[Top 10] Most Loved Characters From The Pokemon Universe (Ranked)

Heroes of Pokemon
Many iconic faces of Pokemon and some people who walked in off the street

Pokemon has been around for nearly 30 years now, so it stands to reason it has produced some lovable and memorable characters. Some stuck with us for being epic, while others were heartwarming. And others were just so ridiculous it's impossible to forget them. This is a hard topic to rank for certain, but here is who I would consider the most beloved characters in the Pokemon series.


10. Grimsley (Black and White, Black and White 2, Sun and Moon, UltraSun and UltraMoon)

One of Grimsley's quotes.... holding a coin and not cards for some reason

Starting off we have the small character who nevertheless sticks with you through a few memorable traits. For many, Karen with her “use whichever Pokemon you like” mentality would be here. And while she’s a solid character, for me the shadow man himself Grimsley takes the spot.

Grimsley as a character stands out as someone who shouldn’t be allowed to exist in Pokemon. In a series that did its best to remove all traces of gambling, he is a gambler through and through. From his original outfit having the colors of roulette to his room greatly resembling a roulette table to the coins in his hand, it's hard to miss.

There is an actual reason for this in his backstory as well. Grimsley used to be in one of Unova’s richest families, but it fell into hard times. The gambling followed. Honestly a believable story, just one you wouldn't expect from Pokemon with its kid-friendly vibes.

Pokémon Black & White - Elite Four Battle Music (HQ)

As a member of the Unova Elite Four, Grimsley shares his theme with the other three instead of having his own. While it's hard to have one theme fit four characters, this theme does a decent job. Definitely a great piece of music but in terms of fitting the character, it could be better.

As an aside, Pokemon series illustrator Yusuke Ohmura remarked on the character. He confirmed the gambling aspects and mentioned his being based on vampires, notably Dracula himself. This man feels too dark for Pokemon and it only serves to make him more memorable. 

Grimsley reappears in the Alola games, seemingly retired and donning a black and white kimono. Here, he is a Mantine Surfer, having picked up the sport due to being good at riding his Sharpedo. He is quite good at it, placing high on all the scoreboards… but it does seem a bit strange given his prior characterization. Why is this risk-loving man of darkness riding Mantine in sunny Alola? It's cool to see him again but it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Finally, perhaps the most memorable aspect of Grimsley is how quotable he is. One of his lines is featured in the header image. Another good one is:

“There are bad ways to win- and good ways to lose. What’s interesting and troubling is that it’s not always clear which is which. A flipped coin doesn’t always land heads or tails. Sometimes it may never land at all…” (Grimsley, Pokemon Black and White)

Perhaps because of his lot in life, Grimsley has become very philosophical. He debates things that don’t fall on extremes, working with what little you have. It may not be the deepest thing out there but for Pokemon? He stands tall as one of the most thought-provoking characters in the series. 


9. Hop (Sword and Shield)

Hop's two levels of enthusiasm: eager and overeager

Considering his reputation as one of the despised “friendly rivals”, some of you may be surprised to see Hop on this list. But with his remarkable growth throughout the game, Hop is much better than that. …. Okay, let’s get the laughing over his name over with now. Good? Moving on.

Hop starts in the same town as the player character, starting his journey with you. His brother is the undefeated Champion of Galar, Leon. As such, his goal is very clear cut: he wants to surpass his brother and be the one to end his winning streak, becoming Champion himself in the process.

Turning briefly to Hop’s Pokemon, he chooses the starter weak to yours, a trend with “friendly rivals” But while with some it could be seen as wanting to lose, with Hop it does play into his overconfidence. In addition, he starts with a Wooloo, one you often see with him. This Wooloo is quite close to him and is almost always on his team. More on that later.

After some incidents, you and Hop become endorsed by Leon himself to participate in the Champion Cup. Also participating are Marnie and Bede, who are good characters in their own right but not too important here.

And so the story commences, with everyone completing the first loop in Galar and receiving three Gym Badges. At this point, Bede approaches you and Hop and challenges him to a battle. Hop, still supremely confident in his abilities, accepts as you run off.

Hop loses.

