Variant Pokémon

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Artwork of Pichu variants (a different form and a Shiny Pichu)

Variant Pokémon are Pokémon who vary in their appearance compared to other Pokémon of the same species. This is often due to gender, diet, special genetic traits or environmental factors such as climate. Certain symbiotic relationships may also play a role in this. Depending on the species, the altered appearance may be purely cosmetic or it may affect how they perform in battles.

While many variances are caused by natural processes, they sometimes can be artificially invoked as well. This may be achieved through the use of physical modifications or behavioral conditioning, or contact with certain items and radiation.

Multiple species

Form differences

Main article: List of Pokémon with form differences

Form differences are major variations that are officially recognized by the Pokédex.

Shiny Pokémon

Main article: Shiny Pokémon

Shiny Pokémon are Pokémon with an alternate coloration. They are extremely rare. These Pokémon all have a shining animation at the beginning of the battle when they are sent out or encountered.

Shadow Pokémon

Main article: Shadow Pokémon

Shadow Pokémon are Pokémon that have had the door to their heart shut artificially by Cipher. They are the only Pokémon capable of using Shadow moves.

Gender differences

Main article: List of Pokémon with gender differences‎

From Generation IV onward, there are many Pokémon that appear differently as a result of their gender.

Of these, Unfezant, Frillish, Jellicent, Pyroar, Meowstic, Indeedee, and Basculegion differ so drastically that they even have separate menu sprites and artworks.

Regional forms

Main article: Regional form

In Generation VII, regional forms made their debut with Alola Form Pokémon. Regional forms are Pokémon that have adapted uniquely to a habitat different than their species normally occupies in the rest of the world. This results in many differences, such as different appearances, types, and Abilities.

Giant Pokémon

Main article: Giant Pokémon

Giant Pokémon are Pokémon that are much larger than usual.

Ancient giant Pokémon

Several ancient giant Pokémon appeared in The Ancient Puzzle of Pokémopolis. They were Gengar, Alakazam, and Jigglypuff. These Pokémon were all covered in tattoo-like marks.

Gengar emerged from a black dumbbell-like artifact, Alakazam emerged from a spoon-like artifact, and Jigglypuff emerged from an ancient bell.

Cloned Pokémon

Main article: Cloning

Cloned Pokémon are Pokémon that have been artificially duplicated from another specimen. This process works on both living and fossilized specimens. Many of these clones are not identical to their original specimen: Mewtwo, Bulbasaurtwo, Charmandertwo, Squirtletwo, Pikachutwo, Venusaurtwo, Charizardtwo, Blastoisetwo, and Meowthtwo all display this.

Other known cloned Pokémon are Psyduck, Seadra, Tentacruel, Pidgeot, Scyther, Hitmonlee, Dewgong, Sandslash, Vaporeon, Golduck, Nidoqueen, Ninetales, Vulpix, Vileplume, Wigglytuff, Rapidash, and Rhyhorn.

Mirage Pokémon

Main article: Mirage Pokémon

Mirage Pokémon are holographic Pokémon created by Dr. Yung. They have only appeared in The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon.

Toy Pokémon

Main article: Toy Pokémon

Toy Pokémon are Pokémon toys given self-awareness by Wonder Keys that appear in the Pokémon Rumble series. They are different to normal Pokémon in many ways; for example, they can only know two moves at a time.

Rusty Pokémon

Main article: Rusty Pokémon

Over time Toy Pokémon rust, causing them to become Rusty Pokémon. Dark Rust can instantaneously rust Toy Pokémon. Rusty Pokémon can be restored using Glowdrops or the Rust Removal Spot.

Valencian Pokémon

In the episode Poké Ball Peril, a number of alternately colored Pokémon were seen on Valencia Island, including Butterfree, Raticate, Nidoran♂, Nidoran♀, Vileplume, Paras, and Weepinbell.

