Pokémon is by far one of the most well-known video game franchises of all time. The series has been going strong for over 20 years now, and shows no sign of slowing down. The characters and stories of all the games are enjoyable, and it keeps selling. The main storyline follows a young boy or girl who obtains a Pokémon from a Pokémon professor that differs for each region, before going on an adventure with the ultimate goal of becoming the Pokémon League Champion. Generally, the player must also prevent some sort of organization from world-ending plans along the way. All of the Pokémon games have followed the same general formula, excepting for Sun and Moon which would alter it slightly.
Each of the Pokémon games (save for the aforementioned Sun and Moon) would require the player to earn 8 gym badges before having to face the Elite Four and finally the champion. In each new installment of Pokémon, there would be 8 new gym leaders introduced for the player to battle. Some of them don't stand out very much, especially in terms of difficulty. However, there are gym leaders on both ends of the difficulty spectrum, significantly so. Some gym leaders are incredibly weak and easy to beat and sometimes forgetful. On the other hand, some of the gym leaders are annoyingly hard to beat, making what seem like easy Pokémon to beat incredibly hard, especially against normal type Pokémon.
This list will look at both sides of the difficulty curve, so let's get started.
25 Worst: Brock
The first gym leader in any region of Pokémon has the unfortunate fate of generally being the easiest, as they serve as an introduction to the series. Often, the type of Pokémon they use aren't inherently weak, but they're weak to the starter Pokémon that the player is given. Brock from the Kanto Region is a good example of this. He uses ground and rock type Pokémon, and with two of the three starter Pokémon being grass and water types, it's far from hard to defeat Brock with them. It only gets slightly more complex if you went with Charmander. Two weak Pokémon with tons of weaknesses make Brock easy to beat.
24 Worst: Bugsy
Bug type Pokémon are by far the worst type of Pokémon one can catch. They're incredibly weak, with bad attacks and bad stats. Not to mention they're rather easy to beat as they have a fair amount of weaknesses! A gym leader that only uses bug Pokémon is even weaker. Bugsy from Johto not only uses Bug types, but uses two of the worst ones in the game: Caterpie and Metapod. The only thing she has that's close to threatening would be Scyther... if it had any good moves. Its best attack is Fury Cutter, which is far from devastating. Flying Pokémon are very common early in the game, and she's only the second gym leader, so the odds of you having one is quite high. It only becomes easier if you went with a fire starter.
23 Best: Whitney
For the most part, normal-type gym leaders are quite scary and generally really powerful. This theme would begin in Johto with the third gym leader, Whitney. Whitney would use a Clefairy, which wasn't the issue. Whitney's main source of power would come from her Miltank and a move called Rollout. Rollout is a move that is continuously used and do more damage each turn. This causes Miltank to steamroll through your team. If you don't take care of Miltank before it gets going, it will one-hit KO nearly any Pokémon you'd have available when you go to face her. Whitney's Miltank is so good, it's one of the most well-known opponents in the Pokémon series due to how impossible it can seem.
22 Worst: Falkner
The early gym leaders have a running theme of being some of the weakest in the franchise, and Falkner from Johto is far from an exception. Falkner specializes in flying type Pokémon, which in Generation II there were far from many to choose from. The kicker is the Pokémon Falkner chooses to use. The only Pokémon he has are Pidgey and Pidgeotto, two of the weakest Pokémon in the whole series, especially that early on in the game. Not only are the Pokémon Falkner uses underwhelming, but so is Falkner himself. There's nothing really unique about him, and he has so much wasted potential. No one should ever have issues defeating Falkner and earning his badge, since he's quite possibly the easiest first gym in Pokémon.
21 Worst: Koga
Koga is an interesting character in Pokémon as he's been seen as both a regular gym leader in Kanto and a member of the Elite Four in Johto. Originally, Koga was more of a neutral gym leader; not great, not bad. However in Pokémon Yellow this would go in a bad direction. In Yellow, Koga would be given three Venonats and a Venomoth, all of which are incredibly weak Pokémon whose main use is providing status conditions. Their stats are abysmal, and being half bug type Pokémon don't do them any favors. Defeating Koga in Pokémon Yellow is a cakewalk, which is strange considering how late in the game you face him. Perhaps he should have stuck with his original team.
