Elaborate Pokémon Fan Theories That Actually Make A Ton Of Sense

List Rules
Vote up the most believable fan theories.

Since it was first introduced in 1996, Pokémon has become the most profitable franchise of all time. There are numerous games, cartoons, films, collectible card games, toys, and much more for fans to enjoy. Because it's been around for so long, many fans have come up with interesting and often elaborate fan theories about Pokémon (and plenty of great Pokémon fan art).

Every so often, fans will take their theory to the FanTheories subreddit to share their thoughts and ideas about Pokémon. Some fan theories actually make a lot of sense, and the best of them have been compiled here.

  • 1
    1,952 VOTES

    Bulbasaur And Squirtle Don't Evolve Because They See What Happened To Charmander

    Bulbasaur And Squirtle Don't Evolve Because They See What Happened To Charmander
    Photo: TXN

    From Redditor u/friendlyteddie:

    Ash Ketchum gets a lot of sh*t for [not] evolving some of the most powerful members [of] his original team. However, when watching an old episode, I thought that the reason behind these two Pokémon [not] evolving (and refusing to evolve) could have to do with their friend, Charmander.

    During the episode with the giant mechanical Pokémon, where we get to see what the Pokémon are actually saying to each other, it appears that the three starters have a legitimate friendship between them. However, soon after this episode, Charmander evolves into Charmeleon, and, a couple of episodes after that, into Charizard. After this, the fire type's attitude is completely different. He no longer obeys Ash, even going so far as to physically harm him.

    I believe that after seeing this, both Squirtle and Bulbasaur were traumatized, believing that evolution would completely change them and possibly cause them to hate their friends and trainer. As a result, they make an agreement between the two of them that neither would evolve; hence they live the rest of their lives in their base forms.

  • 2
    1,334 VOTES

    Ash's Pikachu's Unusual Strength Comes From A Lightning Strike In The First Episode

    Ash's Pikachu's Unusual Strength Comes From A Lightning Strike In The First Episode
    Photo: TXN

    From Redditor u/Nachington:

    Ash's Pikachu is not shown to have any extreme power, giving people [and] a Spearow and [light-to-medium] shock throughout the first episode until the end, where Pikachu jumps into the air and is struck by a bolt of lightning. [After, Pikachu] immediately [has] the power to shock an entire flock of Spearow along with Ash.

    The next time it's seen using its power is to shock [is with] Team Rocket in episode two, once with a group of Pikachu and once powered up by Ash in Misty's bike. Team Rocket immediately (and then repeatedly through later episodes) comment that Pikachu is significantly more powerful than any they've seen before and is ‘way beyond its evolutionary level.’

    As the show continues, Pikachu is shown to be equally or more powerful than Pokémon that would logically defeat it, such as much larger Pokémon evolutions and Pokémon trained for years by experienced trainers.

    Pikachu may have been extra powerful all its life, but we're given no inclination of it. And why would Professor Oak have given such an incredibly powerful Pikachu to a young trainer that wasn't even on time to choose a Pokémon? He didn't, the lightning strike overcharged Pikachu, and ever since then, [he's been able to channel more electricity than any other Pokémon of his level]. Team Rocket, having been shocked by Pikachu, know how powerful he is, and that's why they want to steal him.

  • 3
    339 VOTES

    Levels Work Differently In The Anime Than They Do In The Games

    Levels Work Differently In The Anime Than They Do In The Games
    Photo: TXN

    From Redditor u/CapriciousSalmon:

    The anime is kinda vague on the concept of levels, as sometimes, they do outright mention it, and others completely ignore it. But I think I worked out a system for why levels don't [operate the same way they do in the games]:

    Levels don't exist the same way they do in the games. Rather, they're like Lexile scores. Or, if you want a more accurate version, they're similar to a staircase, and each possible move counts as being part of that staircase. That's why Dawn's Piplup already knows Bubble Beam, and Peck learns it at levels 15 and 18 when really it should only know Pound and Growl. You can jump at various parts of the staircase, like your Piplup could be level 5 but still know those moves because of it.

