Throughout 25 years of storytelling, Ash Ketchum has had numerous traveling companions in the Pokemon anime. These characters bring much of the identity of each region the protagonist treks through, adding freshness to the show with their different personalities and traits.
Whether it’s Brock falling in love with any girl he lays eyes on or Serena who tries to hide her crush on Ash, the Pokemon cohorts have all brought something to the show.
More than that, it’s their friendship with the main character that stands out, and this is what fans will be missing now that Ash’s run in the series is at an end. It’s worth looking through the best ones to reignite that inner child in all of us that Ash and his companions represent, along with how we’ve grown, just as they have.
10) Tracey Sketchit
Tracey came in as Brock’s replacement in the Orange Islands, where he remained a loyal friend to Ash and Misty. Although he didn’t have a particular angle to his personality as Brock did, Tracey was still very likable, and his creative mind, along with his penchant for sketching, became his defining trait.
Ash and Tracey had a great relationship, as Tracey became the voice of reason between Ash and Misty. His presence in Pallet Town after leaving Ash’s company also makes Tracey a character whom fans have seen show up relatively frequently, and he’s sure to greet Ash when the latter’s done with a journey. Tracey’s simple, uncomplicated attitude made him a chum that anyone would like to have.
Goh turned out to be the final companion Ash had in the Pokemon anime, which is fitting since his personality is similar. Much like Ash, Goh has a drive and passion for Pokemon, wanting to catch all of them until he can claim Mew, which is his ultimate goal. Goh also represents how Ash would have turned out had he not met his other friends, possessing a recklessness that is similar to Ash’s early days in the series.
While he could be brash and frustrating at times, Goh’s zest for life and his eagerness to join Ash in heading around the Pokemon world was great to follow. He provided Ash with the enthusiasm he needed after having seen it all, as Ash and Goh went out looking for legendary Pokemon.
Max was the first companion Ash had who could be seen as a protege of sorts. As a younger person, Max couldn’t have his own Pokemon, but instead lived the trainer life through Ash. The latter was a lot more mature around Max since he was the experienced one, becoming the understanding friend figure that Max needed in his life.
Max didn’t quite get the importance of the plot as his sister May did, but he and Ash had a close bond regardless. Fans got to see how young characters are filled with the desire to explore the Pokemon world through him, which is a reflection of how Ash used to be before he set off on his journey. Viewers still carry the hope of someday witnessing the battle between Ash and Max that the protagonist had promised before they separated.
Even though they were the same age, Clemont was a change from the norm, in that Ash played a mentor role to him rather than the male companion doing the same for Ash. Unlike Max, Clemont could actually put what he learned from Ash into practice, as he gathered the confidence he initially lacked to become a good Gym Leader.
Clemont’s protectiveness and good relationship with his younger sister Bonnie made him a relatable character to follow as well, with his good-guy nature also establishing him as very affable. With Serena also in the mix during this time of the Pokemon anime, it was the right decision to keep Clemont around since he brought the friendship element to the group that evened out the dynamic.
May had the task of living up to the spot left by Misty, which was a big deal at the time because fans had become accustomed to Ash’s previous companion. The series didn’t repeat the frenemy angle that Ash had with Misty, with May instead learning about what she wanted to do with her Pokemon while traveling with the squad.
Her rivalry with Drew and the Pokemon contests she took part in, brought an additional element to the anime that wasn’t seen before. The desired feminine energy needed for a group comprised of otherwise male characters was certainly welcome, as Ash had a female friend with whom he got along very well and provided new Pokemon experiences.
Serena is every “Poke-shippers” dream, with the character’s primary reason to travel with Ash being her burgeoning crush on him. Although it started out this way, her association with the Pallet Town native opened up Serena’s character development, as Ash’s love for Pokemon rubbed off on her and she decided to pursue her passion for being a performer.
Many fans still prefer her role as Ash’s supposed love interest, which the series continued to imply throughout her companionship with the protagonist. Serena arguably had the best character progression, having moved on from being a rather codependent person to figuring out what she wanted. This came about through her relationship with Ash, making their travels well worth it.
Out of all of Ash’s female companions, Dawn is probably the one who best qualifies as his buddy. From handing out high fives to assuring Ash that there’s “no need to worry”, she was the colleague whose friendship with the main character remained pure throughout. Also like Ash, Dawn’s arc was to shed her overconfidence to emotionally mature as a trainer.
Out of all of Ash’s friends, Dawn has consistently shown up even after their separation to support him, appearing in a recurring capacity in Pokemon Journeys. Her good nature has enabled Dawn to get along with Ash’s other companions, having become friends with Brock, Goh, and Chloe along the way.
Even though Ash and Misty’s time together began in an argumentative way and this remained consistent throughout their travels, the two have shared a solid relationship. The “will they?/won’t they?” aspect was applied to this duo, as they went from having a reluctant partnership to a firm friendship, with many fans shipping for more.
Misty effectively became Ash’s first friend on the road, carrying on through five seasons until she returned back home. Her relationship with Ash was always entertaining because of how much they clashed, which also made how much they cared about each other more heartwarming. Misty’s place in the franchise will always be cherished for being part of the original series.
Brock and Ash’s friendship can be better summed up as a brotherhood, with him serving as a mentor figure throughout their travels. Their dynamic was so great that Brock ended up as the longest-running companion Ash ever had, traveling through four regions with him and never being in conflict or at odds with the protagonist.
Brock was the nurturing stalwart Ash needed while out on the road, taking care of him by cooking food and becoming the sympathetic ear to his friend’s problems. His quirks like falling in love on a whim brought a goofy aspect to the character, which balanced well with his other mature traits. Ash and Brock ultimately completed each other, as the former learned to take care of himself through him while Brock realized his dream of establishing himself as a Pokemon doctor through witnessing Ash’s relationship with his Pokemon.
The one constant in Ash’s life in the 25 years that Pokemon has been running is Pikachu. Although they started out on frosty terms, Ash and Pikachu quickly became inseparable and have continued in this role ever since. Their bond has been the backbone of the anime, as the pair have traveled the entire Pokemon world together.
Ash needed a companion who would be with him through thick and thin, which couldn’t be provided by anyone other than Pikachu. Ash’s first Pokemon has loved him unconditionally, also progressing in his powers just as Ash has as a trainer. The two have grown together during their mutual journey, so it’s fitting that they’ve seen the highs and lows all the way through.
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