Pokémon: The Original Series (2024)

Pokémon: The Original Series (1)

If you can't see the appeal, you were never a child.

The first Pokémon anime series that ran from 1997 to 2002 in Japan and from 1998 to 2003 in America. This series would have Ash go through Kanto to take part in the Indigo Plateau Conference and Johto to take part in the Silver Conference. Brock, the Pewter City Gym Leader and Misty, the Cerulean City Gym Leader are his companions. Between those two regions, he would travel through the Orange Islands which are absent from the games to deliver the GS Ball from Professor Ivy to Professor Oak, also replacing Brock with Tracey, a Pokémon watcher.

English dub:

  • Season 1: Indigo League Part 1 (Episodes 1-52)
  • Season 2: Indigo League Part 2 (Episodes 53-80), Adventures in the Orange Islands Part 1 (Episodes 81-105)
  • Season 3: Adventures in the Orange Islands Part 2 (Episodes 106-116), The Johto Journeys (Episodes 117-157)
  • Season 4: Johto League Champions (Episodes 158-209)
  • Season 5: Master Quest Part 1 (Episodes 210-262)
  • Season 6: Master Quest Part 2 (Episodes 263-273)

Japanese version:

  • Kanto League (Episodes 1-80)
  • Orange League (Episodes 81-116)
  • Johto League (Episodes 117-274)


  • Pokémon Chronicles (Episodes 1-19)

The Kanto and Orange seasons are also branded as Pokémon The Series: The Beginning, and the Johto seasons are collectively known as Pokémon the Series: Gold and Silver. These brands are used on the digital streaming websites.

This series provides examples of:

