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Film / Pokémon Detective Pikachu

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Tim Goodman: I don't need a Pokémon, period. You got that?
Detective Pikachu: Then what about a world-class detective? Because if you want to find your pops, I'm your best bet.

Pokémon Detective Pikachu is a 2019 action-adventure film based on the Pokémon Spin-Off game of the same name, and the first live-action entry in the Pokémon franchise. The plot of the film is the same as the game: Tim Goodman, the son of a famed detective in Ryme City who has gone mysteriously missing, must join forces with a wise-cracking Pikachu in order to find his father and get to the bottom of the strange incidents plaguing the city.

The film is directed by Rob Letterman, with a screenplay based on a story by Letterman, Tom McCarthy, and Nicole Perlman, and stars Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, and Ken Watanabe, alongside Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu.

It was released on May 3 in Japan, and it was released by Warner Bros. in worldwide on May 10. It is Warner Bros.' first Pokémon theatrical release in over 18 years, having last been involved in the franchise by releasing Pokémon 3 worldwide outside Japan.note 


The film is the first Pokémon film to receive a wide theatrical release in North America since Pokémon 3, and the first to receive any major theatrical release in North America since Pokémon Heroes. Moreover, the movie also holds the distinction of being the first live-action movie based on a Nintendo series since 1993's Super Mario Bros., and is one of the few official live-action American-made media in the Pokémon franchise after Pokémon Live!, which was based on the anime.

Previews: Trailer 1, "Big," Trailer 2, "Casting Detective Pikachu", "What a Pikachu World," "Destiny."


Pokémon Detective Pikachu contains examples of:

  • Art Shift: After having extremely realistic Pokémon throughout the film, the credits are filled with Animesque drawings of all the main characters, including the humans, courtesy of Ken Sugimori.
  • Ascended Meme: Mr. Mime is portrayed as a major suspect being interrogated by the detectives and freaking them out with his invoked Uncanny Valley facial expressions, which is likely a nod to his reputation among many fans of the game.
  • Assimilation Plot: Howard Clifford's true master plan. He intends to Grand Theft Me Mewtwo and spread the "R" serum gas among Pokémon in order to use Mewtwo's psychic powers to fuse human and Pokémon together and create unity between the two.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Torterra Garden Tim and company wander into from the crazed Greninja houses Godzilla-sized Torterra. They're initially led to believe the little garden they see in the laboratory houses Torterra in the process of growing, while in fact the land beyond the little garden is the real garden that has the real deals hidden in the landscape. It's a wonder they haven't wrecked humanity a good one.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: Mewtwo attacks as a parade is being held in Ryme City. This is actually a plot by Howard Clifford to fuse all humans with their Pokémon partners.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The film's more violent and crass tone and unexpected profanity made it the first Pokémon movie to be given a PG rating. Before then, all anime-based Pokémon movies were rated G, not counting the films released straight-to-video.
  • Badass Adorable: Detective Pikachu was this before his accident, being strong enough to defeat Charizard and scar its face. Not so much after his accident, where he lost both his memories and his power. He gets his powers back in the climax of the movie, hitting a Howard Clifford-controlled Mewtwo with a Volt Tackle strong enough to send him into a building.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Tim tries to pass off a desk stapler as a handgun when he hears an intruder in his apartment. The lighting, sound effects, and Tim's posture almost make it look like one... until he unfolds it. Detective Pikachu isn't fooled for a second.
    • If you weren't aware of who's voicing him or what Detective Pikachu sounds like in the source game, you'd expect him to be voiced by Ikue Otani... only to be greeted by the completely different-sounding Ryan Reynolds. If you're not Tim, or Harry is not in Pikachu’s body, then you'll hear Ikue.
    • The ending shows Tim sitting on a bench. Detective Pikachu's voice calls to him and we see a familiar Pikachu in a detective hat, implying Harry's stuck a Pikachu. Then a further pan out shows Harry distinctly standing beside Pikachu.
  • Big "OMG!": Detective Pikachu shouts "Oh my God!" when he realizes that a human being (Tim) can actually understand him.
  • Big "NO!": As Tim removes the Neural Link from Howard's comatose body, Howard-as-Mewtwo lets one out that continues from his "real" body at its end, knowing he was finally beaten.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It turns out that Harry was in Pikachu's body all along, and after being restored to his real one, he seemingly retains no memory of their adventure together. (Even if he did, it still stands that the titular "Detective Pikachu" is virtually gone.) But Tim still remembers, and stays with him in Ryme City to become a detective, their relationship at last on the mend.
  • Bound and Gagged: The real Roger was tied and silenced with duct tape while his father had Ditto impersonate him.
  • A Boy and His X: Well, a young man and a talking Pikachu. The trailer gives the impression that Tim is disillusioned by the whole "Aim to be a Pokémon Master" goal given to trainers and appears to not want to work with Pokémon before meeting Detective Pikachu.
  • Brick Joke: When Tim first arrives in Ryme City, there's a Snorlax asleep in the middle of a bike lane. At the end of the film, it is still sleeping in the exact same place.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Detective Pikachu gets so excited he pees a little, which he initially blames on Tim.
  • Brutal Honesty: Tim's friend Jack tries to help him catch a Cubone. He explains that Cubone is perfect for him. Why? Because Cubone is a "Lonely Pokémon", so they're perfect for each other.
