His battle in the Johto League Conference, where he finally defeated his long time rival, Gary Oak. After the battle, the two actually rekindled their old friendship as well!
This moment of AWESOME would arguably go both ways. This is obvious to Ash, yes, but Gary actually putting up a really good fight against Ash is awesome on its own. Furthermore, this is also a case of being awesome in hindsight due to how much they grew in skill and emotional/mental maturity.
Selflessly performing a Cooldown Hug when Chimchar goes out of control with Blaze. He also does this with Monferno, this time while engulfed in fire.
The moment that Ash strives to prepare to rematch Sabrina after his defeat by her on his first journey. He tries to get the psychic who saved him to tell him how to beat her, but the guy insists that he doesn't have a chance against psychic powers no matter what. To make his point, he keeps telekinetically sending Ash flying back off his feet and crashing into the ground. Each time, the kid gets right back up and keeps marching forward, keeps getting knocked down, and keeps getting back up and trying again, ignoring Brock desperately telling him to give up. Ash shocks the man when he eventually does resist his efforts to psychically push him back and is able to keep going forward. It may not be a battle, but it's such a perfect demonstration of how strong this kid's will and resolve really is, to say it's Awesome is an understatement.
Then there's Ash's "Come and get me!" moment against all those Spearow in the first episode.
One of the Battle Frontier episodes has Ash coming to battle Tucker. This is actually the first episode where we see that the world does recognize Ash as a great trainer. As he approaches it, he's spoken to by the press, and all of his accomplishments are announced when he finally makes it in.
This is touched on again before Ash's second battle against Pyramid King Brandon. Both he and May are approached by Nurse Joy, who has photo albums detailing both of their respective accomplishments, and who asks for both of their autographs.
On his return to Petalburg, Ash gets mobbed by Norman's slavering fans. He wallops the whole town, and nearly curbstomps May as well (the fans are quick to call it her win when Torchic misses and KO's Ash himself, despite Taillow having barely been touched).
Ash's battle with Tucker in Tactics Theatrics. After spending most of it being curb-stomped by Tucker's superior strategy, Ash manages to put a move together where Corphish rides on Swellow's back, then jumps off when they get close. Swellow hits Tucker's Swampert with Aerial Ace while Corphish slams Arcanine right in the face with a Crabhammer, knocking them both out at once.
The final battle between Ash and Paul in the Sinnoh League. All three parts of it.
Ash turning his hat backwards for the first time since THE INDIGO LEAGUE during the battle with Tobias.
That moment is just the warmup for his second piece of awesome in that battle. Complain about Tobias being overpowered if you want, just consider this. Not only was Ash was the only one in the tournament who managed to KO Darkrai, he then followed it up with a KO against a second legendary Pokémon.
Not just the tournament: It's stated outright that Tobias solo-ed ALL EIGHT GYMS with just Darkrai.
Ash beats Darkrai! In an incredibly awesome moment, Ash has lost two mons to Darkrai. It's clear he is going to lose; Darkrai is too powerful and just wallops Heracross, Torkoal, and Gible with ease. Even after trying to outmatch Tobias by having Heracross use (the admittedly clever) tactic of turning sleep against Darkrai, he just can't get ahead. Then Sceptile comes in. The fight is much the same, with Darkrai walloping Scepitle before putting it to sleep. At this point, everyone's basically decided Ash was going to lose...then Scepitle hears Ash's voice, wakes up almost immediately, and in a desperate bid to beat down Darkrai and give Ash an edge, beats the ever loving shit out of Darkrai with Leaf Blade. This is badass for two reasons: first, Sceptile has just been given the honor of being the third Pokemon Ash has used to beat a legendary (The first being Pikachu and the second, Charizard) cementing Scepitle as one of his best mons. Second...this is the first time Tobias has had a loss on his side. All through Sinnoh, up to and after his battle with Ash, Darkrai has destroyed the competition. Sceptile just beat IT.
If there was ever any doubt Ash was a better trainer than Paul, it right proper evaporated when he won the infamous match in the Tag Tournament. He had a scorched Turtwig under his command. Paul (who abdicated his role in the match) had his brutally wounded Chimchar. The opposition had a Metagross and a Zangoose (the latter of which Chimchar was rightly scared of). Ash turned the entire match around and won despite this handicap.
Ash pulling himself together to battle — and then capture — the Primeape that stole his beloved hat.
Ash's second battle with Lenora in Black and White. Anyone who fought Lenora in the games can testify to how difficult she can be. Ash's training combined with the way his strategies played off of hers showed character development. Over the course of 2 episodes he became a hard worker and showed his trademark spirit. (Admittedly, his development seems to get reset every season, so it's not much of a turning point. Still pretty cool.)
Ash's third battle with Trip, after losing to him twice, Ash shows Trip what he's really made of, after a rough start where Snivy is defeated by Servine, Ash's Oshawatt battles aginst Trip's Timburr and after taking some hits cleverly uses Timburr's own strength against it sending it into it's own timber via Water Gun. Then Ash's Tepig and Trip's Vanillite battle it out and it's pretty amazing, with Pokemon hitting each with attack after attack and being evenly matched, culminating in Tepig using Flame Charge to interrupt Vanillite's Icicle Spear and then Vanillite using Blizzard and both Pokemon collide and end up fainting, resulting in the match ending in a draw and Ash finally getting some respect from Trip.
Not even a day upon entering Kalos and he still manages to show how much balls he has. In the span of a day, he works with new companions Clemont and Bonnie along with Froakie to access the Prism Tower to help quell a rampaging Garchomp. Even when he is left with Pikachu and Froakie, he still makes use of resources and manages to get a hold of the dragon to destroy the device causing it pain while on top of the tower. Then, when his Pikachu falls off, he doesn't think twice and leaps off to get him without hesitation. In short order, he was willing to climb to the top of Prism Tower, calm down and help a pseudo-legendary dragon that was in agony, and was more than willing to possibly die to save his best friend, all while being filmed for all of Kalos to witness. Badass and heartwarming.
This is also an awesome moment for the writers! As the episode shows, the above events happened without any development reset on Ash and Pikachu's part, unlike all other new seasons! At last, it looks like the writers nicely managed to keep Ash consistently Bad Ass!
Cooperating with Pikachu in perfect sync when the latter is blinded by Inkay's ink, even taking advantage of Wobbuffet's Mirror Coat to hit Inkay with a high-powered Thunderbolt.
