If you’re someone born after 1997 (and most likely you are), then the Pokémon anime adaptation is officially older than you are. The show has been going on seemingly forever, and most probably will continue for more decades to come with the success of the anime chiefly a result of the chemistry between protagonist Ash Ketchum and his pet Pikachu. The franchise has spawned several different iterations, adapting every single region the series has seen so far (from the mainline games at least.)
We’ve seen these two go through thick and thin, and they’ve always persevered through whatever challenges the Pokémon world has wanted to throw at them. Now that Pokémon: Detective Pikachu has renewed mainstream interest in the series, it’s fitting to see the relationship that has made the franchise the success it is. With that in mind, here are 20 wild revelations we’ve learned about Ash and Pikachu’s relationship over the last two decades.
19 Ash Didn’t Originally Want Pikachu
In the very first episode, being a young and unassuming boy, Ash had no idea what to do with his first Pokémon, and wanted one that was both common and strong in reputation.
Had Ash been given a choice, he’d have opted for a Bulbasaur or a Squirtle, and his acrimonious initial relationship with Pikachu made it perfectly clear the Pokémon wasn’t Ash’s preferred choice at all.
18 Detective Pikachu's Dig At Their Relationship
With Pokémon: Detective Pikachu being the marvelous success it was, fans noted one light-hearted jab toward the anime, where Pikachu comments at how ridiculous it would be not to use vehicles and walk about ten thousand steps each day, while Pikachu had to be perched on the main character’s shoulder.
This was a nod toward how we see Ash and Pikachu walking every day so very far, which seems needless since they can simply use vehicles and save months of time. Then again, Pikachu being on Ash’s shoulder is an iconic part of our childhoods.
17 Pikachu Can Handle Himself Without Ash
Whenever we’ve seen Ash lose Pikachu, it has mostly been through the point of view of Ash rather than his pet. On the rare occasion we see Pikachu on his own, he’s handled himself remarkably well.
This was first seen in the short-film before Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, where Pikachu had a full adventure of his own without any help from Ash. It appears the little Pokémon is more than able to survive in the wild
16 Ash Can’t Function Without Pikachu
On the other hand, Ash can’t seem to function without having his constant companion by his side, and he becomes completely clueless. In one episode, he’d attempted to set Pikachu free thinking that’s what Pikachu wanted, and we saw him lash out wildly. Other times, if Pikachu isn’t nearby, Ash becomes distraught with worry and doesn’t think straight.
15 Ash Using Pikachu For Fights Is Technically Animal Cruelty
Applying our universe logic to Pokémon uncovers a whole lot of can of worms for the anime universe, as Pokémon essentially promotes cruelty against animals. In that universe, the Pokémon serve as animals in commonplace, and if we use the same logic in real-life, then it’s the same as making cats and dogs go up against each other where they brutalize one another for sick human pleasure.
14 Pikachu Is The Only Pokémon Ash Has Kept Permanently
People still have a bone to pick with Ash over letting go of some fan-favorite Pokémon like Butterfree and Squirtle, only to let Pikachu walk free all the time. It looks like Ash doesn’t really care much for all his Pokémon, and Pikachu is the absolute exception.
Even if he hasn’t set his Pokémon free, he keeps them back home after completing one journey – only Pikachu gets to go with him to new regions.
13 Ash Would Rather Lose A Battle Than Let Pikachu Be Harmed
This goes for every other Pokémon as well, but Ash takes extra precautions when it comes to Pikachu, and we’ve seen him throw fights away if the situation is leading toward Pikachu becoming injured. In fact, most of the main battles he’s had by the end of seasons have been lost because Ash has been unwilling to let Pikachu go the full distance.
12 Ash Hasn’t Perfected Pikachu’s Use And Relies On One Move
You know how Pikachu has such a diverse set of powers? No? Well, that’s because you’ve never gotten the chance to see Pikachu wreck real damage because Ash tends to only use one move. Ash’s go-to attack with Pikachu has been the Thunderbolt which, while effective, doesn’t work on Pokémon with experienced and highly skilled trainers.
11 Pikachu Caused Ash’s Resurrection
Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back is the darkest film yet in the series, and children everywhere cried when Ash seemingly perished due to being caught in the crossfire between Mewtwo and Mew’s attacks.