The first time I played the games, this shocked me. Sure, Hop was overconfident, but Bede was portrayed as such as well, and smug and just plain mean in addition. While he wasn’t evil, he was shown to be somewhat of a bad guy. And yet Hop, who could arguably be considered more the main character than you due to his connection to Leon, lost to him.

Up to this point he had lost to you as the player several times, but it is this loss that truly shakes him. His confidence isn’t gone but it's severely cracked, and by the next time you battle him his team is noticeably different. And the next time as well. In the first of these two his Wooloo is gone, the only time it is. 

When it comes back for his battle in Circhester, it is now a Dubwool and leads his team once more. His starter and the early bird he caught in Rookidee (now Corviknight) are back too, showing he’s relying on the Pokemon he’s had the longest once again. He rounds out the team with the Snorlax he’s used a few times (good choice) and… Pincurchin. You were doing so well, Hop! 

We’ll come back to his Pokemon later. Hop, with renewed confidence, arrives at the Champion Cup along with the player and fights them as the last challengers standing. And just like with every battle between the two, Hop loses.

Pokemon Sword and Shield - Hop Final Battle Theme [1 HOUR]

And honestly, his theme reflects this. It's loud and has cheering like many of the major songs in Galar. But compared to Leon? It's nowhere near as serious. It had the energy of someone who’s enjoying battling rather than one who’s truly good at it.

And when he loses here, at this match he was training his whole life for? He’s upset of course, but he shows he’s improved as a person by congratulating the player for winning. He’s finally willing to properly accept you’re better than him and even goes on to cheer for you over his own brother. This is already solid growth given his initial overconfidence, but we’re not done.

I’ll be summarizing the remaining story to only focus on bits relevant to Hop, as there is a lot that kind of isn’t. Hop joins the player to help stop Eternatus, which was summoned by the Pokemon League Chairman Rose in a misguided attempt to save Galar. The two are assisted by the heroes of legend, the Pokemon Zacian and Zamazenta, and are able to strike down Eternatus.

After you become Champion, the two of you meet again where you found the legendary dogs, and battle once more for old times’ sake. You are interrupted by two brothers of nobility with ridiculous hair, and Hop loses to the one he faces. Feeling guilty, he chases after them with you right behind, dealing with the mess the two made around Galar.

The story reaches its end with the dogs choosing a Trainer. Who goes to who depends on the version, but regards, you catch yours and return to see the other has chosen to join Hop. It is here that Hop declares he wants to become a Pokemon Professor and begins working out the resident Professor of Galar, Sonia.

That legendary dog that Hop catches near the end of his story? It takes up the sixth spot on his team, rounding it out with the same Pokemon as before and replacing his occasional Cramorant. This puts Hop in an elite group as one of the few NPCs to use a legendary Pokemon and gives him a fairly impressive team… again, aside from Pincurchin.

Hop has small appearances in the DLC, but nothing too major. In one he helps you find ingredients that a specific Pokemon likes and shows you Pokemon you haven’t caught, showing he’s taking his Professor duties seriously. And in the other, he appears in a major Galarian tournament like every other notable character, having his strongest team to date. 

And so, Hop went from an overconfident little brother to a much more humble Professor in training who truly cares for Pokemon. His presence in the tournaments shows he hasn’t given up on battling, but it's no longer his sole passion. By becoming a Pokemon Professor, he didn’t become the League Champion, but he became a champion for the people and Pokemon by helping them. 


8. Nemona (Scarlet and Violet)

The face of a killer.... I mean master Trainer

The newest rival of Pokemon, Ms. Goku herself. Unlike many on this list, Nemona is not a complicated character. Instead, she’s a simpler character done very right, and sometimes for a rival that’s all you need.

Nemona’s backstory is minimal. Before the events of the game, she became one of the Champions of Paldea (which unlike past regions has multiple Trainers at Champion rank). While we don’t see it, it is stated she is stronger than the actual top-ranked Champion and held back in her battle against her. All of this serves to make the strongest (lore-wise at least) rival in the series, and for someone as battle-hungry as her, it certainly fits.

Pokémon Scarlet & Violet - Champion Nemona Battle Music (HQ)

This is the final version of her theme, but the earlier versions are merely simpler takes on this. And as a piece, it certainly suits her. It's an upbeat and energetic tune that perfectly matches someone who enjoys battling as much as she does. 

