Pokémon and Digimon are constantly compared to each other, and you don't have to look far to see why; both have "Mon" in the name, both center around kids using magical/elemental/super-powered animal-type creatures to fight battles, and both came out around the same time, in the mid to late '90s. Suffice to say, the two appear to be exact copies, and with the original Digimon toys coming out after the first Pokémon game was released, it appears as though one is a ripoff of the other. However, it's not as one-sided as it seems, as both properties have "borrowed" from each other throughout the years— be it by using the same animal as a basis for a monster or in larger ways, such as copying entire game or lore mechanics.
This back and forth of "shared ideas" has only stoked the flames of the "Digimon VS. Pokémon" debate, and while we're not here to decide once and for all which is better, we can provide some examples of the instances in which the two properties ripped each other off. Well, "rip off" might be a bit of a harsh term, since the basic idea of collectible creatures that kids can fight with is far from original, even before Pokémon hit the scene, but some of these instances of shared ideas are a little too close to be coincidences. Everything from similar creatures to straight up stolen concepts, let's take a look at all the times that Pokémon ripped off ideas from Digimon, and all the times that Digimon pulled ideas right out of Pokémon.
20 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: EGGS
Starting off, we have a concept that Pokémon surprisingly lifted from Digimon; eggs. Now, creatures coming from mysterious eggs is a pretty common idea in fantasy-like settings, but as the two franchises were so similar to begin with, this particular similarity is still worth pointing out.
Eggs were not present in the first Pokémon game. They were, however, present in the second generation of the series, which came out after the original Tamagotchi-like Digimon toys were released, which gave kids digital eggs to hatch into monsters to battle with. This concept itself was taken from Tamagotchi, but in the case of which "Mon" series did it first, this one goes to Digimon.
19 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: MON ABBREVIATION
Perhaps one of the most obvious similarities between Pokémon and Digimon is the shared "Mon" suffix. In both instances, this is short for "monsters," Pokémon meaning "Pocket Monsters" and Digimon expanding to "Digital Monsters." Abbreviations like this are not uncommon with Japanese properties, but which of these two did it first?
Well, contrary to popular belief, Digimon actually didn't come first; many believe that the Tamagotchi-like toys that launched the Digimon came first, but they actually hit stores about a year after the first Pokémon games, Red and Green, came out. This is to say that, since Pokémon came first, Digimon was the one that "copied" the "Mon" suffix.
18 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: SUN AND MOON
Since the very beginning, Pokémon games have been putting out two versions of each generation in order to sell more copies. The most recent generation release, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, brought players to the Alolan region of the world of Pokémon.
What does this have to do with Digimon? Well, before Sun and Moon were announced, Digimon put out their own dual releases (more on that later) entitled Digimon World: Dawn and Digimon World: Dusk. Not exactly the same concept, but we say it's a little too close to be a coincidence, especially since the the cover art for Digimon World featured a sun and a moon in the designs.
17 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: DOBERMAN MONSTER
We mentioned earlier that one of the more "minimal" examples of "shared" ideas between the two franchises are the multiple instances in which a Pokémon and a Digimon were based off the same animal. One of these examples is Dobermon, which looks vaguely similar to and shares its animal origins with Pokémon's Houndoom.
Now, this one could very well be a coincidence, but then again, basing a creature off of a dog would be okay, but basing them off of specific breeds? That's a bit suspicious. Not to mention both creatures have grey/silver spikes and/or bone-like augmentations to the animal they were based on.
16 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: Z MOVES
The main difference between Pokémon and Digimon, both in terms of the creatures and the basic nature of the franchises, is that Pokémon are super-powered pets, beloved ones at that. This very different to how Digimon are seen, as partners, with each Digi-destined only having one Digimon (save for a few instances) to call their own.
Digimon get stronger with the encouragement of, and bond with, their partners, Digivolving when their partner is in need of their strength and, in Data Squad, they can activate a power-up known as burst mode with their partner's help. This concept came quite a few years before the incredibly similar concept of Z-Moves that Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced later on, making us a bit suspicious.
15 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: MONSTER RPG CONCEPT
We've been skirting around the major issue of Pokémon versus Digimon, but it's time to get down to the big topic, the fact that Digimon lifted most of its major elements from Pokémon. The first Pokémon game came out in 1996, while the first Digimon toy was released in 1997.
