Ranking All 25 Pokémon Anime Seasons From Worst To Best

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A large portion of the popularity of Pokémon comes not from the games themselves but from the beloved anime series. Beginning in 1997 in Japan and 1998 in the United States, the series has a whopping 25 seasons to date. 

It is rare for any series to reach that many seasons, let alone an anime one. With so many seasons under its belt, the Pokémon anime has a solid mix of hits and misses. The best series nail all aspects, from incorporations of the Pokémon to the animation quality to the writing and characters. 

On the other hand, the worst ones fail to meet the standard met by other seasons in at least one, if not more, of those categories.

When it comes to all 25 seasons ranging from the iconic original season to the Pokémon Journeys series, here’s every single one ranked from worst to best. 

25. Pokémon Black & White: Adventures in Unova/Unova and Beyond

Pokémon Black & White: Adventures in Unova/unova and beyond
Image Credit: Pokemon Official Channel.

The Pokémon Black & White anime series is a pain to watch. When it comes to the second-worst generation of the anime, it has to be Gen 5. At this point, the animation was outdated, lacking the improvements necessary to keep it in line with other anime at the time. 

To make matters worse, Adventures in Unova and Beyond, the final season of this arc, dropped the ball when it came to finishing the plot. Starting with the battle for the Champion of the Unova region, Ash has his worst attempt yet at claiming a trophy. 

Not to mention, characters like Iris and Cilan were showing their true colors as the worst partners to journey with Ash in the entire series. Prodding and poorly written, this final season of the Black & White arc is tough to trudge through and might not even be worth your time. 

24. Journeys: The Series

Pokemon Journeys: The Series
Image Credit: Pokemon Official Channel.

For Gen 8, instead of going to a traditional Sword & Shield anime series, The Pokémon Company opted for a globetrotting adventure with Ash and his new pals, Goh and Chloe. Almost like a soft reboot or compilation series about Ash and his new friends visiting many different regions. 

In some ways, Pokémon Journeys: The Series can be praised for its attempt to recapture the back-to-basic feel of just capturing Pokémon. But in other ways, it fails to do anything unique or fun beyond that. The individual Pokémon of the week-style episodes are lackluster and feel the most like a kid’s cartoon out of any season, not in a positive way. 

23. Master Journeys: The Series

Pokemon Master Journeys: The Series
Image Credit: OLM-Animation Studio

Immediately following on Journeys is Master Journeys: The Series, the second in the Gen 8 arc. As shown by its placement, Master Journeys only slightly improves upon the formula established in the 23rd season of the Pokémon anime. 

There are some brighter spots here and there, like the love for the Galar region and Chloe’s arc with Eevee, but it continues the mostly forgettable pattern of the previous season. 

22. The Johto Journeys

Pokemon the Johto journeys
Image Credit: Pokemon Official Channel.

The Johto Journeys was the first time Ash and pals, Brock and Misty, ventured to the Gen 2 region of Johto. An exciting time as the Gen 2 games were seen mainly at the time as better in every way than their predecessors. It’s a shame that The Johto Journeys started on the wrong foot. 

This is by far the most meandering season in all of the Pokémon anime, with 41 episodes just for Ash to get a few cities into the Johto region’s Goldenrod City, a place you can reach in just a few hours of playing the games.

To make matters worse, the storylines fluff out the plot with some of the worst filler in the series to date. Instead of 41 episodes, this could have been ten at the most and be a vastly better season. 

21. Master Quest

Pokémon Master Quest
Image Credit: Official Pokemon canal

Unlike the previous season on this list, the finale of the Johto arc, Master Quest, actually has a lot that happens in it. Ash and his pals encounter some legendaries, deal with Team Rocket, and even compete in the Pokémon League once again. 

The Johto arc ended on a flat note, much like it started. The battles are uninteresting, and the action felt mediocre, even compared to what came in the season before it. The only highlight that keeps it from being lower on this list is the Gary and Ash battle. But, like the conclusion in Black & White, Ash has one of his worst competitions here. 

20. Johto League Champions

Johto League Champions
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel

Johto League Champions generally suffers from the same problems as the previous two seasons of the Gen 2 arc. However, it has a bit more of an edge with some fun Gym battles and intriguing storylines that occur throughout, such as the long-awaited Whitney bout. 