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Tropes A to C

  • Abandoned Catchphrase: Early English dub episodes tried to translate Meowth's Japanese Verbal Tic as "meow" or "Meowth." This was scrapped several episodes in.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Half of The Birth of Mewtwo radio drama, meant to go with Pokémon: The First Movie and later animated (though excluding the first portion), revolves around Jessie's Missing Mom Miyamoto and how she's been searching for Mew for twenty years. Outside of the drama nothing has referenced Miyamoto. She has yet to be reunited with Jessie.
    • The GS Ball was a MacGuffin that loosely guided the overall plot for about a season and a half, spanning 60 episodes. A Poké Ball that nobody could open, Ash was supposed to give the GS ball to Kurt, the leading Pokéball expert, in order to discover whatever secrets the ball held. After giving the ball to Kurt, however, neither the GS Ball nor its contents were ever brought up again. The GS Ball was supposed to hold Celebi, a legendary Nature Spirit Pokémon, that would be the focus of the next arc, but the writers later decided to give Celebi a starring role in a moviePokémon: The Original Series (2), hoping that viewers would eventually forget about the GS Ball. They didn't, and haven't.
    • Speaking of Kurt; Ash, Misty, and Brock each received two special Apricorn Poké Balls from Kurt, but while Ash and Misty actually ended up using their Lure Balls to catch Totodile and Corsola, respectively, neither ever used their Fast Balls, while Brock never used the Heavy Ball he was given.
  • Actually, I Am Him: In "Fighting Flyer With Fire", Ash and friends have a long conversation with Falkner without realizing he's the Violet City Gym Leader they were looking for.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • "Holiday at Aopulco" was initially skipped, so when the next episode, "Tentacool and Tentacruel" aired, no context was given for the lady who likes Nastina at the end of the episode, why she was repairing a house, and why she and Team Rocket know each other. The episode was eventually dubbed as "Beauty and the Beach" a few years later, but was done as a one-off special and has never been seen since it aired on TV over 20 years ago.
    • Because the episode "The Legend of Dratini" was skipped, dub-only viewers have no idea how Ash managed to capture 30 Tauros.
    • "The Mandarin Island Miss Match" was banned around 2015, causing a plot hole of how Ash and the gang found out where to go for the next Orange Island Gym.
  • Adaptational Protagonist:
    • In the original Pokémon games and their remakes (Red and Blue, FireRed and LeafGreen) and the second generation (Gold and Silver), Brock/Takeshi and Misty/Kasumi are, respectively, the Rock-type and Water-type Gym Leaders who can be defeated by the player at the beginning of their journey and are forgotten about as soon as the player continues on the Victory Road. However, in this first anime series, Misty is introduced right in the first episode and becomes Ash/Satoshi's companion from then on. Come episode 5, Brock is introduced as the Pewter City gym leader, and, in the final minutes, decides to accompany Ash on his journey. The trio make up the protagonists and remain as such for the first 5 seasons.
    • Similarly Red is only the protagonist for Gen I. From Gen II and onwards, he becomes a Previous Player-Character Cameo. But since the original series seamlessly transitions from Kanto to Johto, Red's anime counterpart Ash is retained as the protagonist for Gen II. He will continue this streak in future series until Pokémon Horizons: The Series, where he is finally replaced by new protagonists.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Daisy Oak. Gary doesn't have a sister like his game counterpart, since Ash didn't need the Town Map that Daisy provides, nor does he spend much time in Pallet Town, where she resides.
    • Nearly all of Team Rocket's crimes featured in Pokémon Red and Blue never got adapted into the anime, including the Ghost Marowak subplot and the Silph Co. hostage takeover (in fact, Silph doesn't even seem to exist in the anime). Same thing with Pokémon Gold and Silver, which is at least justified by the fact that Giovanni is still the Rocket Boss during Ash's journey in Johto and thus the subplot of Team Rocket trying to contact their missing leader is unneeded. In fact, it is easier to list the Rocket events that did make it into the anime, and those are usually done by Jessie, James and Meowth rather than the entire organization.
    • The Rival of Pokémon Gold and Silver, known as Silver by the fans, does not appear in the anime aside from a brief cameo in The Legend of Thunder special where he looks down on Jimmy. And it is never made clear if he is the son of Giovanni. His Character Archetype, however, is used for Paul, Ash's rival in Diamond & Pearl.
    • Koga's daughter (and Gym Leader successor) Janine from Pokémon Gold and Silver. The part of the game she's in requires visiting Kanto to get the region's badges; while Ash did return to Kanto to face off against the Hoenn Frontier Brains, he didn't visit the Gyms due to the fact that he'd already gotten the badges. Koga does get a sister named Aya, who pretty much fills the same role as Janine.
    • While the Kanto Elite Four do make an appearance in the anime (with Agatha appearing in the Advanced Generation series), the two original Elite Four members in Pokémon Gold and Silver (Will and Karen) do not make an appearance.
  • Aim for the Horn: The Trope Namer is a famous quote from the episode "Riddle Me This". Since the Ground-type Pokémon Rhydon can't be harmed by electrical attacks, Ash inexplicably tells Pikachu to aim at its foe's horn (and you're absolutely right if that doesn't make any sense at all). Obviously, it works. As often happens in memes, the original source was misquoted and the Pokémon: The Original Series (3)actual quote from the anime is "The horn!".
  • Androcles' Lion: In "A Chansey Operation", when Team Rocket tries to take the Pokémon at the hospital, Chansey stands in the way. Arbok and Weezing refuse Jessie and James' orders to attack because Chansey treated their injuries earlier in the episode.
  • Animorphism: A witch turns Ash into a Pikachu for a short time at the end of the episode "Hocus Pokémon!".
  • Animation Bump: Look for the name Masaaki Iwane or Akihiro Tamagawa on the animation director credits before watching an episode. If they are animating it, chances are the animation would be stellar and above the usual quality of regular episodes.
  • Anti-Climax: The rivalry between Ash and Gary is set up in the show's first episode and establishes that a victory over Gary is one of Ash's important long-term goals. After "Showdown at the Po-ké Corral" has Ash promise Gary that they would finally fight during the Indigo League, Gary is eliminated in a fight against a different trainer in the fourth round of the tournament; Ash goes out in the following round. The later Johto League, however, ties up loose ends with Ash and Gary's Full Battle which ends in the victory of the former.
  • Art Evolution: Starting with "Here's Lookin' at You, Elekid", the anime switches from cel to digital animation. This would last all the way up to the end of the XY series, where it is replaced by a more hand-drawn animation style in Sun & Moon.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: In the episode "Dues and Don'ts" Team Rocket tries to catch a Delibird which throws snow at them.

