As far as I know, pokémon can evolve when they gain enough experience or while using a specific item.
There are also some rare cases that involve specific emotions/weather.
However, I'm sure none of these was the case.

So in episode 22 in season 1, how was it possible for Abra to evolve within the match, when he didn't even gain any EXP from it?

  • Maybe is something related to emotions, like when charmeleon evolved into charizard, it was in the middle of a fight when he needed to be strong and he wanted to show that he was strong too
    – Rikkin
    Sep 10, 2013 at 14:52
  • Evolution in anime doesn't always link to experience gain (or how the Pokemon evolve in game).
    – nhahtdh
    Sep 10, 2013 at 16:53

3 Answers 3


In the anime, evolution is a bit different to evolution in the games. For example, Pokémon do not evolve when traded and can refuse to evolve.

If you look at the list of evolution in the anime, you'll find many Pokémon that did not evolve after a battle. It's more like they constantly gain experience and can sometime decide that they want to evolve now, mostly when it's needed. Also, the idea of "levels" aren't very much used in the anime, so I don't think it really matters. It's just a mixture of emotions and experience.

  • As I mentioned before, I know there is emotions involved in this procedure. But when Ash fight Sabrina for the first time, Abra evolve in the begining of the match for no specific reason... Sep 11, 2013 at 15:39

Sabrina, the Gym Leader of Saffron City is a Psychic and a powerful one at that, her pokemon Abra/Kadabra is psychically-linked to her, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think that Sabrina could force her pokemon to evolve with her powers, also in the anime she only had Abra/Kadabra and Ash won thanks to Haunter causing her to laugh, the psychic link to Kadabra caused him to laugh unable to fight making Ash the victor

in the original Red/Blue/Green, she had 4 pokemon and Alakazam was her strongest, in the original Yellow she had 3 which was Abra, Kadabra and Alakazam, all level 50 however Alakazam is most likely the strongest because the only move it has different is Reflect which doubles defense over Kadabra's Kinesis which decreases accuracy on the target, none of this is shown in either battle Ash has with her so there is a clear difference between the anime and game

  • How does this answer the question though? Sep 25, 2013 at 22:44
  • @MadaraUchiha the first paragraph goes into details about Sabrina's psychic link to her pokemon and given her personality at the time and her power forced evolution would have been possible
    – Memor-X
    Sep 25, 2013 at 22:54
  • But the question asks about how Abra could evolve in the middle of the battle, without earning any EXP, you didn't explain that Sep 25, 2013 at 22:55
  • 1
    @MadaraUchiha the first paragraph explains how Sabrina could force the evolusion, like how a trainer can do it with a stone in the game, the second paragraph talks about the difference between Sabrina in the game and anime and her lineup showing the anime could be slightly based off the game (though skipping on her potentially forcing Kadabra evolving to Alakazam)
    – Memor-X
    Sep 25, 2013 at 23:01
  • @MadaraUchiha should also point out that if video game mechanics did play any role in the anime Pikachu with all the EXP it gain would have either evolved by now or we would have seen Ash mash a B button, i don't remember Pikachu ever even attempting to evolve
    – Memor-X
    Sep 25, 2013 at 23:02

Once I rewatched the episode I had in mind the simple answer - she timed the evolution of Abra exactly at the start of the battle, she knew, whether with Abra's experience or knew with her psychic power he will evolve.

For the first option, it's not very far to say that trainer can know when his Pokemon will evolve in the anime, I don't remember now which episode, but in one of the episodes in the Advanced series, there was one who his Pokemon just evolved and said "I knew it is about time he will evolve", showing that trainers might know when their Pokemon is about to evolve.

Another example of that is in Blak and White series, where Ash had a rematch with Lenora, she had evolved her Lillipup to Herdier saying just for the rematch with Ash, the first match and the rematch was only 1-2 days from each other, it is clear that Lenora knew that with a little more training her Lillipup will evolve or she won't say that she evolved Lillipup just for the rematch.

But the second option she knew with her psychic power Abra will evolve during the battle even have an evidence in the episode:

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We see that as soon Sabrina is "glowing blue" with her psychic power, Abra is glowing too and evolving. it might even imply she used her psychic to make it evolve (which is like Memor-X answer).

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