  • Buffy Speak: Detective Pikachu: "That's a twist. That's very twisty."
  • The Cameo: Ryoma Takeuchi (best known as Shinnosuke Tomari), the Japanese dub actor for Tim, shows up as an unnamed trainer wearing outfit similar to Red's.
  • Canon Character All Along: Downplayed, as we're led to believe that this is the old "Scientists create Mewtwo, he breaks free and sees humanity as an evil to be destroyed“ tale, but it turns out this is actually a Mewtwo created 20 years ago in the Kanto region, and a Pikachu and his trainer taught him that humanity is not all evil and deserves a chance. Just like the one in the first anime Pokémon movie.
  • Canon Foreigner: Detective Yoshida, Watanabe's character. He appears to take on the same role as Mike Baker (a character from Detective Pikachu) who is also a close friend of Harry Goodman.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Volt Tackle is a very powerful move, but it damages the user by a lot. When Tim suggests Pikachu use Volt Tackle on Charizard in the underground battle ring, he refuses. During the climax, Pikachu hits a possessed Mewtwo with a Volt Tackle hard enough to send the latter crashing into a building, nearly knocking Pikachu out, too.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Psyduck's headaches. Detective Pikachu warns Tim that letting Psyduck's headaches get out of control is not a good idea. He eventually forces Psyduck to get a major headache in order for him to release a mighty Psychic attack that blows away the Greninja squad chasing them. Unfortunately, it also stirs up the Torterra Garden.
    • When Detective Pikachu battles Charizard, Tim suggests using Pikachu's strongest move, Volt Tackle. However, it turns out that Pikachu doesn't remember how to use his moves at all, preventing him from pulling it off. Towards the end of the film, when Pikachu has figured out his powers, he remembers this advice and uses Volt Tackle to send Howard-as-Mewtwo crashing into a building.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Mr. Mime tells him "You can shove it!" in mime, Detective Pikachu somehow manages to interpret this as "Your problem is you push people away and then hate them for leaving." Cue Mr. Mime making a "No, no, no!" face at him.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Brian Buccellato is writing one for Legendary Comics.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The first part of the credits is a tribute to the Pokémon Adventures manga, featuring the main cast and all the Pokémon shown in the movie in the Sugimori-esque style that the manga uses, all over a rapidly-flipping background of manga pages.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Even after regaining the ability to use moves, Detective Pikachu stands little chance of overpowering Howard-as-Mewtwo. However he still manages to fend off Howard's attacks for some time and even stuns him temporarily with Volt Tackle, distracting him long enough for Tim to break Mewtwo free from Howard's control.
  • Curse Cut Short: Tim gets out an 'Oh sh-' when he's being chased by the frenzied Aipom.
  • Culture Clash: Ryme City is described as being "progressive" in terms of Pokémon treatment. Pokémon battles within the city limits are illegal and even the use of something as ubiquitous as Poké Balls is frowned upon by many citizens. That said, the characters never treat battles or Poké Balls as inherently wrong (notably the Pokémon audience in the underground fighting ring are as hyped as the humans when it comes to battles), just as alternate ways to have relationships with Pokémon that Ryme City disallows within the city limits because the city is basically a big experiment in new ways for Pokémon and humans to live together.
  • Darker and Edgier: Literally, as in most of the lighting is darker, fitting its Noir-esque motifs. Content-wise, it includes outright swearing and open violence (though the latter is, of course, always implied in the games). In general, previous Pokémon movies had always fell under this trope, but were still considered safe for young children. This film pushes that envelope Up to Eleven in ways never seen before. It's the first Pokémon film to be rated PG rather than G, and also above almost all the Pokémon games which are rated E.note 
  • Deadline News: Of a sort. At the Pokémon Parade, Lucy tries to report to everyone how the purple clouds of R gas are dangerous and not to let the Pokémon breathe it in right before she and most other people in the street get zapped by Mewtwo and merged with their Pokémon partners. After the camera falls, a lone Psyduck (Lucy merged into her Psyduck) is seen looking curiously into the lens.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Detective Pikachu, by virtue of being voiced by Ryan Reynolds, snarks at everyone and everything.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Fitting with the film's Darker and Edgier tone, several integral elements of the Pokémon mythos are given a dose of Reality Ensues.
    • In general, many of the Pokémon are terrifying, not just from appearances, but from what they can do. From Greninja chasing down Tim and Pikachu hurling Water Shuriken at them, to Cubone whacking Tim with his bone boomerang, to Charizard just being a dragon, it is quite apparent that Pokémon are not all cute and cuddly pets. Even cute Pokémon like Aipom can turn terrifying if enraged.
    • Pikachu comments to a Psyduck that "its head [could] explode and kill them all." Black Comedy for sure, but it really does drive home that Psychic-types in particular are capable of horrifying things, and a Pokémon like Psyduck that can't fully control its power could seriously injure or kill someone by complete accident. In fact, Psyduck blackmails Pikachu into giving him a foot rub by reminding him that a psychic discharge would probably wreck the car they're on and kill Tim.
    • A Charizard vs. Pikachu fight is something most players wouldn't think twice about, given that Charizard's Flying typing makes it weak to Pikachu's Electric-type techniques. In reality, it's a little yellow mouse versus a six-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon — Detective Pikachu can't summon his electrical attacks to fight back and cowers in fear. Charizard also sports a nasty electrical burn from the last time they battled.
