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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, often referred to as just Detective Pikachu, is a 2019 Video Game Action-Adventure film by Legendary Pictures 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 by Toho in Japan, and released worldwide by Warner Bros. 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, which was also the franchise’s last wide release in North America.note  It is the first in the franchise 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 Super Mario Bros. (1993), 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.

A sequel continues in development. In March 2023, Portlandia co-creator Jonathan Krisel entered negotiations to direct the follow-up.

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

Pokémon Detective Pikachu provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to G 
  • Abandoned Laboratory: The main characters visit the PCL (Pokémon Comprehensive Laboratory) research facility where Pokémon experiments took place, currently left in ruins after Mewtwo's escape thanks to Harry and Pikachu's sabotage.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Inverted, as it is actually a case of lack of achievements in ignorance when it comes to a Mr. Mime trying to escape on an invisible bike.
    Tim: Get him! He's barely moving.
    Detective Pikachu: Don't tell him that!
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Adaptational Badass: Ditto's ability to become any Pokémon, in a setting without stats or Competitive Balance, easily makes it one of the biggest threats in the story. Noteworthy is that in the games, Ditto typically just transforms into whatever's in front of it, whereas the one in this story has several transformations committed to memory. However, this last ability might be due to it being a genetically enhanced specimen.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Roger Clifford is not the Big Bad and isn't even a villain to begin with. Though they certainly made him look like it initially.
    • Mewtwo is far more benevolent than most of its portrayals in the anime and video games. It at least sees Harry as redeemable. Although it must be noted than in most versions, it only starts as malevolent before ending up as a benevolent force, and since this movie's version isn't a freshly created one, but one who escaped from Kanto twenty years before, it's very likely that it already went through that.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Downplayed by Aipom. The two in the poster look adorable, because they're smiling. The hostile ones hopped up on R will haunt your nightmares.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The movie strips away all the side cases and focuses on tracking down Harry Goodman and what happened to Detective Pikachu's memory. Unlike the game, it actually answers this mystery with the reveal that Harry had been inside of Pikachu the entire time.
  • Adapted Out: Most of the Pokémon in the original game as well as any human character aside from Tim, Harry, and Roger get left out, and Keith Norman is reimagined as Ms. Norman, and while she fulfills the same role of assisting the Big Bad, she's very different.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: It's revealed that Harry's Pikachu begged Mewtwo to save Harry after the nearly fatal car crash. Mewtwo warned him that the assimilation would wipe Pikachu's memories, but Pikachu accepted that.
  • The Alleged Car: Lucy's car is a REVAi, widely considered one of the worst cars in the world.
  • Apocalyptic Log: At the PCL ruins, Tim and Pikachu replay holographic diary entries made by Dr. Laurent detailing the experiments done there with Mewtwo, including the creation of R and the Neural Link completed.
  • Ambiguous Situation: At the end, it's unclear if Harry remembers being inside his Pikachu's body and is trying to hide the trauma for his son's sake. He makes a joke about craving coffee all the time, but doesn't reference the whole amnesia episode.
  • And I Must Scream: Mewtwo is possessed by Howard, and is still aware of what the man wants to do with his powers. Then all the people are trapped inside their Pokémon when they're assimilated against their will, unable to even talk.
  • And Starring: "and Bill Nighy". In the credits, we have "And Ikue Otani as the voice of Pikachu".
  • 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, in Ken Sugimori's style.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: The "Pokémon battles are glorified cockfights and Poké Balls are like keeping Pokémon in cages" criticisms are played with here - Pokémon battling and Poké Ball usage are illegal in Ryme City. The battle we see is more or less a glorified dogfight, complete with shady criminal dealings, and there's an implication with the illegality of Poké Balls that Pokémon and humans are seen as equal in Ryme... which points towards the villain's grand plan.
  • Ascended Meme: Mr. Mime is portrayed as a major suspect being interrogated by the detectives and freaking them out with his creepy 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 still fused with Pikachu. Then a further pan out shows Harry distinctly standing beside Pikachu.
  • Bathos: After sadly parting ways with Tim, Pikachu starts mournfully singing the "Gotta Catch'em All" theme song.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: After seeing footage of Harry's car crash and concluding he couldn't have survived, Tim begins to regret the fact that he and Harry never reconciled and acknowledges for the first time in a decade that he really did love his dad. At the end of the film, Tim learns that his dad has been alive and by his side as Pikachu the whole time. They get a chance to mend their relationship.
