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Pokemon Anime: Essential Watch List

I’ve been watching the Pokemon anime series lately, something I haven’t done since I was roughly 10 years old, and was thinking about how there is nearing 1000 episodes of Pokemon (okay, like 700, but still), and how a lot of those episodes are filler. I have the advantage of having watching everything through the start of Best Wishes multiple times as a kid, so I don’t really need a recap (and sincerely have not interest in Unova, so I started with Kalos). But, a lot of people WANT to get into the Pokemon anime, and want to know what happened in other regions, even if you don’t technically need to have watched everything to start watching the current series – Sun and Moon. This list is a combination of lists I’ve found as to the essential episodes (defined as plot relevant such as major gym battles, league battles, Pokemon caught/traded/evolved/released, etc.), a few personal favorites I believe shouldn’t be missed, and the Pokemon movies, which are always fun, though vary in quality.


Kanto (Indigo) League

Indigo League is one of the best series for filler episodes and one of the most easily accessible series, being on Netflix, so even if you’re going for a faster watch schedule, I would recommend watching all of this series, as most of the iconic Pokemon and Pokemon anime references/jokes come from here.

IL001: Pokémon – I Choose You! – Pikachu

IL002: Pokémon Emergency! – Caterpie (debut), Misty joins

IL003: Ash Catches a Pokémon – Caterpie > Metapod and Pidgeotto

IL004: Challenge of the Samurai – Metapod > Butterfree

IL005: Showdown in Pewter City – 1/8 badge, Brock joins

IL007: The Water Flowers of Cerulean City 2/8 badge

IL010: Bulbasaur and the Hidden Village – Bulbasaur

IL011: Charmander – The Stray Pokémon – Charmander

IL012: Here Comes The Squirtle Squad – Squirtle

IL013: Mystery At The Lighthouse – Krabby

IL014: Electric Shock Showdown 3/8 badge

IL015: Battle Aboard the St. Anne – Raticate (traded). 

IL017: Island of the Giant Pokemon

IL021: Bye Bye Butterfree – Butterfree (released)

IL022: Abra and the Psychic Showdown

IL023: The Tower of Terror – Haunter (debut). 

IL024: Haunter Versus Kadabra – 4/8 badge, Haunter (given away)

IL025: Primeape Goes Bananas – Primeape

IL026: Pokémon Scent-sation! – 5/8 badge

IL029: The Punchy Pokémon – Primeape (given away for training)

IL030: Sparks Fly for Magnemite – Muk

IL032: The Ninja Poké-Showdown – 6/8 badge

IL035: The Legend of Dratini – Tauros

IL037: Ditto’s Mysterious Mansion

IL039: Pikachu’s Goodbye

IL040: The Battling Eevee Brothers

IL043: The March of the Exeggutor Squad – Charmander > Charmeleon

IL045: The Song of Jigglypuff

IL046: Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon – Charmeleon > Charizard

IL048: Holy Matrimony!

IL050: Who Gets to Keep Togepi?

IL056: The Ultimate Test

IL057: The Breeding Center Secret

IL059: Volcanic Panic – 7/8 badge

IL061: The Misty Mermaid

IL063: The Battle of the Badge – 8/8 badge

Pokémon: The First Movie—Mewtwo Strikes Back (Mewtwo’s Counterattack)

IL065: Showdown at the Po-Ke Corral

IL070: Go West Young Meowth

IL074: All Fired Up! – START OF FINALS

IL075: Round One – Begin! – Krabby > Kingler

IL076: Fire And Ice

IL077: The Fourth Round Rumble

IL078: A Friend In Deed

IL079: Friend and Foe Alike

IL080: Friends to the End – END OF FINALS

IL081: Pallet Party Panic – Pidgeotto > Pidgeot (released)


Orange League

OI001: A Scare in the Air (Spirits in the Sky) 

OI002: Poké Ball Peril – Brock leaves

OI003: The Lost Lapras – Lapras, Tracy joins

OI004: Fit to be Tide – 1/4 badge

OI012: Navel Maneuvers – 2/4 badge

OI013: Snack Attack – Snorlax

OI022: Misty Meets Her Match – 3/4 badge

OI023: Charizard Chills! – Charizard starts listening to Ash.

