Pokémon are very specific creatures, as you probably know by now. They are perceived as being immortal, but the fact it – just like other creatures – Pokémon can, in fact, die. Since this is not common knowledge and situations where Pokémon have died are actually very, very rare – we decided to help you understand the whole phenomenon in today’s article.
There are several ways Pokémon can actually die – by ageing, by sacrificing themselves, by some special condition or by overusing their powers. They can also die via evolutionary mechanisms, like being eaten.
Pokémon, which is short for Pocket Monsters, is a media franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori back in 1995. It is a fantasy franchise set in a world where humans live together with creatures called Pokémon, who take on different shapes and sizes. It started off as a series of video games for the Game Boy console, but soon expanded to other media. The video games and the anime (including the connected films) are the most popular brands today, although the franchise has expanded to even live-action movies like Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
How can Pokémon die?
In this section, we are going to show you the known ways Pokémon can die. Along with the means of death, we are going to present to you some examples, so that you can use them for points of reference if you want to see the scene for yourself.
It is a known fact that Pokémon actually can die of old age. The mere fact that Pokémon graveyards exist (they’re heavily featured in the games and are present in the anime) tells us that Pokémon can die of old age. But, along with this fact – that is a result of deductive reasoning – we’ve also seen this in the anime. It happened in the 7th episode of the Sun and Moon series (958th in total), where an elderly Stoutland died after protecting his friend, Litten, at the end of the episode. The Pokémon anime hasn’t given us many sad episode, but this one certainly is one of the rare examples.
2) Self sacrifice
Well, this is a common motive in fiction, where heroes of some sort give their lives to protect someone or something. Although Pokémon don’t feature many such scenes, it has been shown that a Pokémon can actually give its life up willingly to save someone else. In the movie Pokémon Heroes, we can see Larios willingly sacrificing itself to become the new Soul Dew, all in order to save the town of Alto Mare from destruction. The same thing happened in Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, where Lucario gave his life up to save the Tree of Beginning, just as his friend – Sir Aaron – did centuries before.
3) Evolutionary mechanisms
This hasn’t actually been shown on screen, but the PokéDex entry for the worm Pokémon, Wurmple, states that it is a common prey of Starly, which is why it has to run away and hide most of the time. Although not explicitly confirmed, it can be assumed that other worm-like Pokémon (like Caterpie, Weedle, etc.) share the same fate. This is actually proof that the world of Pokémon actually functions very similarly to the real-life world of animals and that Pokémon do eat other Pokémon. As far as humans and Pokémon go, this also hasn’t been shown on-screen, but it has been implied that humans do eat Pokémon and hunt them for food. Another PokéDex entry states that the Pokémon Sharpedo has almost been completely wiped out in the Alola region because its fins were used as food by the local.
As shown in the movie Pokémon 4ever, Pokémon can actually die from being over exerted, i.e., from forcing themselves too much. The Pokémon protagonist of the movie, the legendary Pokémon Celebi, enters into a chaotic state and wrecks havoc, before ultimately calming down. Still, after spending so much of its energy, the Celebi dies in Ash’s arms. Luckily enough, Celebi is a Pokémon that has the ability of time travel, so the main continuity Celebi was in fact saved by a Celebi from a different timeline, so all ended well in this instance.
5) Special conditions
Some Pokémon exist thanks to some special conditions and cannot continue living without them. This is not a very common phenomenon in the Pokémon franchise, but it is still a pert of the whole lore. The best example for this is the Pokémon Charmander, a well-known fire Pokémon, and its whole evolutionary line (Charmeleon and Charizard). Namely, Charmander and its evolutions have a small flame burning on the top of their tails, all three of them. As stated in Charmander’s debut in the anime, that fire is the essence of their lives. If the fire goes out, the Charmander dies; this is why Ash went out of his way to bring the wild Charmander to safety in that episode. The fire is, thus, a special condition and it its not met, the Pokémon dies.
6) Getting killed
Okay, this one might sound dark – but yes, Pokémon can actually get killed. This is a very rare occurrence and there haven’t been many such recorded cases. They can be killed by other Pokémon, but also by humans. The latter situation has one famous example set within the Pokémon Red and Blue video games, where it is revealed – after you arrive to Lavander Town – that Team Rocket actually killed one Marowak some time ago when it stood up to them and wanted to stop their evil plans.
These are all the main ways Pokémon can die. Maybe the creators are going to reveal some new way in the upcoming episodes or movies, but this is all there is for now. Now that we’ve seen this, we’ll go through some of the more famous Pokémon deaths in the franchise and, ultimately, explain some anomalies concerning the lifespan of Pokémon.
Famous Pokémon deaths
While explaining the different ways Pokémon can die, we’ve already laid out some examples for you, so we are not going to repeat them in this section. Here, you will see a list of other famous Pokémon deaths that have shocked fans of the franchise. Some of them have been reversed in the meantime, but some have remained facts. Let us proceed:
1) Looker’s Croagunk
Looker is a very interesting character in the franchise. He is a detective, first introduced in the Pokémon Platinum video game, later making an appearance in the anime. His partner was the frog Pokémon Croagunk and despite Looker’s quirkiness, they seem to have been a very effective team. Unfortunately, Looker reveals that he lost his Croagunk some time ago, suggesting that the Pokémon had died. The reasons and the circumstances have never been revealed.
