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Top 10 Ash Ketchum Teams in the "Pokémon" Anime

In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.

Ash Ketchum in Pokémon

Ash is one of anime's most decisive protagonists, with some praising his realism (he loses nearly as much as he wins), others criticizing his naivety. Regardless of your feelings towards him, Ash has made it pretty far in several regional tournaments, even winning some leagues, but how do his lineups actually hold up? Based on their video game strength, these are Ash's 10 best Pokémon teams!

Note: Pikachu isn't in today's tables, as he's in literally every team Ash uses.

Ash's Kanto team

Ash's Kanto team

Ash's Kanto team

PokémonType

Bulbasaur

Grass/Poison

Squirtle

Water

Charizard

Fire/Flying

Pidgeot

Normal/Flying

Butterfree

Bug/Flying

10. Ash's Kanto Team

Series: Pokémon Indigo League

Ash's original team was one of his most iconic, but it has its issues. Most glaringly, its strongest member (Charizard) didn't obey Ash once it reached its first Charmeleon evolution, which made it unreliable and greatly contributed to Ash's early league defeat (he only made the top 16). Ash was also a rookie at this point, with less experience and maturity under his belt.

Plus, Ash didn't replace Butterfree with a full-time member after he released it, only occasionally swapping in others like Muk and Kingler, and many of his Pokémon never reached their final or secondary evolutions (and Pidgeotto only evolved right before Ash released it).

Ash's Hoenn Team

Ash's Hoenn Team

Ash's Ruby and Sapphire team

PokémonType

Swellow

Normal/Flying

Sceptile

Grass

Corphish

Water

Torkoal

Fire

Glalie

Ice

9. Ash's Hoenn Team

Series: Pokémon Advanced

Japan's Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire was confusingly split into multiple seasons in the dub, but either way, it featured Ash start almost completely from scratch, shelving all Pokémon except Pikachu.

While Ash has more experience than before, his new team simply isn't great. Unlike many Flying companions, Swellow doesn't have a third form, Torkoal can't evolve, Corphish doesn't, and Glalie's Ice-type is the worst in the game (defensively). Sceptile helps, but can't completely compensate for Ash's other stragglers.

Ash's Johto Team

Ash's Johto Team

Ash's Johto team

PokémonType

Bayleef

Grass

Cyndaquil

Fire

Totodile

Water

Noctowl

Normal/Flying

Phanpy

Ground

8. Ash's Johto Team

Series: Pokémon: The Johto Journeys

This one's tough to gauge since it gradually swaps out Ash's Kanto team for new members. An obediant Charizard initially boosted the team's ranks, but soon left to train, and sadly, unlike most seasons, Ash doesn't get any of the new starters to fully evolve, only turning Chikorita into second-stage Bayleef (Cyndaquil also evolves several seasons later).

With Noctowl also slightly weaker than Pidgeot, the team has nice type variety but feels like a general downgrade power-wise. It does benefit from Heracross, who proves its power on the rare instances Ash retrieves it from Professor Oak.

Ash's Battle Frontier team

Ash's Battle Frontier team

Ash's Battle Frontier team

PokémonType

Sceptile

Grass

Donphan

Ground

Corphish

Water

Swellow

Normal/Flying

Aipom

Normal

7. Ash's Battle Frontier Team

Series: Pokémon: Battle Frontier

Here's another one hard to rank because as Ash tackles the unique Battle Frontier challenge (at the end of his Hoenn quest), he temporarily switches in old companions, but the ones listed above are his most prominent.

Phanpy's evolution into Donphan helps its case, Sceptile remains a highlight (as do brief but triumphant returns of Charizard and Snorlax), but stragglers like Corphish and Aipom still weigh the team down compared to future seasons.

Ash often receives criticism for his frequent losses, but to be fair, he did pretty well in the Frontier, and was even offered a position as a Frontier Brain (he declined).

Ash's Unova Team

Ash's Unova Team

Ash's Black and White team

PokémonType

Unfezant

Normal/Flying

Snivy

Grass

Oshawott

Water

Pignite

Fire

Krookodile

Ground/Dark

Leavanny

Bug/Grass

Boldore

Rock

Palpitoad

Water/Ground

Scraggy

Dark/Fighting

6. Ash's Unova Team

Series: Pokémon: Best Wishes!

You'll note there are more than six Pokémon above, as Ash swaps his roster far more often than any other season. This gives him some extra versatility, and his Krookodile offers a powerful and uniquely-typed third stage form.

