Poké Ball

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The 25 Poké Ball variants found in the main series

A Poké Ball (Japanese: モンスターボール Monster Ball) is a type of item that is critical to a Trainer's quest, used for catching and storing Pokémon. Both a general term used to describe the various kinds as well as a specific term to refer to the most basic among these variations, Poké Balls are ubiquitous in the modern Pokémon world. Up to six Pokémon can be carried with a Trainer in Poké Balls, while any number of other Poké Balls can be held in the bag for later use.

The strength of a Poké Ball is determined by how much it raises a wild Pokémon's catch rate, and may in fact vary depending on the conditions of the battle. Poké Balls limit the power of Pokémon contained inside, taming them, though they do not cause the Pokémon inside to always obey the Trainer.

The invention of Poké Balls apparently occurred in the Johto region, where Apricorns grow; these fruit were cut apart and carved out, then fit with a special device, and used to catch wild Pokémon prior to the mass production of the Balls that occurs in modern times under Silph Co. and the Devon Corporation. Some Trainers still use Poké Balls made from Apricorns, while Kurt, a resident of Azalea Town, still constructs them.

Prior to the invention of Poké Balls, Pokémon were referred to as "magical beasts" (Japanese: 魔獣 majū), indicating that the name Pokémon, short for Pocket Monster, did not come into common parlance as a term until these devices allowed the various Pokémon to be stored in pockets easily.

Stylized Poké Balls are used in many places to symbolize Pokémon in general: the logos of both Battle Frontiers feature a Poké Ball in their design, while several Poké Balls can be seen in every Pokémon Center. The headgear of the protagonists of Hoenn, Kanto, and Sinnoh-based games feature Poké Ball designs, as do the bags of the protagonists of Johto-based games.


Interior of a Poké Ball from the anime

Though the technology behind a Poké Ball remains unknown, the basic mechanics are simple enough to understand: in a Pokémon battle, once an opposing wild Pokémon has been weakened, a person, the Pokémon Trainer, can throw a Poké Ball at it. If the Poké Ball hits the Pokémon and is not knocked back by it, the Poké Ball will open, convert the Pokémon to a form of energy, and pull it into its center, closing. A Pokémon in this state is given a chance to struggle to attempt to escape, at which point the ball will either be destroyed (in the games and some manga) or will return to the Trainer (anime), who can attempt once again to capture the Pokémon. A Pokémon who does not escape the ball will be caught.

As seen in several anime episodes, such as Gulpin it Down! and Claydol Big and Tall, normal Poké Balls have difficulty catching Pokémon which are extremely large or extremely heavy. In the latter episode, it is revealed that ancient civilizations overcame this issue by constructing immense Poké Balls made out of stone. However, due to the difficulty of manipulating one of these large objects, later technology and the development of Heavy Balls provided a better alternative.

When a Pokémon is released from a Poké Ball, it will be accompanied by a bright light as it returns from its energy form, and materialize nearby, often on the ground. This bright light has been shown to vary depending on the type of Ball that the Pokémon is contained in in the games, while it has always been shown to be white in the anime. Recalling a Pokémon to its Poké Ball is also relatively simple, as all a person must do is hold up the Poké Ball with its button pointed at the Pokémon. A beam of red light will shoot from the button, converting the Pokémon back into energy and returning it to the Ball. The beam, however, has a limited range, and can be dodged by the Pokémon. If the beam hits a person, they will be stunned for a moment, but aside from that no ill effects will make themselves apparent. Releasing Pokémon from a Trainer's ownership, unlike normally sending the Pokémon out, will bathe the Pokémon in a blue glow, and the Poké Ball will no longer mark it, making it able to be caught by another Trainer's Poké Ball. A Poké Ball can also be broken, which will release it from ownership, and if a Trainer has done so accidentally, it must somehow be fixed before the Pokémon can be recalled.

Several Pokémon have shown the ability to leave and return to their Poké Balls at will, most notably among them Jessie's Wobbuffet, Misty's Psyduck, and Brock's Croagunk, which tend to do so in every episode they appear. In Dig Those Diglett!, many Pokémon belonging to Gary Oak, as well as other Trainers, including Ash Ketchum, demonstrated the ability to prevent themselves from being sent from their Poké Balls, as they refused to fight against the Diglett, though this has not been demonstrated since.

