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I recall mention in the anime that all of the Nurse Joys are cousins, and that all the Officer Jenny's are cousins. I have also read mention that Joy and Jenny are their family names, explaining the matched names.

Has there ever been an explanation as to why all of the Jennys or Joys look identical?

Officer Jennys

Nurse Joys

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    being tanned !== being black. as i recall, that one lived on a beach. – phantom42 Jul 25 '16 at 16:30
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    This is racist. They look nothing alike. To Joy, we all look alike. – Gorchestopher H Jul 25 '16 at 16:31
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    fine. should i update the question to ask why every one except the one that lives on the beach looks identical beyond having different eyelash lengths? is that accurately pedantic enough for you? – phantom42 Jul 25 '16 at 16:34
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    Legitimately, Jenny and Joy are both family names and not first names. – Gorchestopher H Jul 25 '16 at 17:31
14

Jenny

In-universe, all of the Officer Jenny's are indeed cousins. They merely happen to all look like each other, dress identically and work in the same profession. Ash puts this down to a strong family resemblance (warning, TV Trope links!)

Ash: Officer Jenny!

Jenny: Huh? Have we met before? Your face doesn't look familiar.

Ash: We met you back in Viridian City, remember?

Jenny: Oh, you mean one of the other Jennys. My cousins.

Ash: Cousin?

Jenny: My cousins are all police officers. All of us look identical plus we're all called Jenny.

[shows photo of nine identical Jenny's in police uniforms]

Ash: Talk about a family resemblance

Here Comes the Squirtle Squad


Interestingly, it would appear that the term 'Jenny' may be a family name, or possibly even a title since we meet at least one young Jenny in training (Marble) in Luxray Vision! that has a first name other than Jenny.

Marble: That's why Jenny Trainee Number One, me, came to investigate you!

Ash: You mean you're...

Dawn: [interrupting] Number one?

Marble: Right! ... The name's Marble, super-duper ace detective!


Joy

The name Joy appears to be a surname, rather than a forename. In Drifloon in the Wind we meet the daughters of an older Nurse Joy who plan to become Nurse Joys themselves. The family resemblance between mother and daughters is extremely striking.

Ash: You girls are so nice

Marnie: We're going to be 'Nurse Joys', just like mom!
...
Marnie: My name is Marnie Lynette Francis Joy

Peach: And I'm Paige Francis Lynette Joy.

Drifloon On the Wind!


Out of universe, it's worth noting that both 'Jenny' and 'Joy' are plays on the Japanese words for Constable (巡査 - junsa) and Female Doctor (女医 - joi)

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    I also think that out of universe, the joke was made because in the original games every Pokémon Center looked the same inside, so everywhere you go you would end up meeting the "same" npc nurse "Joy". – BlueSoul Jul 25 '16 at 18:11
  • @SPArchaeologist - I thought that a bit too obvious to include in the answer :-) – Valorum Jul 25 '16 at 18:24
  • so, your explanation for why they all look alike is because they all happen to look alike? – KutuluMike Jul 25 '16 at 18:36
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    @KutuluMike - There's a family resemblance. – Valorum Jul 25 '16 at 18:39
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    @Valorum DVs could be from essentially re-stating that the appearance is because they are cousins... the OP knew that. Not sure if the DVs came before or after your numerous edits. Just shot in the dark. I gave it a +1... – Skooba Jul 25 '16 at 19:07
1

Identical, huh?

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In all seriousness though, Brock has stated in at least one or two episodes that there are subtle differences between them. You just have to know what to look for ;)

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    Either this needs to explain some of the differences or explain why they are so close to being identical that they only have tiny differences. – phantom42 Jul 25 '16 at 13:52
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    In one instance, he says that he can tell apart two Nurse Joys because the length of their eyelashes is slightly different. The only differences noticeable to anyone besides Brock are the colour of the plus on their nursing cap (In Joy's case) or the badge on their officer cap (In Jenny's case). – DisturbedNeo Jul 25 '16 at 14:48
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    As to why they look so similar, I'd have to find an official source to be certain, but it's supposed to be an homage to the games, because every nurse in the Pokemon Centres and every officer running around used the same character model. So in the anime they made them all identical. – DisturbedNeo Jul 25 '16 at 14:55
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    I always thought the in-universe explanation was that they were cousins. That was enough for me. You might say cousins aren't identical, but they can look very similar. Combine that with doing your hair and outfit the same way (I'm going to assume its a job requirement for them) and the lack of fine feature details in the anime and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I even saw a brain games episode where they swapped two guys who were similar looking out by pretending to drop a pen at a sign-in. 90% of the people didn't notice the difference. I think the game homage is also correct. – Dalton Jul 25 '16 at 15:39
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    @Dalton: Change-blindness goes beyond that... they regularly run tests where people change race and sex and people still don't notice. :) – FuzzyBoots Jul 25 '16 at 16:56

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