    Jessie: It's a Blizzard attack!
    James: How do you know it's a Blizzard attack?
    Jessie: Maybe because we're in a blizzard?
    James: Oh. That makes sense.

  • Bail Equals Freedom: At the end of their first appearance, Butch and Cassidy are in jail for their crimes. At their next appearance, they're free and tell Jessie and James it's because their boss bailed them out.
  • Ballet Episode: "The Misty Mermaid" centers on an underwater synchronized swimming show in which Misty gets involved through a series of circ*mstances. Reinforced by Team Rocket's disguises in the episode.
  • Banana Peel: Misty and Ash's Bulbasaur both fall prey to this prank while working in a beach restaurant in "Beauty and the Beach", courtesy of Meowth. Worse yet, they're carrying trays of food, which go flying everywhere.
  • "Bang!" Flag Gun: Haunter had one in "Haunter vs. Kadabra." (the actual "BANG!" flag appears too quickly to be easily made out though)
  • Bemoaning the New Body:
    • At the beginning of Johto's Whirl Cup, a Remoraid reaches its goal of evolving into an Octillery. Unfortunately, the fish tank full of its Remoraid brethren don't witness the evolution and they reject its advances to join the fish tank. This causes enough mental distress that it loses in the first round of the Whirl Cup, and since it can't reunite with its friends, it bemoans its new form. However, after saving its friends, they recognize its effort and accept him as one of their own... then, they all evolve into Octillery.
    • Also in Johto, there's tribal fight between a horde of Vineplume and a horde Bellossom, who all involuntarily evolved due to the wind carrying dusts of Leaf Stones and Sun Stones. The couple of Vineplume and Bellossom who get along with each other are only able to do so because they wanted to evolve into the opposite form and have an identity crisis because of that, and therefore they don't want to partake in the tribal fight.
  • Book Ends: Misty began traveling with Ash after he stole her bike and got it destroyed, and in the episode where she leaves the group, she receives her rebuilt bike.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Brock returns to the group right before the Johto saga begins.
    • Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Charizard, Kingler, Snorlax, Heracross, and Muk all came back for the Silver Conference.
    • Lapras comes back for a single episode in late Johto.
    • Both Suzy and Duplica return in early Johto.
    • Ritchie also returns for a three-parter in late Johto.
  • Call of the Wild Blue Yonder: "Fly Me to the Moon" is about a Pidgey named Orville who dreams of flying higher then any other Pokémon. Even Meowth was touched by the dream and decided to help him.
  • Child Prodigy: In "The Ancient Puzzle of Pokémopolis", the trio meets an archaeologist who has earned her PhD at the age of eight.
  • Christmas Episode: "Holiday Hi-Jynx!", which due to two unfortunate circ*mstances, did not air when originally intended in Japan and internationally.
  • Circus Episode: The episode "It's Mr. Mime Time!" deals with the ringmaster of a traveling circus and her lazy Mr. Mime. When Ash is recruited to take the place of the Mr. Mime in the circus (in order to convince the Pokémon to come back to work) he gets mistakenly kidnapped by Team Rocket.
  • Clockwork Prediction: In "Island of the Giant Pokémon", Ash, Misty, Brock and Team Rocket end up on a mine cart where they're reunited with their Pokémon while dragging a few huge Pokémon (really robots) behind them. When Ash wonders what they can do, both Jesse and James, no strangers to bad luck, pretty much predict what'll happen next. Namely their cart will go off the rails, the line snagging the giant Pokémon will snap, and they'll get flung into the sea. And indeed, one by one, that's what happens the moment they call it.

