Top 25 Pokémon Anime Episodes Featuring Ash Ketchum

Pokémon - I Choose You!

The Pokémon anime has run for quite a long time since its debut in 1997. With the conclusion of Ash Ketchum's arc as the protagonist across 25 seasons, it is only fitting that it is time to look back at his journey to becoming the World Champion of the Pokémon world.

As such, below, you'll find the top 25 best Pokémon anime episodes that star Ash Ketchum. These are the best episodes featuring the eternal hero and the top episodes you'll see in the first 25 seasons of the anime. If there are any episodes to rewatch or watch for the first time, these are the ones to check out.

1. The Finals IV: Partner

Pokemon Ash Ketchum The Finals IV Partner
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

The single best Pokémon anime episode you'll ever find is one of the most recent. After the Ultimate Journeys season, Ash faces off against Leon for the championship title.

Not only does Ash win the World Championship, but he does so on the back of his best friend, Pikachu, and with the help of every single Pokémon he's caught before.

2. Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

The best episode in the massive anime franchise has a lot to thank because of the second-greatest episode, “Seeing the Forest for the Trees.” Set during the final season of the Pokémon XYZ arc, this episode sees Ash at his lowest point in the franchise.

Stumbling into the beautiful wintery forest, Ash and Serena have the series' most substantial and mature character development. This is Ash's breaking point and the culmination of Serena's arc that sets the former on his long path to the World Championship.

3. Go West Young Meowth

Go West Young Meowth
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Meowth finally received the overdue backstory episode in the anime's second season. Telling how he fell in love with a female Meowth is a heartbreaking example of the anime's writing at its finest.

Who would have thought there'd be such a tragic story behind why Meowth can talk?

4. Bye Bye Butterfree

Bye Bye Butterfree
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Another example of the early anime at its most heart-wrenching, “Bye Bye Butterfree,” is the first time Ash releases a Pokémon. After seeing Butterfree so happy with his romantic partner, Ash has no choice but to learn the harsh truth about letting go and moving on.

5. Till We Compete Again!

Till We Compete Again!
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

The end of Ash's journey in the Kalos region and its masterful storytelling ends with an emotional finale that has it all. There is one more battle between Ash and Clemont as friendly rivals. Finally, Bonnie gets some necessary development, which ends with the internet-breaking kiss Serena gives Ash.

This episode showed how to end Ash's journey in a region in the best way possible.

6. One Journey Ends, Another Begins…

One Journey Ends, Another Begin
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Alola is known for plenty of surprising episodes, but none more so than the early episode of “One Journey Ends, Another Begins…” Continuing the story of the homeless Litten and its Stoutland parent figure, it culminates in the most heartbreaking twists in the anime's history that shouldn't dare be spoiled here.

7. Snow Way Out

Snow Way Out
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Early in the Pokémon anime, Ash had a few development moments on the first leg of his journey. One of the few exceptions was “Snow Way Out,” which focused entirely on Ash and his Pokémon stuck in a blizzard. It tugs on the heartstrings, contains some intense survival moments, and deepens Ash's bond with his companions in an unforgettable episode.

8. Down to the Fiery Finish

Down to the Fiery Finish
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

“Down to the Fiery Finish” is the only episode in the series to rival the masterful action in the finale of the Pokémon World Championship. Here, Ash faces off against Alain for the chance to win a League Championship. Ash-Greninja versus Mega Charizard goes down as one of the best fights in the series, with some of the strongest animations.

9. A Showcase Debut!

A Showcase Debut!
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Serena is one of the best Pokémon characters in the series, and it shows once more in A Showcase Debut! Early in her Coordinator career, she learned the hard way that victory is easier said than done. In the process, fans see some of the best character development in the series as Serena reinvents herself in one of the most shocking scenes in the franchise.

10. Pokémon – I Choose You!

Pokémon - I Choose You!
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

It all started here with the first episode of the Pokémon anime. Fans meet Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town as he is late to his first day exploring the world on a journey to becoming a Pokémon Master.

Meeting Pikachu, fighting with one another, and the intense conclusion against the flock of Spearow makes for one of the finest anime premiere episodes, especially for something so old.

11. Meowth's Scrafty Tactics

Meowth's Scrafty Tactics
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Meowth returns once more to this list with a phenomenal episode. This time, it is one of the few bright spots of the otherwise horrible Gen 5 season, focusing on Meowth getting kicked out of Team Rocket. The start of his short team-up with Ash and the gang is a surprising and welcome change of pace, showing that foes can be friends, too.