20 Best: Norman
Generation III's Ruby and Sapphire would have another normal-type gym leader in the way of Norman, the fifth gym leader in the game. He utilizes a Vigoroth and two Slakings. While Slaking's Truant ability leaves it only being able to attack every other turn, the damage they can deal is deadly. On top of that, Vigoroth is no slouch and can do some damage for the Slakings to take advantage of. Slaking has a very high attack stat with powerful movesets on both of the ones Norman uses. They also have misleadingly high speed, meaning odds are they are going to be able to attack you before you can attack them. Most of the time you have to rely on Truant to be able to attack safely.
19 Worst: Cheren
Cheren was originally the rival character in the original Pokémon Black and White games. However in Black 2 and White 2, he would become a normal-type gym leader. In Pokémon, the normal type gym leaders are generally surprisingly hard... with the exception of Cheren. It's rather odd, as he was a difficult foe as a rival, but as a gym leader is by far the weakest. His Pokémon of choice would be Patrat and Lillipup, two of the most common and weakest Pokémon of the Unova region. The only decent move they both know is Bite, which even then isn't scary coming from them. They're incredibly easy to take care of, and losing to Cheren (as a gym leader) is basically impossible. Cheren shows how the mighty have fallen.
18 Worst: Misty
Misty in the Kanto region would serve as the second gym leader you face in the region, and also one of the weakest. Her Pokémon are bland, and she only uses Staryu and Starmie which are both underwhelming and fairy easy to beat. The biggest challenge Misty gives is if your Pokémon are weak to water, but having any grass or lighting moves will make the fight a cakewalk. Starmie can provide some trouble with Bubble Beam to lower level Pokémon if you are wildly unprepared for the gym battle. However, as long as your Pokémon are equal or a higher level than Misty's, her gym battle should be one of the easiest in the game. You don't have to play too smart either, just be prepared level-wise.
17 Best: Lt. Surge
Lt. Surge would be the series' first electric-type gym leader in Kanto and the third gym leader you face. While the first two, Brock and Misty, are quite easy to take care of, Lt. Surge is the first gym leader in the game that provides a real challenge for the player. While his Voltorb is rather easy to take care of and knows no truly good moves, his Pikachu has a few good ones. With the ability to always paralyze your Pokémon, he can be a scary foe to face. Even after knocking out Lt. Surge's Pikachu, there is another foe to best, and that would be his Raichu. Lt. Surge's Raichu is essentially an amped up and more powerful version of the already problematic Pikachu.
16 Worst: Pryce
Pryce was the first ever ice-type Pokémon gym leader in Pokémon, and the seventh gym leader of Johto. Ice Pokémon are generally better, and the issue with Pryce is that he uses some of the weakest options available. He uses a Seal and a Dewgong, which are more commonly seen as water types, along with a Piloswine, one of the weakest Pokémon out there. All the Pokémon Pryce uses are incredibly weak, and have weaknesses to many different types of Pokémon. Since you face Pryce so late in the game, the odds of you having Pokémon that can make quick work of Pryce's team is incredibly high, making him one of the weakest gym leaders, and one of the easiest to defeat and claim a badge from.
15 Worst: Striaton Trio
The first gym that appears in Black and White would be a rather unique one, but regardless is still just as easy as the other first gyms. There are three different gym leaders, and the one you face depends on what starter Pokémon you ended up choosing. It plays similarly to a rival battle, as they will use a member of the monkey trio (Pansear, Panpour, and Pansage) as well as a Lillipup. The issue with this is that none of them are particularly good Pokémon, nor Pokémon that many trainers have trouble making quick work out of. None of the Pokémon they use have any super scary movies, the only dent they would make is if they attack a Pokémon the move is strong against.
14 Best: Sabrina
Sabrina provides perhaps the hardest gym battle of the Kanto region (in Red and Blue at least) and stands as the sixth gym leader of the region. Her team would be one of the best crafted ones in Kanto, the weakest link being Mr. Mine, who even then has potentially dangerous moves. The next weakest would be Venomoth, who while being a weak Pokémon has tons of good moves loaded into it. The scariest part would be Kadabra and Alakazam. Both of them are very good at attacking and disabling moves that the player can do and both have access to powerful Psychic attacks that can destroy a Pokémon with ease. All of Sabrina's Pokémon can do devastating amounts of damage, which means the rest can just as easily take advantage of it.
