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If you were looking for the set in Pokémon Trading Card Game, see Evolution (GB1).
Ivysaur evolving into Venusaur, depicted in Pokémon Black and White

Evolution (Japanese: 進化 shinka) is a process in which a Pokémon changes into a different species of 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 shininess, are preserved. In the real world, it is more similar to metamorphosis than evolution.

Professor Elm and Professor Rowan are the leading experts in Pokémon Evolution. According to the latter's research, over 90% of all Pokémon are connected to at least one other through Evolution. Rowan is currently investigating whether Evolution is a form of maturity in Pokémon, and looking at the implications this process has on Legendary Pokémon, which don't evolve.

Evolution families

An evolution family is a group of Pokémon who will all, if bred with Ditto or a Pokémon in the same Egg Group, 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 ultimately be able to follow only one evolutionary path.

Stages of evolution

Piplup evolution family in the anime

Pokémon can be divided into different evolutionary stages, based on where they appear 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 consider it to be more on par with Pokémon like Charmeleon, though its TCG classification remains 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 core series are a part of (excluding the starter Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow, as Pichu did not yet exist and it could not be evolved into Raichu; and Eevee, which could only be taken by Blue), as well as all pseudo-legendary Pokémon. An example of this type of evolution family is below.

Lowest Trigger

Level 30
Middle Trigger

Level 55

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

Level 20

Pokémon that do not evolve

Main article: List of Pokémon that are not part of an evolutionary line

The least common type of evolution family 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 relatives are Legendary Pokémon. However, there are still 61 other Pokémon that do not evolve. Below is a list of all non-Legendary Pokémon that do not evolve (Phione isn't included due to its status as a Legendary being disputed).

Gen I Gen II Gen III Gen IV Gen V Gen VI
Farfetch'd Farfetch'd Unown Unown Sableye Sableye Pachirisu Pachirisu Audino Audino Furfrou Furfrou
Kangaskhan Kangaskhan Girafarig Girafarig Mawile Mawile Chatot Chatot Throh Throh Hawlucha Hawlucha
Pinsir Pinsir Dunsparce Dunsparce Plusle Plusle Spiritomb Spiritomb Sawk Sawk Dedenne Dedenne
Tauros Tauros Qwilfish Qwilfish Minun Minun Carnivine Carnivine Basculin Basculin Carbink Carbink
Lapras Lapras Shuckle Shuckle Volbeat Volbeat Rotom Rotom Maractus Maractus Klefki Klefki
Ditto Ditto Heracross Heracross Illumise Illumise Sigilyph Sigilyph
Aerodactyl Aerodactyl Corsola Corsola Torkoal Torkoal   Emolga Emolga
  Delibird Delibird Spinda Spinda Alomomola Alomomola
Skarmory Skarmory Zangoose Zangoose Cryogonal Cryogonal
Stantler Stantler Seviper Seviper Stunfisk Stunfisk
Smeargle Smeargle Lunatone Lunatone Druddigon Druddigon
Miltank Miltank Solrock Solrock Bouffalant Bouffalant
  Castform Castform Heatmor Heatmor
Kecleon Kecleon Durant Durant
Tropius Tropius
Absol Absol
Relicanth Relicanth
Luvdisc Luvdisc

Not belonging to an evolutionary family is not indicative of strength, or a lack thereof. Some Pokémon, such as Heracross and Skarmory, are comparable to fully evolved Pokémon while others, like Delibird and Luvdisc, 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 eight different ways depending on the method used. An example of this type of evolution family is below.

Lowest Trigger

Level 25
Middle Trigger

Water Stone


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 can evolve 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
Oddish Oddish Vileplume Vileplume Grass Poison Defense is 85, Special Attack is 110, Special Defense is 90
Bellossom Bellossom Grass Defense is 95, Special Attack is 90, Special Defense is 100
Poliwag Poliwag Poliwrath Poliwrath Water Fighting Defense is 20 higher, Attack is 20 higher
Politoed Politoed Water Special Attack is 20 higher, Special Defense is 10 higher
Slowpoke Slowpoke Slowbro Slowbro Water Psychic Defense is 110, Special Defense is 80
Slowking Slowking Water Psychic Special Defense is 110, Defense is 80
Eevee Eevee Vaporeon Vaporeon Water Highest stat is HP
Jolteon Jolteon Electric Highest stat is Speed
Flareon Flareon Fire Highest stat is Attack
Espeon Espeon Psychic Highest stat is Special Attack, tied with Glaceon
Umbreon Umbreon Dark Highest stat is Special Defense, tied with Sylveon
Leafeon Leafeon Grass Highest stat is Defense
Glaceon Glaceon Ice Highest stat is Special Attack, tied with Espeon
Sylveon Sylveon Fairy Highest stat is Special Defense, tied with Umbreon
Tyrogue Tyrogue Hitmonlee Hitmonlee Fighting Attack is 120, Defense is 52, Speed is 87
Hitmonchan Hitmonchan Fighting Attack is 105, Defense is 79, Speed is 76
Hitmontop Hitmontop Fighting Attack is 95, Defense is 95, Speed is 70
Wurmple Wurmple Beautifly Beautifly Bug Flying Attack and Special Attack higher than Defense and Special Defense
Dustox Dustox Bug Poison Defense and Special Defense higher than Attack and Special Attack
Ralts Ralts Gardevoir Gardevoir Psychic Fairy Special Attack is 125, Attack is 65
Gallade Gallade Psychic Fighting Attack is 125, Special Attack is 65
Snorunt Snorunt Glalie Glalie Ice All stats are 80
Froslass Froslass Ice Ghost HP, Defense, Special Defense each 10 lower, Speed 30 higher
Clamperl Clamperl Huntail Huntail Water Attack is 104, Special Attack is 94
Gorebyss Gorebyss Water Attack is 84, Special Attack is 114
Burmy Wormadam Wormadam Bug Grass Special Attack and Special Defense higher by 10
Wormadam Wormadam Bug Ground Attack and Defense higher by 10
Wormadam Wormadam Bug Steel Equal special and physical stats
Mothim 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, and some Pokémon have a unique evolution method. The most common of them is Evolution by leveling up at or above a certain level. Other methods include the following:

