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.
- Main article: List of Pokémon with form differences
Form differences are major variations that are officially recognized by the Pokédex.
- 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.
- Main article: Shadow Pokémon
- Main article: List of Pokémon with gender differences
- Main article: Regional variant
In Generation VII, regional variants made their debut with Alola Form Pokémon. Regional variants 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.
- Main article: Giant Pokémon
Giant Pokémon are Pokémon that are much larger than usual.
Ancient giant Pokémon
Gengar emerged from a black dumbbell-like artifact, Alakazam emerged from a spoon-like artifact, and Jigglypuff emerged from an ancient bell.
- 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.
- Main article: Mirage 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.
- Main article: Rusty 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.
- 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.
Several of Arbok's Pokédex entries state that there a number of variations of its face-like hood markings that differ between areas. The Generation I games state that there are six known patterns, but by the events of Generation VII, the number has increased to twenty. 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.
Arbok's conceptual art had three other hood designs, but these were only 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.
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.
A one-tailed Vulpix in Pokémon Battle Frontier
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. Slowbro's conceptual art depicted other variations, but they were never seen anywhere else.
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 sole 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.
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 Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, female partner Eevee have cream-colored flower shape (heart shapes on side view) at the tip of its tail. This trait is unique and isn't found on other female Eevee.
Like its Pikachu counterpart, this Eevee doesn't evolve.
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, 8 different numbered patterns of Spinda can be found and are registered as distinct forms in the Pokédex.
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.
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.
- Main article: Pink Butterfree
- Main article: Crystal Onix
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Main article: Groudon (M06)
- 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.
- 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 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
Mismagius and Rayquaza
- Main article: List of Pokémon with form differences → Kyurem
| White Kyurem
| Black Kyurem|
- Main article: List of Pokémon with form differences → Necrozma
| Dusk Mane Necrozma
| Dawn Wings Necrozma|