Tropes D to G

  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Ash is one of Hot-Blooded Kid Heroes throughout most of the Kanto seasons. His impetuousness and lack of experience due to being a literal child frequently ends up causing more problems than it solves and gets him in way over his head more frequently than not. It wasn't until his loss at the Kanto League did he start to take steps towards developing out of this into the All-Loving Hero he would become near the series end. Note that Ash is one of the ones who popularized this character archetype as well.
  • Deadly Doctor: Dr. Proctor, who fought Team Rocket armed with nothing but a labcoat full of scalpels.
  • Elemental Hair Colors: The Eevee brothers — the yellow-haired Sparky having a Jolteon, the redhead Pyro a Flareon, the blue-haired Rainer a Vaporeon, and brown-haired Mikey has an unevolved Eevee.
  • Establishing Series Moment: As the first animated adaptation of Pokémon, it went out of its way to make a lasting impression for both the fans and general audiences:
    • The first episode opens with the Game Boy opening of Pokémon Red and Blue, featuring Gengar fighting Nidorino. The scene then shifts to a fully animated Pokémon Stadium match, and quickly establishes the various aspects of Pokémon from their extraordinary powers to their trainers to the various shapes and sizes that they can appear as. All of this is happening on TV, in front of a young boy wishing to be a Pokémon Trainer himself.
    • In terms of Takeshi Shudō's darker tone that characterizes the early anime, that moment is best summed up by Ash protecting his disobedient but injured Pikachu from a flock of vicious Spearow with nothing but his own body, badly beaten but defiant against his odds. It deconstructs the whole Pokémon journey with cynical reality yet still upholds its optimism with Ash's kindness and determination.
  • Feathered Fiend: Spearow are not the pleasant kind of Pokémon to meet in the anime. Aside from their infamous attempt to kill Ash and Pikachu in the first episode, they are also the Pokémon that attack a defenseless Charmander trying to keep its tail lit in the heavy rain in "Charmander - The Stray Pokémon", as well as the flock of Pidgey and Pidgeotto in "Pallet Party Panic".
  • A Fistful of Rehashes: "Showdown at Dark City" is basically Yojimbo...with Pokémon! And two rival gyms going too far with the Serious Business! And rated TV-Y7!
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The prime example of this trope is the trio of Jessie, James, and Meowth; though it took some time before they went from somewhat competent (as cartoonish villains could be) to a nuisance that Ash and friends can get rid of with little effort.
    • Their status is actually deconstructed in the original series, as their record of failures is what causes them to lose good standings with the rest of Team Rocket, to the point that Giovanni cuts them off for embezzlement, forcing them to raise their own money instead. The trio often go into periods of self-doubt, and are frequently given a taste of a life beyond Team Rocket, a life where their efficiency increases tenfolds and the rewards are far greater than whatever their villainous boss would offer. Yet despite these better paths to success, they always remain committed to Team Rocket even if they fail over and over again.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: In "Pokémon Shipwreck", Ash wakes up on the ceiling of the capsized S.S. Anne, and stays there until Misty and Brock tell him he's on the ceiling. Only then does he fall to the ground.

