Over the past 22 years, Pokémon games have changed immeasurably. We've experienced new regions, been introduced to hundreds of new Pokémon, and battled different nefarious evil teams. HMs have been abandoned in favor of Ride Pokémon, and the classic eight-Gym challenge has been replaced by the Island Challenge. New Types have been created, new moves have been added to the roster, and in general, the series has become better and better.
However, there's one thing that's remained constant throughout all of these changes to the mainline Pokémon games, and that's the existence of the Elite Four. These trainers—four of them, if you haven't guessed—are some of the toughest in each region. They, along with the Champion, represent the "final challenge" for any aspiring Pokémon master. Their Pokémon are consequently pretty tough, and the fact that you can't visit a Pokémon Center in between battles makes the Pokémon League experience even trickier. Still, regardless of whether you managed to beat the Elite Four in one attempt or ten, the feeling of accomplishment when you finally enter the Hall of Fame makes the struggle worth it.
With so many different Elite Fours now existing in the Pokémon series, it's perhaps inevitable that contradictions and confusions have arisen about their jobs, their Pokémon, and even their battling style. There are a lot of things about these elite trainers that don't quite add up, as legions of observant Pokémon fans have noted. Here are just some of the things about the Elite Fours of the Pokémon universe that fail to make sense.
25 Work/Life Balance
One of the greatest mysteries about the Elite Four in every single Pokémon is what exactly they do when they're not battling. Do they just sit in the Pokémon League building all-day every-day, waiting for a challenger to arrive? Do they have any kind of life outside of their Elite Four duties? If not, that sounds like a pretty poor work-life balance—and a very dull way to live. Do these trainers not have friends and family to spend time with? So many questions!
24 The Mono-Type Teams
Real talk: the fact that each Elite Four member in every game uses an almost exclusively mono-typed team makes literally no sense. All their challenger needs is one or two Pokémon that have a type advantage against the Elite Four trainer in question, and they're sorted. Surely it would be more of a challenge if the Elite Four all used a mix of Pokémon types? Sure, each trainer in the Kanto League uses one Pokémon that doesn't fit their theme, but that only adds a tiny bit of diversity! We want more!
23 The Anime Version
While we know that a lot of things about the Pokémon universe differ between the video games and the anime, there's one fact that really sticks out.
The Pokémon League works completely differently in the anime!
There's a reason why Ash Ketchum has never defeated an Elite Four and a Champion, and it's not just because of his frequently questionable battle choices. In the anime, only one trainer gets to challenge the League each year! Unfortunately for Ash, he's never managed to win that coveted opportunity.
22 The Original Alolan League
Now, if there's any Pokémon League that can be forgiven for being a little bit confusing, it's the Alolan League. When the player in Pokémon Sun and Moon challenges the League, it's a brand new institution! It's therefore understandable that there might still be some issues to iron out with this first incarnation of the Elite Four. However, that doesn't mean that we're just going to ignore its confusing aspects. For example, now that Hala is an Elite Four member, who's the Kahuna of Melemele Island? Can Hala do both jobs at once? You'd think not... But who knows?
21 The Sixth Pokémon?
Here's another fact about each Elite Four's battle style that doesn't really make sense: why don't they use the maximum number of six Pokémon? Whenever you challenge any Pokémon League for the first time, each Elite Four member sends out either four or five Pokémon in total.
Surely it would make more sense for them to use the maximum six?
It would make things a bit more of a struggle for their challengers! It almost feels like each Elite Four trainer doesn't like battling to their full potential, which makes literally no sense at all.
20 Ignorance Is Bliss
At some point in the storyline of each main-line Pokémon game, the player's character has to thwart the plans of an evil organization that's somehow trying to take over the world. From Team Rocket all the way through to Team Skull, each group has a plan to make the lives of both humans and Pokémon pretty miserable.
Each time, it's left to a literal child to defeat a bunch of actual criminals.
Why don't the Elite Four members take more of a role in protecting their region? It's very rare that these super-strong trainers choose to help the player out!
19 Diamond And Pearl's Levelling
It's no secret that in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, the Elite Four are quite simply over-leveled. You can't help but wonder what the programmers of the game were thinking when they decided to make each trainer use Pokémon with levels in the late 50s to late 60s! It's a huge jump from the eighth Gym, in which Volkner uses Pokémon in the late 40s. There's basically no way you can justify having an almost 20-level jump in such a short amount of time! Luckily, Game Freak realized this: they brought the Sinnoh Elite Four's levels down in Pokémon Platinum.
