After 19 seasons spawning over 930 episodes, Ash Ketchum of the popular Pokémon anime has never won a bonafide Pokémon League battle or an equivalent thereof. That all might change after this week’s much-anticipated final battle in Pokémon Sun and Moon: Ultra Legends.
The writers behind the show may just finally be willing to give Ash the victory, too. The show has constantly been reinventing itself since its debut in 1997. Characters from the original season, such as Gym Leaders Misty and Brock, have come and gone. Entire movies have been remade, including a CGI makeover of the anime’s first film and a traditionally animated feature that retold Ash and and his partner Pikachu’s origin story.
Actually, Ash and Pikachu have been the only consistent characters in the show, appearing in every single episode of the main anime series since its conception. Not even the ubiquitous Team Rocket have managed that feat.
The franchise has flirted with the idea of replacing or removing Ash and his Pikachu altogether though. In the 2013 miniseries Pokémon Origins, the dynamic duo were nowhere to be found.
Perhaps even more tellingly, The Pokémon Company recently dropped a 20-second teaser for its next season of the anime, and it’s already gotten a big reaction from the fanbase due to some notable inclusions (and exclusions). To begin with, the teaser prominently features every batch of starter Pokémon from the series’ history – but one critter is noticeably missing among the familiar faces: Pikachu. Ash Ketchum is also totally missing from the proceedings.
Moreover, despite presumably tying in with Nintendo’s upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield games for the Switch, the title of the new show doesn’t appear to have a tagline. It’s just simply called Pokémon, suggesting it may not be a simple continuation of the series but a complete reboot altogether.
An extended trailer for the new show will premier on September 29. The upcoming trailer may reveal the fate of Ash Ketchum. Maybe he will return, but as an old man passing on his wisdom to a younger generation of trainers? The possibilities are endless.
In the meantime, whether Ash will be involved in the next iteration of Pokémon or not, fans will at least hopefully find some closure for the character in his final battle during the last episodes of Pokémon Sun and Moon: Ultra Legends.