Top 10 Pokémon Episodes to Rewatch

Ash and Pikachu's adventure spanned more than a thousand episodes, which can make a series rewatch seem daunting. Here are some of the best episodes to get you started.

During its 26-year run, the Pokémon anime put out over 1,200 episodes, making it one of the longest-running anime of all time. For that reason, rewatching the entire series may seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are several individual episodes that are worth rewatching on their own, and they can scratch the itch to binge for many longtime fans. Some of them are even available on home video, either in VHS, DVD or Blu-ray disc format. Here are some of the best Pokémon episodes to rewatch.

Top 10 Pokémon Episodes to Rewatch

1: Pokémon, I Choose You!

Pokémon fans generally believe that the first season of the anime includes some of the best episodes, and “Pokémon, I Choose You!” is high up there on the list of favorites. The very first episode of the series sees Ash receive Pikachu after a mishap that prevents him from choosing any other starter at Professor Oak’s lab. The nostalgia of seeing Ash and Pikachu’s rocky start to their journey has a special place in many fans’ hearts, and it’s a great episode for older fans to rewatch with their kids or newcomers to the Pokémon series.

2: Bye Bye, Butterfree

Tackling farewells in a way that children can understand and relate to is a delicate task, and “Bye Bye Butterfree” does the job well. In the episode, Ash must grapple with the fact that he and Butterfree — the first Pokémon he ever caught — must part ways.  Not only does the episode give Ash some important character development, it’s also a real tearjerker that keeps series veterans coming back for more.

3: Enter the Champion!

Every Pokémon fan has rooted for Ash to win the Pokémon League since his first time competing in the Indigo League. Many seasons of the anime ended with climactic battles that resulted in a loss for Ash, but all of that changed with “Enter the Champion!” The end of the Alola League had viewers on the edge of their seats as Ash and Gladion squared off with their Lycanroc in the final round. Ash's Lycanroc’s victory was a historic turning point in the series, and a turning point for Ash Ketchum’s role in the anime itself. “Enter the Champion!” is a perfect episode to revisit when exploring Ash’s journey from start to finish.

4: One Journey Ends, Another Begins…

“Bye Bye Butterfree” tackles the parting of friends as they take different paths in life, but “One Journey Ends, Another Begins…” takes on the monumental task of explaining permanent loss to children. The episode sees Litten deal with the death of its mentor and caretaker, Stoutland, while Ash and Team Rocket’s Meowth work together to console it through its stages of grief. “One Journey Ends, Another Begins…” is memorable because of its somber themes, and for being one of the rare episodes where Ash and Team Rocket aren’t completely at odds with one another.

5: Charmander — the Stray Pokémon

Everyone loves Ash’s Charizard, so much so that it is one of Ash’s only original Pokémon to make multiple returns in later seasons (besides Pikachu). Veteran Pokémon fans will know, though, that Ash and Charizard shared a special bond even when Charizard was a Charmander. This bond is established in “Charmander — the Stray Pokémon,” an episode that sees Ash, Brock and Misty finding an injured Charmander in the rain after it had been mistreated and abandoned by its previous trainer. The episode set the precedent for one of the most powerful Pokémon on Ash’s team, and one of the most beloved Pokémon in the anime.

6: Battling a Thaw in Relations!

Ash has had many thrilling final battles during his league escapades, but there’s a reason that “Battling a Thaw in Relations!” is regarded as one of the best. The battle is so much more than a league fight — it is the penultimate encounter between Ash and Paul (his Sinnoh rival, and one of the most brutal rivals Ash has ever had), and by extension, Paul and Infernape — a Pokémon who Paul had released on account of being too “weak” for his team.

Not only does the battle leave viewers on the edge of their seats, it gives long-time Sinnoh fans a satisfactory conclusion to the saga that Ash and Paul’s rivalry had been building since the very first episodes of Diamond and Pearl. Paul pushed Ash to develop new battle strategies and grow as a trainer, and every single one of his developments are displayed beautifully in “Battling a Thaw in Relations!” making it one of the greatest battles in the anime’s history.

7: Time-warp Heals All Wounds

Time travel is always an interesting concept in pop culture media because the consequences of altering history can lead to surprising developments. The Pokémon anime doesn’t usually deal with time travel, but “Time-warp Heals All Wounds” was a rare exception. In the episode, May, her Squirtle and Meowth are warped to the distant past, where May alters history to try to save a dying town. When she returns to the present, she finds that her actions have completely altered the surrounding environment — though her friends remain unchanged. In addition to the time travel shenanigans, “Time-warp Heals All Wounds” is also one of the rare episodes that doesn’t focus on Ash, which makes it a fun episode to rewatch.

8: Pikachu’s Goodbye

Ash and Pikachu’s partnership is one of the best examples of unwavering friendship in television, but the anime doesn’t hold back in episodes where their special bond is tested. “Pikachu’s Goodbye” is one of the earliest examples of such an episode, during which Ash contemplates releasing Pikachu into the wild when his beloved partner befriends a wild group of Pikachu. This episode is a classic demonstration of Ash’s heart being in the right place but overcompensating for Pikachu’s happiness. Ash really does believe that Pikachu will be happier without him — a conflict that the anime revisits rarely — and it takes everyone (including Pikachu) to convince him otherwise.

9: Gotta Catch Ya Later!

The end of an anime series often sees friends parting ways, and it’s always bittersweet to watch. “Gotta Catch Ya Later!” is the second-to-last episode of the Johto saga of the Pokémon anime, and it tugs at the heartstrings. The episode signals an end of an era, when Ash, Brock and Misty have to part ways for good after three fun-filled journeys together. “Gotta Catch Ya Later!” gives both the characters and fans a sense of finality and closure after the events of the Silver Conference and paves the way for Ash’s new adventure in Hoenn, all while managing to give Brock and Misty a proper sendoff.

10: Can’t Beat the Heat!

Old and new Pokémon fans alike remember Gary — Ash’s original rival — and the competitive relationship they had with each other. After being at each other’s throats for most of the Kanto and Johto sagas, their rivalry reached its climax at the end of the Johto Silver Conference, when Ash finally pulled his first victory against Gary and won his respect at the same time. This episode and the previous one are some of the perfect Pokémon episodes to rewatch because they include everything that makes the anime so memorable: thrilling battles, intense stakes and brilliant displays of friendship.

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