18 Getting The Job
Question: how do Elite Four members actually get their job? It's never explained! Is there an application process, or are suitable trainers simply scouted by Pokémon League officials? Do they have to go through rigorous battle training beforehand, or is it simply assumed that these strong trainers can cope with the challenge of battling super-strong challengers on a regular basis? Is it a position for life, or do you have to prove every now and again that you're still up to the task? We just have a lot of questions here.
17 Johto's Missing League
Have you ever wondered why every single region featured in the mainline Pokémon games has its own Elite Four, except for Johto? Yeah, so have we, and the answer is pretty unclear. Johto is just as big as any of the other regions in the Pokémon universe—surely it has enough top-quality trainers to form its own League? It just doesn't seem fair that it has to share with Kanto when everywhere else gets its very own Elite Four! Justice for Johto!
16 What Happened To Agatha?
Speaking of Johto and Kanto's shared Pokémon League, does anyone know what happened to Agatha in between Pokémon Red and Blue and Pokémon Gold and Silver? In the latter pair of games, the line-up of the Elite Four changes a lot.
Lance leaves to become the League's Champion.
It's hinted in FireRed and LeafGreen that Lorelei leaves to spend more time at home on the Sevii Islands. However, Agatha seemingly disappears without a trace! Is she okay? We need to know!
15 Grimsley's Questionable Morals
The Unova region's Grimsley has to be one of the most interesting Elite Four members in the entire Pokémon franchise. His design is based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, which gives him a delightfully gothic vibe. Despite being just a teenager, he's won a place in the Elite Four with his Dark-type Pokémon. It's also hinted that he has something of a gambling problem. All interesting facts... But also slightly worrying. Is a hard-gambling pseudo-vampire really someone to put on a pedestal in the Pokémon League? Perhaps not...
14 Malva's Not-So-Secret Allegiance
Speaking of Elite Four members with slightly questionable backgrounds... Who let Malva onto the Kalos Pokémon League lineup? Yes, she's a tough trainer with a team of awesome Fire-type Pokémon.
However, she's also blatantly a member of the evil Team Flare!
You know, the same Team Flare that basically wanted to commit genocide in the game's main storyline! Shouldn't she be in prison or something? You have to wonder whether whoever runs the Kalos League simply didn't know about Malva's background, or was "convinced" to employ her anyway...
13 Lance's Illegal Pokémon
While you'd expect representatives of the Pokémon League to be totally above-board, rule-abiding trainers, a surprising number of Elite Four members from various regions have a tendency to play somewhat unfairly. Just one of these rogue members is Lance, the dragon master who actually became the Champion in Gold and Silver! In Red and Blue, one of Lance's Dragonites knows the move Barrier, despite the fact that this Pokémon couldn't legally learn it at the time! Awkward! We'd have thought better of you, Lance...
12 Substitute Gym Leaders
In the world of the Pokémon anime, it's possible for Elite Four members to fill in for Gym Leaders if the latter can't fulfill their battling duties. For example, in the Kanto series, Agatha takes over Viridian Gym when Giovanni abandons his duties. While it's unclear whether this setup is canon in the video games, it still raises a lot of questions. For example, if an Elite Four member does take over a Gym, who takes over the Elite Four position? Are there stand-in Pokémon League members too? Nobody knows!
11 The Dark Manga Storyline
In the Pokémon Adventures manga series, the Kanto Elite Four take on a much darker role in the story than in the anime or video games.
They actually serve as the main antagonists of the Yellow chapter!
Led by Agatha—who actually uses mind control over Bruno—these four powerful trainers try to take over the Pokémon world and rid it of all human beings. Luckily, one of the story's protagonists, Blue, manages to defeat Agatha with help from Fuschia City's Gym Leader, Koga. Still, it's a pretty intense fight!
10 Koga's Promotion
Speaking of Koga, this Pokémon Gold and Silver Elite Four member holds a pretty special place in Pokémon canon. Thus far, he's the only trainer who's been promoted from the rank of Gym Leader to that of Elite Four member! He held the former position in Red and Blue but had passed the role onto his daughter, Janine, by Gold and Silver. Question is, what did Koga have to do to secure this job change? Why did he get it, and not one of his fellow Kanto Gym Leaders? Nobody knows...