Tropes H to M

  • Holding in Laughter: In "Pokémon Fashion Flash", Ash and Brock struggle to hold in their laughter after seeing the results of the "makeover" Team Rocket gave Misty.
  • Human Popsicle: If you count Pokémon, Pryce's Piloswine counts. In "As Cold As Pryce", we learn it was frozen in a glacier for many years, and defrosted harmlessly.
  • Humongous-Headed Hammer: Early on in the series, Fiery Redhead Misty would pull out a Hyperspace Mallet with an extremely large head to whack Ash or Brock for their stupidity.
  • Isle of Giant Horrors:
    • After surviving the sinking of the St. Anne, Ash's party and Team Rocket end up stuck on an island made up of malfunctioning giant animatronic Pokémon, separated from their Pokémon.
    • "Bound For Trouble" has Meowth and Pikachu tied together in the middle of Fairchild Island, an island containing giant Rhydon and Pidgeot who attack anyone that comes near.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: In "Address Unown!", an Unown puts Ash and friends into Larvitar's mind to help it get past traumatic events.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Mewtwo. While Giovanni is a ruthless villain in contrast to the Team Rocket trio, Mewtwo is the Pokémon that signifies the arrival of darker themes than the show is used to, though this is only fully seen in Pokémon: The First Movie. It's Mewtwo who easily defeats the unbeatable Gary Oak, and it's Mewtwo who destroys the Team Rocket HQ, forcing Giovanni to take an extended vacation from his usual business. The radio drama Pokémon: The Birth of Mewtwo that told the backstory of Mewtwo alongside the anime introduces more overt, adult themes such as military, religion, death, cloning ethics, and more.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: In "Showdown at Dark City", Ash tries to hide his real name. When he looks at Pikachu playing with a ketchup bottle, Ash announces his name is "Ketchup" before he quickly changes it to "Tom Ato".
  • Literally Prized Possession: It's revealed in a Kanto episode that Ash's hat is an official Pokémon League hat he won by sending in hundreds of entries to a sweepstakes (making it clear that he's wanted To Be a Master for a very long time).
  • Mistaken for Undead: In "Pokémon Shipwreck", had Ash's gang and Team Rocket working together to escape the sunken ship. Ash's friends all use water Pokémon to escape, while Team Rocket uses James' useless Magikarp and nearly drown. When Team Rocket wash up unconscious, Ash and co. believe they have drowned and are about to give them a water burial. However Team Rocket awakens and are angry at almost being pushed in the water, while Ash and friends scream out "ZOMBIES!"

    James: Who are you calling zombies?!
    Jessie: We are not zombies!

Tropes N to R

  • No-Harm Requirement: During Johto in the episode "Once In A Blue Moon", a Quagsire steals the GS Ball. When Ash gets it back by battling it with Squirtle, the gang almost get arrested by Officer Jenny because Quagsire in the town is a protected species. So when the Quagsire steals the ball again, they have to follow it to waterfall where it conducts its waterfall ritual and wait for it to finish with the ball.
  • Power Trio: Featuring the classic ensemble of both heroes and villains in Pokémon, including but not limited to:
    • The human protagonist trio composed of Ash, Misty and Brock.
    • The Terrible Trio composed of Jessie, James and Meowth.
    • The Pokémon Starters owned by Ash in both Kanto and Johto.
    • The Sensational Sisters composed of Daisy, Violet and Lily (and one runt, Misty)
    • The Eevee brothers (Rainer, Sparky and Pyro) and their Eeveelutions representatives (And their little brother Mikey and his unevolved Eevee).
  • Prompting Nudge: In the first-season episode "Showdown at Dark City", Misty suggests making up pseudonyms so the group won't blemish their reputation by essentially taking sides in a gang war. Ash and Misty come up with names fairly quickly, but Misty has to nudge Brock to make him speak since he's too busy gawking at the female recruiter.
  • Put on a Bus: Quite frequently.
    • Kanto:
      • Krabby, Muk, and Ash's 30 Tauros are shipped off to Oak's the same episode each were captured in.
      • Butterfree, Primeape, Haunter, and Pidgeot were all released at various points.
    • Orange Islands:
      • Brock leaves right at the start of the saga.
      • Both Lapras and Tracey leave the group at the end of the saga, though Tracey would continue to make cameos for long afterwards.
    • Johto:
      • Squirtle and Charizard leave the group in separate episodes early on.
      • Heracross is exchanged to Oak for one of Ash's Tauros for an episode. While Ash returns Tauros to Oak, he declines to pick Heracross back up.
      • Bulbasaur is sent to Professor Oak's to be a mediator to the various Grass-type Pokémon constantly fighting there.
      • The baby Larvitar is reunited with its mother and leaves Ash and the gang.
      • Both Brock and Misty leave Ash at the end of Johto. While Misty stayed home, Brock would come back a few episodes later in Advanced.
      • Bayleaf, Cyndaquil, Totodile, Phanpy, and Noctowl are sent back to Oak's after the Silver Conference, as Ash decides to head to Hoenn with just Pikachu.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Brock remained with Professor Ivy before the Orange Islands arc began. He later shows up to help take care of the Ketchum residence by the time Ash, Misty, and Pikachu return to Kanto. He never reveals what happened that made him leave and, the incident is supposedly so bad, even mentioning Ivy's name becomes a massive Trauma Button for him.
  • Running Gag: Several:
    • Pikachu shocking Ash for doing something stupid.
    • Gary teasing Ash about being weaker and being the 4th trainer to leave Pallet.
    • Team Rocket being sent flying into the air, yelling "Team Rocket's blasting off again!" before vanishing as a Twinkle in the Sky.
    • Victreebel chomping on James' head whenever it's called out.
    • Psyduck popping out whenever it wants to, regardless if Misty called it or not.
    • Brock flirting with every pretty girl he meets. In Johto, this is followed by Misty pulling him back by his ear.
    • During the days Charmeleon/Charizard was disobedient, he'd often shoot flames into Ash's face.
    • Jigglypuff appearing out of nowhere, singing everyone to sleep, getting angry, and then drawing on everyone's faces.