    • Ditto is a tricky Pokémon to use because of its transformation gimmick not copying HP, so it is a Glass Cannon that must be used carefully. Here, not only are stats not really something to be concerned with, but Ditto's shapeshifting makes it an extremely dangerous opponent in battle because it can become any Pokémon with only a couple seconds of notice, and then use their attacks on you. That said, the individual shown had undergone unspecified genetic experimentation, so it's not clear how much of this applies to the species as a whole.
    • Detective Pikachu is frustrated and lonely that Pokémon Speak doesn't let him communicate with humans properly. A major point is that he and Tim need each other's help because humans and Pokémon speak different languages the other can't understand, but these two together can.
    • The underground cage fighting arena strips away the frills and shows that Pokémon battles amount more to professional fighting.
    • The fact that Tim's father was absent for the later half of his childhood (at least after his mother died) deeply affected Tim and his outlook on life, something rarely explored in the games where the protagonists' fathers are rarely there.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After Pikachu is critically injured in a fall, Tim sees a Bulbasaur and begs for help. When the Bulbasaur leaves, Tim fears help won't come... until it returns with about a dozen of its friends.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Sebastian gave his Charizard R so it would win its rematch against Pikachu, unaware it would've won easily because Pikachu forgot his powers. Tim's attempt to save Pikachu from the now-berserk Charizard inadvertently led to Sebastian breaking all of his vials of R, causing a rampage that destroys his fight ring.
  • Disappeared Dad: The driving force of the film involves finding out what happened to Tim's father, who wasn't part of Tim's life for the past decade and then was believed to be killed in a car crash.
  • *Drool* Hello: How Tim and Pikachu realize that the Greninja are out and trying to get them is signaled by a mysterious slimy substance on the floor dripping from the tongue of one of the Greninja, who are clinging to the ceiling.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Due to his amnesia, Pikachu doesn't remember how to use his electric powers. He doesn't try to zap the gang of Aipom that chase Tim, and later, he's in big trouble when faced with Charizard and unable to produce electricity.
  • Emergency Transformation: A variation. Mewtwo transferred a dying Harry's consciousness into Pikachu. It restores them both to their normal selves at the end.
  • Dramatic Drop: Tim drops the stapler he was wielding when he hears Pikachu speak.
  • The Empath: Pikachu explains that Pokémon possessing a version of this ability is how most communication from humans to Pokémon works, albeit Pokémon can often judge human emotions with such skill that in effect it can be much the same as understanding words.
  • Eureka Moment: When Pikachu comes across the site of Harry's accident and finds a piece of Water Shuriken, he realizes two things: First, he hadn't betrayed Harry. Second, he and Harry had freed Mewtwo, and Mewtwo was trying to save them.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While technically more 'douchebag' than 'monster', Sebastian clearly cares for his Charizard, giving it a peptalk before the battle, and flipping out when Tim starts stomping on its tail flame. He even refers to it as 'my baby'.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Sebastian may be running an illegal underground Pokémon fighting arena and gives his Charizard a dose of R before it fights Pikachu, but when Tim gets into the ring, Sebastian gets freaked out that he'll get hurt in the crossfire.
    • Roger may not be the most pleasant person in Ryme City, but even he realizes the Big Bad's plan is insane and doesn't help with the Evil Plan.
  • Evil Brit: Roger Clifford is hyped up to be one, but it's revealed to be a Red Herring. His dad, however, plays this trope straight, even if he's a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • The Exotic Detective: The movie hits both of the main subtypes, being a detective story in an unusual setting (the Pokémon universe) and featuring an unusual main character (a Pikachu).
  • The Faceless: Harry Goodman's face isn't shown for the majority of the film. In flashbacks, footage, and holograms, he either isn't shown or his back is turned. Only in the final scene is Harry's face shown (and voice heard) — he's played by Ryan Reynolds.
  • Fantastic Noir: Tim has to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of his father by navigating the dark streets of Ryme City... while also teaming up with a Hardboiled Detective Pikachu only he can understand.
  • Fauxshadowing:
    • We see newspapers reporting on the finding of Mew remains, implying that those were the ones used to create Mewtwo. It's later revealed that this Mewtwo is actually twenty years old, so those Mew remains are completely irrelevant to the plot.
    • The purple gas that makes Pokémon go crazy is called R, which might lead some fans to believe that Team Rocket is behind its creation. They aren't, and in fact, don't appear in the film.
  • Fight Clubbing: Traditional Pokémon battles are illegal within Ryme City, but Sebastian runs an underground arena where trainers can meet up.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • As per the page quote: of course Detective Pikachu is Tim's best bet for finding his dad! Harry's consciousness is inside Pikachu as he speaks, and Pikachu did a deal with Mewtwo to preserve Harry's body.
    • As soon as a black van pulls over in front of them, Pikachu tells Tim "that's a bad guy's car." Who walks out of it? Howard's assistant Ms. Norman (really a Ditto) who takes him to see Howard, the real villain of the film.
    • Early on, during a scene with Roger and Howard Clifford, a Ditto can be seen shifting into a human to wheel Howard away. We later learn that Ms. Norman is said Ditto, having been experimented on in the Pokémon lab. This scene also foreshadows that the Roger we see after this scene isn't Roger himself: the sunglasses Roger puts on as he exits are very different from the Sinister Shades the Ditto impersonating him is wearing, the same pair worn in its Ms. Norman form.
