Electric Shock Showdown (Japanese: でんげきたいけつ！クチバジムElectric Shock Showdown! Kuchiba Gym) is the 14th episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on July 1, 1997 and in the United States on September 25, 1998.
Our heroes finally reach Vermillion City, and they discover that the Pokémon Center is filled with Pokémon hurt during battles with Lt. Surge, the Vermillion City Gym Leader.
Ash and Pikachu head to the Vermillion City Gym, where Lt. Surge is proud of his Raichu. (Lt. Surge's attitude is to evolve Pokémon as soon as possible.) The two Electric-type Pokémon battle, and Raichu, being the evolved form of Pikachu, delivers stronger attacks that send Pikachu to the hospital. Even Team Rocket, spying the scene from outside, is disappointed.
Nurse Joy offers Ash a Thunderstone, which is required for a Pikachu to evolve. As a Raichu, Pikachu would have a better chance of defeating Lt. Surge's Raichu, but if it evolves, it can never go back to being a Pikachu.
What will Pikachu decide? Are there disadvantages to evolving Pokémon as soon as possible? And why is Team Rocket rooting for Pikachu?
After two weeks of traveling, Ash, Misty, and Brock have finally made it to Vermilion City. Brock and Misty are eager to get cleaned up, but Ash is more concerned about finding the Vermilion Gym. However, Brock stops Ash and points out that Pikachu is in no condition to have a battle. Pikachu and Ash are also very hungry. However, at the Pokémon Center, Ash and his friends witness Nurse Joy's Chansey and a Trainer run in. On a stretcher pushed by the Chansey is a badly beaten-up Rattata. Brock wonders what happened, and Nurse Joy sadly comments on all of the injured Pokémon brought in. Ash and his friends are then taken to a room where there are many badly injured Pokémon, including a Caterpie, an Oddish, a Sandshrew, and the previously seen Rattata. Nurse Joy explains that they have all lost to Lt. Surge, the Vermilion City Gym Leader. At this, Ash begins to worry over his upcoming Gym battle against Surge.
Misty unhelpfully reminds Ash that he only received his first two Badges out of pity, but Ash retorts that a Badge is a Badge. After a heated exchange with Misty on the subject, a bell chimes to signal that Ash's Pokémon are fully recovered. However, upon seeing the injured Pokémon, Pikachu becomes frightened to take on Lt. Surge and flatly refuses to battle. Ash drags Pikachu with him to the Vermilion Gym anyway, and Ash enters the Gym declaring his intention to win a Thunder Badge. Lt. Surge's two subordinates in the Gym mock Pikachu, and the man himself is even crueler, christening Ash "baby" and Pikachu a "baby Pokémon". Surge then calls on his Raichu, a Pokémon that has a personality very like its Trainer's. Despite Surge's assertion that Ash should have evolved Pikachu already, Ash protests, claiming that there is more to a Pokémon battle than evolution.
Listening to Surge's taunts, Pikachu decides that he is ready to fight Raichu. Lt. Surge accepts Ash's challenge and the battle promptly begins. Both Pokémon begin with a Thunder Shock attack, but Raichu's is significantly stronger and does far more damage to Pikachu than Pikachu deals to Raichu. Brock realizes that Pikachu simply cannot stand up to Raichu's more powerful attacks and recommends that Ash withdraw Pikachu. However, when Ash tells Pikachu to return, he refuses and charges again at Raichu. The resulting trade-off between Pikachu and his adversary leaves Pikachu severely damaged by a Mega Punch and Mega Kick from Raichu. Meanwhile, outside, Team Rocket is looking in, seeing Pikachu getting knocked around. They begin to worry that if Pikachu is getting beaten up like this, then maybe he is not worth stealing after all, and all their efforts have been in vain. Meowth suggests that they could steal Raichu instead, but Jessie and James decide that they should root for Pikachu. However, Lt. Surge and Raichu have already won, with Raichu unleashing a powerful Thunderbolt that defeats Pikachu easily.
Later, at the Pokémon Center, Pikachu awakens, and Ash is relieved that he is all right. Pikachu, however, is upset to have been beaten so badly by Raichu. Nurse Joy enters the room, revealing that she has come across a Thunder Stone. With it, Ash could evolve his Pikachu into a Raichu as well. Brock warns him to think hard about this, because once he evolves Pikachu, there is no way to change him back. At this, Ash is extremely torn. He knows that if he evolves Pikachu into Raichu, he might be able to defeat Lt. Surge. However, he also realizes that if he were to evolve Pikachu just to battle, he would be no better than Lt. Surge. Finally, he decides to let Pikachu choose. Outside, Team Rocket watch intently to see what choice Pikachu will make. Pikachu stands up and whacks away the Thunder Stone with his tail. Pikachu then goes into a tirade, which moves even Meowth to tears. Meowth explains that Pikachu doesn't want to change; he wants to battle Lt. Surge again, but as a Pikachu; he wants to win in the name of all Pikachu everywhere. Ash agrees with Pikachu's decision and promises that they will win together. Brock suggests a strategy change, but Ash is convinced they can find a way. Pikachu says he will fight to defend both his honor and Ash's. While waiting for Pikachu to fully recover, Brock believes that there might be a solution to defeat Lt. Surge and his Raichu after all when learning that Lt. Surge had evolved his Raichu the moment he caught it.