  • 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.
  • Big "OMG!": Detective Pikachu shouts "Oh my God!" when he realizes that a human being (Tim) can actually understand him.
  • 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.
  • Black Comedy: The whole interrogation with Mr. Mime, which quickly escalates into Tim miming pouring gasoline on Mr. Mime and threatening to throw an imaginary match. And he accidentally drops the match.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: Mr. Mime's Audio Commentary is a deliberate example, since he is The Voiceless.
  • Bound and Gagged:
    • Lucy and Psyduck being wrapped and silenced by the Greninjas.
    • The real Roger is tied and silenced with duct tape while his father has 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.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A weird unintentional case. Pikachu is shown to be aware that the reason Tim understands him is because Tim hears his squeaks as English. He is given literally no logical reason at all to know Tim is hearing his squeaks as English, so it comes off like he can hear the film's translation.
  • 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."
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Tim refering to his dad by his first name indicates how estranged they are.
  • 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 - if not the same one.
  • 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.
  • Canon Welding: Mewtwo was created in Kanto 20 years prior, and a trainer and his Pikachu taught him that humans weren't all that bad. Yes, this film is a Distant Finale Stealth Sequel to Pokémon: The First Movie.
  • 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.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Ryoma Takeuchi (best known as Shinnosuke Tomari), the Japanese dub actor for Tim, shows up as an unnamed trainer wearing an outfit similar to Red's.
  • 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. Lucy in particular looks as though her pose is based off of Green's from Volume 25's cover.
  • 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 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.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The first Pokémon battle is little more than cockfighting with superpowers, with Sebastian using an item on Charizard being played out like an athlete using steroids. By the time we get to Pikachu fighting Mewtwo, however, their battle plays out more like a conventional hero vs. villain fight, as Pikachu steps up of his own volition rather than because he was ordered to.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Fitting with the film's Darker and Edgier tone, several integral elements of the Pokémon mythos are deconstructed.
    • 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 Bonemerang, 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 in and kill Tim.
    • A Charizard vs. Pikachu fight is something that 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. This doesn't make the Pikachu species' electric powers any less of a threat, as Charizard 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.
    • Ditto's ability to transform into a compatible mate becomes pretty disturbing when it transforms into Tim's love interest Lucy.
    • Tim's whole situation sums up issues with a Mons society that mainly gets glossed over. Because battling is essentially the be-all-end-all profession, anyone that fails as or didn't become a trainer immediately falls to the lower tiers in society unless they manage to pick a profession that has something to do with Pokémon. For every one Red, there are a hundred Youngster Joeys. More clarification here.
  • 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: Doubles as Disaster Dominoes. Sebastian gave his Charizard R so it would win its rematch against Pikachu, unaware it would've won easily because Pikachu didn't know how to use electricity-based moves. Tim's attempt to save Pikachu from the now-berserk Charizard inadvertently leads to Sebastian breaking all of his vials of R, with said dueler’s struggle spreading the gas, causing a rampage that destroys his fight ring.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Detective Pikachu agrees to fight a Charizard to get the information they need. He then realizes he's forgotten how to use his electric attacks, and is up against a giant Pokémon. Cue Pikachu running around the arena.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage:
    • 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 after he and Tim split up.
  • 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 (with Lucy wrapped in said tongue).
  • 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.
  • Dramatic Drop: Tim drops the stapler he was wielding when he hears Pikachu speak.
  • Emergency Transformation: A variation. Mewtwo transferred a dying Harry's consciousness into Pikachu. It restores them both to their normal selves at the end.
  • 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. He also realizes Tim's in danger and saves him from falling, despite the fact that Tim is a stranger.
  • 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.
  • Evil Cripple: Howard Clifford due to his disease.
  • Exact Words: The Torterra Forest. It's not a forest where Torterra live, it's a forest that is a Torterra.
  • 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).
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: After a Third-Act Misunderstanding, Pikachu ends up wandering to the scene of Harry's crash and finds Greninja stars, realizing that the crash was caused by them, not Mewtwo. This leads Pikachu to realize that the hologram footage Howard showed him and Tim was doctored to exclude that detail, which means that Howard is hiding something from them. And Tim is about to report in to Howard all alone.