Pink Pokémon

In the episode In The Pink, all of the Pokémon native to Pinkan Island were shown to be colored pink, due to their diet of Pinkan Berries. Pink Pokémon seen on the island include Caterpie, Weedle, Pidgey, Rattata, Pikachu, Nidoran♀, Nidoran♂, Nidoking, Vileplume, Paras, Parasect, Venonat, Diglett, Mankey, Primeape, Bellsprout, Dodrio, Exeggutor, Rhyhorn and Rhydon.

Ash's Pikachu turned partially pink while eating Pinkan Berries.

Further pink Pokémon seen during Team Rocket's fantasy include Pidgeotto, Arbok, Oddish, Poliwhirl, Geodude, Weezing, Scyther and Electabuzz.

Totem Pokémon

Main article: Totem Pokémon

Totem Pokémon are wild Pokémon that serve as the final hurdle in all trials of the island challenge. They are larger and heavier than other Pokémon of the same species. At the start of battle, the Totem Pokémon is enveloped in a special aura which boosts its stats.

Individual species


Several of Arbok's Pokédex entries state that there a number of variations of its face-like hood markings that differ between areas. Its Pokémon Yellow Pokédex entry mentions that there are six known patterns, but by the events of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, its Ultra Sun Pokédex entry mentions that there are known to be more than 20. Eight designs are known, but only four have appeared in the games, and only three of which appeared in main series games. In Pokémon Adventures, Arbok gains a special ability depending on its pattern.

The most common hood pattern has red, teardrop-shaped eyes outlined in black with yellow, elongated hearts inside, a black mouth, and a black arrow over the eyes, with two red dots near the tip and an upward-extending tail. This design appeared in the Generation I games and all games outside of Pokémon Emerald from Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen onward, the anime, the manga (except Agatha's Arbok in Pokémon Adventures), most TCG art, the FireRed and LeafGreen official art, Dream World art, and anime art. In the Pokémon Adventures manga, this is the "regenerative pattern" and is present on Koga's Arbok. These Arbok have a forked tongue and many fangs.

Arbok also has several hood variations with round eyes and a red mouth outlined in black. The most common variation of this has two black fangs descending onto its mouth, black eyebrows, and outward-pointing eyelashes. This design first appeared in the official Pokémon Red and Green artwork, and has also appeared in the Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald sprites, the TCG cards Arbok from Fossil, Arbok from Expedition, and Janine's Arbok from the VS set. These Arbok have a pointed tongue and four fangs.

Another hood variation with round eyes appeared in Gold, Silver, and Crystal. This pattern has no fangs or eyebrows, and its eyelashes point upward. It has also appeared in Pokémon Pinball and on the Arbok Coin in Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR!. These Arbok have a forked tongue and four fangs.

The final round-eye variation only appeared in Pokémon Ranger. This design has no eyelashes or fangs. A Y-shaped mark branches over each eye and connects to the middle to the mouth. The branches each have smaller, Y-shaped ends, between each of which resides a small black dot.

Illustrations shown in the 1996 book Pocket Monsters Encyclopedia show three other hood designs, which were later used in the Pokémon Adventures manga, in which Agatha's Arbok can change its markings to alter its powers. These are the speed, attack, and invulnerability patterns. These hoods was also used in Japanese episode's Prof. Oak's Pokémon Lecture: Arbok.

An evil-looking pattern was created by Mitsuhiro Arita solely for the TCG. Each red eye has a black mark in the center and flared outsides, and shares a combined yellow border. Its mouth represents a grin with eleven pointed, red teeth outlined in black. It is featured in the card Dark Arbok from the Team Rocket set.


Main article: Pikachu variants

Almost every Pokémon medium has featured a different Pikachu variant, most notably Surfing and Flying Pikachu.


Several of Vulpix's Pokédex entries mention that newborn Vulpix only have a single white-colored tail. The tail then splits into six orange-colored tails as it matures, and eventually splits from their tips to increase in number even more.

Enta's Vulpix only has one tail in its debut in Enta Arrives at the Battle Frontier!. In the same chapter, its tails split into six.


