The Pokémon franchise is a powerful boi, to put it eloquently. Originating as a Game Boy game, the title’s popularity soon spurred the creation of a trading card game, an anime and other forms of media and entertainment. The aforementioned anime has been running for more than two decades, and is often an entry point for young, soon to be fans of the franchise. Thus, it might surprise you that the anime has literally no idea what it’s doing!
That’s right, the Pokémon anime has its own set of rules, and rarely follows the games and their conventions. They operate completely differently. While the anime is known for all sorts of contrived nonsense, one topic that isn’t discussed as much is the butchering of known moves. Attacks that exist in both the anime and games are often completely different from one another. In fact, we’ll be looking at 20 of these moves in this list. 20 moves that are different in the show than they are in the games. Let me know any that I may have missed in the comments below. Let’s get into it.
20 Light Screen
In the games, Light Screen is known for being a handy special defense boosting move. However, the anime version of this move is known for just… blocking any and all attacks? Prevalent in the Mr. Mime centric episodes, light screen was shown to just be a wall that a literal tank couldn’t bust through.
And Ash’s mom is using this thing to clean her house. Goodness.
Go conquer a nation or something, you clearly have the means to.
One of the changes that makes sense in the anime, Dig can be used to damage the opponent or to quickly move around the field and confuse the opponent. Whichever you’re in need of for the current battle. This just adds a bit of utility to the move from its game counterpart. Considering you just disappear for a little bit in the games, the anime version is certainly the superior of the two.
18 Dragon Tail
If Dragon Tail is used in a trainer battle, the next Pokémon in the target’s party will be swapped out for their current Pokémon. Oh, except for in the anime.
There the target just gets a lil' tail slap.
That’s really all there is to it. Dragon Tail is just a normal damage dealing move in the anime, and loses the utility that it carries with it in the games. Getting smacked in the face with a dragon’s tail probably does hurt though!
17 Horn Drill
Horn Drill is a move that is famous for being one of the Pokémon game’s few One Hit KO (OHKO) moves. While having a very low accuracy, if the move lands, it instantly knocks out the opposing Pokémon. While it is a gamble to use, it certainly has a lot of viability as well.
In its anime counterpart, the user um, drills its horn?
While it can be a powerful move, it is in no way the OHKO move that players of the games know it as.
Gust is a move in the Pokémon games that just does some damage. This is one of those moves that has a lot more utility in the anime, as you can use it to blow back your enemies and keep them preoccupied for a moment. This difference actually makes sense with the move being a gust of wind, and makes the anime version is actually superior to the game's version. I mean if we're being honest it's kind of just bad in the games.
15 Vine Whip
Vine Whip is a fairly straightforward damaging grass type move in the games. Simple. However, in the anime, the move actually has much more utility, and can be used in a variety of different ways to trap or otherwise get a leg (vine) up on the opponent. This truly just makes a fairly boring move have a bit more flair in its anime counterpart, which is never a bad thing.
In the Pokémon titles, Agility is your standard speed boosting attack. The anime counterpart is literally just blasting across the field at breakneck speed, usually to combo into an awesome Tackle attack (which has no business being as powerful as it is in the anime, by the way).
Like most of the moves on this list, Agility is far better in the anime than the games. It also allows the animators to reuse the same clip of Pikachu running on a blue background over and over, so I’m sure they don’t mind that.
13 Seismic Toss
Seismic Toss is one of the most powerful moves of all time. In most cases, the attacking Pokémon takes the target into the air, even up to space, before slamming them down back into the earth at incredible speeds. Powerful doesn’t even begin to cut it. A knockout is all but assured when using this move. That is, in the anime. In the games, it does damage equal to the user’s level. Do you see the disconnect there?
In the games, substitute is a very powerful move that allows the user to take some damage in order to create a doll to take damage for it. It can last for a number of turns depending on a variety of different aspects. However, in the anime, it is used as kind of a dodge, with a double of the Pokémon appearing to take a single hit. Seems to be a move not worth teaching. But hey, anime trainers don’t have to deal with a 4 move limit, so why not teach it anyway?
