- This article is about Pokémon, also known as Pocket Monsters, as a series. For other uses of the words, see Pokémon (disambiguation).
Pokémon (Japanese: ポケットモンスター Pocket Monsters, ポケモン Pokémon for short), sometimes shortened to PKMN, is an overarching media franchise owned by Nintendo, Creatures, Inc., and Game Freak. First appearing in 1996 with the release of its first entries on the Game Boy, the game series has since inspired an array of media, including an anime, a card game, numerous manga, and various spin-off games.
The series focuses on the creatures known as Pokémon, as well as their inhabited world, full of legends, tales, and adventures. Several interpretations of the world explore different themes and elements. Most commonly, Pokémon coexist with humans and can be caught, trained, and used in battles and other activities. Trainers, along with their Pokémon, travel across diverse lands aiming to make their dreams become reality, and the bond — love and trust — between Trainers and their Pokémon is often cited as the key to success.
The Pokémon franchise is notable in that it is the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, outselling other franchises such as Star Wars and Mario.
Much as happens with many other words and phrases borrowed from English, the Japanese name for the series, Pocket Monsters, became contracted into "Pokémon" during the development of the original games, likely as much for convenience when referring to it as to save on-screen real estate, considering the small size of the Game Boy's screen. The official romanization of "Pokémon" at this time was derived from the contraction of Pocket and Monsters, and can be seen explicitly in Primeape Goes Bananas, even in the English dub.
The "Pokémon" name used today came about during the translation of the games for an English audience during 1997 and 1998. Whereas in Japan, Pocket Monsters was easily able to be trademarked, the release in the United States would prove difficult had this name been used, due to the unrelated Monster in My Pocket franchise. Thus, an alternate romanization of the contraction was used, with an acute accent over the letter "e" to indicate its specific pronunciation, poh-kay-mohn. Despite this issue, however, the fact that Pokémon is short for Pocket Monsters has been referenced in English, with a non-playable character (NPC) in Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum asking the player what Pokémon is short for after thinking about the name of the Pokétch, itself a contraction, as well as on the back of the digital video disc (DVD) set containing the first, second, and third movies.
- Main article: History of Pokémon
Pokémon, as a series, was originally conceived by Satoshi Tajiri as a way to instill in children of the modern, more urbanized Japan the same enjoyment that he felt as a young boy collecting insects and other bugs near his hometown of Machida. Initially called Capsule Monsters, or CapuMon for short, Tajiri pitched the series to Nintendo after being inspired by the Game Link Cable; he pictured an insect crawling across it between two Game Boy systems.
With help from Shigeru Miyamoto, the series began development, with the concepts of the original games, Pokémon Red and Green, going into production between 1990 and 1995. At last, in early 1996, the first games in the series were released in Japan, and Tajiri's dream had become reality. Compared to other games of its time, Pokémon was very limited, with comparatively poor graphics and sound. The series was an overnight success though, and Red and Green were quickly followed by an upgraded third version, Pokémon Blue.
An anime was produced, to cover the journey players took through the Kanto region in the games over the course of a year and a half. About halfway through the anime's run in late 1997, tragedy struck, and an episode of the anime was found to be responsible for epileptic seizures in more than 600 children due to a flashing strobe effect. No one died of these seizures, and after an investigation was put into place, the anime was put on hiatus for four months, later returning to the air to complete the Kanto run in April 1998.
Encouraged by the games' success in Japan and their upcoming release in the United States, Game Freak began development on sequels to them. Rather than releasing the sequels immediately, however, Game Freak instead chose to draw from the story of the anime (which differed from the games in that its protagonist was given a Pikachu instead of the standard starter Pokémon received in Red, Green, and Blue) and created a fourth game, Special Pikachu Edition, to buy some more time for development on the announced sequels.
Several manga series were also produced in this early period, including Pokémon Adventures, which Tajiri has stated is closest to his original idea of the world the series takes place in.
The much-awaited sequels were released in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in the US. Pokémon Gold and Silver revamped the Pokémon world, bringing it into full color, introducing one hundred new Pokémon and addressing many of the issues that had been present in the original games. For example, two new types were introduced to address type imbalances. The anime, manga, and other aspects of the franchise followed suit, bringing their characters into the second generation.
Even after the initial worldwide hype for the series died down, the Pokémon franchise remained strong. A third version was produced for Generation II, focusing on the Legendary Pokémon Suicune. With Pokémon Crystal, a female player character was finally introduced, and the games became fully dependent on the Game Boy Color, abandoning the now long-outdated Game Boy. Generation III was announced for the new Game Boy Advance, and at least among fans, the hype returned.
