Differences between the Pokémon games and anime

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The Pokémon anime often differs from the Pokémon games. While the games tend to dictate the venues and main events that occur within the anime, and tend to correspond on basic information, there are many noticeable differences or contradictions that can be seen between the two media.

Most notable differences


Pokémon differ in various ways between the games and anime. Pokémon with different colors from their normal or Shiny ones appear, though Pokémon with the official Shiny colors do appear as well. Additionally, the cries of Pokémon in the core series games differ significantly from the cries in the anime. An exception is Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow and from Generation VI to Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, as well as Eevee in Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! and in Generation VIII, both of which actually say their names when interacted with or when called into battle. Both Pokémon, as well as Meowth, also have unique cries for their Gigantamax forms.

Multiples of various species of Legendary and Mythical Pokémon are sighted throughout the series. In the games, usually only one can be found per game, though it is implied that more exist. Legendary and Mythical Pokémon are also able to breed in the anime, contrary to the core series games.

The Pokédex can show the data of any Pokémon in the anime without needing it to be caught first.

Pokémon Eggs have a different appearance depending on the Pokémon species that is inside of the Egg, although in Pokémon Journeys: The Series, the design is more standardized to match the appearance of Eggs in the games, with only the color of the spots differing between species.


Pokémon have the right to decide if they want to evolve, and can choose if they don't want to evolve. However, in the games, the Pokémon only evolves if and when the player wants it to and the requirements have been met. Notable examples are Ash's Pikachu and Bulbasaur, Meowth of Team Rocket, and Dawn's Piplup. The exceptions are Pokémon Yellow and Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, where the Pokémon the player receives from Oak (the player's Pikachu or partner Pokémon, respectively) refuses to evolve.

In the games, evolutionary methods revolving around leveling up usually occur after a battle, while in the anime these kinds of evolution can occur during a battle or a serious situation. One example is when Ash's Chikorita evolved into Bayleef to protect him from Team Rocket.

Battling and moves

Battle dynamics and rules

In the anime, Pokémon battles take place in real-time as opposed to being turn-based. This means that Pokémon Trainers are not forced to wait for the other Pokémon to make a move. However, most Trainers usually wait for the opponent to finish issuing commands. Additionally, Trainers (particularly Ash) often use improvised moves and techniques that are not possible in the games. For example, moves can be used together to make a totally new move, or a move can be rendered harmless in an unorthodox way, such as in Sky High Gym Battle!, when Winona's Pelipper used Steel Wing to attract Ash's Pikachu's electricity and divert it into the ground to render it useless. Trainers can also order their Pokémon to dodge attacks, regardless of the accuracy of that move in the games, though starting from Generation VI, Pokémon with high affection can occasionally dodge moves that would usually hit. Furthermore, moves that normally cannot miss in the games, such as Swift, Shock Wave, and Aerial Ace, can still occasionally miss in the anime.

All official Pokémon Trainer battles in the anime have a judge, who sets the rules and referees the battle, and is able to declare when a Pokémon is unable to battle, which would eliminate that Pokémon from the match. In the games, however, aside from a battle facility match, any Pokémon that has fainted can be revived and used again in battle as long as the Trainer has at least one Pokémon left.


Some Pokémon that have been recently captured or evolved disobey their Trainer until that Trainer is able to find a way to get through to them, with the prime example being Ash's Charizard. In the games, only traded Pokémon disobey their Trainer until Badges that can neutralize this problem are acquired.

Move mechanics

Pokémon can have more than four moves in the anime, and are not required to forget an old move in order to learn a new one (although some of the moves a Pokémon is shown using when first introduced will generally fall into disuse as the Pokémon learns more powerful moves as the series continues). Later series are usually more likely to have Pokémon stick to the four-move limit, however.

Additionally, the concept of physical and special moves is rarely mentioned in the anime.

PP also does not seem to exist in the anime. However, like people, Pokémon can be worn out from constant battling and eventually collapse from exhaustion. Although, in the games, a Pokémon that runs out of PP in every move can faint from the recoil damage of Struggle.