2) Alder’s Volcarona
You don’t often get a Legendary Pokémon for a starter, but Unova’s champion, Alder, was that lucky. Alder is, by all standards, a very specific character within the franchise. Despite being the regional champion of Unova, he doesn’t linger around with the Elite Four waiting for a challenger, but rather travels the world and is actively involved in important events. He is a fan of Bug-type Pokémon and his famous partner was the Legendary Pokémon Volcarona. Volcarona was Alder’s partner before he became champion and – as it was revealed in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 – it died from an unknown illness. It was this trauma that inspired Aldrer to become a better trainer and, eventually, the champion.
3) The Legendary Beasts
The story of the Legendary Beasts – a trio of Legendary Pokémon introduced with the 2nd Generation – is a very interesting one. Namely, when the now-legendary Burned Tower actually burned down, three Pokémon burnt with it and died in the process. But the Legendary bird Pokémon, Ho-Oh, saw their bodies in the burnt building and revived them, thereby creating the Legendary Beasts – Entei, Raikou and Suicinue. Entei also has an individual incident in the third movie, where he sacrificed himself to stop the Unown from destroying the world. He disappeared along with the Unown, but it was never revealed whether he actually died or just went somewhere else. Still, it was worth mentioning here.
Darkrai is a Legendary Pokémon that is the “protagonist” of the movie Rise of Darkrai. In that movie, the Legendary Pokémon Palkia and Dialga had a fierce fight that threatened to destroy the world. Darkrai was the only Pokémon strong enough to stop them and it decided to intervene. Sadly for Darkrai, the two opposing Pokémon gave it their all and Darkrai took their strongest attacks, getting killed in the process. Luckily for Darkrai, Palkia and Dialga eventually reset the world, reviving Darkrai in the process.
5) Victims of Yveltal
The Legendary Pokémon Yveltal, who appeared in both the anime and a movie, is known as the “herald of death” in the Pokémon franchise. It is the embodiment of “Thanatos” (the Freudian death drive) in the world of Pokémon. One of its best-known traits is that it loves causing chaos and destruction just for the fun of it, mostly using its deadly attack called Oblivion Wing, which petrifies and kills its enemies. The anime showed a legendary scene from history, where Yveltal killed a Talonflame using its attack, while the movie Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction showed Yveltal kill Jessie, James and Meowth with its attack. Luckily for them, Yveltals rival, Xerneas – the “herald of life” – revived them later on.
6) AZ’s Floette
This one of the saddest and most bizarre stories in the whole franchise. It debuted in the Pokémon X and Y video games, where the player encounters a mysterious character known as AZ. The player soon finds out that AZ is actually one of the ancient kings of the Kalos region, but he is alive thanks to a machine that granted him immortality. AZ once had a beloved partner, the tiny flower Pokémon Floette, whom he sent into battle in one of the ancient wars fought in Kalos. The Floette died and AZ was crushed. He constructed a machine to revive it and succeeded, but Floette left him when it found out he had sacrificed other Pokémon to bring it back. They reunite at the end of the two games.
Before we conclude this article, we’d love to give you an insight into some anomalies present within the franchise that have not been explained so far.
Although most things ended up being explained one way or the other, two phenomena are still left without a proper explanation, and they are directly related to the question of the mortality of Pokémon. The first concerns certain Legendary Pokémon and the other Ghost Pokémon. Let us see what we know about them.
Legendary Pokémon are a group of unique, rare and exceptionally powerful Pokémon present in the franchise. They are usually involved in the legendary stories about the creation of certain regions. They are perceived as being extremely hard to catch and cannot breed; they also evolve rarely and usually have no gender. The question is, do Legendary Pokémon die?
Although it might seem theoretically possible for them to die, it seems that Legendary Pokémon (or some of them at least) are truly immortal, since they are known to have survived from ancient times. Rayquaza, Kyogre and Groudon are the best examples for this category. Still, some legendary Pokémon have died in the movies, so we can safely assume that they could be killed in some way, but them dying of natural causes seems highly improbable, if not impossible. The same goes for Mythical Pokémon.
Ghost Pokémon are technically ghosts, but they are alive at the same time and it’s fairly reasonable to deduce that they cannot die, since they’re already ghosts. Ghost-type Pokémon aren’t the same as Pokémon ghosts and it is known that Pokémon can actually become ghosts, without turning into Ghost-type Pokémon (the above-mentioned Marowak is a good example). So, we can safely assume that death does not crate Ghost-type Pokémon.
So, how are they created?
It is actually quite possible that Ghost-type Pokémon are born that way. So, your friendly neighborhood Duskull was probably born that way. Still, there are some Ghost-type Pokémon whose origins are known, like Froslass. Froslass’ story is actually pretty creepy – it is said that some Froslass are “born” from young women who die in cold mountains and then turn into the Pokémon after death.
And this is it for today. We’ve covered the topic of Pokémon deaths in this article and we hope you found it interesting. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!