Gym Leader battles are important in the Pokemon World. Each gym has a unique type the gym leader uses and is a big step in a Pokemon trainer’s journey throughout the region. The anime has had several gym battles over the years. Unfortunately not all of them are good. And this list is here to count down the worst of the worst.
Dishonorable mentions: Brock and Misty
While Ash didn’t win the badge legitimately from either of these two the show is hilariously self-aware of this. And Ash would have other battles against these two later on that would give all of them the opportunity to prove their mettle. Given that they were traveling alongside him, their Pokemon were given opportunities to grow just as his did.
5. Ash vs. Erika
This battle is at the bottom of the list as from the beginning the battle was going rather well. Ash chose some good match-ups for this battle and Erika proves to be a powerful but kind grass-type master. Unfortunately, Team Rocket interrupts the battle and sets the gym ablaze. Everyone is able to work together to put out the fire, but Erika’s main Pokemon, Gloom is still stuck inside. Ash rushes into the burning building to save Gloom and Erika gives him a badge as thanks. Really? After the show had done this three times already you would think the writers would have them do a rematch. Thankfully, they would do this in the next gym battle.
4. Ash vs. Sabrina (rematch)
The Psychic type was easily the strongest type of Generation 1 with no weaknesses (ghost and bug had horribly weak moves). Having Ash lose the first time was a great testament to how powerful Psychic types were back then. After failing to beat her once, Sabrina’s father forces Ash to go to Lavender Town to get a ghost type to hold his own against her. Two episodes later he is back with a Haunter in tow. Despite the episode being titled, Haunter vs. Kadabra this showdown never happens as Haunter just wanders off at the start of the battle. Midway through the battle Haunter returns pulling a variety of jokes on Sabrina (which do admittedly lead to some funny imagery) and makes her and her Kadabra laugh (as the two are psychically linked). Her father deems Ash the winner, as Kadabra is laughing too hard to battle. The whole thing is complete Trubbish and it results in the departure of what could have been one of Ash’s most interesting Pokemon.
3. Ash vs. Roxie
With Black and White 2 having a different set of gym leaders, the need to show them all is understandably important. However making the second gym of the game the final challenge before the Unova League is one of the show’s many blunders. For starters Ash uses all six of his Pokemon while Roxie only gets to use three. To make matters worse Roxie easily pushes Ash into a corner despite the latter having a clear number advantage. Most final gym battles in the anime showcase just how far Ash has come. This did nothing but reinforce just how horrible Ash’s skill in Unova is. With Drayden being shown prior to this, it would have been perfect to see Ash struggle to hold his own to a dragon type gym leader again, particularly with there being far more dragons here than their were back during the last time Ash faced a dragon-type gym leader.
2. Ash vs. Cress
In the games, whoever you pick as your starter in Unova you end up facing the gym leader with the type advantage. Ash however chose to face all three of them in a best of three battle, which is a good idea to showcase them all. In the second battle against Cress, Ash chooses his Pikachu to take on Cress’ Panpour, which is a good choice. Unfortunately Ash loses with Pikachu not scoring a single hit. Unlike the battle with Trip, Pikachu actually had its electric-type moves this time and Ash and his Pikachu, even at their worst have perfect sync. Unfortunately that sync is not here and Pikachu is repeatedly pummeled for no reason other than to forcefully even the score.
1. Ash vs. Elesa
If there was ever a battle to showcase just how much of an idiot Ash is in Unova this is it. At first Ash makes a good choice by picking his Water/Ground Palpitoad for this battle. But Elesa’s Emolga knocks it out in the second round and we find out Ash never prepared to bring another Pokemon and stupidly ends up bringing Snivy being blissfully unaware that Emolga is also a flying-type (and had already showcased its flying type moves). It gets to the point that even Pikachu at one point was quite fed up with him. Her final Pokemon Tynamo being her supposed “Electric Ace” is quite laughable as the thing only knows tackle and is able to overwhelm Pikachu by using the one move. This list may have been harsh on Unova, but Unova just downright sucked.
Are there any other battles you think should be on the list? Any that shouldn’t? Well leave them in the comments below.