Poké Balls are not always at full size. Pressing the button on the front will convert it between its full size, about the size of a baseball, to a smaller size, about that of a ping-pong ball, and back again. The larger size makes throwing the ball easier, while the smaller one makes for easier storage on a belt clip, in pockets, and in bags.

Poké Balls are able to communicate with a Trainer's Pokédex, as the system updates itself with information on newly-caught Pokémon, and keeps track of how many Pokémon the Trainer has with them. If a Trainer catches a new Pokémon with the full six already with them, the Pokédex will automatically send the newly-caught Pokémon in its Poké Ball to the Pokémon storage system that the Trainer is using. As shown in Two Degrees of Separation, a Pokémon caught by a Poké Ball is "marked" by it, and thus a Poké Ball thrown at it will have no effect aside from temporarily stunning it. In the games, as well as in Bad to the Bone, however, the Trainer of the Pokémon will block a Poké Ball thrown by another, though it is possible that this is more out of courtesy to their Pokémon than to prevent capture outright.

Poké Balls are able to be decorated to no ill effect, with several Poké Balls that have been painted with special colors being seen in the anime. To alter the way in which the Pokémon is sent out, however, a Ball Capsule and seals must be used, which can release special effects when the Pokémon is sent out.

Sending out a Pokémon in FireRed and LeafGreen

When a Pokémon is released from its ball, it usually has a burst of light come out with it, which varies depending on the Ball the Pokémon is contained in (normally a white light in the anime).

Poké Ball accuracy

Except for Master Balls, all Poké Balls have a chance of breaking and not capturing the Pokémon in question, however, in several cases, it is possible for the Poké Ball to miss the wild Pokémon completely.

Types of Poké Ball

A double battle begins in Pokémon Battle Revolution; each of the four Pokémon being sent out has been caught in a different type of Poké Ball.

In the Pokémon games so far, there have been 25 different varieties of Poké Ball, all differing from each other in some effect, whether it be an increased ability to catch a Pokémon from the wild or an effect which occurs only after the Pokémon has been caught. From Generation III onward, each variety of Poké Ball has a unique animation when they open to draw in a Pokémon and when a Pokémon is sent out. So far, the only games in which all 25 are available are Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.

Introduced in Generation I

The following Poké Balls were introduced in Pokémon Red and Green, and have appeared and been available in all games since then, with the exception of the Safari Ball, which is not present in Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal. They were developed by Silph Co., with the development of the Master Ball factoring into the plot of the Generation I games and their remakes heavily.

Introduced in Generation II

The following Poké Balls were introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver. These Poké Balls were not available in Generation III or in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, but made their return in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver. A majority of them are made from Apricorns by Kurt, while the only one that is not is seen by some to be a counterpart to the Safari Ball in that it is only used in the Bug-Catching Contest in National Park. Interestingly, all eight of these Poké Balls have the same animation as a normal Poké Ball when sending out or recalling a Pokémon, and they will become a Poké Ball on the status screen if the Pokémon is traded to another Generation IV game in which these balls do not exist.

Introduced in Generation III

The following Poké Balls were introduced in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. While the main four Poké Balls and the Safari Ball returned to central usage, these specialty Balls were only available at certain Poké Marts in the Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Johto regions, and only a few of them could be bought in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen after the National Pokédex had been obtained. The Dive Ball is not available for purchase in Sinnoh, while both it and the Timer and Repeat Balls are not available in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, though all can be transferred from a game in which they can be bought by being held by a Pokémon. Unlike the Poké Balls introduced in Generation I, these Poké Balls were developed by the Devon Corporation.

Introduced in Generation IV

The following Poké Balls were introduced in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The set of seven introduced in Generation III, as well as the original set of five, are preserved in this generation, and are available either for purchase or by trade in all Generation IV games. The Generation II Poké Balls also make a return in this generation, but only in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.

In the anime

Ash pulls out a Poké Ball, preparing to catch a Pokémon.

