluding baby Pokémon. This also means that the most basic form has the potential to become any of the rest of the family, although it will only be able to follow one evolutionary path, ultimately.

Stages of evolution

Pokémon can be classed into different evolutionary stages, based on their appearance in their evolution family. All Pokémon fall into one of four groups: baby Pokémon, unevolved Pokémon, first-evolution Pokémon, and second-evolution Pokémon. These groups are also the basis for the TCG's grouping of Baby Pokémon, Basic Pokémon, Stage 1 Pokémon, and Stage 2 Pokémon, respectively.

Due to the fact that no evolution family contains both a baby Pokémon and a second-evolution Pokémon, many regard baby Pokémon as the most basic form, while moving their evolved counterparts one level higher. For example, originally, Pikachu was regarded as an unevolved Pokémon, however, with the release of Pichu in Generation II, many now considered it more on par with Pokémon like Charmeleon, though its TCG classification remained the same.

Two-evolution families

Main article: Pokémon that are part of a three-stage evolutionary line

Perhaps the most well-known types of evolution families are those that feature two separate evolutionary events in the Pokémon's development. Indeed, this type of evolution family is what all of the starter Pokémon in the main series are a part of, including Pikachu. An example of this type of evolution family is below.

Lowest Trigger Middle Trigger Highest
Level 30 148.png
Level 55 149.png

One-evolution families

Main article: Pokémon that are part of a two-stage evolutionary line

By far the most common type of evolution family, these families are based in a Pokémon that will only ever evolve once in its development. About one third of all Pokémon that would later get a baby form were part of this kind of evolution family before their baby form was revealed. An example of this type of evolution family is below.

Lowest Trigger Highest
Level 20 020.png

Pokémon that do not evolve

Main article: List of Pokémon that do not evolve

The least common type of evolution family, of course, is that in which no evolutionary event takes place, meaning that it is made up of only one member. Many of the Pokémon that have no evolutionary event are, of course, legendary Pokémon. However, there are still 42 other Pokémon that do not evolve. Below is a list of all non-legendary Pokémon that do not evolve.

Gen I Gen II Gen III Gen IV
083 Farfetch'd 201 Unown 302 Sableye 417 Pachirisu
115 Kangaskhan 203 Girafarig 303 Mawile 441 Chatot
127 Pinsir 206 Dunsparce 311 Plusle 442 Spiritomb
128 Tauros 211 Qwilfish 312 Minun 455 Carnivine
131 Lapras 213 Shuckle 313 Volbeat 479 Rotom
132 Ditto 214 Heracross 314 Illumise  
142 Aerodactyl 222 Corsola 324 Torkoal
  225 Delibird 327 Spinda
227 Skarmory 335 Zangoose
234 Stantler 336 Seviper
235 Smeargle 337 Lunatone
241 Miltank 338 Solrock
  351 Castform
352 Kecleon
357 Tropius
359 Absol
369 Relicanth
370 Luvdisc

It must be noted that not belonging to an evolutionary family is not an indication of strength overall. Some Pokémon, like Pinsir and Skarmory are comparable to fully evolved Pokémon while others, like Luvdisc and Pachirisu, are more comparable to unevolved Pokémon. Often this indicates a Pokémon's possibility to be eligible for future new evolutions or pre-evolutions.

Branch evolution families

Main article: List of Pokémon with branched evolutions

Several families, while also one- and two-evolution families, are also branch evolution families. What this means is that there is a split in the evolutionary line at some point so that even though two Pokémon of the same species evolve the same amount of times, they can become one of two or more entirely different creatures. Eevee is the best-known example of this, evolving seven different ways depending on the method used. An example of this type of evolution family is below.

Lowest Trigger Middle Trigger Highest
Level 25 061.png
Water Stone 062.png
Trade holding
King's Rock

A major difference between the final forms of an evolution family with a branch in evolution is in the way that their base stats line up. For example, Kirlia evolves into both Gardevoir and Gallade, which both have 518 total base stats. However, Gallade's base stat in Attack is 125 and its base stat in Special Attack is 65. The reverse is true for Gardevoir, whose Special Attack is 125 and whose Attack is 65. This is true of many opposing evolutions, with one focusing in one specific stat, the other focusing in a separate stat, and both having the same total stats. This is especially obvious in the Eeveelutions, who each have exactly the same base stats, though organized differently.

A listing of the stat focuses is below.

