Five Pokèmon facts and theories you probably didn’t know

Last Updated July 5th, 2021

The Pokemon fan community has been put through a bit of a ringer as of late thanks to the recent controversy surrounding Pokemon Go’s latest update. While developer Niantic Labs has promised it is working hard to make things right for Pokemon Go players, the studio’s lack of constant communication and the fact that it so swiftly went after third-party services which were trying to make the game better has shaken the faith of many Poke-fans who once looked to Pokemon Go as the next big step forward in Pokemon gaming. While we wait to see just how Niantic plans on making things right, let’s distract ourselves by looking at some little-known Poke-facts and theories which only the most diehard fans of the series are likely aware of.

Ahead Of Their Time

If your investment in the Pokemon franchise started and ended with the original 151 “generation 1” Pocket Monsters, you probably don’t know about The Pokemon Company’s clever little nods to future Pokemon which it injected both in the original Red/Blue games and the Pokemon anime series. In Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue, a female trainer who stands outside the Rock Tunnel region talks about her ideal Pokemon: a chubby pink creature with unique floral patterns on its back. While it could simply be a coincidence, this description almost exactly matches that of Munna, a Pokemon which is included in the fifth generation wave of new Pokemon.

As for the anime, viewers likely remember its very first episode for all of its weird explanations of how things work in the world of Pokemon (such as the fact that 10-year-old boys are expected to just venture out on their own to collect wild and potentially dangerous Pokemon). However, towards the end of the episode, protagonist Ash Ketchum spots a mythical-looking bird Pokemon off in the distance, a Pokemon which his Pokedex is unable to identify. As it turns out, this Pokemon is Ho-Oh, a legendary Pokemon which wasn’t officially added into the series until the generation 2 wave that first appeared in Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver. The appearance of Ho-Oh so early in the anime’s run seems to confirm that The Pokemon Company planned to expand the total number of Pokemon past the original 151 from the very beginning.

A Fiery Replacement

Before The Pokemon Company came up with the three element-based legendary bird Pokemon for Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue (Zapdos, Articuno, and Moltres), it originally intended for the fire-dog Pokemon Arcanine to be a legendary Pokemon. However, once the three birds were locked in, it didn’t make much sense to have two fire-based legendaries, so Arcanine was given a pre-evolved form, Growlithe, and both were presented as standard Pokemon. The Pokemon Company did eventually release a dog-based legendary however, the generation 2 Pokemon Entei.  

Of Fish And Dragons

While it has never been officially confirmed by The Pokemon Company, a popular fan theory suggests that Magikarp, the dopey-looking fish Pokemon that eventually evolves into the much cooler-looking Gyarados, was originally supposed to evolve into Dragonite. Meanwhile, Gyarados was originally supposed to be the final evolved form of Dratini and Dragonair, but some reworks were clearly done during development. The basis of this theory lies in an old Japanese legend about a carp jumping over a water gate and swimming upstream before turning into a dragon, and the fact that Gyarados is classified as a dragon-type Pokemon seems to support the idea that The Pokemon Company still wanted to honor the legend despite the switch-ups.

In a similar vein, Caterpie’s final evolved form was apparently supposed to be Venomoth at one point, while Venonat would have evolved into Butterfree. This explains why Venonat and Butterfree look so similar (purple body, large red eyes). However, as with Magikarp and Dragonite, it appears as if both evolution tracks had some last-minute changes made.

Rivals To The End

Another theory which is supported by both the Pokemon games and anime involves two of the most famous Pokemon to date: Meowth and Pikachu. Both are well-known from the anime, the former as a talking companion (and the only Pokemon who can apparently say more than just its own name) to the villainous Team Rocket duo Jesse and James, and the latter as Ash Ketchum’s loveable main Pokemon.

In the actual Pokemon lore, Pikachu is classified as an “electric mouse Pokemon” while Meowth is clearly cat-based, which makes it only natural that they’d go up against each other in the anime (Ash often winds up butting heads with Jesse and James) considering the long-established friction between cats and mice. The Pokemon Company also seemingly supported this intentional rivalry by making Pikachu’s and Meowth’s Pokedex numbers opposites of each other (Pikachu is #25 in the Pokedex while Meowth is #52).  

Dark Reflections

This theory is a bit of a stretch, but it does have some evidence to support it. The theory is that Gengar (the final evolution of Ghastly) is actually the escaped shadow of the moon fairy Pokemon Clefairy. It is said that Clefaries shed their own shadows as part of the Mt. Moon ritual which turns them into Clefables, and that these shadow spirits eventually take on a life of their own as Gengar. The similar body types of Gengar and Clefairy seem to support this theory (they both have round bodies and spiked ears), though it’s unclear how Gengar’s two previous forms (Ghastly and Haunter) tie into the theory.