Pokémon: 15 Unanswered Questions That Keep You Up At Night

One important rule of fandom is to never apply real-world logic to a piece of fiction. Pokémon is no different. To create such a vast world is an incredible feat, but it also leaves a lot of questions that are often not addressed, answered, or even remembered.

Soon after Pokémon Go was released, I ended up revisiting the early titles from my childhood, playing Generation I games and watching the early part of the animated series. The great thing about being a child is that you usually don’t question fiction. When there are troubling questions, you tend to forget about them relatively quickly and move on. As an adult, I compulsively try to place logic and reason to the many unexplained plot points in Pokémon. Therefore, I am up at 4 in the morning looking up theories of varying plausibility and insanity to questions only the diehard fans want to know. If that sounds like you, then you are like me. A geek.

People always suggest that I don’t overthink things, especially in fiction. If the creators thought it was important enough to explain, they would have already, right? Wrong! There is no possible way to account for every loose end in fiction, nor is it fun to make every part of the story ironclad. That’s where fanfiction and fan theories step in. Sounds great. However, until I see it explained by the creators as canon, these 15 questions really keep me up at night.

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15 Who And Where Is Red’s/Ash’s Father?

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Perhaps the greatest conundrum of the Pokémon series is wondering who is Red’s (and Ash’s!) father, and where he is hiding. While the original Generation I games hinted Red’s father does exist and enjoys sports games on the SNES, there is never a mention of Ash’s father in the anime other than his mother saying that he is still on a journey to be a Pokémon Master. Professor Oak and Giovanni are often prime candidates for theorists, but there is never a moment where the creators wanted to reveal the identity of his dad. Not knowing the actual whereabouts of Mr. Ketchum, some have concluded that he could be dead or even someone Ash’s has already met on his pilgrimage. Well, whoever he is, he is a terrible father and husband.

14 What Kind Of Parents Allow Their Kids To Run Loose?

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Keep in mind that Pokémon was created in the extremely safe country of Japan, where crime is relatively low compared to other economic powers. Still, it is still hard to believe children travel on pilgrimages by their lonesome as preteens. While living in Tokyo, I always see grade school children on the trains without adult supervision. Some schools even make it compulsory for them to commute to school alone. However, to travel around Kanto for an extended period of time as a child is something I cannot fathom. In the world of Pokémon, there are a lot of unsavory characters such as Team Rocket, biker gangs, and those bumbling burglars who cannot find the way out of Cinnabar Mansion. While there are Pokémon to protect them, what real-world parent can justify allowing their kid to run around the prefecture fighting strangers for prize money?

13 What Pokémon Are Food?

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While the anime shows the presence of real-world animals living amongst various species of Pokémon, the original games never makes that distinction. Let’s assume Pokémon have similar habits as animals of our world and there exists a food chain where there are predators and prey. Would an Ursaring try to eat humans and vice-versa? If not, do they run around eating wild Pikachus and Rattatas? This is an idea introduced later in the series, such as Cubones being prey to Mandibuzzes. For the humans who live in the world of Pokémon, is there an unwritten rule for not eating Pokémon? Are there Pokémon that are acceptable for consumption? Magikarps are useless, can we eat them? This is something that the creators never address in any of the fiction, and fans only think about when they compare Pokémon to their real-world animal counterparts. I am pretty sure people drink Miltank’s milk and eat Chansey’s eggs, so why not throw another Tauros on the barbie?

12 Why Is Pokémon Fighting Legal?

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Though animal fighting is allowed in certain places around the world, the global consensus is that it is an activity that is heavily frowned upon. So, to think that there is a world where animals like Pokémon are constantly engaged in competitive battle is a little bit of a head-scratcher. Indeed, Pokémon battling is heavily-sanctioned like competitive human-fighting sports of boxing and MMA. The truth is Pokémon are fighting for the entertainment of human-kind, and sometimes not willingly. No matter how many sanctions or precautions are taken by the Pokémon League, the fact of the matter is that the competitors will get injured, maybe even fatally. I’m surprised there aren’t any Pokémon-rights activists on every street corner. Of course, we cannot place real-world standards on this piece of fiction, or Pokémon games will never exist.