  • Exploding Fish Tanks: The underground fighting ring has a fish tank with a Magikarp in it. It gets shattered when a pair of Loudred end up inhaling some R and start spewing out incredibly loud dubstep.
  • Eye-Dentity Giveaway: Ms. Norman, Howard Clifford's personal assistant, is revealed to be a genetically-enhanced Ditto when she takes off her sunglasses, revealing Ditto's signature Black Bead Eyes.
  • 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.
  • Face of a Thug: Snubbull naturally has one, being based on a pug and all. Subverted in that though Det. Yoshida assures Tim it's nicer than it looks, Snubbull snarls at its partner when he tries to pat it. Then when Tim leaves, Snubbull lets Yoshida pat it, showing that it was just messing with Tim.
  • 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. Combined with the presence of Mewtwo, some fans might be led to believe that Team Rocket is behind the chemical's 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.
  • Finger Extinguisher: Mr. Mime puts out the imaginary match with its fingers.
  • Five Stages of Grief:
    • Harry, after his wife died, moved to Ryme City, and was in the Denial and Anger stage, channeling his grief into his work. Unfortunately, by the time he moved onto Acceptance, he realized that he alienated his only son.
    • Invoked. Yoshida, when Tim claims Harry must be alive, says that Tim could be in the stage of denial, since he just heard traumatic news and is dealing with his grief. Tim's more in the stages of Bargaining and Depression; he spent his anger towards his dad years ago when his mother died, and he isn't exactly in denial.
  • Foil: Roger to Howard. Roger has a short temper, but is otherwise ethical. Howard plays the good guy, but is actually an unscrupulous extremist.
  • 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.
    • Regarding the Big Bad:
      • 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.
      • Speaking of Ms. Norman, she never speaks, she always covers her eyes with sunglasses, and she has pink fingerless gloves and a pink streak in her hair. All clues to what she really is.
      • 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.
      • Also, Roger quickly establishes himself in this scene as a man with a sharp, witty tongue and no inclination to hide his opinions, yet later scenes have him utterly silent with only a Psychotic Smirk as the events unfold. Most Pokémon can only speak their own name.
      • Upon arriving at the lab, Pikachu notes that it has "another one of these holograms." Howard said that he's the one who developed this technology and that it's a pet project, indicating the connection to the lab is through him and not his son as he indicated.
    • 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 the 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.
    • Detective Pikachu interprets Mr. Mime's miming as "I push people away and then get mad at them for leaving". This is exactly what Detective Pikachu does to Tim after Mewtwo's incomplete vision reveals he helped it escape.
    • When Tim's friend mentions how a Cubone would be the perfect Pokémon for him, it foreshadows the fact that Tim lost his mom just like Cubone.
    • Despite the fact that Pikachu are notoriously quick and agile, Detective Pikachu is frequently shown struggling to move and climb. This is because he's actually a human and doesn't have experience controlling Pikachu's body.
  • 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. Notably, he does not have a statue of Giratina.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Lucy is implied to be one, as she's annoyed by the fact that she has to do a "Top 10 Cutest Pokémon" listicle when they're all cute. Keep in mind the multitudes of Poison-types that are based on pollutants, the Dark-types that are just downright mean-looking, the Ghost-types that delight in scaring people, and Mr. Mime, whose semi-human appearance is eerie, to say the least.
  • From New York to Nowhere: Inverted as Tim goes from his apparently small hometown to the much larger Ryme City.
  • 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.
  • Gecko Ending: The original game had unresolved plot points and a sequel that was released after the movie, so the movie comes up with its own ending.
  • Genre Shift: It's Pokémon meets Fantastic Noir, so while battles between Pokémon are still featured plenty, it's mostly about a mystery in the streets of the borderline cyberpunk Ryme City. The filming techniques in Ryme City allow the normally kid-friendly setting of Pokémon to pay homage to Film Noir.
  • Giving Them the Strip: While being chased by R-affected Aipom, Tim ends up losing his shirt and pants and runs onto a public street. When the drug wears off, the Aipom cheerfully return Tim's pants to him.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: The underground fighting ring has a lot of Loudred in it that produce music for the battles that are held in it. When they inhale some R, they start spewing out some dubstep so loud that it causes a tank with a Magikarp in it to break, leaving the Magikarp flopping on the ground.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: Pikachu's attempt to go Jack Bauer on Mr. Mime doesn't go well. After being taunted, he lunges at it, only to smack into its Barrier and slide down.