    Anyway, another reason why I say levels don't exist [in the same manner as the game series] is that ‘gameplay’ differs in the anime. When Paul took on Cynthia, she should've at the very least lost Garchomp, but Garchomp barely had a scratch on her. Meanwhile, Elesa's Tynamo's Tackle [attack[ is extremely powerful, but it shouldn't be. If we followed the games, that Tynamo should be super weak, regardless of what level it's at.

    Therefore, levels don't exist the same way they do in the anime. The power of a Pokémon depends upon several factors: practice, training, skill, and strategy. Pokémon fights are much like competitive sports, and with competitive sports, you always have to be training. Stopping for a short time could be disastrous.

    That's also why Pikachu ‘resets,’ so to speak. After each gym battle, it's plausible Ash would give him a break, and between each region, when they're just exploring, that break would be much longer.

    So the concept of how a Pokémon is raised plays very much into how it does competitively.

    However, you might wonder why other characters don't have this issue. Well, for somebody like Dawn, May, or Serena, they aren't training their Pokémon to battle but rather to be in contests, so they focus on grooming and moves. In a Contest, it doesn't matter if you're level 1 or level 100, so long as you have pretty moves. It wouldn't surprise me if Dawn's Pokémon, barring Piplup and perhaps Mamoswine, are all super low in terms of levels.

  • 4
    506 VOTES

    Pokémon Are Named After The Sounds They Make... Not The Other Way Around

    Pokémon Are Named After The Sounds They Make... Not The Other Way Around
    Photo: TXN

    From Redditor u/anyoneseenmyhead:

    The conceit of Pokémon only being able to vocalize by saying their own names is strange to me and has been for decades now. If nothing else, it makes it easier to remember their names, but is there any analog to the real world for this? Dogs are not called ‘barks.’ Moreover, how insane would it be if dogs with certain attributes said those attributes in a human language? ‘Electrocorgi! Electrocorgi!’ as the mailman walks past the front gate.

    My theory has to do with the history of the language of the Pokémon world. Using world-building techniques in literature as a template, we learn that the most important thing to newly developing people can greatly influence their language, i.e. the way the mouth moves when suckling becomes the building block for ma, mama, maternal, etc. Or how writing was greatly furthered by the need to track how much barley was harvested. These very early things contributed to the rest of history literally being written a certain way.

    What I'm getting at is that the most important thing in the Pokémon world is Pokémon. But why would that make the name for a Pokémon that copies other Pokémon be the punny name of Ditto, and why would that Pokémon start saying that name?

    Because it is in reverse.

    The names are literally onomatopoetic and would actually be tantamount to a dog being called ‘woof.’
    My theory is that the sound a Sandshrew makes is actually what people in the Pokémon world call a Sandshrew. They call cows ‘moos.’

    The reason they do is that their language is based on Pokémon. They get the word ‘sand’ from what a Sandshrew says.

    They had no need to come up with a word for electricity because they could cobble it together from the sounds that electric Pokémon were making.

    But why does it sound like English, Japanese, or other actual earth languages?

    Because it is being translated from the Pokémon world languages.

    TL;DR: The languages of the Pokémon world are built and enhanced by the vocalizations of Pokémon, so it would sound like all their names were puns if they were translated into English.

  • 5
    778 VOTES

    Ash Isn't Pikachu's First Trainer

    Ash Isn't Pikachu's First Trainer
    Photo: TXN

    From Redditor u/Oufour:

    So, as I was researching an idea I had, I got pretty deep into Pokémon breeding – the mechanic by which one can birth new Pokémon to get specific moves and stats. What I found was a surprisingly sound theory on the past of Ash's Pikachu.

    So first things first: Where'd Pikachu come from? In the show, Oak offers Pikachu to Ash after he shows up late, and the proper Pokémon he was expected to take [has already been] taken by [other trainers]. What happens [afterward] is a series of WACKY SHENANIGANS as Ash attempts to handle the unruly Pikachu. Now, it's not unheard of for Pokémon to refuse the orders [given by] their trainers; Ash has several other Pokémon that 'outgrow' him and refuse his orders, but only Pikachu does so at [first]. Eventually, Ash proves his friendship by nearly sacrificing himself to save Pikachu, who in turn saves Ash's life, and the two become lifelong friends.