Even still, Johto League Champions is the best of the worst in the primarily skippable Gen 2 arc that ranks ahead of Gen 5 in terms of the worst sections of the Pokémon anime. 

19. Adventures in the Orange Islands

Adventures in the Orange Islands
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

The second season of the Pokémon anime had a tough act to follow, coming off one of the greatest seasons of the entire anime. It was inevitable that it would fail, but it wasn’t awful. The first season on this list that is enjoyable at times, Adventures in the Orange Islands, is a unique period of anime history. 

Unlike other seasons that focused so much on crossing over with whatever the latest games were doing, the second season was, by and large, entirely filler content. Set in the Orange Islands, the Pokémon anime had some one-of-a-kind moments here, like introducing regional forms, losing a party member, gaining one, and even seeing Ash win a League Championship for the first time. 

18. Black & White: Rival Destinies

Black & White: Rival Destinies
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel

The second season of the Black & White arc, Rival Destinies, isn’t awful and shows some promise, even if it doesn’t execute it as well as it could. Like the second season of the anime series, Rival Destinies see Ash and co. encounter some exciting adventures, like competing in not one but two tournaments and the return of Dawn from the excellent Diamond & Pearl series. 

Outside of those shining moments, Rival Destinies doesn’t do much to keep the viewer interested with some less-than-stellar filler content quite often throughout the 49 episodes. 

17. Advanced Challenge

Advanced Challenge
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

The entirety of the Gen 3 anime for Pokémon follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, the Johto series, in its unexciting but occasionally decent formula. Advanced Challenge was the second part of four in the Gen 3 era, showing the worst of the Hoenn region. 

With the fun of establishing Ash’s new party members in the previous season already done and only a few Gym battles to look forward to, Advanced Challenge doesn’t deliver on much other than the same old stereotypical content. Everything is so by the book that it was already starting to get old by this point in the seventh season. 

16. Pokémon Advanced

Pokémon Advanced
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

The first season of the Hoenn arc, Pokémon Advanced, at least benefits from introducing a brand new region and some new characters. While siblings Max and May aren’t the best, they at least add some unique interactions with Ash as they journey together. 

However, what mainly helps Pokémon Advanced is the long-awaited return of Brock and the new Pokémon in the Hoenn region. Finally, having some villains outside of Team Rocket also helps to shake up some of the staleness from the first two generations. 

15. Advanced Battle

Advanced Battle
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

Advanced Battle is the classic “conclusion” (but not really, as you’ll see in the next entry) to a region. Ash heads to the Pokémon Conference to battle it out for a chance to become the regional Champion and loses again to only place in the top eight. 

However, what shakes up the formula this time is that there are now Pokémon Contests and fans get to see May get the spotlight in her competition to become the best coordinator. Though unsuccessful, this new tournament style and the epic conflict between Groudon and Kyogre help to be on the better side of the Gen 3 anime. 

14. Battle Frontier

Battle Frontier
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

Instead of letting the Hoenn region conclude with the Pokémon League as always, Gen 3 shook things up with the Battle Frontier arc. Taking after the legendary postgame content of Pokémon Emerald, this saw Ash take on a new challenge against the Frontier Brains. 

There are some skippable parts, like the whole Pokémon Ranger filler, but seeing May competing and improving in Contests. Ash dominating the Battle Frontier makes this an improvement over past seasonal conclusions. 

13. Sun & Moon – Ultra Adventures

Sun & Moon - Ultra Adventures
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

Many lamented its chosen art style from the onset of the Sun & Moon anime adaptation. The more childish look of Sun & Moon turned out quite expressive and fun, capturing the feel of the Pokémon series in the process. 

In its second season, Ultra Adventures, the craziness became wilder as Ash and the group turned away from the usual school lesson of the week episodes to dealing with more significant threats like Cosmog, the Aether Foundation, and even the Ultra Beasts. While it lacked some of the excitement of the first Sun & Moon season, the broader adventure helped take the season in a still strong direction. 

