How is Palkia a Water-type Pokemon?

Introduction: A look at Palkia

Pokemon is a well-known video game series that has been ongoing since 1996 and has since evolved into a mega-franchise. Only beginning with 150 Pokemon in the begining, as of early 2024 they’ve reached 1025 kinds. This means that over the years, their number of water-type Pokemon have expanded as well – and while most of them make it visibly clear that they are attributed to water, there are a few that you’d have to squint to see the association. In particular, I’d like to discuss one Pokemon that completely goes against the conventions that have been set by its predecessors.


Palkia is a water and dragon-type “legendary” Pokemon who was introduced in the fourth installation of the series, in 2006, alongside two other dragon-type legendaries, Dialga and Giratina. The in-game lore suggests that the three are meant to represent time, space, and antimatter, and Palkia in particular is the one that represents space.


The first thing you notice about Palkia is its colour and form. While most other water-types are defined by either a mostly blue palette, shapes or forms similar to real-life water creatures, or both; our guy has neither of those attributes.

To serve its function as a box-art mascot for its game, Diamond and Pearl, it makes sense that Palkia has to look tough and legendary, hence why it leans heavier into its identity as a dragon-type, but I personally wonder if the designers had to go as far as taking away the usual colour palette from it. A primarily pink colour palette back in 2006 usually signified that the Pokemon was a psychic-type or normal-type; Palkia is neither of these.


Another thing about Palkia is that the in-game lore behind the Pokemon has no obvious ties to water. Here is its description given to players:

“It is said to live in a gap in the spatial dimension parallel to ours. It appears in mythology.” –Pokemon Pearl, 2006

To draw comparison, here are a few descriptions of water-type Pokemon from the same game:

“It lives along shores in northern countries. A skilled swimmer, it dives for over 10 minutes to hunt.” –Pokedex entry for Piplup, Pokemon Pearl, 2006

“It swims as fast as a jet boat. The edges of its wings are sharp and can slice apart drifting ice.” –Entry for Empoleon, Pokemon Pearl, 2006

It apparently had a huge shell for protection in ancient times. It lives in shallow tidal pools.” –Entry for Gastrodon, Pokemon Pearl, 2006

Even in its lore, Palkia is an outlier – there is a lack of a literal description of how it interacts with water, unlike others.


There seems to be a hidden rationale behind why Palkia is a water-type however. Upon seeking fan opinions, I found three theories. However, whether I agree if they are strong enough reasons or not? I’m not sure.

1. It represents one of the three states of matter

As one part of a trio, it makes sense that there is a motif that connects Palkia to its other two companions. Allegedly, this means that Palkia is meant to represent liquid, while the other two represent gas and solid. Palkia’s companions are steel-type and ghost-type, thus we get: liquid -> water, steel -> solid, and ghost -> gas. It makes objective sense, but it feels slightly forced, especially when you try to tie ghost to gas, as I personally wonder how many people would immediately make the connection between those two concepts.

2. Pearls are found in the ocean

Palkia is the box art for Pokemon Pearl. It also has a pearl embedded in its shoulders, so this sounds like a solid argument for why it should be water type. Personally, I think this is a strong-ish rationale, but Palkia is so big yet the pearl on its shoulder is so small, so I’m not too sure.

3. Space is sometimes described as an ocean or vast sea

There are other Pokemon that follow a space motif that aren’t water-typed, so this theory makes the least sense to me. Still, in terms of tying Palkia and its idea of space, to water, it does the job.

Overall: I still don’t totally get it

After breaking down Palkia’s design, lore, and theories, I have a better understanding of what kind of decisions were behind the designing of the Pokemon. I am better convinced that it does fit into the water-type category after writing this, as Palkia is now beginning to look like an eel in my eyes. However, the fact that it has been 18 years since its conception, yet the series has not come up with a water-type that is as mould-breaking, should be the greatest attest to how there may have been more space for the designers to take greater efforts to visually communicate more of the water-type aspect of Palkia.






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