Of all Ash's teams, this one has some of the highest potential, it's just a shame that many of its members (Pignite, Boldore, etc.) never reach their final forms. It was also the most disappointing season league-wise, with Ash going down to top 8 from his previous top 4 ranking.

Ash's Sinnoh team

Ash's Sinnoh team

Ash's DP team

PokémonType

Staraptor

Normal/Flying

Infernape

Fire/Fighting

Torterra

Grass/Ground

Buizel

Water

Gible

Dragon/Ground

5. Ash's Sinnoh Team

Series: Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl

Boy, this team is so close to being great, the only time Ash gets two fully evolved starters. Problem is, one of them is Torterra, who has the unfortunate Grass/Ground typing, which has a quad weakness to Ice plus other vulnerabilities (comparatively, Charizard is doubly-weak to Rock, but at least Flying covers Fire's weakness to Ground).

Staraptor is my favorite early-game Flying companion, thanks to its Intimidate ability and Fighting-type Close Combat attack. Despite another quad weakness, Gible is weak but has loads of potential; if only Ash had gotten him to his final Garchomp evolution, ditched Buizel, and lessened the team's poor matchups to Ice, this could have been top-tier.

Most of Ash's Orange Islands team

Most of Ash's Orange Islands team

Ash's Orange Islands Team

PokémonType

Squirtle

Water

Bulbasaur

Grass/Poison

Charizard

Fire/Flying

Lapras

Water/Ice

Snorlax

Normal

4. Ash's Orange Islands Team

Series: Pokémon: Adventures in the Orange Islands

In this anime-only adventure, Ash retains many of his previous Kanto companions, but he definitely improves his squad. Notably, this is the season where Charizard finally develops respect for Ash; coupled with Ash catching a powerful Snorlax, this team contains two of his strongest-ever Pokémon.

A fair type-spread also helps, meaning this could be another decently competitive bunch if only the starters were all evolved.

Ash's Pokémon Journeys team

Ash's Pokémon Journeys team

Ash's Pokémon Journeys team

PokémonType

Dragonite

Dragon/Flying

Gengar

Ghost/Poison

Riolu

Fighting

Mr. Mime

Psychic

3. Ash's Pokémon Journeys Team

Series: Pokémon Journeys: The Series

As of this writing, this series is still ongoing, so we don't yet know what Ash's final group consists of. But it's promising so far, with powerful members of types Ash doesn't commonly use, like Gengar and Dragonite, and Riolu will hold his own if he evolves into Lucario.

Pikachu can also gigantamax here, making him stronger than usual.

Ash's Kalos Team

Ash's Kalos Team

Ash's X&Y team

PokémonType

Greninja

Water/Dark

Talonflame

Fire/Flying

Hawlucha

Fighting/Flying

Noivern

Flying/Dragon

Goodra

Dragon

2. Ash's Kalos Team

Series: Pokémon the Series: XY

As he often does, Kalos Ash favors the Flying type, leading to shared weaknesses to Rock and Ice, but it's still a fierce squad, largely since all members are fully evolved (except Pikachu). Ash is noticeably more mature in this season, even developing the unique Ash-Greninja form similar to a mega evolution, and he places better than ever before in the league, landing second place.

But as impressive as his Kalos companions are, they're still outperformed by his best team yet…

Ash's Alolan Team

Ash's Alolan Team

Ash's Sun and Moon team

PokémonType

Rowlet

Grass

Incineroar

Fire/Dark

 Lycanroc

Rock

Naganadel

Poison/Dragon

Melmetal

Steel

1. Ash's Alolan Team

Series: Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon

Ash made headlines in S&M by finally winning the regional tournament, and it's no surprise with his impressive roster. No types are ever repeated, most members are fully evolved (Pikachu and Rowlet being the exceptions), and the team includes both a mythical Pokémon (Melmetal) and an Ultra Beast (Naganadel).

Both have especially high stats plus good types, and even Pikachu gets an upgrade thanks its multiple Z-moves.

Ash Ketchum's Other Appearances

Today we explored Ash's best anime lineups, and he's delved into several other media. His game counterpart Red is known for incredibly high-leveled teams, Ash is a high-challenge opponent in Pokémon Ga-Olé, and he has several manga counterparts.

Ash occasionally demonstrates skills besides battling, like artwork and Pokémon contests, but for now, vote for your favorite of his rosters and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill