In the twentieth anniversary year of the franchise, Pokémon has been making a comeback in a very big way. First, Nintendo announced that they would be releasing the original series of handheld games – Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow versions – on the 3DS eShop back in February. Quickly, these became some of the highest grossing titles on the online store. Over the summer, augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go became one of the highest-grossing and most downloaded apps almost overnight. Last, but certainly not least, this fan-favorite franchise made history with recent titles, Pokémon Sun & Moon, becoming two of Nintendo's fasting selling games.
In celebration of this anniversary year for the franchise, we have constructed a timeline detailing the history of the Pokémon Universe. While both the anime and the game series have a similar storyline, there are numerous differences. This article, however, will specifically focus on the history as detailed in the fan-favorite video games. From the beginning of the universe to the most current events and nearly everything in between, this article will recall noteworthy events from the Pokémon world.
Here is the Complete History of the Pokémon Universe.
It is not yet known how, but in the midst of a vortex of nothingness an egg was created, and hatched from this egg was the legendary Pokémon Arceus. Arceus, also known as “The Original One,” is widely regarded as the creator of the entire Pokémon Universe. In addition to this noteworthy accomplishment (understatement of the year), the legendary beast is also credited with the creation of the Lake Guardians as well as the Creation Trio. The Lake Guardians, of course, refer to Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf who each reside over the three lakes of Sinnoh while the Creation Trio is comprised of Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina. At the beginning of the universe, however, it was the Creation Trio that was first given life by The Original One.
In order to assist in the formation of the Pokémon world, Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina were each given power over their own respective dimensions. Dialga was given space, Palkia was given time, and Giratina was given control over antimatter, and later, the Distortion World – an alternate dimension designed as punishment by Arceus. Together, they created the entire Pokémon world as we know it today.
Arceus’ companions may have been among the first to appear in the Pokémon universe, but they were not alone for long. It is believed that millions of years ago, another legendary trio came into being. Formed by the trenches of the deep seas as well as the magma deep below the Earth’s crust, both Kyogre and Groudon, respectively, were created. Additionally, Rayquaza is said to have been formed by the elements within the ozone layer.
At this time, it is also believed that Regigigas, a legendary titan Pokémon, divided the continents, therefore creating the various regions of the Pokémon world. Additionally, Regigigas served as the creator for three other legendary titans, Regirock, Regice, and Registeel, and when this trio is gathered together today, it is said that the aforementioned Regigigas will once again come to life. In addition to these numerous legendary beasts, it is widely theorized that mythical first generation creature Mew lived in large numbers around the Pokémon world at this time.
Some millions of years ago, it is said that the first humans appeared in the Pokémon world. While evolution is known to having taken place in the Pokémon world (thanks to Alolan forms from the latest titles Pokémon Sun & Moon), it is still uncertain where humans came from exactly. Did humans in the Pokémon universe evolve from primates? Are there even animals in the Pokémon universe? Well, it is true that Pokémon are very animal-like, but contrary to popular belief, they are not actually animals. In fact, Pokémon are often referred to in relation to their animal counterparts. For example, the franchise’s beloved mascot, Pikachu, is known as an “electric mouse” according to the anime.
Animal references are rare in both the anime as well as the game series, and appearances are even less frequent. That being said, both references and appearances have happened, meaning that animals do, in fact, exist in the Pokémon world. Therefore, it is possible that humans in the Pokémon universe could have evolved from primates, however, it is also possible that Arceus created them outright millions of years ago.
Some time before the last Ice Age, prehistoric Pokémon – i.e. Aerodactyl, Cranidos, Kabutops, Shieldon – were believed to have been widespread. However, a number of them eventually went extinct, likely before the last ice age concluded. It is also possible that the Mew population decreased dramatically during this period of time as well.
Contrarily, the Mamoswine population flourished during the last Ice Age, though it decreased again when this period came to a close. For some unknown reason, Magikarp mutated around the same time, perhaps becoming much weaker.
After centuries of human worship, aforementioned legendary titans Regigigas, Regirock, Regice, and Registeel were sealed across the Hoenn region. Regigigas is sealed at the Snowpoint Temple, Regirock resides in the Desert Ruins and the Underground Ruins, Regice in the Island Cave, Iceberg Ruins, or in the mountains, and Registeel in the Ancient Tomb, Iron Ruins, and the Underground Ruins. Again, only when the three titans are gathered can the legendary titan, Regigigas, be brought back to life.
One of Pokémon X & Y’s more intriguing, albeit bizarre, storylines, was that of mysterious giant AZ who fought in the Kalos War around 3000 years ago. The Kalos War describes a dark period in the history of the series’ universe in which Pokémon fought alongside each other as well as against each other in a series of horrifying battles. During this time, many Pokémon on both sides perished.
