The Pokemon anime series has been running for over two decades now, introducing generations of young trainers to the world of battling gyms and making friends. Ash has been an incredible protagonist and fans have watched him grow up from a young and bratty 10-year old boy, into the mature and respectable Pokemon World Champion in 2022. There have been crushing defeats and even first kisses, but there are five great Ash moments in the anime that really stand above the rest.
Of course, it's difficult to narrow down 25 years of anime into just the five best scenes. This list focused on the times that Ash really moved fans with his actions, as many of them are still talked about all these years later. If you're going back to rewatch the show for nostalgia, make sure you keep an eye out for these moments!
Elsewhere, check out our list of five ways the Pokemon anime could end. We've also got a look at the best anime on Netflix right now, as well as the best short anime that you can finish within a weekend!
The best Ash moments in Pokemon
The Pokemon series started off strong, with one of Ash’s most defining moments happening in the very first episode. It might be difficult to believe now, but when Ash first received Pikachu from Professor Oak’s lab, the Electric-Mouse Pokemon despised his new trainer. He refused to listen to him and made it very clear that he thought they’d never get along.
That was until they got attacked by Spearows in the woods. The scene where Ash is peddling his bike as fast as possible while they’re surrounding him is still heartbreaking all these years later. He can’t outrun them though, and eventually has to sacrifice himself in order to save his new Pokemon. This act started their friendship, and the duo would only continue to evolve into the iconic team we know today.
Letting Butterfree go
Ash certainly had some clumsily childish moments during the show. He’s been headstrong to a fault against anyone who threatens his friends, and he even stole Misty’s bike and never even paid her back for it. That hasn’t stopped him from having some exceptionally mature moments too. One of the first, and most iconic examples of this is with his Butterfree.
Caterpie was the first wild Pokemon that Ash ever caught, which all trainers know is a significant milestone. He eventually evolved into Metapod, and finally into the Butterfree. It was one of Ash’s main Pokemon, even going up against Misty in her Cerulean Gym. However, on their travels, Butterfree meets a beautiful pink Butterfree in the wild. Ash even helps it catch the pink Butterfree’s eye by tying a ribbon around its neck. Even though they’d been through so much together and he meant so much to Ash, he let Butterfree go to be with its new mate.
Mew and Mewtwo fight
The first time the Pokemon world felt in real danger was during the fight between Mew and Mewtwo. After being experimented on for years in a laboratory, Mewtwo began his quest for revenge against Trainers who ‘enslaved’ Pokemon for their own selfish uses. He invited Ash and his friends to the island, where he captured their Pokemon in order to clone them to prove his point. However, before Mewtwo could attack the trainers and escape out into the world, Mew appeared.
The battle between the two was legendary. Mew wanted to protect the trainers and Pokemon alike, but Mewtwo was filled with bloodlust and wanted to avenge all of the other clones he watched die. Ash saw how useless this fighting was and ran between the two of them to break them up. However, he was hit by an attack and turned to stone. All of the Pokemon, both clones and originals alike, came together to revive him with their tears. This caused Mewtwo to finally change his mind about world domination.
Pokemon did not shy away from the fact that Ash had died here, and would continue this trend of emotional self-sacrifice in the years to come. It was a powerful move, as it meant that fans of the show knew that the team were in real danger, and could be seriously injured at any time.
Once Ash and his friends reach Vermilion City, they prepare to take on Lt Surge, the Gym Leader of Vermilion Gym. However, as soon as Ash begins the challenge he realises that he’s been drastically outmatched. Lt Surge sends out a Raichu and even questions why Ash hasn’t evolved Pikachu himself yet. He replies that there’s more to Pokemon than just evolution, and then gets completely humiliated in his battle against the Gym Leader.
Later on, after being given a Thunderstone to evolve Pikachu with, Ash ultimately leaves the decision up to Pikachu himself. He knocks away the Thunderstone, and says that he doesn’t want to have to change in order to win, he wants to get stronger as himself and win in the name of all Pikachu everywhere. He and Ash come up with a strategy that plays to Pikachu’s strengths against Raichu, which sees them take the victory and the Thunder Badge.
It was a wonderful moment to see that both Pikachu and Ash respected each other so deeply.
Winning the World Championships
Of course, the highlight of Ash’s career as a Pokemon Trainer has to be when he was crowned Monarch and won the World Championships. It had been a long time coming; Ash has lost almost all competitive Pokemon Leagues since 1997 with the exceptions of the Orange League and most recently, the Alola League. Fans were devastated when he went into the final against Alain in the Kalos League with a type advantage and still lost. He had fought so hard, and there was so much at stake for him.
So when Ash entered the Master’s Eight Championship against the previously undefeated Leon, everyone expected a similar sort of outcome. He would come a close second, handle it with genuine maturity and learn how to become stronger for the next time. However, it was obvious how serious Ash was taking this tournament, even from the early stages.
His semi-finals match with Cynthia was tense enough, but no-one could have expected him to walk away from the Finals with the trophy. It was emotional to see the culmination of 25 years of hard work from Ash and Pikachu, as well as the investment of fans who had waited that long to finally congratulate him.
If you're feeling nostalgic, why not check out our list of the best games like Pokemon to get that monster-collecting feeling again? If you're playing the new Pokemon Scarlet and Violet game, make sure you check our guide on how to catch the Legendary Pokemon, as well as a guide on all of the clothing and hair styles!