He was resurrected, though, thanks to the tears shed by his loving pet. Pikachu’s tears somehow served as an elixir for resurrection, as all the Pokémon in the arena cried collectively and brought Ash back.
10 Ash Has Never Named Pikachu
One would get the idea that Pokémon go nameless and are referred to only by their species, but we’ve seen several instances now where side characters have named their Pokémon.
This means that Ash doesn’t need to call Pikachu by his kind, and the Pokémon can go by any pet name. It’s interesting how Ash has been with Pikachu for so long yet has never thought to name him.
9 They Were At Odds Due To Pikachu Not Wanting To Evolve
In an earlier episode of the series, Pikachu defied normal Pokémon tropes by outright refusing to evolve. Those of us who remember when the series was new can recall the excitement that came from watching Pokémon evolve, but here was the first case of it being rejected.
Ash would try to push Pikachu into evolving so he could defeat a rival, but Pikachu flat out refused, wanting to prove to himself and Ash that he can fight battles without upgrades.
8 Ash Is Pursued By Team Rocket Because Of Pikachu
So, we all know Team Rocket, right? And their existence on the show has overstayed their welcome for well over a decade now, but they do have an overarching reason to stick around.
Team Rocket constantly pursue Ash solely because of Pikachu – they want to harness the power of the Pokémon as they believe Ash’s Pikachu is special. By giving Pikachu up somewhere else, Ash could rid himself o these pesky villains, but his love Pikachu is far too great.
7 The Show Won’t Go On Without Both Characters
At one point, we thought Brock and Misty would never leave Ash’s side, but they’ve been gone for several years now, and Ash has moved on with companions left and right. The only thing that hasn’t changed about the show has been the duo of Ash and Pikachu – this is something that will always remain. We’ll never have a Pokémon series with either only Ash or only Pikachu; they’re going to be in it till the end.
6 Pikachu Has Learned Leadership Ability From Ash
During the times when Ash isn’t around and it’s just Pikachu and the rest of the Pokémon, Pikachu has been shown to take the reins as the leader. As we know, Ash is always the leader when it comes to his friend groups, and Pikachu has definitely been inspired by his owner’s ways, as we see him leading the rest of the Pokémon in a similar manner.
5 They Are Both Oblivious To The Concept Of Romantic Love
It’s weird that the show has us witnessing a 10-year-old with romantic angles, but even if we accept that, Ash has been seen to be oblivious when it comes to these things.
His fair share of travel partners have had crushes on him, but Ash never picks up on this and doesn’t realize anything. The same way, Pikachu also doesn’t notice obvious signs, and is in no way fit to let Ash know when someone is interested in him
4 They Are Both Known To Be Fiercely Competitive
Part of the reason why Ash and Pikachu gel so well together is because they are inherently very similar. Both of them want to come out victorious in their battles, and keep this competitive streak in a safe way that allows them to win more often than not.
Sometimes, this competitiveness has been their undoing, as they then underestimate their opponents. We haven’t seen one being level-headed and one being fierce; they’ve reacted the same way every time.
3 Pikachu Initially Hated Ash
You’d have to be as old as our generation to remember a time when Pokémon first debuted, and the vast majority of readers just aren’t as old. For the newer generations, Pikachu will always have been known as Ash’s loving Pokémon, but the first episode had him outright hating Ash.
Pikachu’s personality was a far cry from the sweet thing he became, and in this appearance, he despised Ash for becoming his owner. It took a great adventure for him to start loving Ash as he does now.
2 Ash Has Never Seen Him As Pichu
The first time Ash (and we) laid eyes on Pikachu, he seemed to be curled up like a baby. At the time, no one knew that Pikachu was an evolved form of Pichu, and assumed this Pikachu might have been newly born.
Now, though, we’re well aware of Pichus, which means that Ash was completely absent for his buddy’s first phase of life. Since evolving takes time, Ash never saw a significant part of Pikachu’s upbringing.
1 Pikachu Is The Only Pokémon Ash Doesn’t Place In Poké ball
It’s a wonder where Ash even stores all those Poké Balls, seeing as they seem to just be conveniently placed in his pocket based on which Pokémon he wants to summon, but this problem doesn’t arise with Pikachu; he doesn’t enter the Poké Ball to begin with.
This was shown in an earlier episode on the show, where Pikachu made his disdain for entering the Poké Ball very clear, and Ash hasn’t minded Pikachu being out in the open at all.