Pokémon has been an iconic and global phenomenon for the better part of twenty years. Since 1997 or so, players around the world have been mesmerized by the spectacular games that allow you to immerse yourself in a different world filled with magical creatures that you can train and battle with.
Although the central component of the games has been the creatures themselves, i.e. the Pokémon, one mustn’t forget the other characters that made this franchise captivating. After all, it would be difficult if not impossible to actually enjoy a show/game if the only dialogue was composed of the various Pokémon speaking their names.
That’s why there have been various characters introduced over the years to make the stories more interesting. While you were mostly a silent protagonist that usually ended up mixed up in things much bigger than yourself, you were more often than not surrounded by a cadre of supporting cast that let the stories unfold in an interesting way.
From your rival(s) to various Gym Leaders with their own personalities and puzzles, to the nefarious deeds of various evil organizations, it was through these characters that the Pokémon franchise actually grew and developed into more than just a tedious collecting mission.
We've had several quizzes that have tackled the iconic Pokémon themselves, but little attention has been given to the characters that actually told the story.
This quiz looks at those memorable characters from the franchise that made it more memorable in one form or another. From interesting appearances in the early anime to unforgettable Gym Leader battles, these characters made the games far more interesting than they would’ve been if they hadn't been included.
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1Which Pokémon character is this?
This is one of the most iconic characters in the entire Pokémon franchise. The character seen here is the one you play as in the original games. As the original playable character, you had the power to name this character anything you wanted. This allowed you to extend yourself onto this character and immerse yourself fully into the Pokémon universe. However, despite having the option to give him any name you want, he does have an official name in the canon.
2Which Pokémon character is this?
The character seen here is the chief villain of the fifth generation of games, Pokémon Black & White, and their successors. However, the organization he represents, Team Plasma, isn’t as overtly evil as those from previous generations. In public, this character and his agents want to ‘liberate’ Pokémon from human control. Later, however, he proves that this was a ruse all along and that he wanted people to get rid of their Pokémon so that he’d be the only one with any, which would allow him to conquer the region unchallenged.
3To which evil organization does this character belong?
One of the main plot elements of every ‘main’ game in the Pokémon franchise thus far has been the existence of an evil organization with some dangerous goals. These bad guys would be up to no good, and it was up to you to thwart their plans by battling them one by one and ultimately defeating their leader. These groups have ranged in goals and motives, from being a simple organized crime syndicate wanting to use Pokémon for profit, to having some kind of goal for massive environmental transformation, to wanting complete separation between Pokémon and humans.
4Which Pokémon character is this?
This character is the first person that you ever battle. First introduced as your rival, you have the option of naming him as soon as you’re done naming yourself. In the original games, you encounter him many times, and he always appears to be one step ahead of you with his goal of completing the Pokédex. In the end, however, you end up besting him, and he loses his recently gained status as Champion to you. He has since made appearances in multiple games as a Gym Leader and fightable boss.
5Which Pokémon character is this?
Don’t let her seemingly innocent face fool you; this character is one of the most annoying and aggravating Gym Leaders in the history of the franchise. Appearing as the third Gym Leader in the second generation, she specialized in Normal-types and used only two Pokémon. The second one, her Miltank (pictured here alongside her), used a devastating move called "Rollout," which got stronger with each successive hit. If it hit five times in a row, it could easily knock out any Pokémon. Add to this the fact that it could also heal itself, and you had a perfect formula for angry players getting demolished by this character.
6Which Pokémon character is this?
The character seen here had a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ appearance. He appeared in only a handful of episodes in the fourth generation but made an impact nevertheless. Throughout the series’ history, some fans often wondered how strong trainers would be if they battled with Legendary Pokémon. Those fans got that question answered when this guy battled with two especially powerful Legendaries: Darkrai and Latios. He thrashed everyone in front of him, including Ash, seemingly without any effort whatsoever.
7Which Pokémon character is this?
For the first five generations of games, the Dragon-types were considered the rarest and most powerful of all Pokémon types. Very few Pokémon had this selective type, and so, to have one made you something special. This character was one such opponent for you, acting as the eighth and final Gym Leader of the Johto region. She and her gym all specialized in Dragon-types, which posed a major problem as the Dragon-type had a boatload of resistances that made it hard to deal damage very easily.
