Why Ash Ketchum Always Loses (And Why That’s OK!)

Why Ash Ketchum Always Loses (And Why That’s OK!)

Since the late 1990s, Ash Ketchum has been training Pocket Monsters. And with a decade plus under his belt (16 years, actually), you’d think he’d be pretty good. You’d be wrong.

In Pokémon League play, in which trainers have their Pocket Monsters battle, it always seems like he’s losing. Well, that’s because he is. And that’s part of the appeal.

On this week’s episode of anime Pokémon: Best Wishes!, a teaser for next’s week program shows Ash’s Pokémon, Pikachu, once again losing. This time, it’s to Lucario in the Unova Pokémon League.


The subtitle says that Pikachu was “knocked out” and “Lucario wins!” So that probably puts Ash’s record in Pokémon league play somewhere between awful and terrible. But there’s an important reason for Ash Ketchum’s losing streak: Who wants to watch someone win all the time? It would get boring.

What’s more, while the Pokémon anime does have its share of fans, its target audience is Japanese children. That means there is a steady flow of new viewers as children get old enough to watch the long running show. Thus, the show’s producers need to keep the characters somewhat static.

Yes, Ash Ketchum loses. A lot. If his league record is anything to go by, he’s not a very good trainer. But he is an underdog. And who doesn’t like an underdog? Jerks, that’s who.

Has Ash ever won the Pokemon League in The Anime? [The Pokemon Database]
Why does ash ketchum always lose? [Yahoo! Answers]
またリーグ戦で敗退 16年目もポケモンマスターになれず [2ch via はちま起稿]


  • I never saw the anime after the first couple of episodes of the Advance series, so i’ve never really witnessed the downturn that the series is meant to have suffered, honestly i felt that they should have considered taking the focus off Ash after Johto, not completely but enough that they could have a new character start their journey from scratch in a different region.

    I also believe that one of the reasons (the main reason?) they haven’t moved onto other characters is that Ash’s Pikachu has become the series mascot and is to tightly entwined with the brand that it would be tricky to remove Ash (and therefore Pikachu) from the anime series, because when someone see’s pikachu they generally think of Ash.

  • Hang on a second…

    “Who wants to watch someone win all the time? It would get boring.”
    “Yes, Ash Ketchum loses. A lot.”

    So Ask winning would get boring, but him losing wouldn’t? Sweet logic, bro.

    • Seems to make sense to me… as the author says, watching someone only win would just be boring. Sure it’s kind of ridiculous when you think of how much Ash loses, but at least the audience gets to see Ash being challenged, never knowing whether he will win this one or lose the next; as opposed to Ash rocking up with his level 100 pickachu and just dominating. So yeah, it is sweet logic. Kudos bro.

      • Watching someone win all the time is boring, but watching someone lose all the time and to top it off get dumber with experience is downright torture. Have Ash win every once in a while, the series won’t die if Ash wins a league for once in his life.

    • Hey, I can lose all I want but why do the producers make me lose ALL THE TIME. I mean really, can I just win one just ONE Pokemon League. That’s all I want!

  • Ash loses because he abandons all his Pokemon everytime he enters a new zone and he refuses to evolve his Pikachu. Worst Pokemon trainer ever.

  • I think the point they’re trying to make is not just that it’s ok to lose sometimes. But if you are pursuing something important you should never give up. All the grown up people here already knew that though, right?

  • I think it’s more for the same reason as why Goku lost the first few tournaments in Dragon Ball, to show kids that you don’t always need to win and that losing is okay too, and thus that you can still be good and lose.

  • I’ve been alive for 34 years. Pokemon has existed for the entirety of my adult life. Despite this, I still have zero clue as to what the hell a Pokemon is, or what the hell you do with it.

    But that Peekaboo thing looks cute.

  • Ash blows. He always loses because he never actually trains his Pokemon. They never spar or train anything – not even a single Rocky-esue montage! They just sit in their balls until, on some rare occasion, he pulls one out for a one-off with some random dude or enters a league. His victories are often dumb luck, with his Pokemon copping a smack to the face and evolving for whatever reason and surprising the opponent or whoops I broke the sprinklers suck it Onix. Early on in season one there was some guy who started his own gym to train his Pokemon. He had a Sandshrew or something that was super tough and could resist water because they trained hard. He beat Ash’s ass. HARD.

