Professor Oak is almost as much a mascot for Pokémon as Pikachu is. Many gamers of a certain age have fond memories of picking their first starter from him back in the Red & Blue days. His was the first face they met and who introduced them to this strange new world of adventure called Pokémon. Even if he had to ask whether they were a boy or a girl. Professor Oak was the kindly old scientist perfect to welcome gamers in and he's been doing so in the numerous remakes and adaptations since. He's beloved for a reason.
But how much do gamers really know about the guy? Think about it. For all the times we've met Professor Oak, and how many times we've gotten into rivalries with his grandson, the man himself remains a bit of a mystery. The rest of his family is never shown, his past has only been revealed in hints, and why exactly is he having ten-year-olds conduct his research? For a guy everybody seems to respect and admire, you'd think they'd tell us more about Professor Oak. If only so we could feel comfortable taking dangerous wild animals from him.
To that end, we've dug through the Pokémon canon for details on the good professor. That includes the games, the anime, the many manga adaptations, and even the spin-off games. What we found shows Professor Oak is even wilder than we thought.
These are 30 Crazy Things About Professor Oak That Were Hidden From Fans.
30 He Doesn't Think Ho-Oh Is Real
It's not like Professor Oak hasn't studied Legendary Pokémon either. He's the one who tells players about the Legendary Birds in Diamond & Pearl. Heck, he's studying the Legendary Meltan right now. Yet he has doubts about Ho-Oh. In the anime, when Ash tells him about seeing the rainbow phoenix Pokémon, Prof. Oak tells him it's nonsense. He says that people have spent their whole lives looking for Ho-Oh and that Ash should just forget it. Now, this may just be our interpretation, but that sounds like Professor Oak doesn't think Ho-Oh is real. You'd think a man of science would be a bit more open-minded.
29 He Didn't Give Ash Pikachu In The Comics
The Electric Tale of Pikachu comic adaptation differs from the usual Pokémon storyline in some big ways. One of the biggest though is that Ash didn't get his Pikachu from Professor Oak. Instead, Ash catches Pikachu while it's nibbling on the electrical wiring of his house.
Like it was an ordinary mouse or something.
In fact, Ash doesn't even meet Professor Oak until after he sets out on his Pokémon journey. This version of the professor seems to be much more hands-on in his research. Ash first meets him out in the wild living amongst a tribe of Clefairy.
28 He Has An Evil Impostor
Professor Oak must be a famous guy, because he has some evil dude out there pretending to be him. The Impostor Professor Oak was first introduced in the Pokémon trading card game, where his and the real professor's cards had opposite effects. But who exactly this guy is remains a mystery. Some connection to Team Rocket has been speculated, and in two episodes of the anime James did disguise himself as Professor Oak. Another version from the manga had Sabrina's Kadabra pretend to be Oak as well to trick Ash into thinking he'd been taken. I guess we'll never know.
27 He Was A Pokémon Champion In His Youth
It's easy to forget that older people used to be young and Professor Oak is no exception. He wasn't always the grey-haired scientist we know and love. So what was he up to back when he was Ash's age? The same thing Ash is doing. Oak confirms he was a successful Pokémon trainer in his youth, but he doesn't mention that he was actually the Indigo League Champion. This has been hinted at in the original games and the Pokémon: Origins anime, but it was outright stated in the Pokémon Adventures Manga. It was back then that Oak met many of his future friends like Agatha, Kurt, and Mr. Pokémon.
26 He Still Competes In Disguise
While he's much more of a scientist these days, Professor Oak can still battle with the best of them. Occasionally, he still competes in the league under the alias "Dr. O." He wears a mask and everything.
Oak's a pretty versatile trainer too.
When he went up against the trainer Green, a girl who'd once stolen a Squirtle from him, he knew she had a fear of birds. So he filled up his team with Bird Pokémon to scare her and win the match. Huh, that's actually kind of a dick move if you think about it.
25 Gary Isn't His Only Grandchild
Gary Oak is a jerk. Good thing he's not the professor's only grandchild. Yes, many players forget about Gary's older sister Daisy Oak. She's the one in Pallet Town's other house that will give you the Town Map after you pick your starter. Gary told her not to, but she's the older sister so why should she listen to him? And while Gary is going off to be a Pokémon Master, Daisy is more closely following in grandfather's footsteps. She serves as his research assistant and is also a champion Pokémon Coordinator. A shame she wasn't put into the anime.