OI027: Pokémon Double Trouble – 4/4 badge

OI030: Hello, Pummelo! – START CHAMPION BATTLE

OI031: Enter the Dragonite – END CHAMPION BATTLE

Pokémon: The Movie 2000—The Power of One (Mirage Pokémon: Lugia’s Explosive Birth)

OI032: Viva Las Lapras – Lapras (released)

OI034: A Tent Situation – Brock returns

OI035: The Rivalry Revival – Tracey leaves

Pokémon 3: The Movie—Spell of the Unown (Emperor of The Crystal Tower: ENTEI)


Johto League

JE001: Don’t Touch That ‘dile – Ash registers for the Johto League

JE003: A Sappy Ending – Heracross

JE010: The Chikorita Rescue – Chikorita

JE015: Fighting Flyer with Fire – 1/8 badge

JE018: Charizard’s Burning Ambitions – Charizard (given away for training)

JE025: Good ‘Quil Hunting – Cyndaquil

JE028: Gettin’ the Bugs Out – 2/8 badge

JE031: The Fire-ing Squad! Squirtle (given away)

JE035: The Totodile Duel – Totodile

JE038: Fowl Play! – Noctowl

JE043: A Dairy Tale Ending – 3/8 badge

JE045: The Bug Stops Here 

JE052: Hook, Line, and Stinker 

JE053: The Beauty and The Breeder

JE066: From Ghost to Ghost – 4/8 badge

JE083: Current Events – Chikorita > Bayleef

Pokémon 4Ever—Celebi: Voice of the Forest (Celebi: The Meeting that Traversed Time)

JE093: Machoke, Machoke Man! – 5/8 badge

JE100: Dueling Heroes

JE101: The Perfect Match!

JE104: The Mystery is History

JE105: A Parent Trapped!

JE106: A Promise is a Promise

JE108: Nerves of Steelix! – 6/8 badge

JE109: Bulbasaur… the Ambassador! – Bulbasaur (left with Oak)

JE111: For Ho-Oh the Bells Toll!

JE112: Extreme Pokemon – Phanpy Egg (received)

JE114: Hatching A Plan – Phanpy Egg > Phanpy

JE122: Nice Pryce, Baby! – 7/8 badge

JE138: Better Eight Than Never – 8/8 badge, Charizard returns

Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias (Guardian Gods of the Capital of Water: Latias and Latios)

JE142: Hatch Me If You Can

JE149: Pop Goes the Sneasel – START OF FINALS

JE150: A Claim to Fame!

JE151: Love, Pokémon Style

JE152: Tie One On!

JE153: The Ties that Bind

JE 154: Can’t Beat the Heat!

JE 155: Playing With Fire

JE156: Johto Photo Finish – END OF FINALS

JE157: Gotta Catch Ya Later! – Misty leaves, Brock leaves

JE158: Hoenn Alone!


Hoenn League

AG001: Get the Show on the Road! – May joins

AG003: There’s no Place Like Hoenn – Max joins

AG004: You Never Can Taillow – Tailow, Brock returns

AG007: Tree’s a Crowd – Treeko

AG013: All Things Bright and Beautifly!

AG016: The Winner By a Nosepass – 1/8 badge

AG023: Gone Corphishin’ – Corphish

AG031: Just One of the Geysers – 2/8 badge

AG033: Now Thats Flower Power!

AG035: Win, Lose, or Drew!