Her role in the story is rather minimal but effective. She merely travels along the same route as you, battling you at points and introducing you to members of the League. Little of her interactions when you’re not there is shown, but given her nature, it wouldn’t be surprising if she was battling old friends while waiting for you.

As that is largely what she is doing. She meets you early in the game and, recognizing your potential, essentially takes you under her wing and trains you to become someone her equal. Because, as you find out through her story, it's lonely at the top. She’s the strongest Trainer in Paldea and with no one who can face her at her true strength, she sought to make her own equal. You.

Her story ends (for now) with her accepting you as her true rival, challenging you in the academy’s tournament after the Area Zero plot. Interestingly, despite the talk of her having a stronger team that puts the Top Champion to shame, we never see it. Some of it can be pieced together, such as the Paldean Tauros she uses in the opening. And the Orthworm and Dudunsparce in her postgame team are likely as well. But the rest remains a mystery that may or may not be answered.   

On one last note, Nemona is revealed to be terrible at throwing PokeBalls and having not the best stamina for traveling in general. Which are…. Not exactly traits you’d expect from a Pokemon Master. These flaws do serve to make her more human though, and her accomplishments more impressive. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this battle-hungry Trainer in the future.


7. Nessa (Sword and Shield, Twilight Wings)

Nessa in one of her happy moods

One might expect the likes of Misty to be in this spot, but as iconic as she is, I have to put Nessa here as the representative of Galar’s truly great Gym Leaders. In a series where Gym Leaders were little more than obstacles, Galar and Unova (and now Paldea) stand out giving them actual jobs and more purpose in the region. And among this elite group, Nessa’s history with the cast gives her even more of a spotlight. 

Pokémon Sword & Shield OST - Gym Leader Battle (Full In-Game Version)Touching briefly on her theme…. she doesn’t have one. As she is a Gym Leader, she merely shares the theme with all the others. And while it's one of the better ones, especially with the cheering at the end, it doesn’t really match any of the characters’ personalities. A bit of a shame, but could be worse.

As a Gym Leader, her role is minimal. She’s with the others when the player enters the Champion Cup, and is challenged and defeated like all the rest. She is involved in a short scene with Chairman Rose after her Gym, but aside from that and her rematch in the endgame, she has little direct involvement in the story.

Nessa is Galar’s Water Gym Leader and a professional model (more on that later). Rather bafflingly, she has a rivalry with the Grass Gym Leader Milo, a rivalry which he… rejects on the claim his rival is himself.

She gravitated towards water from a young age, due to both her parents having aquatic jobs. It isn’t clear where her love for modeling came from, but as commented on by Rose in the Twilight Wings anime, it is interfering with her Gym Leader duties. But, as representative of her unpredictable and wavelike personality, she doesn’t care and does it anyway (another example of this being the “storm” implied inside her Gym after she loses to the player).

On the topic of her Gym, her ace Pokemon is… questionable. For someone who’s portrayed as a sleek and elegant swimmer, why does she use a rocky turtle in Drednaw? The real answer is Game Freak wants to give every Gym Leader a new Pokemon capable of using the Gigantamax gimmick, but Nessa definitely suffers for it. The Milotic she befriends in Twilight Wings would have suited her so much better… although that is a lot for a second Gym. Not the easiest problem to fix. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is Sonia (and through extension Leon). We learn the two met during their Gym challenge, thus putting the two in it at the same time as Leon due to him and Sonia being referred to as rivals during that. But as for Nessa and Sonia, they became quite close back then and still are during the games. This is only expanded upon in Twilight Wings and the canon mobile game Masters, leading many to suspect there’s more there. But with Pokemon being a series that’s rare to confirm romance in general, it will likely remain mere speculation.

All told, Nessa is a prime example of a Gym Leader done right. She’s not overly complicated and does her job, but her extra details and backstory make her memorable. Coupled with a unique design and a close bond to one of the most important Galar characters in Sonia, this is one wave that keeps rising.