Legend has it, that during the Kalos War, there was a man who loved his partner Pokémon more than anything in the world. His Pokémon was called off to fight in the war and died in battle several years later. Grief-stricken by this grave tragedy, the man created a device that was designed to bring his beloved Pokémon back to life. It succeeded; however, the man was still angry at the world that took the life of his friend in the first place, so he converted his machine into a weapon and, in one fell swoop, ended the war by taking the lives of countless Pokémon. Sickened by this act, the Pokémon left his partner, leaving the man saddened and full of regret once again.
Thousands of years ago, primal energy flowed freely throughout the Pokémon world. Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre, both of which were introduced during Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, fought over this ‘primal energy’ in relentless battles that caused the people of the time to fear for their safety. The third piece of the legendary trio (commonly referred to as the weather trio), a legendary Pokémon by the name of Rayquaza, intervened and quelled the fighting between the two beasts. A period of peace then befell the land, at least for the time being.
About 1000 years later, a meteoroid crash landed on the Earth’s surface, unleashing even more natural energy. Due to the sudden release of natural energy, Groudon and Kyogre returned to their continuous and dangerous battles. Again, people of the time were scared for their respective lives. Hearing tales about how Rayquaza came down to save mankind once before, humans of the time gathered together and summoned the legendary Pokémon. Once again, Rayquaza returned to stop the fighting between Kyogre and Groudon, saving mankind for the second time.
Both the Bell Tower as well as the Brass Tower were constructed less than a thousand years ago. Both second generation legendary birds, Lugia and Ho-Oh, perched atop these respective towers. The Pokémon rested on top of the towers for the next 550 years until the Brass Tower burned down, unfortunately killing three Pokémon that were inside at the time. Lugia then fled to the Whirl Islands, where it still hides today, and Ho-Oh resurrected the three Pokémon as the legendary dogs, Raikou, Entei, and Suicune. Additionally, the first Pokémon League championships took place around this time.
During this time span, several other notable events took place in the Johto region as well. About 500 years ago, the Cianwood City Pharmacy was built, a pharmacy that still stands just north of Cianwood City today. About 100 years later, Azalea Town in Johto encountered some hardships in the form a long-term drought. Fortunately, Slowpokes in Johto summoned the much-needed rain, and the Pokémon has held an honorable position in the town ever since.
Pokémon – again, generally referring to the lore within the video games themselves – is infamous for a handful of dark storylines and Pokédex entries. As a family-friendly series, the video game franchise, in addition to the anime, rarely strays into the realm of inappropriateness, but upon further examination, it can be quite grim at times. One of these rare instances of surprisingly dark themes comes in the form of the fourth generation Pokémon Spiritomb.
While there have been numerous Ghost and Dark-type creatures before it, Spiritomb appears to be the first truly evil Pokémon. Said to be comprised of over 100 evil spirits, Spiritomb is certainly much more malevolent than Ghost-type Pokémon from previous generations, which appear to be more of a mischievous nuisance, rather than nefarious. This Pokémon is so evil, in fact, that its spirit was sealed away into an item, simply referred to as a Keystone, due to numerous destructive deeds committed while at large, with the first known sealing of a Spiritomb said to have occurred over 400 years ago.
It is hard to imagine Pokémon without the Pokéball. Completing the main objective of the game series, coinciding with the franchise’s famous mantra, requires Pokéballs to capture new, undiscovered Pokémon. In fact, the modern Pokéball an iconic image, recognizable to millions (perhaps even billions) across the globe. That said, the modern Pokéball was not even invented until 1925, in which it was being developed by Professor Westwood of Celadon University. It is true that Pokéballs existed in one capacity or another for at least 300 years prior to Professor Westwood’s invention, but the modern ball, as we know it today, is less than 100 years old.
Before Pokéballs, the task of training Pokémon was considered quite dangerous. Numerous trainers lost their lives in the process of doing so. In fact, the notoriously short-tempered Primeape was cited as being directly responsible for its creation. So, not only is the Pokéball an excellent invention for the trainer wishing to capture and transport his or her Pokémon with ease, but it is also a safety precaution.
With Pokémon being much easier to transport, thanks to the invention of the modern Pokéball, several trainers decided to bring their favorite Pokémon along on their travels to various locations. As a popular tourist destination, Alola has always been bustling with people from outside lands, oftentimes resulting in foreign Pokémon finding new habitats on one of the four islands. This has even resulted in some very interesting evolutionary outcomes.
