A walking Pokémon will follow behind its Trainer much like partner Trainers do, and can be interacted with if the player turns back and talks to them. The first game that this appeared in was Pokémon Yellow on the Game Boy. This feature also appears in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, and to a greater extent Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver for the Nintendo DS. Pokémon walking alongside Trainers has appeared many times in the anime series as well as the Pokémon Adventures manga.
In the games
- Main article: Red's Pikachu (game)
In Pokémon Yellow, when the player runs into Professor Oak at the entrance of Pallet Town, a wild Pikachu appears and attacks Oak, and Oak is forced to capture it to keep the player out of danger. Back in the lab, Blue will obtain an Eevee, the Pokémon originally intended for the player. Professor Oak will then give the player the Pikachu he caught. Pikachu refuses to stay in its Poké Ball and insists on following the player around.
By turning around and talking to the Pikachu, the player can learn how it feels and thinks about the player. At the beginning of the game, Pikachu is unhappy to be stuck with the player as a Trainer. By using it in lots of battles and keeping it healthy, however, it will change its attitude towards the player. Pikachu displays a variety of expressions, from anger to shock to fear to love, as it reacts to the player and its surroundings. If Pikachu is traded to another game, evolved, and traded back, it will no longer follow the player.
Pikachu has many expressions, and some events will trigger some expressions. For example, when it first meets the player, Pikachu is not happy to see the player, and will sometimes turn its back towards them. If the player decides to speak to Pikachu, a small image of Pikachu's current emotion will pop up. The image also shows how much the Pikachu likes the player. Further on in the game, Pikachu will begin to like the player, and smile at them. When Pikachu enters the Pokémon Fan Club, it will fall in love with a Clefairy, changing its expression again. When first going into the Sea Cottage, Bill was experimenting with his cellular teleportation device when he was accidentally turned into a Clefairy, Pikachu will run to him and exchange confused looks. After he is rescued, and transported back to his original self, Pikachu will have a look of shock. Pikachu will also change its expression when it is inflicted with a status condition, such as poison, where Pikachu will feel sick, or under sleep conditions, where Pikachu will be asleep. In Pewter City's Pokémon Center, there is a Jigglypuff that will sing a lullaby if talked to, and Pikachu will fall asleep and not move unless awakened by the player. The center's nurse will also comment on Pikachu's sleep if talked to. When entering the Pokémon Tower, Pikachu will feel scared and shudder fearfully. If the player uses a fishing rod, then checks Pikachu, it will appear with a bucket over its head. Besides showing Pikachu's emotions and friendship, the image can also show several other 'events' such as when Pikachu learns Thunderbolt, where it will shock the player.
If the player character jumps over a ledge and leaves Pikachu above it for a short while, Pikachu will start to dance.
- Main article: Amity Square
Amity Square, located on the north side of Hearthome City in Sinnoh, allows several select Pokémon to follow the player around within its borders. An expansion on the concept introduced in Yellow, Amity Square allows the player's Pokémon to pick up Accessories for Super Contests and Berries, which vary depending on which Pokémon is allowed in.
Only 11 of the 493 Pokémon are allowed into Amity Square in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: Pikachu, Clefairy, Jigglypuff, Psyduck, Torchic, Shroomish, Skitty, Pachirisu, Drifloon, Buneary, and Happiny. These Pokémon typically have some appearance elsewhere in Sinnoh, or are regarded as popular Pokémon in the franchise; most have somewhat of a mascot status due to appearing under the ownership of a main character of the anime.
In Pokémon Platinum, nine additional Pokémon are allowed into Amity Square: the Sinnoh region's starter Pokémon and their evolutions. In addition, Amity Square itself has been redesigned and expanded.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
Walking Pokémon return to their former prominence in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, being able to walk with players throughout the entire game.
Though the fact that the starter Pokémon is the first Pokémon that this is allowed for mimics Pokémon Yellow in a way, unlike Yellow, the starter is not the only one able to follow, and any Pokémon captured by the player can be in this position provided it is the first in the party.
If a walking Pokémon knows a move that can be used on the field, such as Cut or Headbutt, and the correct Badge has been earned (for HM moves), it will be shown to use the move in the overworld when the player comes upon its respective obstacle. When sent into battle, like Red's Pikachu, it will appear from the side rather than from a Poké Ball. Also, when the walking Pokémon faints, the next Pokémon in the party takes its place as the walking Pokémon.
There are few instances wherein the first Pokémon in the party will not follow players. For example, riding a bicycle will send the Pokémon back to its Poké Ball. This will also cause it to be sent out from its Poké Ball when a battle begins, instead of just appearing from the side. Certain locations, such as Blackthorn Gym and the Global Terminal, also prohibit the walking Pokémon from following players. Large Pokémon, such as Wailord, will be sent back to their Poké Balls as well when entering most buildings, as they are too large.
