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Released Pokémon are Pokémon that have been caught by a Pokémon Trainer, but are sent back into the wild.
In the core series
In the core series Pokémon games, Pokémon can be released using the Pokémon Storage System. However, a Pokémon cannot be released if it is the only Pokémon in the player's party. Once the Pokémon is released, it is removed from the player's possession and cannot be encountered again.
In Pokémon Yellow, it's not possible to release the starter Pikachu, or any other Pikachu with the same original Trainer and original Trainer ID as the player. If the player tries to release it, Pikachu complains and the attempt fails, but this doesn't affect Pikachu's friendship. Pikachu may still be traded to another game and released there (including a separate Pokémon Yellow game with a different Trainer name and/or ID). If Pikachu is traded to another game, evolves into Raichu and is traded back to its original game, it can be released normally in its original game.
Pikachu may be released normally like any other Pokémon in the Japanese Pokémon Stadium, the English Pokémon Stadium, or Pokémon Stadium 2, connected to Pokémon Yellow via Transfer Pak.
In Generation III and Generation IV, if the player attempts to release a Pokémon that is the only Pokémon in their party or PC that knows a certain HM move, it will immediately return. In Generation III, these moves are Surf and Dive. In Generation IV, they are Surf, Waterfall, and Rock Climb, as well as Fly in HeartGold and SoulSilver.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu and Let's Go, Eevee!
In Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, releasing Pokémon is also called transferring, like in Pokémon GO. A player can transfer up to 30 Pokémon at once to Professor Oak, who will award one stat-specific Candy (of varying sizes) for each Pokémon transferred, each Candy's stat corresponding to what that Pokémon may yield if caught in the wild. For every 50 Pokémon of a common species the player transfers, Professor Oak will award a Candy specific to that Pokémon's species. After every transfer, Professor Oak will tell the player the total number of Pokémon that have been sent over.
The player's starter Pokémon and any party Pokémon cannot be transferred.
In the side series
Pokémon Stadium series
In the Japanese Pokémon Stadium, the English Pokémon Stadium, and Pokémon Stadium 2, there is an option to release Pokémon from the core series games connected via Transfer Pak. The first two Stadium games are only compatible with the Generation I games, while the third game is compatible with both Generation I and Generation II games. It is only possible to release Pokémon if the player has saved the core series game at a Pokémon Center. The player is able to release Pokémon from the party, the Boxes in the core series game, and from the Boxes in the Stadium game cartridge.
- In the Japanese Pokémon Stadium, the player is able to go from the main menu to the "Organize" and then the "Pokémon" screen, where the Release button is a waving hand symbol. When the player presses the Release button, the game displays a list with the party and the boxes. The player is required to select one of these places first, and then choose one or more Pokémon to release.
- In the English Pokémon Stadium, the player is able to go from the main menu to the Pokémon Lab. There is a PC at the lab, with an option "Pokémon". The Pokémon screen includes the Release button, which is a waving hand symbol like in the previous game.
- In Pokémon Stadium 2, the player is able to go from the main menu to the White City and then to the Pokémon Lab. Like in the previous game, there is a PC in the lab, with an option "Pokémon". Unlike in the previous games, this time the Release button is an emoji moving to the side.
In the English Pokémon Stadium, as well as Stadium 2, the player's party is displayed by default at the left side, while the first Box is also available by default at the right side. The player may press the Release button and choose any Pokémon from the party, or alternate between left and right sides by pressing L and R. Alternatively, the player may choose any of the available places (party and Boxes) by using the options "Choose left Box" and "Choose right Box" (English Stadium) or "Check the window contents" (Stadium 2) prior to releasing Pokémon.
In all three Stadium games, once the player attempts to release a Pokémon, the game asks for confirmation. If the player agrees, a "Bye!" sound is heard and the Pokémon is released. Once the player presses B to leave the list of Pokémon, there are three options: "Save and quit", "Quit without saving", and "Cancel". The player is able to undo the act of releasing Pokémon by quitting without saving. However, once the player has released Pokémon and saved, that act is irreversible.