TMs do not seem to exist either. Instead, TM-exclusive moves must be taught to the Pokémon over a period of time. Additionally, HM moves are shown as regular moves; they are not used as tools for certain situations like in the games. Instead, Pokémon's natural abilities or moves can be used to similar effect, such as characters riding on the back of Lapras to cross bodies of water akin to Surf, or using moves such as Vine Whip to cut down trees or vines like the move Cut.

Furthermore, Egg Moves, which a Pokémon knows upon hatching in the games, are able to be picked up naturally as the Pokémon grows (one example being Ash's Pikachu learning Volt Tackle 424 episodes after its first appearance).

Move errors and discrepancies

Pokémon can sometimes use a move that normally would not affect the target in the games, notably with Pikachu, who has been able to affect Ground-types with Electric attacks, which it cannot do in the games.

Dustox cannot learn Stun Spore in the games

Occasionally, the anime also shows Pokémon using moves they cannot learn in the games. However, some of these cases may be attributed to a translation error or a misinterpretation. Examples include Ash telling Pikachu to use "electric attack" when he could just mean to use an electric attack, or Pokémon using basic attacks like Tackle or Headbutt simply because they are just basic attacks.

There have also been cases where move or status mechanics have been ignored or altered in the anime that contradicts the games. One example of this is Volt Tackle causing recoil damage when blocked with Protect instead of being caused from a small amount based on the damage inflicted. Another example is Toxic Spikes poisoning Ash's Pokémon when they touched the ground instead of when they were switched out. This affected his Staraptor and Gliscor, which would be immune to the move in the games due to being Flying types. However, the anime sometimes contradicts its own rules. For example, when Ash asks his Aipom to dodge and counter with Focus Punch when it's been explained before that the Pokémon needs to concentrate a moment without being disturbed to be able to use the attack.

Move effects differ as well. For example, Will-O-Wisp acts more like Ember and does direct damage, whereas in the games it only inflicts a burn. Confusion and Psychic deal direct damage in the game but in the anime it has a psychokinesis-like effect, able to move the target to the user's will. Hypnosis puts a Pokémon to sleep in game, but in the anime, while it can be used to inflict sleep, it also has effects similar to the alleged effects of real-life hypnosis - putting the target into a trance or suggestible state.

Pokémon League

In the anime, there can be more than the eight usual Gyms in each region. However, Ash only ever faces the ones from the games, with the others challenged by his rivals.

Official Gym and League battles also set limits on how many Pokémon a Trainer can use to fight with, whereas in the games, only facilities like the Battle Tower set limits.

All Trainers who collect at least eight Badges compete in a Pokémon League Conference. In the games, only Trainers who manage to collect all the specific regional Badges are qualified to challenge the Elite Four and the current Champion. In the anime, Trainers may directly challenge the current Champion without additional requirements, as seen with several of Cynthia's battles.


Contests are different between the games and anime

In the anime, Pokémon Contest rounds work very differently. In the first one, called the Performance Stage, Coordinators display an array of moves and skills to showcase their Pokémon, while in the games, the player simply presents their Pokémon so its condition can be evaluated. The second round is different as well. In the anime, contestants face each other in a Contest Battle, while in the games all the participants take turns showing off one move at a time.


Locations are not all the same between the anime and the games. Multiple locations are added to regions to carry out plots in the anime, and in addition to the core series regions, there are two regions exclusive to the anime: the Orange Archipelago and the Decolore Islands.

Some towns and other locations are also depicted differently in the anime compared to the games. For example, the Whirl Islands are shown to be populated, but in the games they are just a series of caves. Littleroot Town is shown to be a coastal town, while in the games it is surrounded by woodland on all sides. Additionally, Ultra Ruin in the anime is an alternate dimension of Alola, rather than a part of Ultra Space.

See also

Project Anime logo.png This article is part of both Project Anime and Project Games, Bulbapedia projects that, together, aim to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon Anime and Games, respectively. Project Games logo.png