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Through almost 1,000 episodes of television and 20 spin-off movies, Ash Ketchum has become an iconic figure for aspiring Pokémon trainers across the world. An eternal 10-year-old from Pallet Town in the Kanto region, Ash has seen his dream of catching ‘em all shattered to pieces as the original 151 Pokémon grew to upwards of 800.
Even so, Ash has built up a solid team on his travels through the seven regions, allowing him to spar with some of the very best—like no one ever has. However, narrowing down Ash’s 15 most powerful pokemon requires focusing specifically on their battle records and the caliber of opponents they’ve defeated, with minor emphasis on move sets.
Updated on March 21st, 2022 by Tanner Fox: Though the franchise has undergone some fairly dramatic changes over the past few years, Pokémon remains as relevant today as it was in the late 90s. From the triumphant success of Pokémon Go in 2016 to the recent debut of Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the franchise is as talked-about as ever.
Ash Ketchum may not be quite as prevalent in the Pokémon series as he once was, but, after a redesign in 2019, he’s still out chasing his dream and acting as an inspiration to fans the world over pursuing a status as Pokémon master.
Back in Kanto, the grass-type Pokémon Bulbasaur was just the fourth creature to join Ash’s team behind Pikachu, Caterpie, and Pidgeotto. Only Pikachu and Meowth have made more anime appearances than Bulbasaur, while Pikachu is the only one’s been on Ash’s team for more episodes.
Despite going up against some powerful opponents during his time with Ash, Bulbasaur holds a positive win-to-loss ratio. Its most impressive feat actually comes when it fights for Misty in the Princess Day Festival where it defeats a Kingler, Pinsir, Cubone, and Raticate in a single battle. In Johto, Bulbasaur ties with its gen-2 equivalent’s final evolution, Meganium, having already taken damage from a Magneton, and it returns for the Advanced Generation series to defeat Brandon’s Dusclops, which had just beaten Charizard.
Ash’s Gliscor didn’t stick around for too long after evolving from Gligar, but its very first battle won Ash a Badge at the Canalave City Gym. After beating Bastiodon, Gliscor went on to lose its next two matches, although its defeats to Candice’s Snover and Paul’s Torterra were narrow ones.
After training with McCann, Gliscor returned to Ash as a far stronger Pokémon, having learned to perfect Giga Impact and Stone Edge under the Air Battle Master’s tutelage. Ash recalls Gliscor for the Sinnoh league where the ground-flying hybrid gets the chance to show off its new power during a rematch with Paul. Gliscor battles through poison to defeat Drapion, which had knocked out three of Ash’s Pokémon in succession, but it eventually loses out to Paul’s overpowered Electivire.
Krabby was the seventh Pokémon caught by Ash and the first water type to evolve under Ash’s care—a record it held alone until Kalos, when Ash’s Froakie swept through the evolution process to become Greninja. We also didn’t see much of Kingler in the anime, but it racked up some impressive stats during its brief spell as part of Ash’s team. After evolving mid-battle, Kingler only lost one competitive match, and it remains the only one of Ash’s Pokémon to win a league match entirely single-handedly.
It entered the Pokémon League as a Krabby, and, despite the type disadvantage, Krabby shocked everyone by defeating an Exeggutor in its first-ever battle. It evolved then and there, and Kingler made quick work of Mandi’s Seadra and Golbat to sweep the board. In the following match, Kingler beats Cloyster by crushing its shell with a powerful Crabhammer before finally falling to Pete’s Arcanine.
Starly was the first Pokémon caught by Ash in Sinnoh, and, as it evolved into Staraptor, it became Ash’s longest-serving Pokémon beyond the Hoenn region.
Despite Swellow’s impressive record in battle, Staraptor has some equally impressive wins to its name, including those over Paul’s Honchkrow and Weavile—the latter with a type disadvantage—but its move set is by far the best of Ash’s avian Pokémon. Staraptor knows two of the most powerful flying type moves, Aerial Ace and Brave Bird, as well as Close Combat, which allows it to battle ice, rock, and steel types without suffering from an obvious disadvantage.
