The world has forever been imprinted with the words "Pikachu, use thunderbolt!" Ever since Ash Ketchum picked up his little yellow friend in the anime series, every child across the world wanted a Pikachu of their own. The sales of video games skyrocketed, plush toys in Pikachu's likeness flew off the shelves...everyone had to have a Pikachu one way or another.
If you ever spot a random person wearing a Pokemon hat, it's almost 100% guaranteed to be a Pikachu hat. But why is that exactly? Out of the original 151 Pokemon to choose from, why did Ash get set up with a mouse that shoots electricity? How did Pikachu become the face of Pokemon?
It can't be because Pikachu happens to be cute and cuddly -- there's a wide array of Pokemon creatures that're adorable. It isn't because of his strength, because no Pikachu could ever fight off a Lugia. For a take on both sides of the argument, here are eight different Pokemon that could have also been the face of the franchise for one reason or another.
If one of these eight had been chosen instead, what would the series be like today?
I doubt anyone would expect a cross between a salamander and a hippopotamus could ever be a thing, but nerd culture has a funny way of making the craziest ideas work somehow. Slowpoke is a dual water/psychic type of Pokemon, and definitely has the cuteness quality to make for a series mascot. As his name suggests, he also happens to be one of the laziest Pokemon the franchise has ever offered (although Snorlax would definitely give it a run for its money).
If Slowpoke had become the Pokemon icon instead, popularity of kids obtaining amphibian pets could have been a possibility, or they could have just worshiped their favorite pink companion by being lazy too. And considering how Pokemon Go has recently swept the world by storm, a creature literally named after an insult for laziness probably wouldn't make for the best motivation to get up and play the game.
In every way, shape, and form superior to Pikachu, Raichu is the evolved form of the series' icon. With the knowledge that Raichu would be a step towards improvement of his beloved friend, and the notion that Ash was on a quest to catch them all, it begs the question as to why he never tried to evolve his Pikachu into a Raichu? Maybe it was to keep a familiar face at the center of the series, instead of changing it half way through to Raichu, but if the point was to never evolve the series' mascot, Pikachu seems like a poor choice in hindsight.
Had Raichu been favored as the series mascot instead of Pikachu, the end results would have been more or less the same: a cute and cuddly mouse that loves to shoot lightning dominating geek culture. Except instead of yellow showing up everywhere, people would be wearing orange to symbolize their beloved Raichu companion.
The definitive underdog Pokemon, Magikarp is like that one nerdy kid who got picked on a lot in middle school, but then grew up to be Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Near useless in its original form, this fish type Pokemon will eventually evolve into the ferocious Gyarados if given enough combat experience. Which seems fitting in the Pokemon Go game, as it takes 400 Magikarp candies to evolve him.
The gimmick of Magikarp being the series icon would likely surround two reasons: the fact that he eventually becomes one of the franchise's strongest beasts, or the characteristic of it being such an inherently ineffective Pokemon it's kind of hilarious. Besides, who here doesn't remember the oddly humorous fish shouting "Magikarp, Magikarp Magikarp karp karp" from their childhood?
One is a carefree, fun-loving Pokemon thought to have been extinct, and the other is a cloned brother who tried to destroy the world in the first Pokemon Movie. Complete opposites to say the least, but as they, opposites do attract. These characteristics specifically would have made this pair of siblings such great Pokemon mascots.
Had Mew and Mewtwo been with the series from the beginning, the divide that grew between fans could have been even greater. It was all about personal fascinations as to which you preferred -- Mew's cute nature or Mewtwo's brutal strength -- but there was something for everyone in both of them. Mixing both personalities together in one fight is what made their appearance in the first Pokemon film such a great success (that and Mew is just cuteness overload to an unhealthy extreme.)
Like your one friend that wants to be a pop star singer, no matter how hard you try to tell them they're no good, this Pokemon just can't live without the spotlight. Jigglypuff was one of the most prominent comic relief figures the series ever included. Due to her love of performing, Jigglypuff always sang to a crowd whenever she could. The problem was every time Jigglypuff's song started to play, everyone was cursed to fall asleep at the sound of her voice.
Incorporating the cuteness factor, and a large handful of laughs, Jigglypuff remains one of the most recognizable faces from the series. However, her spotlight should have never been so small, as Jigglypuff could have easily competed with Pikachu as the series' mascot. Just watch out for her on the next America's Got Talent, her desire for fame will never cease.
It's hard to deny that this particular Pokemon is the nerdiest creation ever coded by the franchise. Out of all the original 151 Pokemon, Porygon is listed as the only Pokemon made out of programming code. Forget Mewtwo being cloned, this normal type Pokemon was spawned from a computer!
You'd think Porygon would be worshiped by programming students as their mascot or something. But sadly, Porygon rarely gets any recognition, even in the original anime series where he only appeared once. Of course, that was the episode that induced seizures all across the world.
Why have one cute and cuddly mascot when you can have many? Like the cutest and fuzziest fox you've ever seen, Eevee looks completely harmless on the outside. However, when this cute little starter Pokemon finally has the necessary stone to evolve, he becomes a force to be reckoned with, by evolving into one of three different Pokemon types.
Eevee being the series' main character would have allowed for the franchise to have not one, but four different icons for fans to become obsessed with instead of one little Pikachu. Not only does Jolteon more or less have similar abilities as Pikachu, but it's like a dog that shoots lightning instead! Don't want an electricity based Pokemon? You have water and fire abilities to choose from with Vaporeon or Flareon!
Even the series' writers knew the possibilities that could arise from these Pokemon, as this quartet of characters were some of the most featured side creatures throughout its run. And considering how Pokemon Go incorporated a cheat to allow players to evolve the specific creature they wanted, Eevee still remains an underappreciated icon of the Pokemon series.
Is there a particular Pokemon you feel would have made a great icon for the series? Be sure to comment below and let us know what your top pick would be if Pikachu were to suddenly lose his place as top dog of the Pokemon franchise!