Ash originally obtained Kingler as a Krabby in Mystery at the Lighthouse, when he became angry at Misty for saying that it was a fluke that he caught all his other Pokémon. Storming down to the beach, he discovered a minuscule Krabby and made fun of it. Krabby challenged Ash, who fought it with a nearby stick and then captured it in a Poké Ball. Having six Pokémon already in his party at the time, the newly caught Krabby's Poké Ball was teleported away, much to Ash's surprise and concern. He soon learned that Krabby was sent to Professor Oak.
With Gary's bigger Krabby
Ash quickly rang Oak and became horrified as he thought Oak was eating his new Krabby. However, he became relieved to know that Oak was actually eating tofu and that Krabby was quite happy at Oak's lab. However, the happiness he felt at catching his seventh Pokémon wore off as soon as Oak revealed that Gary had also caught a Krabby, although his was far larger in size. Gary later mocked Krabby himself in Showdown at the Po-ké Corral, degrading Krabby in comparison to his own.
Krabby's battling debut came in Round One - Begin!, when Ash used it during the first round of the Pokémon League against Mandi. He reasoned that Krabby would be perfect for a battle on the Water field despite Misty's protests that Ash should borrow one of her Pokémon as Krabby had never battled before. Ash retorted that he still had Pikachu and Squirtle as backups should Krabby fail.
It seemed at first that Misty's forebodings would prove true; Mandi's Exeggutor used Psychic to trap Krabby in a whirlpool. However, Krabby managed to escape and took control of the battle with Vice Grip. It avoided Exeggutor's Hypnosis and took victory with Leer and Stomp. The intensity of the battle caused it to evolve into a Kingler. It was able to finish the rest of the match single-handedly, defeating Mandi's Seadra by slowing it down with Bubble and then knocking it out with Crabhammer, and then taking out his Golbat with a Hyper Beam. This was despite Misty and Brock's real concerns about Kingler's ability to prevail against Seadra's speed and Golbat's air attacks.
Kingler, Muk, and Tauros offering to fight Drake
Ash also used Kingler in his battle on the Ice field in Fire and Ice, where Kingler defeated Pete Pebbleman's Cloyster by hammering repeatedly on its shell with Crabhammer until it fainted. It then fought his Arcanine, but its Bubble was dodged by the Fire-type Pokémon, and then it was knocked out by Dragon Rage.
Kingler spent most of the time at Oak's lab as Ash and his his friends traveled the Orange Islands. Kingler and Muk offered to fight for Ash in the Orange Island Championship battle against Drake in Hello, Pummelo!, but Ash chose Tauros instead.
Kingler appeared in A Farfetch'd Tale, where it crowded into Ash's screen with Muk, Tauros, and Snorlax to wish him luck for his next Gym battle with Whitney.
Ash used Kingler in Johto during the Whirl Cup tournament in The Perfect Match!, when Ash realized that he only had a single Water-type Pokémon, Totodile. He sent Bayleef to Oak's lab and Kingler joined his team. In the second round, after Totodile's loss to Poliwhirl, Kingler knocked out Poliwhirl with a powerful one-two punch Crabhammer. However, when Ash ordered it to use Vice Grip on Psyduck, the pain gave Psyduck the ability to tap into its Psychic powers and defeat Kingler with a Confusion attack. Kingler was sent back to Oak's lab afterward.
In Love, Pokémon Style, Ash planned to use Kingler in the Johto League Silver Conference against Macy's array of Fire Pokémon, but it was injured while rescuing a trio of runaway Voltorb, who shocked Kingler when it caught them. Ash was later informed that Kingler would not be able to compete in the battle, but Squirtle arrived in time to fill Kingler's spot.
In Showdown at the Oak Corral, Kingler made a cameo appearance telling the other Pokémon about Cassidy and Butch.
During The Right Place and the Right Mime, Kingler quickly made friends with Ash's Corphish.
Kingler was reunited with Ash in The Dream Continues!, where it and the rest of Ash's Pokémon posed in a group photo with him.
Personality and characteristics
In its debut, Krabby appeared to be fiery and brash, challenging Ash to a fight despite him not even being a Pokémon. However, upon capture Krabby mellowed significantly and became a very modest and quiet Pokémon. This is most likely due to its residence with Professor Oak, who said in Showdown at the Po-ké Corral that Pokémon take on the personality of the person who spends the most time with it. In battle, Kingler was quietly determined, not giving up against Mandi despite on face value being the underdog against all three of his Pokémon. Kingler was a very modest victor, happily hugging his Trainer, but not waving to the crowd or gloating at Mandi. These are more of Oak's traits coming through, as opposed to the rest of Ash's team.
This is most likely the reason Kingler never secured a permanent position on Ash's team. It has proven strong in battle, loyal, and caring, but the very little time spent together has likely led Ash to feel more secure using his other Pokémon. Kingler, like Muk and Tauros, remains a trump card in Ash's arsenal.
| Using Vice Grip|
as a Krabby
| Using Crabhammer
| A † shows that the move was used recently, unless all moves fit this case or there are fewer than five known moves.