As far as Nintendo timelines go, The Legend of Zelda might get the most heat from fans, but it’s the Pokémon timeline that’s actually deserving of fan backlash. For as simple as the games are in terms of narrative, Game Freak has crafted such an in-depth and surprisingly eventful timeline that it’s a bit frustrating how the timeline is very rarely ever mentioned.
The main games don’t progress in a linear, chronological order, often jumping around between different time periods. This has resulted in multiple Generations happening at the exact same time as one another. The timeline’s made all the more interesting by the fact that everything before Gen III has been retconned, with the remakes taking precedent. That alone makes it difficult for fans to keep track of the events between Red/Blue and Gold/Silver.
10 The Slow Eruption Of Cinnabar Island
This is actually a fate that’s more or less spelled in Generation I. By the time Red reaches Cinnabar Island, it’s already been eroded. Only the mansion, the Gym, and the necessary storefronts still stand. It’s very heavily implied that the Island will see its demise during Blaine’s lifetime, but not specified when.
This makes it all too surprising without being shocking that Cinnabar Island is no more just three years later. The island’s volcano finally erupted between games, wiping out Cinnabar Island entirely. Blaine still serves as the island’s Gym Leader, but he’s taking to living in a lone cave among the wreckage.
9 Giovanni Dissolves Team Rocket (Or So He Thinks)
Team Rocket’s very overt presence can make me hard to realize that Giovanni actually formally dissolved Team Rocket in between Generations. Given how he all but abandons his Gym after losing near the end of Gen I, it’s entirely possible that he dissolved Team Rocket in that very same game.
The remakes actually try to make this more overt, making Giovanni’s lack of presence a plot point. He’s still technically in charge of Team Rocket, but the Johto Chapter more or less functions without his input or involvement. For all intents and purposes, Giovanni left Team Rocket behind only for the organization to rise up yet again.
8 The Invention Of Time Travel
The remakes have since retconned time travel out of the franchise, at least in this capacity, but the original releases of Gold and Silver featured Bill unveiling the newly built Time Capsule, a machine that can send Pokémon back in time. This was mainly added as a means of allowing players to trade their Pokémon between Generations.
Naturally, with the Generation IV remakes, this was no longer a problem, so the Time Capsule was scrapped. Regardless, it’s worth noting that Game Freak very earnestly wrote time travel into the games with an in-universe explanation and everything. It’s perhaps for the best that it’s retconned, though.
7 Generation III
Funny enough, Generation III starts up during the events of Generation I and ends shortly after Red becomes the Kanto Champion. While Red is fighting off Team Rocket and going on his whimsical adventure, the Gen III protagonist is fighting off Team Aqua, Team Magma, and their respective legendaries.
This ends up becoming a plot point in the Generation I remake, as the Sevii Islands arc involves players linking up with Hoenn mid-narrative for both games. The Generation III remakes have likely changed some of the timeline’s finer details, but Gen I and Gen III still run alongside one another.
6 Blue Gives Up The Kanto Championship
Although Blue loses the Kanto League at the end of Generation I, Red refuses to keep the title, instead leaving for Mount Silver in order to train. That leaves Blue the sole Kanto Champion by right. Which ends up not being enough for him. Blue lost, and losing to Red humbles him enough to realize that he’s not the true Champion.
In-between games, Blue ends up resigning as Kanto Champion, instead choosing to pursue a career as a Gym Leader. With Giovanni having abandoned his Gym, Blue very quickly uses his status as Champion to earn him a spot as a Kanto Gym Leader. Canonically, he remains in the role to this day.
5 Pokémon Ranger
It’s hard to believe these days, but there was a time where Game Freak actually placed a heavy emphasis on Pokémon’s many spin-off titles. The Nintendo DS, in particular, saw a boom in Pokémon content. Pokémon Ranger was one of the series’ first forays on the DS, and one of its more memorable efforts.
Notably, Pokémon Ranger took place shortly after the events of Generation III but before Generation II could begin in earnest. Ranger establishes that Brendan and May only managed to subdue Kyogre, Groudon, and Rayquaza, forcing the titular Pokémon Ranger into action. It has little impact on the series' timeline, but its plot is dependant on a very specific moment in Pokémon history.
4 Lance Takes Advantage Of An Empty Champion Position
Following Red’s abandonment of the role and Blue’s resignation, Kanto was left without a Champion yet again. Instead of keeping the same Elite Four routine going, Lance chooses to take advantage of this vacancy, applying for the position himself. By the time Generation II kicks off, Lance has been Champion for some time.
It’s not exactly clear whether Lance challenged the Elite Four for the position or was simply given the role of Champion. Considering Red and Blue earned their roles, it’s possible Lance wanted to earn the Champion spot as well, defeating his three compatriots in the process.
3 The Great Ditto Migration
This is a detail none of the remakes have bothered fixing, making it a part of the series’ canon whether Game Freak wants it to be or not. It hasn’t been confirmed officially, but Ditto being a clone of Mew is a theory that more or less makes perfect sense, which means that Dittos should only be found in Cinnabar.
But they’re also found in Hoenn at the exact same time as Generation I, which means that, logically, the Ditto from Cinnabar needed to have migrated to Hoenn at some point during the events of Generation I or shortly beforehand. Since Ditto appears in other regions, as well, this does also mean that Dittos needed to migrate after Gen I, too. Maybe they washed away with the eruption.
2 The Discovery Of Eggs
This is no longer canon, and it’s downright laughable that it ever was. In Generation II, Professor Elm is revealed to be the man who not only discovered Pokémon Eggs, he discovered Pichu specifically and that Pokémon breed. It’s the game’s way of introducing the breeding/egg/baby trio of mechanics, but it also poses a problem: it makes no sense.
How could Pokémon exist for so long with no one noticing where baby Pokémon come from? It’s totally nonsensical that Elm would be the first to make this discovery or observation. In the remakes, however, this is thankfully retconned. Breeding and eggs have always been a part of the series now, but they were once a novelty in Generation II.
1 Pokémon Colosseum
The GameCube Pokémon games don’t necessarily get a bad rap, but they’re more or less ignored by the modern fanbase. It does make sense considering Game Freak seems to ignore them as well, but they were once a major part of Pokémon’s canon. Colosseum, in particular, offered fans a more mature game with harder gameplay and a more involved story.Pokémon Colosseum also took place between the events of Generation I and Generation II, almost serving as a bridge in some regards. Not a narrative one, but just a reminder that the world of Pokémon is seldom quiet and its heroes aren’t always ten-year-old boys seeing the world for the first time.