Who couldn’t use a good psychic right about now, or at any point over the last year? Unlike Daphne Moon, Frasier Crane’s quirky housekeeper who comically claims she’s “a bit psychic”, an enormous amount of Pokemon are quirky AND very Psychic. When it comes to the world of Pokemon, there is absolutely no shortage of these all-seeing and all-powerful Psychic-types that can show us the future, reveal our fortunes (good or bad), bring us luck, or just devour our dreams entirely.
Whether they bend spoons, minds, or reality, these Psychic-type Pokemon possess some of the more intriguing and unique designs of the entire franchise. Let us peer beneath the surface and discover the marvelous folklore, enduring mythology, delightfully weird factoids, and other real-world inspirations behind these clairvoyant creatures.
10 Espeon – The Nekomata
One of the strongest of the Eeveelutions, Espeon strongly resembles the nekomata, a cat-like yokai (a supernatural spirit of Japanese folklore) with a double or forked tail. It also calls to mind the mythological Lynx of Greek, Norse, and Native American mythology who is suggested to possess supernatural eyesight and the power of clairvoyance.
Espeon’s name contains “ESP” which stands for extrasensory perception, a sixth sense that informs and directs psychic abilities such as telepathy, intuition, and precognition.
9 Kadabra – Uri Geller and Spoon Bending Magicians
Kadabra’s Japanese name, Yungerer, is a corruption of Uri Geller, a real-life stage magician who popularized spoon bending in the 1970s. The resemblance in design and name was so transparent that Geller himself sued Nintendo in 2000 for unauthorized and inappropriate representation. Geller also asked that Kadabra be banned as a Pokemon Trading Card. The case was finally resolved in November 2020 after Geller had a change of heart, apologized to Nintendo, and lifted the ban. TCG fans, rejoice!
Kadabra’s art design also combines elements of goats and foxes, both often associated with the paranormal. The symbols on its body are from Zener cards used in experiments during the 1930s to test ESP and other psychic abilities.
8 Drowzee – Tapirs and the Mythical Baku
Gen I Pokemon fans might not realize that Drowzee is based on a real-life animal, the Malayan tapir. Tapirs are often used in Japanese folklore to depict the baku, supernatural creatures that eat dreams and nightmares. Think about that next time you visit Luna in Animal Crossing’s Dream Suite.
Baku were originally described as chimeras with bear bodies, elephant trunks, rhino ears, and other spare animal parts. Put those together and they coincidentally (and eerily) resemble the tapir, which might explain why they became the more common association.
7 Wobbuffet – Roly-Poly Punching Bag
Immortalized as Jessie’s accidental trade recipient in the Pokemon anime, Wobbuffet is modeled after a Japanese doll called an okiagari-koboshi (“priest who gets back up”). This roly-poly toy always returns to an upright position when it’s hit or knocked over, much like a punching bag. This explains why Wobbuffet never initiates attacks, only ever countering. A portmanteau of “wobble” and “buffet”, here meaning “to strike repeatedly”, informs this design choice.
Its Japanese name, Sonans, roughly translates to “that’s the way it is.” Paired with its pre-evolution Wynaut, we get a clever pun and quick conversation: “Why not?” “That’s the way it is.”
6 Xatu – Resplendent Quetzals and Totem Poles
Looking to the natural world, Xatu’s design is heavily influenced by the stunningly beautiful resplendent quetzal, a bird native to Mexico and Panama that plays a very important role in Mesoamerican mythology. It is often referred to as the “god of the air” and appears most famously on the flag, coat of arms, and currency of Guatemala.
Xatu also combines elements of Native American cultural symbols, specifically the totem pole (sometimes called a “xat”) and the kachina, spiritual beings often immortalized and carved into dolls.
5 Elgyem – Little Green Men
Elgyem is pronounced “L-G-M” which is an acronym for “little green men,” a stereotypical descriptor for alien lifeforms. The term gained popularity in 1955 following media reports of the Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter in Kentucky where a group of farmers and their families claimed alien creatures attacked their farmland. (In reality, they were just horned owls; the adults may have been drunk…)
According to a Pokedex entry, Elgyem’s presence is linked to a “UFO crash site in the desert” 50 years before the events of Black & White. Since Gen V is based in the United States, the desert is a clear reference to Roswell, New Mexico and Nevada’s Area 51, which strengthens the case that Elgyem came from outer space. Far out, man!
4 Hoopa – Genies and Divine Deities
Hoopa’s default form, the Psychic/Ghost Hoopa Confined, is based upon a Djinn or genie. The gold rings around its horns reference both the Genie of Aladdin and Nezha, a trickster protection deity in Taoism who is always depicted holding golden rings.
Hoopa Unbound, its Psychic/Dark alternate form, takes design cues from Shakti, the multi-armed Divine Mother and Supreme Goddess of Hinduism. The fact that this form is only achieved with a Prison Bottle mirrors a genie’s lamp, in that its true power and strength is locked away in the smallest of vessels, waiting for a kind soul to release it.
3 Hatterene – Forest Witches and Harionago
The Psychic/Fairy Hatterene has its design origins in fairy tales, particularly forest witches such as Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore and Coco/Cucuy from Portuguese and Spanish myth. This female-only Pokemon also owes its elegant yet terrifying appearance, punctuated by its long and barbed hair, to the yokai Harionago. Harionago (“barbed woman”) is a Japanese ghoul that terrorizes and ensnares men with her long, thorny hair.
Hatterene is also widely accepted as the female counterpart to the male-only Grimmsnarl. Not only are they both Fairy-types with origins in European fairy tales, but they’re also both part of 3-stage lines evolving at Levels 32 and 42. The unlikely pair also draw immense power from their ghoulish and abnormally lengthy locks.
2 Indeedee – Domestic Spirits and Housekeepers
Upon first glance, Indeedee looks positively ordinary and nothing special. However, this is one of those Pokemon designs that’s much more than it appears on the surface. Indeedee is based on the Scottish legend of brownies, household spirits that perform domestic chores and farming tasks at night. There are also clear ties to the Roman household god, Lares, who carries a horn-like rhyton (not unlike Indeedee’s own horns) for serving food and libations.
By nature, Indeedee are obedient and willing servants to people and Pokemon, a point emphasized by their likenesses – both physically and behaviorally – to butlers and maids.
1 Necrozma – Prisms, Black Holes, and Dead Stars
The planetary, prism-shifting Necrozma is a dark and menacing representation of black holes and neutron stars. Its name combines “nekros” (Greek for “dead”) and “prisma” (Greek for “prism,” obviously) to give us a literal translation of “dead prism.” Paired with its vicious appearance and propensity for devouring light, no wonder Necrozma ranks amongst the scariest Psychic-types.
Necrozma also cleverly references Project Ozma, a short-lived experiment conducted in 1960 at West Virginia’s Green Bank Observatory to search for alien life and extraterrestrial intelligence through interstellar radio waves. Safe to say they didn’t find the droids they were looking for…
NEXT: 10 Fairy-Type Pokemon And Their Real-Life Inspirations
Thomas is a Culinary School graduate who loves games of all kind (video, board, card, mind), and decided to leverage his university writing experience into remote freelance lists for TheGamer. He’s an avid follower of all things Nintendo, even though his love of gaming began at 7 years old with Sega Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog (shh, don’t tell Mario).
Tom plays on Switch, PS4, PC, 3DS, Wii, N64, and SNES Mini (say “fuzzy pickles!”). Since COVID, he’s also picked up an engrossing new hobby in birdwatching – the Pokémon of adulthood!
Be kind, keep well, and stay safe!
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