Pokémon has been around for 20 years now, which everyone should be aware of by now considering how huge this year has been with new promotions and games. Though there are a lot of reasons why Pokémon is such a major success as it spans several different media, one is its expansive storyline that crosses entire regions and generations. Like any other good stories, Pokémon has a lot of conflict. Beyond the struggle of catching Pokémon and defeating gym leaders, Pokémon has always introduced a certain underground of villains wishing to corrupt or the destroy the world as most people know it. This list is a tribute to all those people who took joy in causing havoc and blocking our progress.
10. Jesse and James (TV)
Yes they are more of a running gag than anything else. Worse, they are a running gag that lost any appeal after the second season. Some people might have been able to stomach them for a season or two more, but soon enough everyone gets tired of seeing Team Rocket blasting off. Nonetheless, let’s fly back to their glory days, within the first few episodes, where wanted posters of the mysterious team rocket plastered the town, and they seemed like a legitimate threat. Well, that was about it for the glory days of this Team Rocket pair. Despite their threat level dying down rather quickly as they failed to capture Pikachu time after time, Jesse and James are the iconic face of Team Rocket and general villainy in the Pokémon world.
9. Miror. B (Pokémon Colosseum)
Though he’s not the arch villain in Pokémon Colosseum, he very easily became a fan favorite of this spin-off game. If you’re asking how that came about, then you must not have played the game. Miror. B successfully danced his way into players’ hearts with his flashy style and incredible dance moves. The guy does, after all, rock a red and white afro that’s definitely pokeball inspired. Furthermore, in spite of the obvious responsibilities that come along with being an Admin. of Team Cipher, he is clearly more obsessed with teaching his team of primarily Ludicolo how to dance. In all honesty, he’s not much of a threat. Even when he ditches Team Cipher to start his own crew, he isn’t too hard to take down nor really villainous. Nonetheless, he is extremely memorable and definitely one of the most entertaining villains to come out of any of the games.
8. N (Pokémon Black and White)
It’s somewhat hard to declare N as a villain. He’s sort of like a fallen angel type character. He’s rebelling against the status quo, attacking the current system, and yet it’s almost impossible to hate the kid. The world he’s fighting for is something most players can see as an almost better world, a kinder world for Pokémon. His whole goal, if for some reason you didn’t play Black and White (which by the way has probably the best storyline in Pokémon), is to create a world where Pokémon aren’t caught and forced into servitude and battle. He believes in befriending them and asking for their assistance and then letting them go about with their Pokelives. In fact, every time we face him he has a new set because he actually follows through with his ideals. Plus, by the end, we find out that he’s been manipulated from a very young age by a man named Ghetsis, who could not care less about the actual mission of Team Plasma. Nonetheless, Ghetsis doesn’t really show his true face until the end, so it’s N who we are face-to-face with constantly, as it’s him acting as the king of Team Plasma.
7. Lance (Pokémon Adventures)
Though we don’t get too much of Lance in the show or the video games, he does have quite the role in the manga Pokémon Adventures. Still acting as the leader of the Elite Four and rocking a team of dragons - Dragonite, Dragonaire, Gyarados, Aerodactyl (okay so not all of them are dragons) – his goal is to wreck everyone. He wants to destroy humankind, and he, quite frankly, has the power to do so. The only reason why he isn’t higher up on this list is that his desire to kill people comes from a rather noble desire. As a child, he witnessed a traumatic disaster that had left several Pokémon dead, and now does everything he can in order to protect them. Over time though, he does begin to help the protagonists of Pokémon Adventures.
6. Archie (Pokémon Sapphire)
Okay, so you might notice that Maxie’s not on this list. Well one, he’s practically the same character and it didn’t feel worthwhile to have a repeat. Two, Archie wants to cover the world in water, which is way more terrifying than a world covered by land. Admittedly, we need water to survive, but imagine a world with only water and water Pokémon of the sea. That’s just terrifying. Tentacruels as far as the eye can see, Gyarados jumping out at you, Seakings stabbing you in the leg. It’s not a particularly pretty picture. Third, the guy simply has way more style and appeal. The only reason why he isn’t higher up on this list is because he honestly thinks that his mission will better the world for both humans and Pokémon. In fact, when he realizes otherwise, he has a slight existential crisis and can’t even come to terms with the destruction he’s set in motion. However, ignorance isn’t necessarily a redeeming quality.