Though Digimon takes ideas from Tamagotchi's digital pet concept, the idea of raising a magical monster creature's stats and battling them with other similar creatures is straight out of Pokémon. It's a little difficult to see since both franchise's started in different mediums, but as the two converged, it's not hard to see that the basic concept of Digimon borrowed a lot from Pokémon.
14 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: TREE TURTLES
Another example of shared creature concepts that may or may not be a coincidence comes in the form of Pokémon's Torterra, which looks like, and is similar in concept to, two different turtle Digimon: ElDradimon and Ebonwumon. Again, this one could easily be a coincidence, since the three creatures don't look identical, but it's still interesting to point out.
The two turtle Digimon predate Torterra's debut in Generation Four of Pokémon, so if the concept was inspired by these two Digimon, then one might call the creature a ripoff, however, the idea of a Turtle supporting some form of life on its back—which can be seen in all three creatures—is present in various mythologies, so this is likely a coincidence.
13 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: TRADING CARD GAME
Pokémon has found success in nearly every medium it has entered, including, and especially in, trading card games. Pokémon cards took over school yards when they were first introduced and to this day they continue to be one of the most popular outlets of the franchise.
Less popular, but still noteworthy, is the Digimon trading card game which, you guess it, was released after Pokémon cards started gaining popularity. Meaning, the popularity of Pokémon's trading card game could very well have influenced Digimon into putting out a competing product, one that, unfortunately, didn't quite do as well as the original did.
12 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: VARIANTS
There have always been Pokémon with variations, just not on the scale of the Alolan variants that came out of Sun and Moon. Originally, variant Pokémon were limited to some alternate coloring depending on gender or area, but nothing major like the Alolan variants.
If we don't count the alternate colors as true variants, then one could very well claim that the idea of variant Pokémon was taken from Digimon, which provided the same concept in the DataSquad series. DataSqaud gave us alternate and upgraded versions of familiar Digimon a good ten years before Sun and Moon gave us Alolan variants.
11 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: SPARROWMON'S CONCEPT
In yet another case of shared concepts going into the creation of a super-powered creature, Digimon's Sparrowmon shares a lot of traits with Pokémon's Latios and Latias. These two Pokémon were designed to look like jets with feathers, their designs predating Sparrowmon, which has the same concept minus the organic, animal-like overlay.
This instance is most likely not a coincidence, since, well, just look at the image above, the similarities are crazy! The two creatures have almost identical shapes, eyes, arm-length and overall concept, and since Latios and Latias predate Sparrowmon's debut, we're going to have to call shenanigans on Digimon.
10 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: PARTNER MONSTERS
Let's take a look at the major difference between the very first Pokémon game and Digimon's original digital pet toy: the number of monsters. By this we are referring to the fact that, in Pokémon games, a trainer is allowed to to catch and train as many Pokémon as they want, wherein Digimon, a player had one Digimon to take care of and battle with.
These concepts carried over into multiple media outlets, with Digimon focusing on the relationship between a person and their Digital Monster and Pokémon's motto being "Gotta catch 'em all." However, the latest Pokémon games Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go Eevee! have introduced the concept of partner Pokémon, which feels awfully similar to the relationship between humans and Digimon.
9 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: TWO GAME RELEASES
We mentioned earlier that Pokémon's main marketing strategy when it comes to games has always been about releasing two versions of the same generation of Pokémon, doubling the product with some slight variations between them. It's a smart marketing strategy that other franchises would incorporate, including Digimon.
Specifically, we are talking about the games that quite possibly "inspired" Pokémon's Sun and Moon titles, Digimon World: Dusk and Digimon World: Dawn. This dual release was clearly inspired by Pokémon's marketing strategy, since this was the first instance in which a Digimon game incorporated it after Pokémon had been doing it for years.
8 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: CANDLE CREATURE
Using candles as the basis for a monster is somewhat common in games, so this one isn't quite as strong of a case of ripping off as the others in this list, but it's still worth pointing out that Pokémon's Litwick shares some similarities with Digimon's Candlemon.
Aside from the obvious fact that both are candles, the two are also similar in lore, since Litwick's flame is its life source and if it goes out, the Pokémon passes on, similar to Candlemon, whose flame also keeps it alive, implying that the flame is the real Digimon and the candle is a decoy body.
