The appeal of the Pokémon franchise has always been the careful collecting and cultivation of an army of cute monsters. This is readily apparent in the video games, comics and, of course, the iconic anime.
That said, trading your Pokémon with others or releasing them back into the wild are also aspects that have been with the series since its inception.
While its possible to become attached to your in-game party, trading and releasing pocket monsters naturally lacks the emotional impact that the acts carry in the more fleshed out anime adaptation… unless you’re Ash, that is.
Sure, he has some tearful separations and claims to care deeply about his Pokémon, but the truth of how fickle he can be is made evident in our list of 20 Pokémon Ash didn’t care about enough to keep.
Snorlax was a powerful component of Ash’s team, and one of his earliest catches.
Despite this, Ash saw fit to relegate (also read as “abandon”) his valiant Snorlax to Professor Oak’s domain, which is a fate needlessly shared by far too many members of Ash’s loyal pantheon of pocket monsters.
Before making the trade that would officially and permanently rid Ash of Aipom, he had attempted to leave the Pokémon behind a multitude of times.
After setting out for Hoenn, Ash likely (and smugly) thought he had successfully rid himself of the monkey-like creature, but it loved him so much that it snuck its way back to join him.
Ash, who wanted none of this foolish affection, eventually traded it to Dawn, finally completing his abandonment mission.
You know what’s sick? That Ash has the gall to essentially abandon a loyal Pokémon, promise it that he’ll come back later to get it, and then never fulfill that promise.
It might be us, but that situation sounds a heck of a lot like that dude who abandoned his Charmander in the early episodes of the series.
The first Pokémon Ash caught in the Johto region was Cyndaquil, and after tirelessly serving its master, it became a Quilava.
Apparently, Ash was too impatient to raise it to its final evolution, Typhlosion, and opted to leave it with Professor Oak before creating an entirely new disposable team of Hoenn region-exclusive Pokémon.
Like many others on this list, Ash’s Noctowl was saddled with the fate of imprisonment within Professor Oak’s lab because Ash arbitrarily decided that he wanted a completely fresh team of Pokémon from the Hoenn region, which was his next destination.
We can almost understand his reasoning, but we’re not dealing with pixels in a Game Boy game; these are real creatures that have unquestioningly fought your battles. They deserve better.
Back in the old days, you were lucky to catch a single Tauros in the dreaded Safari Zone. Ash, on the other hand, managed to catch thirty.
You’d think that he’d take the time to admire his army of exceedingly rare Pokémon but, of course, that would require actually caring about the creatures, which Ash clearly did not.
Instead, he chose to immediately dismiss his entire haul of Tauros to Professor Oak’s lab.
As part of Ash’s team, Goodra was able to accomplish a significant amount of good deeds, often through the means of incredibly impressive feats.
But we guess that’s not good enough for Ash, since he implores Goodra to stay in its homeland.
As usual, Ash promises to see Goodra again, but that’s kind of his tell for NEVER seeing them again.
Much like the sad, stunted fate of Quilava, Ash’s Chikorita never got to experience the bliss of reaching its glorious final form, Meganium, for the exact same selfish and arbitrary reasoning.
Like the rest of its Johto compatriots, Bayleef was more-or-less abandoned at Professor Oak’s lab because Ash couldn’t bare the thought of bringing old, worn out Pokémon with him on his upcoming adventure.
Poipole holds a special place on this list, as it’s one of the few Pokémon to not end up in Professor Oak’s “care.” In fact, it has an arguably happy ending, as it ends up with returning to its home dimension with its friends and family.
Still, none of that means that Ash cared about his Poipole as much as it cared about him.
We don’t see YOU drawing a picture of your so-called “friend,” Ash!
Raised from an egg, to a Phanpy, and then to its mighty final form, Donphan, this pocket monster fought alongside Ash since the moment it was born (and arguably before it.)
We can only imagine the perceived strength of the bond that Donphan believed it had with Ash, but we can’t even fathom the soul-crushing despair it must have felt after Ash that it wasn’t good enough for the Hoenn region.
Get this: After being sweet-talked by a Gentleman, Ash trades one of his (supposedly) favorite Pokémon, Butterfree, for a Raticate.
Minutes later, Ash wants to reverse the trade.
All Raticate wanted was to be loved by someone, and now it came to the cruel realization that neither its original trainer nor its new one really wanted it.
Ash cared so little about this hard-won Beedrill that, almost immediately upon catching it during the Bug Catching Contest, he washed his hands of the creature by giving it to Casey.
If that doesn’t paint Ash as a heartless, unfeeling monster who cares little for the lives of those who he doesn’t deem worthy, we’re not sure what would.
One of Ash’s most iconic Johto-region team members, and clearly one of the young trainer’s favorites (at least at the time), Heracross was one of the brightest stars to ever adorn the sky of Ash’s Pokémon collection.
To be fair, Heracross has returned to Ash in times of great need, but that still doesn’t fully make up for the living hell of being locked in Professor Oak’s lab.
On the surface, allowing Lapras to return to its school seems like a happy ending, but let’s put this into perspective: Ash first meets this lost Lapras as it was being tortured by cruel children.
With that in mind, we know that Lapras has a troubled past and now it likely has some psychological trauma tied to it, but that doesn’t stop Ash and friends from constantly using it as a boat.
Oh, and when they finally find Lapras’ initial school, it gets rejected by it.
While it seemingly becomes accepted once again, we’re skeptical.
Essentially the very first Pokémon Ash acquired in the Kalos region, Greninja was raised from a Froakie to its fearsome final form, but despite the seemingly unbreakable and incredibly close bond the two shared, the two would part ways.
Oddly enough, it would be Greninja who made the decision to leave, but you’d think that Ash would put up some kind of resistance. He didn’t, of course.
Muk was a stinky addition to Ash’s team, but its raw power and unique skillset proved to be instrumental in Ash’s success at the Indigo Plateau Conference.
Alas, despite accompanying Ash on many journeys throughout multiple regions, this incredibly cheerful and friendly Pokémon was sent to the place where Pokémon go to be forgotten: Professor Oak’s lab.
At one time in its life, Bulbasaur was one of Ash’s go-to Pokémon for a wide array of battles and situations. When called upon, Bulbasaur would give its absolute best, no matter what it was tasked with doing.
Despite remaining on the team for longer than many others on this list, Ash once again proved that he has little understanding of “loyalty,” and gave Bulbasaur a permanent residence at Oak’s lab.
Unlike the other two Johto Starter Pokémon, Totodile didn’t even get the benefit of going through a single evolution.
Instead, it was used for as long as it amused Ash, and then tossed to the wind like a broken toy.
The fact that Totodile didn’t evolve even once says everything you need to know regarding how much Ash cared about this particular Pokémon.
Like Muk, the Krabby that would become Kingler was one of Ash’s earlier catches, and was an unexpected ace-in-the-hole when it came to high-stakes battles, particularly when it came to the Pokémon League.
Heck, it even went to multiple regions with Ash, too, but none of that could save it from falling out of its master’s favor.
Like far too many others, Kingler is spending the rest of its life at Oak’s lab. Rest in peace.
You’re probably thinking something along the lines of “you’re crazy if you think Ash didn’t care enough to keep his beloved Butterfree!”
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten their tearful parting of ways or how Ash valiantly searched for it in the midst of a shipwreck, but here’s the thing:
Ash got rid of Butterfree twice.
The first was through a trade, and the second was actually releasing it. In other words, he cared so little that he actually reacquired the thing just to send it away again. That’s heartless!