AG040: Watt’s with Wattson? – 3/8 badge

Jirachi Wish Maker (Wishing Star of the Seven Nights: Jirachi)

AG056: Going, Going, Yawn – 4/8 badge

AG058: All Torkoal, No Play – Torkoal

Destiny Deoxys (Visitor from the Sky-Splitting: Deoxys)

AG066: Exploud and Clear – Treeko > Grovyle

AG070: Balance of Power – 5/8 badge

AG072: The Bicker the Better

AG080: That’s Just Swellow – Tailow > Swellow

AG085: Sky High Gym Battle! – 6/8 badge

AG089: A Scare to Remember

Lucario and the Mystery of Mew (Mew and the Aura Hero: Lucario)

AG097: Gaining Groudon

AG098: The Shuffle of Legends

AG100: Solid as a Solrock – 7/8 badge

AG108: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snorunt! – Snorunt

AG110 The Great Eight Fate – 8/8 badge part 1

AG111: Eight Ain’t Enough – 8/8 badge part 2

AG123: Rhapsody in Drew – Snorunt > Glalie

AG125: Like a Meowth to a Flame – START OF FINALS

AG 126: Saved by the Beldum

AG 127: From Brags to Riches

AG 128: Shocks and Bonds

AG 129: A Judgment Brawl

AG 130: Choose It or Lose It!

AG131: At the End of the Fray – END OF FINALS 


Battle Frontier

AG132: The Scheme Team

AG133: The Right Place and the Right Mime 

AG136: The Symbol Life – 1/7 badge

AG147: Sweet Baby James

AG149: Wheel of Frontier – 2/7 badge

Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea (The Pokémon Ranger and the Prince of the Sea: Manaphy)

AG153: Tactics Theatrics – 3/7 badge

AG154: Reversing the Charges – Phanpy > Donphan

AG155: The Green Gaurdian

AG157: Time Warp Heals All Wounds

AG158: Queen of the Serpentine! – 4/7 badge

AG161: Odd Pokémon Out! – Grovyle > Sceptile

AG164: Ka Boom With a View! – 5/7 badge

AG170: Second Time’s The Charm! – 6/7 badge

AG171: Pokémon Ranger – Deoxys’ Crisis! (Part 1)

AG172: Pokémon Ranger – Deoxys’ Crisis! (Part 2)

AG179: Slaking Kong! – Aipom makes his debut. 

AG180: May, We Harley Drew’d Ya!

AG182: Channeling The Battle Zone! – Aipom

AG187: The Unbeatable Lightness of Seeing!

AG189:  Gathering the gang of four – 7/7 badge, START OF FINAL

AG190: Pace – The Final Frontier! – 7/7 badge, END OF FINAL

AG191: Once More With Reeling!

AG192: Home Is Where The Start Is! – Brock leaves, May leaves, Max leaves


Sinnoh League

DP001: Following A Maiden’s Voyage! – Introduces Dawn and Sinnoh

DP002: Two Degrees Of Separation! – Starly, Brock returns

DP003: When Pokémon Worlds Collide! – Dawn joins, Chimchar (debut)

DP005: Gettin’ Twiggy With It! – Turtwig

DP006: Different Strokes for Different Blokes!

DP013: A Staravia is Born! – Starly > Staravia

DP018: O’er The Rampardos We Watched! – 1/8 badge

DP034: Buizel Your Way Out Of This! – Buizel (later traded to ash)

DP037: The Grass Menagerie! – 2/8 badge

DP051: Glory Blaze – Chimchar

The Rise of Darkrai (Dialga VS Palkia VS Darkrai)

DP055: Throwing The Track Switch – Aipom (traded for Buizel)

DP060: Journey To The Unown! – Aipom > Ambipom. Because Aipom is Dawn’s pokemon now I don’t see this as important.

DP064: Riding the Winds of Change! – Gligar

DP068: A Triple Fighting Chance! – 3/8 badge

DP071: Pokémon Ranger and the Kidnapped Riolu! (Part 1)

DP072: Pokémon Ranger and the Kidnapped Riolu! (Part 2)

DP075: Our Cup Runneth Over!

DP076: A Full Course Tag Battle!

DP077: Staging A Heroes’ Welcome!

DP078: Pruning a Passel of Pals!!

DP079: Strategy With a Smile!

DP083: A Crasher Course in Power! – 4/8 badge

DP085: Fighting Fear With Fear! – Gligar > Gliscor

Giratina and the Sky Warrior (Giratina and the Bouquet of the Frozen Sky: Shaymin)

DP100: Aiding the Enemy – Turtwig > Grotle

DP102: Shield with a Twist! – 5/8 badge

DP108: Dealing With Defensive Types! – 6/8 badge

DP110: Steeling Peace of Mind!

