Pikachu’s “Black Tail” Explained

Ash Pikachu

There is a surprising number of people who think that Pokémon’s mascot, Pikachu, had a black-tipped tail. These people wonder when and why the producers removed the black tip from Pikachu’s tail. But is that true? Did Pikachu really have a black tail?

Pikachu doesn’t have a black-tipped tail because it never had a black-tipped tail. People probably confused the black tips of its ears with its tail, thinking – wrongly – that he actually had a black-tipped tail, as well as the ears, but that never actually happened.

There is a relatively common (mis)conception that Pikachu’s tail has a black stripe on its tip. In the rest of the article, we’re going to analyze that issue and give you the answer to whether it ever really was like that and, if it was, why the designers and the animators decided to change it. Ever heard about the Mandela effect? Well, if not, you are going to find out what it is very soon!

Does Pikachu Have a Black Tail? Fully Explained

So, as far as we can see, every main iteration of Pikachu, despite all the variations between them, both in the games and in the anime, has a yellow tail, with a brown patch at it’s base. There is no black patch or stripe on Pikachu’s tail. But, what about this picture, then:


So, this is obviously a Pikachu. The one on the left looks like the one described everywhere. The one on the right, on the other hand, has a black-tipped tail and it has no brown patch at the tail’s base. We know for certain that the picture on the left is real, but what about the one on the right? Is it also real, meaning that there exists such a variation, or is it fake?

We’re sorry to disappoint you, but the one on the right, as well as any other variation with a black-tipped tail (except Cosplay Pikachu, but more on that later), is fake. Pikachu does not have a black-tipped tail. In fact, its tail doesn’t have any black stripe or patch on it, save for the aforementioned exception.

So, why do people think that it does? This is a classic example of the so-called Mandela effect, a phenomenon where a lot of people share the same false memory; a false memory is described as a “phenomenon where a person recalls something that did not happen or recalls it differently from the way it actually happened.”

So, when you have a false memory on a grander scale, it is sometimes dubbed the Mandela effect. This is what happened here. Someone, somewhere, at some point, falsely remembered that Pikachu had a black patch on its tail. This was shared and the false memory became a “fact”, despite being completely false.

This is why this false idea still persists, despite there being more than enough evidence to prove otherwise. Pichu, Pikachu’s prior form, has a tail that is completely black, but as it evolves, the black fades into brown, which is what we see in Pikachu. So no, Pikachu does not have a black tail.

Did Pikachu Ever Have a Black Tail?

The answer to this question is somewhat more complex than the answer to the latter question. Namely, the main version of Pikachu never had a black tail. Its tail was always yellow, regardless of whether you’re comparing the anime or the video games, or both groups.

Also, there are no gender-related changes as well; both a male and a female Pikachu have the same colors on their tails. This is a game-based example, comparing different iterations of Pikachu in different versions of the Pokémon games:


As you can clearly see, every version of the character has a yellow-brown tail. Yes, even the Red/Green one, since the blackish color at the base is actually brown, but seems black due to the coloring scheme of the original games. The only black element on Pikachu’s body are its ears, whose tips are black. And that’s it. Sort of. There is an exception:


Here, we have a group of five female Pikachu (they have heart-shaped tails) whose tails have a black tip. So, there is a black-tailed Pikachu after all? Well, yes and no.

First of all, we’d like to stress out that these versions of the character, called Cosplay Pikachu, are new to the franchise, as they appeared in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, the Generation VI remakes of the original Generation III games. Basically, Coslplay Pikachu is a Generation VI character, while the black-tailed Pikachu false memory is much, much older than these games, which is why these versions of the character are definitely not the source of the false memory.

Cosplay Pikachu is actually a variant of the original Pikachu; it is always female, has a black heart-shaped spot at the end of its tail, and can be dressed in any of five outfits corresponding to the five Contest conditions. The player receives it as a gift in the video games, while the group latter also appeared in the anime series.

Why they tails have a black tip is not known, but in that way, this variation does confirm that there is a black-tailed Pikachu, but only as a variation that is certainly not the source of the false memory associated with Pikachu’s tail.

Does Pikachu Have Stripes on Its Back?

Well, this one is quite easy to answer, really. Pikachu does, indeed, have two brown stripes on its back and that is one of its trademarks, as confirmed in every material where the Pokémon made an appearance, regardless of the material or the Generation.

What Does Pikachu Look Like?

It is not surprising that Pikachu became so popular. He is enormously cute and thanks to that, he managed to be a breakthrough creature for the whole franchise. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not, the chances that you don’t know what Pikachu looks like are very slim.

The guy is really so popular that he is known all around the world, even by older people who’ve never watched or played Pokémon. So, what exactly does he look like? Well, you’ve seen the pictures, but this is how Bulbapedia, the leading online authority on the subject, describes Pikachu like this:

“Pikachu is a short, chubby rodent Pokémon. It is covered in yellow fur with two horizontal brown stripes on its back. It has a small mouth, long, pointed ears with black tips, and brown eyes. Each cheek is a red circle that contains a pouch for electricity storage. It has short forearms with five fingers on each paw, and its feet each have three toes. At the base of its lightning bolt-shaped tail is a patch of brown fur. A female will have a V-shaped notch at the end of its tail, which looks like the top of a heart. It is classified as a quadruped, but it has been known to stand and walk on its hind legs.”

– Bulbapedia, article: Pikachu