23 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pikachu

Some fun facts to celebrate everyone’s favorite electric mouse.

Summary (TL;DR): Pikachu remains one of Pokémon’s most beloved characters in the franchise. Over the years, the electric mouse has appeared on airplanes, parades and even protests for climate change. Here’s a list of 23 things you might not know about Pikachu.

 

Out of all the Pokémon out there, Pikachu holds a special place in my heart. In the anime, he wasn’t just Ash’s Pokémon — he was a friend, a partner, and in some cases, an equal. He was kind and always had Ash’s back, but he also had a rebellious side and wasn’t afraid to show it.

I’m not the only one who’s a fan of the yellow electric mouse. Since his debut in 1996, Pikachu has arguably become the most popular and recognizable Pokémon. Not only is he adorable with his brightly colored fur and cheerful expressions, but he’s also an absolute badass.

In honor of Pikachu’s enduring popularity, here are 23 interesting facts you might not know about this iconic Pokémon:

  1. Pikachu’s name is a combination of “pikapika” (Japanese onomatopoeia for sparkle) and “chuchu” (the squeaking sound a mouse makes).
  2. Pikachu’s voice actress, Ikue Otani, originally wanted the character to be genderless for the English version of the anime. Ultimately, she decided it was better to refer to Pikachu as a “he” than an “it.”
  3. Pikachu stands at 1’4″ and weighs 13.2 lbs, but he doesn’t have an official age or birthday. Since Pikachu was introduced in Pokémon Red and Blue on February 27, many people view this day as his birthday.
  4. Initially, Clefairy was supposed to be Pokémon‘s official mascot. However, Game Freak felt Clefairy would only appeal to female gamers, while Pikachu’s neutral design appealed to both boys and girls.
  5. Episode 14, “Electric Shock Showdown,” revealed that Pikachu refuses to evolve because he wants to prove himself in his current form.
  6. In 2014, Pikachu became Japan’s official mascot for the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
  7. Pokémon Black and White are the only games Pikachu doesn’t appear in. Lore-wise, it’s because Pikachu are not native to the Unova Region. The only way you can get Pikachu is to trade or transfer one from a previous game.
  8. In 2001, the Niue government released one dollar coins featuring Pikachu and four other Pokémon to celebrate the franchise.
  9. In 1999, Pikachu ranked second on TIME magazine’s Person of the Year list, behind Ricky Martin and ahead of J.K. Rowling.
  10.  Although Pikachu can only speak his name, he has been shown to make other sounds, such as laughing, yawning, and a “dawwww!” sound when intimidated.
  11. The main difference between a male Pikachu and a female Pikachu is that the female has a heart-shaped notch at the tip of its tail.
  12. In the anime, Pikachu was supposed to learn a language, but the producers scrapped the idea.
  13. In 2003, Forbes ranked Pikachu as the eighth top-earning fictional character of the year, with an income of $825 million. Pikachu dropped two spots to tenth in 2004, having made $825 million for the second year in a row.
  14. Pikachu’s original design was chubbier, but it has evolved to include a straighter spine, defined face and neck, and a slimmer waist. Lead Pokémon designer Ken Sugimori stated that these changes were made to make him easier to animate in the anime.
    •   The “Fat Pikachu” design does appear via a Gigantamax transformation in Pokémon Sword and Shield.
  15. In August 1998, the city of Topeka, Kansas, renamed itself ToPikachu in honor of Pokémon’s debut outside of Japan. They did it again in 2018 to celebrate the release of Pokémon Let’s Go.
  16. When a Pikachu is angry, it will immediately discharge the electricity stored in the red pouches on its cheeks.
  17. Additionally, when several Pikachu are in a group, their electricity can build and create lightning storms.
  18. There is a Brazilian soccer player named Yago Pikachu.
  19. The Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow is based on Ash’s Pikachu from the anime. It’s the only starter Pokémon available, refuses to go inside its Poké Ball and follows the main player around. You also can’t evolve it into a Raichu; you have to trade your Pikachu to another game, use a Thunder Stone on it, and then trade it back.
  20. In 1998, All Nippon Airways unveiled jets featuring Pikachu and other Pokémon to celebrate the release of Pokémon: The First Movie.
  21. Dutch DJ and producer Oliver Heldens teamed up with EDM duo Mr. Belt & Wezol for a song titled “Pikachu” back in 2014.
  22. As of 2023, Pikachu has graced the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade 23 times with four different balloons. The first, “Flying Pikachu,” was used from 2001 to 2005. In 2006, a second balloon debuted, featuring Pikachu chasing after a Poké Ball. The third balloon arrived in 2014, showcasing Pikachu sporting a green and red scarf while holding a small Pikachu-shaped snowman. The current balloon depicts Pikachu and Eevee riding gleefully in a Poké Ball-inspired sled.
  23. In 2008, Japanese scientists discovered a new protein that helps carry electrical impulses from the eyes to the brain. Researchers named it “pikachurin” due to the similarities between the Pokémon and the protein, both possessing “lightning-fast moves and shocking electric effects.”

Bonus Facts

  • All of Pikachu’s lines in the anime are written into the script.
  • Nintendo and Sega collaborated on a Pikachu special edition of the Sega Pico (an educational system) for Japan in 2003.
  • Pikachu has become a popular symbol for protests in recent years:
    • Chilean activist and politician Giovanna Grandón donned a Pikachu costume during the 2019 Chilean protests and even wore it while writing the new Chilean constitution in 2021.
    • Pokémon fans in Hong Kong protested outside the Japanese consulate in 2016, angered by Nintendo changing the translation of Pikachu’s name from Cantonese to Mandarin Chinese.
    • Activists dressed as Pikachu protested Japan’s coal industry in 2021 and 2023.
    • In 2018, an 11-year-old girl even donned a Pikachu costume to protest the snow in North Dakota.
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