DP111: Saving the World from Ruins!

DP118: Pursuing a Lofty Goal! – Staravia > Staraptor

DP124: To Thine Own Pokemon Be True! – Ambipom is released

DP127: Sliding Into Seventh! – 7/8 badge

DP131: Pedal to the Mettle! –  Starts a 6 v. 6 battle with Ash’s main rival Paul

DP132: Evolving Strategies! – Chimchar > Monferno

DP133: Uncrushing Defeat!

Arceus and the Jewel of Life (Arceus: To Conquering Space-Time)

DP153: The Treasure Is All Mine!

DP154: Mastering Current Events! – Gliscor (given away for training)

DP156: A Meteoric Rise to Excellence! – Gible makes his debut

DP157: Gotta Get a Gible! – Gible

DP163: Fighting Ire With Fire! – Monferno > Infernape

DP166: The Fleeting Tower of Sunyshore! – Grotle > Torterra

DP179: The Eighth Wonder of the Sinnoh World! – 8/8 badge

Zoroark—Master of Illusions (Phantom Ruler: Zoroark)

DP182: An Old Family Blend! – Cyndaquil > Quilava, START OF FINALS

DP183: League Unleashed!

DP184: Casting a Paul on Barry!

DP185: Working on a Right Move!

DP186: Familiarity Breeds Strategy!

DP187: A Real Rival Rouser!

DP188: Battling a Thaw in Relations!

DP189: The Semi-Final Frontier! – END OF FINALS

DP191: Memories are Made of Bliss – Brock leaves, Dawn leaves


Unova League

BW001: In The Shadow of Zekrom! – Introduces Unova and Oshawatt makes his debut

BW002: Enter Iris and Axew! – Pidove, Iris joins

BW003: A Sandile Gusher of Change – Oshawatt, Sandile (debut)

BW004: The Battle Club and Tepig’s Choice! – Tepig

BW005: Triple Leaders, Team Threats – 1/8 badge part 1

BW006: Dreams by the Yard Full! – 1/8 badge part 2, Cilan joins

BW007: Snivy Plays Hard to Catch! – Snivy

BW012: Here Comes the Trubbish Squad! – Scraggy Egg

BW016: Rematch at the Nacrene Gym – 2/8 badge

BW017: Scraggy-Hatched to be Wild – Scraggy Egg > Scraggy

BW018: Sewaddle and Burgh in Pinwheel Forest – Sewaddle

BW020: Dancing With the Ducklett Trio! – Sandile evolves to Krokorok before being caught by Ash. 

BW022: A Venipede Stampede! – Pidove > Tranquill

BW025: Battling For The Love of Bug-Types! – Sewaddle > Swadloon, 3/8 badge

White—Victini and Zekrom (Victini and the Black Hero: Zekrom)

Black—Victini and Reshiram (Victini and the White Hero: Reshiram)

BW035: Facing Fear With Eyes Wide Open! – Palpitoad

BW037: Gotta Catch A Roggenrola! – Roggenrola

BW052: Dazzling the Nimbasa Gym! – 4/8 badge

BW063: Battling the King of the Mines! – Boldore, 5/8 badge

BW067: Battling the Bully! – Krokorok

BW070: An Amazing Aerial Battle! – Tranquill > Unfezant,  6/8 badge

BW076: Battling the Leaf Thieves! – Swadloon > Leavanny

BW079: Evolution by Fire! – Tepig > Pignite

Kyurem vs. the Sword of Justice (Kyurem vs. the Sacred Swordsman: Keldeo)

BW081: Caution: Icy Battle Conditions! – 7/8 badge

BW085: Rocking the Virbank Gym! (Part 1) – 8/8 badge part 1

BW086: Rocking the Virbank Gym! (Part 2) – 8/8 badge part 2

BW094: Ash, Iris and Trip: Then There Were Three! – Krokorok > Krookodile

If you, like me, find Unova essentially unwatchable, just start from here for Unova. You’ll miss a lot of the new pokemon etc. but they tried a soft-reboot of the series and abondoned that thought half-way through, so Ash spends most of Unova more clueless than in Indigo League. 