Despite this, when Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were initially released many people considered them, and Generation III in general, a disappointment. Misty, Ash's longtime companion in the anime, left the show and a new girl May joined him. Although 135 new Pokémon were introduced, the games, unlike the Generation II games, were completely incompatible with their predecessors, making 184 of the 251 previously released Pokémon unobtainable without cheating. This issue was addressed with the unprecedented release of remakes of the original pair of games, Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, which included many of the Pokémon missing from Ruby and Sapphire. In addition, an enhanced version of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, Pokémon Emerald, was released and introduced the Battle Frontier and many other features that would be enjoyed by those who battled Pokémon competitively, as well as including even more of the Pokémon missing from the prior Generation III games.
Much like the previous generations, Generation IV was highly anticipated. Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, released in 2006 in Japan and 2007 in the US, received much praise. These games brought with them many enhancements from Emerald, and for the first time, Pokémon could be played online to battle against and trade with other players across the world. This generation was also noted for introducing the physical/special damage category split, another improvement which would be enjoyed by those who battled Pokémon competitively. 107 new Pokémon were added as well, bringing the total to 493.
With the precedent set by the earlier release of remakes for the original pair of games, this generation saw much speculation for a remake of the now-outdated Generation II games, and hidden data in the games seemed to indicate that remakes were planned. A third version, Pokémon Platinum, was released two years after Diamond and Pearl. Due to this, as well as the delay in the release, many became discouraged that the remakes would never come. However, after five years of speculation, Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver were finally released in 2009 in Japan and in 2010 elsewhere.
Generation V constituted a "reboot" similar to that of Generation III. The highly anticipated Pokémon Black and White were set far away from the previous games in a region based on New York City called Unova. Initially in the game, only the 156 new Pokémon introduced in this generation were available before beating the Pokémon League, forcing veteran players to rethink old strategies. The games did have the capacity to connect to older games however, and maintained the international connectivity introduced in the fourth generation. The anime series, Pokémon Trading Card Game, and manga series also embraced the new generation with releases of tie-in media. Breaking the traditional format, Pokémon Black and White were followed by two direct sequels, Pokémon Black and White Versions 2, which included many Pokémon from different regions.
Generation VI started with Pokémon X and Y, which were released worldwide on the same day in October 2013, a first for the franchise. The games introduced many new features, such as fully 3D gameplay including 3D models for every Pokémon, Mega Evolution, the introduction of the Fairy type, Trainer customization, Pokémon-Amie, and new battle formats (such as Sky Battles and Inverse Battles). The games' Kalos region was chosen to be based on France partly because French culture is known for its art and beauty—the main theme of the game. The new Super Training feature offered a simple way to monitor a Pokémon's EVs. New ways to improve the player's chance of finding Shiny Pokémon were also introduced, such as the introduction of chain fishing and the return of the Poké Radar. With the addition of 72 new Pokémon, the total number of Pokémon in Generation VI is 721.
Although there were no remakes in Generation V, Generation VI saw the release of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire worldwide in November 2014, remakes of Generation III's Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. Similar to Pokémon X and Y, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were released around the same time worldwide, although the games were released in Europe a week after the rest of the world. In addition to being remakes of the Generation III games, the games included new Mega Evolutions and introduced Primal Reversion.
Generation VII began with the release of Pokémon Sun and Moon in November 2016; like Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, these games were released on the same day worldwide except in Europe, where the games' release was delayed a few days. This generation introduced 81 new Pokémon, taking the total up to 802. The games were released on the year of the 20th anniversary of the franchise. They are notable for being the first in the core series to lack Gyms, Badges, and HMs. They are also notable for introducing regional variants, Pokémon species that have unique adapted to the region and have taken on new appearances, types, and on some occasions Abilities. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, enhanced versions of Pokémon Sun and Moon, were released worldwide in November 2017. These are the first games to introduce new Pokémon during a generation, excluding Mythical Pokémon that were already present in the older games' data, bringing the total to 807. Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, remakes of Pokémon Yellow, were released worldwide in November 2018. These are the first core titles for the Nintendo Switch, and the first time a core title has switched to a new system mid-generation.
Generation VIII started with the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield for the Nintendo Switch worldwide in November 2019. This was the first generation not to feature all Pokémon and moves from previous games, and when it was announced that not all Pokémon were usable in the new games, a controversy started within the fanbase. Another 84 Pokémon were introduced in this game, bringing the total up to 893. With the release of the two downloadable content (DLC) expansions, known as The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra, 5 more Pokémon were introduced, including more Galarian Pokémon, fused Pokémon, and Legendary and Mythical Pokémon, bringing the total up to 898 Pokémon. In November 2021, Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl came out. In January 2022, Pokémon Legends: Arceus came out, it introduced 7 new Pokémon, and nineteen new forms.
