Have you recently played Pokémon GO while singing the Pokémon theme song? Then you may be familiar with Ash Ketchum, the 10-year-old hero of the Pokémon anime series. Although Pokémon was originally a Japanese series called Pocket Monsters, the series has received worldwide fame as anime, manga, and video game series. Ash is the trainer Pokémon fans have related to for years. He's instantly recognizable frforom his red hat, wild black hair, and positive attitude. He first started his journey from Pallet Town in 1996 and his adventures have continued ever since. Ash's quest to be the Pokémon Master has lasted decades.
Ash and his best friend Pikachu have traveled with a variety of companions. Though they normally become friend, his companions aren't always his cheerleaders. Misty always held a grudge against Ash for stealing her bike, but after traveling together for five series, they became close friends. Ash's friends empower him in battles and help him along the way. Ash's journey to become the Pokémon Master is not only about battles but also about growing up.
Though many have grown up watching Ash every morning, you may not know everything about him. Ash works to train his Pokémon, but he also keeps evolving. This list contains some massive spoilers about the Pokémon anime series. If you're willing to risk it to know more about this iconic protagonist, keep reading.
15 Ash Ketchum Isn't His Original Name
Ash Ketchum is a familiar name to fans, but it's not his original name. His original Japanese name is Satoshi. He has no last name in the Japanese version. His name was written in katakana, which is easier for children to read, but the translation of the kanji script is wisdom or reason. Ash's Japanese name is based on the series creator, Satoshi Tajiri. Satoshi's rival, whom we know as Gary Oak, but is originally Shigeru, was even named after an influential person to Tajiri, Shigeru Miyamoto.
When the English version was developed, Satoshi went through a name change to make him more memorable to English-speakers. The letters of his English name, Ash, uses letters from his Japanese name, Satoshi. His last name, Ketchum, is a pun based off of the series motto "Gotta Catch 'Em All."
14 First Two Badges Were Not Earned
In the first Kanto series, Ash was determined to win every Pokémon battle and become the best. In some cases, Ash was given the badge without challenging the gym. When Ash first confronts Brock at the Pewter City Gym, his Onyx quickly takes out Ash's Pokémon. During the rematch, Ash uses the gym's sprinkler system to drench Onyx, and use Pikachu's Thunderbolt attack to electrocute him. Ash leaves the battle before knocking out Onyx and Brock hands him the Boulder Badge, though the battle was not officially over.
In Cerulean City, Ash is ready to battle for his next badge. The gym leaders Violet, Lily, and Daisy, were more interested in being performers and offered to hand him the badge. Misty, their sister, and another Cerulean City gym leader challenged Ash instead. Before they could battle, Team Rocket broke in. Ash helped the four sisters defeat the team. As thanks, Daisy gave the Cascade Badge to Ash.
13 Sun And Moon Marks His School Day Debut
Since his debut in the late 1990s, we've seen 10-year-old Ash go off on adventures through the world. In Sun and Moon, Ash starts a new adventure where "being the very best" isn't his primary goal. For a child, he has the survival knowledge most adults don't even. However, for the first time in Sun and Moon, which debuted in May 2017, Ash is headed to school.
During a vacation in the Aloha region with his mother (his father, of course, is still missing), Ash and Pikachu discover a Pokémon school. He watches some of the students perform more powerful movies with a device called the Z-Ring. Impressed by the professors and students, Ash asks his mother if he can enroll to learn more about the Pokémon in the Aloha Region. Unlike most mothers, Mrs. Ketchum has never forced Ash to attend school. She grants him permission to join.
12 Only One Companion Caught His Heart
Pokémon is mostly known for being a children's show and Ash has yet to become a teenager. He's made several new friends in the past 20 years, but few join him on his adventure. Misty first joined him in Kanto and the two traveled together for five seasons of the show.
Pokémon XYZ deepened character interaction more than the previous series, though Ash is laser focused on becoming the best Pokémon trainer. When his childhood friend Serena joins his traveling companions, her romantic interest in the young trainer is obvious. Their bond has been closer than most other companions Ash has had in the past. At the end of the season, Serena gives an Ash a kiss goodbye, which was confirmed in an interview with storyboard director Tetsuo Yajima.
