Pokémon (species)

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The first 721 different species in a promotion for the franchise's 20th anniversary

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. Many new species of Pokémon are often introduced simultaneously with the promotion and release of new games.


In the Pokémon world, the word "species" is not used exactly the same 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. A Pokémon can change species by means of evolution, which more closely resembles growth and development or metamorphosis rather than evolution in the real world.

Each species has a name starting with a capital letter, such as "Pikachu". The species name is also often used in the singular form referring collectively to members of that species, such as "Pikachu is an Electric-type Pokémon". The plural form of the species is the same as the singular, such as "two Pikachu". In some early Pokémon media, certain incorrect plurals such as "Digletts" were occasionally used.

An individual Pokémon is usually known by its species name as well, such as "Pikachu used Thunder Shock". However, some individual Pokémon have nicknames instead.

In Japanese, the names of Pokémon species are written in katakana, and they also have official romanizations. For instance: Onix (Japanese: イワーク Iwark).


There are currently 1025 known Pokémon species that inhabit the Pokémon world. They take on many shapes and sizes, resembling animals and living creatures in the real world. However, they possess several fantastic powers not demonstrated by most real animals, including the manipulation of aspects of the material world, such as electricity or fire, each having their own type and categories. It is implied that there are more Pokémon always waiting to be discovered beyond the current count.

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. There are many uses to spending time with Pokémon; some people take them in as pets, some study them, but all Pokémon can be befriended and made into potential allies. A common symbol of partnership between human and Pokémon is often met by putting the creature into a Poké Ball, in which all share the ability to shrink down small enough to fit into. Many people who raise Pokémon are called Pokémon Trainers, people who dedicate their lives to Pokémon, participating in multiple activities involving the species. Not all Pokémon Trainers are seen as kind towards these creatures, and many villainous organizations seek to use Pokémon in malicious ways.

Many Pokémon are able to evolve from or into other Pokémon species, a process that typically makes them larger and stronger. Evolution can be seen as a form of maturity in certain species, but not all. In some cases, this process can be reverted by devolution. Most Pokémon by nature are known to compete in Pokémon battles. These battles may be for sport among human-owned Pokémon or for survival and protection between wild Pokémon. In these battles, Pokémon use techniques called moves, that they can use within the fight or elsewhere, either to defend themselves or their Trainer, or to perform a task. Beyond their normal typed attributes and moves, many Pokémon posses other traits that can be triggered or used passively. These traits are called Abilities, which a Pokémon may activate once certain conditions are met. Another function some Pokémon may have, similar to that of evolution, is a change in appearances called a form. Some Pokémon may be able to change their form, while some may have one as a distinction between others of the same species. In the games, each Pokémon has a distinct voice associated with each individual species or form known as a cry, while in the anime, most Pokémon are known only to say their name.

There are many forms of food that Pokémon may eat, including one another as prey. However, Pokémon Trainers may offer different types of treats and natural items such as Berries to their Pokémon. Additionally, many plant-like Pokémon and Heliolisk are able to photosynthesize. Many Pokémon are known to reproduce by producing Eggs, though it is unknown how these eggs are formed or where they come from. There are also many man-made and human-influenced Pokémon that have been created by other means, such as Mewtwo, Porygon, or Trubbish. There are multiple categories and variations that Pokémon may fall under as well, which describe certain groups and relationships Pokémon may have with each other. Some examples include Legendary Pokémon, Mythical Pokémon, Paradox Pokémon, Ultra Beasts, and Fossil Pokémon. Pokémon who have artifically had the doors to their hearts shut are known as Shadow Pokémon.

In the core series games

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

Pokémon have been, from the very beginning of the franchise, are 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 found in multiple ways including: encountering them in tall grass or out in the open, finding them in caves or ruins, going fishing for them, surfing on water, using field moves or items on certain objects, gifted by an NPC or traded with an NPC or another player. These are often joined by several more ways in which to encounter Pokémon, such as: obtaining and hatching Eggs, using the Poké Radar, participating in Raid Battles, being ambushed, or attracting them with Lures, Sweet Scent or Honey. Multiple games allow for the player to encounter multiple Pokémon at once through double battles or in horde encounters, while some may be called upon by another in SOS Battles.


Pokémon have existed since ancient times. It's said that Arceus, is known to be the first Pokémon in existence, while Mew is known to be a common ancestor among all naturally born Pokémon. Pokémon in the dinosauric past have since fossilized and gone extinct, but many can still be revived in the modern day.

Along time ago, according to myths found in the Sinnoh region, Pokémon were once considered to be the same as people, being respected and ate food at the same table. Beyond this however, there also became a time where Pokémon and humans were considered vastly different and lived separate lives. As shown in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the Sinnoh region, originally named Hisui, Pokémon were feared as monsters and villages were often built to hide and defend from Pokémon. Despite this, some cultures saw Pokémon as friends and partners and would live with Pokémon, including within the Diamond and Pearl Clans or in other regions such as Alola. At this time, other regions, such as Kanto have also found ways to tame wild Pokémon.

Many civilizations built religion and cultures based on beliefs around Pokémon, framing some as all-powerful gods and deities, other seen as sacred and noble. Many times, these Pokémon are Legendary or Mythical. The people of Hisui, the Celestica people, worshiped a god known as "Almighty Sinnoh", a Pokémon named Arceus who they believed had created everything, as well as Dialga and Palkia who they believed controlled time and space respectively. The Draconid people in Hoenn worshiped a Pokémon known as Rayquaza, referred to as the Dragon Lord, after it had saved the world from the destruction of the world caused by Primal Groudon and Kyogre. In Alola, and still done in the modern day, festivals and parties are given out to the guardian deities, four Pokémon who are known to protect the island that they inhabit. While typically these praised Pokémon are Legendary or Mythical Pokémon, many are not—including noble and Totem Pokémon, who still actively take part in a region's culture and identity. Normal everyday Pokémon such as Bronzor have also historically been considered sacred.

As more research has developed on Pokémon, people eventually began to trust them and work along side them. A Pokémon Trainer is a common position for humans, who seek to train Pokémon and better understand them, being a primary focus of the core-series. A Pokédex is often used to record information on Pokémon, giving the owner better understanding of a Pokémon's ecology. Pokémon are also still used in fields beyond just training and studying, they can be seen as a use of travel in the form of Ride Pokémon, or as form of help by clearing trees or solving puzzles by using field moves.

Many games also focus on the origins many Pokémon may have and where they come from.


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.