In the anime, without a doubt, the basic Poké Ball is the most commonly used of all varieties, with other varieties appearing either very few times or not at all. A vast majority of Pokémon are shown to be stored in regular Poké Balls, to the point that large collections of Poké Balls can be seen with no variation among them. Even Ash's Pikachu, the most prominent Pokémon in the anime which spends all its time outside with Ash, has a plain Poké Ball that differs from others only by the small yellow lightning bolt symbol on it, as seen in Pokémon - I Choose You!.

Despite this, the various other types of Poké Ball have been seen in the anime, usually to illustrate a special property about that particular ball. The lack of the different types is unsurprising, however, due to the fact that, when the anime was first created, the games themselves did not even keep track of the Poké Ball that a Pokémon was caught in, and thus, it made no difference in sending a Pokémon out.

The first time that a Poké Ball aside from the normal variation was seen was in EP035, where Ash was given 30 Safari Balls in order to compete in the Safari Game. With these 30 Safari Balls, Ash attempted to catch various rare Pokémon, however, he only managed to capture an entire herd of Tauros. They appeared in Safari Balls in Showdown at the Po-Ké Corral; afterward, however, whenever Ash used one of his Tauros in a battle, it has been sent out from a standard Poké Ball.

Brendan holds his Luxury Ball and Repeat Ball, preparing for a double battle.

The GS Ball was the second of the variant Poké Balls to appear in the anime, this time with a special purpose. This mysterious ball was unable to be opened by Professor Ivy, and served as the reason for Ash's journeys to the Orange Archipelago (to pick it up) and Johto (to deliver it to Kurt), so that what was contained within it could be discovered. Celebi was long rumored to be related to the ball, something which the Pokémon Adventures and game canons verify, while a director of the anime confirmed that, had it not been insisted that Celebi appear in a central role in the fourth movie, the GS Ball arc would have concluded with Celebi being released from the ball and traveling with Ash and his friends.

Also related to Kurt, as in the games, the first non-standard Poké Ball variants, the Apricorn balls, made an appearance in the anime, and several were given to the members of the main cast. All three members of the main cast received Fast Balls in Going Apricorn!, with Brock using his to catch a Pineco shortly after receiving it. In the next episode, Brock received a Heavy Ball, while Ash and Misty received Lure Balls. While Brock's Heavy Ball and Ash and Misty's Fast Balls would remain unused (and have not been mentioned since), both Ash and Misty would use their Lure Balls to capture a Totodile and Corsola, respectively. Another Heavy Ball appeared in Gulpin It Down, where it was used to capture a giant Gulpin, though this was not the one belonging to Brock.

The Master Ball itself has only appeared once as an actual Poké Ball, in Whiscash and Ash, where it was used by Sullivan in an attempt to catch a wild Whiscash. Despite the fact that a Master Ball cannot be escaped from, the Whiscash swallowed the Master Ball, thus preventing capture, and disappeared back into the water. While not a Poké Ball itself, Misty owns a beach ball that is designed based on the Master Ball, which can be seen in Beauty and the Beach and A Hot Water Battle.

The Generation III specialty balls have only been seen in cameos, with only the Repeat Ball and Luxury Ball appearing, in the opening of the seventh movie. These balls contained Brendan's Shiftry and Aggron, respectively.

The debut of most of the specialty balls, both from Generation III and IV, came in the ending Which One ~ Is It?, which contained the first appearance of the Great Ball and Ultra Ball, as well as the first anime appearance of the Premier, Heal, Net, Dusk, Nest, Quick, Timer, and Dive Balls.

Many other Poké Balls have been shown in the anime, however, most of these are cosmetic alterations alone, such as Poké Balls with gold plating, diamond studded Poké Balls, and Poké Balls with special designs on them, usually to denote an organization.

Most notably, a broken Poké Ball, snapped in half at its rusted hinges, is kept by both Ash and Gary, symbolizing their rivalry.

In the manga

In the various Pokémon manga, Poké Balls have been shown to appear differently, as an attempt to explain how a Trainer knows which Pokémon is in which ball, as most Pokémon manga series were, like the anime, developed at a time when the games could not keep track of the ball a Pokémon was contained in.

