In 1996, Nintendo published Game Freak's Pokémon Red and Blue. The (gaming) world took a liking to it. Played in a third-person view and centering around adorable monsters battling to preserve the honor of their masters, Pokémon was the definitive franchise on the original Game Boy. While the handheld console had its fair share of JRPGs, Final Fantasy Legend II and Sword of Hope 2 serving as two particularly noteworthy examples, Game Freak's series felt unique. Bolstered by a rather persuasive marketing campaign and a hook guaranteed to seize a player's attention, Pokémon blossomed into an extensive brand unhindered by industry limitations or age groups.
Within 15 months, Game Freak's lucrative property spun-off into an anime series, one that continues to produce new episodes until this very day! Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon arguably deserve the majority of the credit, but Pokémon's cartoon definitely helped familiarize Western audiences with anime. Along with mostly sticking to a monster of the week formula, Pokémon benefitted from a preexisting acquaintanceship with its target audience.
While the JRPG franchise's reluctance to rock the boat has attracted some criticism from players and professional critics, the anime perfected the art of stagnation! More than two decades later, Ash is still a young boy armed with a Pikachu that, for whatever reason, constantly resets to level one at the beginning of a new season.
Pushing past any grievances held against the cartoon, Pokémon played an important part in the childhoods of many children, with certain characters ranking among anime's most recognizable faces. What if Kanto adhered to the natural flow of time? Here are 25 Pokémon trainers reimagined as adults!
24 Ash & Serena (Later)
Let's pretend the impossible were to happen and Ash actually evolves into a man.
Who would be the most suitable match for the (retired) Pokémon Master? Eliminating any yet to be introduced characters as viable options, Dawn and Serena probably rank the highest in the Ash-compatibility scale. Misty is iconic, but she tends to treat Ash like a baby, despite them sharing the same age. Obsessed with Pokémon and equally stubborn, Dawn's personality mirrors the protagonist, which can help or hinder a relationship. Serena is just the sweet girl in the series.
Art by NoVaNoah.
23 Team Rocket In The Flesh
Wait, Team Rocket counts! Pokémon's troublesome trio are primarily associated with the anime adaptation, but Jessie and James make an appearance in Pokémon Yellow. In the latter, Team Rocket's human members are supposed to be around the same age as the playable character; hence, they technically qualify as children!
Opting for a slightly more realistic style than the anime, Isaiah Stephens' interpretation of Team Rocket coincides with an impromptu detour through uncanny valley. Just to avoid a misunderstanding, the drawing is nothing short of fantastic. Live-action anime tend to be unpredictable, and this is no different.
Art by IsaiahStephens.
22 Misty & Ash's Family
Regardless of the season or region, Ash never fails to meet a lady willing to partner the trainer on his journey. Even if most are quite talented, they typically prioritize another field of study or seldom take part in battles, ensuring Ash remains the center of attention. Rather than summoning all the girls at the same time, Pokémon spreads them around over a number of years. Permitting the protagonist is not completely oblivious - a common affliction in this genre - the first girl he meets tends to be the one.
Art by Sunney90.
21 May In The Flesh
How does one replace Misty? Along with Brock and Ash, the Cerulean Gym's leader was one of the anime's main characters during the opening 276 episodes, which translates to roughly five years worth of content! During that time, viewers matured from children into teenagers, and most were about ready to move on.
May marked a new era in Pokémon, and we are not just talking about the new region! Her arrival caused the plot to effectively reset back to square one. Ash lost most of his team and seemed to forget any character development that occurred over the preceding seasons. May signified a new beginning.
Art by AimedZ.
20 Misty, The First
Everyone remembers (and cherishes) their first. In 1997, Ash crashed into Misty's bike, who in turn crashed into the hearts of countless children from all corners of the world. Depending on when someone started watching Pokémon, their preferred characters are likely to correlate heavily with the cast of the first season they happened to watch. Misty set the standard for many people, with each one of her replacements facing the arduous task of justifying their place in Pokémon's universe.
Misty's design is also so much more memorable than any of Ash's subsequent travel companions! Admittedly, this opinion may be biased.
Art by Sunney90.
19 Penguin Dawn
Adorable. When it comes to Penguins, mother nature brought its A-game and created one of the cutest creatures to ever grace the planet.
Pokémon improved on nature. Evolution diminishes some of Piplup's squishiness, but Prinplup makes up for this downgrade in cuteness with sheer majesty and grace. Dawn's Pokémon is literally wearing a crown! How is that not perfect? Permitting we have access to Pokémon Diamond or any one of the several games featuring a Prinplup, penguins can stay in the South hemisphere. Pokémon is better.
Art by Endless-Rainfall.
18 Ash & Serena
Brock's persistent proposals to Nurse Joy notwithstanding, romance and Pokémon seldom mesh in any meaningful way. Anime's oldest 10-year-old protagonist is too young to view his companions as anything more than friends, and that is perfectly fine.