11 Which Pokémon In Pokémon Tower Died In Competitive Battle?

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Located in Lavender Town, Pokémon Tower in is the resting site for many deceased Pokémon and is the first moment when the idea of death is addressed in the series. Though it is possible many of the Pokémon died of natural or accidental causes, exactly how many of them died in battle? We know for sure that a Marowak died protecting her Cubone child. But which one of these Pokémon died similar to Apollo Creed in Rocky IV? Battling is a contact sport. Therefore, it is quite possible and probable that at least a few of the dead spirits that haunt the gravesite died from battling in the Pokémon League. Knowing how this will be bad publicity for the sport, the organizers decided to conceal the truth of Pokémon deaths in battle from the public. Quite dastardly.

10 What Badges Did Gary Collect In Kanto?


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In the original Generation I games, your rival always appears to be one step ahead by defeating any given gym leader before you even arrive into town. As there are only eight official gyms in Kanto, exactly how many gyms are there in the anime version? When Gary Oak shows off his Kanto collection, he has a total of 10 badges. Of those, only three of them are recognizable. Where are these other gyms, and what badges do they yield? The anime never touches upon this. It is likely there are many more official gyms in the anime world than just 8. That being the case, why even introduce the idea that there are other gyms when you are never going to touch upon it?

9 Why Do They Only Say Their Own Name?


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While each Pokémon has distinct roars or cries in the video games, the anime, inexplicably, has each of them say their own name as part of their language. Why do they say their own names when they speak? And why do some only have growls or grunts like real-life animals? Also, how do the species understand each other through this method of communication? These are all interesting questions, but the one that troubles me most of all is the classic "chicken and the egg question" (but for Pokémon). Did they get their names from their language, or did they get their name from scientists and then somehow adapted it to their language? Did a scientist see a strange quadrupedal Pokémon walking around, shooting Solar Beams, and mumbling, “Bulba, Bulbasaur” all the time? Then he came to the realization he should name it Bulbasaur. Is that how it got its name? Just thinking about it hurts my brain.

8 What Is Life Like In A Pokéball?

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Somehow, someway, Pokémon can be captured and placed into little spherical objects called Pokéballs. Though the idea of having Pokémon stored in tiny balls is probably for logistical reasons, the fiction never explains what is exactly inside in the confines of a Pokéball and what actually happens to the Pokémon that resides in it. Maybe it is like the Tardis and is larger on the inside, or the Pokémon is converted into energy and stored as such. Are they placed into a different dimension where there is just a big, black void? Super Smash Bros. explained that it was a habitat for Pokémon comfort, whatever that means. Even so, it is a living, breathing being capable of emotions and thoughts. If that is true, the idea of having it in a Pokéball is downright cruel. This might be the reason that Ash’s Pikachu hates being in a Pokéball. Just food for thought.

7 Do Trainers Bet Money In Battles?

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Though it appears trainers in the anime battle purely for competition and the occasional badge and trophy, the battling in the games are certainly much more financially-charged. Sure, it is common for RPGs to feature monetary rewards for defeating enemies to allow the player to purchase items and upgrades throughout the game, but the idea of winning coins in the Pokémon games piqued my curiosity much more so as an adult. Are trainers betting money on their Pokémon to win? Is that why you must give away a portion of your coins whenever you lose and blackout? Sure, you can dismiss it as part of the mechanics of the game, but isn’t it strange to get money for defeating a Youngster on your way to Cerulean City. Poor kid probably gambled away her lunch money.

6 What Happens When You Black/White Out?

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Game Overs in the Pokémon games are different than most role-playing games in that losing doesn’t result in the death of the player. Instead, when the player’s team of Pokémon are knocked out, the game will state that he/she has blacked out and returned to the last Pokémon Center visited to revive the fainted combatants. Why do you faint, anyways? While finally explained in Generation III with a cut-scene where the trainer is rushing back to the center to shield his Pokémon from further harm, the original games just has Red black out wherever he was at that moment. Magically, you are back at the last Pokémon Center with half of your money gone, probably to pay the ambulance or something. I always thought it would be more interesting to be forced to do the walk of shame back to the Pokémon Center when you lose, rather than have the melodramatic fainting on the floor. But that’s how video games work.