9 Grimsley The Cheat?
Grimsley is another Elite Four member who fights his battles using less than honest means. To be fair, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by this considering what we know about his background! Still, it's not great to learn that you've been fighting against a Bisharp that technically shouldn't exist.
Pawniard doesn't evolve into Bisharp until level 52.
However, the first time you battle Grimsley, he somehow has a Bisharp that's level 50. Some kind of cheating has definitely gone on there! Not cool!
8 Sidney's Shifty Shiftry
Another Elite Four member, another Pokémon that knows a move that it most definitely shouldn't. Sidney is a Dark-type Pokémon League trainer who appears in Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. One of his Pokémon is a level 48 Shiftry, which happens to know the Psychic-type move Extrasensory. However, Shiftry can only know Extrasensory from level 49 onwards—and even then, it has to learn it while it's still a Nuzleaf. What is it with these Elite Four members and their rule-breaking? Does nobody think to check that they're playing fair?
7 The Missing Types
Over the course of seven generations of Pokémon games, we've been introduced to eight different Elite Four incarnations featuring a total of 28 different trainers. You'd think that by now, the game would have covered all of its bases with regards to the typing preference of each of these trainers. However, there are still a few Pokémon types that have yet to be adopted by an Elite Four trainer. Grass, Electric, Fairy, and Normal have been neglected thus far. We'll have to see what Generation Eight brings!
6 Agatha And Bertha's Connection
It's time for a cross-region Elite Four conspiracy theory! Many Pokémon fans believe that there must be some kind of link between Kanto's Ghost-type trainer Agatha and Sinnoh's Ground-type trainer Bertha. The resemblance between the two is so uncanny that it's actually referenced in Pokémon Black and White 2!
But what is their connection?
Are they sisters 0r mother and daughter? Are they just two trainers who happen to look alike? Can Bertha tell us anything about what happened to Agatha? It's a mystery...
5 Drake The Dragon-Loving Sailor?
Possibly the most memorable of the Hoenn Elite Four trainers is Drake. This formidable Pokémon master is quite blatantly a sailor: his outfit kinda gives it away a bit! It was revealed in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire that he's friends with Mr. Briney and that the two men were once shipmates. Considering Drake clearly has links to the sea, you'd think he was a Water-type Pokémon trainer, right? Well, Pokémon clearly doesn't follow this logic. Drake is a Dragon-type trainer instead. Go figure!
4 Defending Your Title
Pokémon Sun and Moon brought a pretty cool new feature to the post-game portion of its features. You can now actually defend your title as Champion! Previously, if you challenged the Elite Four after becoming Champion, you'd have to fight the old Champion again—Steven in Ruby and Sapphire, for example, or Lance in Gold and Silver. However, from Sun and Moon onwards, as the reigning Champion, you battle a challenger! Still, you have to defeat the Elite Four again before you can defend your title, which seems a bit strange. Why do you have to prove yourself again?
3 Bruno's Mysterious Exeggutor
In Pokémon Stadium 2, the Kanto Elite Four member Bruno is available as one of the many trainers you can battle. However, he has a new Pokémon on his team alongside his usual Fighting-types: an Exeggutor! This Pokémon's moves are a bit strange. It knows both Explosion and AncientPower, which isn't actually possible! Exeggutor could only learn Explosion via TM in Generation One, and could only get AncientPower as an Egg move in Generation Two. Therefore, at the time Pokémon Stadium 2 was released, it was literally impossible for it to know both moves!
2 Glacia's Rematch Dialogue
Unless you've challenged the Hoenn Elite Four more than once in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, you might not have realized how creepy Glacia—the Ice-type trainer—can be. After you've defeated her for the second time, she'll tell you that you're beginning to "thaw her heart". Ummm... Does she mean she's catching feelings for the main character, who at this point is a literal child? That's not okay, Glacia! We hope that this comment was intended to be a lot more innocent than it sounds...
1 Phoebe's Resident Ghost
While this fact about the Hoenn Elite Four's Phoebe might sound like a bad Creepypasta, we promise you that it's true. When you go into Phoebe's Pokémon League room in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, you'll notice that there's a chair on the right-hand side. Just before your battle begins, for a split second a ghost girl appears to be sitting in the chair. From another angle, it looks like the ghost is standing right next to the player. Since Phoebe is a Ghost-type trainer, it's perhaps understandable that she has links to the paranormal...