Shellder can be either a bivalve shell or a spiral-shaped shell, depending on whether or not it is attached to a Slowpoke. Though impossible in the games, multiple Pokédex entries state that a Shellder can be detached from the Slowbro (making it devolve into a Slowpoke) or Slowking (making it lose its memory) it is attached to. This gives them a few more characteristics of Shellder variants than actual evolutions. However, because the Shellder is attached to and evolves with the Slowpoke, after evolution they are treated as one Pokémon. Illustrations shown in the 1996 trivia book "ポケットモンスター図鑑" ("An Illustrated Book of Pocket Monsters") depict other variations, though these ones are explicitly labeled as an artist's impression of a Slowbro being bitten by a Shellder.

Exeggcute and Exeggutor

Exeggcute are not always seen as a group of six; the number of heads an Exeggutor has also varies. Exeggutor's Pokédex entries state that, living in a good environment, more heads will grow in addition to the three it is usually seen with. Eventually, one of the heads will fall off and become a single Exeggcute. This Exeggcute will telepathically communicate with others, in order to join and form a cluster of six. Until they are gathered, Exeggcute won't be able to maintain balance.


Kangaskhan's category in Japanese is "Parent and Child Pokémon", implying it consists of two beings. This is ratified by the fact that they are all born with a child in their pouch. The child is purple, and has not yet developed most of the features from its parent, having to stay in the pouch for 3 years. Although Kangaskhan's moves are performed by the parent, some TCG cards (Jungle Kangaskhan, Blaine's Kangaskhan, Aquapolis Kangaskhan, and EX FireRed & LeafGreen Kangaskhan) have attacks that involve or are performed by the child.

When Kangaskhan Mega Evolves into Mega Kangaskhan, the baby emerges from the mother's pouch and is noticeably matured.


In the game Pokémon: Magikarp Jump, Magikarp's scales come in many different patterns in addition to its usual standard and Shiny colorations. These patterns can be classified by groups, depending on how the Magikarp looks while it's still small-sized; a specific pattern arises when it becomes bigger. Which patterns can be caught depend on the Old Rod; the better, the more groups of patterns can be fished.

Ditto copies

When some Ditto transform into another Pokémon, they take on a mild variant form of that Pokémon instead of an exact replica. This happens when Ditto is incapable of changing the face by memory, with the result being a deformed copy of the target Pokémon with a blank, beady-eyed expression.

This appearance was first present in one of Duplica's Ditto, both in the anime and in the Electric Tale of Pikachu manga. It was later seen in Ditto cards from the EX Delta Species expansion of the TCG, in a kind of Clefairy that appears in the Veilstone Game Corner, in Pokémon Snap with three Ditto disguised as Bulbasaur, and in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky in the Special Episode Here Comes Team Charm!.

The merchandise series Ditto Collection features Ditto transformed into a variety of other Pokémon while retaining its face.


In Snorlax Snowman, several ice-blue Snorlax adapted to more frigid climates appeared.


Like Unown, Spinda has many visual variations in its species, all involving the placement of its spots. Like Unown's letter, the spot placement is generated based on the individual's personality value, and likewise, has no effect on the Pokémon's stats. Unlike Unown, however, these differences are rarely repeated, as the calculation uses the entirety of the personality value—a number that can range from zero to 4,294,967,295 (232 - 1). Some personality values can, however, produce the same apparent pattern from differing values. In Pokémon GO, 9 different numbered patterns of Spinda can be found and are registered as distinct forms in the Pokédex.

Generation III core series
Pokémon GO


A purple Kecleon is one of the two Kecleon Brothers in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series. He also appeared in the special episodes Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Team Go-Getters Out of the Gate! and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time & Darkness.

In The Kecleon Caper, a purple Kecleon nicknamed Reddy appeared under the ownership of Madison. This Kecleon differs in having normal frills, lips and eye rings.

Unseen variants

Some variants have only been mentioned in Pokédex entries; Pokémon of these variants have not been shown in any Pokémon media.