Ash's fight with Hawlucha to catch it was pretty good (see Ash's Pokémon for more). Ash didn't catch Hawlucha when it's fainted, but rather waited for it to be conscious. He then offers Hawlucha to join him, to which it agreed. The awesome part? Ash didn't throw a ball to it or anything. Nope - instead they did a fistbump with Ash holding a Pokéball. That's how Hawlucha accepted Ash as a trainer.
The Cinnabar Gym rematch got a ton of fans onto the Charizard bandwagon...not as if Charizard wasn't already a very popular Pokémon before it rose up out of a pool of lava and delivered an epic Seismic Toss from the sky.
As a Charmander, getting back at his abusive original owner, Damian, by deflecting one of his Poké Balls when he tried to catch him and then breathing fire in his face. Sweet revenge.
He also had one of the most surprising evolutions in the series — a mere three episodes after becoming Charmeleon.
Charizard's role in the Ash vs. Gary battle is another very huge CMoA, if not overkill. Charizard is Ash's last Pokémon standing, and Gary still had three Pokémon left—one of which is Scizor, easily defeated thanks to type advantage, but the last two are Golem and Blastoise, both of which have an advantage over Charizard. It took much effort on Charizard's part, but yes, he did manage to beat them.
In "Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon", Charmeleon evolving into Charizard to take on Aerodactyl and rescue Ash. Bonus points for plugging his ears during Jigglypuff's song long enough to stay awake and rescue Ash.
What about its fight against Harrison's Blaziken in the Silver Conference? That was hands-down one of the most nail-bitingly close fights in the ENTIRE SERIES.
Another one: Charizard is the first to fight Legendary Pokémon...twice. Okay, the first one, Entei, was not real, created from the figments of a movie character's imagination, but still very powerful, but the second, Articuno, most certainly was real. Charizard put up a very, very good fight against both; he was only almost defeated by the former (see Pokemon 3 for more on that), and he managed to defeat the latter. The fandom really made a big deal out of this one...
His return in Episode N is a CMOA in itself, but also seeing him in the Opening popping up from nowhere, COMPLETELY NEUTRALIZES Reshiram's Blue Flare in the air, delivers his trademark Slasher Smile at Ash and go brawling with another Legendary.
Basically, when Ash's Charizard comes back, you know shit's about to go down.
In BW116, he effortlessly takes Iris's Dragonite to school. Ash isn't much of a kid now, is he Iris?
Of course, Pikachu has had its share of awesome moments too — for those who are new or still wondering why Ash hasn't gotten a Thunderstone, the Vermillion Gym showdown should explain why (besides the fact that it's the most familiar critter...). What sealed it was Brock's suggestion that Pikachu learn the speed moves that Raichu missed out on. It was a way of saying "I don't have to be just like you to succeed." Without that experience, Pikachu would have stayed a one trick Pokemon.
Then there's the rematch, of sorts, mid-way through D/P...
Another good moment for Pikachu: When the twerps found Team Rocket, seemingly drowned, after the St. Anne sank, they all seem genuinely sorry, and do their best to give the trio a proper burial at sea...until they scramble back on the raft, claiming they're not dead. Pikachu snaps its fingers and gives a very clear "Chu!" of disappointment.
In Haunter Vs Kadabra stepping up to the Plate to Battle Sabrina's Kadabra which last time badly beat him. When he sees Ash seemingly given up and terrified after Haunter has disappeared he stands in between Kadabra and him and manages to hurt the Psychic Pokemon with a Thunderbolt.
In "Bye Bye Butterfree", Pikachu jumps onto the windshield of Team Rocket's helicopter that they were using in their plot to snag the Butterfree. Pikachu (complete with an adorable smile and "Ka!") begins to charge up his Thundershock. Cue Team Rocket shouting "IT'S GONNA SHOCK US!" in an high-pitched panicky tone of voice, which gradually gets faster before dissolving into hysterical screaming as Pikachu blows up the helicopter!
Then there's the Orange League battle between Ash and Drake. Both are down to the last Pokémon, Drake with his colossal Dragonite, and Ash with Pikachu. Keep in mind that the Dragonite's already beaten Charizard, Squirtle, and Tauros before now. After a fight, throughout which Dragonite is clearly dominant, Pikachu manages to dodge Dragonite's Hyper Beam, perch itself on the giant's head, and call down Thunder to take it down, winning Ash his first championship. The mouse who K Os the dragon.
The dude who wrote the episode gave Dragonite eight attacks (ten in the original Japanese) to make it seem unstoppable.
How about the pilot episode? Pikachu crawls to its feet after being badly injured and rushes - illuminated only by periodic lightning flashes - to the defense of his (suicidal) trainer. After which he annihilates an entire flock of Spearow. With one attack.
That time when Pikachu BLOWS UP A POKEMON CENTER? He might've been empowered by generated electricity (and it was Koffing releasing gas that caused the explosion itself) but it still counts.
In his rematch with Roark, Pikachu takes a nasty hit from an Onix and gets buried under a pile of rocks. The Onix proceeds to set up Stealth Rock while it has a second. Pikachu then proceeds to, over the course of about five seconds, blast the rocks off himself, destroy the Stealth Rock, override Onix's immunity to electricity and zap the hell out of it...somehow...and then charge right through its counterattack to Iron Tail it in the throat and land on the other side while it topples behind him. Was it full of gratuitous nonsense? Yes. But it was some Badass nonsense.
Managing to tie with Tobias's Latios in the Sinnoh League.
The Electabuzz line has served as The Rival for Pikachu throughout the series. He had not beaten any member of its line without teaming up on it. Against Volkner's Electivire, it wins, despite not being able to use any of its Electric moves (due to Motor Drive). It does so by beating Electivire down with IronTail.
Pikachu in BW050. He's trapped, far from his Trainer, and Axew (who's essentially a kid) is panicking. Pikachu keeps his cool, starts letting out other Pokémon from all three teams, and rallys them like a general to escape. Little guy could probably make a decent trainer in his own right.
Also, for anyone who thought Pikachu had suffered Badass Decay in early Best Wishes (thanks to several unfortunate losses), you need only see the Gym Battles against Elesa and Skyla (especially the former) to realise that this isn't the case. At all.
Breaking out of a cage (previously shown to withstand the attacks of even strong legendary Pokemon) just by hitting it repeatedly with Iron Tail.
In the same episode, the ungodly huge Electro Ball it produces from absorbing Thundurus's electricity, which completely pulverizes the platform Meloetta is imprisoned on.
Resisting the effects Colress's machine in the climax of the Team Plasma arc, and shocking Rehsiram into doing the same, leading to the eventual destruction of the machine.
Pikachu vs. Grant's Tyrunt. Tyrunt is much more powerful than Pikachu, but Pikachu managed to play Tennis Boss with it, reflecting all of the Rock Tomb back at it and making it "bite" out of one of the rocks, trapping it for Pikachu's Iron Tail to hit.
