For the Elite Four Champion in Pokémon Stadium, see Blue (game).
For the Japanese opening theme, see The Rivals.
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Red battling his rival Blue

A rival (Japanese: ライバル rival) is one of the main characters in the Pokémon games that is well known to the protagonist and has similar skills, goals, and achievements. Rival characters appear frequently during the protagonist's quest, having a role in several of the games' events and often challenges them in battles. Defeating a rival may be a primary or necessary goal of said character.

In the games

Core series

From left to right: Hugh, Silver, and Wally

In the core series, a rival is a recurring opponent to the player throughout the game. This character archetype has appeared in every core series game since its debut in Generation I. Typically, rivals will be met by the player early in the game, usually around the time the player receives their starter Pokémon. In most games, the rival will also obtain a starter Pokémon and will usually participate in the player's first Pokémon battle against a Trainer. From then on, rivals will appear frequently throughout the player's journey, often being one step ahead of the player as they move through the region, meeting and battling the player at various points in the game with a progressively stronger and diversified party. Usually, they must be defeated in order to continue the game; the most important of these battles happening either right before or during the player's challenge to the Elite Four.

After the defeat of the Elite Four and the Pokémon Champion, the rival can usually be battled at the player's leisure, but only at certain times with increasingly powerful Pokémon. More often than not, they will have the starter Pokémon of their home region that is strong against the one the player chose at the beginning of the game.

Players are able to choose a different name for Blue, Silver, Barry, Hugh, and Trace. In the Hoenn- and Kalos-based games, the player character not chosen will serve as a rival.

Most rivals use the Trainer class "Pokémon Trainer", with only Blue and Silver identified as "Rival" in in-battle text. Rivals may also take on other classes as they assume other roles in the story, such as Blue, Trace, and Nemona's status as a Champion, as well as N and Gladion's membership in Team Plasma and Team Skull, respectively.

In addition to the main characters, Raihan and Leon have a long-standing rivalry relationship. This rivalry is carried over to several other canons.

The following are the characters considered to be rivals in the games.

Blue Trace Silver Brendan[fn 1] May[fn 2] Wally Barry Cheren Bianca N Hugh
Calem[fn 1] Serena[fn 2] Shauna Tierno Trevor Hau Gladion Hop Bede Marnie Klara Avery
Nemona Carmine Kieran
  1. 1.0 1.1 The male playable character becomes a rival if the player selects the female playable character.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The female playable character becomes a rival if the player selects the male playable character.

Spin-off games

Pokémon Card GB series

In the Card GB series, Ronald does not use actual Pokémon themselves, but cards instead.


Pokémon Masters EX

Masters EX
Paulo Lear

Pokémon Ranger

Ranger: Shadows of Almia

In the anime

Main series

Nemona in the anime

In the main anime, several rivals from the games have appeared at some point in the story, with many of them crossing paths with Ash's group.

Additionally, other characters have served as rivals to Ash or other main characters, having similar goals and helping the heroes at some points against villainous teams.

Ash's rivals

Ash and Paul, his main Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl rival
  • Gary was Ash's main rival in the original series. They were close when they were younger, but their friendship ended when they argued over an old Poké Ball and broke it. Eventually, Gary gained some respect for Ash, and after losing to him in the Silver Conference, they became friends again altogether.
Ash and Leon, his main Pokémon Journeys: The Series rival
  • Paul was Ash's main rival in Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl. When they met, Paul despised Ash due to his approach to Pokémon training and friendship, constantly insulting him every time they crossed paths. However, like Gary, he eventually grew to respect Ash after losing to him in the Lily of the Valley Conference.
    • Barry was Ash's secondary Sinnoh rival. Unlike Ash's other major rivals, the two have a friendly rivalry, though Barry would frequently comment that he believed he was much stronger than Ash would ever be.
    • Ash's minor rivals include Nando and Conway who, while they battled Ash more than once across an entire saga, have a smaller role than the other rivals.
  • Trip was Ash's main rival in Pokémon the Series: Black & White. The rivalry formed when Trip found out that Ash was from Kanto, a region of which Trip thinks very little. Trip believed Ash to be a redneck from the boonies who needed to go back to the basics of Pokémon, causing a heated rivalry. However, they were shown to respect each other to some extent in various episodes. Like with Gary and Paul, the two settled their differences when Ash beat Trip at the Vertress Conference.
  • Tierno was Ash's primary rival for the first part of Pokémon the Series: XY, with Trevor serving as a minor secondary rival. During the second part of his Kalos journey, however, Ash struck up more serious rivalries with Alain and Sawyer. Alain wished to test the unique power of Ash and his Greninja, while Sawyer looked up to Ash and made it his goal to surpass him.
  • Gladion was Ash's main rival in Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon. Ash and Gladion's rivalry was mutually respectful from the start, with Gladion recognizing Ash's strength almost immediately. Gladion eventually became more dedicated to surpassing Ash after witnessing his and his Pikachu's aptitude for Z-Moves, leading him to undertake the island challenge. Though Gladion is much calmer than Ash, he and Ash both share a deep, internal passion for intense battling.
  • Leon was Ash's main rival in Pokémon Journeys: The Series. Defeating Leon in the World Coronation Series served as Ash's primary goal throughout the series, with Leon in turn anticipating Ash's challenge and paying attention to his growth as a Trainer.
    • During his journey throughout the World Coronation Series, Ash had rivalries with several other characters, such as Bea and Raihan. Bea is the only Trainer that Ash had multiple official battles with during the series.
  • Ash also has friendly rivalries with Ritchie, Harrison, Morrison, Tyson, Stephan, Bianca, Cameron, Kiawe, and Hau. Most of these Trainers have served as opponents for Ash during various Pokémon League Conferences.
  • In Destiny Deoxys, Ash had a rivalry with Rafe. The two settled their differences when LaRousse City was being attacked by Deoxys.

