HomeTelevisionCouch Potato – A Farewell to Ash Ketchum and Pikachu

Couch Potato – A Farewell to Ash Ketchum and Pikachu

After 25 years, over 1000 episodes, and more than 20 films, Ash Ketchum finally became the very best (like no one ever was). In the 42nd episode of the 25th season of Pokémon, Ash officially became the greatest Pokémon trainer on the planet when he won the Masters Eight Tournament of the Pokémon World Coronation Series. Ash’s achievement, becoming the Machamp-ion of the world, was so noteworthy that even major news outlets like NPR reported on the event. And now, the story of Ash Ketchum and his Pokémon Partner, Pikachu, has come to an end (at least for now). On March 24th, the final episode of the Pokémon anime featuring Ash as the franchise’s protagonist aired in Japan. For those of us who grew up alongside Ash (even if the ageless hero has perpetually remained 10 years old for the last 20+ years), Ash’s departure from the anime represents the end of the era.

Whether fans continued watching the show over the years, Drifloon-ed away from the franchise, or saw their own children become fans themselves, the animated series has been a cultural mainstay for generations. And with that, Ash (known as Satoshi in Japan) and Pikachu have become pop culture icons around the world. While the franchise is set to continue with the Pokémon Horizons series, no longer having Ash as the protagonist after he accomplished his dream makes for a bittersweet farewell. We may see Ash again in the future, as his goal of becoming a Pokémon master is never-ending, but it appears that a major chapter of the franchise has come to an end.

Reflecting on Ash’s journey over the years, I find the most powerful part of his story to be his failures. When Ash lost in the fifth round of the Indigo Plateau tournament, I was absolutely a-Gastly as a child. How could our hero not just be defeated but lose in such a humiliating manner (as Charizard refused to listen to him)? That such a fate would befall the main character of a show was unthinkable to me. Why would the show push us to cheer for Ash only to see him fail?

Now as an adult, I believe Ash’s defeat was perhaps one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from a television show. And it was a lesson that Ash would teach fans again and again, as he didn’t win a major tournament until his victory in Alola’s Manalo Conference (not counting the unconventional, anime-exclusive Orange League). With his elimination from the Indigo Plateau, Ash taught me that it was okay to lose, to fall short, to fail. Ash demonstrated that defeat, while disappointing, was not debilitating and that, while he failed to accomplish his goal of becoming the league champion, he still could take pride in his performance.

With that, Ash became an exemplar for us all, for whom among us has not fallen short of a goal? Whether it be a low grade, a season ending loss, a declined application, a rejection letter, or an unfulfilled dream, we’ve all had similar experiences. We could all benefit from responding to disappointment with as much grace and resiliency as Ash. That lesson, more so than his ultimate victory, is Ash’s true legacy. For while Ash’s success may be a cause for celebration, it is his failure that makes him an inspiration.

Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky is one of Pop Break's staff writers and covers Voltron: Legendary Defender, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things. His brother, Aaron, also writes for the website, but Josh is the family’s reigning Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars champion.

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