Ash's Bulbasaur learning SolarBeam after refusing to evolve.
Actually somewhat realistic, considering that Pokémon do learn moves earlier if they don't evolve.
Bulba's battle in the Kanto League against Jeanette. Truly one of Bulbasaur's finest hours as it took down not one but TWO strong bug Pokemon in a row despite the type disadvantage.
He wasn't too shabby in the match against Jackson/Vincent during the Silver Conference, either. First he defeated a Shiny Magneton - which had previously taken down Cyndaquil and Pikachu using a Thunder-Wave/Tri/Attack combo - by grabbing it with his Vine Whip and sending it spinning. Then he faces off against Vincent's Starter, Meganium, in what's essentially a grudge-match from earlier in the episode. During said match, they pull a tie...after having used the exact same attacks on each other - meaning Bulbasaur's strength as a first-stage matches that of a different final stage Grass Starter (while Vincent is clearly a bit of a ditz, he's not a pushover). Then they respectfully "shake hands" using their Vine Whip. Considering this battle was essentially Bulbasaur's last big hurrah (being near the end of the Original Series), it was a great way to cap off his entire character arc and development!
Krabby sweeping the first round of the Indigo League in its first battle, evolving into Kingler in the process. The best part is that all of his opponents have some sort of advantage over him (Exeggutor with type, obviously, Seadra with speed, and Golbat's ability to fly).
Granted, in the First Gen, Crabhammer was still a Special type move...but it always was and still is a water type move, so it's still pretty impressive.
Pidgeotto evolving into Pidgeot and confronting the Spearow from the first episode (now a Fearow), with Ash and Pikachu riding along for the fight.
Even better when it uses its newly-empowered Wing Attack - the move more resembles Air Slash than anything else, sending blades of wind through the sky to strike at Fearow. Then, Ash caps off the fight with a super-speed Quick Attack, sending Fearow packing in abject terror. It was so awesome they showed these clips in flashback form at one point (specifically, in the episode with Falkner, when Ash is reminiscing about his old friend).
Pidgeotto nearly beating Misty's Starmie in the Cerulean Gym battle before Team Rocket's interruption. If the battle had continued, Ash had a good shot at winning.
Also, turning the tables against Giovanni's gym Pokemon(on loan to Jessie) in Ash's Viridian Gym battle.
Butterfree breaking a net full of other Butterfree by himself, finally winning the heart of the female pink Butterfree he had his eye on for the entire episode.
As a Caterpie it's the only Pokemon Ash has left in his first battle with Team Rocket. Still wounded from his earlier fight with Pidgeotto and Team Rocket mocking it and siccing Ekans and Koffing on him it unleashes String Shot and immoblizes both of them and then Caterpie which is among the smallest Pokemon listed rushes forward with a Tackle that sends both of them flying! And then when Meowth steps up to fight Caterie mummifies him as well.
Defeating a Pinsir as a Metapod...using only Harden.
Buizel vs. Maylene's Lucario. It also gets one before it was even caught, singlehandedly defeating Piplup, Glameow, and Pikachu on the first encounter.
Its very first Contest Appeal in the Wallace Cup.
Buizel gets another in "Short and To The Punch". In the course of one day, he manages to master Ice Punch and defeat a Mr. Mime that had completely overpowered him previously with one hit. Keep in mind that training to learn new attacks (like when Pikachu was learning Iron Tail) usually took several episodes.
It didn't do much in the long run, but freeing himself from the grip of Paul's Drapion by inflating his flotation sac and launching himself into the air with Water Gun. (Too bad he never learned that "hover in the air with his tail" trick used by another Buizel during a contest...)
Snorunt jumping in the way of a TR attack on Pikachu...and evolving into Glalie when the smoke clears. The best part: It finally mastered the Ice Beam that it had trouble with using for several episodes.
Also, Glalie's win against Morrison's Metang and Clark's Charizard in the Hoenn League.
Try the episode when the Frontier Brain Spencer is introduced, it's one CMoA after another for Sceptile. Ash and Sceptile (still in his attack-blockingHeroic BSOD) are attempting to survive the night in a forest full of Beedrill. The next day, Team Rocket captures Pikachu and Sceptile, and Ash jumps after them (while TR is on a balloon) and grabs onto the mechanical arm that was holding his Pokémon. The Rockets shake him off and he falls. Sceptile, seeing his trainer in danger, finally snaps out of his Heroic BSOD, cuts Pikachu and himself free from Team Rocket, and uses Quick Attack to catch Ash before they all fall to the ground, and then uses Bullet Seed to guarantee a safe landing. The injuries Sceptile received from fending off the Beedrill earlier finally took their toll, but Spencer has his Chansey heal him. While being healed, Sceptile reaches into the bushes nearby, and plucks out a new twig to use. Team Rocket doesn't stand a chance NOW...
Being the one responsible for the likely first defeat of Tobias's Darkrai.
When Sceptile was just a Grovyle, it had a CMOA against Norman's very powerful Slaking. Arguably, the best gym battle in the series, Grovyle seemed doomed until activating overgrow and able to defeat Slaking.
Not to mention its first battle against Barry's Roserade. Close-combat ass kicking FTW.
And the fact that it draws doesn't diminish the fact.
Also its first gym battle in Canalave, beating Byron's Bastiodon then doing its routine cuteness at the end of the episode.
Defeating Paul's Drapion, which had already beaten Buizel, Staraptor, and Torterra earlier.
Chimchar finally shaking off its phobia of Zangoose to beat three of them at once!
Fire Counter Shield against Fantina, beating not one but two of her three Pokémon.
This goes from Heartwarming right into Awesome: At the end of Ash's 6 on 6 full battle with Paul, Chimchar is the last one remaining on Ash's side. After it manages to defeat Ursaring, Ash gives it some encouragement...and to confirm the trust that the two now have in each other, Chimchar evolves. The awesome part comes when Monferno shows off Mach Punch and the shockwave blows right past its old trainer. Hell yeah.
Not to mention the WAY it evolves. It poses while evolving to epic music playing in the background.
Not to mention two moments during its fight against Paul's Electabuzz. The first, using its Mach Punch to speed up to Electabuzz faster than it can react, then slugging it in the gut and throwing it into a rock. Then another where it uses Dig to get away from Electabuzz, then pops up out of the ground right below it, slamming its fist into Electabuzz's chin in an uppercut so epic that it causes an explosion.
Then there's the Snowpoint Gym right before that fight, when it burns the crud out of Abomasnow, who easily wiped out two out of four of Ash's Pokémon...while riding on a slab of ice like it's snowboarding.