This is explained in Pokémon Adventures by the tops of Poké Balls being semitransparent, allowing the Pokémon inside, which is miniaturized, to be seen through the ball, while the Pokémon can likewise see out of the ball it is contained in. An interesting fact of this manga is that, unlike in the anime, Pokémon already captured can be recaught in another Poké Ball, as is seen when Red recatches Misty's Gyarados (though Blue states that catching a Pokémon that belongs to another is not possible in Lapras Lazily). Like in the anime and games, specialty balls do exist, and Gold and Silver received a Friend Ball and Heavy Ball, respectively. It has also been shown that unlike the games, Pokémon placed in their balls recover from status conditions, however, like the games do not recover health points.

In the Electric Tale of Pikachu manga, the rules are more similar to the anime, however, Poké Balls are numbered on the outside, on the button, so that a Trainer knows which member of their team they are sending into battle. As this manga ended before the journey in Johto began, however, no Poké Ball variants were seen.

Red finds an item ball on Route 2.


File:Rice Ball Poké Ball.jpg
Ash catches a rice ball thrown by a wild Mankey

In both the anime and games, it has been shown that items can be contained in Poké Balls, apparently able to be captured in much the same way as a Pokémon. The anime has used this as a gag on several occasions, most notably in Primeape Goes Bananas, where Ash accidentally catches a rice ball when he throws a Poké Ball in an attempt to catch a wild Mankey. Items contained in Poké Balls have been present from the very first games, with many items that are found on the field being found in Poké Balls in conspicuous locations. These items are sometimes important, and usually will be among the required items for pickup along the way. Sometimes, even Poké Ball variants can be found in item balls, though it may be that the item ball itself is supposed to represent the ball that is found. Many other items, however, are hidden, and are not in item balls, instead being directly on the field, and can be found more easily using an Itemfinder.

Other variants

The following Poké Ball variants are found outside of the standard games. They are often very unusual compared to the 25 types found in the games, and it is sometimes questionable whether or not they even qualify as Poké Balls. Many have separate articles, where their unique properties are described in greater detail.

In the games

In the anime

Ash attempting to stop the Clone Ball containing Pikachu from being taken by the cloning machine
File:Sammy's Old Poké Ball.png
Sammy's old Poké Ball
File:Lake Ball.jpg
The Lake Ball
  • Several objects were used to contain and control Pokémon before Poké Balls themselves were developed. Large monumental objects have been shown several times in episodes to be containers for large ancient Pokémon, as seen most notably in The Ancient Puzzle of Pokémopolis. Smaller objects have also been used, such as the staff belonging to Sir Aaron, which contained his partner, Lucario, until Ash released it in the current era. Special armor developed by Marcus was used to control Pokémon in ancient Michina Town, though it did not directly contain the Pokémon.
  • Older Poké Balls have also appeared in the anime, specifically the one carried by Sammy in Celebi: Voice of the Forest, which was colored differently and had a knob on it which needed to be twisted before the Pokémon inside was able to be sent out. While it is unknown how they were manufactured, it is likely that they were made by hand using Apricorns, prior to the standardization and mass production of modern-day Poké Balls.
  • Mewtwo had a collection of strange Poké Balls in Mewtwo Strikes Back, which incorporated an eye into their design, and were used primarily as a means of capture of Pokémon to be cloned. These balls had no trouble catching Pokémon which were already captured— even if they were already inside of Poké Balls. One of these devices is notably the only Poké Ball that Ash's Pikachu has ever been drawn into during the entire series. They have been called by several names by fans, such as "Mewtwo Balls" and "Clone Balls".
  • As in the games, the GS Ball appeared in the anime, and was the primary motivation for Ash's trip to the Orange Archipelago, where he would compete in his second Pokémon League. It also served as the catalyst for his journey to Johto, as he needed to deliver the ball to Kurt. Former director Masamitsu Hidaka revealed that a shelved storyline that would have concluded the GS Ball's arc involved a Celebi that would have traveled with Ash and friends through at least part of Johto, though the storyline was viewed as redundant after the decision was made to introduce Celebi in the fourth movie instead.
  • Molly Hale, whose imagination caused the power of the Unown to change the world around them, was able to use strange, crystalline Poké Balls when she challenged Brock and Misty in Spell of the Unown. The Pokémon sent from these appeared normally, but dissolved into crystal, rather than being recalled. These crystal Poké Balls only appeared when used by her imagined older selves, and do not appear to actually exist.
  • A special variant of Poké Ball, the Lake Ball, was used during the Seaking Catching Competition in Hook, Line, and Stinker; this is viewed by many to be similar to the Compé Ball used in the Bug-Catching Contest. They appear as blue and white Poké Balls, with a fish pattern around the edge, and a yellow arrow on the top and bottom of the ball. Interestingly, they don't shake after capture, implying an automatic catch.
  • The Iron-Masked Marauder, an agent of Team Rocket, used special Dark Balls that corrupted Pokémon caught and made them mindless servants of the Trainer, as well as raising their power significantly. Multiple Pokémon were caught in these Poké Balls, including the legendary Celebi and powerful Tyranitar.