    • There's a wealth of clues for the final reveal.
      • Pikachu is the only Pokémon not sent into a berserk state when he inhales R. He's immune because he is actually Harry's mind in Pikachu's body, and R specifically affects the consciousness of Pokémon.
      • It's established that most Pokémon cannot understand human language. Only Mr. Mime seems to have a grasp on English. Pikachu can read and understand people even though they can't understand him, and he has a notion of human concepts like an address, yet his cap has info in case he goes missing. Why would that be necessary if he's smart enough to get there by himself? That's because Pikachu wouldn't be able to get back, he only does it because of Harry's consciousness within him.
      • In spite of all the amnesia, Pikachu seems to be pretty sure of the feeling Harry had for Tim, which could be attributed to the connection of humans and Pokémon. It's actually because those feelings are his own.
      • After the loss of his father, Tim closes in on himself and pushes away Pikachu, who's trying to connect with him and help him get through it. This is similar to the way Tim pushed away his father after the death of his mother which is very appropriate since Pikachu is his father (sort of).
      • When being chased by the Aipom, Pikachu reacts by trying to shout for help. This unusually human behavior makes sense given that Harry’s personality is in control.
    • Tim assumes he is able to understand Detective Pikachu because he inhaled the gas. Yet later when tons of it is released in the underground fighting ring no one else can understand their Pokémon... mainly because Pikachu is actually Harry (sort of) and this is actually why Tim can understand him.
    • Right before Mewtwo's escape from capture in the beginning of the film, it takes note of the fact that Harry had left the lab. This is a pretty big hint that it is not the one responsible for wreck that seemingly killed Harry. After all, if Mewtwo really wanted Harry dead, it could have easily done so while he was still in the building.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Oodles and oodles of it. For one thing, nearly every crowd scene crams in loads of Pokémon to be spotted.
    • A quick look at Tim's railway ticket reveals that he lived in Leaventown.
    • On YouTube, you can find a reference guide to all the Pokémon and other references identified in the trailer, and the first poster.
    • In Tim's room, there are posters featuring Reshiram and Zekrom fighting as well as another depicting Rayquaza. Both posters are drawn in Ken Sugimori's style.
    • If you look closely at Psyduck's eyes, it actually has very pale irises rather than just having pupils like its game incarnation.
    • One of the Pokémon varieties can only be spotted like this; tiny Flabébé can be seen during Tim and Pikachu's walk through the woods to Mewtwo, but they're never directly focused on.
    • Howard's desk has statues of Dialga and Palkia to each side, and Arceus behind him. It's a clue that Howard's effectively trying to play God himself.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • During Tim and Detective Pikachu's walk through the Ryme City marketplace, a Charmander can be seen behind Detective Pikachu using its tail to help light a wok.
    • After Howard has begun executing his plan and gotten the crowd gathered for the "parade" stuck in their Pokémon's bodies, at one point, a guy-turned-Machamp is shown checking out his newfound muscles as everyone around him looks confused or panicked.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In a misguided attempt to sound suave, Tim tells Lucy that he's "actually pretty good at being alone at night". Lucy is not impressed.
    • He tries to explain to a couple of passersby that the reason why he can hear Pikachu is because of "some strange gas" he sniffed. This gets him worried looks from several people.
    • When Pikachu brings Tim back to the apartment, Pikachu remarks about how he can't believe he's inviting someone back to the apartment on the first night, and he isn't normally that kind of Pokémon.
    • Pikachu complains about being cute, how people will pet him or put their hands on him or in him... It's gross.
    • While interrogating Mr Mime, Pikachu tells Tim to 'grow some berries'.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: Pikachu's attempt to go Jack Bauer on Mr. Mime doesn't go well.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Detective Pikachu and Tim attempt this routine on a Mr. Mime. The Mime taunts Pikachu into switching roles.
  • Grand Theft Me: Howard hijacks and controls Mewtwo and uses his powerful psychic abilities to put his Assimilation Plot into motion.
  • Gut Feeling: Pikachu knows there's more to the accident that killed Harry Goodman than there seems to be, and he knows he and Tim should partner up. He can feel it in his jellies.
  • Hates Being Called Cute: Zigzagged. Pikachu responds to a woman calling him "adorable" by returning the compliment right back, even knowing she can't understand him. However, the fact that most people just call him cute and won't actually help him is a big roadblock.
  • Hidden Depths: Detective Pikachu shows a surprising amount of self-awareness when interrogating that Mr. Mime, claiming the Mr. Mime was telling him he "shoves people away, and hates them for leaving" when Mr. Mime was just telling him to shove it.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Played. Mewtwo mentions this as he replays the events from earlier as he hovered above Harry and Pikachu, only for the flashback to end abruptly as he gets captured. In the end, he replays the full scene and mentions that despite his original thinking of humanity, there are still trustworthy humans, and it helped keep Harry alive by fusing him with Pikachu.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Or in this case, whose brand it's a part of. Apparently, TPCi believes that people wouldn't recognize this movie as an official Pokémon film if it didn't have the franchise's name in the title. (It should be noted that the game was released as just Detective Pikachu, without the Pokémon name in it.)
