In Pokémon episode Electric Shock Showdown Brock says

"It's over. Raichu ran out of electricity."

How can an Electric Pokemon run out of electricity? Does it mean Water-types can run out of the water and Fire-types can run out of the fire?


2 Answers 2


In the Pokémon anime, as in the Pokémon games, there is not what you would call a high degree of internal consistency regarding the "physics" of the powers wielded by Pokémon. Laws of thermodynamics and conservation of mass are not rigorously applied. That being said, there is a common-sensical logic to the world, followed or ignored to whatever extent serves the story or game mechanics.

According to this logic, Electric-type Pokémon can produce electricity, as fire-type Pokémon can produce flames and Ice-type Pokémon can produce snow and the aurora borealis, but this doesn't mean they can produce these substances in unlimited quantities, just as terrestrial Poison-type animals can only produce so much venom without taking some time to replenish themselves.

Concerning Charmander, an archetypical Fire-type Pokémon, the Pokédex in Pokémon Pearl says:

The fire on the tip of its tail is a measure of its life. If healthy, its tail burns intensely.

In HeartGold, the Dex says:

The flame on its tail shows the strength of its life force. If it is weak, the flame also burns weakly.

And in FireRed:

From the time it is born, a flame burns at the tip of its tail. Its life would end if the flame were to go out.

Charmander's fire-generating ability is (at least partially) interdependent with its health. Its affiliation with the Fire type doesn't guarantee unlimited fire-production ability.

In the mechanics of the games, Pokémon's ability to use their various powers is expressed as a resource, "Power Points" (almost always referred to as PP). Each time a move is used, its PP goes down; when the PP of a move reaches 0, it can't be used again until the player takes steps to refresh the Pokémon. If all a Pokémon's moved are reduced to 0 PP, it can only use the self-damaging Struggle attack.

The climactic battle in "Electric Shock Showdown" seems to follow roughly the same lines: Lt. Surge's Raichu eventually "runs out of PP" for its Electric-type Thunderbolt attack, leaving it vulnerable to Ash's Pikachu. This kind of "war of attrition" strategy is only feasible because, in the anime as well as in the games, a Pokémon's elemental power is not an inexhaustible resource.

  • 1
    +1 Lt. Surge's Raichu eventually "runs out of PP" for its Electric-type Thunderbolt attack. Nice job linking PP to the anime context of this question. I always assumed it was something the anime made up to make battles more interesting.
    – Voronwé
    Dec 27, 2018 at 2:09

In the anime we see that Pokemon can run out of their "type" if they overuse it. We see at least one other example of this in Volcanion And The Mechanical Marvel when Volcanion runs out of water.

Volcanion: Explosions are my speciality

Ash: Hold on, you're out of water. Part of the fortress runs on steam, so it has water tanks

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And in Hocus Pokemon Weezing attacks Pikachu with a sludge-attack move for about a minute. It runs out of sludge before Pikachu runs out of electricity and is defeated

Meowth: It's run out of sludge!

enter image description here

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    I don't think Volcanion is a good comparison. Volcanion seems to use water as fuel for his powers and needs external sources for it. When Volcanion runs out of water, he's not exhausted like other Pokemon appear to be when they run out of their innate resource and simply needs to locate a new source of water. When he's out of water, Volcanio doesn't appear to have any abilities (explosions/flight/hydro pump) without acquiring an external source of water.
    – Ellesedil
    Dec 26, 2018 at 22:00
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    Raichu and Weezing do not need external sources of electricity/poison and seem to expend resources that they generate themselves and become exhausted when they must sustain their powers for extended lengths of time. Although, there are a few scenes where Pikachu receives a boost of power if an external source of electricity charges it up, but that isn't the norm for Pikachu and the effects appear to be temporary.
    – Ellesedil
    Dec 26, 2018 at 22:01
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    @Ellesedil - Sure, but the principle is that they can run out until they can obtain sufficient supplies whether internal or external to continue
    – Valorum
    Dec 26, 2018 at 22:09
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    In the context of the question being asked, I disagree. It's clear the question is focused on the element/resource that the Pokemon generates with the focus on electric/fire/water types "running out of" electricity/fire/water. Volcanion doesn't generate anything himself, but instead consumes a resource (water) that he sources externally in order to fuel his abilities. The way Volcanion's powers work appear to be outside the scope of the question. It's like asking if solar powered cars can run out electricity if all electric components are running, and then provide an answer about hybrids cars.
    – Ellesedil
    Dec 26, 2018 at 22:28

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