More Snowpoint: Perfectly sensing Snover in the steam and hitting it square in the gut with fire. Turns to heartwarming when it's implied that it worked simply because of the bond Chimchar and Ash have.
He doesn't fully snap out of it immediately, though. Moments before evolving, while in the middle of his rescue attempt, Monferno is controlling Blaze.
"The Eighth Wonder Of The Sinnoh World", when Ash battles Volkner. Each is down to their last Pokémon, Infernape and Luxray. Infernape reaches critical status and is lying on the ground. Due to Team Rocket fooling with the system, the lights are out. Ash is calling desperately for Infernape to get up. He does, and Blaze activates, Power Glows, Power Echoes, Glowing Eyes of Doom, Red Eyes, Take Warning, the whole bit. As Brock explains, Blaze has been an unpredictable and dangerous factor since the days of Chimchar. Instead of attacking Luxray, Infernape turns and stomps toward Ash. Seeing this◊ stalking toward you would be enough to freak out anyone. Pikachu moves to defend Ash, even knowing he's probably screwed if this breaks bad, since he was fainted by Luxray a few minutes ago. Ash calls him off and, completely devoid of doubt, just talks to Infernape, who nods his assent. The Crowning Moment of Heartwarming turns quickly into a Crowning Moment Of Awesome as Infernape, totally in control of Blaze, takes Luxray to school, handing Ash the win.
The end of the tournament battle between Ash and Paul — it's just Infernape vs Electivire; just as it seems Ash is beaten and Paul is insulting Infernape for losing after getting poisoned and battling other mons while Electivire was mostly fresh, Blaze activates in its most glorious instant yet. The resulting Flamethrower was more a Flarethrower than anything, to say nothing of Flare Blitz. The column of blue fire it created likely covered the arena and blew up Electivire one extra time just for emphasis. All this was set to the wonderful Type:Wild.
Chimchar gets one in Losing its Lustrous, though it's more of a Taking the Bullet moment. As Pikachu closes in on Toxicroak with a Volt Tackle, Saturn orders Toxicroak to use Poison Jab. It would have hit Pikachu had Chimchar not shoved it out of the way, causing Toxicroak to unintentionally unload Poison Jab directly into Chimchar's face. It may have been painful, but did Paul ever inspire such loyalty? NO.
Staravia's evolution into Staraptor during a battle with Paul in the DP Pokéringer episode. After showing off some very impressive agility and aerial maneuvers, it proceeds to use its newly learned Close Combat right to Paul's Honchkrow's face! Considering the episode this was a callback to (in which Taillow evolved), Swellow is officially now the runner up in terms of "most badass Flying type".
Staraptor using Close Combat was awesome enough on its own.
It was also (barring Chimchar) the only Pokémon on Ash's team to defeat one of Paul's team in their (in)famous 6-on-6 match (and the first to deal a knock-out blow at all). Even if Paul was testing the water (so to speak) early in the battle, he didn't specifically plan for Weavile's defeat, and by the way Staraptor pulls it off you can say with confidence that he earned that win.
Turtwig, immediately after evolving into Grotle (and getting curbstomped, as it can no longer utilize the speed it had in its earlier state), leaving the Pokémon Center in the middle of the night to train. Quickly turns into a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming as Paul's Torterra (the final form of Turtwig) shows up to tutor Grotle (independently of Paul, of course.)
And, a few episodes afterwards, by learning Rock Climb he freaking runs through a canyon's wall towards Team Rocket, growling at them menacingly; they just go way above the canyon, and Grotle jumps to the top of the canyon, then proceeds to jump once more god-knows how many feet above the air and goes through the balloon, making a huge explosion as he falls down to the ground without a scratch.
While still a Turtwig, it grabs the tail of Roark's Rampardos while in midair, and somehow throws that rock dinosaur many times its size into a wall!
And how he actually defeats Rampardos is also pretty awesome. First, he runs forward while constantly using Razor Leaf, which Rampardos keeps burning. Then, the leaves produced create a veil which covers him, followed by Ash ordering him to jump and spin. When Roark orders a countering jump, Rampardos does so...and then we see Turtwig spinning sideways and under Rampardos, whose upward momentum leaves its torso completely exposed to a single, high-powered Razor Leaf and it falls to the Gym field's floor with a slam, knocked out. Bad.ASS.
In Hoenn, when Thunder Armor was used. In the Mossdeep Gym battle, Ash comes up with the idea of making Pikachu ride Swellow and constantly shock it with a Thunderbolt. This somehow makes Swellow invincible and boosts its physical attacks. Considering that Ash had one of his Pokémon perform an electrical attack strong enough to take out anything on his own flying type, this should be insane. Somehow, it works.
Swellow defeating Tyson's Donphan (stopping its Rollout completely, then tossing it through the air).
Swellow's debut as a Taillow. It withstood multiple electric attacks from Pikachu and was barely weakened. Ash was forced to catch it to stop the fight.
He singlehandedly takes down one of Team Rocket's largest mechas, a Robo-Slaking, in a possible Shout-Out to King Kong!
Ash's entire Sinnoh team gets one in "Uncrushing Defeat". After suffering from a crushing defeat from Paul in a 6-on-6 battle, which left his entire team wiped out and injured, Ash is, quite understandably, depressed. Team Rocket seeks to take advantage of this. However, by the time they put their plan into action, Ash's Pokémon had, despite their injuries, managed to snap him out of his depression. Needless to say, they're very surprised to see both him and his Pokémon standing proudly, their confidence renewed and their bond stronger than ever. Cue his entire team attacking Team Rocket with their best attacks at once.
Cyndaquil's shining moment used to be its rematch with Skarmory in "Hot Matches", but right before the Sinnoh League, it evolves into Quilava in a battle with TR. It then runs right under their machine with a roar and learns Eruption to destroy it!
The battle with Jasmine's Steelix. Cyndaquil's flamethrower turns Steelix's sandstorm into a fiery vortex.
Heracross's close combat battles with Shingo's Scizor and Nando's Kricketune.
Heracross proved itself a badass for the ages when Ash fought Gary in the Silver Conference. Despite a type disadvantage and being set on fire- it even took some point-blank Fire-type moves!- it defeated Gary's Magmar. Given who Heracross' voice actor is, this shouldn't come as much surprise. Regardless, awesome.
Gible finally mastering Draco Meteor and taking down two of Conway's Pokémon with the move!
Corphish beating Katie's Golduck in "A Judgment Brawl" by spinning the hell out of it and hitting it with a Crabhammer in the chin. Oh, and it did this WHILE CONFUSED. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny.