Tropes S to V

  • Sand Bridge at Low Tide: In "The Crystal Onix", Ash and the gang find that the way to the cave where the mythical Crystal Onix lives is a sandbar that only appears at certain times of the day.
  • Significant Name Shift: Lt. Surge calls Ash "Baby" until he's defeated in the rematch, after which he finally calls him by name.
  • Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: Misty's Psyduck did this once, making Misty think he was immune to Jigglypuff's singing.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: The male and female Nidoran from the Orange Islands episode "Wherefore Art Thou, Pokémon?", an obvious Shout-Out to Romeo and Juliet. As a bonus, they are named Tony and Maria after the protagonists of West Side Story, a modern take on the original play.
  • "Success Through Cheating" Accusation: In "The Flame Pokemon-athon", Dario accuses Ash and Rapidash of cheating after he and his Dodrio narrowly lose to them, even though he conspired with Team Rocket to cheat in order to eliminate all the other racers.
  • Taps: At the beginning of the episode "Pokémon Shipwreck", Officer Jenny and the other survivors of the sinking of the St. Anne are mourning the apparent deaths of Ash, Misty, Brock, Pikachu, Jessie, James, and Meowth, after they were unable to get off the ship. After Jenny tosses a bouquet of flowers overboard, she tells everyone to give a salute while a trumpeter starts playing Taps, as the flowers sink into the ocean waters.
  • Terrible Trio: Jessie, James and Meowth of Team Rocket, of course! The Kanto and Orange Islands arcs, along with Black & White, are the only times where trope is played completely straight, as the accidental acquirement of Wobbuffet in "Tricks of the Trade" along with its Running Gag of popping during the Rocket motto has made the Patient Pokémon an unofficial fourth member to the trio.
  • Third-Option Adaptation:
    • Since the producers didn't want the show to have a particular bias towards one of the three available starter Pokémon (Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle), they decided to have Ash's first Pokémon be Pikachu, an Electric Mouse Pokémon found in the Viridian Forest that has gained popularity among the Japanese children for its cuteness and rarity. And the rest is history.
    • Ash does get all three regional starter Pokémon in both Kanto and Johto later on in the series, likely to promote them equally. Ironically, despite the producers' intentions, the show did end up favoring one of Ash's three Kanto starters with Charizard, who is the only one to evolve all the way to its final form as well as being an absolute powerhouse compared to the rest. It's not surprising to see that when Ash faces Gary Oak in the Silver Conference for their League match, Gary's own starter Pokémon is revealed to be none other than Blastoise, thus recreating the rival dynamic in Pokémon Red and Blue had the player picked Charmander.
  • Traitor Shot: The Teddiursa in episode "UnBEARable" has five of them.
  • Trouble Making New Pet: The episode "UnBEARable" has Ash and friends come across a cute and seemingly innocent Teddiursa, whom they temporarily take under their wing. However, when Ash, Misty, and Brock are not around, Teddiursa is not as innocent as it seems as it frames most of the Pokémon (Totodile, Chikorita, Psyduck, and Bulbasaur) for eating all the food, which it actually did itself.
  • Unbuilt Trope: The early Pokémon seasons are the first and most famous examples of Mon anime. However, they also deconstruct certain aspects of the Pokémon world. At the beginning of Ash's journey, he is an inexperienced child. He gets his food stolen, is disobeyed by his starter, and is nearly killed by a flock of Spearow, all in the first episode. Other early episodes showed other dark issues like Pokémon abandonment, disobedience, and the existence of a crime syndicate. Mewtwo's backstory is a tragic and terrifying example of the experimentation that can exist. However, as Ash became more experienced, he ended up reconstructing the Pokémon world by showcasing its virtues: loyalty, bravery, teamwork, and love.
  • Under Strange Management: During the first season, Giovanni leaves Jessie and James in charge of the Viridian City Gym while he goes out. It ends about as well as you'd expect.
  • Unexpected Kindness: In "Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon", an Aerodactyl flies off with Ash. The normally defiant Charmeleon evolves into Charizard and flies after Aerodactyl, seemingly trying to save Ash. Ash tears up with joy, saying that he had thought Charmeleon never wanted him as his trainer. Subverted immediately afterwards, as Charizard breathes fire right on him, proving that he isn't paying that much attention to Ash's safety.

