Ash Ketchum and his prized Pikachu’s time at the helm of the Pokémon anime has finally come to an end, having debuted at the very beginning back in 1997. It took Ash a long time to get his first major victory in Alola, but he was followed by his loyal best friend, Pikachu, every step of the way.
During that time, Ash had his fair share of rivals, whether they were fierce or friendly, but so did Pikachu. Pikachu’s rivalries have varied, from being known interspecies grudges to simply replicating Ash’s own rivalries with the rivals’ respective ace Pokémon. Some of Pikachu’s rivalries have taken place over multiple episodes or seasons, while others have been short-lived but still made an impact with instant chemistry or a competitive desire to emerge victorious.
10 Ritchie’s Sparky
Ash Ketchum and Ritchie were very similar Trainers that quickly became friends and rivals in the original series of the anime. They even had similar tastes in Pokémon. In fact, when they faced off at the Indigo League, Ritchie’s team consisted of Happy the Butterfree, Ziggo the Charmander, and Sparky the Pikachu.
Ritchie’s Sparky wasn’t especially powerful and only won the battle thanks to Ash’s Charizard disobeying and forfeiting the bout. Sparky and Ash’s Pikachu were rivals through association, as two of the same species aiming to become the best alongside their respective Trainers.
9 Tyson’s Meowth
After Pikachu, Meowth is easily the most active and heavily-featured Pokémon in the anime, but mainly through the talking Meowth of Team Rocket. There have been many appearances from other Meowth, but the only one that comes anywhere close to Team Rocket’s mayhem maker is one belonging to Tyson.
Tyson was Ash’s friend and rival in the latter stages of the Hoenn campaign, with the two even facing off at the Ever Grande Conference. Tyson ended up winning after it came down to his unique hat-wearing Meowth and Pikachu, with the former just about managing to stay on its feet to outlast Ash’s ace. Pikachu losing to a Meowth was a shock, but fans eventually forgave it, as this Meowth was much better trained than Team Rocket’s own.
8 Trip’s Snivy
As far as Ash’s rivals go, his battles and disputes with Trip during the Black & White anime frustrated fans more than with other Trainers. Pikachu kept losing to Trip’s ace in Snivy and Serpine when it evolved but did eventually defeat Serperior when the pair faced off one last time at the Vertress Conference.
Pikachu’s initial loss to Snivy came as a result of Zekrom stripping it of its Electric powers, yet these conditions didn’t make the loss any easier to take. It was vitally important that Pikachu got the all-important victory at the end of this rivalry, as it was way too one-sided throughout the build-up.
7 Gary’s Umbreon
Considering that Gary Oak was Ash’s first and most notable rival of the entire series, the pair from Pallet Town didn’t battle anywhere near as often as fans would have expected. In fact, their first battle wasn’t until Ash returned from the Orange Islands when he challenged Gary to a 1-on-1 battle with Pikachu going up against Eevee.
Eevee was deceptively quick and strong and defeated Pikachu, leaving Ash and Pikachu with a score to settle down the road. However, while this rivalry could have been explored through more battles, Gary refused to let Ash and Pikachu rematch him and his newly-evolved Umbreon due to him already winning the first bout. Pikachu and Umbreon weren’t even used in Ash and Gary’s battle at the Silver Conference, meaning that their rivalry never got that anticipated rematch.
6 Sunglasses Krokorok
Sunglasses Sandile first appeared in “A Sandile Gusher of Change” in the Black & White series and started following Ash after gaining respect for him. Sandile’s pursuit turned into a desire to attack and battle Pikachu, and it didn’t really take heed of its surroundings or who it might hurt in the process.
Sandile even evolved into Krokorok during one of its bouts with Pikachu. Stoppages and distractions kept stopping a decisive outcome from being decided until Pikachu eventually picked up the victory, and Krokorok joined Ash’s team. Krokorok’s rivalry with Pikachu didn’t really continue once they were on the same team, and Krokorok focused its attention on helping Ash. It even evolved into Krookodile in the process.
5 Leon’s Charizard
After Ash capped off a successful Alola campaign with his first Pokémon League victory at the Manalo Conference, he directed his attention toward another huge goal: defeating the formidable Leon. It was Ash’s motivation throughout Pokémon Journeys, as he had quickly experienced the might of Leon’s Charizard firsthand.
Ash and Leon faced off in the 13th episode of Journeys, as Leon and Charizard educated Ash and Pikachu on Gigantamaxing, but they wouldn’t face off again until Episode 129 in the final of the Masters Eight Tournament. It ultimately came down to Charizard and Pikachu, but Pikachu managed to overcome the odds and emerge victorious, adding the final huge accolade to Ash and Pikachu’s Pokémon adventure.
4 Paul’s Electivire
During the Diamond & Pearl series, Paul and Ash struck up a fierce rivalry, certainly one of Ash’s most intense of the entire anime. Ash took umbrage to Paul’s battling methods and his brutal treatment of “weak” Pokémon, and this animosity between the pair naturally spread to their Pokémon.
Chimchar was a major point of focus throughout, but Ash’s Pikachu and Paul’s Elekid struck up an intriguing rivalry. The two Pokémon were seen as the aces of the respective Trainers’ teams and, for the most part, backed it up in battle. However, Ash’s Pikachu tied with Elekid before later losing to the fully-evolved Electivire at the Sinnoh League. While it was an intense rivalry, the two Pokémon seemed to gain respect for one another along the way, even as they maintained their competitive relationship.
3 Multiple Raichu
As the evolved form of Pikachu, Raichu naturally holds a sizable advantage over the popular mascot of Pokémon in strength and stature. This has been brought to attention on numerous occasions throughout the anime, establishing quite the rivalry between the two species.
Ash’s Pikachu lost in the first bout against both Lt. Surge’s and later Sho’s Raichu, but in both cases, won the rematch. Pikachu relishes playing the role of the underdog but has sometimes needed his flaws to be pointed out before he can become stronger. Pikachu’s rivalry with Raichu helped him come to terms with himself, realizing that he didn’t need to evolve to become the best version of Pikachu.
2 Team Rocket’s Meowth
The Team Rocket trio was a permanent fixture of the Ash and Pikachu era of the Pokémon anime, with them only being absent from a handful of episodes. The trio was not only made up of Jessie and James but also a talking Meowth. Team Rocket became obsessed with capturing Ash’s Pikachu, as they saw it as their main goal in life.
Naturally, Meowth established a fierce rivalry with Pikachu because, after all, he was still a Pokémon himself. Meowth would occasionally get his own hands dirty with iconic moves like Fury Swipes, but it rarely went well. Meowth did find himself sympathizing with Pokémon dealing with tough times but ultimately stayed resolute in pursuing and trying to overcome Pikachu.
1 Jessie’s Mimikyu
However, there was one other Team Rocket Pokémon that hated Pikachu beyond simply just following its Trainer’s orders. Mimikyu actually resembles Pikachu as it fashioned a disguise based on the popular Pokémon in a bid to make friends and appear approachable. However, its attempts ultimately led to loneliness and pure resentment instead.
Jessie managed to catch a Mimikyu, and while it never ensured their capture of Pikachu, it did pose a real threat to Ash and his best friend. Mimikyu’s dark hatred for Pikachu led to it disobeying Jessie, even if it was displaying grit and ruthless aggression that Team Rocket was otherwise missing.
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