After over twenty years, countless gym battles, and multiple Pokémon leagues here’s why Ash Ketchum is the worst trainer in Pokémon.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. “Ash Ketchum just won the Alola league! He can’t be the worst trainer!” Winning a league doesn’t make a great trainer, just a victorious one. Ash Ketchum has proven time and time again that he is the worst trainer in Pokémon despite his victories and accomplishments.
Ash has traveled all the known regions (and no doubt will continue to travel the new regions as they are released) but continues to struggle with one of the most basic battle strategies: type advantages. We often see Ash make poor battle choices by using non-effective moves or choosing Pokémon that are weak against his opponents. These are mistakes that any trainer should have learned by now (or at least after 22 seasons).
Ash has poor Pokémon diversity. How many Pokémon a trainer has doesn’t necessarily make a good or a bad trainer, but it can hinder their ability to counter foes. Ash’s core team for each region rarely changes even if he does have Pokémon on reserve. During the Black and White seasons we see a very different side of Ash where he trades his Pokémon out frequently to have the best team combination possible for each battle. Unfortunately this was a one time trend.
To go along with Ash Ketchum’s Pokémon diversity flaw, he also has poor type diversity. Ash has caught countless Pokémon of the same types, and heavily neglects most of the types. In fact, he’s never even caught any psychic, ghost, or fairy types.
Fairy is slightly understandable as it was only introduced in X and Y, but psychic and ghost have been around since the beginning. We did see him try to use a ghost type in Kanto, but he never caught the Pokémon and hasn’t used any since. His poor diversity in types means his teams are lacking essential counters for certain opponents.
Ash hasn’t earned all of his badges. In recent seasons this trend has improved, but it doesn’t change the fact that Ash was given several badges as a reward for his efforts instead of as proof of defeating the gym leader. Sure, gym leaders have their own discretion and can give out badges as they see fit.
These exceptions should be limited because otherwise the trainers will not be truly prepared for the Pokémon league. Ash Ketchum has been an exception to the rule on multiple occasions, bringing into question whether or not he truly earned his position in more than one Pokemon league.
Ash lacks basic Pokémon raising skills. After traveling so many regions one would expect Ash to know that he should always have an antidote and potion on hand. Does that happen though? Nope! Instead, Ash relies heavily on better prepared companions constantly when his Pokémon are in a pinch. In fact, Ash demonstrates few Pokémon care skills because of how heavily he relies on his companions. Hopefully Ash never gets into serious trouble without his companions around, because who knows what would happen to his Pokémon.
Each time Ash Ketchum journeys to a new region he always “clean slates” and only takes Pikachu with him. Nothing is wrong with that strategy; he wants to see what the region has to offer. Still, Ash should be quite knowledgeable, and his Pikachu should be insanely powerful considering how many times Ash and his Pikachu have battled together. Instead, we see him struggle to defeat beginner trainers and starting gym leaders. Someone with his experience should realistically have a leg up in a new region, but instead it’s like Ash is reset to level one each time.
Ash Ketchum is a staple to the Pokémon series, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good trainer. In fact, he’s pretty terrible. Dare say, the worst trainer in the series. Ash perseveres by brute force, determination, and a refusal to give up instead of talent, skill, and knowledge.
While Ash Ketchum will continue to grace our screens for many years to come, he still has a long way to go before he’s a true Pokémon master.