Ash's Torkoal fighting Brandon's Registeel (a legendary) and almost defeating it! It should be known that this is the same Torkoal that was defeated by a single Scratch from Norman's Vigoroth and was easily defeated in almost every battle it was used in. Took a Level in Badass, indeed!
Totodile defeating a Kingdra by biting it in the snout until it swelled up from its own water attacks and went flying like a balloon!
Bayleef wrapping its vines around the mouth of Harrison's Houndoom to prevent it from using fire attacks and then defeating it.
It "defeats" Charizard as a Chikorita. Really.
Muk curbstomping the superpowered Bellsprout that destroyed Bulbasaur and Pikachu!
Noctowl's redemption in the Sinnoh League. Firing an Air Slash straight into the face of Conway's Lickilicky, effortlessly dodging its Thunderbolt, and then smashing it into the gound with Extrasensory, all without skipping a beat!
Tauros tying with a Metagross, a pseudo legendary!
Let's give Tauros more credit: Pikachu may have defeated a pseudo-legendary before him (two, in fact), but only with the help of other Pokémon. Tauros tied with Metagross, yes, but he did it on his own.
And then there's Tauros's participating in the fight against Drake. First, he takes down Drake's Venusaur all by himself, despite being a total rookie. When Ash sends him out against Dragonite, he uses the sandy arena floor as a cushion to catch a charging Dragonite in his horns, and then sends the mammoth dragon flying to land flat on its back. Tauros gets KOed by Thunder for his trouble, but along with Charizard and Squirtle he plays a major role in weakening the Dragonite enough for Pikachu to finish it off.
Snorlax. If it's in the mood, it'll Hyper Beam/Body Slam/Ice Punch the hell out of almost any opponent, often taking down two Pokémon in the same match.
First observed when it defeated Claire's Kingdra, way back in Johto.
It dodges Gary's Nidoqueen's Hyper Beam Matrix-style and then KO's her!
Primeape may have only been around for like four episodes, but definitely cemented his bad-fucking-ass status upon winning the Fighting Pokemon Championship.
In "Scraggy — Hatched to Be Wild!", Scraggy goes to try and defeat a pack of Galvantula in a fit of pique. This isn't going well, and Scraggy is surrounded by hostile, powerful Pokémon. It looks like the newborn is about to be on the receiving end of a tremendous beating; that is, until the rest of Ash's Unova Pokémon arrive on the scene and unleash one of the finest tag team beatdowns yet seen upon the Galvantula, forcing them into a hasty retreat. Scraggy, which up to this point had been a violent, loudmouthed asshole, is shocked into a strangled silence.
Donphan taking down Lucy's Seviper while on fire.
Scraggy one-shotting a Mandibuzz with his newly learned Hi Jump Kick.
Oshawott finally learning to open his eyes underwater, mastering Aqua Jet in time to give Palpitoad a curbstomping.
Made even more impressive by Palpitoad's EPIC Oh Crap right before getting hit.
His battle against Cilan's Pansage was pretty cool too, once he got his act together. Blocking a Solarbeam attack with his scalchop is no mean feat.
Singlehandedly saving Pikachu and Axew from Team Rocket in his second appearance.
Snivy is made of this trope, especially in BW057. After her loss at Elesa's Gym, seeing her calling out the Gothita in this episode for her self-centredness - followed by Pwning her the next day in battle — was particularly satisfying. How her concern and care drives her to watch out for the younger Pokémon — also seen when she started her rivalry with Emolga — is heartwarming as well.
In the double battle against Tepig's former trainer, she takes a full Heat Crash from an Emboar and is still able to keep battling. And later she takes a Fire Spin-powered Flare Blitz meant for Tepig (who was in a Heroic BSOD).
Sewaddle (later Swadloon, then Leavanny) regarding his effort against Burgh and his Bug types. After Burgh's Dwebble defeats Tepig (who has a type advantage), Sewaddle not only defeats Dwebble, he evolves mid-fight and kicks Whirlipede's ass, too (take note — this is the first time one of Ash's Pokémon has evolved in a Gym Match, ever.) He did get beaten in the next round, but he was facing his evolved form (who had fricking Hyper Beam!) and still put up a decent fight nonetheless.
As Leavanny, his mad dodging skills and No-Holds-Barred Beatdown against Stephan's Sawk. He eventually lost that one, but he still put up an impressive fight.
Roggenrola evolving into Boldore, and then having a Rock Smash to Rock Smash battle to finish off Clay's Excadrill.
A moment made even more awesome by the BGM. Excadrill is the last Pokémon Clay has, and Roggenrola is Ash's last Mon standing as well and is, frankly, getting its ass kicked — only not getting OHKO'd because of its Sturdy ability. Then suddenly, in an awesome sequence, it begins to evolve with the sound of one lone timpani drum as the underscore until it completes it's evolution and the full score kicks in — which is a full orchestral remix of the Gym Leader's Last Pokémon theme. And you just know that Boldore is about to kick some serious ass.
Roggenrola gets one in his debut episode as well. When Team Rocket is about to fire their Roggenrola-powered BFG at the twerps and Garrison Roggenrola blocks the blast with its own Flash Cannon attack. Team Rocket's machine was drawing power from the several Roggenrola they had managed to capture beforehand, but he countered the blast all by himself!
The last stretch of Ash's match with Skyla — Tranquill evolves into Unfezant and wins an Animation Bumped aerial battle against Swanna.
Tepig evolving into Pignite and proceeding to kick the crap out of his jerkass former trainer's two Pokémon by himself. Then when Shamus asked him to come back to his team, Pignite sees through his deception and blasts him with Flamethrower.
Krokorok evolving into Krookodile and using his new Dragon Claw attack to send Iris's Dragonite flying across the arena. He then proceeds to put a stop to Dragonite's resulting tantrum.
Pushed to his limit in the Unova League and at a type disadvantage against Stephan's Sawk, all seems lost until he unleashes his newly-learned Aerial Ace. Stephan's Oh Crap reaction really sells it.
Ash's (on-hand) Unova team working together to dig out of the White Ruins.
The joint blast-off of Team Rocket in the Unova arc finale, especially seeing as the size of Ash's Unova team means there hadn't been many opportunities for the entire group to work together prior to this.
As of XY, we have Froakie. He's essentially a ninja frog, one that was already Badass. But the second Ash starts giving him a strategy, he's essentially untouchable for the rest of the fight.
Froakie vs. Grant's Onix. The Onix was already difficult due to its attacks and surprisingly swift moves, but Froakie, using the training he had with Ash, manages to defeat it through scaling and evading, even doing a Matrix-style dodge at the end.