6. Steven Stone (Ruby and Sapphire, Emerald, HeartGold and SoulSilver, Black and White 2, OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire)

Steven Stone being his magnificent self

The Champion of Hoenn who can’t decide if he’s a Steel or Rock specialist, it's Steven Stone (yes, they named someone who collects rocks Stone). Steven is my favorite Champion and the perfection of the mysterious traveler trope. Despite seeing him a great many times, Steven remains a rather mysterious figure. But he's definitely a very cool one.

In the Hoenn games, Steven shows up periodically during the player’s journey. These moments are generally brief and feature him giving vague advice on being a good Trainer while he travels in pursuit of his passions. The main takeaway from them? We never find who he actually is, aside from being the son of a wealthy man from Rustboro.

Steven plays a role in the Team Aqua/Magma plot near the end, remaining helpful but mysterious. It can be inferred through his actions in Sootopolis, such as being allowed in a restricted area, that he is someone of high standing. But at this point, it is unclear what that is.

And so it remains until you reach the Champion’s room of the Pokemon League. And see him standing there. This was back when Pokemon definitely enjoyed an element of surprise in its Champions, and Steven as the helpful stranger fits the bill perfectly. And his theme….

Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire - Battle! Champion Music (HQ)

… stands tall as one of the best Champion themes in the series. While not exclusively for him as Wallace shares it in Emerald, it was written and remixed for him and fits him so much better. It screams power, that this is not someone you should underestimate. A fitting warning considering who you’re up against. 

And Steven does not disappoint. Led by a Metagross (Mega Metagross in the remakes), and having a decent mix of Steel, Rock, and Ground Pokemon, Steven is rightfully one of the strongest Champions in the series. As one would expect from one with such an aura of power and wealth.

Steven’s later appearances merely serve to add to his mystique…. Mostly. In Emerald, he is replaced as Champion by the decent but nowhere near as cool Wallace. Although it is disappointing to see him leave the position, having him appear in a hard-to-reach cave in the postgame is an acceptable consolation prize. He does like his stones after all.

The Johto remakes play into his role as a traveler, having him gift the player items/Pokemon related to his home region. Black and White 2 feature him as Hoenn’s Champion in the Pokemon World Tournament but nothing more than that. And in the Hoenn remakes, he helps with the Delta crisis in much the same way he did with Aqua/Magma. 

Steven Stone is a man of many talents and an excellent Champion. And well him being replaced by Wallace in what would otherwise be the best version of Hoenn is disappointing, at least it is in character. For while this mysterious man is a powerful Trainer who loves his region, he is not afraid to put his other interests first when given the opportunity.


5. Cynthia (Diamond and Pearl, Platinum, Black and White, Black and White 2, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl)

Cynthia arriving fashionably to battle

Did I just say Steven was my favorite Champion? Well he is, but I couldn’t rightfully put Cynthia below him. In a case of best not being the clear favorite, the legend of Sinnoh herself takes the fifth spot.

Cynthia does in fact share many similarities with Steven. Both are seemingly very wealthy, both are mysterious travelers, and both are greatly interested in the past. While Steven was a researcher of rare stones, Cynthia is an archaeologist labeled as “The Researcher of Myths”. A title perfectly fitting for one studying Sinnoh’s storied and sometimes bizarre history. 

Cynthia in her original games has largely the same initial role as Steven did in his. She runs into the player on multiple occurrences, giving help and Pokemon to show her generous nature. We do get a bit more about her in Celestic Town where her grandparents reside, but notably, it is not said she lives there. That strangely remains a mystery. 
In Platinum, she takes a more active role in the story in one section by accompanying the player into the Distortion World to help stop Team Galactic’s Cyrus. This again put her more in line with Steven in helping stop the dangers threatening the region, something a Champion should do.

Pokémon Diamond, Pearl & Platinum - Champion Cynthia Encounter Music (HQ)

Pokémon Black & White - Champion Cynthia Battle Music (HQ)

And what a Champion she is. The first character on this list to have two memorable pieces of music made solely for them. Her encounter theme is short but effective, warning you of what is about to happen. And her battle theme is rightfully considered one of the best in the series, keeping you on edge for what is sure to be a tough battle.