12. Sun & Moon – Ultra Legends

Sun & Moon - Ultra Legends
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

The final season of the Gen 7 arc, Ultra Legends, saw Ash and his classmates fending off the rest of the Ultra Beasts in some truly intense and even dark moments. But the real star of this season was the conclusion in which Ash took on the Pokémon League challenge once more. 

This time around, Ash was successful for the first time (in a game region, excluding the Orange Islands), becoming the first Champion in the Alola region. It was a monumental occasion that celebrated Ash’s journey up until that point and felt like a great stopping point for his story, if necessary. 

11. Ultimate Journeys: The Series

Ultimate Journeys: The Series
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

Ultimate Journeys: The Series came out of nowhere and packed such a punch with a much stronger and more improved season than what came before it in the Gen 8 anime. The concluding season of this arc saw Ash face his most significant test yet: fighting against other Champs. 

As a Champion himself now from the Alola region, he faced off against the likes of Cynthia and Leon for the right to see who would be the literal best trainer there ever was. The action was some of the hottest the series has ever seen, but the storylines outside of these fights watered down some of the experience. 

10. Black & White

Black & White Series
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

The starting season of Gen 5’s Black & White anime series wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was pretty good. While not nearly on the level of the Gen 4 anime before, it still showed that Ash could get a soft reboot of sorts and have the Pokémon anime feel fresh. 

Ash’s new allies and Pokémon had exciting storylines to introduce them, while the real star this season was Team Rocket in their best iteration ever. Jessie, James, and Meowth each had moments that elevated their storylines, with Meowth’s temporary joining of Team Ash being one of the strongest arcs in the Pokémon anime’s history. 

9. Sun & Moon

Sun & Moon
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

The original Sun & Moon anime had the daunting task of following up on the Gen 6 anime, yet it nailed its risky take somehow. The Pokémon Company took a gamble on making a childish version of Ash, who was now attending school for the first time. 

The classes and field trips added a level of energy and comedy that the series failed to capitalize on in the past. Better yet were the storylines of characters like Litten that included the saddest and most surprising story arcs of the entire Pokémon anime (especially with the art style), dealing with tough subjects like death, abandonment, and more.

8. DP Galactic Battles

DP Galactic Battles
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

In terms of the top seasons of the Pokémon anime, few stand out more than the Gen 4 adaptation. Even in its weakest season, Galactic Battles was a set of episodes that stood above the vast majority of Pokémon’s 1000-plus episodes. It is the prime example of the Ash and friends formula done right. 

The third of four seasons in Diamond & Pearl saw Ash, Dawn, and Brock in the valley part of their Sinnoh journey. They kept their heads down, grinding Gym badges, Contest ribbons, and capturing new Pokémon like Gible, but few exciting moments outside of these. In many ways, Galactic Battles was the calm in between the storms. 

7. DP Battle Dimension

DP Battle Dimension
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

Battle Dimension continued the journeys of Ash, Dawn, and Brock, who were now quite comfortable with one another. They gained new allies on their teams and continued dealing with Team Rocket as Ash and Dawn continued their Gym challenge and Pokémon Contests, respectively.

What made Battle Dimension stand out were moments regarding Dawn, the best female companion of Ash up until that point. She cemented her status as one of the best Pokémon anime characters in Battle Dimension. Her complex personality and painful losses helped her to grow on a path that was even more emotional and sympathetic than Ash at times. 

6. XY

XY Series
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

When it comes to the best overall arc of the Pokémon series, there is no doubt that it is the Gen 6 anime. That said, it has a slightly rougher start than its succeeding seasons, with a slow upward climb to get where it ends up going. 

Ash meets with three new companions in the Kalos region, including Clemont, his little sister Bonnie, and Serena. XY follows the formula of past seasons here, with Ash catching new Pokémon and earning some Gym badges. 

The hints at something more under the surface with Serena and the long-awaited introduction of Mega Evolutions and the Fairy type make it stand out among the opening seasons. XY is a valuable season for what it sets up for the series’ future. 

5. Diamond and Pearl

Diamond and Pearl
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

The opening season of Diamond and Pearl is one of the best introductions to a new region for Ash. Putting more focus on characters like Dawn, it feels like, for the first time, there is a character who stands toe-to-toe with Ash as the lead hero in the series. 