  • The Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum Pokédex entries for Weezing state that triplets of the species have been discovered. All Weezing have a third gas chamber, though it has no face.
  • Mantyke's Pokédex entry in Pokémon Pearl says that the pattern on its back varies from region to region. While it has the same appearance in all Generation IV games (due to using the same sprites), the "face" in the Generation V and VI games appears wider; however, all Mantyke look the same within each game, regardless of origin.

Individual Pokémon

Pink Butterfree

Main article: Pink Butterfree

A pink Butterfree appeared in Bye-Bye Butterfree and paired up with Ash's Butterfree, who then left his Trainer to go with her.

Crystal Onix

Main article: Crystal Onix

The Crystal Onix is a special individual Onix that lives on Sunburst Island. Its body is made out of glass crystal. Due to being made out of crystal, it is no longer weak to Water-type attacks and instead weak to Fire-type attacks.

Shadow Mewtwo

Main article: Shadow Mewtwo

In Pokkén Tournament, Shadow Mewtwo is a Mewtwo that had unwillingly merged with and become possessed by a Shadow Synergy Stone, causing its appearance to change. When Anne wields the power of the Synergy Stone contained in her brooch, Mewtwo is separated from the Shadow Synergy Stone and its appearance returns to normal.

Gold Sudowoodo

In All That Glitters is Not Golden!, a Trainer named Keenan owned a Sudowoodo that he had turned to gold during a science experiment, in an attempt to make Sudowoodo immune to Water-type attacks. The changes made to Sudowoodo were eventually reversed.

Shadow Lugia

Main article: Shadow Lugia

In Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, Shadow Lugia, also known as XD001, is a Lugia that had been so thoroughly corrupted by Cipher that its appearance changed. After Shadow Lugia is purified by Michael, its normal appearance is restored.

Meta Groudon

Main article: Meta Groudon

In Jirachi: Wish Maker, Butler created a being in the image of Groudon using the power of his machine and Jirachi. The Meta Groudon began to absorb all life in Forina until it was defeated by Jirachi.

Green-crystal Deoxys

Main article: Deoxys (M07)

One of the Deoxys that appeared in Destiny Deoxys had a green crystal instead of a purple one. It also had a green mark on its face instead of a purple one.

Primal Dialga

Main article: Primal Dialga

In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time, Explorers of Darkness, and Explorers of Sky, Dialga became Primal Dialga when it lost control of time due to the collapse of the Temporal Tower. Dialga can regain control of time and revert to its normal self if all the Time Gears are brought to the tower. As Primal Dialga, it is incapable of logical reasoning or showing mercy, only seeking self-preservation and preventing time from flowing properly.


In the anime, Z2 has a blue core as its Core and in its 10% Forme instead of the red core shown in the official anime art of Zygarde's Formes.

Combined Pokémon


In The Ghost of Maiden's Peak, a Gastly, who had the ability to create illusions that were tangible enough to attack people, created a fusion of Venusaur and Blastoise to scare Bulbasaur and Squirtle, calling it a "Venustoise" (Japanese: フシギックス Fushigix).


Main article: Thu-Fi-Zer

A combination of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres made by Team Rocket in the Pokémon Adventures manga. The legendary birds were later freed.

Mismagius and Rayquaza

In Malice in Wonderland!, a real Mismagius merged with a Rayquaza illusion it created, giving Rayquaza the color palette and some features of Mismagius. It then attacked Ash and his friends.

Tao trio

Main article: List of Pokémon with form differences → Kyurem

Using the DNA Splicers, Kyurem has the ability to fuse with Reshiram or Zekrom, becoming White Kyurem or Black Kyurem, respectively.

 Dragon  Ice 
White Kyurem
 Dragon  Ice 
Black Kyurem
 Dragon  Ice 


Main article: List of Pokémon with form differences → Necrozma

Using the N-Solarizer or N-Lunarizer, Necrozma has the ability to fuse with Solgaleo or Lunala, becoming Dusk Mane Necrozma or Dawn Wings Necrozma, respectively.

Dusk Mane Necrozma
800Necrozma-Dusk Mane.png
 Psychic  Steel 
Dawn Wings Necrozma
800Necrozma-Dawn Wings.png
 Psychic  Ghost 

See also