And as anyone who’s challenged her can surely tell you, it absolutely is. Cynthia’s Garchomp has become the stuff of legends and nightmares, and she has the likes of Lucario and Milotic on top of it. Her team does shift in later appearances, but those are generally constants, along with her lead in the forever-cursed Spiritomb. 
The Sinnoh remakes, being extremely lacking, barely added anything of note. Aside from expanding the Battle Tower (yay?), the only new thing here is the macho-man Pokemon League. Because for some reason, they decided to make the endgame nearly competitive levels of strength right after a largely easy rest of the game. Making this version of Cynthia arguably one of the hardest in the series and one of the few good things about the Sinnoh remakes.

Cynthia makes an appearance in the Johto remakes during the Sinjoh Ruins event, being perfectly in character for her. For someone interested in history and mythology, having her at this event that has Arceus quite literally create a Pokemon for you is very fitting. And through it ties Sinnoh and Johto together quite neatly.

Her final noteworthy appearance is in the Unova games, where she is challenged in the Pokemon World Tournament like most other noteworthy Trainers. However, she also appears at a villa in Undella Town in both games, where she can be battled with a slightly altered team. This, combined with her villa in the Sinnoh games’ postgame, shows she has a lot of houses around the world. So when will we ever see her actual home?

Cynthia, like Steven, is deeply connected to her home region but still manages to get out a lot. Also, like him, she is a monster in battle. Pushing her ahead is staying power, as she had more noteworthy appearances in the series (without even getting into the two important characters in Legends Arceus who are clearly her ancestors). And who else can make a Pokemon player freeze just by hearing a few notes on a piano when they enter a room? 


4. Silver (Adventures [Gold and Silver, Crystal, HeartGold and SoulSilver)

Silver confronting his father

The one who many would consider the best rival in the series…. is not who will be talked about here. While Silver in the games is an excellent character, he is but a shadow of his Adventures counterpart. (this section will be a bit more generalized than the rest due to there being a lot more story)

Pokémon Gold, Silver & Crystal - Rival Battle Music (HQ)

His theme from the games is still worth including though, as it does fit both versions of the character very well. After all, both are very much antiheroes who will do whatever it takes to win.

Silver is present in Adventures before the Johto arc, but aside from a flashback during said arc, we see none of this directly. Instead, his first appearance mirrors the games as he steals a Totodile from Professor Elm’s lab. The more heroic Gold sees this and a rivalry is born, one that arguably still isn’t over.

Throughout this arc, Silver is characterized as mysterious, suspicious, and sometimes cruel, but effective. In a noteworthy change from his games counterpart, Adventures Silver is an incredibly skilled Trainer from the start, one who Gold can rarely if ever defeat. However, through large parts of the story being from his perspective, we do learn he is not that bad a person. Especially when he goes out of his way to stop many of Team Rocket’s operations. 

This climaxes late in the arc when Gold finally realizes they show the same goal, leading to an uneasy alliance to stop the villainous Masked Man (who is a long story so shall simply be referred to as such). With the truth of Silver’s past revealed the two… defeat the Masked Man after being frozen for an arc to bring in a new character. Adventures likes to do that sometimes.

But as for Silver’s past, it is at once simple and complicated. In short, Silver, Green, and several other characters were captured as children and trained to serve the Masked Man. The two became close friends during this and remain so in the main series, being close enough that they can poke fun at each other’s eccentric natures jokingly as one would expect from good friends.

Silver appears in later arcs in the series, but aside from two, these appearances aren’t of great importance. However, the FireRed & LeafGreen and HeartGold & SoulSilver arcs of the manga focus greatly on Silver’s father and his growth as a person, so let’s spend some time there.

In the first of these arcs, Silver finds out his father is none other than the leader of Team Rocket, Giovanni. For someone who despised Team Rocket, this came as quite a shock, and he refused to accept it. Some crazy shounen-esque adventures later, Silver rejects becoming Team Rocket’s heir but Blue manages to convince him that Giovanni isn’t all bad. And so Silver saves his father… only to be immobilized for an arc again.

Several arcs later, the story returns to Johto for Silver’s last major role. Here Silver is trying to find his missing father, along with the mysterious Plates Team Rocket is after. A few events here showcase Silver’s growth as a Trainer very well, such as when he expertly uses the Rhyperior that once belonged to Blue to such a level it impressed Blue’s former master. He also uses his Weavile to send a signal to all the Sneasel and Weavile of Johto, finding the remaining Plates in a fraction of the time it would have taken otherwise.