Basic form Evolutions Types Difference
043 Oddish 045 Vileplume Grass Poison Special Attack is 100, Special Defense is 90
182 Bellossom Grass Special Defense is 100, Special Attack is 90
060 Poliwag 062 Poliwrath Water Fighting Attack is 20 higher, Defense is 10 higher
186 Politoed Water Special Defense is 20 higher, Special Attack is 10 higher
079 Slowpoke 080 Slowbro Water Psychic Defense is 110, Special Defense is 80
199 Slowking Water Psychic Special Defense is 110, Defense is 80
133 Eevee 134 Vaporeon Water Highest stat is HP
135 Jolteon Electric Highest stat is Speed
136 Flareon Fire Highest stat is Attack
196 Espeon Psychic Highest stat is Special Attack
197 Umbreon Dark Highest stat is Special Defense
470 Leafeon Grass Highest stat is Defense
471 Glaceon Ice Highest stat is Special Attack
236 Tyrogue 106 Hitmonlee Fighting Large difference between Attack and Defense
107 Hitmonchan Fighting Speed lower than Defense, Attack and Defense more equal
237 Hitmontop Fighting Attack and Defense equal, Speed at minimum
265 Wurmple 267 Beautifly Bug Flying Attack and Special Attack higher than Defense and Special Defense
269 Dustox Bug Poison Defense and Special Defense higher than Attack and Special Attack
280 Ralts 282 Gardevoir Psychic Special Attack is 125, Attack is 65
475 Gallade Psychic Fighting Attack is 125, Special Attack is 65
361 Snorunt 362 Glalie Ice All stats are 80
478 Froslass Ice Ghost HP, Defense, Special Defense each 10 lower, Speed 30 higher
366 Clamperl 367 Huntail Water Attack is 104, Special Attack is 94
368 Gorebyss Water Attack is 84, Special Attack is 114
412 Burmy 413 Wormadam Bug Grass Special Attack and Special Defense higher by 10
413G Wormadam Bug Ground Attack and Defense higher by 10
413S Wormadam Bug Steel Equal Special & Normal stats
414 Mothim Bug Flying Lower Defenses but higher HP, Attacks, and Speed

Methods of evolution

Main article: Methods of evolution

The various triggers for a Pokémon's evolution are almost as varied as the Pokémon themselves. The most common of them is evolution by leveling up at or above a certain level. Other methods include leveling up when happiness has reached a high level, trading the Pokémon, trading the Pokémon holding an item, leveling up holding an item, or even using an evolutionary stone on it. Additionally, holding an Everstone prevents a Pokémon from evolving.

Most commonly, Pokémon that can evolve into more than one Pokémon will have the ways in which the evolution is activated being slightly similar, such as having both be by evolutionary stone or by holding an item and trading. Closely-related Pokémon, such as Nidoran♀ and Nidoran♂, will also have very similar, if not identical, evolution methods.

In the anime

In the anime, evolution happens in much the same way as it does in the games; though level-based evolution nor trade-based evolutions do not occur using those methods, there are similarities in the way they come about. For example, Misty's Poliwhirl evolved into Politoed because it found Ash's King's Rock and was holding it when Misty sent it out, while in the games it is required that Poliwhirl be traded while holding the King's Rock for the evolution to take place. When a Beedrill attacked Ash's Metapod, it caused a crack to appear on its shell, which Butterfree came out of it. The other aspect about the anime is the evolving is very different. For example, when Metapod evolve they leave their shells behind. However, starting from the Advanced Generation series it's changed (eg. Cascoon just turn into Dustox not leaving anything behind).

Additionally, a difference can be noted in the fact that Pokémon evolve during a battle, as opposed to after it. There are also several instances of an evolutionary trigger being incorrect, such as March of the Exeggutor Squad where several Exeggcute evolve into Exeggutor without the aid of a Leaf Stone. Pokémon may also evolve when they are needed to, for an extra boost of power, instead of after a set amount of training, such as when Ash's Charmeleon evolved into Charizard. In addition, Pokémon can sometimes choose not to evolve, even if they evolve by a 'natural' method such as leveling up. It appears that evolution has emotional implications for Pokémon - some Pokémon, such as Team Rocket's Meowth, dislike their evolved forms, while others such as Ash's Pikachu simply want to prove they can be powerful without evolving. Conversely, when Pokémon do evolve, this can often be linked with an experience that causes them to mature emotionally or deal with an emotional issue, such as when the Poochyena in A Bite to Remember evolved, or the Paras in The Problem With Paras. Poochyena, for some reason, had an aversion to using the move Bite, while Paras was extremely timid and weak in battle. Both of them evolved shortly after overcoming these issues.

For a list of all evolutions that Pokémon belonging to the main cast have undergone, see List of anime Pokémon by evolution.

In the TCG

Main article: Evolution (TCG)

Evolution in the TCG functions similarly in many aspects to that of the games, however, there is no different requirement that needs to be met depending on the Pokémon species to be evolved to move on to the next stage.

There are four different stages of evolution in the TCG, Baby Pokémon, Basic Pokémon, Stage 1 Pokémon, and Stage 2 Pokémon. Of these, only Baby and Basic Pokémon may be placed onto the Bench during the setup phase and during play; Stage 1 and Stage 2 Pokémon are considered to be evolution cards and therefore unable to be played except on top of their corresponding pre-evolved forms. The stage of evolution is indicated in a conspicuous place on each and every Pokémon card, though the placement differs among the four generations of cards.

Within the deck and discard pile, only Stage 1 and Stage 2 cards are considered to be "evolution cards" for the purpose of a Trainer card or Pokémon Power which allows them to be searched for. In play, a Basic Pokémon card can be considered an evolution card if it is evolved from its Baby stage.

In relation to the real world

Evolution in Pokémon, for most species, is more akin to metamorphosis than to actual evolution. The Pokémon whose evolution is closest to the real-world definition of evolution is Eevee, whose cellular structure changes due to its environment.

See also