8Which Pokémon character is this?
The man in the background was yet another interesting Gym Leader from the original generation. Specializing in Fire-type Pokémon, this character also loved to ask you riddles and quiz you on your overall knowledge of the game. Ironically, the badge he gives you, the Volcanobadge, is symbolic of what happens to him. Three years later, his gym gets destroyed in a volcanic eruption, and he himself has to take refuge in a small cave on Seafoam Island for the time being.
9Which Pokémon character is this?
The man seen sitting here is one of the craziest antagonists in Pokémon history. As the leader of the villainous Team Aqua, his goal appears to be to expand the seas so that there's more water in the world because apparently, there isn’t enough life-giving water on the planet, and so the oceans thus need expanding. Clearly, this guy never saw ‘Waterworld’ and had no idea of what the world would look like when all land is swallowed up by the ocean.
10Which Pokémon character is this?
This character is one of the more intriguing ones from the most recent set of games. At first, he appears to be an enforcer of sorts for the nefarious Team Skull but later shows that he has nothing to do with them. It's later revealed that he's Lusamine’s son and Lillie’s brother, having escaped his mother’s controlling grasp some years before the game’s story begins. This backstory and his interactions with his family make him one of the more intriguing characters to ever be conceived in the Pokémon franchise.
11Which Pokémon character is this?
There are some Gym Leaders who use strategies that annoy the hell out of you. Then there are those who simply cheat. Then, there’s this guy. In the third generation games, he has the dubious distinction of being both a Gym Leader and your father, which makes the battle between you far more interesting from a story perspective. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that he uses a Pokémon named "Slaking," which has a stat total that almost rivals a Legendary. If it weren’t for its awful ability that makes it attack only once every other turn, this thing would straight-up murder everything in your party without breaking a sweat. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that in Pokémon Emerald, his party was completely re-worked, presumably after so many people were infuriated by this Gym Leader/merciless man known as your father.
12Which Pokémon character is this?
This character is one of two rivals that you get in Pokémon Black & White. While your other rival is smarter and actually knows what he’s doing, this one is less confident in herself and appears to have a much harder time in adapting to the life of a trainer. As proof of this seeming ineptitude, she's unique among rivals in that she actually picks the starter type that's weak against yours, instead of the traditional route of picking the one that’s stronger than yours.
13Which Pokémon character is this?
Although she does look a bit different in this picture, this is one of the most memorable characters and Gym Leaders in the franchise’s history. First appearing in Cerulean City, this character specializes in Water-types, which was – and still is – a very powerful type with a lot of strength behind it. Many fans recall fighting her and getting completely destroyed by her Starmie, which had very high offensive stats and pummeled people with Bubblebeam over and over again, all of which made her a real threat early in the games.
14Which Pokémon character is this?
The character seen here is one of only a handful of figures to appear in the same spot in four generations of games. He was a member of the Elite Four in both the original generation (Red, Blue/Green and Yellow) as well as their immediate successors (Gold, Silver, Crystal) and in each game’s respective set of remakes in generations three and four. He specialized in Fighting-types (and also likes to use the Rock-type Onix) which should’ve been obvious given his signature physique here.
15Which Pokémon character is this?
While the first generation’s rival was an obnoxious jerk who was still your friend, and the third generations and onwards featured people who emphasized the friendly aspect of rivalry, this character was the complete opposite. Introduced in Generation II, this character appeared to be a bitter and angry soul, obsessed with power and who scorned the weak. Yet there was also an interesting event cut scene in Heart Gold and Soul Silver that revealed him to be the son of the leader of Team Rocket, which might explain why he stole his first Pokémon.
16Which Pokémon character is this?
This was one of the most unusual antagonists in the Pokémon franchise’s history. He wasn’t overtly evil, didn’t appear to be that much of a jerk when you spoke with him, and actually felt kind of sympathetic. In fact, at one point, he even manages to summon his game’s Legendary Pokémon without trying to manipulate it, as previous antagonists tried to do. Clearly, he must be incredibly strong and reliable as a person for a mythical creature to actually want to be by his side at the climax of the game’s storyline.
17Which Pokémon character is this?
