After twenty-five years, Ash Ketchum, the new Pokemon World Champion, is set to retire as the main protagonist of the Pokemon anime. After a special miniseries airing in January 2023, Ash will pass the baton to a pair of new young Trainers, Liko and Roy.
Even after such a long stint as Pokemon's hero, some mysteries remain from Ash's era, and it is unlikely that they will all be solved by the end of his final eleven episodes. Here are some of the biggest unanswered questions from the Pokemon anime.
1. Who were the other two Trainers from Pallet Town?
As fans are well aware, Ash Ketchum only received his beloved Pikachu as a starter Pokemon because he was late to arrive at Professor Oak's lab, and the usual Kanto starters, Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle, had already been claimed by other Trainers. Ash's main rival, Gary, is eventually revealed to have chosen Squirtle, but who took Bulbasaur and Charmander? The other Pallet Town Trainers are regularly mentioned and praised by characters Ash meets early in the anime, suggesting that he may have been intended to encounter them at some point, but to date, only Gary has ever been seen.
The most common theory is that the unaccounted for Pallet Town Trainers are Red and Leaf/Green, aka the player characters of the Gen I Pokemon games. In the miniseries Pokemon: Origins, a more direct anime adaptation of the early games, Red is depicted as having chosen Charmander as a starter, while promo art for the Gen I remakes FireRed and LeafGreen often portray Leaf with Bulbasaur or it's evolutions.
2. Who is Ash's Father?
Ash, like the Gen I player characters, is depicted in the anime as being raised by an apparently single Mother, Delia. However, early part of the anime does include a few references to Ash's Father, most notably in episode two, 'A Pokemon Emergency!', when Delia praises Ash for having reached Viridian City faster than his Father and claims he would have been proud of him. Other sporadic references to Ash's Dad suggest he is a Trainer away on his own Pokemon journey. It was stated in the DVD commentary for Pokemon 3: Spell Of The Unown that we would learn more about him in season five of the anime, but this did not come to pass, and a teased appearance from Ash's Dad in a recent special episode of Pokemon Journeys was a false alarm.
There are quite a few fan theories related to the identity of Ash's Father, but none have ever produced enough evidence to confirm or deny them. This may be one paternity case we'll never see results for.
3. Where did Ash's Tauros herd come from?
In episode sixty-five of the Pokemon anime, 'Showdown At The Po-ke Corral', Ash visits Professor Oak's lab prior to travelling to the Indigo Plateau for the upcoming Pokemon League tournament. While there, Ash checks in on the Pokemon he has sent to stay at the lab (a Trainer can only travel with a team of six at any one time). This includes a herd of thirty Tauros who most viewers had never seen before, apparently caught in the Safari Zone, a location they wouldn't remember Ash visiting. So, where the hell did this herd of Tauros actually come from?
Ash caught all of his Tauros in episode thirty-five of the anime, while visiting the Safari Zone. Ash is given thirty Safari Balls to catch Pokemon within the zone, but Tauros repeatedly get in the way of many of his intended targets, leaving him with just the aforementioned herd of thirty to show for his Safari Zone efforts. Unfortunately, this episode only aired in Japan, China, and South Korea. It was banned in most of the Western World for the inclusion of firearms, most notably, a scene in which a gun is pointed at Ash's face. Because of the banned episode, most of t/he world was left with the impression that Ash's Tauros all appeared out of nowhere.
4. Will Ash ever return for Primeape or Pidgeot?
Over the course of his Pokemon journey, Ash has occasionally left his Pokemon with other Trainers or organisations for specialist training, or in some rare cases, released them. More often than not, the Pokemon left for training eventually return to the care of Ash, or 'storage' with Professor Oak. Even the Pokemon Ash has released are often seen again.
Unfortunately, this has not been the case for Ash's Primeape or Pidgeot. After his Primeape wins a tournament for Fighting Types in 'The Punchy Pokemon', an expert named Anthony offers to take Primeape and train it into a champion. Ash agrees, but although the episode's closing narration teased that it may not be the end for Ash and Primeape, the Pokemon has not been seen since.
Ash's Pidgeot is a more famous, and for many, painful example. As a Pidgeotto, it was one of Ash's most loyal Pokemon, remaining with him throughout his through Kanto, participating in various important battles. After it evolves into Pidgeot to save its pre-evolutions from a flock of violent Spearow, Ash leaves it behind to protect them in case the aggressors seek revenge.
In the English dub, Ash makes it clear that he will be back for Pidgeot once he returns from the Orange Islands. The original Japanese version is more ambiguous as to Ash's intentions, but either way, many fans are hoping to see Pidgeot one more time before Ash's journey ends.
5. What was in the GS Ball?
The GS Ball, a mysterious gold and silver Pokeball, was introduced to the Pokemon anime at the beginning of the 'Orange Islands' story arc. The ball was speculated to have a rare Pokemon inside, but was sealed shut, and unable to be opened by any conventional means. Ash's task to retrieve and deliver the GS Ball first to Professor Oak, and then Pokeball expert Kurt, as well as the mystery of what was inside it, formed a large part of the 'Adventures In The Orange Islands' arc, and Ash's early adventures in Johto. However, after the GS Ball was successfully delivered to Kurt, it was never mentioned again, leaving many fans scratching their heads.
So, what happened? It seems the biggest culprit was a failure in communication between the team working on the anime, and the one working on that year's Pokemon movie. According to one of the anime's Directors, Masamitsu Hidaka, the GS Ball was intended to contain the mythical Pokemon Celebi, which would have gone on to have a multi-episode story arc in the anime.
However, once it was decided that Celebi was to star in the fourth Pokemon movie, Pokemon 4Ever, the anime's writers were forced to scrap their own Celebi story arc, and with it, an answer to the mystery of the GS Ball. With no back up plan in place, Hidaka claims the GS Ball was simply dumped off with Kurt in the hope viewers would eventually forget about it.
6. What were Tobias's other four Pokemon?
While competing in the Sinnoh League Lily of the Valley conference at the conclusion of the Diamond and Pearl anime, friend and fellow competitor Barry warns Ash about Tobias, a mysterious Trainer who has swept the early rounds of the competition using only one Pokemon, the mythical Darkrai.
Ash faces Tobias in the semi-finals, the point in which the competition switches to full six-on-six battles. Darkrai takes down three of Ash's Pokemon before Ash finally defeats it with his Sceptile, becoming the first in the competition to do so, and forcing Tobias to send out his second Pokemon, a Legendary, Latios. Despite a valiant effort, Ash's remaining Pokemon are all defeated, winning Tobias the match. A few episodes later, he is revealed as Champion of the Tournament.
Tobias is, to date, the only Trainer in the Pokemon anime to have used Mythical or Legendary Pokemon in a League competition. As he only needed to use two of his six Pokemon in his Semi-Final match with Ash, fans have long speculated on what his other four Pokemon were, and whether they were also legendaries. An Ash/Tobias rematch is also on many fans' wishlist for Ash's final episodes.
Will they get their wish? They'll have to watch the final chapters of Ash's journey to find out.