  • leveling up when friendship has reached a high level
  • leveling up while holding an item
  • leveling up while knowing a certain move or a move of a certain type.
  • leveling up in a certain location
  • trading the Pokémon
  • trading the Pokémon while holding an item
  • trading the Pokémon for specific Pokémon
  • using an evolutionary stone on it.
  • leveling up with a certain Pokémon or Pokémon of a certain type in the party.

Additionally, holding an Everstone prevents a Pokémon from evolving, as well as surprising a Pokémon via the B Button. The latter method is known as "Evolution cancellation".

Pokémon that get knocked out during a battle will evolve at the end of that battle if its requirements have been met. However, before Generation VI, losing a battle would make Pokémon not evolve even if the conditions have been met.

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

Some Pokémon have different evolutions depending on their gender. For example, only female Combee can evolve into Vespiquen; male Combee cannot evolve at all. Meanwhile, Snorunt can evolve into Glalie, but females ones have the option of evolving into Froslass instead. This instance occurs in a similar way with Kirlia, albeit with males having split evolution instead.

Also, there have been situations in which the current party must be configured in a specific manner for some Pokémon to evolve. So far, only three Pokémon need to have these special requirements. Mantyke will evolve into Mantine if leveled up with a Remoraid in the player's party. Nincada will evolve into Ninjask when it reaches level 20. However, if there happens to be an empty space in the player's party (and a spare Poké Ball in Generation IV onward), a Shedinja will also appear in the party. Pancham evolves into Pangoro if its level is 32 or higher and there is a Dark-type Pokémon in the player's party.

Some Pokémon evolve in other unique ways. If one trades a Karrablast for a Shelmet, they will evolve into Escavalier and Accelgor, respectively, though neither will evolve if one of them holds an Everstone. When Inkay reaches level 30, the player must hold the 3DS upside-down for it to evolve into Malamar. Also introduced was a weather-based evolution: Sliggoo will evolve into Goodra beginning at level 50 only if it is raining in the area that the player is in. Finally, Sylveon can only be obtained be leveling up an Eevee that knows any Fairy-type moves and has at least two hearts of affection in Pokémon-Amie.

In the anime

Evolution in the Best Wishes series

In the anime, Evolution happens in much the same way as it does in the games; though level-based evolutions and 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 (It should be noted that Poliwhirl had been through a machine in connection with it being healed at the Pokémon Center, while holding the item). When a Beedrill attacked Ash's Metapod, it caused a crack to appear on its shell, which Butterfree came out of.

Additionally, a difference can be seen in the fact that Pokémon evolve during a battle, as opposed to after it. 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. This is because real life evolution happens to a population rather than to individuals, and happens over much larger time scales than in the Pokémon world. In the Pokémon Adventures manga, it is mentioned that Pokémon Evolution is an entirely separate phenomenon from the normal process of evolution, and is a mysterious ability exclusive to Pokémon that is still not fully understood.

However, this does not necessarily mean that evolution in real-world terms does not exist in the Pokémon world; the existence of "extinct" Pokémon backs this up, or also in the alternately colored Pokémon of the Orange Archipelago; Magikarp is apparently much weaker than its prehistoric ancestors, showing a genetic change in the Magikarp population.


In other languages

Language Title
Chinese Cantonese 進化 Jeunfa
Mandarin 進化 / 进化 Jìnhuà
Denmark Flag.png Danish Udvikling
Finland Flag.png Finnish Evoluutio
French Canada Flag.png Canada Évolution
France Flag.png Europe Évolution
Germany Flag.png German Entwicklung
Indonesia Flag.png Indonesian Evolusi
Italy Flag.png Italian Evoluzione
South Korea Flag.png Korean 진화 Jinhwa
Poland Flag.png Polish Ewolucja
Portugal Flag.png European Portuguese Evolução
Spanish CELAC Flag.png Latin America Evolución
Spain Flag.png Spain Evolución
Sweden Flag.png Swedish Utveckling
Vietnam Flag.png Vietnamese Tiến Hóa

See also

Pokémon training