24 He Seems To Favor Normal-Types
While he's got dozens of different Pokémon types at his lab, Professor Oak seems to favor Normal-types himself. The herd of Tauros he keeps in the back is always shown, and he has one on his personal team as well. But Eevee appears to be his favorite. He's seen with one in the opening of the Pokémon: Origins anime and was going to give the player one in Pokémon Yellow. Before Gary took it first anyway. The same thing happens in the Switch games Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! Except you actually can get the Eevee this time.
23 An Omanyte Fossil Inspired Him To Become A Professor
We know Professor Oak was champion Pokémon trainer in his youth, so what brought about his career change? Why'd he move into research instead? Turns out he actually wanted to be a Professor first. In the anime episode "Fossil Fools", Oak tells Ash that he got the inspiration when he was six-years-old. He was on a museum field trip and the spirals of an Omanyte fossil made him want to study Pokémon. Discovering living Omanyte in that episode was mind-surprising for him. Of course, anyone who watched Twitch Plays Pokémon will understand that. An Omanyte fossil is a deity to them.
22 He Writes Pokémon Poetry
Oak may be a man of science, but he shows an appreciation for the arts as well. Not only was he a skilled sketch artist in his youth, but he also loves to compose poems about Pokémon. These are usually haiku about whatever Pokémon he's researching. Here's one:
One Per Household,
A Private Power Generator"
It might lose something in translation. Professor Oak actually had a segment at the end of the anime where he would talk about the Pokémon in question and read his poem. Funnily enough, his poems are what some Trainers know him best for.
21 His Family Runs Pallet Town
It often seems like Professor Oak is the leader of Pallet Town. His lab is the biggest building there after all. But no, he isn't actually in charge of the town. His family is though. According to the anime novelizations by Takeshi Shudo, the Oaks are the first family of Pallet Town. The professor's two brothers are the mayor and the postmaster respectively. It didn't start with them either. Oak's Grandfather was the first Pokémon Trainer from Pallet Town to earn widespread acclaim, bringing a lot of attention to the little burg. Makes you wonder what his parents did, huh?
20 No One Knows Why He And Ash's Mom Are Such Good Friends
The exact nature of Professor Oak and Delia Ketchum's relationship is... unclear. They are neighbors of course, but their friendship seems to go beyond that. Whenever Ash calls home or at Prof. Oak's lab, it seems like the both of them are there, no matter which place he calls.
The two have also been shown going on vacation together.
Pokémon 3: The Movie did confirm that Delia was once a student of the Professor's in her younger days, but again we aren't given many details. That hasn't stopped some fans from speculating. Most seem to think they're having a love affair.
19 His Children Have Passed Away
Given that Gary is Professor Oak's grandson, it's been an open question of who the Professor's children are. Are they alive? Is Professor Oak Gary's paternal or maternal grandfather? Some have even speculated that Giovanni might be Professor Oak's son. Well, fans finally got an answer in the Pokémon Zensho manga. Gary and Daisy's parents, unfortunately, lost their lives in a car accident and the professor took them in. No word on which of the parents was his child though. Other Pokémon material has said that the Professor is Gary's paternal grandfather, but they don't share continuity with the Zensho manga.
18 Ash Met His Younger Self Through Time Travel
Here's where things get wild folks. In the movie Pokémon 4ever: Celebi-Voice of the Forest, a young Pokémon trainer named Sam is transported 40 years into the future by the legendary Pokémon Celebi. In the future, he met Ash Ketchum and the two helped protect Celebi from poachers. Everything worked out, and Sam went back to his own time. Then it's revealed that Sam was Samuel Oak, who'd grow up to be Professor Oak, and that the professor knew this entire time. He even kept his old sketchbook with a picture of Pikachu Sam drew. Time travel, not even once folks.
17 Twitter Got Involved With His Study Of Meltan
Even Pokémon Go treats Professor Oak like a big deal. Besides having the mobile game's own professor, Professor Willow, be a former student of Oak's, he also helped announce the new Legendary Pokémon Meltan. This actually led to some Twitter shenanigans. With Meltan being made for the new Switch games but debuting in Go, The Pokémon Company playfully asked on Twitter which Professor should take the lead in researching the New Legendary. Nintendo's Twitter said Oak. Niantic's Twitter said Willow. The Pokémon Company split the difference and said Both. Now the two are sharing research notes as viral marketing.
