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Top 10 Ash Ketchum Accomplishments in Pokémon

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Ash's Kalos appearance

Ash's Kalos appearance

Ash Ketchum in Pokémon

Anime protagonist Ash Ketchum is often mocked for his shortcomings compared to the Pokémon video game heroes, losing several battles and never (despite his last name) coming close to catching them all.

But the show wouldn't be terribly exciting if Ash won all the time, and he's succeeded more than many fans give him credit for—what are his most notable accomplishments? These are Ash Ketchum's ten most impressive feats!

Spoilers ahead.

Ash's Pokémon at Oak's lab

Ash's Pokémon at Oak's lab

10. Encounters Nearly Every Pokémon

Ash never nabs all of a region's Pokémon, but honestly, why should he? Most would just wait around back home while he trains his main six; it makes more sense to focus on a few.

Plus, in terms of encountering Pokémon, Ash has come into contact with almost every creature in the world, including most legendaries. Even back in the original anime, Professor Oak confirmed that while Gary had captured more Pokémon than Ash, Ash's Pokédex contained more Pokémon sightings than Gary's.

Ash and Pikachu training

Ash and Pikachu training

9. Mentally and Physically Strong

Sure, Ash can be dense, but on numerous occasions, his displays commendable athleticism and willpower. He often undergoes the same physical exercises he tasks his Pokémon with, resists the telekinetic control of Sabrina's father, and is repeatedly shown as a skilled climber.

Although some of his initial Badges were admittedly obtained by flukes, Ash also has a sense of honor, preferring to battle for the Cerulean Badge instead of obtaining it for free.

Ash's Charizard vs Gary's Blastoise

Ash's Charizard vs Gary's Blastoise

8. Beat Gary in Their Full Battle

By "full battle", I mean Ash and Gary's 6v6 match in the Johto Silver League, where Ash and Gary duked it out with their entire teams. It was a close bout, but Ash triumphed, humbly accepting his win.

True, Gary has beaten Ash in smaller matches, like their brief Pikachu vs Eevee battle, but in their one and only full match, Ash wins. Plus, while the two never faced each other in the Indigo League, Ash made it to the top 16 (and his loss against Richie was pretty wonky) while Gary only advanced to the top 32, meaning Ash has always outperformed Gary in the big leagues.

7. Wins Various Side Competitions

From racing to mini-tournaments, Ash tackles several smaller competitions throughout his travels, often coming out on top despite inexperience. For example, he's won challenges ranging from the P1 Grand Prix to the Big P Pokémon Race to the Marine Cup Tournament.

He also places remarkably well in Pokémon Contests for someone who vastly prefers battling, even winning the Terracotta Ribbon alongside May.

Sceptile vs Darkrai

Sceptile vs Darkrai

6. Defeated Darkrai in the Sinnoh League

By the time of the Diamond and Pearl Sinnoh League, fans were eager for Ash to finally win a League, and he was holding his own, defeating rival Paul and advancing to the top four—where he lost to Tobias.

However, Ash did something no one else in the entire tournament did—he actually managed to take down Tobias's Darkrai using his Sceptile (after weakening it with other Pokémon). Ash quickly loses to Tobias's Latios, but his efforts made him the only contender to even remotely pressure Tobias, and it's hard to blame him for a loss against a seemingly all-legendary team.

Ash-Greninja vs Mega Charizard X

Ash-Greninja vs Mega Charizard X

5. Semi-Finalist in Kalos League

Though he didn't win, Ash advanced farther in the X and Y Kalos League than ever before, making it right up to the finals alongside Alain. Alain's an incredible Trainer who rivals the Elite Four members, and the two dueled in titanic contest, with Ash notably taking the lead near the end.

Ash narrowly loses, but he performed well, especially considering he was up against a Mega Pokémon. True, Ash's Greninja had unlocked its Ash-Greninja form (in itself a testament to Ash's abilities), but while definitely a power-up, it's not a true Mega evolution, making the close battle all the more impressive.

Pikachu vs Regice

Pikachu vs Regice

4. Battle Frontier Champion

Admittedly, Ash loses to some of the Frontier Brains, but he ultimately defeats every one of them, especially commendable considering some of them wielded legendaries (like Brandon's Regice).

More than that, Ash's skill impressed Frontier-owner Scott enough to invite Ash to become a Frontier Brain himself, quite an honor at such a young age. Ash declines to continue his travels, but it's still one of his biggest achievements.

Ash punches Mewtwo

Ash punches Mewtwo

3. Repeatedly Saves the World

In most Pokémon movies, Ash encounters a new legendary and stops someone from exploiting their powers, often saving the world in the process. He ended Mewtwo's grudge against humanity, saved the world alongside Lugia as the Chosen One, unlocked his aura with Lucario, and much more.

Plus, he repeatedly foils Team Rocket. While Jesse and James aren't that bad on their own, they still work for a criminal organization run by the ruthless Giovanni. The video games best chronicle their most deplorable acts, like maiming Slowpokes for profit and killing Cubone's Marowak mother—Ash keep their power in check and has a near-perfect win record against them.

Dragonite vs Charizard

Dragonite vs Charizard

2. Orange Islands Champion

The Orange Islands never received an official video game counterpart, serving as an anime-exclusive mini-region where Ash had to defeat four Gym Leaders in both battle and other challenges (similar to the later Alola region) before facing the Champion Drake.

Drake and Ash engage in a spectacular 6v6 match, with Ash obtaining a remarkable lead until Drake's mighty Dragonite arrives. It took the combined efforts of Charizard, Squirtle, Tauros, and Pikachu, but Ash ultimately toppled the dragon and entered the League's hall of fame.

Ash's Alolan team

Ash's Alolan team

1. Alolan League Champion

Yep, it's finally happened—Ash wins the Alolan League, narrowly defeating Gladion. And while having the mythical Melmetal certainly helped Ash, Gladion similarly uses legendary Silvally, evening the playing field for a hard-earned win that marks Ash's first victory in a full-blown region-wide tournament.

More of Ash's Triumphs

From obtaining dozens of Badges to both defeating and befriending legendaries, Ash has a surprisingly competent résumé. He also manages to inspire several people he just met to travel with him, and on rare occasion is revealed to be a decent artist.

Only time will tell what's next for Ash Ketchum and how long he'll maintain the protagonist mantle, but no matter his future, it's nice to see him finally become a Pokémon Master.

© 2019 Jeremy Gill

Comments

Samuel on July 23, 2020:

I would love to see an Asherena child be the new protagonist, but more Ash is fine.

Jason Reid Capp from Tokyo, Japan on September 19, 2019:

Great article! It was fun to go down memory lane and recall all of these things Ash/Satoshi has accomplished, including the very recent Alolan League Champion.

I'm torn about what I would like to see next. More Ash is always welcome, but I would love to see a new protagonist for the next generation as well.