Friends to the End (Japanese: ポケモンリーグ！さいごのたたかい！Pokémon League! Final Battle!) is the 80th episode of the Pokémon anime and the final episode of the Indigo League arc. It was first broadcast in Japan on January 21, 1999 and in the United States on November 27, 1999.
It's the sixth round match at the Pokémon League Competition, and Ash, Misty and Brock are in the stands cheering for their new friend, Ritchie. When an unfortunate turn of events happens, Ash learns a valuable lesson that he will take with him on the rest of his journey as a Pokémon trainer. Finally, Ash and Ritchie get to march with the athletes for the closing ceremonies of the Competition where they add a Pokémon League Badge to their cherished collection.
Ash is still upset that he lost his last match and lays curled up in bed, which concerns his friends, Delia, and Professor Oak. Misty comments that he should be happy that he made it as far as he did and enters the bedroom to try to cheer him up. She offers to get him something to eat and then suggests he take a walk, but he refuses. The pair begins to argue about how good a Trainer Ash really is, and Professor Oak eventually agrees with Misty, saying that had Ash trained Charizard better, he could have gone further. When Ash and Misty resume arguing, PikachuThunder Shocks everyone in the room in outrage.
Later, Ritchie's next battle commences; both Trainers are equally matched and are eventually down to their last Pokémon. Ritchie's opponent, Assunta, sends out Ivysaur and Ritchie calls on Sparky. As soon as he pops out, Sparky is beaten by Ivysaur, and none of his Thunder Shocks are effective. Ivysaur eventually jumps into the air and unleashes a Solar Beam, hurling Sparky to the ground. Just as he gets up, he is hit and defeated by Ivysaur's Tackle, giving Assunta the victory. Later, Ash joins Ritchie near a lake. As their Pikachu play, they talk about their losses. Ritchie says that he would have trained harder if he had known how tough the competition would be. He then comments on how losing is good for Trainers, and Ash realizes how immature he was. He and Ritchie then promise to become Pokémon Masters no matter what.
Suddenly, both Pikachu fall into a hole, as do Ritchie and Ash. Team Rocket appears at the surface, uses a cage at the end of a fishing pole, and pulls both Pikachu out of their hole. They try to shock them, but James tells them that the bars absorb electricity. They start to make their getaway when Ash and Ritchie rise out of the other hole, clinging to their Pidgeotto and Butterfree, respectively. Ash sends out Bulbasaur, who tries to grab the cage with his Vine Whip. James sends out Weezing for a Smog attack. Pidgeotto blows the gas back at Team Rocket with Gust as Ritchie sends out Zippo. After Bulbasaur frees Pikachu and Sparky with a Razor Leaf, Zippo ignites Weezing's gas with a Flamethrower. As Team Rocket run around in pain, Ash has Pikachu and Sparky recharge the cage; he then sends out Squirtle, who extinguishes Team Rocket with Water Gun. Team Rocket is sent blasting off again after Pikachu and Sparky toss the electrically-charged cage at the trio.
Later that night, the closing ceremonies begin and the Indigo League competitors march with their main Pokémon into the stadium, waving to the eager crowd. Mr. Goodshow gives each and every one of them a special Pokémon League Badge for competing in the league. The top three Trainers, two males and one female, wave from the stage amid the cheers of the crowd. The commentator then asks the audience to focus on the night skies. As the stadium lights dim, the closing ceremony fireworks display begins. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is digging a tunnel from outside the Indigo Stadium with the hope of stealing the competitors' Pokémon. Meowth listens to the ground above and tells Jessie and James to dig up. Unfortunately for them, a huge bomb falls through. It goes off and Team Rocket is blasted off again.
The next morning, Ash reminds him of their promise, before Ritchie sets off. After Ash remembers the highlights of the League games, he sees his friends, mother, and Professor Oak. Smiling, he asks Pikachu if he is ready to go back to Pallet Town. After Pikachu affirms it, he runs over to them.
The music that plays during the closing ceremony is shown to be actually playing in the stadium, as when the scene changes to Team Rocket temporarily, the music fades but is still heard, muffled, from the stadium.
During the flashback of Ash's battle with Ritchie in the Pokémon League, the narrator says Ash took a chance on Charizard when they each only had one Pokémon left, but Ritchie still had two when Ash sent out Charizard.
Also during the flashback, when Ritchie is declared the winner, the scoreboard displays that Ritchie has two Pokémon left, when in actuality, he only has one.
Right after Team Rocket is blasted off, Ritchie, Ash, and their Pokémon celebrate. While the rest of the Pokémon are standing with their Trainers, Pikachu and Sparky are reversed.
When Ritchie turns to Ash at the lake, the stripes on Sparky's back are missing.
When Team Rocket captures the two Pikachu, the bars on the cage are the same color as the Pikachu's bodies.
During the battle between Ritchie and Assunta in the dub, Tentacool is heard saying, "Tentacruel."
In the original version, Ritchie apologizes for losing despite how much his friends were cheering him on. In the dub, he points out that he and Ash have one more thing in common by both losing.
Ritchie blames his loss on his own inexperience in the original while in the dub he places the blame on how tough his competition was.
The commemorative plates given out to participants is referred to as a "Pokémon League Badge" in the dub. Ash also references them earlier in the dub while in the original he says that he's starving for dinner.