  • 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.
    Tropes H to Z 
  • 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.
  • Hero of Another Story: Mewtwo is revealed to be one from Pokémon: The First Movie, thereby having encountered the franchise's most iconic protagonist Ash Ketchum/Red twenty years ago, which confirms Ash also had existed in this film's universe.
  • Heroic Bystander:
    • In the climax, Lucy runs through panicked crowds rather than fleeing, shouting at everyone to keep their Pokémon away from the R gas. It doesn't do much onscreen, but she may have saved people who were watching the parade on television.
    • Roger Clifford saves Tim from Ditto by attacking it with an Improvised Weapon and then pulling him up to safety.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Harry and Pikachu nearly die rescuing Mewtwo from the hostile lab. Pikachu then begs Mewto to save a dying Harry, offering his body and memories in the process.
  • 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.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: Howard pulls this on Mewtwo, uploading his own consciousness directly into Mewtwo's body for his own use.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Averted. Lucy Stevens says that she got access to information about the lab accident from a computer she would not have access to by spilling coffee on the legitimate user.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Played with. 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.
  • I Am the Noun:
    Howard Clifford: You think you can stand in the way of the future?! I AM THE FUTURE!
  • 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, even when Lucy is telling her something crucial.
  • 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 that 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 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. Mind that he's a pretty successful insurance appraiser and mentions he's up for a promotion.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Lucy goes to Roger 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. It's the first sign that he's not as bad as he appears to be.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Due to Lucy rushing to save everyone in the climax and finding the story early, Roger promotes her to evening journalist from unpaid intern on the spot.
  • 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.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: No. The world of Pokémon is vastly different from our real world down to its very fabric. While this seems played straight as we are introduced to Ryme City being basically a normal metropolis + Pokémon, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a world where everything necessary for Pokémon also exists and these are never brought up because they are a fact of life for the world's inhabitants; Magic, Souls, Spirits, and the like are very real and is never given explanation, exactly because explaining such a thing exists would be equivalent of a character explaining electricity in a metropolis.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Detective Pikachu is revealed at the end to be Tim's father whose consciousness was transferred into the body of his Pikachu.
  • Made of Iron: Pikachu seemed to have survived the car crash that killed Harry, so Tim says that if he survived, then Harry must have as well. Subverted; it's implied that Mewtwo healed Pikachu, since he does well with a later healing. Harry was dying and Mewtwo transferred him into Pikachu's body to save his life.
  • 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.
  • Mon Mode: Howard Clifford merges his mind with Mewtwo through a neural link headband. He also uses Mewtwo's psychic powers in a plan with the chemical R to fuse people and their Pokémon together so that humanity can be 'cured' of their natural flaws.
  • Mood Whiplash: Shortly after Pikachu, believing that much of the events and failures were caused by himself, tearfully abandons Tim, he poorly warbles the original Pokémon: The Series theme song while making goofy half-hearted gestures.
  • 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. Then he has a different one when he realizes that Howard was the one responsible for the car crash, and Detective Pikachu just left Tim to go run to Howard and warn him about Roger.
    • 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.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: At the end of the movie, Tim decides to stay with his father in the city or a while, and considers taking up his career. Given Harry's smile when Tim tosses the train ticket, he's making sure not to abandon Tim again.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page here.
  • 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, as his scenes with the lieutenant aren't framed in the context of him arriving from out of town to pack his dad's apartment. Instead, Tim's father is an ex-cop who became a private detective, and Tim himself is an insurance appraiser (though the movie ends with him considering joining his dad's practice after all).
    • The shot of Mewtwo bursting out of the Pikachu balloon has been altered so that Mewtwo isn't wearing the headset that allows Howard to control him.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Detective Yoshida mentions the unlikelihood of Harry surviving the crash after he shows the footage to Tim. The way the car flipped, he says this particular phrase. It turns out Harry would have died if not for a grateful Mewtwo saving his life.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Sebastian, the owner of the underground battle ring, has a jacket but no shirt. Pikachu constantly comments on his shirtlessness.
    Pikachu: All I hear are consonants and all I see are nipples.
  • Not His Sled: In the movie, the plot to spread the R serum is changed, as is the identity 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.