Froakie vs. Hawlucha. It uses the skills of both Pokémon to their fullest, and Hawlucha managed to knock Froakie down. Ash sees Hawlucha finally mastering the Flying Press due to his teaching while Froakie pulls a fast one and counters the Death from Above with a last minute Water Pulse from his hand. It ends in a draw, with both fainted.
Fletchling proves itself in its first Sky Battle, taking on its fully-evolved counterpart Talonflame. It evolves into Fletchinder after tanking a FIRE BLAST and learns Flame Charge in the process, going on to win a hard-fought battle.
To cap it off, let's just say that any Pokemon that hangs around Ash long enough is bound to take a few levels in badass.
Misty and her Pokémon
During the Mirage Kingdom two-parter, Misty (mostly) gets over her fear of Bug Pokémon by unleashing her Gyarados on them, one-shotting the villain's strongest Bug-type (Shedinja, a Pokémon notorious for its "Wonder Guard" ability, which negates damage from any move that it isn't weak against) with one Flamethrower attack.
In one of the Chronicles episodes, she'd been afraid of Gyarados prior to getting the one we see here. The fact she'd taught it Flamethrower by that mini-arc is still kickass, though.
Aside from getting over her fear of Gyarados in the Chronicles episode, she also takes three Poison Sting attacks for it when it is unable to defend itself, finally gaining its respect and trust.
She also pushes her Psyduck out of the way of danger in "Just Add Water", getting sucked up by Team Rocket's machine in its place.
Misty's original CMOA was the whole 'trapped aboard the St. Anne' debacle. She both planned and implemented their escape, and was the one who told Ash and Brock to shut up and deal with it when they didn't want to work with Team Rocket.
Misty: Call your Pokémon back!
Ash: But Team Rocket will-
Misty: Just do it! We've got bigger problems here!
Ash: Yeah...*recalls Squirtle, Charmander, and Bulbasaur while Brock recalls Geodude*
Misty: Team Rocket, call yours back too! What's more important, a Pokémon battle or your life?!
Jessie: She's right. Good point! *recalls Ekans while James recalls Koffing*
Also, her ordering Team Rocket to "move it or lose it!" and them (without a trace of irony) automatically replying "yes, Ma'am!"
Her Psyduck has a continuing series of them, happening virtually any time his headache gets bad enough to use Confusion. One of his most impressive moments was in "Lights, Camera, Quacktion", freeing about 24 trapped Pokémon from a net attached to a large crane, then hurling said crane over the horizon with one Confusion attack. In series, though, any instance of Psyduck using his powers is treated by the other characters as a CMoA...one can only imagine what it would be capable of if it could be trained, but as we know she's tried...Oh, she's tried.
Talking down a giant, rampaging Tentacruel. That took guts.
Her tug-o'-war against Team Rocket, with a net full of Pokémon at stake, in one of the Indigo episodes.
In "The Tower of Terror", her holding a cross in front of a Ghost Pokémon, not just because she stood up to one of the most powerful Pokémon types, but because in the 4Kids dub, this was one of the first moments where 4Kids broke one of their own rules concerning censorship, and not just by showing the cross, but with what the fuck she said:
Misty: You see this? IT'S A CROSS.
There's also the way she was able to use a wild golduck without even capturing it in Bye Bye Psyduck.
Brock and his Pokémon
Battling Team Rocket solo in "Leave It To Brocko". Yes, he gets minimal character development throughout the series, but he's still a Gym Leader.
Not only that, the Pokémon he had at the time either had no effective attacks on Team Rocket's or were outright disadvantaged. Also, after Ash shows up to help him out, Brock actually refuses to let Ash steal his show.
Earlier in that episode, escaping from Team Rocket by distracting them with his cooking.
Not to mention his first episode debut, where he gives Pikachu, who was practically a Deus ex Machina up until this point, a Curb-Stomp Battle with his Onix. It doesn't matter that Onix not only has type advantages (or, by the game's rules, should not even be affected by electricity), it's still awesome to see for those kinda sick of Pikachu being a God-Mode Sue.
Brock's Onix saving everyone from a sinking ship by simply biting down on a balcony to allow the others to use its body as a staircase. So simple, yet so effective.
Brock's Croagunk is a solitary loner of a Pokémon...until Brock goes gaga over whatever pretty girl comes into his squinty-eyed vision. So now he's the one who has to restrain Brock; how does he do it? By tapping him in the ass with a Poison Jab and hauling him away. It just never gets old. It's also surprisingly powerful, even for a main Pokémon.
It gets yet another CMoA in the Tag Battle Arc, this time by sliding under Paul's Torterra to dodge Ash's Staravia's attack, emerging from behind, and proceeding to use Brick Break to crack its head against the stadium floor! Granted, Torterra quickly beats Croagunk afterwards, but still...
It gets another one still at the end of the Team Galactic arc, where it finally settles its rivalry with Saturn's Toxicroak by smacking it in the head with a Brick Break just as Toxicroak comes out of its Poké Ball, one-shotting it.
Especially considering that Toxicroak took out Gary's Electivire and Umbreon earlier. With like, what? Two or three hits?
Brock's Happiny also gets one in its debut episode after plowing through Team Rocket's Meowth and Carnivine, grabbing Seviper by the tail (which, by the way, is practically a sword), and flinging it at Team Rocket to blast them off and save Brock's life.
Torchic evolving into Combusken to defend Corphish from a pack of Breloom, doing a complete 180 in personality as it went into a physical battle with the Breloom leader.
Topped in the Hoenn Grand Festival. Drew's Flygon blasts it with a Flamethrower in mid-air, but instead of plummeting to the ground like a toasty piece of chicken, it flings itself towards Flygon and proceeds to bash it the face with a Sky Uppercut...while on fire.
The Grand Festival battle in Kanto easily surpassed it, with May using Tucker's Fire-Water Fusion and Combusken learning Overheat.
What about the May VS Joyce battle in the Fallabor Town contest? May's Beautifly has to face a Medicham who smashed Drew's Roselia before. Beatifly managed to defeat it using some utterly amazing combos. The best part was when Beautifly got WRAPPED UP WITH STRING SHOT, THEN FROZEN WITH ICE PUNCH (which Beautifly is 2x weak against), and Beautifly breaks out of the ice as if it were paper. AWESOME.
Max may not have had any Pokémon, but that didn't stop him from sneaking around behind Team Rocket and busting their cage open a few times during their motto.
Also landing a space shuttle.
