- For the Elite Four Champion in Pokémon Stadium, see Blue (game).
- For the Japanese opening theme, see The Rivals.
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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
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.
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.
The following are the characters considered to be rivals in the games.
- The male playable character becomes a rival if the player selects the female playable character.
- The female playable character becomes a rival if the player selects the male playable character.
Pokémon Card GB series
In the Card GB series, Ronald does not use actual Pokémon themselves, but cards instead.
Pokémon Masters EX
|Ranger: Shadows of Almia|
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.
- Blue was given a cross-canon counterpart with Gary Oak, who debuted in Pokémon - I Choose You!.
- Silver appeared briefly in the opening of The Legend of Thunder!, which showed some events of Jimmy's journey.
- Barry debuted in Barry's Busting Out All Over! and became one of Ash's rivals, as well as an occasional traveling companion.
- Bianca debuted in Minccino—Neat and Tidy!, where she is a friendly rival of Ash and an occasional traveling companion.
- N debuted in New Places...Familiar Faces!.
- Cheren's only appearance was in There's a New Gym Leader in Town! as the Gym Leader of Aspertia City.
- Shauna, Tierno, and Trevor debuted in Summer of Discovery!.
- Gladion's first proper appearance was in A Glaring Rivalry!.
- Hau debuted in No Stone Unturned! and would go on to serve as a minor rival for Ash.
- Marnie debuted in Battling Turned Up to Eleven! as a participant in the World Coronation Series.
- Hop debuted in Curtain Up! Fight the Fights!, when he challenged Ash to a battle before the start of the Masters Eight Tournament.
- Nemona debuted in HZ010, and quickly befriended Liko and Roy in spite of her competitive nature.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Jessie and James had unfriendly rivalries with Cassidy and Butch, respectively, until the latter two eventually left Team Rocket.
- May has friendly rivalries with Drew and Solidad, and an unfriendly rivalry with Harley.
- Dawn has friendly rivalries with Zoey and Kenny, and unfriendly rivalries with Ursula and Jessilina. She also has Nando as a minor rival.
- Johanna had a friendly rivalry with Lila when they were younger. Lila was the first person to defeat Johanna in a Contest Battle, but she eventually gave up coordinating and became a Stylist.
- Cilan has an unfriendly (though one-sided) rivalry with Burgundy, which comes from when he defeated her at the Striaton Gym, and also from Cilan's better reputation as a Connoisseur, although Cilan frequently comments on how he looks forward to seeing Burgundy's growth the next time they meet.
- Iris has an unfriendly rivalry with Georgia, which comes from the fact that Iris wants to become a Dragon Master while Georgia focuses on defeating Dragon-type Pokémon.
- Stephan engaged in an unfriendly rivalry with Montgomery during the Clubsplosion.
- 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 Pikachu is occasionally shown to have a rivalry with his evolved form, Raichu. This was first displayed in Electric Shock Showdown with Lt. Surge's Raichu and would be seen with several other Raichu featured in the anime.
- Ash's Infernape had a brutal rivalry with Paul's Electivire, which began while both were still owned by Paul.
- Ash's Incineroar had a rivalry with Professor Kukui's Incineroar that started when the former was still a Litten.
- Ash's Rowlet had a rivalry with Hau's Decidueye, which was resolved in their battle during the Manalo Conference's quarterfinals.
- Ash's Lucario had a brief rivalry with Bea's Grapploct, which ended after the third battle between the two in A Battle of Mega Versus Max!.
- Meowth has a one-sided rivalry with Giovanni's Persian, either seeking approval or wanting to replace his leader's Pokémon.
- Brock's Croagunk has a violent rivalry with Saturn's Toxicroak, which continued in Pokémon Journeys: The Series.
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's rival Blue appears in The Challenger, becoming the Pokémon League Champion shortly before Red challenges him to a battle over the title.
- Ethan's rival Silver appears in The Legacy, although the two are never shown encountering each other.
Pokémon: Twilight Wings
- Hop is a major recurring character in the miniseries. He debuted in a cameo in Letter, made another cameo in Training, and then served as the main character of Buddy.
- Marnie first appeared in Early-Evening Waves.
- Bede first appeared in Sky, where he watched the battle between Leon and Raihan.
- Avery and Klara appeared in The Gathering of Stars.
Several rivals appeared during Pokémon Evolutions:
- In The Champion, Hop helped Victor put an end to Darkest Day. At the end of the episode, Marnie and Bede appeared in a cameo.
- In The Eclipse, Gladion appeared in a flashback, in which he, Lillie, Selene, Hau, and Guzma witnessed Lusamine use Nebby's power to open an Ultra Wormhole in Aether Paradise.
- In The Visionary, Shauna was seen helping Calem and Serena put an end to Team Flare's plans.
- In The Plan, Cheren appeared in a flashback.
- In The Rival, several parts of Pokémon Diamond's story were shown in a series of flashbacks from Barry's point of view. Simultaneously, he battled against his father at the Battle Tower and won.
- In The Discovery, Trace entered Cerulean Cave to find Mewtwo and competed with Green about who would catch it first. This marked Trace's first appearance outside of games.
Pokémon: Paldean Winds
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
The Electric Tale of Pikachu
Magical Pokémon Journey
Phantom Thief Pokémon 7
Several characters in Pokémon Adventures have been rivals to each other.
Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure!
Several characters have rivals in this series.
Pokémon Gotta Catch 'Em All
- Shu has a number of one-off rivalries in early volumes, but starting with Enter the Rival! in Volume 4, Nagi becomes his recurring rival.
Pokémon Gold & Silver: The Golden Boys
Pokémon Journeys: The Series
Pokémon Pocket Monsters
- 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.
- 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."
In other languages
|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.|