Swellow takes the top spot over Staraptor; third only to Pikachu and Bulbasaur in terms of episodes spent on Ash’s team, it may not have the best moves of Ash’s birds, but Swellow is almost solely responsible for taking Ash through to the quarter-finals of the Hoenn League. It also puts in a strong performance at the Battle Frontier, where it defeats Tucker’s Swampert and Palace’s Venasaur.
In the Hoenn region’s Ever Grande Conference, Swellow twice knocks out two Pokémon in a row. First, it defeats Katie’s Venomoth and Scizor before going up against Tyson and taking out both Hariyama and Donphan. In the latter, it even deals damage to Metagross, which would eventually allow Pikachu the win over the steel type. This comes after separate gym battle victories over Juan’s Whiscash and a more powerful Shiny Swellow.
After evolving from a nervous Snorunt, Glalie never lost a one-on-one match—although it was forced into a tie on more than one occasion. Glalie’s first win would come at the Ever Grande Conference, defeating a Charizard despite the disadvantage. In the following battle with Katie, Glalie takes out her Dugtrio with ease and then uses Headbutt to seemingly knock out Misdreavus—only for the ghost type to use Destiny Bond at the last second to take Glalie down with it.
Glalie is Ash’s final Pokémon in his bout with Morrison, defeating Metang even after taking a couple of super-effective hits from the steel type. Glalie’s Ice Beam matches Sceptile’s Solar Beam in the next round against Tyson, and the resulting explosion knocks out both Pokémon.
Heracross was the first of Ash’s Johto Pokémon, but it competed in surprisingly few battles in its initial run. It lost to Rochelle’s Donphan in its first official match, although it previously had easily beaten another of her Donphan before the match was interrupted. The following match was perhaps Heracross‘ finest moment, defeating Shingo’s Scizor with a powerful combination of a sharp reaction time and a strong move set.
Heracross has been in and out of Ash’s team ever since, spending most of its time at Oak’s Lab trying to suck the sap from Bulbasaur and returning only when Ash has a tough battle ahead. Heracross was recalled for the Johto League Silver Conference, where it went up against Gary’s Magmar, overcoming a super-effective Fire Blast and Flamethrower combination with a flush of its wings.
Before its inevitable release, Goodra was undefeated in all forms of battle. In its first two official matches as a Goodra, it took down the double threat of Tierno’s Raichu and Wartortle—along with Pikachu—and earned Ash a Voltage Badge by defeating Clemont’s Luxray in the final round.
Upon its return to Ash’s team, Goodra fought Sawyer’s Slurpuff and followed that with successive losses to Alain’s Bisharp and Lysandre’s Mega Gyarados despite a strong set of moves. Goodra’s powerful Bide is backed up by attacks such as Dragon Pulse, Dragon Breath, and Ice Beam, and it’s easily among the young trainer’s most powerful pokémon.
Krookodile was the ninth and final pokémon to join Ash’s team in Unova and was by far the most powerful of the lot. Unfortunately, Ash’s Unova team was so large that none of them got a chance to fully develop.
That said, Krookodile had one of the highest win rates out of all Ash’s Pokémon at 75%, and the way in which it won was often just as impressive. Krookodile’s first victim was Iris’ Dragonite, and its next bout was at the Vertress Conference, where it was sent out first to battle Stephan’s Liepard. Krookodile was recalled after its win, returning for the final match with Sawk and beating the fighting Pokémon with a surprising Aerial Ace attack.
Ash’s Pikachu holds a win rate of over 60%, but that percentage includes wins over three pseudo-legendary Pokémon. Pikachu defeats a heavily worn-out Dragonite in the Orange League, and both Metagross and Tyranitar fall to Pikachu during Ash’s loss to Alain at the Lumiose Conference in Kalos. Pikachu even boasts a winning record versus full legendary Pokémon, having beaten Brandon’s Regice and tied with Tobias’ Latios—not to mention its win over Mega Lucario, which may just as well be legendary.