Do I Hear A Ralts?: A fan favorite episode even among those who consider him The Scrappy. He finds his future Starter Pokémon and he earns it. Topping that off, Team Rocket—who earlier in the episode disguised themselves as an old man, Gardevoir and Kirlia—get hit with Psychic after Max has been thoroughly pissed off with them trying to take Ralts away from him again. He pretty much explains that Team Rocket is in trouble with this simple line:
Max: (with a combination of Scary Shiny Glasses and Cross-Popping Veins) Gardevoir...Kirlia...I know you dearly love your Ralts...then I'm sure you never want to let him fall into the hands of Team Rocket!
Dawn and her Pokémon
The Contest battle between Dawn's Ambipom and Lila's Delcatty. To put it mildly, Thunderbolt + Swift equals small galaxy.
Despite nervous from losing the appeal rounds in two previous contests, Dawn is able to use Ambipom's abilities in score a ticket to the path to the battle rounds in the Wallace Cup — bonus points for dumping water on James and Meowth of Team Rocket. (Jessie wasn't there, she was in disguise as Jessilinda.)
The fact that she ultimately wins over May of all people in the end is truly remarkable. For several episodes prior, Dawn was so broken and disappointed with her back-to-back appeals losses that she even considered quitting contests. The fact that she won over May, a highly experienced trainer who managed to make it very deep into the Hoenn AND Kanto Grand Festivals during the point the viewers watched her own journey back in the Advanced Generation series makes the win even more signifigant.
Piplup's rematch with Buizel, resulting in a hard earned catch for Dawn.
The comeback against Ursula — despite almost suffering public humiliation — to win her fifth ribbon. This includes finally mastering Cyndaquil and Mamoswine's Flame Ice combination.
Togekiss vs. Jessie's Yanmega. Dawn manages to turn the troublesome trait of her new Pokémon to her advantage in this great aerial fight.
The Grand Festival Finals. We have Piplup's charged Peck and Togekiss' Sky Attack combine to create a literal God Bird, with Dawn's Image Songplaying in the background. Dawn may not have won, but she made it all the way to the finals and gave Zoey as good a battle as Nando did, and she's rightfully proud of that.
Iris and her Pokémon
You have to admit, Excadrill taking down a Scolipede, even though it was for its own personal reasons, was pretty awesome.
Once Excadrill regains his loyalty to Iris in BW036, the drill mole pierces the heavens and fights Georgia's Beartic to a draw in the rematch.
His battle with Pikachu in BW044 was absolutely brimming with epic. Excadrill might have a type advantage, but this is the God Mode Chu we're talking about. Pikachu didn't perform too badly either, despite losing.
Axew finally mastering Dragon Rage in "The Dragon Master's Path".
Learning Outrage during the Club Battle tourney. He proceeds to literally beat up Luke's Golett across the field.
Iris's Axew vs. Cynthia's Garchomp. Axew manages to use Giga Impact to knock Garchomp off her feet. Granted, Garchomp immediately gets right back up and doesn't seem fazed at all, but it's not bad considering Axew's pratically a newborn.
Iris herself. As a child, she was fighting Pokémon bare-handed and this — coupled with saving his life - is how she befriended Excadrill (then a Drilbur). Iris must've been, what? 8 years old? On top of that, the duo won 99 battles in a row after that, with the first person to defeat them being Drayden himself.
How Iris defeats Stephan in the Club Battles, during BW043. Emolga has no Flying type attacks (which would be super effective against Sawk), and Sawk knows how to use Close Combat to repel Attract. So when Sawk is affected by Emolga's static, Iris simply uses Emolga's strengths and a genius tactic to win - an Attract barrage until Static paralyses Sawk, and then a powerful Volt Switch which outright faints Sawk (who had also been greatly weakened by the constant use of Close Combat). What makes it better is that Iris and Emolga agreed not to use Volt Switch early because Iris wanted to enjoy the battle rather than have an easy victory - and they still won!
One for Dragonite against Dawn's Mamoswine in round 2 of the Junior Cup. It takes the thing head-on and throws it aside several times, gets hit with a point blank Ice Shard in the face, and then decides to finish with a Dragon Rush. The really nice bit is that the Dragon Rush takes the form of a dragon instead of a simple blue aura just as it swoops down and ruins Mamoswine.
Cilan and his Pokémon
The first time the newly infamous Shell Break is seen in the anime, as used by Cilan's (soon-to-be) Dwebble.
Defeating Trip's Gurdurr by summoning a Rock Slide. Note that this is the first time one of Ash's traveling companions has defeated one of Ash's main rivals in a battle.
In Cilan and Ash's tag battle against Bianca and Prof. Juniper, the girls gain the lead by taking out Boldore. Crustle defeats both Escavalier and Accelgor using his Rock Wrecker attack, proving that despite their excellent teamwork, they were still out-matched.
Catching Stunfisk using only a FISHING ROD in "Facing Fear With Eyes Wide Open!".
Stunfisk can fly!
Pansage fighting Tornadus, a legendary with a type advantage over him, solo. He actually manages to hold it off until Thundurus arrives and the rest of the group returns from their mission.
Pansage again, this time from episode 66. Cilan sends Pansage out against a Cofagrigus after it 'abducted' Iris, and it manages to hold out on its own against an evidently stronger Pokémon, enough to get Iris out from the Cofagrigus. It's not a Gym Leader's main Pokémon for nothing.
Clemont and his Pokemon
Clemont shows why he's the Lumiose gym leader by defeating the gym's ace Pokemon Heliolisk with a Bunnelby he just caught a few episodes prior.
Serena and her Pokemon
Serena takes the initiative in the Sky Battle episode. She flies after Team Rocket in her gliding suit and calls out Fennekin in MID-AIR, having it launch Flamethrower while standing on her back to take out the Meowth balloon. For a beginner, that's amazing. Seems like Ash's knack for daring rescues is rubbing off on her.
Bonnie proves she's very mature for her age once she learns that a Flabébé already has a Trainer. She goes out of her way to find a Fairy Flower, climbs all the way up, and says farewell, finally accepting that Flabébé belongs to someone else.
For the group as a whole
In "The Stolen Stones!" Team Rocket steals a bunch of Fire Stones, then Pikachu. They keep Ash and his friends busy for the entire episode, dividing the group and digging pit traps to stop Keegan's superfast Arcanine. And they do this while riding bicycles and unicycles. Jessie even fakes a surrender to trick Ash into falling in a pit; Misty comments that they were the deepest holes Team Rocket's ever dug. And when the Arcanine catch up to them, Jessie uses Wobbuffet to repel them and buy time to escape. They even had a celebratory dinner.