BW105: Curtain Up, Unova League! – START OF FINALS

BW106: Mission: Defeat Your Rival!

BW107: Lost at the League!

BW108: Strong Strategy Steals the Show!

BW109: Cameron’s Secret Weapon!

BW110: A Unova League Evolution! – END OF FINALS

BW118: Fires of a Red-Hot Reunion! – Charizard returns

Genesect and the Legend Awakened (ExtremeSpeed Genesect: Mewtwo Awakens)

BW134: The Journalist from Another Region!

BW143: Best Wishes Until We Meet Again! – Cilan leaves, Iris leaves

BW144: The Dream Continues! – Ash decides to travel to Kalos


Kalos League

XY001: Kalos, Where Dreams and Adventures Begin! – Ash arrives in Kalos, Clemont joins, Bonnie joins

XY002: Lumiose City Pursuit! – Froakie

XY003: A Battle of Aerial Mobility! – Fletchling

XY006: Battling on Thin Ice! – 1/8 badge, Serena joins

XY025: Climbing the Walls! – 2/8 badge

XY035: The Forest Champion! – Hawlucha

XY036: Battles in the Sky! – Fletchling > Fletchinder

XY044: Showdown at the Shalour Gym! – 3/8 badge

Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction

XY052: A Stealthy Challenge! – Froakie > Frogadier

XY055: A Slippery Encounter! – Goomy

XY058: The Green, Green Grass Types of Home! – 4/8 badge

XY061: An Oasis of Hope! – Goomy > Sliggoo

XY065: Good Friends, Great Training! – Sliggoo > Goodra

XY067: The Moment of Lumiose Truth! – 5/8 badge

Hoopa and the Clash of Ages (The Archdjinni of the Rings: Hoopa)

XY069: Defending the Homeland!

XY070: Beyond the Rainbow! – Goodra (released)

XY074: Fairy-Type Trickery! – 6/8 badge

XY076: A Not-So-Flying-Start! – Noibat

XY086: A Legendary Photo Op! – Fletchinder > Talonflame 

XY093: All Eyes on the Future!- 7/8 badge

XY099: The Legend of the Ninja Hero! 

XY100: A Festival of Decisions!  – Frogadier > Greninja

XY110: An Electrifying Rage! – Noibat > Noivern

Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel (Volcanion and the Exquisite Magearna)

XY122: A Real Icebreaker!  – 8/8 badge

XY125: A League of His Own! – START OF FINALS

XY126: Valuable Experience for All! – Goodra (rejoins)

XY127: Analysis Versus Passion!

XY128: A Riveting Rivalry!

XY129: Kalos League Passion with a Certain Flare!

XY130: Finals Not for the Faint-Hearted! 

XY131: Down to the Fiery Finish! – END OF FINALS

XY139: Facing the Needs of the Many! – Goodra (released), Greninja (released)

XY140: XY140: Till We Compete Again! – Clemont leaves, Bonnie leaves, Serena leaves


Alola Trials

SM001: Alola to New Adventure! – Ash arrives in Alola

SM002: The Guardian’s Challenge! – Ash decides to enter into the Alola Trials.

SM004: First Catch in Alola, Ketchum-Style! – Rowlet

SM010: Trial and Tribulation! – 1/4 grand trial

SM015: Rocking Clawmark Hill! – Rockruff

SM021: One Journey Ends, Another Begins… – Litten

SM036: Trials and Determinations! – 2/4 grand trial

SM037: Rising from the Ruins! – Rockruff > Lycanroc

SM042: Alola, Kanto!

SM043: When Regions Collide!

SM063: Pushing the Fiery Envelope! – Litten > Torracat

SM067: Love at First Twirl! – Poipole

SM077: Guiding an Awakening! – 3/4 grand trial

SM090: Securing the Future! – Poipole (released)

SM109: The Birth of an Island Queen! Satoshi’s Grand Trial!! – 4/4 grand trial

SM112: Discovering a New Species! Get, Meltan! – Meltan

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