These Plates are revealed to be connected to the legendary Arceus itself and said Pokemon teleports the characters to the Sinjoh Ruins for the climax of the arc. A lot happens here, but of most relevance is the return of Giovanni. He is accompanied by Lance and the Masked Man, other prior villains in the series, and the three of them aid in stopping the insane Rocket members.

It is at this point that mutual respect seems to form between Silver and Giovanni. With the crisis averted, and Giovanni’s deteriorating health fixed, he offers his son a position in Team Rocket. Silver unsurprisingly refuses and instead vows to get stronger and stop his father’s evil deeds. Shockingly, Giovanni is proud of him and says he looks forward to it, asking his villain comrades to help train his son. 

And so, Silver leaves off in Adventures as a largely heroic character, albeit not one without a dark side. While it is disappointing to not see the Golbat into Crobat when he learns to love his Pokemon like in the games, everything else about this version is leagues better. And to think his father improved and is doing so with him. Adventures has some nasty irredeemable villains, but these are not in that number.


3. Green/Leaf (Adventures)

Green after some thievery 

Next up is Green, the very same who Silver befriended as a child. Very rarely referred to as Leaf, she doesn’t have a games counterpart aside from a small cameo in the Let’s Go games that’s likely a reference to her more than anything else. Therefore, her character is entirely Adventures original. (will be generalized similarly to Silver for the same reason) 

Green is an extremely cunning character, able to get out of nearly any situation by tricking her opponent through various sometimes devious means. She can use her Ditto to disguise herself nearly flawlessly and is an expert salesperson, both of which were demonstrated several times. This crafty character was created for Adventures out of the desire for a female protagonist and used cut concept art for the original games.

When she was captured as a child along with Silver, she developed a crippling fear of birds (known as ornithophobia but not saying that again) due to their presence at the Masked Man’s lair. The two of course escaped, but this is important for later.

Green spends much of the first arc every bit the conwoman. Much like Silver, she steals a Pokemon from  Professor Oak’s lab (in her case a Squirtle). She then proceeds to con Red with fake items and steals from him (the items are returned but still). And when Mew is introduced, her goal is to capture it for money. While she isn’t evil, she doesn’t exactly have the purest motivations here.

Despite this, she does still help the others defeat Team Rocket in Saffron City, even managing to trick the master of illusions in Sabrina. However, her fear of birds comes back in full force when confronted with the admirably freaky-looking Thu-Fi-Zer (a fusion of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres). The battle ends with her unconscious from fainting and later, upon seeing Professor Oak with the others, leaves rather than confront him.

…. But that doesn’t work. During the Pokemon League tournament that follows, Oak defeats her using a team of bird Pokemon, leaving her too freaked out to fight properly. Here we see some proper humility from her as she tearfully apologizes for stealing from him. Oak, not being a cruel person, forgives her and gives her a Pokedex like the others, and even the win in the tournament.

After this, Green spends several arcs trying to find the bird Pokemon that kidnapped her as a child. During this, she helps in the Yellow arc in dealing with the villainous Elite Four, where she teams up with former enemy Sabrina to defeat a member of said group. Here she uses her remarkable cunning to defeat an opponent much more powerful than her, showing she can use her skills for good.

The Elite Four were after the wrong bird though, as Green’s search continues in the Johto arcs. Near the end of Crystal, she appears to help free the captive Lugia and even Ho-oh, the bird who captured her as a child. And, perhaps more shockingly, she uses Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres to do so. For one who used to be so afraid of birds that they caused her to freeze in terror, this is an impressive conclusion to her character arc.

And it almost is. Aside from reuniting with her parents in the FireRed & LeafGreen arc, everything involving her afterward is merely her as a helper, more or less. Having finished characters show up in such a way is not uncommon in Adventures and is enjoyable to see. It just means there isn’t much to add aside from she was helpful in several incidents later on and became a reasonably powerful Trainer.

But to wrap this up, let’s go back to said arc with her parents. In this arc, she receives the clothes of the female protagonist in the games with the same name, a nod to her being essentially Leaf. However, Silver seems to have made them for her, and her reaction to this is one that looks like happiness. Adventures has always been an outlier in the Pokemon world for how dark it is, and here, in terms of seemingly confirming romance, it stands out as well. These two lifelong friends may very well be more than that, and for someone as out there as Green, having someone to hold her down might not be a bad thing.