In the Super Smash Bros. series

Render of a Poké Ball from Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Poké Balls in their base design are an item in the Super Smash Bros. series. First appearing in the original game, they can be picked up and thrown by the characters to do damage, and, on striking the ground, release a random Pokémon. In the original, the Pokémon that can be released are Beedrill, Blastoise, Chansey, Charizard, Clefairy, Goldeen, Hitmonlee, Koffing, Meowth, Mew, Onix, Snorlax, or Starmie. In Melee, the listing changes, and now the Pokémon released include Generation II Pokémon, with Venusaur, Charizard, Blastoise, Clefairy, Electrode, Weezing, Chansey, Goldeen, Staryu, Snorlax, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, Mew, Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Togepi, Bellossom, Marill, Unown, Wobbuffet, Scizor, Porygon2, Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Lugia, Ho-Oh, or Celebi appearing. Ditto was also planned to appear, acting as a clone of the character who released it for a short while, but was dummied out of the final game and can only be accessed through cheating, where it does nothing. In the third installment, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Generation III and Generation IV Pokémon were added, and now Meowth, Electrode, Goldeen, Staryu, Snorlax, Moltres, Mew, Chikorita, Togepi, Bellossom, Wobbuffet, Entei, Suicune, Lugia, Ho-Oh, Celebi, Torchic, Gardevoir, Gulpin, Metagross, Latias, Latios, Kyogre, Groudon, Jirachi, Deoxys, Piplup, Bonsly, Munchlax, Weavile, or Manaphy can be released from a Poké Ball that is thrown.

Super Smash Bros. Melee Trophy information

These balls are used to catch and contain wild Pokémon. Most Pokémon must be weakened in some way before they can be caught, but once they're inside a Poké Ball, they enjoy their new home, since Poké Balls contain an environment specially designed for Pokémon comfort. Master Balls are the strongest type.

In the TCG

Several variants of Poké Ball have been released in card form in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, ranging from the standard variants found in the games and other media to variants specific to the TCG.