In the Japanese Pokémon Stadium, it's not possible to release the last Pokémon in the party. The act of pressing Release and then selecting the party results in an error message if there's only one Pokémon there. However, in the English Pokémon Stadium and Pokémon Stadium 2, it is possible to release the whole party and then move Pokémon from the Boxes to the party, or alternatively just release all Pokémon from the party and the Boxes. In these last two games, if the party is empty, the act of releasing Pokémon can't be saved—the option "Save and quit" becomes unavailable.
Even though the starter Pikachu from Pokémon Yellow is unable be released in its own game, it can be released normally like any other Pokémon in any of the three games of the Pokémon Stadium series.
In the spin-off games
In Pokémon GO, the player can choose to transfer a Pokémon to Professor Willow. Pokémon transferred to Professor Willow cannot be taken back, equivalent to releasing the Pokémon in the core series games. When a Pokémon is transferred to the professor, the player will also receive a Candy for that Pokémon's species.
Transferring Pokémon to a Nintendo Switch title has basically the same effect on a player's account as transferring to Willow, except 100 XP is also awarded on top of Candy for every transaction.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series
In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, the player can remove Pokémon from their team by saying farewell to them. In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team, this can be done by visiting them in their Friend Area. In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Darkness, and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky, this can be done at the Chimecho Assembly. In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, this can be done at the Quagsire Assembly. In Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, due to the removal of random recruitment, Pokémon cannot be removed once they have connected with the player's team.
In Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team and Explorers of Time, Darkness, and Sky, if Legendary or Mythical Pokémon are said farewell to from their Friend Area or Chimecho Assembly, they will reappear in dungeons again, unless they were recruited as a story event rather than by being defeated.
Pokémon Ranger series
In the Pokémon Ranger series, Pokémon are captured with the Capture Styler and are released automatically when they have performed a task such as aiding the player in battle or using their Field Move, and can be released from the menu.
Pokémon Rumble series
In the Pokémon Rumble series, the world consists of Toy Pokémon and they can be released via the menu for money.
In the anime
The blue coloring indicating release
Throughout the Pokémon anime, a Trainer releases a Pokémon for several reasons. The Trainer may see it as weak, as Damian did with Charmander and Paul with Chimchar. The Pokémon may have to do something that requires it to leave (such as Ash and his Butterfree, as well as Ash and his Pidgeot). Another common reason is that the Pokémon does not listen, frustrating the Trainer, much like when Dawn caught Pachirisu. To guarantee release, some Trainers destroy the Poké Ball, as seen with Jessie and her Dustox.
In Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon, the Ultra Guardians' primary objective is to capture Ultra Beasts that find their way into the Alola so they can be safely be released and sent back where they came from via Ultra Wormholes.
Pokémon released in the anime
In the manga
Various manga touch on the aspect of releasing Pokémon.
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
Pokémon Adventures chapters often culminate in the capture of a Legendary Pokémon, but these are almost always released afterwards, Diamond's Regigigas, nicknamed Reg, and Blake's Keldeo, nicknamed Kelden, being notable exceptions.
Pokémon released in Pokémon Adventures
Team Plasma's ultimate goal has been to convince Trainers to release their Pokémon. In Pokémon Black and White, it is revealed that their leader, Ghetsis, wanted to make himself the only Trainer to own Pokémon in Unova, making him the region's leader almost by default. N, Team Plasma's king, appears frequently to the player to battle them and convince them to release their Pokémon. Each time, he appears with a different team—using the Memory Link in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 confirms that N released his Pokémon after battles with the player, and the player may encounter and catch them again.
Although there were apparently no other instances of anyone releasing their Pokémon in the games, several Trainers are seen releasing their Pokémon whenever Team Plasma holds a speech in Pokémon Adventures. Black himself owns a Pokémon (Galvantula) previously owned by another unseen person, and now uses on his team after he decided to keep him after Team Plasma's first seen speech and he agreed to be with him. White herself also released her company's Tepig, Gigi, although this was against her own will, as it was technically Gigi who left White after she learned about her battle capabilities.