2. N (Black and White, Black and White 2)

N with his color coordinated dragon

Natural Harmonia Gropius of Team Plasma is a truly fascinating character (and I am never saying that name again). Much like Yellow and Lance from Adventures, he can understand Pokemon. And much like them, it led to a complicated life. One that makes him stand out as one of the series' best characters.

 N’s exact origins are unknown, but he was found as an orphan in the woods by Ghetsis of Team Plasma. Ghetsis, claiming to be his father, took him in and raised him to be Team Plasma’s king. According to one of his caretakers, Concordia, “N’s heart is pure and innocent”.

Ghetsis used that innocence. Knowing the boy could understand Pokemon, he intentionally surrounded him with only Pokemon abused by humans. And aside from Ghetsis and his caretakers, these Pokemon were the only company he had. His room is well-loved, with a great deal of used toys (his Pokemon companions used them as well) and many new ones. And he was educated, as evidenced by dialogue with members of Team Plasma.

N's Castle - Pokémon Black & White Music Extended

Upon visiting this place later in the games, you are greeted with this theme. It remains one of if not my favorite non-battle themes in the series and is a masterpiece in a musical atmosphere. At once epic, ominous, and eerily empty, it perfectly sets the tone for what was essentially a prison. 

The opening of Black and White sees N crowned as the king of Team Plasma, a fact he tells you directly in a memorable scene in Nimbasa City. Prior to this, N had shown up as someone similarly connected to Team Plasma but leaving uncertain exactly what. Combining several tropes, N is the mysterious traveler rival who challenges your ideals (as deeply as Pokemon is willing to go at least).

A notable aspect of the battles with N that occur during these scenes is that he never uses the same team of Pokemon. In fact, aside from the final battle, all are Pokemon that can be caught in the area you battle him in. This leads to such diversity that N ends up using every type of Pokemon (not including Fairy since it didn’t exist yet), making him the only Trainer in the series to do so. And, befitting his character, these Pokemon were released soon after and can even be caught in the sequel games with his Trainer ID.

Upon reaching the Pokemon League and defeating the Elite Four, you see N defeating Champion Alder in front of you. And then, in one of the most metal scenes in all of Pokemon, N’s Castle rises from the ground and stabs the Pokemon League with stairs. This actually happens.

After that insanity, you follow him inside and capture the Legendary dragon he doesn’t have. Because yes, N himself wields the opposite dragon in his final team. With Reshiram standing for truth and Zekrom for ideals, the former does suit him and his character better, although it is version dependent. 

Pokémon Black & White - N Final Battle Music (HQ)

N’s actual battle theme isn’t quite as impressive as that of his castle, but it does its job remarkably well. Gone is the more confined, ominous feeling of the castle. His battle theme is much more triumphant and freeing, the perfect accompaniment to what is about to happen.

With his defeat, Ghetsis reveals his true intent: he sought for N to befriend the Legendary dragon so that Unova would see him as their rightful king and listen to Team Plasma’s desire for Pokemon liberation, leaving Ghetsis as the only person left with Pokemon and the actual king. Ghetsis attempts to stop you himself despite N’s protest, but he is defeated and arrested. 

N finally apologizes to the player, feeling truly sorry for what he has done. Sending out his dragon, he bids the player farewell and flies off on said dragon, leaving Unova. Through postgame dialogue, it is said he is in a distant land. For someone who spent so much of his life trapped, he definitely deserves a vacation.

N does return in the sequel games, but with a much smaller role. He appears during the confrontation with Ghetsis, stopping him from outright killing the player. He can later be found and talked to in Nimbasa City (a nice nod but doesn’t add much) and the ruins of his castle. Here, he gives the player his Legendary Dragon, no longer needing it himself and later can be challenged, again wielding new teams. 

An interesting tidbit about N is his dialogue speed. Even if the text speed isn’t set to fast, his will be fast. And if it is set to the fastest setting, his will display even faster. A clever way to show that N is a very fast talker.