7 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: RIVALS
This is another concept that could be attributed to anime and Japanese storytelling as a whole, but the rivalry/friendship between Matt and Tai of Digimon Adventure feels a bit similar to that of Ash and Gary and/or Red and Blue of the Pokémon anime and games. It's a bit of a stretch, but including a rivalry in the anime adaptation of Digimon may or may not have been inspired by the recurring rival character in all Pokémon games.
Regardless of whether or not this was taken from Pokémon, the rivalry of Tai and Matt, as well as T.K. and Davis of Digimon Adventure 02, play a lot like Ash/Red and Gary's/Blue's rivalry, the two spurning each other to get stronger while also being friends.
6 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: TAMAGOTCHI TOY
By now, you all know that Digimon began as a series of Tamagotchi-like games that allowed kids to take care of a monster and raise it into a strong fighter that battled against others with the toy. The concept was later used by Pokémon, which released a Pikachu digital pet toy about a year after Digimon toys became popular.
Obviously, the main inspiration for this toy was Tamagotchi, but the fact that it came after Digimon did the same concept definitely raises some eyebrows. We can't claim it was a ripoff, however, since Digimon is itself a battle-themed revamping of Tamagotchi.
5 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: KID PROTAGONISTS
Both Pokémon and Digimon did incredibly well with kids, since that's who the games, shows, and other media were aimed at. The concept of kids with magical/elemental animals was originated by Pokémon, since it was the first of the two franchises to release a full game rather than a digital pet toy, the first Pokémon game having you play as a kid on their first Pokémon journey.
This concept would be lifted and used for future Digimon media, as seen in the anime and games, since all the Digi-destined would be depicted as children and teenagers. This was a smart, if unoriginal choice by Digimon, as giving kids an avatar to project themselves on to in the games and anime is always a good idea.
4 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: SCARY TREES
Well, thanks for the dreams that will assuredly keep us from ever going into a forest! These two scary tree monsters look both eery and eerily similar, but one of them came first: Digimon's Cherrymon, which may or may not have inspired Pokémon's Trevenant's appearance and/or concept.
Cherrymon is something of a frightening forest guardian that could very well have served as the basis for Trevenant, though their shared scary tree concepts could also have just been a coincidence. As with other cases in this list, it's not hard to see similarities, but there are also plenty of differences that cancel out those similarities. Regardless, it's interesting to note that both franchises have frightening tree monsters in their midst.
3 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: ANIME ADAPTATION
Pokémon quickly saw success after its first game came out, thus the franchise was quick to expand into different mediums, an anime adaptation coming out about a year after the first game's release. The show was just as popular as the games and it soon took off in both Japan and the US, still going strong today with it's adaptation of the Alolan region games.
Digimon was just as eager to break into other mediums, as two years after the original toy came out, an anime adaptation was released in the form of Digimon Adventure. The anime helped bump up the franchise's popularity, so it's easy to say that copying Pokémon worked in Digimon's favor.
2 TAKEN FROM DIGIMON: TEMPORARY EVOLUTION
Though we're not here to claim which of these two fantasy monster franchises is better, we can say for certain the Pokémon is the much bigger, much more successful of the two franchises. That said, as big as Pokémon is, it is still prone to copying from its "lesser" competitor, since in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, the franchise introduced a concept similar to Digimon's digi-volution known as Mega Evolution
Mega Evolution allows a Pokémon to temporarily transform, a concept that is exactly the same as digi-volving, which allows Digimon to turn into their stronger forms to fight more powerful enemies for a short period of time. The concept is pretty blatantly Pokémon's version of digi-volving, and as such it sparked controversy upon its release.
1 TAKEN FROM POKÉMON: FIRE REPTILE
The final entry on our list is also the final instance of a Pokémon and a Digimon sharing traits, elements, and concepts that we've chosen to point out. In this case, we're talking about Agumon, who is similar to Pokémon's Charmander and his various evolutions.
Agumon, like Charmander, is an orange reptile creature with claws, green eyes, and fire-powered attacks. Agumon's next digi-volution form, Greymon, is also pretty similar in concept and appearance to Charmeleon—a darker, bigger and longer-tailed version of the first form—and Charizard—standing tall as a big lizard-like creature with three-clawed hands. These similarities wouldn't be so bad if both creatures weren't some of their respective franchise's most prominent, which is why we have to call out Digimon for appearing to copy Pokémon.