    But let's back up real quick. When we first see Pikachu's Poké Ball, it looks unusual. There's a lightning bolt on the front. There's nothing particularly weird about this, but there's [also] nothing quite like it in the series. Even the other starters just have normal Poké Balls. What's up?

    Well, the lightning bolt looks an awful lot like a seal. The seals were accessories that changed the opening animations of the Poké Balls, one of which added lightning bolts. The seals were only in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, the 4th game in the series, and aren't usable in any other set of games. With this, we can guess Pikachu may have originally been from Sinnoh (Sinnoh is also one of the regions Pikachus can be found in, although there are fewer exceptions than examples of that).

    But why would a Pokémon from Sinnoh be in the care of Professor Oak? Well, in the second episode of Pokémon, we see a generator powered by Pikachu, showing the Pokémon have some utility when it comes to power. As Oak is no doubt performing some important research, the threat of a power outage is daunting, so Oak may have a [Pikachu] generator of his own.

    So we can guess where Pikachu is from and why he's in Kanto at the start of the series - and even why Pikachus are so common. Why not just catch a Pikachu, then? They're in Kanto. 

    Well, training is a job for a reason, and you'd want a Pikachu with the right stats: potentially speed, or special attack. Finding that in the wild is pretty difficult, so a breeder is a good alternative. Why Sinnoh? In the original Kanto games, there was no breeding mechanic, so it's possible Kanto breeders weren't around at the time (one of the protagonist dreams of being a breeder, so he may want to set such a system up).

    So if you're familiar with Pokémon, you may have some observations, namely, why is Pikachu such a jerk? At the start of the series, he's disobedient, rude, and outright abusive to Ash. if he was bred to be a backup generator, shouldn't he be more complimented? Well, the answer to that lies in Pikachu's early life as a Pichu.

    Now, there are NO Pichu in Kanto (at least not initially), BUT there is no method to breeding a Pikachu that is born as a Pikachu; they ALL start as Pichus. ‘Stop!’ you say. ‘Why not just sell Pichus, then?’ Well, as anyone who has played Smash Bros. will tell you, Pichu is harmed by its own electricity, so its use as a generator is minimal.

    'But wouldn't it make Pikachu kind of intense since it has to be a fair bit stronger than other starters when it's a stage 2 evolution?' Kind of. Pichu evolves through happiness, which can be earned through battles, but also through items and simple walking. As a result, while Pikachu could be a fair bit tougher (and there's good evidence that he is), he could also be around starter level. So while Oak might be giving Ash an edge, he's not handing him a nuke.

    But why would Pikachu be such a jerk? To put it simply, he misses his breeder. From Pikachu's perspective, he spent his whole life with this one person, who dedicated weeks, if not months, to [make] him the happiest Pokémon he could possibly be, even giving him a special Poké Ball. Then he gets shipped off halfway across the world to be a generator. That'll do things to a guy.

    Pikachu isn't disobedient because he's naturally [opposed] to ownership; he just thinks he already has a trainer waiting for him [and] has lost his trust in trainers [as a result]. When Ash tries to take the Spearow hoard for him, Pikachu begins to trust trainers again and moves past his own baggage. This may also be why Pikachu has such an aversion to his own Poké Ball. It reminds him of his old trainer, and he's Ash's Pikachu now.

    Side note: Pikachu's Poké Ball only shows up a few times, and we [only see] Pikachu entering it and exiting it in the first episode.

  • 6
    495 VOTES

    Pokémon Leagues Are College/Job Force Training Entities

    Pokémon Leagues Are College/Job Force Training Entities
    Photo: TXN

    From Redditor u/RDAwesome:

    This is mostly centered around the games since I haven't watched much of the show, but Pokémon Origins also provides a little bit [of] this theory. The goal is not to have trainers train the best and most powerful Pokémon but rather to teach trainers how to train Pokémon. The Pokémon League serves dual purposes, with one being to help teach people to be better trainers AND to act as the main sport/form of entertainment.