Permitting the anime continues to turn a profit, OLM - the studio handling Pokémon - is under no obligation to risk upsetting the status quo. 1000+ episodes worth of content suggests the series is doing something right. Why mess with what works? A sequel centering around an adult Ash sounds fantastic, but we do not recommend holding your breath.
Art by Ashujou.
17 Ageless Brock
Brock is only 15 years old. Yes, everyone's favorite hilarious Gym Leader cannot legally drive a car. Admittedly, sharing a screen with Ash Ketchum would cause most people to seem comparatively older, but Brock takes this a couple of steps further.
Following May's departure, Dawn joined the team during the Battle Frontier season and endured as the main female character until the end of the Diamond & Pearl series. The Pokémon Coordinator is 10. She is presumably slightly older in Devashri's awesome fanart. Ash also seems to have hit a growth spurt, while Brock waits for them to catch up.
Art by devashri.
16 Stylish Serena
Misty might have been the original for most viewers, but she was not Ash's first. While the anime waited until 2013 to introduce the character, Serena met Ash before the series had even aired a single episode. When these two were little more than toddlers with aspirations of traveling the world, Serena and Ash attended the same Pokémon Summer Camp.
Following a less than enjoyable encounter with a Poliwag, Serena was saved by a Ketchum-shaped hero, with the latter using his handkerchief to wrap the girl's injured knee. Almost a decade later, Serena tracked down her savior and returned the handkerchief.
Art by KurumiErika.
15 Pokémon Black & White
Pokémon Black and White brought an end to the core series of games' conventional run of titles. That's not to say the subsequent releases greatly altered the formula, but Pokémon X and Y tried to slightly push the property in a new direction, although Pokémon Sun and Moon was the one that truly took a couple of risks.
While most entries are inspired by the anime, Piyostoria decided to highlight Pokémon Black and White's main characters and prime antagonist. Playable characters are principally surrogates for the user; consequently, Hilda and Hilbert have about as much personality as a pair of dishrags. That takes nothing away from the drawing's coolness.
Art by piyostoria.
14 Pokémon Heads West
Finally, Pokémon has taken the comic book industry by storm! Isaiah Stephens' Deviant Art portfolio is worth checking out for anyone interested in seeing westernized versions of popular characters.
Even though Misty boasts a slightly more mature design during the later seasons, the girl is still the same age as Ash. Compared to some other anime, Pokémon's cast is generally drawn to fit their ages. Western cartoons tend to opt for a more realistic depiction of children, at least in terms of their designs. Stephens' Misty and Brock spend their free time traveling across the country to solve crimes.
Art by IsaiahStephens.
13 Ash Vs. Dawn
Ash's traveling companions are free to follow their dreams, permitting it does not clash with the protagonist's goal to master the Pokémon world. Hailing from a family of coordinators, Dawn wants to follow in her mother's footsteps. Compared to some of the anime's other companions, Dawn plays a more active role in the story. She continues to pursue her dream until the end, rather than just transforming into a glorified Team Ash cheerleader.
Coordinators train their Pokémon to compete in tournaments that place equal importance on style and results. Winning is important, but winning while looking good is the point!
Art by KawaiiHarukaChan.
12 Ash, The Heartthrob
Pokémon's reluctance to allow Ash to grow up can understandably be mentioned as a flaw against the anime, but the series deserves props for resisting the urge to depict the protagonist as a super fashionable hero.
Ketchum is not super smart, funny, or even cool. Pokémon's protagonist embodies blandness to an almost remarkable degree. Ash is sort of intelligent. He is kind of witty. He is definitely brave, we will give the kid that much. The games' playable characters are traditionally devoid of any distinguishing personality traits. For the most part, Ash is their anime equivalent.
Art by toegetic.
11 Serena Grows Up
With the exception of possibly Misty, Serena is arguably Pokémon's stand-out female travel companion. The anime allocates each partner with enough time to mature in their chosen areas, with the characters typically ending with a complete team. Serena is an exception. Whether picking her starter Pokémon or competing at a showcase, Serena perpetually struggles to earn the respect of her team. Eevee causes the trainer so much trouble!
TropicalSnowflake's stylish aesthetic suits Serena. The girl primarily trains her Pokémon to perform in events that reward creative routines. In other words, Serena raises Pokémon to take part in this universe's equivalent of dog shows.
Art by TropicalSnowflake.
10 Go Valor Go
At the time of its release, Pokémon Go! deserved to be described as a cultural phenomenon. Ultimately, the honeymoon period ended and the application naturally faded into the background; nonetheless, Pokémon Go! remains a popular and commercially lucrative game.
In 2016, Pokémon Go! rolled out an update allowing users to pledge allegiance to one of three teams and their respective leaders. Drenched in red and backed by a Moltres, Candela represents Team Valor. Even if the moment was fleeting, Pokémon Go! convinced adults to relive their childhoods and catch a thousand Pidgey. Pokémon Go! is the franchise's victory lap.
Art by Adyon.
