Pokémon (species)

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Several different species of Pokémon

Pokémon (Japanese: ポケットモンスター Pocket Monsters; ポケモン Pokémon for short) are fictional creatures that are central to the Pokémon franchise.


There are currently 1021 known species that inhabit the Pokémon world; however, it is implied that there are more waiting to be discovered. Inherent to them are several fantastic powers not demonstrated by most real animals, such as the manipulation of elements/aspects of life, such as electricity or fire.

While most Pokémon resemble animals and may behave like them, there are many that do not resemble animals at all, taking on other forms such as plants, inanimate objects, machines, human-like forms, or other more enigmatic and exotic appearances. Pokémon inhabit an extremely diverse range of habitats, ranging from the driest deserts to the lushest jungles, the deepest oceans to the highest mountains and everything else in between, even outer space and other dimensions. Pokémon take up various ways of living in those places. However, all can be befriended and made into potential allies and share the ability to shrink down small enough to fit into a Poké Ball.

In the Pokémon world, the word "species" is not used exactly as in real-world biology, where it would refer to a group of organisms that can have fertile offspring (unlike the breeding between different Pokémon species), and a real-life organism would not change between different species. Many Pokémon are able to evolve from or into other Pokémon species, a process that typically makes them larger and stronger, and more closely resembles growth and development or metamorphosis rather than evolution in the real world. Pokémon typically know several techniques that they can use in battle or elsewhere, either to defend themselves or their Trainer, or to perform a task. In the anime, most Pokémon are known only to say their name. In the games, each Pokémon has a distinct voice associated with each species.

In the core series

Several pseudo-legendary Pokémon that are part of an evolutionary chain

Pokémon have been, from the very beginning, spoken of as friends and partners to the humans of the Pokémon world, helping them with various tasks from constructing buildings to exploration. Many people in the Pokémon world take Pokémon with them on a journey to gather Badges and compete in the various Pokémon Leagues as Trainers, using them in battles against Pokémon both owned by other Trainers and found in the wild. In the Alola region, Pokémon and Trainers instead take on trials in the island challenge on their journey. In addition, there are many different tournaments in which Trainers can compete together with their Pokémon, such as Pokémon Contests and the Pokéathlon.

Across the nine generations of games, Pokémon are typically found in one of five manners: encountering them in tall grass, finding them in caves or ruins, going fishing for them, surfing on water, or trading with an NPC. These are often joined by several more ways in which to encounter Pokémon, such as headbutting trees, obtaining and hatching Eggs, or using the Poké Radar.


In the games, Pokémon are no more than fragments of data, identifying certain characteristics inherent to them. As the games have progressed, more data is added to each Pokémon, typically to reference new features introduced in games of the new generation.

The methodology for construction of Pokémon data changes across generations. For the different constructions, see the data structure explanations for:

In the spin-off games

Play It! series

In Pokémon Play It! and Pokémon Play It! Version 2, it is possible to play the Trading Card Game rather than train Pokémon. However, at some point Julie sees a Beedrill flying off-camera and its cry is heard, which is an indication that actual Pokémon exist in this universe.[1]

In the anime

In the anime, Pokémon are shown to be creatures with distinctively more anthropomorphic qualities than real-world animals, with several even able to speak. Some Pokémon have the ability to speak the dubbing language instead of their own names, such as Meowth of Team Rocket. They also seem to be able to mostly understand human language, while most humans cannot understand Pokémon speech, although there are a few who claim they can. Most species speak only one word: their own name, e.g. Pikachu saying "Pika! Pikachu!" and so forth, though some Pokémon only grunt or roar, such as Charizard.

The anime takes a clear stance of right and wrong on the use of Pokémon: Trainers such as Ash are shown to treat their Pokémon with respect, as partners and friends, while evil organizations like Team Rocket are shown to use Pokémon as mere tools, keeping them in cages, making them fight to exhaustion—a stark contrast to Ash and his Pikachu, who he treats as his best friend and keeps on his shoulder, rather than in a Poké Ball, because of its own preference.


The anime has given a more in-depth history of human interaction with Pokémon than is given by the games: In The Birth of Mewtwo radio drama, it is implied that Pokémon came into the world after the human species did. Poké Balls have not existed forever, and are in reality an apparently recent development, with one owned by a young Professor Oak being shown to be vastly different than ones used in modern times.

Prior to the invention and mass-production of Poké Balls, people tended to use hollowed-out Apricorns, native to the Johto region, to catch Pokémon, while even further back, Pokémon were not known as "Pokémon" at all, but as "magical creatures" (Japanese: 魔獣 majuu). In these times, many Pokémon were apparently feared because of their powers, sometimes so great that the most powerful of these monsters passed into legend and were often seen as deities in their own right.

Interestingly, Ash and his friends, through their interaction with history in Arceus and the Jewel of Life, seemingly invented the term "Pokémon" to refer to these creatures. This, however, creates a bootstrap paradox, as their knowledge and use of the word comes only from its wide use in their future time. What may remain true is that the term came into practice elsewhere on its own.

The guidebook Pocket Monsters: The Animation gave a bit more detail on the Pokémon. Specifically, they were rumored to have been created by God on the seventh day of creation as "doodles", and since they were created on holiday, they were commanded to neither rule over nor be ruled by humanity. It also inferred that they had some relation to merpeople and dragon myths, and that their species was discovered by a French nobleman named Count Tajirin (a subtle reference to franchise creator Satoshi Tajiri) during the 18th century.

In the novels

Pocket Monsters: The Animation

Main article: Pokémon world (PMTA) → Pokémon and animals

In Pocket Monsters: The Animation, it is said that Pokémon and animals may be related to each other. As an example, it is said that cats and lions are related by evolution, and that Meowth may be related to cats as well.

In 1925, the technology to store Pokémon in small objects such as Poké Balls or capsules was invented by Professor Nishinomori. The name "Pokémon" was introduced after this invention, as it was not possible to store them in pockets before. However, it is not know what Pokémon were called before this word was coined.


  1. From the lesson "What's a Pokémon?", found in both Pokémon Play It! and Pokémon Play It! Version 2.

See also

Pokémon individuality
LevelStatsFriendshipGenderAbility (Hidden Ability) • NatureCharacteristic
Effort valuesIndividual valuesGo PowerEffort level

Nature: PokémonHumansAnimalsFlora
History: GamesAnimeAdventures
Culture: MagazinesMoviesRadioTelevision (Sinnoh)
Transportation (LandAirWater) • Weaponry
Mortality: IllnessDeathGhosts
Pokémon world templates

Project Pokédex logo.png This Pokémon article is part of Project Pokédex, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each Pokémon as a species.