    Ash: ...I was right. Looks like the only reason Charizard evolved was to battle Aerodactyl.

  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Jessie, James and Meowth are a trio of comedic yet lovable buffoons who try (and fail) to steal Ash's Pikachu (or any Pokémon they come across). Their boss, Giovanni, is a ruthless and no-nonsense leader of The Mafia who operates on larger criminal schemes. To a lesser extent, the Team Rocket organization itself is a serious crime syndicate like Giovanni, but the Rocket grunts are just as or even less competent than the Team Rocket trio.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: There are several villains who tip the scale of seriousness to balance out the comedic Team Rocket trio that Ash and friends usually face:
    • The Spearow flock, led by a vicious Fearow who has a grudge against Ashnote, are a nasty group of Pokémon who attack humans and Pokémon alike. Despite only appearing in two episodes, "Pokémon - I Choose You" and "Pallet Party Panic", they are responsible for nearly ending Ash's life on his first day as a Pokémon Trainer and forcing Ash to release his Pidgeot in order to protect the Pidgey and Pidgeotto flocks from their attacks.
    • Giovanni, the Boss of Team Rocket, is a ruthless shadowy figure who runs the darker side of Team Rocket, especially with the creation of Mewtwo. He only becomes situationally funny after his public appearance in "The Battle of the Badge", where Jessie, James and Meowth try to directly appease him while he has to deal with the aftermath of Mewtwo escaping his control.
    • Sabrina, the Psychic Gym Leader of Saffron City, is the first malevolent trainer that Ash and friends face, not helped by her Creepy Doll that represents her Split Personality or her attempts to turn them into actual dolls if they lose (and since this is Generation I, Psychic-Type Pokémon are virtually unbeatable here).
    • Cassidy and Butch, long-time Rocket rivals to Jessie, James and Meowth, are far more evil and competent than the trio, able to handle more serious crime operations for Giovanni (and later their superior, Dr. Namba) and get a few near victories over Ash and friends. However, this status decays as time went on, completing transition in the next series.
  • Villain Decay: The Team Rocket trio starts off as threatening and even frightening villains in their debut episode, especially with Pikachu out of commission, forcing Ash and Misty to run several times. But after Ash is able to blast them off for the first time, the trio bicker over their defeat and hastily conclude that Pikachu must be a very rare and powerful specimen. Their obsession of following the twerps and capturing Pikachu proves to be detrimental to their relationship with the rest of Team Rocket as not only did Ash thwart all of their attempts to steal Pikachu, but also their attempts to steal other Pokémon. Giovanni eventually got sick of them bringing nothing to the table, and considers reassigning them far away so he doesn't have to deal with their antics.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The early episode 'Mystery at the Lighthouse' is a tip of the hat to Ray Bradbury's short story The Foghorn, just replacing an unidentified dinosaur with a very large Dragonite.
Pokémon: The Original Series (2024)
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