We suppose it wouldn’t make sense to have Team Rocket forge onward without Ash and Pikachu to chase. But for long-time fans, Team Rocket’s Pokémon goodbye makes the end of an era all the more real. As Pokémon prepares for its final episodes with Ash as its main character, it’s also closing the book on Jessie, James, and Meowth, a trio of maybe the most iconic villains in pop culture. And even worse, it seems like Pokémon has disbanded Team Rocket, but thankfully not for too long.
Ash’s swan song on Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series is marked by nostalgic visits from friends, Pokémon, and rivals. So, of course, Team Rocket had to play a part in the farewell. After all, they’ve been trying to get their hands on Pikachu for twenty-five years. In their seemingly final episode, Team Rocket made one last attempt to steal Pikachu from Ash and brought along many of their past Pokémon to the fight. (Though not all, as recognized in this tribute.)
Obviously, even with twenty-five years of experience, they did not succeed. Team Rocket blasted off for their seemingly final time on Pokémon. But in a truly shocking twist, the three decided that it was time to call it quits. We didn’t expect them to chase Pikachu forever into the sunset… But maybe we kind of did. It was sad to imagine that Team Rocket has disbanded.
But thankfully, in the final episode of Pokémon, Team Rocket got back together after all and gave one more chase for Pikachu. Being separated and working at the Team Rocket cafe was just not for them. And, of course, they understood they truly needed one another. We see them lurking on the horizon as Ash finishes the final steps of his journey. And that means, Team Rocket will forever live just out of sight, scheming their schemes. And though we won’t see them Ash and again in the same way, we can imagine their continuing adventures.
One thing is for sure, Pokémon is pulling no punches on its fans. The show knows the ending needs to count, and that means all of the feelings. But Team Rocket’s final bow also makes us wonder about the future. The trio of baddies could have served as a good thread from one chapter of Pokémon to the next. But it looks like Liko and Roy will face down a whole new threat. And whoever that next Pokémon villain is had better prepare for… a lot of hard work if they hope to live up to Team Rocket.
Originally published on March 15, 2023.