    Ash is a slacker who gets by on luck to middling success, while Sandshrew guy is probably already Pokemon’s version of Tony Robbins telling stories about how he built his own gym as a teenager and stomped this idiot kid who was so bitter about it he tried to lead a revolt amongst his well-trained Pokemon murder-machines.

    Pokemon teaches kids that if you have a dream or a goal, then you need to actually put the effort into achieving it, like the real winner of the show: Gary Oak. yes, Gary. Gary, who probably worked his ass off for his grandfather to afford that sweet ride. Gary, who worked at improving his own self-image and confidence to attract all those hot babes, who were also doubtlessly impressed at his sick drifting skills that he put countless hours into perfecting whilst delivering tofu at night for his old man. Gary, who stopped being a slacker backpacker sleeping in hostels, moved out of home, and got a real job as a researcher where he made several amazing contributions to the field of science, such as resurrecting the long-extinct Aerodactyl. And you know what? And he STILL beat Ash. Beat his most-used Pokemon. Even with the little spare time he had outside his busy schedule of revolutionizing science as we know it and wooing hot babes, he was still able to train up a Pokemon and pound Ash harder than Ash probably pounds buckets these days.

    Gary is a winner because he works at his dream. He learns from his mistakes. When Gary Oak lost a Pokemon battle, did he get all bitter and try to get his opponent’s pokemon to turn against their master? NO! He trained harder to WIN! When Gary Oak birthed countless genetic monstrosities from his lab in his quest to resurrect the Aerodactyl, did he call it quits? NO! He burned the hidous masses of flesh and bone and tried again until he got it right! When Gary Oak was late on that early-morning tofu delivery because his sick drifting wasn’t sick enough and his dad whipped his ass with an extension cord, did he quit? NO! He put in the hard yards with that cup of water and became CRAZY-siack at drifting. When Gary Oak leaft the Tauros pen open that one and one of them got out broke its leg in a ditch and his gramps made him put a bullet in its head because otherwise he’d never learn his lesson, did he wuss out? NO! He looked into those big, soft, brown eyes, bit back the tears and sobbing, and sprayed that Tauros’ brains all over the side of the road. And I’m pretty sure all of that happened!

    Ash is a filthy transient who doesn’t put in the effort to accomplish whatever vague goals he has. Ash Ketchum is a bastard – he doesn’t even know who his real father is. He’s a loser who sets himself up to fail and then never learns anything from those failures, and that’s NOT okay. God, I hate that kid.

    • That’s pretty much the most amazing thing I’ve ever read.
      Thankyou for your incredible words of wisdom, chomolonzo.
      You are my hero.

    • Chromolownski, you make a persuasive argument that Ash is undeserving, but you failed to convince me that the show preaches the virtues of hard work. The hardest working characters are Team Rocket. Hells yeah I wrote “Team Rocket.” These heroes are constantly travelling for the business. TR makes countless ambitious plans and always follows through regardless of the slim odds of success. When these plans involve manual labor, TR usually does it themselves instead of overworking their pokemon. They showcase teamwork, and they activately reject the BS philosophy that stealing pokemon is wrong because all pokemon are the private property of their slavelords. What does TR get to show for its hard work and efforts? Electrical burns — that’s what TR gets. The message of the show has nothing to do with work ethic. The message is that success is based upon luck. Ash is even lucky at love but not yet old enough to appreciate it, what with every time a love interest for him leaves, another immediately fills her spot. Luck.

  • I loved the story but you were wrong on one point. Ash does train with his pokemon. There are many episodes dedicated to just training.

    His real problem is he takes his natural talent for granted and never puts in the extra yards to struggle out of his mediocrity largely because he is continually beating two people who have neither talent nor any motivation to work, Jessie and James, leading to a false sense of confidence in his own prowess.

    What he really needs is somone like Boxer for a role model.

    “I will work harder!”


  • Aha Ted, first you steal my comment from here and post it on 7chan, then you steal comments from my stolen comment on 7chan and post them here. Do the depths of your depravity know no bounds?

  • They’ve stuck with him for far too long, I mean really I think the only reason they keep him is cause he’s Pikachu’s wingman

    I miss brock though, waaaaah, I mean Tracy was ok for a bit but this guy is just awful

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