12. Kalos, Where Dreams and Adventures Begin!

Kalos, Where Dreams and Adven
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

The Pokémon X & Y anime started with a banger of a premiere with its first set of episodes. It quickly set up the new female companion, Serena, unlike anyone else in Ash's life. The mix of backstory and present-day shenanigans was an intelligent start for what would become the best season of the anime.

13. The Misty Mermaid

The Misty Mermaid
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

The best episode to ever focus on Misty, Ash's first female companion, has to be in The Misty Mermaid. She was forced into a performance she didn't initially want to do; this gave the series a chance to step back and focus on a non-battle action. The stage performance's effects were gorgeous and held so well even after the fact.

14. Electric Shock Showdown

Electric Shock Showdown
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Ash and Pikachu faced off against their greatest challenge yet in only their third Gym battle against Lt. Surge. The showdown between Pikachu versus his evolved form, Raichu, was a hard-fought loss. This was the first (but not last) time that Ash and Pikachu's relationship would be put to its strain, showing that the anime could get serious when necessary.

15. Battling a Thaw in Relations

Battling a Thaw in Relations
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

The battle between Ash and Paul in this episode is among the best in the series. Not only is Paul perhaps the best rival for Ash, but this is the protagonist's chance to show Paul how far his former Infernape has grown. With terrific action and an emotional focus on the battle, it stands out among the already quality Gen 4 episodes.

16. The Professors' New Adventure

The Professors' New Adventure
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

“The Professors' New Adventure” was a culmination of everything that had happened until then in the Alola region. Everyone gathered together not for a massive final battle or anything like that, but to celebrate 1000 episodes of the anime with a beautiful and quiet wedding between Professors Kukui and Burnet.

17. The Moment of Lumiose Truth!

The Moment of Lumiose Truth
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

It is always a treat when Ash faces off against his companions, and his battle with Clemont to earn the Lumiose City Gym Badge is no exception. Not only does this battle include some of the finest animations, but it gives their friendship a rare chance to shine. Not to mention, this is one of Clemont's few shining moments in the series.

18. Strategy With a Smile

Strategy With a Smile
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

“Strategy With a Smile” had the daunting task of pitting two of Ash's female characters against one another in a Pokémon Contest battle unlike any other. Dawn had the chance to make a comeback after a losing streak against fellow Coordinator May, and she won in a stellar and cheery contest.

19. Memories in the Mist!

Memories in the Mist!
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

This Alolan episode was quieter, involving Lillie and her brother trying to find out if their father was alive. In the process, they enter a mysterious mist where they meet with their dead loved ones. It includes powerful scenes that shed light on underrated characters like Mallow.

20. Enter the Champion!

Enter the Champion!
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

For so long, Ash was the punchline of every joke about trying to become a Champion and failing miserably if you exclude the Orange Islands arc. However, it all changed near the end of the Alola arc as Ash fiercely fought against his rival, Gladeon, to secure his first-ever championship trophy.

21. Training Daze

Training Daze
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Origin stories are some of the better parts of the anime, and the backstory of Team Rocket is no different. In this story, fans begin to understand the deep bond between Jessie, James, and Meowth and how they came to be the villainous trio they are.

22. Scare at the Litwick Mansion

Scare at the Litwick Mansion
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

For the most part, the anime series is meant for kids. But there are times when the franchise has taken darker turns, such as in the “Scare at the Litwick Mansion” episode. This horror-themed episode sees Ash, his friends, and even Team Rocket band together to survive the terrifying scares of this haunted mansion.

23. Rescuing the Unwilling!

Rescuing the Unwilling!
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

In this late Alola episode, Ash and the gang attempt to stop the villainous Lusamine. The already too-far-gone Aether Foundation leader takes a twisted and shocking turn as a fusion with the Ultra Beast, Nihilego. The action is top-tier, but the heart of this episode is the relationship between Lillie and her mom.

24. Charmander: The Stray Pokémon

Charmander The Stray Pokém
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Ash's Charmander debuted in a tearjerker of an episode where it was abandoned by its previous owner and left in the rain. On the verge of dying, something nonexistent at this point in the series, Ash bonded with the Charmander by saving its life. This was the beginning of one of Ash's most popular friendships.

25. Pikachu's Goodbye

Pikachu's Goodbye
Image Credit: The Pokémon Company International

One of the toughest but more frustrating episodes centering on Ash and Pikachu happens in “Pikachu's Goodbye.” This early series episode pretended to feel like the conclusion of the Ash and Pikachu storyline, as it looked like the latter would join a group of free Pikachu.

But this was, of course, an elaborate troll in the end. While it lacks some of the impacts after knowing the end result, something must be said about this crucial emotional step in Ash and Pikachu's friendship.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.