On the other hand, Pikachu has been on the receiving end of some equally surprising losses. Among others, Pikachu was defeated by Trip’s Snivy—despite Snivy never having battled before—as well as Jeanette’s Bellsprout. Despite its inconsistency, Pikachu is most definitely at the highest level of any of Ash’s Pokémon and would always make his team of six.
When it comes to legendary Pokémon, Ash’s Sceptile has arguably the most notable win in the entire anime, taking out Tobias’ Darkrai at the Lily of the Valley Conference. Darkrai had never been beaten in battle, but Sceptile was able to take it out with a single Leaf Blade, although some of the credit has to go to Heracross, having already scored some damage on the opponent. Sceptile’s record against other legendaries—including Regirock and Latios—is not so good, but one could hardly count that against Sceptile, which has also fought May’s Blaziken to a tie.
Now that it has access to Mega Evolution, Sceptile potentially stakes a claim as Ash’s outright most powerful Pokémon, but its current win rate of just 44% through its three stages of evolution, proving that Ash hasn’t been able to count on Sceptile as much as some of his other pokémon.
Snorlax may never have defeated a legendary, but there’s no reason that it couldn’t. Snorlax has overcome unbelievable odds to win a good majority of its matches despite being reserved specifically for Ash’s most intense battles. Its most impressive feat is demonstrating six moves during Ash’s match with Greta at the Kanto Battle Frontier. While Ash’s Pokémon are often inconsistent with their move sets, none have displayed more than four separate attacks in the very same battle. By contrast, a 5000 IQ Alakazam is able to stretch to only five moves.
Oversight or not, Snorlax’s impressive moveset combined with a 100% record against fighting types makes it one of Ash’s most powerful pokeémon. Its only losses come to Clair’s Gyarados, Gary’s Scizor, and Harrison’s Houndoom, but, in all three matches, Snorlax had already defeated at least one of its opponent’s Pokémon.
Ash’s relationship with Charizard got off to a rocky start but wins over Blaine’s Magmar and Tad’s Poliwrath got the pair back on the right track. Since then, Charizard has faced off against far more powerful opponents and come out with a winning record. Its most notable win was its defeat of Noland’s Articuno at the Battle Factory, while it also held its own against Entei in the third Pokémon movie.
Legendary Pokémon aside, Charizard has equally impressive victories over Falkner’s Pidgeot and half of Gary Oak’s entire team at the Silver Conference. Charizard swept through Gary’s Scizor, Golem, and Blastoise, despite the type disadvantage in the latter two, to earn Ash his first win over his childhood rival.
Since evolving from Monferno, Ash’s Infernape has lost only once, and that was to Elite Four member Flint. In its other battles, Infernape has always pulled through and currently holds an 83% win rate alongside Ash, the highest of any of his Pokémon. Even excluding its physical power, Infernape’s bond with Ash is so powerful that, between them, they are able to control Infernape’s Blaze ability. With Blaze activated, Infernape is nigh unbeatable, even after taking heavy damage.
Infernape won Ash the Beacon Badge, defeating Volkner’s Jolteon and Luxray after taking powerful electric attacks from both, and it single-handedly ran through Paul’s team at the Lily of the Valley Conference. After battling through poison to beat Aggron and Ninjask, Infernape finally settled the score with Electivire, activating Blaze and finally defeating its old rival.
Greninja didn’t require a stone to reach its most powerful stage; only its bond with Ash. The resulting form, known as Ash-Greninja, mentally fuses Ash and Greninja and is just as strong as any Mega Evolved Pokémon seen in the anime, even though Ash struggles to master the transformation.
The evolution, which hasn’t been seen in thousands of years, has battled Alain’s Mega Charizard X, Wulfric’s Mega Abomasnow, and Diantha’s Mega Gardevoir. Greninja triumphed in the latter two matches and initially lost to Charizard, only for the rematch to be cut short by Ash’s inability to maintain the pressure of the Ash-Greninja form. Yet, at exactly 80%, its win rate falls just short of Infernape’s, but Greninja’s bond with Ash exceeds even his connection with Infernape, which virtually guarantees Greninja as the first name on Ash’s ultimate team.
NEXT: 10 Pokémon Ash Never Caught
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