After 25 Years, Ash and Pikachu Are Leaving POKÉMON

Feel old, yet? After a quarter-of-a-century journey to be the best like no one ever was, Ash and Pikachu will hang up their hats and lightning bolts as they leave the Pokémon anime behind. Unlike other similar anime series, which refresh their protagonists after a season or two, these two were lifers. It seemed like Ash and Pikachu would always remain on our screens. But all good things must come to end. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t feel sad about this change in the bedrock of our pop culture. Even though Ash and Pikachu will leave the Pokémon anime, they will not be forgotten.

A special Pokémon trailer highlights the coming changes to the franchise’s world. It reminds us of the journey that Ash and Pikachu have gone on. There is a lot to look back on. After all, Pokémon began to air in Japan in 1997. And it came shortly thereafter to the US in 1998. VCRs were in vogue, then! But, although becoming a Pokémon Master is a dream that never ends, Ash and Pikachu have arrived at their final chapter.

Ash and Pikachu are leaving Pokemon
The Pokémon Company

When Will Ash’s Final Pokémon Episodes Air in the United States?

Pokémon ended Ash’s story with 11 episodes that began airing in Japan on January 13, 2023. And these episodes marked the end of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series. According to a release, they will also “provide a glimpse of what the future may hold for the world’s strongest Trainer. The forthcoming special episodes not only celebrate our hero’s monumental achievement but they also serve as an expression of gratitude from Pokémon to all the fans who have joined Ash and Pikachu along the way.”

At SDCC 2023, it was revealed that Ash and Pikachu’s final Pokémon episodes will release in the US on September 8, 2023. These last moments of the original Pokémon series will stream on Netflix. Pokémon released a teaser trailer for this concluding segment, also known as Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series Part 4. And it really is emotional.

A release shares, “Send Ash and Pikachu off in the final episodes of Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series, available 9/8 on Netflix! Join them after their World Coronation series win as they reunite with old friends in Pokémon: To Be a Pokémon Master, a collection of special episodes that concludes Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series.” In the meanwhile, Pokemon Ultimate Journeys: The Series parts 1-3 is now streaming. There is no word yet on when Pokémon Horizons, the next chapter of the Pokémon saga, will arrive in the US. But we’re sure we’ll hear more about it soon.

If you don’t want to be spoiled for Ash’s final Pokémon episodes, look away now!

Spoiler Alert

Old Friends Join Ash for His Final Episodes

Brock and Misty join Ash and Pikachu for their final episodes as Pokémon’s heroes. And, of course, Ash’s first rival makes a comeback just in time for Ash’s last stand. It’s a fitting way to go.

Crunchyroll shares that the second episode of Ash’s last stand, Pokémon: Aim to Be a Pokémon Master,  will bring Misty back into the fold. Snippets of her appearance are teased in the above trailer. Meanwhile, episode three of Ash’s swan song will reveal the return of Brock and Cilan. GameRant indicates Misty will also appear, marking the reunion of our favorite trio. The first clips of Misty’s return have begun to surface on the internet.

In addition, joining the trio and their Pokémon are also Team Rocket, the Squirtle Squad, and other old favs.

We’re not surprised Ash, Misty, Brock, Pikachu, and more will all come together to see out this chapter of the series, but we are emotional.

Ash’s Rival Gary Returns for Ash’s Very Last Episode

Sometimes in the world of anime, it’s not a hero’s friends who are their most powerful relationships, but their rivals. Ash and Gary started their Pokémon adventure on the very same day, and their relationship has woven through the series. And now, Gary will be back to help close Ash’s chapter on the show.

Gary will return to Pokemon for Ash's final episodes of the series
The Pokémon Company

A synopsis from a Japanese TV guide for Ash’s last episode titled “Rainbow and the Pokémon Master!,” shared by Kotaku, notes:

When Ash and Pikachu return to Pallet Town, they reunite with Gary who asks Ash the question: How much closer to becoming the Pokémon Master are you now that you’ve become the Champion? Becoming a Pokémon Master has been Ash’s dream ever since he set off on his journey with Pikachu. Will Ash be able to find the answer to this question?

We bet we will see one final battle between Ash and Gary, but probably not an antagonistic one. No, we imagine this one will feel more bittersweet and poignant, capturing Ash’s growth on his long journey.

When Did Ash’s Last Pokémon Episodes Air in Japan?

Ash Reunited with Butter free in Pokemon anime before the end of his journey (1)
The Pokémon Company

In short, have your tissues and cuddly Pikachu pillows ready as we prepare to say goodbye to Ash and the rest of the Pokémon gang. Ash’s final episode aired in Japan on March 24. As mentioned, there is no date set yet for when Ash’s final Pokémon episodes will arrive on Netflix in the US. But we know this one will make us cry harder than when Ash let Butterfree stay behind without him. (Although we feel glad that the pair finally reunited.)

The Future of Pokémon: Pokémon Horizons

And now, a new dream begins. 25 years later, Pokémon will center on fresh heroes. We now know they are named Liko and Roy. The duo of protagonists will continue unraveling the mysteries of the Pokémon world in Pokémon Horizons. And the new series will feature more modern Pokémon, like those we met in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

The two new heroes of the Pokemon series after Ash and Pikachu leave the show
The Pokémon Company

We suppose Ash did finally become the world champion of the Pokémon world. And unless there was some kind of universal tournament for him to enter, that’s probably the pinnacle of achievement. So it makes sense to bring his story to a close. We guess the only way to properly say goodbye is to dig out our copies of Pokémon episode one.

Originally published on December 16, 2022.

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