Wild Pokémon (Japanese: 野生ポケモン wild Pokémon) are any Pokémon that are not currently owned by a Pokémon Trainer. They are encountered in most parts of the Pokémon world, most commonly outside of cities and towns, often in tall grass, in caves, or on water. Typically, a Trainer will attempt to capture a wild Pokémon with a Poké Ball but it is also common for a Trainer to run from a Pokémon they are not interested in. There are many instances of wild Pokémon being used for assistance without being caught, such as Pokémon Rangers using them to perform a task by directing them with a Capture Styler.
In the games
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In the games, wild Pokémon will appear to the player in a variety of locations, most often when the player is walking through tall grass, but also within caves, abandoned buildings, surfing on water, fishing, smashing rocks, headbutting small trees, using Sweet Scent, slathering honey on certain trees, by phenomena. Occasionally, wild Pokémon will also hide within objects, natural and unnatural, such as TVs, trash cans, and roadside bushes and trees, and jump out when their hiding place is discovered or approached too closely. Depending on the location, the Pokémon may be different species, and are typically at higher levels in areas only accessible later in the game.
When encountered, a wild Pokémon's moveset will consist of the most recent four moves its species would know by leveling-up; that is to say, a level 8 Yanma will know Tackle, Foresight, and Quick Attack when encountered in the wild in Pokémon Platinum, while one encountered at level 19 will have Quick Attack, Double Team, Sonic Boom, and Detect. This is true even for evolved species, such as Raichu, which, if it were able to be encountered in the wild in Pokémon Platinum, would always know Thunder Shock, Tail Whip, Quick Attack, and Thunderbolt.
There are several ways to alter the wild Pokémon encounter rate. One of these, introduced in Generation I, is the use of Repel, which will avoid encounters with any Pokémon of a lower level than the party's lead Pokémon. The Cleanse Tag was introduced in Generation II, which lowers the encounter rate. Pokémon March and Pokémon Lullaby in Generation II, played on the Pokégear, will raise or lower the encounter rate respectively, while certain Abilities do the same since Emerald. The White and Black Flutes can be used for this in Generation III and Generation IV. In Generation V, two types of Pass Powers (Encounter Power ↑ and Encounter Power ↓ ) take over this function, while in Generation VI, two O-Powers (Encounter Power and Stealth Power) inherit the same properties.
In some instances, two wild Pokémon will appear at once. From Generation IV onward, if the player is accompanied by another Pokémon Trainer they can encounter Double Battles in the wild. In Generation V, there is the chance of two Pokémon appearing at once in dark grass. In both instances, one of the Pokémon will have to be defeated before the other can be caught.
There are times when the usual A wild <Pokémon> appeared! will be replaced by another message:
|All Generation I and II games||when a wild Pokémon is fished out||The hooked <Pokémon> attacked!|
|All Generation II games||when a wild Pokémon is encountered using Headbutt||<Pokémon> fell out of the tree!|
|XD: Gale of Darkness||Pokémon in Battle Bingo||Oh! <Pokémon> appeared!|
|All Generation IV games||wild Double Battle when with a stat trainer||A wild <Pokémon> and <Pokémon> appeared!|
|All Generation IV games||encountering a Pokémon in Pal Park||Wow! <Pokémon's OT>'s <Pokémon's nickname> is drawing close!|
|Diamond and Pearl||battle against Starly immediately after picking the starter Pokémon||Whoa! A wild Starly came charging!|
|Diamond and Pearl||when checking out a shaking Honey tree||A wild <Pokémon> appeared from the tree you slathered with Honey!|
|Platinum||battle against Giratina in the Distortion World||The Distortion World's Giratina appeared!|
|All Generation V games||wild Double Battle initiated by dark grass or with a partner NPC||Oh! A wild <Pokémon> and <Pokémon> appeared!|
|All Generation V and VI games||battle against a non-roaming legendary, Volcarona in Relic Castle or disguised Zoroark in Lostlorn Forest||<Pokémon> appeared!|
|Black 2 and White 2||encountering one of N's Pokémon||A wild <Pokémon> appeared?!|
|X and Y||Routes 9 and 17||Whoa! The <Pokémon> you stepped on attacked!|
|X and Y||walking into a shadow in caves||Whoa! A wild <Pokémon> swooped down from above!|
|X and Y||walking into a shadow next to a tree in the outdoor part of Victory Road||Whoa! A wild <Pokémon> dived out of the sky!|
|X and Y||encountering a Pokémon by interacting with a trash can||Whoa! A wild <Pokémon> leaped out of the trash can!|
|X and Y||bushes on Routes 6 and 18||Whoa! A wild <Pokémon> leaped out of the tall grass!|
|X and Y||roaming Articuno, Zapdos or Moltres||Oh! A wild <Pokémon> appeared!|
|All Generation VI games||Horde Encounters||Whoa! A horde of <Pokémon> appeared!|
In the anime
Typically, wild Pokémon are not a central feature of the anime, which focuses mostly on the Pokémon belonging to Ash, his friends and other Trainers he encounters. Most of the Pokémon belonging to the group were shown in the wild at some point, but are usually captured at a later point in the same episode, most often at the end. Despite this, there have been several recurring wild Pokémon who appear over a length of time and are not captured. Of all of these Pokémon, an Aipom, a Gible, a Krokorok, a Froakie, and a Dedenne went on to be captured several episodes after they appeared. As demonstrated in a number of occasions, Meowth is also a wild Pokémon.
There are however numerous examples of wild Pokémon being featured in the anime in debut episodes that introduce their species, such as Clefairy in Clefairy and the Moon Stone and Sudowoodo in Type Casting.
In the first anime episode, Ash's Pokédex states that wild Pokémon tend to be jealous of human-trained Pokémon, this being one of the reasons that the Spearow Ash hit with a rock attacked Pikachu instead.
In the manga
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
As Pokédexes prior to the arcs in Hoenn typically needed the Pokémon to be captured in order for data to be gained, capturing wild Pokémon has been a long-standing point for every Pokédex Holder save Gold and Silver until the Ruby & Sapphire chapter. The first wild Pokémon to be captured was a wild Nidorino by Red, and even legendary Pokémon were seen as soon as the first round, though the one in question (a Mew appearing near Pallet Town) was not captured. Pokémon that have been released, unlike in the games, do sometimes appear in the wild and can be re-caught or controlled by another Trainer, such as Emerald's Sceptile and Mewtwo, and again unlike in the games, where identical Trainer ID means that high-level Pokémon can be controlled by its Trainer, several Pokémon such as Pika and Zeller were disobedient and likely to even attack its Trainer on a whim.