Pikmin Spirits appear every time a Pikmin is killed by a hazard or enemy. Although they are not visible when a Pikmin dies by falling into an abyss, it can be assumed that they do appear, but are out of sight. They roughly resemble a Pikmin's shape; however, they lack feet and leaf, bud or flower, and any identifying characteristics such as the Red Pikmin's nose. Their appearance is slightly transparent and they vary between the games. They emit a soft, mournful cry as they ascend.
In Pikmin, every Pikmin has a blue spirit, irrelevant of the colour of the Pikmin itself, while spirits in Pikmin 2 are representative of the dead Pikmin's color. They also differ in size, most notable between those of Purple and White Pikmin. In the New Play Control! version of the first game, only the tail is blue.
In Pikmin 3, the spirits in general are more round than the previous games. They keep the color difference introduced in Pikmin 2, but the new ones differ in shape as well; Winged Pikmin spirits have wings that continue to flutter until the spirit vanishes, while Rock Pikmin spirits are much more polygonal than the rest.
When enemies are killed, their spirits also appear. Enemies' spirits have a pink-purple colour and look like a bubble with a more transparent "tail" trailing behind. Two holes resembling eyes are visible near the shape's centre. Bulbmin produce a smaller version of this type of spirit when they die. There is also a minor glitch involved with enemy spirits: if an enemy is killed and the camera is rotated so that the beast is no longer on-screen, the enemy spirit will not ascend until it is once again visible for the camera on-screen. In Pikmin 2 these spirits make an eerie sound when ascending. This sound is much deeper when a boss is defeated, and the spirit is much larger.
In Pikmin 2, three enemies do not release spirits when beaten. These are the Gatling Groink, the Ravenous Whiskerpillar, and the Spotty Bulbear. The Gatling Groink and Spotty Bulbear both regenerate their health after being defeated, suggesting that they never really die, but are just knocked out. The Ravenous Whiskerpillars will squirm about and hiss when being carried by Pikmin, but they cannot come back to life and attack Burgeoning Spiderworts.
In Pikmin 3, enemies spirits are a translucent blueish hue and have small white eyes. In this game, the departure of a spirit from the animal's body signifies the Pikmin's opportunity to salvage the carcass; The Pikmin will be unable to pick up the body until the spirit is seen physically-ascending.
- In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Purple Pikmin do not give off spirits when they die.
- In Pikmin 3, the Pikmin spirits do not show a mouth hole like they did in first two Pikmin games, even the Blue Pikmin spirits lack a mouth.
- In Pikmin 2, Spotty Bulbears, Ravenous Whiskerpillars, and Gatling Groinks will not release a Spirit when they 'die' unless you petrify them.