The Pokémon The anime has spanned over 1,200 episodes, so diving in can be a daunting task for new fans. While it’s always safe to start with the latest version, such as Pokémon Horizons, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been missed in skipping ahead. Fortunately, the Pokémon anime has a plethora of standalone episodes that can be viewed in any order without much context. This list includes the 10 best stand-alone episodes in the series, both humorous and those that might even bring you to tears.
10 Squirtle Team Here Comes! (S1E12)
This classic episode from the first season is not only the one in which Ash gets his iconic Squirtle, but it also introduces the Squirtle Squad, a beloved group of Pokémon that act together and team up to fight fires. . The episode is an old goofy Pokémon in many ways, and using Pokémon for everyday tasks like firefighting answers a lot of people’s questions about the Pokémon world (while also raising a few others). This episode also started the tradition of identical Officer Jennie in the anime, a tradition that still lives on to this day.
9 Shoot, dash and smash for the crown!/Slowking’s crown! (S23E26)
A wild episode from the relatively recent Pokémon Journey, its story is split into two parts that ultimately connect at the end. The first half involves a ridiculous competition in which trainers see how high they can make their Magikarp jump, while the second half sees Ash and Goh take turns wearing crowns of Slowking, which completely changes their personalities. It’s almost completely meaningless throughout the entire process, and is sure to make fans laugh at the absurdity of it all.
8 Where Togepi Has Never Been Before (S12E37)
From the age of Diamonds and Pearls, this episode comes as the world’s naughtiest Togepi shows up to delight in tricking the show’s cast – both Ash and co. and Missile Squadron. It’s funny to see the sweet and lovable Pokémon Misty’s Togepi in trouble, and it’s even funnier to watch Ash and his friends repeatedly fall for the same tricks because of it. Other ridiculous attractions include Team Rocket’s Mount Rushmore, a Giovanni robot built to house cats, and the team almost ended up in outer space.
7 New Adventures of Professors! (S21E12)
Officially considered the 1,000th episode of the entire series, this Sun and Moon episode is hardly what you’d expect from Pokémon: a wedding. While the wedding may lack some of the highlights that blind viewers to entering, it’s not necessary to see the rest of the Alola era to enjoy this. The episode, like many in Alola, is more of a life than an adventure, a rare instance where even Team Rocket failed. Professor Kukui even used a move used by some fans in real life: the wedding ring in the Poké Ball. The Alola crew dynamism is at its sweetest and most intimate here, and so it’s a good taste of what this era of anime can be like.
6 Bye Bye, Butterfree (S1E20)
Another episode of season 1, “Bye Bye, Butterfree” is exactly what it says – goodbye to Ash’s Butterfree. Much of the episode revolves around Ash’s Butterfree trying to get romantic with Pink Butterfree, with the help of Ash, Brock, and Misty. Butterfree was able to prove her bravery by defeating Team Rocket, eventually winning Pink Butterfree’s heart… though that means it has to leave now. Caterpie is the first Pokémon Ash catches after catching Pikachu, and although it hasn’t been around for long, the actual goodbye to the ending is quite tearful. The episode was so memorable that they basically remade it in Diamond and Pearl with Jessie’s Dustox.
5 Fears at Litwick Mansion (S14E26)
This episode from Black and White makes for a great Halloween episode, as it revolves around Ash and Team Rocket’s group getting lost in a mansion haunted by the Litwick of the same name. Litwick is surprisingly dangerous in this episode, they literally ate Team Rocket’s life force almost to the point of killing them. Ash and Team Rocket must eventually work together to survive, which is always fun to watch.
4 Alola, Kanto! (S20E42)
“Hello, Kanto!” Immediately notable is Misty and Brock’s big return to the Pokémon anime, and they haven’t slacked off during the time they haven’t appeared in the story. Ash and his classmates Alolan travel to Kanto and participate in exhibition matches with Brock and Misty, giving both old companions a chance to show off their evolved Pokémon. For anyone who has even watched a few episodes of the early seasons, seeing Brock and Misty again is a delight, even in Sun and Moon’s sometimes controversial art style. Brock and Misty are later rewarded in “Alola, Alola!” where they went to visit Ash.
3 One journey ends, another begins… (S20E21)
This episode is possibly one of the saddest episodes ever in the entire Pokémon anime. Alola’s Starter Litten, who has appeared several times as a stray, is said to be living with a Stoutland uncle who has fallen ill. Litten tries her best to get Stoutland’s help, but to no avail, because it’s time for Stoutland to go, and not even Nurse Joy can change that. The episode deftly tackles the issue of death, something that Pokémon in general often cover up. It also ends with Ash capturing this Litten who will become a key member of his team.
2 Charmander – Lost Pokémon (S1E11)
An episode that has existed in GIF sets for decades now, this one is sure to shake the hearts of Pokémon fans. The episode focuses on a Charmander abandoned by its trainer, asked to wait for him in one spot while he never intends to return. Charmander nearly dies when a rainstorm threatens to extinguish the flames at its tail, and Ash and his friends must team up to save him. Ash is poised to fight this trainer with his fists in this episode, showcasing a cynical side that has more or less disappeared in later seasons. Since this is Charmander who will one day become Ash’s Charizard, it is a very important and memorable episode.
1 Distant blue sky (S25, Special)
The final episode on this list, “The Distant Blue Sky” is a special that aired in December 2022, before Ash’s final miniseries premiered. In it, Ash is informed that his father is visiting and wants to see him, so he must find his way to a specific Pokémon center. Ash’s father is rarely even mentioned, much less frequently, so the premise is immediately interesting. Along the way, Ash meets a strange child and stumbles across a chalet in the woods, where a couple is facing a terrible loss. Ash understands the situation and helps the pair deal with their grief, before heading to the Pokémon Center, but we won’t spoil the end of the episode here, as it has to be watched. The episode is heartbreaking in so many ways and could very well be the best episode in the series about emotional resonance.
These episodes provide a good starting point for anyone who wants to dig deeper but is afraid to watch hundreds of episodes. There are many other special episodes of Pokémon There are anime out there that just can’t make this list, not to mention some great storylines going on that are well worth checking out.
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