- Harsh Realities Of Not Evolving Your Pokémon
- Perks Of Not Evolving Your Pokémon
In Pokémon, evolution allows the titular pocket monsters to take on a completely new form after reaching a higher level, being exposed to a special item, or some other stimuli. Having Pokémon evolve can grant characters new levels of power and versatility that they might not have had before, but not every trainer is so keen on letting it happen.
Some trainers have valid reasons for keeping their Pokémon from evolving and there are many ways to accomplish this. Preventing evolution isn’t inherently a bad thing as it can have its benefits, but it also brings more than a few challenges.
Updated on 1/19/2023 by Matthew Z. Wood: While the fundamentals of Pokémon remain the same, CBR is dedicated to updating and organizing the information in its articles. As new Pokémon games are released, new information and formatting will be added to relevant articles.
Harsh Realities Of Not Evolving Your Pokémon
Everyone Expects Trainers To Evolve Their Pokémon
Evolution is actually so common in Pokémon it feels natural and trainers and fans of the series expect Pokémon to evolve to become more powerful. The Pokémon franchise has proven that evolution isn’t mandatory, and episodes of the anime reinforce this idea.
However, there’s still a lot of social pressure on trainers who don’t want to evolve their Pokémon. It doesn’t benefit anyone but, because it feels like the natural order of things, it can make trainers doubt their own judgment and even evolve Pokémon prematurely.
It’s Almost Like Not Letting Pokémon Grow Up
While sometimes evolution is triggered by exposure to certain items, more often than not it’s a natural part of a Pokémon’s life cycle, just as caterpillars eventually turn into butterflies. With that in mind, preventing a Pokémon can be like forcing it to never grow up.
This is more of a problem for Pokémon stories and doesn’t typically trouble players in the games. To be clear, unevolved Pokémon can still age, as Tracey’s Scyther did in the anime. However, instead of taking a stronger and more mature form, not evolving Pokémon can leave them trapped in a weaker and immature state. Knowing what a Pokémon wants from its trainer is important throughout the franchise. There’s not a “desire for evolution” mechanic in the games but maybe there should be.
The Pokémon’s Movepool Will Be Limited
With evolution comes new strength, new typing, and, of course, a brand new movepool for Pokémon to learn from. To an extent, a Pokémon’s pre-evolved form can share many of the moves that their evolved form can learn. Sadly, there are powerful moves that unevolved Pokémon can never learn.
Granted, a Pokémon’s limited movepool can be mitigated by the use of TMs. However, a Pokémon’s evolved form will also have access to a wider range of moves that it can learn from TMs. No matter how they slice it, unevolved Pokémon have a more limited movepool than their evolved brethren.
Unevolved Pokémon Are Always Trying To Catch Up
While trainers are free to pass on the option to evolve their Pokémon, doing so comes with its own set of challenges. Unevolved Pokémon have to train twice as hard just to keep up with evolved Pokémon, as their stats gain fewer boosts when they level.
On the plus side, unevolved Pokémon level up a lot faster than their evolved forms do. Unfortunately, because their stats will always be a little behind, they have to keep leveling constantly and pretty much are playing catch-up indefinitely so their evolved peers won’t outdistance them.
Unevolved Pokémon Never Reach Their Full Potential
An unevolved Pokémon can still be strong if they’re trained right, but there are some things it can never overcome. Definitionally, this means unevolved Pokémon almost never reach their full potential.
On top of the way evolution automatically boosts Pokémon stats and grants access to new moves, in some cases evolution provides them with new typings or secondary typings that can make them much stronger in important battles. An unevolved Pokémon will never obtain these advantages and are stuck with the disadvantages they started with.
Perks Of Not Evolving Your Pokémon
Trainers Don’t Have To Force Their Pokémon To Change
It’s not a major issue in the games but in the anime, some Pokémon simply don’t want to evolve. Perhaps they’d rather be strong as they are or don’t want their bodies, minds, and personalities altered. A Pokémon can reject evolution and even resist the process if it’s forced on them.
If a trainer and their Pokémon don’t want to change then it simply isn’t necessary. Just like Ash didn’t force Pikachu to evolve, trainers and Pokémon are better when they support each other and listen to each other’s desires. Working with Pokémon, not merely using them for their powers, is a major theme in the franchise. It makes sense that this problem shows up in the anime’s stories.
Unevolved Pokémon Personalities Are Stable
A Pokémon’s appearance isn’t the only thing that changes as they evolve. A Pokémon’s personality can change drastically when they evolve, too. Sometimes these changes are small, while other times a newly evolved Pokémon seems like a completely different animal.
Depending on the trainer, evolution can make a Pokémon much more irritable, as Ash’s Charizard demonstrated in the anime. A trainer who doesn’t evolve his Pokémon never has to face this problem. If they’re getting along with a Pokémon now it might be better to not risk the relationship.
Unevolved Pokémon Learn Some Moves Early
While the movepool for unevolved Pokémon is much narrower, there is actually one strength that comes with it. Unevolved Pokémon can actually learn some strong moves much earlier than their evolved forms can. For example, Bulbasaur can learn Solar Beam much earlier, level 36, than Venusaur, who learns it at level 58.
For some reason, preventing evolution gives some Pokémon access to powers that are harder for evolved Pokémon to acquire. Having a strong move available in early battles can easily make the difference between defeat and victory.
Evolution Doesn’t Always Equate With Strength
Pokémon evolution can provide greater stats and abilities, but this doesn’t always mean that an evolved Pokémon is inherently strong. A skilled trainer can make a fully evolved Pokémon a force to be reckoned with, but by the same principle, a skilled trainer can also use an unevolved Pokémon’s strengths to their fullest.
While it takes a lot of hard work, special training, and the right strategy, an unevolved Pokémon can even beat their evolved forms in a battle. This is especially evident in the anime, like when Ash’s Pikachu beat Lt. Surge’s Raichu and when Ash’s Torracat beat Kukui’s Incineroar. This is as much about subverting audience expectations as anything else but it still demonstrates the principle.
Unevolved Pokémon Stay Cute Forever
Evolving a Pokémon can make them big and strong while giving them a striking new appearance to match. However, sometimes their new forms can be a little too different or off-putting for some trainers, possibly even making them long for the days when their Pokémon were smaller and cuter. Fortunately, preventing a Pokémon’s evolution can prevent this problem.
Not only do these Pokémon remain adorable and cuddly, but they also stay travel-sized, so trainers never have to worry about whether they’re going to be too big to bring out in small spaces. Being cute may not be everything, but it is a common upside to delaying a Pokémon’s evolution.
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