Detective Pikachu hits theatres May 10th. In addition to being the first official live-action Pokémon movie, it also features Pikachu as a (presumably) freelance detective. And it’s not the first time a Pokémon has held down a job — while Pokémon are mainly known for their battling, they also perform a variety of tasks in their society. Some examples include Miltank, who provides nutritious (but calorie-filled) milk to drink and Gurdurr, who uses its tremendous strength to help destroy buildings.
With universal Pokémon healthcare, the Pokémon universe is not quite the late-capitalist nightmare it could be. But if they want to do more than just live in tall grass, Pokémon need to get that bread like the rest of us. So to celebrate the release of Detective Pikachu, here are the top side hustles of Pikachu throughout Pokémon’s regions.
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Starting in Pokémon Yellow, players could get a Pikachu holding a surfboard through special events. In addition to being totally tubular, it meant that you could surf with your Pikachu in the overworld as well as use it in battle. And yes, a Pikachu surfing on a tidal wave in battle is just as great as you think:
After Surfing Pikachu’s initial appearance in the main games, he showed up in the card game, spin-off games, and in the anime, securing Surfing as one of the most popular side gigs for Pikachu.
Pay: Little to none. There don’t seem to be any paid Pokémon surfing competitions, sponsorships, or organized surfing league of any sort. However, if you get a high score in the surfing mini-game at Pikachu’s Beach, you can get a certificate to print out on your Game Boy Printer, which is maybe like a degree Pikachu could use to get a job teaching surfing?
2. Sky Captain
Using the same rigorously-tested flight methods as documented in Up, Flying Pikachu straps balloons to its back and flies around the various Pokémon regions. Only available in the core games through special event distribution — often paired with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — Flying Pikachu can use Fly in combat in addition to being able to fly its trainer across the map.
Unfortunately, Flying Pikachu doesn’t have its own 3D model in the games. On the plus side, this means you get an amazing animation of Pikachu leaping up into the air and body slamming its opponent.
Pay: With the advent of fly-sharing apps, a savvy Pikachu can make use of surge pricing (usually around tournament time) to bring in some PokéDollars. Being classified as a contractor with no benefits is technically better than being forced to fight in battles, I guess!
First introduced in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Cosplay Pikachu has a variety of different costumes that changes its performance in battle and in Pokémon contests. Contests are the Pokémon equivalent of dog and cat shows, where Pokémon can show off their looks and moves in a variety of categories like Cool, Beautiful, Cute, Clever, and Tough. Each of Cosplay’s Pikachu’s costumes give it an advantage in a different costume category. They are also incredibly adorable.
Pay: Meager to average. No prizes are actually awarded for Pokémon contests other than ribbons. However, Pokémon Contest fans are very generous, often giving gifts to their favorite Pokémon. These can range from berries (which can only be eaten and not sold) to Comet Shards, which can be sold for 15,000 to 60,000 Pokédollars. If a Pokémon does a few contests a day, with two to ten gifts from fans per contest five days a week, this could add up real quick. However, filing taxes based on gifts from fans is likely a real hassle, and these Pikachu are essentially relying on tips, which leaves them in a very precarious position. Contest organizers: pay your talent!
There’s very little info about Captain Pikachu, as it has only been seen on a Japan-exclusive trading card released for a store opening. It might be the scourge of the seas, but isn’t it just the cutest little buccaneer?
Pay: I have no concrete stats on the take-home pay of Captain Pikachu, but with the ability Treasure Hunt, it’s likely to be generous. That said, Pikachu had better give his crew their share of the booty, or Piplup might mount the most adorable mutiny ever.
Singing Pikachu was available for download for a short time in Japan to promote a new ending theme song for the Pokémon anime. The song in question, “Can You Name All The Pokémon”, is like The PokeRap, but good. Singing Pikachu has the move Sing, which can be used in combat to lull enemies to sleep in battle. It may also help in babysitting.
Pay: Let me tell you, the market for singing Pokémon is crowded, ranging from the tiny Cleff to the majestic Primarina. Even Jigglypuff has to force people to listen when it sings. While a Pikachu may be able to make a few Pokédollars busking next to the Pokémart, it’s not going to be easy. Plus, busking licenses in Viridian City are expensive!
Honorable Mention: Hat
While wearing a hat is not a hustle of any kind, it’s a fact that Pikachu just love to wear them. Trainer hats, witch hats, party hats, and more. Forget their Thunder-type moves, Pikachu are probably better known for their headgear at this point.
To celebrate the release of the 20th Pokémon movie, anyone who pre-ordered tickets got a download code for a Pikachu wearing one of Ash’s seven hats. And in Pokémon Go, there have been eight different Pikachu with hats available. So while Pikachu may not be bringing in money with its myriad millinery, whoever manufactures Pikachu-sized hats must be making a mint.