9 A Walk On The Beach
Dear reader, prepare thyself for a controversial opinion: Ash should never date any of his former travel companions. With perhaps the exception of Serena, nearly all the relationships are characterized by an inherently familial dynamic. Putting aside a couple of scenes bordering on fanservice, Misty and Ash interact like siblings rather than a potential couple.
Now, in all fairness, there is no rule forbidding childhood friends from taking the next step. After all, Ash and Misty's banter is quite typical for a couple of 10-year-old children. Romance is rarely brought up by the anime, and such a pairing has not been properly established.
Art by Cascadena.
8 Pokémon Forever
Krisantyne's gorgeous painting does not feature any official trainers, but injecting fanmade characters into existing properties is a popular subgenre among artists. As a child, who among us did not dream of abandoning school to partake in an epic journey filled with excitement? Even as adults, such an adventure would be too enticing to resist!
Unofficial characters represent an adult or teenager's yearning to preserve those carefree summer days spent playing Pokémon Yellow. Admittedly, we might be overreading things, but people do not stop dreaming simply because they grow older. In fact, a touch of whimsy might help lessen some of life's weight.
Art by Krisantyne.
7 Ash & Dawn
What is anime? Netflix presents all its animated Japanese films and series as one comprehensive genre, but that is not an especially accurate descriptor. The slice of life comedy Azumanga Daioh and the psychological thriller Monster can be lazily categorized as anime, but the shows share absolutely nothing in common.
Perhaps, anime is best referred to as its own separate medium. Taking into account the fact literally dozens of new shows air each quarter, the industry produces enough content to warrant its own bracket. If Pokémon was a romantic comedy, Ash and Dawn's designs might have been closer to Sa-Dui's creation.
Art by Sa-Dui.
6 Melancholy May
The original's post description contains no information implying this to be the case, but May seems somewhat jaded in this entry. Regardless of whether the author intended for this point to come across, such an interpretation remains valid. Art is a partnership rather than a one-way street. An artist attempts to convey their principles, ideas, and emotions as lines scrawled on a white canvas; however, the audience sees what it wants to see.
Art is subjective, but not only in regards to whether a product is judged to be good or bad. If this was not the case, a piece of music or a movie would evoke the exact same emotions in everyone.
Art by BklynSharkExpert.
5 Serena Cosplays As...
Cosplay is cool. Fanart is fun. What not combine the two for maximum awesomeness? This type of thinking leads to Serena cosplaying as Solana.
Rangers are primarily associated with a run of Nintendo DS spin-offs designed to highlight the console's stylus feature, but the class' anime debut predates 2006's Pokémon Ranger game. As one of the original entry's playable characters, Solana secured a number of promotional anime appearances prior to the game's release. Due to the sequel centering around different characters, Solana eventually disappeared from the anime. Pokémon might have forgotten the Ranger, but Serena remembers!
Art by DaDonYordel.
4 Pokémon Go(d Of War)
5G promises to push virtual reality to the next level. Pokémon Go! is an ambitious but messy piece of software, one that launched with barely any features but a ton of potential. In an ideal world, Pokémon Go! is closer to WLOP's drawing than the real deal.
Hypothetically, who would genuinely love to start a career as a Pokémon trainer? Most people, reassured by the knowledge that such a scenario cannot be anything more than a flight of fantasy, would presumably say yes. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, it is possible to become a trainer; who would be willing to risk their lives to go on an adventure?
Art by wlop.
3 Final Fantasy Pokémon
Want to know the worst element about fanart? Occasionally, a picture falls in your lap that sparks an unexpected yearning to experience the real deal. Stumbled across a crossover photo featuring Lara Croft and Nathan Drake? Suddenly, Tomb Raider: Uncharted Territory has been implanted into your brain, creating an itch that not even Super Smash Bros. can scratch.
If it were not for this entry, Final Fantasy: Pokémon would never have crossed our minds. Now, nothing else matters! Is Nintendo still sore over Square publishing Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation? Well, get over it! If need be, attend couple's therapy. Please, this itch must be scratched!
2 Ash Prepares For Battle
It is amazing what a change in art style can accomplish! Is Ash really older in Kawacy's tribute? Maybe, maybe not; however, the trainer comes across as far more mature and determined. Now, in all fairness, Mr. Ketchum's desire to become a Pokémon Master cannot be contested, but the dude seems satisfied to stretch his adventure until the end of time.
Kawacy's Ash is an entirely different beast! Here is a trainer who is fully aware of his goals and refuses to let anyone or anything stand in the way. Pokémon: Detective Pikachu looks pretty good, but Pokémon: Serious Ash sounds even better.
Art by kawacy.
Pokémon's spin-off games have a small chance of seeing one of their characters appear in the anime, but this privilege does not extend to the main string of JRPGs. The best Pokémon Black 2 and White 2's Rosa can hope for is a brief cameo in an animated trailer. Ash refuses to share the spotlight with anyone else.
Mysterious Trumpet's unique style is readily apparent in the artist's rendition of Rosa. Along with being both expressive and dynamic, this version of Rosa seems reminiscent of humorous comics in the vein of Archie. A delightful change of pace.
Art by mysterioustrumpet.