The character seen here is the original evil boss of the games. He's the head honcho of Team Rocket and has appeared in multiple video games, anime episodes, specials, and movies. He's presented as a mafia don of sorts, which is reflected in how he looks and dresses. A popular fan theory surrounding him argues that he's actually Ash’s father, having dated Ash’s mom many years ago back when he was a Pokémon trainer. This would explain why he’s constantly dealing with two bumbling fools in Team Rocket; they’re just looking after the evil boss’s (supposed) son.
18Which Pokémon character is this?
In the first five ‘main’ games, Legendary Pokémon weren't a main part of the storyline. They were considered ‘extras’ despite two of them appearing on the box-art for their respective games. This changed with Pokémon Crystal, when the Legendary for that game actually had a storyline behind it. The character seen here was the one who did so, explaining that he was obsessed with finding the Legendary Pokémon Suicune. He’d appear throughout the game to tell you about it and would also battle you to earn its respect.
19Which Pokémon character is this?
The character seen here is the leader of the evil organization in the sixth generation of games, X and Y. At first, his goals seem broad and esoteric, as he seeks to try and make the world ‘more beautiful’. As the story progresses, he becomes increasingly misanthropic and hateful, desiring to force the world to become the way he wants it to be, and this involves using the Legendary Pokémon to do so. Despite an interesting premise, he isn’t that memorable as far as characters or bosses go.
20Which Pokémon character is this?
This character first appears in Pokémon Platinum as a member of the International Police (yes, Interpol actually exists in the Pokémon games). He's a detective of sorts dedicated to hunting down members of various criminal organizations and bringing them to justice. He does this in several games, though his actual name is never given. Instead, he gives you his codename and asks you to help him. Strangely, his Japanese codename is ‘Handsome,’ while in English, it’s different.
21Which two Pokémon characters are these?
Initially, most of the bad guys you fought in the Pokémon games had random ‘stock’ names that described them as lowly peons. In the original games, all of the members of Team Rocket were called ‘Rocket,’ and later games used the second word ‘Grunt’ to describe the generic enemies you battled throughout the games. Later on, there were special characters added, akin to lower, secondary bosses that you had to defeat before facing the final boss. These are two such characters, both members of Team Galactic that are codenamed after planets in our solar system.
22Which Pokémon character is this?
The man seen here is one of the villains of the third generation of games, and later, in their remakes in the sixth one. He's the leader of Team Magma, an organization devoted to using the power of Groudon, the Pokémon responsible for shaping continents and growing land to expand said land at the expense of the seas. Unlike his watery counterpart (who actually shows a degree of humility and even friendliness), this character appears to be cold, calculated and highly disdainful toward you and your constant interference with his plans.
23Which Pokémon character is this?
Though this character didn’t have much of an impact during your first encounter with her in the Elite Four, her backstory in her game’s post-game story makes her far more interesting than what’s first revealed. On one hand, she's a member of the Elite Four in her game, making her one of the most powerful and influential people in her region. On the other hand, she's later revealed to be an ex-member of her region’s evil organization and also appears to still have ties with its remnants. She even shows you a bit of resentment because you led to that organization’s end, which is seen in the conversations you have with her in the post-game.
24Which Pokémon character is this?
You know you’re overpowered when your Gym gets a complete overhaul in your game’s immediate successor. That’s what happened with this character, who was originally the fifth Leader that you could challenge in Diamond and Pearl. Her team of Ghost-types was apparently so overpowered (she did have Gengar, after all) that the Gym order had to be re-worked for Platinum because she was deemed too difficult. In Platinum, she was the third of a possible eight instead of the fifth and had a much weaker team as a result.
25Which Pokémon character is this?
The Elite Four weren’t always well-thought-out characters. More often than not, they were simply powerful trainers who specialized in one type, and it was up to you to simply beat them with whatever you had. This was one such character, appearing in the third generation of games as your second of five challenges. Despite her attire looking like something fit for the beach, she specialized in the Ghost-type, which was still one of the more dangerous types back then due to its plethora of resistances and immunities.
26Which Pokémon character is this?
The Poison-type wasn’t very powerful in the original games. It lacked any really powerful moves, and Pokémon that had this type were highly vulnerable to Ground and Psychic-type attacks. In fact, some of the trainers in this guy’s gym didn’t even use actual Poison-types when battling you, instead using Pokémon like Hypno, which is a Psychic-type itself. However, the reward you got for defeating this guy was the TM for the move Toxic, one of the most powerful moves in the entire game’s history, and is one that’s still used regularly today, almost twenty years later.