Much like in other games, it is possible to interact with the Pokémon. Checking the Pokémon will cause a small image of its current mood to pop up, as in Yellow. Unlike in Yellow, however, the mood is restricted to the thought bubble above the Pokémon's head. The walking Pokémon will also sometimes interact with the overworld, such as an event Pichu becoming interested in a wild Pichu from the past in Ilex Forest, or an event Arceus allowing players to obtain a member of the creation trio at level 1. Pokémon will additionally do as they did in Amity Square and occasionally pick up items and accessories, though it is unknown what items can be found this way or if these items vary by species. In some cases, the Pokémon will refuse to hand over the item it has picked up, and will remain angry at the player for a while after trying to take it. Certain Pokémon will react in a unique way if spoken to in a certain place. For example, speaking to a Sudowoodo on Route 36 will cause it to imitate a tree. When the player calls Lyra or Ethan, they will give information on which Pokémon will react to the player's current location.
Fire Pokémon are a special case: they react unhappily if they are forced to walk in water on a beach. The game then states that the Pokémon doesn't like to get wet feet.
Sometimes, the walking Pokémon will find a Shiny Leaf, a very rare item, while they walk on certain routes. When it is found by a Pokémon, it will have no apparent presence other than in that Pokémon's status screen. Once five Shiny Leaves are found, Lyra/Ethan will make a Leaf Crown out of the Shiny Leaves, which adds a star on the player's Trainer card.
Certain non-player characters also let their Pokémon follow them around. Marill follows Ethan/Lyra throughout the character's encounters with the player. Lance is accompanied by his Dragonite during his raid on the Team Rocket HQ. Magnus is followed by his faithful Poliwrath during his tour of the Pokéathlon Dome. As a testament to his changed attitudes towards training his partners, Silver's stolen starter Pokémon is let out of its Poké Ball during their training in the Dragon's Den. Notably, like the player's own walking Pokémon, those that are seen being sent into battle are correctly shown entering from the side of the screen rather than emerging from a Poké Ball.
- Main article: Humilau City
In Pokémon Black and White Versions 2, in the northwest of Humilau City, there is a house the player can visit. Inside is a Socialite who has a Mienfoo. She will ask the player to walk her Mienfoo, and if the player accepts, the Mienfoo will follow the player entirely around the building in the manner of a walking Pokémon from the previous generations, possibly to show the mechanic hasn't been forgotten. If the player walks with Mienfoo until it is satisfied, the Socialite will give them a reward, a Pearl. However, if they quit before Mienfoo is satisfied, she will not give them an item and they will be unable to walk Mienfoo until the next day.
In the anime
Several Pokémon walk with their Trainers outside of their Poké Ball in the anime, the most obvious of which is Ash's Pikachu. On Ash's first day as a Trainer, Pikachu adamantly refused to go back into his Poké Ball after being released from it in Professor Oak's lab, and afterward revealed to Ash that he did not like being inside the Ball. Though Ash eventually insisted he go inside for protection as he defended them both from the angry flock of Spearow he encountered, Pikachu still did not, and has not been inside of his, or any, Poké Ball since then, with the exception of Mewtwo Strikes Back, where he was captured by Mewtwo.
Misty's Togepi is another Pokémon in the anime famous for never being recalled to a Poké Ball, and even more notably, having never been seen to be in a Poké Ball at all. Ash found it as an Egg in Grampa Canyon in Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon, and it was cared for by Brock until it was stolen by Team Rocket, subsequently hatching in Misty's arms. It served as a companion to Pikachu throughout the series from its debut until Misty's departure, and was eventually released by Misty in A Togepi Mirage!. Some do not count it as a walking Pokémon due to the fact that it never had any Poké Ball, even though it acted like a captured Pokémon.
Like Pikachu, Dawn's Piplup has also become a walking Pokémon, though he was initially completely fine with staying inside at the beginning of the Diamond & Pearl series, and has not indicated that he has ever had a problem with it, unlike Pikachu. Since Journey To The Unown!, Dawn often carries him around in her arms much like Misty did Togepi. In some episodes, however, Piplup instead rides on either her head or her shoulder.
Iris's Axew is another walking Pokémon, as instead of staying in a Poké Ball he enjoys staying in Iris's hair. It is unknown if Axew has any dislike of a Poké Ball, as the issue of if he even has one has not been raised in the series. It is unknown if he even has a Pokéball because when the Elder first presented him to Iris he was seen in a basket without a Pokéball around it.
Clemont's Dedenne is the newest walking Pokémon to Ash's group, usually appearing in Bonnie's bag.
Several of Team Rocket's Pokémon travel with them out of their Poké Ball. As a running gag, and for comedic effect, Jessie's Wobbuffet emerges from his Poké Ball frequently, without his Trainer's asking, and often at inappropriate times. Wobbuffet is thus something of a fourth team member.
Meowth is the only walking Pokémon in the anime who does not have a trainer.
List of walking Pokémon in the anime
- Most of the recurring walking Pokémon in the anime have not evolved or refuse to do so. The only exceptions are Misty's Togetic and Cameron's Lucario, although Togetic was released soon after evolving. Iris's Axew's dream in Dreams by the Yard Full! revealed that he wants to evolve into his final form.
- It is impossible to face an opposing Trainer with walking Pokémon, because all NPCs with walking Pokémon are either Multi Battle partners or do not battle, and in the communication part of the Pokémon Centers, walking Pokémon are not allowed.