13 Worst: Clemont
Despite being the fifth gym leader in Kalos, Clemont is one of the weakest gym leaders you end up facing. X and Y had tons of different Pokémon in it, and tons of potential for an electric-type gym leader was there. Unfortunately for Clemont, he would not be given any threatening Pokémon to battle with at all. An Emolga, Magneton, and Heliolisk would be all Clemont has. While they have the potential to be scary opponents, they are given awful move sets, including Heliolisk having an incredibly weak grass type move. Clemont comes so far into the game that your Pokémon are more than powerful enough to take quick care of Clemont's Pokémon, which leads to him being one of the easiest ones to beat.
12 Worst: Olympia
The psychic type has tons of strong Pokémon, and some of the best stats in the game. With everything suggesting that a psychic-type gym leader should be one of the best, Olympia in Kalos should be one of the scariest. Sadly, this is far from the case. The seventh gym leader in X and Y uses relatively weak Pokémon, and the only scary move any of them have is Psychic. Using a Meowstic, Slowking, and Sigilyph, the stronger Pokémon Olympia uses have dual typing, which means that it is quite easy to have Pokémon that can quickly knock out Olympia's. Not to mention, they are all weak to dark type moves, and Bite is one of the most common moves in the game, making it that much easier.
11 Best: Clair
Clair would be the the eighth and final gym leader of Johto, who exclusively uses dragon-type Pokémon. This is specifically looking at the Clair from HeartGold and SoulSilver, as her team is different from the original Gold and Silver. Dragon type Pokémon are some of the best in the game, and are part of the reason that fairy type Pokémon would be introduced to the series to begin with. As a matter of fact, the only thing dragon type Pokémon are weak to are ice and dragon types. Not only does Clair make advantage of this, she uses some of the best dragon Pokémon available. She uses two different Dragonair, a Gyarados, and a Kingdra. They all have access to powerful dragon type moves that'll destroy you if you're not prepared.
10 Worst: Viola
If there's a theme with the weakest gym leaders in Pokémon, it's that most of them are the ones you fight earlier on in the game. Viola in Kalos would fall into this category, being the first gym leader in the region. Not only is she the first, she also uses the weakest type of Pokémon in the game: bug types. It doesn't help that Viola uses a Surskit and Vivillon, which are two Pokémon that are incredibly easy to defeat. Not only that, none of them have any moves that come close to being damaging, with only Vivillon knowing a bug type move... and it's far from threatening. Both of the Pokémon Viola use have horrendous stats that make her gym battle a cakewalk.
9 Worst: Roxie
Roxie from Black 2 and White 2 would be the second gym leader in Unova. And like many other gym leaders before her, she is cursed to be one of the weakest in the game since she appears so early. Roxie specializes in poison-type Pokémon; the issue with this lies in the poison Pokémon she chooses to use. Roxie has a Koffing that has only one real use, and that's poisoning the foe to set up for her next Pokémon. Roxie's other Pokémon would be a Whirlipede. Whirlipede has a move called Venoshock, which if the target is poisoned it will do tons of damage. The trade-off is that Whirlipede is a bug type as well, and has lackluster stats, which will means that you will most likely be able to defeat it before it can even use it.
8 Best: Lenora
Lenora from Black and White's Unova would be the second gym leader, as well as one that specializes in normal types. She is a gym leader who manages to beat the curse of the first two gym leaders being some of the weakest. She has the benefit of having Pokémon that are good for the point of the game she appears in. She uses Herdier and Watchog, which at the start of the game is not too bad, especially since they are given pretty good movesets. Watchog is even the final evolution of that Pokémon tree, while Herdier would be the middle. This makes Lenora a challenge to defeat, especially if you go into the gym battle thinking it will be an easily won match.