27Which Pokémon character is this?
At the climax of the original games, you had to challenge the four greatest trainers in the world/region, all of whom were located in the Pokémon League. These four elite trainers all specialized in one specific type and utilized Pokémon that either had moves of that specific type, had Pokémon that were themselves of that type, or both. The woman seen here was your first challenge, specializing in Ice-types. This made her dangerous, especially to those who wanted to use Grass-types or any Pokémon that was half-Flying-type.
28Which Pokémon character is this?
This is the main antagonist of Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum and the leader of the Team Galactic organization. Like his predecessors, this man is obsessed with obtaining power and is willing to go to great lengths to acquire it. In the main story, he seeks to unlock the powers of time and space in order to create an entirely new world. Yet, by the game’s climax, he demonstrates just how crazy he's become, announcing that he wishes to become a deity in that new world that he seeks to create.
29Which Pokémon character is this?
The Gym Leaders in the original games were iconic because they had certain personality traits that made each one of them unique. The one seen here was especially memorable, both for his appearance and personality and also for his rumored backstory. Nicknamed ‘The Lightning American’, he looked like a military figure from another country (i.e. not overtly Japanese). Because of this and his nickname, some people theorized that Kanto, the region of the original games, was actually supposed to be a post-World War II Japan, with America occupying it. This would also explain why there appear to be very few adult men in the game, and why children appear to roam free with dangerous animals at their sides.
30Which Pokémon character is this?
For the first two generations of games, this was one of the most powerful bosses in the game. A self-described Dragon master, he was both a powerful trainer and a champion of righteousness, as seen in his constant fighting with Team Rocket. Interestingly, in the manga, he isn’t such a nice guy. In fact, at one point, he acts as a villain, wanting to destroy all of humanity for their mistreatment of nature and of Pokémon, and he goes to great lengths to try and accomplish this goal.
31Which Pokémon character is this?
Pokémon Crystal, the third game of the second generation, introduced a major feature that must’ve certainly played a major role in the franchise’s success: the option to play as a girl. This allowed the games to tap into a previously untouched market and become a series of games popular for both boys and girls. However, the initial sprite for the female character never made any major appearances, unlike her male counterpart. Instead, she was given a massive re-work for HeartGold and SoulSilver, with that character making an anime appearance as well, as seen here.
32Which Pokémon character is this?
The Pokémon anime appeared to follow a very simple formula when it came to the core group of characters: Ash, Pikachu, one male companion, and one female companion. For the first (and in many fans’ eyes, most popular) season, Ash was accompanied by Misty and Brock. However, by the time the Orange Islands saga began, Brock was replaced with this character, who was obsessed with drawing and meeting Prof. Oak. Judging by how he was gone by the time the next season started, it was obvious that he hadn’t been as popular of a character as Brock was.
33Which Pokémon character is this?
The character seen here is a Gym Leader in the fifth generation games: Black White, Black 2, and White 2. In both sets of games, she's introduced as a model and a powerful Gym Leader. In one of those games’ most poignant moments, she encounters you, your rival, and your rival’s father involved in an argument over your rival’s decision to be a trainer. This gym leader then departs after providing some important wisdom, which acted as a very touching moment in an otherwise simplistic game that rarely scratched the surface of emotional complexity.
34Which Pokémon character is this?
The character seen here was first introduced in the fourth generation of games, Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. Although you encounter her many times throughout the main storyline, she's actually the regional champion and is one of the most powerful opponents in those games. Unlike previous generations, she doesn’t appear to have a specific type focus, relying instead on a fairly balanced team. Her appearance also marked the first time in the franchise’s history that a female character was a League Champion.
35Which Pokémon character is this?
This character is the first female to ever head an evil organization. Although the Aether Foundation that she runs isn’t technically a criminal syndicate like those of previous games/generations, this character still has malevolent goals and uses this organization to achieve them. She appears to be obsessed with the Ultra Beasts in the game, going so far as to merge herself with one of them at one point, leading to an unusual final battle involving her as a strange hybrid of a person and a Pokémon.