N, despite his connection to the region’s villainous team, is considered a rival. And with him using one of the Legendary dragons, this makes him the first rival and one of the few NPCs in general to use a Legendary Pokemon. And it could not be a more fitting character. For one such as N, who truly sees Pokemon as friends despite his rough upbringing, it makes perfect sense for the dragon to see the truth in him and become his friend.


1. Wally (Ruby and Sapphire, Emerald, OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire)

Wally ready to face the world with his trusty knight

For me, number one on this list was never in any doubt. Prior to the Hoenn remakes, Wally would have ranked fairly high but N would have led this list. The remakes though….. to say they massively improved Wally is an understatement. No, they made him quite possibly the strongest Trainer in the entire series. 

Wally is met early in the Hoenn games as a sickly young boy living in Petalburg City. Upon visiting your father at his Gym, he lends Wally a Zigzagoon and asks you to go with him to help catch his own Pokemon. You do so, and he shakily catches a Ralts. Wally returns with you, overjoyed to have his own Pokemon.

If you visit his house here in the remakes, you’ll find a multitude of books on Pokemon. There is a single notebook used, erased, and reused many times. And a globe covered with notes and pins in the Kalos and Unova regions. Here is a boy who wants to see the world, but is held back by being too weak.

Later, Wally is encountered in Mauville City, with his family having moved to the nearby Vertandurf Town. The clean air there is helping him with his unspecified illness, and with renewed confidence he challenges you…. It is a piece of cake.

Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire - Wally Encounter Theme Music (HQ)

Wally’s encounter theme does reflect this. It is simple and playful, reflecting the boy who is finally somewhat free to explore the world, but lacking in true talent.

Wally is distraught and returns home at the request of his uncle, who thinks he should give up on his foolishness. This is the last we see of him until Victory Road, where it is revealed he ran away from home and acquired all of Hoenn’s Gym Badges. In the originals, he is a decent challenge but not much more, and aside from rematches that is the end of him. Not bad considering where he started, but a far cry from the remakes.

In those, Wally’s Ralts becomes a Gallade instead of Gardevoir, which I feel is more fitting for him to have as his knight. He finds the Mega Stone and crafts a wooden pendant to hold his Key Stone. And he reaches the Pokemon League before you, with his name appearing before yours at every Gym after the third. And then you get to the Victory Road battle, this time in a specially crafted room with bright red spider lilies. Then this theme plays….

Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire - Wally Battle Music (HQ)

It's rare for a Pokemon game to genuinely shock me, this was one of those times. While his team is largely the same as before here, albeit a bit stronger, his confidence is through the roof. And this theme illustrates that perfectly. Gone is the timid and ailing boy you knew before. Here is a blooming Pokemon master who’s ready to take on the world. The way he looks at you seriously in this battle proves this without a shadow of a doubt. His family, if you visit them, puts it best: "If you're looking for Wally, I'm afraid he's gone. After he lost to you in Mauville, he said he had to train more, and we haven't seen him since. It must be his Pokemon that have lit such a fire in that boy and given him so much hope to live for..."

Wally appears a bit more after this, having a brief role in the Delta Episode but ultimately of little importance. It is at the Battle Maison where something incredible happens. If you complete enough battles in this battle facility, Wally will challenge you with his strongest team. And this battle is no joke (despite sadly not featuring his epic metal guitar theme). 

Here, Wally challenges you with what’s the closest an in-game Trainer has ever come to a competitive team (until remakes Cynthia). Despite claiming his Pokemon are his friends, he was perfectly willing to trade out the less powerful ones for powerhouses. And on top of that, they are given highly effective items, Abilities, and movesets. It's probably not quite at the level of today’s top competitive scene, but that doesn’t diminish Wally’s incredible accomplishments. 

For Wally went from a sickly boy who couldn’t catch his first Pokemon without help to arguably one of the strongest Trainers in the entire series. Over the the course of one game. Others on this list have appeared more and been Trainers longer to get where they are, Wally doesn’t have that excuse and still rivals them. We haven’t seen him since aside from a tiny cameo, so who knows where he is now? I’m willing to bet this green-haired prodigy will someday soar to even greater heights. And I for one would love to see it. 


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Gamer Since: 2002
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D, Deathloop, Final Fantasy IV, God of War (2018)
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