  • Not What It Looks Like: A disheveled young man charges out of a back alley, without his pants, screaming for people to run from the crazy Aipom (who are perfectly amiable and giving him back his pants), saying he could understand what his Pikachu was saying after inhaling some kind of gas... the audience knows that the gas was R, and the Aipom went crazy because of it, but for the passersby in the street, it seems like the aftermath of one hell of a drug trip. Tim himself realizes this after mentioning the stuff that went up his nose and seeing the reactions of said passersby, and Pikachu quickly advises him to shut up.
  • No, You: It's practically a 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.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • After Tim's failure to capture Cubone, the diminutive Pokémon chases after him. Tim running away may seem silly at first, but when Cubone uses Bonemerang with enough force to knock Tim down, it's clear that Tim was right to be scared.
    • 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. Notable in that this is the first time in the entire series that anybody has referred to Arceus in place of God thanks to the movie's crasser tone, although Pikachu does say God when he realizes Tim can understand him.
    Pikachu: She's tryin' to work me, kid, but trust me, I can— Oh sweet mother of Arceus, that feels... so good.
  • 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.
  • Parent-Child Team: Harry and Tim while working together to solve the mystery, although they didn't realize it until the end of the film because Harry was in Pikachu's body and had amnesia.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Lack of words, rather. When he gets the news that his father went missing, Tim feels regret that he never even went to visit his father in Ryme City or use the train ticket sent. He tells Pikachu that he should have gone on the train when he was a kid.
  • Plank Gag: While discussing what happened to Harry, Pikachu paces in small circles, accidentally hitting Tim a couple of times with his tail. (He's standing on a bar counter at the time.)
  • Phoning the Phantom: Tim tries to do this to talk to Pikachu without anyone giving him weird looks, but he gives up when he realizes that the stuff he and Pikachu are talking about is still weird enough to make people think he's crazy even if they think he's just talking to somebody on the phone.
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: Mewtwo is showing Tim and Pikachu the memories surrounding the accident that Harry suffered, but is interrupted when Roger (actually Ditto in disguise) captures Mewtwo again. This leads 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.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Harry did try to have Tim visit him in Ryme City and maybe even stay. Tim balked at being sent a train ticket and a card, though, believing his dad didn't care enough to stay when they needed each other. If Harry had just shown up to talk to him, and with Grandma in tow to give him a What the Hell, Hero? for staying away so long, maybe Tim would have agreed. Also, he was a kid, and a fair amount of time had passed between his mother dying and Harry sending the invitation. Of course he was going to be angry and bitter about just being sent a train ticket to visit a man that vanished when his mother died.
  • 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.
    • When Pikachu gives Tim a Rousing Speech in the middle of the movie, he asserts that Tim's father would be "damn proud of [him]", emphasizing the emotion of the moment.
    • Lucy lets out a "shit" when she drops the file in the Hi Hat Café — it's masked by other dialogue but is picked up by subtitled screenings.
    • Tim at one point exclaims "Shit!" during the giant Torterra garden scene.
  • Production Foreshadowing: The Macro Cosmos logo can be seen on the PCL computer monitors.
  • Psi Blast: Lucy's Psyduck unleashes a blast of psychic energy when it gets headaches; these manifest as energy waves that radiate from it.
  • 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.
  • Reconstruction: The idea of Pokémon becoming allies to whomever catches them has long left audiences wondering if the series has been promoting slavery. When Jack convinces Tim to try and catch a Cubone, he reminds him that a crucial step in catching Pokémon is to get on its good side first, so being caught is ultimately the Pokémon's choice.
  • Red Alert: When the lab's containment systems malfunction, the facility goes on "Alert Condition Red" like on Star Trek.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Harry became a jaded detective after his wife died, and expected his son to just come visit him in Ryme City despite their baggage. He then realizes he became complicit in kidnapping a sapient Pokémon. He and Pikachu nearly die saving Mewtwo, who then transfers Harry's consciousness into Pikachu's body. Mewtwo at the end restores Harry to full health, allowing him to mend his relationship with his son.
  • 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 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 either the first Pokémon anime movie or the Red & Blue games.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: The humongous Torterra, big enough to carry entire forests on their backs, surely count as this.
  • Retraux: 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 himself) 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.
  • Ruder and Cruder: Detective Pikachu uses the first instances of profanity found in English-speaking media based on Pokémon.
  • Run or Die: A captive Mewtwo screams at Tim to run for it before Howard takes over its body.