The execution here is fantastic on all fronts, from animation to new Pokémon reveals to new characters and more, showing that The Pokémon Company was genuinely learning from its grind in past seasons. Even if it didn’t differentiate from the formula, it showed how far the animators had come. 

4. Sinnoh League Victors

Sinnoh League Victors
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

Sinnoh League Victors saw the conclusion of the Gen 4 arc and is one of the strongest Pokémon Leagues. The rivalry between Ash and Paul came to a head with arguably his most competitive opponent in the entire series. 

The action here is some of the finest in the series, coupled with the flashy animation used in the Pokémon Contests that Dawn participated in. This duo nature of the Gen 4 anime mirrored what Advanced did before it, but while learning from the mistakes made there. 

3. Indigo League

Indigo League
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

This is where it all started for the Pokémon series, and very little has defeated it in terms of quality. The Indigo League and Ash’s initial journey with Brock and Misty is one of the most beloved adventures in all of anime history for a reason. 

Despite being filler most of the time, each episode doesn’t feel like it with the heartfelt and emotional writing behind everything. From Ash discovering the abandoned Charmander to letting go of Butterfree to one of the best episodes of all time with Ash and his Pokémon stuck in a blizzard, countless iconic moments are the reason why Pokémon is in the conversation for one of the best anime of all time

2. XY Kalos Quest

XY Kalos Quest
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

The second of the Kalos region is where XY picked up steam considerably and showed how different it would end up being compared to past shows. The dynamic between Ash and Serena became a central focus of the series, engrossing the viewer each time they interacted with one another. 

Serena showed that she is the best love interest for Ash ever, having her own character arc across this middle section of the Gen 6 anime. She impressed fans with her growth and complicated but understandable personality. 

All the while, XY continued its trademark nature of having the best animation quality in the entire series to date. In addition, Ash continued his battles against Gym leaders with some of the strongest action ever seen in the series, outside of the final entry on this list. 

1. XYZ

XYZ pokemon
Image Credit: Official Pokemon channel.

Gen 6 concluded with a bang in not just the best overall season of the Pokémon anime but one of the greatest seasons in animation history. Everything in this season was at an all-time high, from the Pokémon’s Mega Evolutions to the conflict with Team Flare to even the Pokémon League tournament itself. 

The best that the series offers is found here on all fronts. The action is the most bombastic and impactful, with the single best in the entire series of Ash versus Alain in the finals, plus all of the other battles leading up to it. 

There is also the strongest version of Ash’s character to date, with genuine emotions shown on a level we haven’t seen before and Serena continuing her run as the best character in the entire series. Their episode together in the snow is the best episode of the whole series, a poignant, emotional, and rare sequence of actually powerful writing for the kid’s anime. 

From the start to its viral meme-worthy finish, XYZ has almost no filler and is a non-stop thrill ride of the best that the Pokémon anime series offers.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Author: Cody Perez

Bio:

Copywriter, experienced editor, website creator, PR associate, consultant

  • Expertise: Gaming, Pokémon, movies, TV shows, PR, and creative writing
  • Education: BS in Business Economics (specializing in Business Management), minor in Japanese from Tokyo International University
  • Helped lead or create websites, such as GameRevolution, VGR, RPGInformer, MangaInsider, FandomPost, POKUniverse, and more.
  • Helped launch various indie video games, tech startups, and consulted for YouTube Shorts
  • Writer in the entertainment industry since starting in high school in 2011

Experience: Cody Perez started his career as a journalist and creative writer in the tech and gaming spaces in 2011 while in the middle of high school. Since then, he has produced thousands of high-quality, researched articles for some of the largest entertainment websites in the world, including IGN, Destructoid, Siliconera, Digital Trends, DotEsports, and many more. He also was the lead editor at GameRevolution, growing the site to reach its consistent, historical peak of 8 million MUV the entire time he worked there. Cody also helped launch various successful sites, such as VGR (2 million MUV in a year), POKUniverse, and RPGInformer.

Cody brings together his passion for tech and gaming to his work life, so he can enjoy his hobbies nearly 24/7. He has now taken his expertise and experience with subjects like gaming and Pokémon to Wealth of Geeks, where he is often found creating new lists and reviews, or editing older content to bring it up to the company standard.