Pokémon Famous for their cheerful and upbeat tone, some of the anime’s best stories are also the most tragic and heartbreaking. It encourages the characters as well as the viewer to continue pursuing their dreams no matter how difficult it may be. However, with all these victories and warm friendships, it’s easy to forget where many of the characters started.
Neither Pokémon nor humans are spared the tragedy of their setting. Whether they are still grieving for their lost family, enduring a damaged relationship or being rejected by society, many characters are carrying a lot of pain along their journey. It’s a stark reminder that the Pokémon world isn’t as bright and fun as it seems.
10 Jessie and James
There are several reasons why Jessie and James have been close for such a long time, as demonstrated in Team Rocket’s most iconic Pokémon scenes. One of them is that they can relate to each other’s feelings of loneliness and rejection. They may come from very different backgrounds, but the core of their problems is the same.
Jessie grew up in terrible poverty, without a father in the picture, and her loving mother, a Missile Squad operative, abandoned her on a mission. James is from money, but is on the run to escape abusive parents and even worse arranged fiancée. The two of them are each other’s only human friends, and it’s no wonder they quickly befriend Meowth, another unloved kindred spirit.
As the first cloned Pokémon, whose creator has nothing to do with its best interests, Mewtwo has struggled from the start. According to “The Uncut Story of Mewtwo’s Origin”, its struggle for life begins right in the crate, when it befriends other clones in the lab only because their bodies collapse and die. Its grief was so strong that scientists had to erase its memory to prevent it from destroying the laboratory.
Not that it won’t do it in the end: killing its creators in the process, in rage because it was created only as an experiment. Giovanni makes things worse by posing as its friend first, only to later reveal that he tricked Mewtwo into making a weapon for him. After the first few weeks of its life, it’s no surprise that after breaking free from Giovanni’s control, Mewtwo immediately began trying to free every other Pokémon from humans.
Sabrina doesn’t quite break the ranks of the scariest kids in anime, but she definitely comes close. Unable to control her superpowers as a child, she grew up unable to normally relate to others and use her powers. She turned her mother into a doll for making her unhappy and her father jumped ship, abandoning her.
As a teenager, the effects of her atypical upbringing were obvious. Unlike her in-game incarnation, she lacks maturity and enjoys taunting and tormenting those unlucky enough to enter her gym. Only after Ash successfully defeats her and frees his friends from her powers can the more innocent side of her personality break through again.
Even Pokémon that only appear in a few episodes of the show can have strikingly tragic stories. This is the case of Larvitar being cared for by Ash in the Johto region. It was just an unhatched egg to Ash and his companions who found it, but it was completely crushed by life.
Its mother was attacked by Pokémon poachers who wanted to kidnap her egg, before it was carried far away. Even after poachers lost it, it was still smashed and nearly broken, only luck making it to Professor Elm’s lab safely. On its journey to reunite with its mother on Silver Mountain, it has two encounters with Team Rocket and is nearly kidnapped again, although this time it has new friends to protect it.
6 mallow trees
Ash meets Mallow as he explores the Alola region, eventually revealing that she is one of the Ultra Guardians. While she’s a fun Trainer now, her backstory hurts viewers more than the more fanciful elements of the Pokémon world. As a traumatized and soon grieving child, she said something in a moment of grief that she would regret for the rest of her life.
When she was young, Mallow’s mother became seriously ill, an illness that caused her to miss many important events in the lives of her children. Mallow, not knowing how to deal with his mother’s impending death, impulsively shouted at her mother that she hated her for repeatedly apologizing for her illness and running away. When she returns, her mother has passed away, and she is so embarrassed about her last words to her mother that she tries to avoid seeing her mother’s spirit in “Memories in the Mist!”
In a world that revolves around Pokémon, being obsessed with them is downright debilitating. Poor Lillie loves Pokémon, but is completely unable to make physical contact with them, in stark contrast to her in-game incarnation, who always keeps her beloved Nebby close by. In the episode “A Masked Warning!”, viewers learn why in one of Pokémon’s darkest moments.
As a child, Lillie was attacked by Ultra Beast Nihilego, a venomous Pokémon that causes severe damage to the victim’s body and mind. Viewers get a very clear picture of before and after Nihilego’s attack on Lusamine, who has been transformed into her former self. Between the loss of both her parents, her brother abandoning her out of guilt for being too afraid to help, and the consequent trauma, Lillie was in a bad place before meeting Ash.
Ash regularly rescues his most powerful Fire-type Pokémon from abusive situations, and sadly, his Pignite is no exception. Back when it was a young Tepig, it lost a battle and as punishment its Trainer Shamus didn’t leave it alone. He gagged it and tied it to a post before leaving, rendering Tepig inedible even when it was free.
Shamus’ charismatic treatment of Tepig continues to affect it even after it is linked to Ash. He pretends to release it only for its own sake and is traumatized by having to leave it, only to reveal that this is an act in which he entices all the Pokémon he gives up – one Anonymous numbers may not have been lucky enough to be found by the kind people in time. Viewers are more empathetic as Tepig evolves into Pignite in a fit of rage and burns Shamus’ face.
Meowth’s earliest memory is of waking up alone, without friends or family around. It doesn’t get any better for Pokémon Scratch Cat unfortunately since then. In one of anime’s most tragic backstories, it searches everywhere it can for acceptance and friendship, but instead runs into trouble at every turn.
Even the reason why Meowth is one of the only Pokémon that can speak a human language has a sad origin. It was trying to impress a well-off Meowth named Meowzie, a pet Pokémon of humans, but Meowzie found its new skill peculiar and rejected it in favor of a powerful, evolved Persian. stronger. At this point, Meowzie was abandoned by her own Trainer, but was still quick to look down on Meowth and treat him as his subordinate.
2 charming people
Shamus and Paul may have been ruthless with their Fire types, but former Ash’s Charizard Trainer came closest to actually killing his poor Pokémon. If the flame on Charmander’s tail is extinguished, it will die. So, the fact that Damian left the boy in the rain because he was too weak in the episode “Charmander – Stray Pokémon” was an act of astonishing cruelty, and only made Charmander determined to please its Trainer even after Damian left it alone causing it to be taken to the Pokémon Center more than heart attack.
As a Charmeleon and Charizard, it went through a period of rebellion, refusing to participate in battle it deems to be inferior, even if this had serious consequences for Ash. But in the episode “Charizard Chills”, Ash risks his life to save the frozen Charizard, who has been severely weakened by the attacks of Water and Ice. It reminds Charizard of how Ash earned the friendship and respect in the first place, and it goes back to fighting loyally for his true Trainer.
Famously, the Pokédex of each game features tidbits of Pokémon that range from disturbing to sad. Cubone, the lonely Pokémon, wears its deceased mother’s skull on its head and holds its precious bone in her memory. Although Ash and company never had to help Cubone deal with this tragedy, the anime still found an opportunity to bring it up.
In Pokémon Origins, Team Rocket tries to poach mother Marowak and her baby Cubone. As Marowak tried to protect her cubs, poachers beat her with batons strong enough to kill her. Although the new orphan was adopted by the kind Mr. Fuji, it was still angry and distrustful of any other humans after the humans took its mother from it.
Pokémon is usually an inspirational and happy show, but it never makes viewers forget about the other side of life. To achieve victory and happiness, sometimes moves have to move through a significant amount of pain and sadness. Finally, all the Pokémon saddest moments is what makes it such a memorable and beloved series.