Ash’s Pikachu Is the Result of a Time-Travel Paradox, According to Pokémon Theory

The meeting of Ash and Pikachu was always fated, but a common Pokémon fan theory speculates on how fateful their encounter may have been.
Time travel and Pokémon go together like, well, Ash and Pikachu, and few things create finer fan theories than time travel. Ash Ketchum’s encounter with a young time traveller named Sam in the fourth film in the series, Pokémon 4Ever, may have been the impetus for one of pop culture’s most iconic duos. According to one of the most plausible Pokémon theories, Ash and Pikachu were brought together not by a broken alarm clock but by a ruse devised by Professor Oak when he was still a youngster named Sam who’d been transported to the future by a Celebi.
The origins of Pikachu as Ash’s starter Pokémon have long been mysterious. It’s strange that Professor Oak would save a Pikachu instead of more traditional Kanto starters. Oak is also aware that Pikachu is tough to handle, and Ash isn’t exactly a promising trainer, given that he overslept on the most crucial day of his life. When the Pokémon Professor permitted Ash to take Pikachu despite all signals that it was a poor decision, it always felt like there had to be more to it.
However, Pokémon 4Ever may hold the answers to not just why Professor Oak had a Pikachu in the first place, but also why he let Ash take it. Celebi transports a child named Sam, later revealed to be a young Samuel Oak, 40 years into the future to the present day of the series. He meets Ash here, and the two become fast friends as they struggle together to protect Celebi from the Iron-Masked Marauder, a fiercely cruel member of Team Rocket determined to catch Celebi in Poké Balls that appear to turn Pokémon evil.
Once Celebi is safe, it transports Sam back to his own time. However, Celebi’s time travel did not, inexplicably, change the future. Professor Oak stated earlier in the film that he remembered the events before they occurred in the film. At the beginning of the film, Ash and his friends spot a Suicune and promptly call Professor Oak, who verifies he’s seen one previously. The call stops before he can say when and where, but given the importance of Suicune in the film, it’s almost probable that it’s the same Suicune.
Throughout the video, Sam paints Pikachu and Celebi as they sleep next to each other, and the film concludes with Professor Oak gazing at the sketch again, expressing to himself that he recalls it like it was yesterday. It stands to assume that when Ash called him about seeing a Suicune, Oak was aware that Ash was about to meet the younger version of himself, which explains why he’s immediately staring at the sketch again. As far as time travel paradoxes go, it’s evident that no one’s future was altered, but that the events in the film were always what happened to Professor Oak when he was a child.
Simply put, Professor Oak knew all along that Ash was the same Ash he met when Celebi sent him to the future. This puts his relationship with Ash in a whole new light and explains why the Professor has always shown bias to Ash. It would also explain why he had a Pikachu waiting for Ash; he was aware of the bond the two of them would share. It might be argued that Professor Oak was reckless in giving Ash a Pokémon that he clearly wasn’t ready for, but Oak may have done so because he foresaw the person Ash would become.
The theory that a time travel paradox brought Ash and Pikachu together is feasible. The main problem with this fan theory is that it is based on the assumption that the Pokémon films are canon, which there has never been much evidence of. However, it’s simple enough to leave it up to interpretation whether or not they take place in the series’ official canon. For the purposes of a fascinating theory like this one, it’s preferable to assume Professor Oak knew what he was doing when he sent a 10-year-old around the world with a cranky mouse who likes to electrocute him.

Jenifer Carter

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