Standard variants

The Fast Ball, in card form
  • The standard Poké Ball card, which was the first released, debuted in the Jungle expansion and has since been featured in many others. It features a TCG-centric mechanic, requiring a coin flip to search the deck for a Pokémon to be put in the hand. Most of the Poké Ball variants, both adapted from the games and exclusive to the TCG, are similar to this, with several requiring coin flips to use their effect.
  • The Great Ball, which first appeared in the TCG expansion coinciding with the remakes of the Generation I games, is somewhat of an upgrade to the Poké Ball, and does not require the coin flip that the Poké Ball does, instead restricting the search of Pokémon to Basic Pokémon.
  • The Master Ball, first appearing in the Gym Challenge expansion, and in the games the most powerful of the Poké Balls, provides a vastly different effect than the standard. Rather than searching the entire deck, only the top seven cards may be searched. One Pokémon found in these seven can be put into the hand, while the rest must be shuffled back into the deck.
  • Debuting in the Skyridge expansion, the Lure Ball is different from the basic Poké Balls in that it draws from the discard pile rather than the deck. For each heads flipped, with a maximum of three, an Evolution card can be returned from the discard pile and put into the hand. It has not appeared since.
  • Also debuting in Skyridge, the Friend Ball, another Apricorn Ball, has a unique effect entirely, allowing the user to search their deck for a Pokémon of the same type as one of the opponent's Pokémon, making it effective in decks that typically match up well against their own type. It also has not appeared since.
  • The Fast Ball allows the player to go through their deck, turning over cards one at a time until they find the first evolution card, and then taking that into their hand, shuffling afterward. Like the other two Apricorn Balls, it debuted in Skyridge and has not appeared since.
  • The Premier Ball, debuting in the Great Encounters expansion, is special, much as in the games, and allows the player to search either the deck or the discard pile for a Pokémon LV.X to put into their hand.
  • The Luxury Ball, first found in the Stormfront expansion, is among the rarest of the Poké Ball varieties in the games, though its catch rate is the same as that of a normal Poké Ball. Likewise it is so with the TCG, allowing a non-LV.X Pokémon to be searched from the deck, but only if another Luxury Ball card is not in the discard pile.
    The Rocket's Poké Ball card.
  • The Quick Ball released in the Mysterious Treasures expansion has a similar effect to the Fast Ball released in Skyridge, allowing the player to uncover cards from their deck until they find a Pokémon. An expansion of the Fast Ball's use, any Pokémon can be found, though this may prove an issue if the player is looking for an Evolution card specifically and finds a Basic Pokémon first.
  • The Dusk Ball, also first found in Mysterious Treasures, features an effect somewhat opposite from the Master Ball's: Instead of the top seven cards being searched, only the bottom seven cards may be, and a Pokémon found there may be put into the player's hand.

TCG-only variants

  • The Dual Ball is merely two Poké Balls together, and has a similar effect to using two plain Poké Ball cards, requiring two coin flips to search for up to two Pokémon, depending on how many heads appear.
  • The Team Magma Ball is Team Magma's Poké Ball variant, found only in the EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua expansion. It works similarly to a Poké Ball, however, it only can be used to find Team Magma's Pokémon, and will still allow a player to find a Pokémon, though only a Basic one, if the coin flip results in tails.
  • The Team Aqua Ball is Team Aqua's Poké Ball variant, also found only in the EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua expansion. It works exactly the same as the Team Magma Ball, with the exception that it can only search out Team Aqua's Pokémon instead.
  • The Rocket's Poké Ball is the Team Rocket variation on the Poké Ball, found in the EX Team Rocket Returns expansion. Unlike others, no coin flip is required, and it simply allows the player to search for a Dark Pokémon.


  • Many of the types of Poké Ball introduced in Generation III function similarly to those introduced in Generation II: the Nest Ball, like the Level Ball, is better if used on Pokémon of lower levels, the Net and Dive Balls are both useful against Pokémon found while in the water, much like the Lure Ball, and the Luxury Ball raises a Pokémon's happiness quickly, similarly to a Friend Ball. Excluding the Compé Ball, which many see as a parallel to the Safari Ball which made its return in Generation III, the specialty Balls made by the Devon Corporation in Hoenn number at seven, the same amount as the Apricorn Balls made by Kurt.
  • In Generation II, the Park Ball's name is written as one word on the menu, rather than as two, as the rest of the Poké Balls are. This is due to the size limitation placed on the text by the Game Boy Color's small screen. The Generation IV Park Ball does not have this issue, as Nintendo DS screens are much wider and the font used is thinner.
  • In some early artwork for Pokémon Red and Green, Poké Balls are shown on the ground in two pieces while the Pokémon are in battle, rather than in the more familiar hinged form they take now. This may be a carryover from when Pokémon was known as Capsule Monsters, as the Poké Ball sprites do not show the button on the ball in Generation I either. Interestingly, in Generation II, Poké Balls split in half when capturing a Pokémon as part of their animation, while the anime had been using the hinge style since the very first episode.
  • Poké Balls are inspired by the capsules for gashapon machines, which contain small, handheld toys.

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Super Smash Bros. series
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