11 Willpower Helped Destroy A Black Hole
Ash's beliefs and willpower have saved him from harm several times. Whether it's enduring attacks from Pokémon to save his friends or himself, Ash has lived through hard moments in the series. Ash first meets Azelf in the Sinnoh region, when he was worried about his upcoming battle in the Wallace Cup. A Psychic Type Pokémon, Azelf notices him. It was attracted to his strong willpower and how he cared for his Pokémon. Azelf finally contacts him through his dreams.
Azelf was captured by Team Galactic, as their leader, Cyrus, attempted to create a new world. Thanks to Dialga, that world was destroyed, but it also created a black hole. Azelf, Mesprit, and Uxie attempted to stop the black hole. However, it is only due to Ash's strong willpower and bond with Azelf that they can seal the portal.
10 Appeared In Over 900 Episodes
The Pokémon series has spawned many world records. There are records for highest amounts of merchandise, game speed runs, and longest battles. Fans have enjoyed both the video game series and anime for decades.
Ash Ketchum first made his debut in 1997. Since then, he's appeared in over 900 episodes of the animated series. This high number doesn't even include all the movies and spin-off manga series. Guinness World Records recorded the Pokémon anime as the longest running video game spin-off on TV to date. Pokémon continues to be popular and high-grossing for Nintendo. Each series usually concludes with Ash returning home to Pallet Town to visit his mother. Hopefully, Ash will never lose his optimism and motivation to become the best Pokémon trainer in the world.
9 Would Have Been The Youngest Frontier Brain Member
The Frontier Brains are high-ranking trainers. They have facilities in each region, even though they are not formally gym leaders. Instead of giving out gym badges, they give symbols of a trainer's strength. Ash meets them during the Ruby and Sapphire series. Always up for a battle, Ash defeats each of the Frontier Brain members.
In the episode "Pace - The Final Frontier!", Ash defeats Pyramid King Brandon. He was awarded the Brave Symbol, which gave him the final honor as a Master of the Battle Frontier. He also earned a place in the Brain Frontier's Hall of Fame. Impressed by his performance, he was offered a position as a Frontier Brain. Ash turned down the offer, opting for a life of adventure instead. His goal was to become the best Pokémon trainer and not be restricted to a single area, but he would've been their youngest member ever had he accepted.
8 Achieved The Bond Phenomenon
Ash develops a close bond with his Pokémon. He does not just see them as fighting tools, but as friends. He's willing to sacrifice everything, even his life, to save his friends. Professor Sycamore stated the Bond Phenomenon has only occurred once hundreds of years ago. It occurs once the bond between trainer and Pokémon reaches its highest potential.
Ash first rescues a Froakie in the first episode of XY. In "A Festival of Decisions!," It makes its evolution into Greninja to protect Pikachu. Then, the Greninja can evolve into Ash-Greninja for the first time. While in this form, both Ash and Greninja can feel pain and see from each other's perspective. At first, the form was unstable because Ash was unable to completely trust Greninja. After becoming closer with his Pokémon, they were able to master the form.
7 Women Have Always Performed His English And Japanese Voice
Ash has had only a small handful of actresses provide his scratchy preteen voice in the Pokémon anime series. Although the Pokémon anime and video game have been translated in several different languages around the world, his performers have always been women in Japan and America. Rica Matsumoto has provided the Japanese voice for Ash since 1997. She is also a founding member of JAM Project. Matsumoto has also sung the theme songs for several of the Pokémon seasons and movies.
In the English adaptation, Kayzie Rogers voiced Ash for one special episode, while Veronica Taylor gave Ash his voice for the first eight seasons of the show. She lost the role after 4Kids Entertainment lost the license of the show to The Pokémon Company International. From season nine onwards, Sarah Natochenny has led the role as Ash and Mrs. Ketchum's voice actress.
6 Pikachu Was Chosen As His Starter Because Of Its "Rare" Status
Even though Ash is a well-known icon, his partner, Pikachu is even more famous. Pikachu not only plays a huge role in the anime, but is also the mascot of the Pokémon video game series. In the anime, Ash did not wilingly choose Pikachu. He overslept and had to accept the last Pokémon that Professor Oak had, which was Pikachu.