  • Innocently Insensitive: In the opening, Tim approaches a Cubone, who's crying. He casually makes a remark about Cubone wearing the skull of its dead relative, angering it enough to make it attack him later once it breaks out of the Poké Ball.
  • The Intern: Cynthia treats Lucy as nothing more than an intern who's supposed to go get her coffee.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Lucy Stevens, Kathryn Newton's character, is driven and ambitious, despite only being an unpaid intern.
  • Ironic Echo: Howard Clifford's comments as he replays the holographic recreation of the car accident where he can control what others can see are again repeated in a much more serious light when Pikachu realizes that Mewtwo wasn't responsible for the car crash, but instead the lab's own Greninja were responsible, which means Howard made a forgery and is secretly controlling everything behind the scenes.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Tim and Pikachu attempt this on Mr. Mime. Pikachu tries to get physical, only to run run facefirst into Mr. Mime's invisible wall. Tim then decides to get creative by playing to Mr. Mime's level, by miming that he's dousing Mr. Mime in gasoline and threatening him with a "match." Mr. Mime quickly spills what he knows. And then Tim accidentally "drops" the "match."
  • Jaded Washout: Tim wanted to be a Pokémon trainer when he was younger. Instead, he became an insurance adjuster who keeps his distance from Pokémon in general.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Lucy goes to him with rumors about the R gas for a story, he's rude in his response and insults her clothes while he's at it, but he's correct that journalists should not publish stories without sources and evidence.
  • Kaiju: The humongous Torterra, big enough to carry entire forests on their backs, surely count as this.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Gyarados is a leviathan so massive it could swallow an adult in one gulp. He sprays water powerful enough to blow people clear out of a building.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Pikachu has this, as he remembers nothing except that he was Harry Goodman's detective partner. At first it looks like a vengeful Mewtwo is responsible for wiping his memories, and it is... but it wasn't actually vengeful and it did it to save Harry's life by transferring his consciousness into his Pikachu partner.
  • Magic Genetics: PCL reveals it made experiments on Pokémon and evolution such as hyper-aggressive Greninja, mountain-sized Torterra, and a Ditto capable of morphing into humans and Pokémon it's not currently facing.
  • Magikarp Power: Detective Pikachu's plan to stop the rampaging R-boosted Charizard was to get an R-boosted Magikarp that had broken out of its tank to evolve into Gyarados and counter it with water attacks. He tosses the Magikarp into a puddle of water for it to breathe... and all it does is just splash around. After a moment of nothing happening, it does evolve just after Charizard's R has worn off, with the resulting Gyarados still under the effects of R, much to everyone's horror. It's the only time Charizard has looked scared.
  • Maniac Monkeys: A vicious Aipom sneaks into Tim's dad's house and prepares to attack him. Later on, many more Aipom swarm after Tim and Pikachu and they get chased through much of the building and along the roof.
  • Mark of the Beast: Pokémon under the effect of the Psycho Serum R, like the Aipom in Henry's apartment or the Charizard in the underground battle arena, have enlarged pupils with a slight blue/purple glow in them.
  • Missing Mom: Harry's wife and Tim's mother died from a sudden illness 10 years before.
  • Morphic Resonance: Howard's Ditto retains its black beady eyes, so it wears Sinister Shades to hide them when in human forms.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Pikachu has an addiction to caffeine and drinks a lot of coffee. He insists he can stop whenever he wants.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Pikachu has one when he realizes he was responsible for short-circuiting Mewtwo's stasis pod and allowing him to break out, thinking this was a bad thing.
    • Offscreen, Harry himself feels that capturing Mewtwo for Howard, and discovering that Howard was responsible for both the R Serum and helping along his Assimilation Plot, was enough to get him to order Pikachu to do the aforementioned short-circuiting to free Mewtwo.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page here.
  • Name McAdjective: There's a news reporter by the name of Cynthia McMaster, a nod to Cynthia's status as the Sinnoh League champion and one of the most reputably powerful Pokémon trainers in the entire franchise's game mechanics and lore. The surname was created for this film.
  • Neuro-Vault: Mewtwo stored Harry's mind in Pikachu's body (but with amnesia), while holding his body within itself. It needed Tim present so it could heal Harry.
  • Never Found the Body: Pikachu points this out to Tim, and it's the most convincing piece of evidence that Harry is still alive somewhere.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted. There's a part in the movie that has Pikachu saying that they need to play chill music in order to stop Psyduck's head from killing everyone with his psychic powers. This is significant because it's coming from a Pokémon film, and the Pokémon games usually play Never Say "Die" straight.
    Pikachu: So let me get this right. We're forced to listen to this spa music so your head doesn't explode and kill us all?
    Psyduck: Psyduck!
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers heavily imply that Tim is a rookie cop following in his detective father's footsteps. His scenes with the lieutenant aren't framed in the context of him arriving from out of town to pack his dad's apartment, and when he first meets Pikachu and is comically holding a stapler like a gun, we only see the shot of him in shadows where it actually looks like a gun. Instead, Tim is an insurance appraiser ( though the movie ends with him considering joining the police force after all).
  • Not His Sled: In the movie the plot to spread the R serum is changed, as is the identiy of the man responsible for it: Not only is Roger not the real bad guy, his father is and is framing Roger for refusing to take part in his plan, which isn't just to spread the R serum but to use it to combine the minds of every human in Ryme City with their Pokémon.