5 Where Did The S.S Anne Go?

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In the original games, the S.S. Anne, also known as the St. Anne, provided theorists with numerous rumors that are now proven untrue. One of these rumors was that Mew could be found underneath the truck near the ship if you used Strength to move it. Another rumor dealt with the actual return of the S.S. Anne to the docks of Vermillion City if you defeated the Elite Four enough times, as the ship only returns once a year. In several anime and the manga, the S.S. Anne ends up sinking. In the game, the ship embarks to parts unknown and never returns. You are never given a clue where the destination might be. Perhaps, the ship in going to a place beyond Kanto, or the scope of the map in Generation I. The ship is never seen again in subsequent generations, except for in Generation III, which is based in Kanto. Is the S.S. Anne the Pokémon Flying Dutchman? Did it sail into the Twilight Zone? We may never know.

4 Why Do Other Trainers Ambush You To Battle?

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What was troubling about the Pokémon games was the idea that you couldn’t avoid certain trainer battles no matter how hard you tried. There is nothing like doing a dungeon crawl and have a trainer ambush you on your way back to the Pokémon Center. Why are you forced to battle, anyways? In essence, these encounters acted as mini-boss battles you were unable to escape or run from. While a lot of these random trainer skirmishes were relatively easy compared to proper gym battles that you can prepare for, and many were easily avoidable, just the idea that you are forced to battle really brings up questions about what kind of place is the Pokémon universe? Apparently, every Pokémon battle is like a quick draw at high noon in the old West. They are unavoidable and inevitable.

3 Do All Cubones Have Dead Mothers?

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Since its introduction in the animated series, one of my favorite Pokémon is Cubone. The story of a mother Marowak protecting its baby Cubone from Team Rocket was featured in Pokémon Origins and remains as one of the first moments in the Pokémon world that the idea of a violent death is featured. However, the one thing that I was never able to understand is Cubone’s Pokedex entry: “Wears the skull of its deceased mother. Its cries echo inside the skull and come out as a sad melody.” That’s quite morbid. Does this mean that all Cubones lose their mothers at birth? There are some theories that suggest that Cubones are baby Kangaskhans with dead mothers. Whatever the truth is, the creators didn’t really care about explaining it to us.

2 Where Is Your Rival’s Raticate?

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Aside from the Lavender Town Syndrome, trying to figure out what happens to your rival’s Raticate is probably the most popular Pokémon-oriented story on Creepypasta. Over two decades later, people are still talking about it. Is Gary’s Raticate dead? Theorists suggest that there is intriguing evidence proving the death of his beloved Raticate. The last time you see Gary’s Raticate is aboard the S.S. Anne. By the time you battle him again is within the tower graveyard, this Pokémon is oddly missing even though he has an additional slot available on his team. Why would he not even put his Raticate on the team? This led some people to think that Raticate passed away soon after the battle aboard the ship, and Gary visits Pokémon Tower to bury his dead Pokémon. Though I am not entirely convinced, it does give some nice material for conspiracy theorists to write about.

1 How Many Mewtwos Are There?

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The amount of Mewtwos in existence has always been debatable. In the Generation I titles —and early in the animated series— it appeared as though there was really only one successful creation of the legendary Pokémon. It wasn’t until the release of the film Genesect and the Legend Awakened that brought forth the idea that there might be many more successful experiments than previously thought. So, exactly how many are there? Since Mewtwo are genetically-manufactured through splicing DNA of an embryo coming from a Mew, which is not easy to come by, it is quite possible that there are many other specimens that existed in the laboratory or at least the experiment was performed several additional times to create several other Mewtwos. If there is one thing mankind is known for, it is repeating terrible mistakes over and over.

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