11 Psyduck’s Confusion
Being needed to get hit in the head with a frying pan in order to get into the battle probably isn’t ideal, but hey it gets the job done for Misty’s Psyduck. And boy does he get to work. While confusion is your standard psychic attack in the games, in the anime, it is a duck releasing an intense amount of psychokinetic energy that can send people flying to another country. That’s my kind of duck, man! Sign me up!
The move ingrain allows the user to plant itself into the ground, and while it now can’t escape from battle, it can recover health every turn. This is a useful but risky move to use that can pay off in spades if used right.
However, the anime version of this move literally is just sprouting vines to throw around your opponents with.
Except for pretty much the entire everything, this move is similar in its anime and games variants.
9 Sheer Cold
Sheer Cold is known to make the battlefield very sheer and very cold in the anime. In the games, it is known for literally wiping anything out with a single hit. That’s right, in Pokémon games, Sheer Cold is one of the OHKO moves that have a 30% accuracy rate.
This is absolutely not the case in the anime, where everything just gets a lil' bit icier.
I mean, it would really take away from the drama to have OHKO hits in the anime, so I get it.
8 Double Team
Double Team is truly the epitome of being two completely different things in the anime and the games. In the video games, your Pokémon raises its evasiveness stat. Okay, sounds good. In the anime, it just kind of clones itself 40 times, and your enemy better be sure to attack the right one.
Usually, the cloned Pokémon just kind of stands there menacingly until their opponent chooses one to attack.
I mean, if I was scrapping with 40 men that looked exactly the same at once, I’d probably be pretty scared. One would probably do the trick honestly.
My worst nightmare of the mess that is generation one, Wrap. In the games, Wrap is a move that can continue throughout multiple turns, dealing damage with each one.
In the anime, the target just gets a lil' squeeze (that may hurt a bit) and that's the end of it.
The two differ greatly in terms of power and strategy, and I'd take the game version any day over the anime.
6 Leech Seed
Leech Seed is a simple HP draining move in the games that can be quite useful.
In the anime, it is a virus that will stop at nothing to subdue and eliminate its host… cute.
Yeah, in the anime, on top of sapping the target's health, it also physically restrains them from moving. This immediately ups the move from threatening and useful to "oh my lord run, he's got a leechey seed."
Teleport is stupid in Pokémon games! That’s all.
Okay, I should probably elaborate. In the games, Teleport is known to, well I mean teleport yourself right out of battle, pretty self-explanatory. But that’s all it can do. What it can’t do is teleport your Pokémon around the field to gain an advantage, like it’s able to in the anime. Essentially, this move is just the bane of trainers who want to catch an Abra in the games. Anime trainers just can’t relate.
While smokescreen lowers the target’s accuracy in the games, let’s be realistic here, in the anime it is solely used by Team Rocket to escape.
I’m sure there’s some example, but I really cannot think of a single time in the anime that this move was used and it wasn’t just an escape ploy of some sort of ill-conceived theft.
Pokémon who have this move were honestly made specifically to be used by villains.
A generation one classic, Supersonic is a move known for causing confusion in the Pokémon franchise. That is in the games.
In the anime, it is just a very loud screech, like the ones I deliver in times of great stress.
It is so loud, in fact, that opposing Pokémon and their tiny lil' ears just can’t handle it, so they cover their ears, allowing for the user to land an attack. That’s just mean if you ask me.
In the games, Thrash is a move that is used over the course of a few turns that, when over, confuses the user. This doesn't really happen in the anime. The user just kind of fist fights its opponent and then that's the end of it. It's only been used by a few Pokémon in the anime, but I don't know why. Who doesn't want to watch a Jigglypuff punch a Primeape in the face?
Did you really not see this one coming? Anywho, we all know Ash isn't the… best trainer, and he really doesn't even win his first two badges at all. Friendship wins all!
But seriously, his battle with Brock was complete nonsense, and by overcharging Pikachu with electricity, he is able to somehow damage both Geodude and Onix with electric attacks, such as Thunderbolt. The anime isn't exactly known for following the rules though, we should expect this. At least it isn't Thunder Armor.