Other characters' rivals

Dawn's recurring rivals
Goh and his rivals
  • Serena has friendly rivalries with Shauna, Miette, Nini, and Aria.
  • Alain has a rivalry with Remo.
  • Sophocles has a rivalry with Horacio. While they were initially unfriendly, they became more respectful towards each other after an encounter in the Vast Poni Canyon.
  • The rivalry between Leon and Raihan is introduced from the battle of the two Trainers in Toughing It Out!.
  • Goh has a rivalry with Gary, with both of them competing to become Chasers in Project Mew during Pokémon Journeys: The Series. Gary treats Goh the same way he treated Ash in the original series as a way to push him to become a better Trainer; this treatment is what motivated Goh to join Project Mew. Goh also has a friendly rivalry with his childhood friend Horace, who also competed to become a Chaser.
  • In The Pendant That Starts It All: Part One, the Rising Volt Tacklers and the Explorers began a serious rivalry with each other. During their clashes, the leaders of both groups, Friede and Amethio, started an unfriendly rivalry with each other.

Rivalries between Pokémon

Ash's Pokémon
The rivalry between Ash's Pikachu and his evolved form

I Choose You!

Cross could be said to be Ash's rival in the alternate storyline depicted in I Choose You!. In a similar manner to Paul, Cross abandoned his Charmander, deeming it to be too weak, and allowing Ash to catch it. Their relationship could even be said to be antagonistic, with Cross being even more aggressive than Paul. Cross's aggressiveness and thirst for power is derived from an inferiority complex, from being able to see Ho-Oh, but not being chosen as the Rainbow Hero. In the end, despite losing to Ash and his former Charmander, who by that point had evolved into Charizard, he still attempted to steal the Rainbow Wing in order to battle Ho-Oh and prove himself as the strongest Trainer.

Red and his rival Blue in Pokémon Origins

Pokémon Origins

Blue appears as Red's rival in Pokémon Origins, fulfilling his traditional role in the games.

Pokémon Generations

Pokémon: Twilight Wings

All Pokémon Sword and Shield rivals appeared in Pokémon: Twilight Wings.

Pokémon Evolutions

Several rivals appeared during Pokémon Evolutions:

Pokémon: Paldean Winds

Nemona and Aliquis' rivalry

In Pokémon: Paldean Winds, Aliquis has a rivalry with Nemona, as the two are considered the best Trainers at the Academy, in Breathe In, Aliquis began to feel frustrated for not being able to beat her.

In the manga

Red and his rival, Blue

The Electric Tale of Pikachu

Magical Pokémon Journey

Phantom Thief Pokémon 7

Pokémon Adventures

Several characters in Pokémon Adventures have been rivals to each other.

Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure!

Hareta and his rival, Koya

Several characters have rivals in this series.

