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Anybody who knows the Pokemon show has probably seen the first episode, in which it's shown that Pikachu will not go in his Pokeball. It's last brought up for a gag in the episode, and then for the rest of the series, Pikachu is never in the ball (apperently it gets brought up in one of the recent films, where Ash just says "he doesn't like it").

But why did the writers do this? The naive/easy answer is that they just did it because it was funny, but they then committed to it for the next 25 seasons when they could have easily undone it in the first episode. You could also argue that keeping him out of the ball helps solidify him as the mascot of the series, but when the show was originally written in 1996/97 wasn't the intention. Surely there's an alternate reason for this.

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You could also argue that keeping him out of the ball helps solidify him as the mascot of the series, but when the show was originally written in 1996/97 wasn't the intention.

I am wrong. Appearently it wasn't even the anime staff who chose Pikachu, it was the Pokemon executives who went with it before the anime was made. So this actually was the intention.

I found several sources for this but they all seem to be consolidated in a forum post here. The forum post offers a few editorial reasons why but it also links to an MTV article with a quote from Junichi Masuda, a programmer on the Pokemon series and an executive at GameFreak and The Pokémon Company:

"In the beginning, we had a few graphic designers working on drawing designs, coming up with ideas. We also had a few programmers who also came up with design ideas. Within the company, we would vote and decide which one everyone likes. One of the planners saw Pikachu and was like, 'This is a really cute Pokemon. Maybe it's not a good idea to have it be a really common Pokemon in the game.' It was a Pokemon he just wanted to catch, just for himself. [The fact that Pikachu] is a rare Pokemon that doesn't show up very often in the wild was another reason [he was popular]. When people actually encountered it, it was a really big impact. It was like, 'Wow, this is a cool Pokemon.' At the same time, in the animation, Ash had Pikachu as his Pokemon, so those two things combined helped the popularity of Pikachu rise."

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    You could improve this answer by citing a source for this.
    – DavidW
    Commented May 17 at 1:31
  • Updated the comment.
    – ioi-xd
    Commented May 17 at 1:41
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    Please name and quote your source/s within the answer itself, rather than just providing a link. Doing so will ensure that the relevant information is preserved within the answer even if the link breaks at some point in the future. Commented May 17 at 1:42
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    Possibly related on Anime.SE: Why was Pikachu chosen to be the main Pokemon of the anime?
    – Andrew T.
    Commented May 17 at 2:49

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