  • No, You: Seems to be an almost Verbal Tic of Pikachu's.
    • When he first meets Tim:
      Tim: Stop talking! You're a hallucination!
      Pikachu: You're a hallucination.
    • When a woman parrots Pokémon Speak back at him.
      Woman: Yeah! Pika pika pika! He's adorable!
      Pikachu: You're adorable! ...They can't understand me, kid.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently Harry and Pikachu battled Sebastian and his Charizard at the underground battle arena. Pikachu beat Charizard bad enough that Sebastian held a grudge over it.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Tim, Pikachu and Mr. Mime when Tim accidentally drops the "imaginary match" after dousing the mimic with imaginary gasoline and getting his confession.
    • Pikachu realizes that Sebastian is exposing Charizard to R Gas, making him even more aggressive.
    • Sebastian gets a quick one when he falls over inside the arena, and realizes he's broken several vials of R gas at once.
    • Charizard itself gets one when facing down a newly-evolved Gyarados hopped on R.
    • Dr. Laurent gets one posthumously when she realizes Mewtwo's stasis pod is going to break down and the very irate Pokémon is going to break free in a very explosive payback.
    • Howard-as-Mewtwo gets a well-deserved one while boasting to Pikachu, only to realize he was merely a distraction and Tim is about to remove the Neural Link from Howard's control.
  • Oh My Gods!: Pikachu's response to being chin-scratched by Lucy.
    Pikachu: She's tryin' to work me, kid, but trust me, I can— Oh sweet mother of Arceus.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: We get to see Harry's crash and the aftermath multiple times during this film. It's only later ones that tell us what really happened to Harry, and whose side he was really on in the end.
  • Parlor Games: During his interrogation, a presumably-mute Mr. Mime communicates with our heroes through charades.
  • Plank Gag: While discussing what happened to Harry, Pikachu paces in small circles, accidentally hitting Tim a few times with his tail.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: Mewtwo was showing Tim and Pikachu the memories surrounding the accident that Harry suffered, but was interrupted when Roger (actually Ditto in disguise) captured Mewtwo again. This led to Pikachu thinking he betrayed Harry by helping Mewtwo escape the first time.
  • Pokémon Speak: Zigzagged, some Pokémon speak like this while others make animalistic noises, but this is what most people hear when Detective Pikachu talks. This gets deconstructed when Detective Pikachu reveals that he's become agitated by the fact that no one was able to understand what he says, at least until Tim came along.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Just as in the game, R serum is made via harvesting Mewtwo's own cells during its captivity.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • When he notices his opponent Charizard getting a dose of R gas before getting into the ring, a horrified Detective Pikachu starts shaking the cage screaming, "Get me the hell out of here!" This is a first for Western adaptations of Pokémon, as no other Western localization of Pokémon media featured a character uttering profanity on-screen.
    • Tim at one point exclaims "Shit!" during the giant Torterra garden scene.
  • Psycho Serum: The substance known only as "R". When exposed to its gas form, Pokémon that breathe it turn extremely aggressive until it wears off. The truth is that it's a chemical compound created out of Mewtwo's cells that allows a Pokémon's higher cognitive functions to be momentarily removed to permit a psychic fusion between it and a human, as per Howard's Assimilation Plot.
  • Red Herring:
    • For most of the movie, Roger Clifford is shown in a negative light and plays a Hate Sink character while his father Howard's plays a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. It's later revealed that Howard is the villain and Roger is not involved in his father's scheme at all, and the Roger we've seen acting evil is actually a Ditto mimicking him.
    • Mewtwo is one of the first things we see in the movie and there are a few mentions of a dig site involving Mew. Turns out that these aren't related, and the latter isn't important at all. This Mewtwo was captured and is implied to be the one from the first Pokémon anime movie.
  • Retraux: According to Justice Smith, the filmmakers tried so hard to have it closely resemble the Film Noir genre that they shot the movie on actual film, instead of digitally, to give it the natural grainy look expected in a noir film.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Zigzagged with the portrayals of Pokémon: their looks fall all over the scale of ugly-to-cute. The biggest example of "cute" (aside from Pikachu itself) may be the Bulbasaur, who, in addition to looking absolutely adorable, also sound and act adorable. Notably, instead of Pokémon Speak, they have a cooing, chirping, baby-like voice.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ted, and other such films, Detective Pikachu features a jaded human teaming up with an animated animal with a much more flawed personality than you'd expect to see in a full cartoon.
  • Rugged Scar: Charizard has a vertical one over its right eye and a horizontal one on its left cheek, courtesy of a previous run in with Pikachu.
  • Scenery Porn: Ryme City is so visually stunning that it's practically breathtaking. If you combined Shibuya with Times Square, then threw elements of Pokémon into the mix, you would get this place.
  • Shadow Archetype: Howard Clifford is this to Harry Goodman: Both have a strained relationship with their respective sons and both ended up merging their minds with a Pokémon's body.
  • Shame If Something Happened: After Pikachu establishes that Psyduck is very dangerous when stressed out, Psyduck sticks out a foot at Pikachu for a foot rub. From the tone of his voice and Pikachu's reactions, he's implied to be threatening him.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: At one point, a Ditto shifts into Lucy's form. Tim claims he'd be willing to hit a shapeshifter's beady-eyed effigy of the girl he has a crush on, but is nonetheless distracted enough for the Ditto to knock him off his feet, literally.