16 Dragonite Is His Most Used Pokémon
Though he was a Pokémon Champion once upon a time, Professor Oak still has a team for battling. But oddly enough, his Dragonite isn't on that time, even though he uses it the most. It was the only Pokémon the professor called out when battled the mirage Mewtwo in the episode "The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon." But Professor Oak's relationship with his Dragonite is kind of weird, to begin with. He treats the Pokémon more like an employee than a creature under his care. It's been seen in other episodes too, delivering mail and doing odd jobs for the Professor.
15 Charmander Was His Starter
He gives Trainers theirs, but have you ever wondered what Professor Oak's first Pokémon was? Well, the anime has answered that question, but in a weirdly roundabout way. Oak had a Charmander, but they never just say he had one. Agatha, Oak's old friend in the Elite Four, mentioned to Ash that he should talk to Oak about his ornery Charizard because he had the same problem. The one Pokémon we see Sam, Oak's time-traveling younger self in the fourth movie, use is a Charmeleon. The only place there's an explicit mention is in The Electric Tale of Pikachu manga.
14 His Invention Of The Pokedex Is A Time Paradox
Among other things, Professor Oak is famous for inventing the Pokedex to catalog all the different species. But that invention is a bootstrap paradox, an invention with no origin.
Let us explain.
Oak invents the Pokedex and gives it to Ash. Ash meets Oak's time-traveling younger self. Oak's younger self sees the Pokedex and is inspired to invent it. So Prof. Oak couldn't have been inspired to create the Pokedex if he hadn't invented the Pokedex. So where did the original idea for the Pokedex come from? This why you should always avoid time travel. It causes so many headaches.
13 He's Friends With Agatha Of The Elite Four
Professor Oak has been shown to have many old friends over the course of the franchise. One of the more surprising is Agatha, the Ghost-type member of Kanto's Elite Four. They were childhood friends, even rivals, back in the days when they were both Trainers. Something happened to sour their relationship though. Probably Oak's decision to give up battling for Pokémon research. Nowadays, Agatha sees him as a weak old fool who isn't cut out for battling. Oak probably isn't losing any sleep over their former friendship though. Agatha seems to be the only person with a negative opinion of him
12 He Was Originally The Final Boss
As stated at the top, Professor Oak is the first person we meet in the Pokémon games. If things had worked out as originally planned, he might have been the last too. On the Generation 1 games, there's unused data for Professor Oak's Pokémon team, implying players were supposed to battle him. Given the stats of his Pokémon, it looks like he would have taken the place of the Pokémon League Champion. For the curious, Oak's team was a Tauros, an Exeggutor, an Arcanine, a Gyarados, and the final evolution of whichever starter the player's starter was weak too.
11 He Has An In-Game Radio Show
As the first Pokémon Professor introduced in the series, Professor Oak is kind of famous. But he's also famous in-universe as well. While he resides in Kanto Region, Oak is well-known enough to host a radio show in Johto Region.
Kind of like the Pokémon Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Well, co-host anyway. He does the show with DJ Mary, whose enthusiasm for the project actually convinced him to do it. Their show, Professor Oak's Pokémon Talk, is broadcast on Channel 4.5 in the afternoons. In terms of gameplay, it lets players know where they can find certain Pokémon along the world map.
10 He's The Only Professor Involved In Spin-Off Games
As a huge multimedia franchise, Pokémon has more than a few spin-off games from the main series. One thing those games have in common is more focus on the Pokémon themselves. Not so much on human characters. Except for Professor Oak. Not only is he one of the few humans involved, but he's also the only Pokémon Professor involved with any of them. In fact, he's one of only two human characters in all of Pokémon Snap. Usually, it's in the form of testing out some new invention or using whatever the game's mechanic is to gather data. Even Pokémon Go mentions him.
9 He's Not Named After A Tree In Japan
It's pretty common knowledge that all Pokémon Professors are named after trees. Elm, Birch, Rowan, etc. That convention got its start with Professor Oak, but he wasn't meant to be named after a tree. That was a result of American localization. In Japanese, his name is Dr. Yukinari Okido and Okkido is the Japanese word for an orchid.
His name should be Dr. Orchid.