Those who have picked up a copy of the latest titles in the Pokémon franchise, Sun & Moon, may have noticed that quite a few first-generation Pokémon have received Alolan forms, a variant version of previously established creatures – each of which, containing their own evolutionary explanation. While numerous first Pokémon from previous generations can be found throughout the Alolan Islands, only a small handful received an Alolan form: Rattata, Raticate, Raichu, Sandshrew, Sandslash, Vulpix, Ninetails, Diglett, Dugtrio, Meowth, Persian, Geodude, Graveler, Golem, Grimer, Muk, Exeggutor, and Marowak.
Many confuse Ash, the anime’s main protagonist of over 900 episodes, with Red, the video game series’ main protagonist. This is an honest mistake considering that Ash was based on Red, but nevertheless, both heroes remain different characters entirely.
Following the story of an 11-year-old kid (10 in the Western version of the game series) from Pallet Town, Pokémon Red, Blue, Yellow, Fire Red, and Leaf Green feature this bright-eyed protagonist as he journeys across the Kanto region, collecting brand new Pokémon and earning gym badges. His dream to become the world’s greatest Pokémon trainer leads him to eventually challenge the Elite 4 as well as the Pokémon League Champion, childhood rival Blue.
While Red is the unequivocal star of the original Pokémon titles as well as their subsequent remakes, this character has popped up in several mainline Pokémon titles since. With Red being born sometime in the mid-'80s, this fan-favorite character grew up alongside gamers and Pokémon fanatics for the past 20 years.
Those familiar with the original Pokémon titles, Red, Blue, and Yellow versions, or perhaps even those who have revisited these classic entries after Nintendo placed them on the eShop last February to celebrate the franchise’s twentieth anniversary, may recall Saffron City had two gyms. Only one of the city’s two gyms would offer players a Pokémon League recognized gym badge, but for those looking to add either fighting Pokémon, Hitmonchan or Hitmonlee, to their respective Pokédex, a visit to Saffron’s legendary fighting gym is a must.
The game series never divulges into great narrative detail concerning its respective backstories, but, interestingly enough, it appears as though Saffron City had a bit of a scuffle surrounding the decision to name an official gym. The decision was between Sabrina’s gym and the fighting dojo just to the north, and as fate would have it, Sabrina’s psychic-type Pokémon prevailed, leading her to be the accredited gym leader of Saffron City.
Mewtwo is perhaps one of the most popular Pokémon in the history of the franchise. Additionally, he is one of the most recently discovered species, having been manufactured in a lab only years before Red started his Pokémon journey. Looking to create the world’s most powerful Pokémon, a team of scientists – hired and funded by the nefarious Team Rocket – succeeded in creating a clone of the mysterious legendary creature Mew. Having finally succeeded in their endeavors, the scientists cleverly dubbed this creature the name Mewtwo.
Mewtwo quickly became self-aware, and not to mention a bit moody on top of it all. His subsequent adventures are documented in the franchise’s first film Pokémon: The First Movie, which is not too far off from how the video game series describes the events. Essentially, Mewtwo nearly burns down the lab on Cinnabar Island and retreats to Cerulean Cave before being captured by legendary Pokémon trainer Red.
One of Nintendo’s greatest set of villains can be found in Giovanni and his band of thugs who answer to the name Team Rocket. Sure, Team Rocket may not have had profound character motivations or rich backstories, but they were diabolical, and gamers of all ages easily grasped that concept.
Team Rocket had been behind countless less than questionable acts that led them to be one of the most feared criminal organizations in the history of the Pokémon universe. Kidnapping, experimenting on Pokémon, and Pokémon theft are just a few examples of crimes that were common among Team Rocket members, but Red quickly put an end to their wicked ways through Pokémon battles. Giovanni and his respective gang lasted two gaming generations until they finally disbanded sometime after the events of Gold and Silver, leaving Red’s longtime rival, Blue, the responsibility of tending to the Viridian City Gym where he served as the gym leader.
Many events have transpired over the course of the entire history of the Pokémon universe, but in the modern age, perhaps no one person has been a greater catalyst for change than the aforementioned Pokémon trainer Red. Making his way through the entirety of the Kanto region, winning all eight gym badges, and taking on the Elite 4, Red quickly made his name as the best trainer in the Pokémon world.
Not only did Red defeat Team Rocket, forcing them to disband, but he also went on to become Pokémon League Champion after besting Blue in a Pokémon battle. As mentioned earlier, Blue went on to serve as the Viridian City Gym Leader after losing to his childhood rival. After years as acting Pokémon League Champion, Red retreated to Mt. Silver where he continued to train. Dragon-type trainer Lance then resumed his role as Pokémon League Champion and the Elite 4 continued to shuffle around with new members over the years. However, Red has managed to make appearances in various Pokémon titles over the years, including the franchise’s most recent, and historically successful games Pokémon Sun & Moon.
What are your favorite storylines from the history of the Pokémon Universe? Make sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments section.