7 Best: Crasher Wake
Crasher Wake would be one of two gym leaders to have to words in their names (the other being Lt. Surge) and along with Surge, Crasher Wake is one of the strongest gym leaders there is. He is the fourth gym leader that appears in Sinnoh, and perhaps the best water gym leader there is. He utilizes three fully evolved Pokémon, all with a great and deadly moveset as well. Crasher Wake's Pokémon include Gyarados, Quagsire, and Floatzel, all of which come loaded with good stats that can make quick work of any unprepared team. Crasher Wake seems like he will be just another easy gym leader to go in and go out of, but he provides one of the more difficult fights in Diamond and Pearl.
6 Worst: Flannery
Flannery is the fourth gym leader in Hoenn, and being a fire type user you would expect her to be a mildly challenging foe, at least. The issue with Flannery is the Pokémon she uses. With so many types of Pokémon to choose from, Flannery only uses two Slugmas and one Torkoal. The fight is incredibly underwhelming, and the fact that the developers gave Flannery those is disappointing. While the Pokémon do have potentially damaging moves, Flannery is in the awkward middle part of the game, which makes it easy to have Pokémon that are resistant to fire-type attacks, such as rock type Pokémon. It doesn't help that the Pokémon Flannery has have awful stats that make them easy to take care of, with Torkoal's high defense being the only thing that may cause issues.
5 Best: Iris and Drayden
Iris and Drayden would be the final gym leaders of Black and White's Unova (Drayden for Black, and Iris for White). Like many of the last gym leaders, Iris and Drayden would be the hardest in the game. They would both use dragon type Pokémon, meaning it will already be a challenge to defeat them. The two use the same team, consisting of a Fraxure, Druddigon, and Haxorus. All of the Pokémon at Iris and Drayden's disposal are incredibly powerful and can stomp on teams that are not ready to face them without proper preparation. If you're looking at Drayden's gym battle in Black 2 and White 2, it has only improved since the first game, replacing the weakest link Fraxure with a more powerful Flygon.
4 Worst: Jasmine
Jasmine is the sixth gym leader in Johto, so you would expect her to be challenging in some capacity. This is not the case. Not only is she not hard at all, but two of her three Pokémon aren't even evolved, as she has two Magnemites on top of her Steelix. It leads to one of the easiest end-game gym leaders in the whole franchise. It would be much better if she sported Magneton; however, this is not the case. Steelix may cause some trouble, but the issue with Steelix is how many weaknesses it has, being both steel and ground type. It is very easy to take care of it since the odds of having moves to defeat Steelix are high.
3 Best: Wulfric
Wulfric would be the eighth and final gym leader of Kalos, and currently the last gym leader we see in the series, since Sun and Moon would take a different route, doing away with gyms entirely. Wulfric would specialize in ice Pokémon, and would be no slouch when it came to building up a strong team. He makes use of an Abomasnow, one of the strongest ice Pokémon out there, as a starter that will act as a tank while chipping away damage at your team. After that he uses a Cryogonal that is capable of causing various status conditions while doing damage, before falling back on his final Pokémon: an Avalugg. Avalugg has tons of devastating move options that can easily tear apart your team even if you manage to get to it.
2 Worst: Valerie
The fairy type would be introduced in X and Y's Kalos region, and the franchise would waste no time in having the first fairy-type gym leader, with Valerie in that game taking the title. The issue with this is that perhaps the fairy type was too new, as the sixth gym leader in the region is far from challenging, using a Mawile, Mr. Mime, and Sylveon. None of them are particularly scary to face, and are relatively easy to take care of quickly. The fairy-type move Dazzling Gleam can be scary, but luckily the stats of the Pokémon themselves make it relatively easy to knock them out before they can attack and do any devastating damage. A fairy-type gym leader has potential, but it was not used well here.
1 Best: Fantina
Fantina is one of the few ghost-type gym leaders, despite the fact that that type has been around since the first generation. Being Sinnoh's fifth gym leader, Fantina would carry on the theme of Sinnoh where the middle gym leaders are the scariest to face. Despite not being super far into the game, Fantina utilizes three final evolution Pokémon, with none of them close to being weak. Her Drifblim is the weakest link by far, as the moveset it has is nothing really exciting. However, the rest of her team more than makes up for it. Fantina's Gengar has a hefty moveset that allows it to do lots of damage. Even if you manage to defeat Gengar, you still have to make it through Mismagius, which is by far her scariest Pokémon to go up against.