But it's not a totally botched translation. As it's written in certain characters, Okido can also mean, literally, "Big Tree Family." Many other East Asian translations are something similar. Appropriate for all the Professors who'd follow him.
8 His Cousin Is Also A Pokémon Professor
Samuel Oak might be the best known Professor Oak, but he isn't the only one. He has a cousin in the Alola Region, Samson Oak, who's also a Pokémon Professor. Samson appears in both the Sun & Moon games and the anime. As the person studying regional variants of Pokémon, he's the one who introduces the concept to players. Samson is also the principal of the Pokémon School, helping teach new trainers. The two Professors Oak often share research with one another, and look so similar they could almost pass for twins. If not for Samson's long hair and deep tan.
7 His Connections To The Sinnoh Region
Despite not making an appearance in the Diamond & Pearl games, Professor Oak is mentioned quite often in Generation 4. Part of this is because the region's Pokémon Professor, Prof. Rowan, was the man Oak studied under while earning his degree. But Professor Oak also has a house in Eterna City and apparently visits often. He can also get players into the Pal Park, where they can catch Pokémon from other regions, and give them the National Pokedex. The Professor does actually appear in Platinum, telling players about the Legendary Birds. A letter from Oak will also trigger a special event in-game.
6 He Has More Cards In The Card Game Than Any Other Non-Pokémon
Not counting the card of his impostor, Professor Oak has five cards in the Pokémon trading card game. That's more than any other non-Pokémon character in the series. He's also the only Pokémon Professor to get multiple cards and the only one to carry over through different generations. It just goes to show how influential Professor Oak has been as a character. Even in the card game, he's important. Some of his cards are very helpful too. All of them let you draw more cards or reshuffle your deck. It's cool to see the artwork showing him do research too.
5 He Ran A Summer Camp Where Serena Met Ash
Professor Oak has always served as something of a mentor to Ash. The young trainer often calls him up for advice about what he should do next in his journey. And sometimes Prof. Oak is guiding Ash toward his future without even knowing it. During the X & Y arc of the anime, it was revealed that Serena, Ash's female traveling companion for the arc, first met Ash at a Pokémon summer camp run by Professor Oak. Ash doesn't remember the meeting, unfortunately. But that's totally a Professor Oak move, doing what he can to get kids to love Pokémon.
4 He's Got A Smash Bros. Trophy
Super Smash Bros. as a crossover is the perfect way for Nintendo to celebrate its own history. The characters and series they don't make into fighters are at least lucky enough to get in-game trophies. So it's rather telling that for the Pokémon series, Professor Oak was one of only two non-Pokémon characters to get a trophy in Melee. Granted, he is a random trophy so players don't have to do anything special to earn him, but it's still an honor. The only other human Pokémon character to get a trophy in that game was Misty of all people.
3 He's The Professor To Appear In The Most Generations
It's a testament to how much people like Professor Oak that he keeps coming back in new games. He's appeared in more generations of Pokémon than any other Professor. In addition to Generation 1 and all its remakes, he's also a supporting character in Gold & Silver.
Heck, some fans prefer him more than Johto Region's Professor Elm.
That's got to sting for a guy who was Oak's student. And as mentioned, Oak gets more than a few shout-outs during Generation 4's Diamond & Pearl. Even Pokémon Go gives Professor Oak a mention, and that's not even a main series game.
2 Team Rocket Has "Taken" Him, Like A Bunch
Chalk it up to his celebrity, or maybe his skill with Pokémon, but Team Rocket keeps getting in Professor Oak's way. If they're not trying to impersonate him, they're trying to take him. And they've succeeded a couple of times. The first was part of the Gold & Silver storyline when they hold him and DJ Mary hostage when they took over the Goldenrod Radio Tower. The second was during the Pokémon Adventures manga, when Team Rocket taken
him to help finish their Mewtwo experiment. And this is on top of several people breaking into his lab. Dude needs to beef up his security.
1 He Has Over 100 Pokémon At His Lab
Professor Oak's Lab in Pallet Town, in the anime at least, almost seems like more of a nature preserve. In addition to a herd of thirty Tauros he has roaming around, there are dozens of other Pokémon there he's either studying or just housing.
The variety of environments is amazing.
He's got open plains for Normal and Ground Types. He's got forests for Grass and Bug Types. He's got pools for Water Types. And that's not even counting all the Pokémon he's keeping safe for Ash. How does he find time for research with all these Pokémon to care for?