- Pikachu, Ash’s most iconic Pokémon, is considered rare due to its strength and ability to Gigantamax, making it even more exceptional.
- Ash’s Lapras is rare because it belongs to an endangered species and played a crucial role as the leader of its herd.
- Gible, a pseudo-legendary Pokémon, is extremely rare, and although Ash didn’t evolve it into a Garchomp, it remains an exceptional capture at Professor Oak’s lab.
While Pokémon‘s Ash Ketchum got nowhere near catching them all, he did manage to catch some impressively rare Pokémon over the years. He’s caught shiny Pokémon, Mythical Pokémon, fossil Pokémon, and many other varieties in his travels. Some of these Pokémon were obviously rare from the beginning, while the rarity of others only became apparent later on. What makes a Pokémon “rare” can vary a lot, but generally it means they are difficult to find, or possess traits that few members of their species do.
The list discusses how Ash came into possession of these rare Pokémon, what makes them so rare, and what happened to them by the end of the series. Rarity was determined by how the Pokémon is treated within the series, as well things like Pokédex entries which provide a slightly more scientific context. There’s obviously a bit of subjectiveness to that, but each of the Pokémon below has something which makes them stand out as rare.
It’s hard to have a list of Ash’s Pokémon without talking about Pikachu. Pikachu are generally portrayed as somewhat rare in the anime; Ash has found large colonies of Pikachu before, but characters often comment on the unusualness of seeing a Pikachu in the early seasons of the show. Ash’s Pikachu is considerably stronger than most Pikachu seem to be, which drew the attention of Team Rocket, who are certainly convinced it’s rare. In Pokémon Journeys, Pikachu proved it had a special ability: Gigantamaxing, which few Pokémon of a species are capable of, making it an even rarer Pokémon than it already was.
A rare Pokémon that Ash encountered fairly early in his travels is Lapras. Ash found his Lapras in the Orange Islands, where it had been separated from its herd. In the Pokédex entries, Lapras is frequently described as being an endangered species, specifically citing that it has been overhunted to near extinction. Ash ended up releasing Lapras back into the wild when his time in the Orange Islands was done, mostly because its herd needed it. Ash’s Lapras eventually became the leader of the herd, and would reappear a few times, including in the series’ final episodes.
Gible is what is referred to by fans as a “pseudo-legendary” Pokémon, which are usually both very strong and very rare. Ash has only properly owned one such Pokémon, and that was indeed a Gible. Ash met Gible in the Sinnoh region, where he found it as a wild Pokémon struggling to learn the move Draco Meteor. After Ash helped it, it decided to follow him, and he caught it. While several characters have been shown to own Gible, it’s almost always commented upon as being unusual. Ash still has his Gible at Professor Oak’s lab, and unfortunately never evolved it into a Garchomp, which would’ve made it even rarer.
Fully evolved Pokémon aren’t very common in the wild, particularly in the anime, so Ash finding a Gengar was already noteworthy. This Gengar was originally caught in Professor Cerise’s lab, where it was playing pranks. Gengar’s most noteworthy trait is its ability to Gigantamax, much like Pikachu, however Gengar only obtained this ability later on thanks to Ash’s guidance. Gengar played a critical role in Ash’s ultimate victory in the Masters’ Eight Tournament, with its Gigantamax ability coming in clutch against Leon.
Ash’s Lycanroc evolved from a Rockruff he caught in Alola, which on its own isn’t a particularly rare Pokémon. However, Ash’s Rockruff evolved into the extremely rare Dusk form of Lycanroc, radically elevating its rarity. While other Midday and Midnight Lycanroc are seen in the series, Ash’s is the only Dusk Lycanroc known in the anime. In the games, only certain Rockruff with a particular rare ability are able to evolve into Dusk Lycanroc. Ash’s Lycanroc also had an unusual “berserk” state where its eyes turned red, which it eventually learned how to control, and made it a key player in Ash’s Alola League team.
Ash’s Dracovish is truly one of a kind, as it was created by Ash and Goh directly from fossils. Since Dracovish is made up of two different fossils jammed together, it’s very unlikely that any other trainer has ever revived a Dracovish. Ash’s Dracovish was quite powerful and became an essential part of his Journeys team. During the Masters’ Eight Tournament, Ash’s Dracovish underwent a strange awakening, where it began to project energy spikes from its body, which it could use to attack. Since Ash’s Dracovish is literally the only one, it’s impossible to say how noteworthy that is, but no one in the stadium had seen anything like it before.
Ash encountered Naganadel back when it was still a Poipole, a rare type of Pokémon known as an Ultra Beast, which comes from another dimension. Ash was able to encounter this thanks to his work as one of the Ultra Guardians, who responded to the sudden appearances of Ultra Beasts in Alola. Once again, there’s no reason to suspect anyone else has ever used one in battle, yet Ash was able to use Naganadel in his Alola League battles. Ash eventually released Naganadel so that it could return to its home dimension, where it’s presumably a bit less unique.
Ash’s Greninja was first met in the Kalos region as a Froakie, which Ash worked hard to help evolve and master its powers. In fact, Ash and Greninja’s relationship was so close that they were able to make use of a previously unknown power: the Bond Phenomenon. When bonded with Ash, Greninja takes on traits that cause it to look more like him (the “Ash Greninja” form), and its power is radically increased. However, this comes at Ash’s expense, since Ash feels the pain that Greninja does in battle and can be quite worn out afterward. Ash’s Greninja remained behind in Kalos, protecting the region and dealing with the aftermath of Team Flare’s evil schemes.
Ash’s Melmetal was first met as a Meltan in Alola, which looked a little different from most due to its hex nut having been used in Team Rocket’s food truck. Meltan and Melmetal are classified as Mythical Pokémon, one of the rarest categories of Pokémon that there is. While many Meltan were shown initially, these Meltan all eventually merged with Ash’s Meltan to cause it to evolve, creating the first known example of a Melmetal. It, too, was a core member of Ash’s Alola League team which led him to his first victory. Ash’s Melmetal remained behind in Alola, living with Professor Kukui, so that he could study it.
As a species, there’s nothing particularly rare about Noctowl, as it’s a fairly common Pokémon in the Johto region where it was caught. Ash’s Noctowl, however, is a shiny Pokémon, rare variants with a different color scheme than others of its species. At the time that Ash encountered his Noctowl, the rate of seeing a shiny Pokémon in the games was around 1 in 8192, making it a sight so rare that most players never saw one (aside from Gyarados). Ash’s Noctowl was also notably smaller than others of its species, making it even rarer. Noctowl became a part of Ash’s Johto-era team, and currently resides at Professor Oak’s lab with many of Ash’s other Pokémon.
As can clearly be seen, Ash has encountered some truly exceptional Pokémon over the years, with several of his captures (particularly in recent seasons) being effectively one-of-a-kind. Ash may not have caught too many Pokémon in terms of quantity, but what he did catch he more than made up for with quality. Using these rare Pokémon in tournament battles put them on display for the world to see, and surely made Ash a noteworthy competitor once he was entered in the World Coronation Series. Rare Pokémon put Ash on the map, leading everyone’s favorite Pokémon protagonist to his greatest heights yet.