As the mascot of the Pokémon franchise, Pikachu is a popular character that makes a consistent appearance across various Pokémon games, shows, movies and toys. This iconic yellow mouse-like Pokémon is probably the most famous creature the franchise has come out with. I’m sure that even people that are not familiar with the pocket monster must have seen the yellow furball somewhere before. However, one aspect of this character that is often forgotten is the fact that he actually has an evolution. In the games, it is possible to get Pikachu to evolve at a certain level, but the specific details of that evolution vary between the games, movies, TV shows, comics, books, etc.
In this article, we will provide some details on how Pikachu’s evolution works in the video games. Before we get into that though, we need to look at some of the important details of this Pokémon — who is actually very unique in comparison to the rest of his kind.
How does Pikachu evolve his level?
In the Pokémon games, Pikachu does not have a specific level required for him to evolve. Instead, you’ll need a Thunder Stone. There is no other way to get the iconic Electric-type to surpass his Pikachu form. Additionally, evolutionary stones like the Thunder Stone aren’t tied to a Pokémon’s level, meaning that you can evolve it at any level as long as you’ve got the evolution stone.
For the eight generations of Pokémon and the tie-in games, the way Pikachu’s evolution works has not changed a lot. However, in the spin-off games, the way Pikachu is able to level up can change, allowing him to evolve without following the Thunder Stone rule.
If we are considering the main games, which are considered the canon timeline, Pikachu does not have a specific level required to evolve into a Raichu (Alolan Raichu). The Thunder Stone evolutionary stone is a rare item that can only be found in certain areas of the games, so you’ll need to be extra careful with scouring new areas if you’re looking to find one.
When can Pikachu evolve his level in the main games?
In all the main Pokemon games, there are a few ways to earn a Thunder Stone in order to get Pikachu to evolve — even if his level does not work as a requirement.
It is best to evolve Pikachu after you’ve obtained the Thunderbolt move, allowing you to take advantage of Pikachu’s signature move even when you’ve evolved into Raichu. Unfortunately, Thunderbolt is not available for Raichu to use so that creates a bit of a problem for anyone looking to max out the potential of this Pokemon. In each game, Pokemon learns Thunderbolt at different levels.
Here are the places you can find the Thunderstone in the Pokemon Games:
Red, Green, Blue, Yellow – Celadon Department Store
Gold, Silver, Crystal – Sea Cottage from Bill’s grandfather, Route 38 from Lass Dana
Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald – New Mauville, Route 124 (traded for Yellow Shard)
Firered, LeafGreen – Power Plant (x2), Celadon Department Store
XD – Gateon Port
Diamond, Pearl, Platinum – Solaceon Runs, Sunyshore City, The Underground
HeartGod, SoulSilver – Sea Cottage from Bill’s grandfather, Route 38 from Lass Dana, Bug-Catching Contest first prize (post-National Pokédex), Pokéathlon Dome (Earn 2500 points)
Black, White – Chargestone Cave, Shopping Mall Nine, Dust clouds, Black City (Black), White Forest (White)
Black 2, White 2 – Nimbasa City, Chargestone Cave, Join Avenue (Antique Shop), Black City (Store 1), Dust clouds (Chargestone Cave, Mistralton Cave, Clay Tunnel, Twist Mountain, Underground Ruins, Victory Road, Wellspring Cave, Seaside Cave, Giant Chasm), Hidden Grottoes (Routes 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 13, 18, 22, 23; Floccesy Ranch; Giant Chasm; Abundant Shrine; Lostlorn Forest; Pinwheel Forest) (regular areas after catching Thundurus)
X, Y – Route 10 and 11, Secret Super Training (Follow Those Fleeing Goals!, The Battle for the Best: Version X!, and The Battle for the Best: Version Y!), Route 18 (from Psychic Inver), Spiky Rock 2 (from Psychic Inver), Spiky Rock 3 (from Psychic Inver), Spiky Rock 4 (from Psychic Inver), Spiky Rock 5 (from Psychic Inver), Spiky Rock 6 (from (in battles; using Hyper Voice or Rock Slide)
OmegaRuby, AlphaSapphire – New Mauville, Route 124 (exchange with Treasure Hunter for a Yellow Shard), Mauville City (Inverse Battle Stop), Secret Super Training (Follow Those Fleeing Goals!, The Battle for the Best! ), Route 117 (against Triathlete Dylan), Route 118 (against Guitarist Dalton), Secret Base (“Pick up stones” with Secret Pal).
Sun, Moon – Route 8, Poké Pelago (Isle Aphun – Brilliant-Stone Hunting, Interesting-Item Hunting), Konikoni City
UltraSun, UltraMoon – Route 9, Paniola Ranch, Ultra Plant (No. 6), Konikoni City, Poké Pelago (Isle Aphun – Brilliant Stone Hunting, Interesting-Item Hunting)
Pikachu Eevee – Celadon Department Store, Route 10, Power Plant
Sword, Shield – Bridge Field, North Lake Miloch, Lake of Outrage (Digging Duo)
So why hasn’t he evolved?
More than merely the series’ mascot, Ash’s Pikachu in Pokémon has been his constant companion from Episode 1 of the anime, with just a few episodes missing him. But a brief glance at his data in the games reveals that Pikachu isn’t a particularly powerful Pokémon, with average abilities that nearly quadruple when evolved to Raichu.
So it begs the question, why hasn’t he evolved? Why hasn’t Ash evolved Pikachu to his stronger, more amazing, and final form or level after over 20 years of episodes and several Thunderstones?
The explanation is straightforward: in Ash’s mind, it was never his decision to make. Instead, he left it up to Pikachu.
Ash, as a human who never evolves, has no idea what evolution is like other than what he sees. As a result, he has never trained a Pokémon with the intention of forcing it to evolve, nor has he focused on evolution as a means of becoming more powerful throughout the series. While he is usually thrilled for his Pokémon when they evolve, he also respects their decisions to remain the same, such as when Bulbasaur chose not to evolve in Episode 48 of Season 1, “Bulbasaur’s Mysterious Garden.”
From the events of the show, it is a lot clearer why Ash does not choose to evolve the level Pikachu has, and the games are true to Pikachu as a character by making his evolution require the Thunder Stone.