Wild fan theory warning: Hisuian Pokémon are extinct

Pokémon: Legends Arceus is in many ways a break from tradition. But there’s one great Pokémon tradition it continues: leaving unanswered lore questions that can be filled in with dark fan theories. Was Kanto a land ravaged by a disastrous war that the remaining citizens know better than to talk about? Who knows! But one thing I’m certain of is that many Hisuian Pokémon are extinct.

I’m less certain of how the series handle these monsters in future games. Thankfully, we’ll have an answer this fall, when Scarlet and Violet come out. Meanwhile, we can speculate wildly and baselessly.

Well, not totally baselessly. Hisuian Pokémon are only slightly unprecedented. Since Sun and Moon, the Pokémon series has featured regional variants of older monsters. They have different types and unique designs, but you can see the resemblance. The regional versions share a Pokédex number with their previous forms, too.

In Sword and Shield, some regional variants even got new evolutions. And you could catch a few Alolan Pokémon despite the apparent distance.

Legends Arceus introduced some new evolutions of old favourites too. There’s just one problem: while the Pokémon of Alola and Galar exist in the contemporary universe of the games, the Hisuian Pokémon do not. Legends Arceus takes place hundreds of years in the past, in a region longtime players know as Sinnoh. In Diamond and Pearl – and their recent remakes, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl – players explored the same region in-depth and found none of these historical monsters.

Anything could happen this November. And today, I’m going to talk a lot of nonsense so we can look back and see how wrong I was!

I am not a fortune teller

To be clear, I have no inside knowledge, and if anything I say ends up being true, it’s a fluke. Any time I’ve speculated about Pokémon in the past, I’ve been hilariously wrong.

The very assumption that Hisuian Pokémon are extinct could be wrong. It could turn out that some farmer in this new region has been cultivating a pack of ancient Wyrdeer, the last in the world. For some reason, they give you one? Weirder things have happened in the Pokémon universe.

But I feel confident in my claim. After all, we know from the existence of fossil Pokémon that species can go extinct. The same mechanic gives the game designers a way to potentially bring these monsters to life in future titles.

That said, as much as I want to say something like “there’s no way they would design a ton of much-loved Pokémon for a wildly popular spin-off game and not include them in the next mainline title”, I really can’t. The precedent exists.

Enter Meltan and Melmetal. These Pokémon were introduced as Pokémon Go exclusives back in 2018, although you could play with them in another spin-off, Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu. A year later when the mainline Sword and Shield games came out, Meltan was nowhere to be found.

My prediction had been that Meltan and Melmetal would be important to the new games. And yet it wasn’t until months later, with the release of Pokémon Home, that you could finally bring them into Sword and Shield.

So no, I’m no fortune teller. But my confidence that Hisuian Pokémon are extinct is unwavering.

Evolving in the Darwinian sense

That said, even I have to admit that some Hisuian Pokémon that no longer exist didn’t go extinct. They evolved – Darwin style.

Voltorb and Electrode have been known entities since the very first games. Their gimmick is their unusual style of camouflage: they look like Pokéballs. In the distant past, it turns out they looked like the Pokéballs of that era.

Over time, they smoothed out in step with Pokéball technology and lost their grass typing in the process. They even lost their access to grass-type moves. I was shocked to find out that no Electrode aside from those of Hisui can even learn the attack “Energy Ball”. Despite it being a literal ball of energy.

Perhaps it will turn out that in Scarlet and Violet there are enough hipsters who insist on using ancient, hand-carved Pokéballs that a small community of Voltorb have found success not evolving.

Hisuian Growlithe and Arcanine similarly seem to have evolved away from their Rock typing as they became more domesticated. Perhaps scientists in the new region, inspired by Spain, could tap into those older roots and give us access to the superior forms of these two Kanto classics.

There could be a whole “Ancient DNA” mechanic. Like maybe there’s just a lab in the sixth or seventh town where they can genetically tweak your Growlithe whenever you want.

Or maybe some kid in some house with nothing else going on will have a throwaway line about how Growlithe used to look different in some faraway land, long ago. And that will be that.

This theory could get dark

I’m keeping my speculation light, but the extinction theory could get quite heavy. Take Stantler, which evolves into Wyrdeer – but only in Hisui. Why hasn’t anyone seen a Wyrdeer since the Pokédex was a hand-written document?

Hisui’s Professor Laventon notes that “The fur shed from its beard retains heat well and is a highly useful material for winter clothing”.

Obviously, Wyrdeer became overhunted as immigration to Hisui/Sinnoh ramped up and settlers from warmer regions struggled to acclimatize to the region’s cold weather. Stantler, which don’t sport the beard, learned to resist evolution until eventually none of them could do it anymore.

Honestly, it’s a bit generous to call what’s going on in Hisui “immigration”. I’m getting colonization vibes from the Galaxy Team. The fact the bad guys in Diamond and Pearl seem to pay homage to them underscores that.

Again, that’s a bit heavy for my liking. These are games for children, after all. Pokémon is far from the only piece of children’s media with plot holes potentially filled with darkness. And until Scarlet and Violet come out, articles like this will just be massive wastes of time and energy. Thanks for reading though! Share your fan theories, hopes, and expectations for the new games in the comments!

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