5. Nobunaga (Pokémon Conquest)
Nobunaga is the main antagonist in the spin-off video game Pokémon Conquest. Outside of getting points for simply looking like such a badass, Nobunaga is extremely powerful and hard to take down. Before we can even talk about fighting the guy, you got to consider that he has set a good majority of the continent against you. Just getting to the point where you can actually take him on, is a complete pain. Then when you’re actually face-to-face with him, you realize he’s on a whole other level than anyone else you’ve fought. His Hydregion is a massive threat and extremely difficult to take down. However, at the very end, you realize he was a badass with a heart of gold. His whole reason for going on such an ambitious conquest was to prove that a god-like Pokémon did not exist or if it did to destroy it so that the rest of the factions would stop fighting.
4. Hunter J (TV)
You do not want to get in the way of Hunter J. She is strong, she is intelligent, and she is ruthless. Essentially the equivalent of a bounty hunter in the Pokémon universe, Hunter J has the coolest gadgets. Outside of having a massive airship as her base, she also has lasers, a cloaking device, and a high-tech visor to follow Pokémon that got away using teleport. She also has one more similarity with most bounty hunters in popular media. On a general basis she tends to engage in her business of stealing Pokémon and selling them on the black market with a certain detachment. That is to say, she views everything as a business transaction and doesn’t let her emotions get in the way of a job. However, this level of cold-heartedness extends deep into her psyche as she barely even cares for the well-being of her own henchman. The final touch of terror to this villain comes in the form of her monstrous Salamence, which can own most of Ash’s Pokémon.
3. Giovanni (TV, Pokémon Red and Blue)
Giovanni was the original crime boss of the Pokémon world, and still remains as one of the most iconic characters in the series. His appearance alone screamed mafia, but more importantly so did his actions. As the leader of Team Rocket, he influenced activities that ranged from black market gambling to cloning Mew. One of the more interesting aspects of his character is that he wasn’t necessarily interested in ruling the world. His dream was one focused on money and just doing whatever he could with money. He didn’t desire anyone to die or get hurt per say, but he did perform a lot of rather rough and coercive actions in order to go about doing whatever he please. Also, he has one of the most fitting Pokémon teams for his personality. He’s rooted, grounded per say, and believes himself to be the king of his own life. Thus, Nidoking and Nidoqueen are perfect for him.
2. Mewtwo (Pokémon: The First Movie)
Possibly one of the most intense villains in the Pokémon universe, Mewtwo earned this high rank due to his ingenious schemes during Pokémon: The First Movie. Let’s face it, Mewtwo is the ultimate revolutionary in the Pokémon world. He questions just about everything and decides that the way things are just isn’t good enough. Nope, he needs to clone all the Pokémon and then wipe the world out in a flood in order to set up a utopia. Talk about a god complex. However, that alone wouldn’t earn him the number two spot. Nope. What propels him so far forward are the little details deposited throughout that first movie that would make just about any Pokémon trainer cry. How nonchalantly he flung Pokémon aside with a flick of his wrist was just overpowered.. Also, if you weren’t on the edge of your seat when he’s capturing everyone’s Pokémon to make clones, then you really have no heart.
1. Ghetsis (Pokémon Black and White)
This, my friends, is the face of heartlessness. Ghetsis is the most manipulative villain in Pokémon. It’s one thing to want to rule the planet and have yourself as the acting god. In anime, such characters tend to be quite intriguing for the most part. This selfish villain though takes it to the next level. So on top of wanting to be the only trainer in the world who actually has Pokémon under his command, he has corrupted an innocent youth into being his right hand man. No, worse than his right hand man. He basically manipulated and controlled N in order to keep himself at a safe distance from the actual fighting while still reaping all the rewards. Not really helping this man’s case is the fact that he took N in as an orphan and still decided to use him as a pawn. Talk about neglecting any type of parental attachment. In the end, the guy just doesn’t have any redeeming qualities.
From the iconic to the obscure, these Pokémon villains have been giving the protagonists of the Pokémon universe a tough time. Yet would you want it any other way Pokémon really wouldn’t be the same without some crime syndicates and the nefarious individuals who lead and make up the organizations. Fighting gym leaders, wild Pokémon, and other trainers is fun of course, but it’s these villains that truly push Pokémon’s narrative. With all of that said, were there any villains you believe should have been on this list?