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song: A Ditto goes through several different transformations after being dosed with R, before collapsing into a puddle.
  • Ship Tease: There is a lot of this between Tim and Lucy. While fighting Ditto during the climax, it transforms into Lucy and Tim admits that he's attracted to her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The climax involves the villain filling parade balloons with tons of dangerous gas which he plans to unleash on an unsuspecting crowd. It's similar to Tim Burton's Batman.
    • Pikachu tries to calm down Psyduck by saying “Serenity now, serenity now.”
    • The "detective movie" that was on the TV when Tim entered his dad's apartment is the same one created for and shown in Home Alone.
    • Tim turning Mr Mime's Imagination-Based Superpower on itself may remind some folks of the "battery acid" scene from the first half of It (1990) (which even involves a clown!)
    • Before being defeated, Ditto frantically goes through all the transformations he managed to do during the film, much like the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
    • The scene where Tim is dangling from a skyscraper and Ditto transforms into a Cubone and slowly hits his fingers one by one to cause his downfall, reminiscent of what happened to Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where Tweety did a similar thing. (Incidentally, Valiant is a human detective paired with a cartoon character, while Tim is a human paired with a cartoon detective character)
    • While being attacked by a horde of vicious Aipom, Tim barricades a door with his body while Pikachu yells at him to "hold the door!"
    • When Tim and Pikachu escape the Aipom troop, you can see an Octillery chef working at a food stand. This makes the Octillery look like the Harryhousen's chef from Monsters, Inc..
  • Shown Their Work: There are many small moments that show just how much work was put into keeping the movie lore-accurate. A few examples:
    • Pikachu pronounces Arceus as "Ar-SEE-us" instead of "Ar-KAY-us". This is in line with the traditional Japanese pronunciation.
    • A Charizard's tail is shown to stay lit even after getting hit with a water attack, because the tail going out signifies a Charizard's death. The fire acts as an indicator of Charizard's health, so snuffing it out won't cause Charizard's death, but rather vice versa.
    • The Snubbull trying to look intimidating in front of Tim only to let itself be petted after Tim left falls directly in line with its Pokédex entries, which all detail it as looking intimidating but actually being pretty timid or laid back.
    • A VERY easy to miss moment where Tim comments on Pikachu's Sassy nature, and Pikachu likes his coffee black. Sassy-natured Pokémon inherently prefer bitter foods in the games.
  • Silent Snarker: Through the use of charades, a Mr. Mime tells Detective Pikachu to shove it.
  • Sinister Shades: Roger Clifford has these, and he's shown a few times trailing Tim, Lucy, and Pikachu to prevent them from investigating the case. After his first appearance, it's actually a Ditto disguised as Roger. Ditto can copy the forms of other Pokémon and humans, but not their eyes, so it wears these shades while disguised as Roger and acting in its 'default' human form, Ms Norman.
  • Slasher Smile: Gengar's default look. Howard sports one when he takes over Mewtwo's body.
  • Smug Smiler: Mr. Mime constantly has an insufferable grin on its face.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Being a Pikachu, Detective Pikachu can talk to other Pokémon. For unknown reasons, Tim is able to understand Detective Pikachu and only Detective Pikachu. The ending reveals that Harry had actually been fused with his Pikachu in order to save his life.
  • Spot the Imposter: Ditto is unable to change its traditional black dot eyes when imitating people, so it tends to wear Sinister Shades to hide them.
  • Stealth Pun: Ms Norman is a Ditto, which is a Normal-type.
  • Stealth Sequel: The film as a whole serves as this to either Pokémon Red and Blue or Pokémon: The First Movie, given the reference to Mewtwo having escaped from Kanto twenty years ago.
  • String Theory: Played for Laughs. Pikachu fills the walls and floor of Henry's apartment with pieces of paper and strings in an attempt to organize the clues behind his disappearance while Tim's out for the day.
    Pikachu: Ah, my clues!
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Lucy Stevens seems to be one for Emilia Christie, a character from Detective Pikachu who also works as a reporter and gets caught up in Detective Pikachu and Tim Goodman's adventures.
  • Talking Animal: As in the game, Detective Pikachu subverts this, as only Tim can understand him while most people simply hear him say Pokémon Speak, complete with Ikue Otani's voicework.
  • That Came Out Wrong: When Lucy asks for Tim's help in getting information from the underground fighting ring, she notes how it is dangerous to go there at night alone. Tim, trying to be suave, says he’s "actually pretty good at being alone at night". Lucy isn’t impressed, and Pikachu is embarrassed for him as well. Luckily, Tim immediately figures out what that sounds like.
  • That's No Moon!: Tim and Lucy escape from the Lab via the Torterra Garden into the forest... which is actually a colony of mountain-sized Torterra.
  • Theme Tune Cameo:
    • During the studio logos in the first trailer, a few notes of the Pokémon video game theme are heard. The second trailer starts with a slow, orchestral cover of Gotta Catch 'Em All, the theme tune of the anime's first season.
    • One scene has Roger and Howard Clifford making an announcement about the parade on the news while an upbeat instrumental of Gotta Catch 'Em All plays in the background.
