In the anime, manga, and games Pokemon are captured and stored in Pokeballs. Can Pokeballs be used to contain anything else, e.g. inanimate objects or people? If you can pop a 999.9kg Celesteela in your pocket (not to mention store it digitally and transfer it between Pokemon Centers), it seems like that same mechanism would be used for storage, shipping, whiny children in need of a time-out, or a myriad of other purposes.

In the games, any visible item lying on the ground appears to be in a container which at least has a shape similar to a pokeball, (though this was likely done for graphical reasons in the early titles). Other than that, I haven't seen them used for anything other than Pokemon.

Based on this answer, it appears that only Pokemon (or items containing Pokemon) can be trapped. So, are there canon reasons why Pokeballs or the same technology can't be used for other purposes?

Not a duplicate - I'm asking for specific canon reasons - from manga, games, or show - why it can or can't happen, not examples of when it didn't work or didn't happen.

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    We see at least one instance where a pokeball captures a pokeball. It follows that the tech can be used to digitise things other than pokemon.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 15:50
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    Isn't the fact that it happened not proof enough that it can happen? (total Pokemon noob here) Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 17:24
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    If it did that would be true, but it's the negative case - it didn't happened. Just because it didn't happen in the cases in the linked answer doesn't mean it can't happen. Again, I'm just looking wondering if there's a canon explanation that says why it can't.
    – automaton
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 18:51
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    It's worth pointing out that items in the games--up to and including entire bicycles--can be digitally stored in one's computer and retrieved later with no loss of data in much the same way Pokemon can. Whether or not this is related to pokeballs in unclear.
    – Exal
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 8:44
  • Great point, @Exal. If you can develop that into an answer I'll gladly upvote it
    – automaton
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


In the first season of the anime, there are at least two examples of non-Pokemon being captured.

In episode 25, "Primeape Goes Bananas", when Ash tries to capture a Mankey it throws an onigiri (rice ball, or "sandwich" or "donut" as it was occasionally called in the dub) which intercepts the Pokeball.

In episode 72, "The Ancient Puzzle of Pokémopolis", multiple human characters are trapped in strange artifacts that are rumoured to be primitive Pokeballs (and which also housed gigantic ancient Alakazam, Gengar and Jigglypuff).

Additionally, in the games it is common to come across Pokeball icons on the screen which contain items (or are occasionally a disguised Pokemon, such as Voltorb).

  • +1, but the overworld items have always seemed more like representative icons to me, not an indication that an item is inside a Poké Ball. Other games have used different things, such as the chests in the GameCube games.
    – ArrowCase
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 16:30
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    That's a fair point, although as Exal notes the technology exists to store items in a computer and transfer them digitally, which sounds similar to the way Pokemon are stored in their balls, so perhaps there really are just Pokeballs on the ground with stuff in them.
    – ConMan
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 23:08
  • @ConMan You might want to point out that, in the episode you mention with the Mankey, the pokeball successfully captures the donut, and the donut is later released the same way a pokemon would be. If I recall correctly (it's been years since I saw it), Ash did not even realize at first that he caught the donut and thought he was about to release the mankey when the donut popped out instead. It is not clear from your answer that the object definitely was captured by the pokeball in the manner the question asks about.
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 18:19
  • @Aaron To be honest, it's been years since I saw the episode too, so I don't remember how long it stayed in the ball. But yes, there was definitely at least some period where the Poke ball successfully contained the rice ball.
    – ConMan
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 23:35

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