Pokémon Gotta Catch 'Em All

Pokémon Gold & Silver: The Golden Boys

Pokémon Journeys: The Series

Pokémon Pocket Monsters

Pokémon RéBURST

Pokémon Zensho


  • Ash has at least one species of Pokémon from the same evolutionary family as each of his major rivals. Gary caught a Krabby and uses a Blastoise, Paul uses a Torterra and Gliscor, Trip uses a Serperior and Tranquill, Alain uses a Charizard and an Unfezant, Gladion uses a Lycanroc, and Leon uses a Charizard. At various times in the anime, this is used as part of the plot, such as the comparison between Ash's Krabby and Gary's Krabby in Mystery at the Lighthouse and Showdown at the Po-ké Corral and Paul's Torterra serving as mentor to Ash's Grotle in Aiding the Enemy!.
  • Powerful enemies in the Battle Royales of Pokémon Rumble and Pokémon Rumble Blast—chosen from Miis—are called rivals as well.
  • In every core series game with a Pokémon League prior to Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, at least one of the player's rivals can be battled at the Pokémon League and/or Victory Road.
    • The Sinnoh Victory Road is the only Victory Road where the player can never have a rival battle.
  • According to an interview with Junichi Masuda, the rivals have become less antagonistic due to the following reason: "I think the biggest reason that rivals were more of a jerk in the early days is that we were just limited in what we could express with the pixel graphics. There's not much that you can do with that kind of little sprite on the screen, so we worked harder to characterize them through dialogue and give them certain personalities. Also, because it's just dialogue and there's not a whole lot going on on the screen, it doesn't give as harsh of an impression even if they're jerks, I think. Now we have HD graphics and the visuals are much more impressive. If you also made him a jerk, the impression would be a lot stronger on players. Another thing, just my own personal take, is that it feels that people with those kinds of personalities these days are just not as accepted by players as they were back then."[1]

In other languages

Language Title
Chinese Cantonese 勁敵 Gihngdihk
Mandarin 勁敵 / 劲敌 Jìngdí
  Dutch Rivaal
  Finnish Kilpailija
  French Rival
  German Rivale
  Hindi दुश्मन Dushman *
  Italian Rivale
  Korean 라이벌 Rival
  Polish Rywal
  Portuguese Rival
  Russian Соперник Sopernik
  Spanish Rival
  Thai คู่แข่ง
  Turkish Rakip


See also

Rival characters
Core series BlueSilverBrendan/MayWallyBarryCherenBiancaNHugh
Spin-off games RonaldPauloLear

Trainer classes in the Pokémon core series
Kanto Ace Trainer*BeautyBikerBird KeeperBlack Belt*Bug CatcherBurglarCamper*ChampionGSCFRLGHGSSPE
ChannelerElite FourGSCFRLGHGSSPEEngineerFishermanGamer*GentlemanGym Leader*GSCFRLGHGSSPE
HikerJugglerLassPicnicker*Poké Maniac*Pokémon Trainer*GSCPEPsychicRivalFRLGRockerRoughneck*
SailorScientistSuper NerdSwimmerTamerTeam Rocket Boss*FRLGHGSSPETeam Rocket Grunt*Youngster
BoarderHGSSDouble TeamHGSSFirebreatherGSCHGSSGuitaristGSCHGSSMediumGSCHGSS
Cool CoupleFRLGCrush KinFRLGSis and BroFRLGYoung CoupleFRLGHGSS
Coach TrainerPEKarate MasterPEPunk GuyPETeam RocketPETeam Rocket AdminPE
Master TrainersPE
Unused Trainer class:
Johto Ace Trainer*BeautyBikerBird KeeperBlack Belt*BoarderBug CatcherBurglarCamper
ChampionExecutive*FirebreatherFisherman*GentlemanGuitaristHikerJugglerKimono GirlLass
LeaderMediumPicnickerPokéfanPoké Maniac*PKMN TrainerPoliceman*PsychicRivalHGSSSage
SailorSchool Kid*ScientistSkierSuper NerdSwimmerTeacherTeam Rocket Grunt*TwinsYoungster
Mystery Man*CHGSSDouble TeamHGSSElderHGSSPasserbyHGSSYoung CoupleHGSS
Battle Frontier only:HGSS

Aroma LadyArtistBattle GirlCameramanClownCollectorCowgirlCyclistDragon TamerIdol
JoggerLadyNinja BoyParasol LadyPIPoké KidPKMN BreederPKMN RangerRancherReporter
Rich BoyRoughneckRuin ManiacSocialiteTuberVeteranWaiterWaitressWorker
Arcade StarCastle ValetFactory HeadHall MatronTower Tycoon

  This Trainer Class article is part of Project CharacterDex, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each character found in the Pokémon games.