Later, Ash and the fully recovered Pikachu head back towards the Vermilion Gym. After receiving bizarre cheers from Team Rocket, they arrive at the Gym, ready for their rematch. Once again, it is to be Lt. Surge's Raichu against Ash's Pikachu. The battle begins, and Ash tells Pikachu to stick to their planned strategy. Lt. Surge uses the same strategy as last time, but Ash orders Pikachu to dodge Raichu's heavy attacks, causing Raichu to give itself recoil damage from moves like Body Slam. Ash then orders Pikachu to use Agility, and Pikachu accelerates to full speed. Repeated Body Slam attempts from Raichu all miss completely, as Pikachu is simply too fast. Brock then reveals the strategy: because Lt. Surge evolved his Pikachu into a Raichu too fast, it never had a chance to learn the speed attacks it can only learn in Pikachu form. Lt. Surge, growing aggravated, orders Raichu to fill the entire Gym with a vicious Thunderbolt attack. Raichu rips up the arena floor and even blows out all the windows around the arena. At first, Lt. Surge is convinced he has won, but the smoke clears, revealing the unharmed Pikachu standing on his tail.
Brock explains that Pikachu used his tail as a ground to dodge the electric shocks. Lt. Surge orders another Thunderbolt, but Raichu is unable to muster up the electricity for it. Ash orders a Quick Attack, to which Lt. Surge responded by ordering a Take Down. The quicker Pikachu manages to strike first, slamming into Raichu's stomach. He then slams into Raichu while surrounding himself with electricity, knocking out his opponent and winning the match. Conceding defeat, Lt. Surge awards Ash with the Thunder Badge. He no longer refers to Ash as "baby", and Raichu even shows kindness and respect for Pikachu as well. As Ash and Pikachu share an electrifying hug, Team Rocket walk off, with James realizing that they had spent the episode helping Ash and his friends.
This episode marks the first time that Team Rocket refers to Ash by name (in this case, Meowth), when they show their support for "the brave Pikachu and Ash." This is also the first time they express support for a main character.
Jamesbreaks the fourth wall in this episode at the end by saying, "Drat, we wasted this episode cheering the good guys!" This also marks the first time when Team Rocket has broken the fourth wall.
When Nurse Joy is explaining that all Nurse Joys look alike, she says the one in Pewter City is her first cousin, and the one in Viridian City is her second cousin. However, in Pokémon Emergency!, the Nurse Joy in Viridian City called the one in Pewter City her sister. If they were sisters, they would both share the same relationship with the one in Vermilion City, such as both being first cousins or second cousins.
When Pikachu shocks Ash at the Pokémon Center, Ash's Japanese voice can be heard.
During the scene in which Nurse Joy gives Ash the Thunder Stone, the symbol on her hat changes from orange to light blue, then back to orange.
In this episode, it is mentioned that Pikachu is faster than Raichu. In fact, Raichu's base Speed is higher than Pikachu's. However, this may be due to the fact that Pikachu used multiple Agility attacks.
In the Polish version, it instead mentions a dragon.
In the original version, the welcome sign says "Welcome to Kuchiba City", while in the dub, it just says "Vermilion City".
Brock's implication that Pokémon generally change completely upon evolution was not in the Japanese version.
In the original version, no music is played during the scene where Pikachu is making its decision on whether to evolve or not.
Lt. Surge said that he didn't need to use Electric attacks, and would do fine with Normal attacks in the Japanese version.
The shot of Raichu constantly trying to Body Slam but missing Pikachu is longer in the English dub than it is in the original Japanese version. Raichu tries to Body Slam Pikachu twice in the Japanese version, but in the English dub, Raichu tries three times.
In the original Japanese version, Lt. Surge uses English curse words when Pikachu uses Agility. The dub changes it to "Okay!"
In the dub, Lt. Surge told Raichu to finish Pikachu with a Thunderbolt. In the original, he just tells Raichu to "cut off the baby's movements".
The shot where Raichu launches its final Thunderbolt is slightly shorter in the English dubbed version than in the Japanese one.
Pikachu and Raichu's voices are removed in the English dub from the scene where Pikachu confuses Raichu with Agility.
The scene where Team Rocket were commenting on how Pikachu grounded the attack was rewritten in the dub. In the original version, Jessie mentioned how Pikachu used his tail as an assu, meaning ground. James replaces it with Dogassu, explaining why he's holding his Koffing. Meowth then hits and scolds them for not taking them seriously. In the dub, this is replaced by a series of puns. Jessie starts in with "What a shocking story!" James follows up with "That was quite a tale!" Meowth finishes the sequence by hitting them while saying "And now you have both been PUN-ished."
The music briefly stops when Pikachu is first hit by Raichu's Thunder Shock in the dub.