  • 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. The city's look was produced by mashing up features of Tokyo, New York, and London. Recognisable landmarks from all three cities can be seen all over the place (such as London's Underground rondels, The Gherkin and the Lloyds of London building).
  • 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.
  • Shallow News Site Satire: Variation. Lucy is an unpaid intern at a major news network, but she's stuck writing fluff for its shallow blogging arm. She wants to be a serious journalist, but she's instead writing listicles all day.
    Lucy: I work for the CNM Blog, making Pokémon lists all day, okay? "Top 10 Cutest Pokémon".
    Tim: Yeah, my grandma loves those.
    Lucy: Yeah, newsflash: they're all cute! Such a waste of time for someone with my nose for a story.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • When a Ditto transforms into another Pokémon, its voice also changes to match the Pokémon it changed into, even though it still can only say "Ditto". This is a particular detail of note when Ditto turns into Pokémon that otherwise didn't have dialogue in the film.
    • The lore around Cubone wearing the skull of a dead loved one is accurate (it's normally not a major focus in other Pokémon media because it's pretty dark).
    • The Jigglypuff seen in the coffee shop sings a short snatch of the Jigglypuff song from the original anime.
  • 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.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: The eponymous Detective Pikachu provides wisecracking running commentary throughout the film that only Tim Goodman can understand. Being voiced by Ryan Reynolds helps.
  • Soft Glass: Zigzagged throughout the movie.
    • Mewtwo exploding from its stasis tank killed Dr. Laurent, who was hit by the glass shards, although it could also have been because of the blast.
    • Played straight when Ditto nearly kills Tim by tossing him out of a broken window. Tim isn't scratched up that badly. However, the window had already been broken by a psychic blast from Mewtwo.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: Shares a lot of characteristics with Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A bitter, disillusioned human must team up with an upbeat, adorable cartoon character to solve a mystery in a gritty noir cityscape filled with fantastical creatures and in doing so, regain some of his lost sense of wonder while averting a diabolical plan.
  • 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.
  • Spotting the Thread: When Pikachu finds the scene of the crash, he finds Greninja stars, which clues him in that it was the Greninja and not Mewtwo that caused the crash, and that Mewtwo was actually trying to save Harry. He then realizes that the holographic recording of the accident he and Tim were shown by Howard, which Howard explicitly stated enables seeing things that police footage either cannot or does not reveal, omitted this, meaning Howard knew this and didn't tell them. Pikachu is rightly horrified upon realizing Howard caused the crash and had been deceiving them this entire time, and that Tim is headed right for his doorstep.
  • 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 Harry'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.
  • 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.
    • Charizard then has this reaction when Pikachu kickstarts a Magikarp's evolution to Gyarados by kicking it, followed by Pikachu's reaction to his plan working.
      Pikachu: Hey, Tim? I don't float. [cue Hydro Pump]
  • 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 understood) when Tim points a stapler at him.
  • Translation Convention: Only Tim knows what Pikachu is saying. Most people simply hear Pokémon Speak.
  • Turtle Island: Torterras are already big enough to be mistaken for small hills, but genetic experimentation on them can make them mountain-sized.
  • Undying Loyalty: It's revealed that Pikachu was this to Harry. When he was begging Mewtwo for help, it was to save Harry, his human. He willingly took Harry's consciousness even while knowing it would wipe his memories.
  • Unreveal Angle: Throughout the movie, Harry Goodman's face is never seen in the various flashbacks (he always wears a hoodie and is shown from any angle except face-to-face). This sets up The Reveal at the end that he's played by Ryan Reynolds, who voices the eponymous Pikachu — because Harry's soul was inside Pikachu the whole time.
  • 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 normally has a high-pitched child-like voice when heard by ordinary people, 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, making 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. It also transforms into a human while almost literally under a spotlight in a television studio to move Howard Clifford's wheelchair and nobody finds it strange. These skills may be what the genetic experimentation was for.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wham Line:
    • Following and preceding a Wham Shot: "You're a Ditto!"
    • 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 transforms into Miss Norman, then removes her sunglasses and reveals her beady eyes, exposing herself as a Ditto. 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.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: The parade that Howard-as-Mewtwo ruins.
    Pikachu: Okay. Worst parade I've ever seen.
  • 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!"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Detective Pikachu



When cornered by an enhanced Ditto, Tim doses it with R gas, causing it to lose control of its shapeshifting.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ShapeshifterSwanSong

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