    • Later in the movie, Pikachu sings a mournful (and off-key) version of the song during the mandatory Third-Act Misunderstanding.
  • This Bear Was Framed: The opening scene and the holographic reconstruction of the accident make it look as though Mewtwo is the cause of the car crash. When Pikachu accidentally revisits the scene of the crime, he finds a piece of a Water Shuriken, causing him to realize that it was the laboratory's Greninja squad that was responsible for the crash and not Mewtwo, proving that Howard Clifford was not as innocent as believed.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • When Tim and Pikachu first meet, Pikachu expects Tim to be like everybody else: unable to understand his speech.
      Pikachu: Aw, jeez. Here we go.
    • Pikachu's reaction to Sebastian's Charizard, getting ready to dish out a finishing blow to him in the battle arena.
      Pikachu: [winces in fear] Pika pika.
    • The latter also has this reaction when the former kickstarts a Magikarp's evolution to Gyarados by kicking it.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Pikachu is looking for detective Harry Goodman. It turns out he is Harry Goodman in a Pikachu's body.
  • Translation by Volume: Pikachu speaks slowly and loudly to Tim while miming his words (not expecting to be undersood) when Tim points a stapler at him.
  • Turtle Island: Torterra are already big enough to be mistaken for small hills, but genetic experimentation on them can make them mountain-sized.
  • Urban Fantasy: The story takes place in Ryme City, where people and Pokémon live in harmony.
  • Victory by Endurance: Pikachu and Tim win over Howard-as-Mewtwo not by physically beating him, but by Pikachu distracting him in battle for long enough so Tim can remove the Neural Link from Howard and give Mewtwo control back over its body.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Pikachu has a high-pitched child’s voice in his native language, but when he speaks perfect English to Tim, he has the voice of Ryan Reynolds, whose voice isn't particularly deep but is still deep enough to look weird on Pikachu's body. There's a reason for this: Mewtwo saved Harry's life by merging his mind with Pikachu's body.
  • Voice of the Legion: Mewtwo telepathically speaks with both a human male and female voice into the minds of others until Howard's Grand Theft Me makes him speak with only his voice.
  • Voodoo Shark: A variation in that they Hand Wave something that never needed any handwaving. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon already confirmed that Ditto can transform into humans, meaning the film's Hand Wave of "genetic engineering" redundant. That being said, this Ditto is also capable of using human tools and texting, which is not something seen before, and it can transform into any Pokémon at will, unlike regular Ditto, who need to be physically present around the Pokémon they transform into. These skills may be what the genetic experimentation was for.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Sebastian, the owner of the underground battle ring, has a jacket but no shirt. Pikachu constantly comments on his shirtlessness.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: When Tim meets Howard, he shows him a holographic presentation of what happened at the car crash that his father was in, which showed him getting taken away by Mewtwo. However, Tim later learns that Howard left out the "footage" of Harry's car getting attacked by Greninja and Mewtwo placing Harry's soul into Pikachu's body.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Howard Clifford simply wants a more perfect union between human and Pokémon. Unfortunately; his goal is to create an Assimilation Plot involving capturing and then controlling Mewtwo, creating a gas that would shut down a Pokémon's higher cognitive faculties and make it easier to fuse a nearby human and an affected Pokémon into one single being.
  • Wham Line:
    • Following and preceding a Wham Shot: "That's the wrong Roger!"
    • Courtesy of Mewtwo: "The father you have been seeking was with you all along."
  • Wham Shot:
    • When Tim, Lucy, Pikachu and Psyduck escape from the lab, the earth around them seems to bend and shake...and then, a group of absolutely gargantuan Torterras are revealed to be the cause of it.
    • When Fake Roger removes his sunglasses and reveals his beady eyes, exposing himself as a Ditto pretending to be Roger. And before that, the real Roger stumbling out of a closet, bound and gagged.
    • The Reveal that Harry Goodman was actually Ryan Reynolds all along, as earlier scenes hid his face so as not to spoil that Detective Pikachu was actually Harry in Pikachu's body.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Harry Goodman became engrossed in his work and moved to Ryme City shortly after his wife's death, which caused a rift between him and his son.
  • World-Healing Wave: When Mewtwo is free from his Grand Theft Me, he sends a psychic blast throughout the city that dissipates all the R gas and separates all the humans from their partners' bodies.
  • You Can Talk?: Tim and Detective Pikachu's first meeting:
    Tim: Did you... just talk?
    Pikachu: Whoa. Did you just understand me? OH, MY GOD! YOU CAN UNDERSTAND ME!
    Tim: STOP!
    Pikachu: I have been so lonely!
  • Your Mime Makes It Real:
    • Pikachu decides to get physical with a Mr. Mime suspected to know Harry. But Mr. Mime can create invisible walls via miming, so when Pikachu leaps... cue the Glass Smack and Slide.
    • Tim plays his trick right back at him by using a "secret door" he imagined to get into Mr. Mime's invisible room and douses him in imaginary gasoline. After Mr. Mime's following attempts at extinguishing the imaginary matches he lit, he exits and threatens to light him up from the outside, causing Mr. Mime to finally relent and spill the beans. The lit match is then accidentally dropped onto the gasoline, and we do not get to see what happens right after their Oh, Crap! moment.

"There’s magic that brought us together, and that magic is called hope!"

Alternative Title(s): Detective Pikachu


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