It appeared as though Pokemon Journeys was about to break one of the anime series’ cardinal rules; Ash Ketchum’s iconic sidekick Pikachu was said to “finally evolve,” 23 years after it first made its debut as the face of the franchise back in the show’s very first episode. Unfortunately, the popular theory has been debunked.
Pikachu, alongside Pokemon protagonist Ash, has appeared in more than 1,000 episodes of the long-standing anime show. Early on in its 23-year run — all the way back in “Showdown in Pewter City,” the show’s fifth episode — Pikachu refused the offer to evolve.
From then on, that was simply that. Ash never asked Pikachu to turn into its more powerful evolution Raichu, and Pikachu never did. Leaks brought up the possibility of it finally happening in episode 1,122 though, and it sent the internet into a complete meltdown. Was the adorable electric mouse ‘mon finally growing up?
The leaked episode description, shared by Anipoke on Twitter on August 22, revealed that new Journeys protagonist Goh decides he wants a Pikachu of his own. In the episode, titled ‘I Got Pikachu,’ Ash — “Satoshi” in Japan’s episodes — also makes a big decision.
The description read: “A lot of Pikachu have been digging Thunderstones… and used their power to evolve. Then Satoshi’s Pikachu finally evolves into a Raichu as well thanks to a Thunderstone discovered by a very obliging female Pikachu.”
— Anipoke Fandom (@AnipokeFandom) August 22, 2020
While many believed the rumor and were happy that Pikachu was supposedly finally going to evolve, there was also a lot of talk about it being a fake-out as in the opening of the show, a preview for a later episode shows Ash with Lucario fighting Eternatus alongside his Pikachu – not Raichu.
Though this isn’t coming to fruition this time, Pokemon is fast approaching its 25th birthday. The company may be willing to take a few more risks with the series — heck, they may even be planning to oust Ash all together in the near future — in order to keep it fresh. But who knows.
The rumor was given more fuel due to the fact that after 23 years of struggling to win Pokemon leagues, Ash finally tasted competitive success in Alola. That was another big plot point that had remained the same; Ash was on a 22-year title drought before 2019.
This caused some to believe that the Pokemon Company could have finally been preparing for a “changing of the guard.” With Goh adventuring alongside Ash, they had the perfect candidate for the iconic ‘catch ‘em all’ mentality.
It would have also freed up Ketchum to finally start winning tournaments. He’s had strong ‘mons like Charizard and Greninja, but his Pikachu has always remained in its basic form. If he wanted to be a contender, Raichu may serve him a little better – but, alas, he will have to wait a little longer, if the electric ‘mon’s evolution will ever been in the cards at all.