In an interview, Junichi Masuda, Producer of Pokémon Sun and Moon, explained why Pikachu was chosen. In the first Pokémon game, Pikachu was considered a rare catch. It was the first rare Pokémon available in the game and would hide in Viridian Forest. Pikachu was also a character that boys and girls could both like, according to Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri. It was a marketing decision to pair Pikachu with Ash and the two have remained partners for the past twenty years.
5 Ash Has Only Caught Around 50 Pokémon
In a series known for the catchphrase "Gotta Catch 'Em All," Ash has not caught many Pokémon. According to the official Pokémon website, the current total number of Pokémon is 720. In the 80 or so Pokémon that Ash has added to his Pokédex since Sun and Moon, many of them were given to him, joined him willingly, traded, or hatched from eggs. To Ash's credit, he has worked hard and some of his Pokémon as well.
Ash caught the most Pokémon during his early adventures in Kanto and Orange Islands. As the series progressed over the years, the writers have focused more on evolving Ash than having him focus on catching them all. Most of the Pokémon he captured were new Pokémon added to the series through the release of new games. These Pokémon were meant to promote the games more than increasing Ash's strength in battle.
4 Victim Of The Floating Timeline
In 1997, Ash started his Pokémon journey as an optimistic 10-year-old from Pallet Town. Twenty years later, he's still a 10-year-old in a floating timeline. Though a season take places over a year and he almost turns 11, he is reset to age ten at the start of a new season.
Fans have several theories on why Ash has not aged. Some are morbid, stating he's been in a coma and never mentally aged. Another theory takes us back to the first season. Ash first sees the legendary Pokémon, Ho-Oh, in the Kanto Region. Ho-Oh's Pokédex entry states that its feathers grant eternal happiness. Ash's eternal happiness may be as a child in that moment.
A fan sent a questionto the official Pokémon website, asking about why Ash doesn't age. The official response is that Ash Ketchum is ageless, like many other legends in popular culture.
3 He's Only Been In One Pokémon Game
Ash Ketchum is the well-known protagonist of the Pokémon anime and manga series. Though Pokémon is also a popular video game series, he has only been in one installment. Fans believed that Red from the Generation I Pokémon games is Ash, but he is only loosely based off of him. The only game Ash has officially appeared in is Pokémon Puzzle League for the Nintendo 64.
In Pokémon Puzzle League, players battle by clearing colorful blocks from the battlefield. These blocks would then send attacks to the opponent. You can choose from different trainers who also are in the anime series, including Ash. Unfortunately, trainers do not affect gameplay at all. Ash only appears as a few full motion videos on the screen, but they are direct scenes from the anime.
2 Died Three Times
Ash is tough for a human child, but he has his limits. He has died three times during the series. In the episode "Tower of Terror," Haunter drops a chandelier on Ash, turning him into a ghostly playmate. Ash returns to his body soon after.
His most memorable death is during Pokémon: The First Movie. During a tense battle, Ash makes the ultimate sacrifice and is turned to stone. The Pokémon are incredibly saddened by the loss of their dear friend, especially Pikachu. The combined tears of the Pokémon end up bringing him back to life. Ash's next movie death is in Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, where the trainer is engulfed in the antibodies of the Tree of Beginning. He sets his Pokémon free and manages to tell them goodbye before dying. Mew eventually brought him and the other victims back to life.
1 He's Never Won A Pokémon League Championship
Ash's goal is to be the very best Pokémon trainer, but he's never actually won a competition. In the first Kanto series, Ash was handed most of his badges, making him too inexperienced to fight the hardened challengers and win. When he takes on the Hoenn League, Ash manages to make it into the top eight, but loses to a hat-wearing Meowth.
In the last series, Pokémon XYZ, Ash faced off against his friend Alain in the Kalos League Championship. Unfortunately, Ash was defeated. He continues to make it within the top 10, but always loses in the end. Though he takes his losses with a smile, fans are confused and upset that Ash has yet to reach his goal. Perhaps that's why in the next season, Sun and Moon, Ash gets sent back to school for a different approach to Pokémon training.