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Top 5 Pokémon Ash Should’ve Kept (Season One, Kanto Region)

Updated on November 3, 2015
Earvin Allen profile image

I'm an avid Dragon Ball fan and have a love for Anime of all kinds. Want my opinion? Think I'm wrong about something? Let's talk!

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Gotta Catch 'Em All!

I grew up during the time of the Pokémon boom. Toys, clothes, movies, the show, and of course, the games. Pokémon Red and Blue were the foundation on which kids survived on the playground. If you didn’t have either, you were as good as dead. The show came on right after school and you couldn’t afford to miss a single episode. Pokémon was the new way of life. We followed closely as our lovable protagonist explored his homeland, meeting new people, making new friends, and discovering NEW Pokémon! Ash may not have captured as many critters as his rival and counterpart, Gary Oak, but early in his conquest he had a nice haul! Who would’ve guessed that a 10-year-old boy from Pallet Town would wake up late and end up earning all eight badges? He developed quite the team along the way; full of bugs, birds, and somehow all the starters he missed out on in day one! Ash was always a great trainer who really loved and cared about his Pokémon. He enjoyed their company and would often let them out of their balls to roam around freely with him. He had a soft spot in his heart, making him feel as though they deserved better. It was because of this feeling that he frequently freed his Pokémon so that they might live a better life. This is a list of Pokémon Ash should’ve held onto.

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5) Raticate (You Look Different in Battle)

We start our list with Raticate. In episode fifteen titled, “Battle Aboard the St. Anne,” Ash, Misty, and Brock were given tickets by a familiar looking duo (Team Rocket) to board the St. Anne. The St. Anne is a famous luxury liner that travels around the world, ferrying pretentious snobs that just KNOW that they are better than you, so for some reason Ash and company felt they would fit right in. They get on the boat and everyone onboard is a trainer. They’re all showing each other their Pokémon and sharing stories. Some are even making trades. Which brings us to Raticate. Ash is enamored by an older gentleman that is battling trainers of all ages with his Raticate. Strong, fierce, swift, and agile, Raticate is destroying the competition. Ash decides he wants in on the action and challenges the man. He of course uses Raticate and Ash goes with Butterfree. Buterfree uses its ability to fly and power of pollen to take control of the fight until the man calls the match off. He liked Butterfree so much that he talks Ash into trading his Raticate for it! When Team Rocket rocks the boat with their thievish shenanigans, the trainers band together teaming up same type Pokémon to fight back. When Ash calls for Butterfree and ends up with a Raticate staring at him, he knew he’d made a mistake. He asks the gentleman for a trade back and the gentleman reluctantly obliges. He never truly used Raticate. Weeeeak! He could’ve at least tried Hyper Fang once. C’mon Ash!

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4) Pidgeot (I’d Hate to Evolve and Run But....)

Let’s revisit episode three, “Ash Catches A Pokêmon”. Ash catches more than just one Pokémon. He catches a Caterpie which he uses to battle a Pidgeotto. Terrible choice. He almost gets the poor thing killed! Misty hollers at him to save the poor thing and Ash obliges. Pikachu saves the day and another Pokémon is added to the team. Pidgeotto quickly became the number two option behind Pikachu and it stayed that way for a long time. Pidgeotto may have been the strongest Pokémon on Ash’s roster. Being a level two evolutionary, fighting gym trainers, and destroying many a Meowth balloon. In episode 81 (Pallet Party Panic) Ash comes home to a party in his honor. He’d had a long journey all over Kanto collecting badges and taking names. After a historic run at the Indigo Plateau, he was ready to start a new adventure. Professor Oak had received a call about a mysterious new Pokéball. He sends Ash and friends to retrieve the ball and so a new journey had begun. The group stumble upon a flock of timid Pidgey and Pidgeotto. They’re hiding in the trees in fear of a ferocious group of Spearow, being led by a monstrous Fearow. Ash decides to help the Pidgey and Pidgeotto with one of his own. He engages in a battle with the Fearow and encourages the Pidgey and Pidgeotto to fly away. They are petrified. Ash’s Pidgeotto takes a direct shot from Fearow and falls to the ground. Ash is there to help it. It begins to evolve! Ash climbs onto his new Pidgeot’s back and the two take down the Fearow. The Pidgey and Pidgeotto are free! Ash decides to leave Pidgeot to protect the smaller birds. Although this sounds honorable, Pidgeot was probably his strongest Pokémon! And the only one that could take him all over the world at mach speeds. Ash lost out on a decent form of transportation AND one of the strongest birds alive. Venturing out into foreign terrain never seemed to cross our hero’s mind. For shame!!

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3) Primeape (To Train, or To Fight?)