    To that end:

    1. Gym Leaders choose their teams based on the trainer's experience. In Origins, Brock knew Red didn't have any badges, so he selected a team of low-level Pokémon to match his difficulty level. This also plays into GSC/HGSS, where you go battle the Kanto trainers, and they're all decked out in stronger Pokémon. It seems pretty unreasonable that a kid would get their level 5 Bulbasaur and have to go up against Sabrina's level 50-whatever Pokémon.
    2. Gyms are primarily for teaching trainers how to use a specific type. People who become gym trainers don't seem to be taking the League Challenge, nor do they seem to be attempting to become [Gym Leaders]. Gym leaders even reward trainers with TMs related to the specific type once they've shown sufficient mastery over it.
    3. Gyms generally appear in areas relevant to their type. The economies of these areas are most likely related to, or at least impacted by, the environment. It makes sense that an Ice gym would be in an icy area and teach the people how to utilize the plentiful Ice Pokémon to perform Ice-based tasks.
    4. Trainers tend to be monotype/specialized. Besides trainers who are in it for the sport, like Ace Trainers, or breeders, like, uh... Breeders, there is very little team diversity/optimization, despite the fact that every gym has a different type, and all of the in-game schools teach about type advantage. Most people have Pokémon specialized to their careers, like electricians and, uh, bird trainers.
    5. Nearly the entire economy is based on Pokémon. We've seen electric Pokémon running power plants, fighting types performing construction, flying types running taxi services, and, of course, Chansey in the medical field. If nearly every aspect of the economy is based on the labor of Pokémon, then having any job would require you to be familiar with the training and commanding of Pokémon, especially type familiarity if you're working a specialized job.
    6. Gym Leaders are community leaders/mayors/political figures. This is heavily implied, especially in Black/White, where the gym leaders can shut down roads and have more of a presence against threats. They act as the leader of the local government, the local law enforcement/protector, and they seem to be appointed or elected somehow, with Blue taking over Giovanni's gym and Flannery becoming a gym leader despite the fact that she didn't really seem to want to do it that much.
    7. Professor Kukui established a Pokémon League in Alola. While this isn't really particularly definitive, it does make sense that a Pokémon Professor would want to establish what is essentially the equivalent of a college for training.

    This would mean that as a trainer, you go through and take the League challenge, eventually, specialize as a monotype trainer, and eventually use the Pokémon you raised to perform the career you've chosen.

    A few notable notes to this:

    1. The Galar region probably also does this, but the League there seems much more oriented around the entertainment aspect of it.
    2. This rather more reasonably explains why the cynical ‘haha, sending kids out into the wilds on their own’ thing isn't as dumb as people think. People have a symbiotic relationship with Pokémon, [so] Pokémon are inherently trustworthy, and people trust one another so much that they're happy to chat with you when you just walk into their homes.
    3. The Elite Four is 100% the entertainment/sports aspect. Most of the trainers encountered on the various Victory Roads are Ace Trainers, who are the few trainers who have the more diverse and balanced teams. This is basically the sport where you are competing at the highest level in the region.
    4. The League is also probably some sort of mandatory military service, as many countries in our own world have. I'm not gonna go too deep into that because it's on the edgy/more cynical side and those types of fan theories are, to me, the most boring, but everyone who goes through the League will, at some level, be capable of battling Pokémon, and if Gym Leaders are community leaders, it makes sense that the strongest and most capable trainers are also the ones who look over the towns.
    5. Similarly, Pokémon seem to grow closer to their trainers through battling, so battling is clearly something the Pokémon themselves enjoy. If Pokémon have that impulse towards fighting/aggression, training them through these super specific battles that follow specific laws and rulesets is probably a way to provide them with a safe outlet for aggression – teaching them to only be aggressive in specific circumstances while also helping them grow their power.