- Main article: Pokémon (species)
The creatures themselves, which are based on various plants, animals, objects, and other concepts, inhabit virtually every corner of the world, no matter which canon's interpretation is seen. Many make their homes in forests and on rural routes stretching across the various regions, while still others are native to cities and other urban centers. Currently, there are 1015 known as Pokémon.
Typically, Pokémon that are owned by a person are kept in Poké Balls, which allow for them to be quickly sent into battle or to perform a task while keeping them safe and making them easier to transport, with the balls typically being able to fit into a pocket. Many Pokémon owned by Trainers, however, choose to remain outside of their Poké Ball and travel with their Trainer on foot.
Pokémon begin their lives by hatching from Eggs (with the exception of most Mythical and Legendary Pokémon), and many of them will evolve to grow stronger and larger during their lives. Most Pokémon are not immortal, as can be seen from the Pokémon gravestones found in various burial grounds. Though their abilities far surpass those of normal animals, the majority of Pokémon are not immortal (as those who do not follow the series as closely may deduce).
Many Pokémon are much more powerful than others, and some, due to this, have passed into legends that are told in the Pokémon world. It has not been consistently illustrated whether or not these Pokémon really do have the power that their legends state, though the general consensus is that, in the wild, a Pokémon's abilities are truly those of the legends, while a Trainer who captures one in a Poké Ball will limit its strength.
Many Pokémon may also be influenced by yōkai, which are special creatures in Japanese folklore with strange abilities, sometimes even created from inanimate objects.
In other languages
|Japanese||ポケモン Pokémon||From ポケットモンスター Pocket Monsters.|
|English*||Pokémon||Same as Japanese name. The letter é is used to represent the -ay sound.|
|Chinese (Mandarin)||寶可夢 / 宝可梦 Pokémon*
神奇寶貝 / 神奇宝贝 Shénqí Bǎobèi*
|Transliteration of Japanese name.|
From 神奇的口袋中的寶貝 / 神奇的口袋中的宝贝 Shénqí de kǒudài zhōng de bǎobèi. 神奇宝贝 / 神奇寶貝.
Same as former Cantonese name.
|Chinese (Cantonese)||寶可夢 Pokémon*
寵物小精靈 Chúngmaht Síujīnglìhng*
|Same as Mandarin name.|
From 寵物小精靈 Chúngmaht Síujīnglìhng. 小精靈 means elf.
Same as the series' name.
From 寵物小精靈 Chúngmaht Síujīnglìhng. 精靈 means spirit/fairy/elf/sprite/genie.
|Korean||포켓몬 Pokémon||From 포켓몬스터 Pocket Monsters|
|Arabic||بوكيمون Bukimun||Transliteration of English name|
|Cyrillic script||Покемон Pokemon||Transliteration of English name|
|Greek||Πόκεμον Pókemon||Transliteration of English name|
|Hebrew||פוקימון Pokimon||Transliteration of English name|
|Hindi||पोकेमोन Pokémon||Transliteration of English name|
|Tamil||போகிமொன் Pokémon||Transliteration of English name|
|Telugu||పోకీమాన్ Pokémon||Transliteration of English name|
|Urdu||پوکيمون Pokémon||Transliteration of English name|
|Turkish||Pokémon||Same as English name|
|Thai||โปเกมอน Pokémon||Transliteration of English name|
Bửu Bối Thần Kỳ*
|Same as English name|
From former Chinese name
|Japanese||ポケットモンスター Pocket Monsters||From ポケット poketto (pocket) and モンスター monsutā (monsters).|
|Chinese (Mandarin)||精靈寶可夢 / 精灵宝可梦 Jīnglíng Pokémon*
神奇的口袋中的寶貝 / 神奇的口袋中的宝贝 Shénqí de kǒudài zhōng de bǎobèi*
宠物小精灵 Chǒngwù Xiǎojīnglíng*
|From 精靈 / 精灵 jīnglíng (creature) and 寶可夢 / 宝可梦 Pokémon (transliteration of Japanese name).|
Means the magical creatures in the pocket.
Same as former Cantonese name.
|Chinese (Cantonese)||精靈寶可夢 Jīnglìhng Pokémon*
寵物小精靈 Chúngmaht Síujīnglìhng*
|Same as Mandarin name.|
Means pet creature.
|Turkish||Pocket Monsters Cep Canavarları||Cep means Pocket and Canavarları means Monsters|
|Korean||포켓몬스터 Pocket Monsters||From 포켓 poket (pocket) and 몬스터 monseuteo (monsters).|
|Thai||พ็อกเก็ตมอนสเตอร์ Pocket Monsters||From พ็อกเก็ต pocket and มอนสเตอร์ monsters.|
- Official websites
- Pokémon.com (English)
- Pokémon.co.jp (Japanese)
- Pokémon Global Link
- Official social-media website accounts