Our next guest packs quite the punch. In episode 25 (Primeape Goes Bananas) Ash and company stumble upon a happy Mankey on their way to Celadon City. Mankey was hoping the group would share some food but the group wasn’t as enthusiastic as Mankey had hoped. Mankey ends up taking Ash’s hat, a hat that meant a lot to Ash. An all out war ensues. Team Rocket interferes and pushes Mankey aside. Mankey evolves into Primeape and begins to thrash everyone and destroy everything in its path. Ash sends out Charmander to fight Primeape. During the battle, Charmander learns the move Rage. Charmander combines his Rage with a Flamethrower to defeat the Primeape, and Ash uses a Pokéball to catch it. Primeape wasn’t used very often but brought a great set of fighting moves to the lineup. It was super strong. Just four episodes later in “The Punchy Pokémon,” Ash and gang meat a fellow by the name of Anthony. Anthony has abandoned his family in order for he and his Hitmonchan to become the greatest P1 Grandprix Pokémon champions in the world. Pretty much a fighting tournament with all fighting Pokémon. Ash and Brock decide to enter to help Anthony’s daughter, Rebecca. She feels as though her father will spend more time at home if they can knock him out the tournament. Ash uses Primeape and Brock enters Geodude. Team Rocket steal a man’s Hitmonlee and enter the contest as well. Hitmonchan ends up losing to Hitmonlee due to outside interference from Meowth so Anthony gets eliminated. Ash and Primeape make the finals and defeat Hitmonlee. Anthony offers to help Primeape become a true champion, and Ash agrees, leaving his Primeape with essentially a stranger. That’s it? Primeape was finally getting along with Ash. It just started obeying Ash in this episode! That shows how strong of a Pokémon Primeape is! And Ash let it go to become a professional fighter, never experiencing the true power of the punchy Pokémon.

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2) Haunter (First Ya See Me, Now Ya Don’t)

Many people question the existence of ghost. Ghost Pokémon on the other hand, have been widely accepted. In episode 23 (The Tower of Terror) Ash’s mission is to capture a ghost Pokémon so that he might stand a chance against the gym leader, Sabrina. Ash and crew run off into a haunted tower where it is discovered that Ghastly and it’s evolutionary forms, (Haunter and Gengar) all take residence. The ghost Pokémon get a kick out of playing pranks and scaring their guests, so when Ash and Pikachu don’t find their antics humorous, the ghost sulk away into the floorboards. Ash and Pikachu try to console them, but a chandelier ends up falling on them. The ghost heard the crash and came back to see what happened. The end up dragging their spirits out. Ash and Pikachu are surprised to see themselves lying on the floor but the ghost want to show them a fun time. They fly in the night sky and play pranks on their friends. They return to their bodies and Haunter decides to hang out with the crew. Ash didn’t exactly catch Haunter, but Haunter does agree to take on Sabrina. In the very next episode, (Haunter vs. Kadabra) Ash returns to the gym to fight Sabrina. Haunter disappears and it looks like Ash s in trouble again. Haunter appears and makes Sabrina laugh. Sabrina snaps out of the wicked trance she’d been stuck in. Haunter decides he wants to stay with Sabrina and bring her joy. Say goodbye to Haunter. I know Ash never truly “caught” Haunter, but he never truly caught most of his Pokémon. Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Charmander, Pikachu. Why not convince Haunter to stick around? Shaking. My. Head.

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1) Butterfree (Once, Twice, Three Times Forgotten)

Our number one Pokémon Ash should’ve kept was given away TWICE!!! It’s none other than the original capture itself, Butterfree! Now in episode 3 (Ash Catches a Pokémon) Ash makes his very first capture, Caterpie! Caterpie was so small living in the treacherous Viridian Forest. Ash let it roam around and crawl all over the place. Misty was miffed about that. Team Rocket had decided to terrorize Ash and Caterpie used String Shot to save the day. Caterpie defeated both Ekans and Koffing and sent Team Rocket blasting off again. Caterpie then used String Shot to evolve into Metapod. Not bad, but as seen in the next episode (Challenge of the Samurai) the only move Metapod knows is Harden. Ash abandons Metapod when Beedrill attacks. The Beedrill was probably alerted by the Weedle Ash had tried to capture earlier. The samurai, shuns Ash for leaving his Pokémon behind. The Beedrill decide to take Metapod with them as a hostage. Later, Ash tries to sneak up and take Metapod back. Meowth and Team Rocket are there and Meowth ends up waking up the Beedrill. As the Bedrill swarm, Ash apologizes to Metapod and uses his body as a shield to protect Metapod from an attacking Beedrill. Metapod jumps in between the Beedrill and Ash and takes a blow. It evolves into Butterfree! Butterfree uses Sleep Powder to put all the Beedrill to sleep. Ash and his new Pokémon are on top of the world! Well..... until Ash trades him for a Raticate and changes his mind, and then again in episode 21 “Bye Bye Butterfree”. In “Bye Bye Butterfree” it’s mating season for Butterfree. Ash’s Butterfree comes out of his Pokéball and is immediately infatuated with a Pink Butterfree. It tries desperately to get it’s attention but it’s not happening. Misty and crew give it advice and even dress it up. Team Rocket comes to steal all the Butterfree and Ash’s saves the day. Being a hero and having a killer courtship dance ends up being enough to woo the Pink Butterfree. Ash let’s his Butterfree fly free once and for all. So yeah, Ash had a level three evolutionary he gave away twice, and abandoned once. Why even catch it, Ash? Just let sleeping bugs be! Ash’s party suffered when Butterfree left. No more Stun Spore, Poison, or Sleep Powder! Not the right move to become a master.

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2 B A Master

You could argue that Ash wouldn’t have time to make relationships with the rest of his Pokémon if he held on to all of them, but his goal was to be a Pokémon Master! You can’t do that if you are constantly releasing Pokémon from SOMEONE’s PC left and right! Or maybe it’s a sign. Ash always seemed to do well for himself no matter who was on his team. Maybe that’s what makes you a true Master. Knowing when and if it’s okay to let go. Making contributions to the bigger picture. Ash may not have ever become a Pokémon Master, but he did master what it meant to be a Pokémon trainer.

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