Ash Ketchum is as much a vital part of the Pokémon franchise as his beloved electric sidekick. He and Pikachu joined forces in 1997 and instantly became one of the most recognisable tag teams not only in anime but television's history.


They initially journeyed through the Kanto region in order to become the very best but the family grew bigger after the likes of leaders Misty and Brock joined, along with countless other Pokémon friends to keep Pikachu happy.

Ash's team has undergone numerous iterations to decide the best six to tackle the Pokémon League, but Pikachu remained his electric trump card tough enough to take down the most difficult of foes.

After 25 years, viewers recently watched Ash walk away as the Champion of the Pokémon League. His day one goal was finally achieved, which coincidentally aligned with his farewell as the show's main protagonist

Why is Ash Ketchum leaving Pokemon?

Ash and Pikachu in Pokémon, shouting and putting their arms in the air
OLM Team Kato

It was simply his time. Ash achieved what he set out to accomplish and if viewers continued to follow him on his journey then the story would be rehashing lesser content.

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The anime became its own monster and never really focused on the grittier adaption. The majority of episodes focused on a Pokémon of the day in a new area, with Team Rocket attempting to steal said Pokémon, and everything wrapped up neatly by the end of the show.

This became somewhat formulaic after all this time which is why the creators finally gifted Ash with a Pokémon World Championship victory. The accomplishment was celebrated by older fans as something they've waited decades for, but it also ushered in the realisation that there's no more story to tell with Ash.

Will Pokémon continue without Ash Ketchum?

Meowth, the iconic cat Pokémon, wraps up Pikachu.
Meowth, the iconic cat Pokémon, wraps up Pikachu. The Pokémon Company

The good news is yes! Ash may be bowing out but the anime will continue with two brand new antagonists taking the lead.

Little is known about what the new adventures will entail, but the general assumption is that the anime is simply getting brand new faces to revitalise the series. They make their Japanese debut on Tuesday 14th April with an hour long special to welcome them, but there's currently no dates in place for UK fans.

Who is replacing Ash Ketchum in Pokemon?

Liko and Roy are the new kids on the block carrying on Ash's legacy. Their story is suggested take place in the Paldea region given the presence of Quaxly, Sprigatito and Fuecoco in promotional materials.

The Pokémon company teased fans with a cryptic narrative lead, labelling Liko as "the girl with the awe-inspiring pendant" and Roy "the boy with the mysterious Poké Ball".

Aside from their names, not much is known about the leads but it's safe to assume we will follow them in collecting Pokémon, meeting new faces, and challenging strong trainers.

Will Pikachu still be the show's mascot?

Pikachu solidified itself as the face of the brand decades ago. No matter how hard Charizard, Eevee or Snorlax try, they're never knocking the iconic character off his pedestal.

Liko and Roy have their own preferred partners in the anime anime but Pikachu (not Ash's), still makes an appearance, donning the title of Captain Pikachu. The new, revamped character belongs to Pokémon Professor Fried who will help the new adventurers on their journey. He also has a striking white captain's hat!

What happens in Ash's final episode?

Get the tissues at the ready because Ash's send off is going to be a tear jerker. Our beloved adventurer kicks up his feet to look back on his journey and the friends he's made with the Pokémon he's caught.

The original gang make a comeback – Butterfree, Bulbasaur, Charizard and Squirtle – and even his Pallet Town rival Gary Oak makes an appearance. Brock and Misty joined the final series a few episodes ago but more are expected to bid Ash farewell in his exit episode.

As things wrap up, instead of signing off with his usual chirpy suggestion to find more Pokémon, he makes a promise to his best friend: "Pikachu, lets stay together forever".

When is Ash's final episode?

Ash's final episode airs on Friday 24th March in Japan but there is no concrete date for an English release just yet. Pokémon's anime English dub is tied to a deal with Netflix and currently sits 25 episodes behind its Japanese counterpart.

The streaming service tends to release episodes in batches and if they continue to follow the path of 12 every instalment, UK viewers could be looking at the latter half of 2023 for an official release.

If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide.


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