Jessie and James defeated Butch and Cassidy in the third part of the Lugia episodes, freeing said Lugia in the process.
Their first battle with Ash and co. in "Do I Hear A Ralts." Sure the episode is them at their most vile (trying to steal an extremely sick Ralts from Max), but this is one of the few times they hold their own in a battle, simply because they use their Pokemon to their full potential. Jessie even uses Wobuffett to deflect an ice attack.
The B/W episodes give one to Team Rocket, who got new uniforms. The reason? THEY GOT PROMOTED.
Team Rocket getting promoted was one thing. But in their first BW appearance, Jessie is revealed to have captured a Woobat off-screen. Ash sends out his newly captured Pidove, and Woobat one-shots it with a not-very-effective attack. Ok, that's justified (Pidove was freshly-caught), but when their plan inevitably backfires, Pikachu revs up a Volt Tackle at them...and James throws a smoke bomb, escaping. Pikachu is left just standing there, looking from side to side in obvious shock. Two episodes later, they escape on a glider. Later, they start using jetpacks...are you getting the picture here? Let me just emphasize this: we are past 30 episodes in, and Team Rocket has not blasted off a single time. This, friends, is perhaps the single biggest Took a Level in Badass in history.
For a good epitome of how much more dangerous Team Rocket has become, check out the episode with Roggenrola. They spend basically the whole episode piloting a giant mega deathray that looks like it came straight out of Metal Gear. Ash and co. understandably have a really difficult time overcoming it. That Team Rocket could go from how they were to this is nothing short of amazing.
Also their hacking of a research lab, breaking into a museum to steal a rock and swap it with a decoy in less than 10 seconds, holding their own against Team Plasma, teaming up with the twerps to save everyone from the Ghost World, the entire Nimbasa City subway mission, their relentless and efficient pursuit of Caracosta at Twist Mountain, and now their actions in Best Wishes 2...need I go on?
And then they save Unova by breaking Giovanni from the power of the Reflection Mirror.
The group returns back to their old motto. Come on, you knew you said it along with them.
Jessie: Prepare for trouble, like never before!
James: And make it double, with words from yore!
In Team Plasma's debut episode (BW 112), Team Rocket hacks their computers and steals their data on mind-controlling Pokemon. The best part about this is that they actually planned this out, and waited until Team Plasma was distracted with Ash and company. Then, they recite their motto, and don't wait around to get blasted off. Team Plasma still manages to blast them off after chasing them down in a jet, but it still really shows that Team Rocket hasn't lost everything with going back to their old selves.
Opening a can of whoopass on Team Plasma at the climax of Episode N. Special mention goes to Meowth, who takes out an entire gang of Liepard all by himself.
The first steps of their their badassidy occurs in "Lean Mean Team Rocket Machine", where they steal all the PokéBalls from a Pokémon Centre and then, using their latest Mecha, ransack the place purely out of the joy this rare victory had granted them, whilst "Double Trouble" plays at full volume in the background.
They may have dropped the serious demeanor they gained in BW, but it's clear that XY hasn't completely stripped them of competence. Not only do they almost always put up a good fight when cornered, they show much more foresight in their schemes (like providing an auxiliary power source for their mecha in case it was unplugged).
They get one in Pokemon Puzzle League's Spa Service mode, where they successfully steal every Trainer's Pokemon.
They also get one during the final stage, where they make a Badass Boast.
Jessie and James: That's it! No more games: Now we finish this here. No costumes, no tricks, just the real Team Rocket!
Jessie and her Pokémon
Jessie's first Contest win (bonus points for beating Dawn, who didn't even get past the appeal)...too bad that shortly afterwards there was a huge Tear Jerker for her Dustox.
The very fact that she manages to get all five Ribbons (though she techincally only won three of them) for the Grand Festival — let alone place in the top four — really says something about how relentless she has become as a coordinator.
The "reason" she saves James by blasting the titular Ghost Of Maiden's Peak with A FLAMETHROWER.
Jessie: It's not 'cause of you. Girls like her disgust me. Always waiting around for her man as if she were his faithful pet. She can't stand the thought of losing him. She cries, but I say "See you later!".
In "One Trick Phony", Jessie gets the chance to battle using a Charizard. After making a fool of herself ordering a Poison Sting attack which Charizard of course doesn't know, she goes on to order a Dig attack, another move Charizard can't use(Outside of teaching it to a prevolution). Only it uses it anyway. When Misty questions Brock about this, his response amounts to, "Man, I don't even know."
Jessie catching Seviper...by beating the crap out of it herself!
Jessie getting second place in the Princess Festival. Think about all the other trainers she defeated using only Arbok and Wheezing without cheating.
It may have been mostly his definitive Crowning Moment of Funny, but the Flaming Moltres ignited a spark in James that you don't see very often.
James spent 25 episodes of Best Wishes without any Pokémon, and yet still managed to use other skills to be formidable. Most notably throwing a smoke pellet in order for him and his teammates to make their escape in episode 2 (the first time the "Pikachu's thunder attack sends Team Rocket blasting off again" cliche was broken!), hacking the security of the Antamony Research Lab in episode 11, momentarily taking out the security system of Nacrene Museum in episode 15, and getting his turn to handle a destructive energy powered weapon in (the as of yet unaired) episode 24.
He then DOES get a Pokémon, a Yamask. In episode 33, Team Rocket are forced to retreat on jet-packs, but James decides "Heck with this, I'm taking them with us!" and uses Yamask to crash the heroes' flying machine.
A small but very awesome moment is towards the end of the Nimbasa City Subway two-parter. As Pikachu is getting angry enough to zap Team Rocket, James calmly and without a word presses a detonator and the train they're standing ontop of blows up. Team Rocket rises out of the smoke on their jetpacks and into Dr. Zager's helicopter to make their escape. Team Rocket's current motto theme playing at this moment helps to really sell it.
In "Holy Matrimony," James is being tortured by his fiancee (long story) Jessiebelle. Cue Growlie, the Growlithe that James owned as a child, instinctively coming to his rescue. He busts out of his heavily locked "doghouse" (a two-story mansion in its own right) with some help from Ash, Misty, Brock, Jessie, Meowth and Pikachu, runs into the house, and springs in front of James to defend him. Jessiebelle orders her Vileplume to launch another Stun Spore attack, and James, (who's already paralyzed from the first time), tells Growlie to get out of the way. Growlie does, but first he grabs James, carrying him on its back, jumps out the window, and runs back to the relative safety of the doghouse.
James's Amoonguss managing to KO Pikachu with a single Body Slam.
Meowth defending his teammates in "Jumping Rocket Ship" by attacking Ash, and then defeating Barry's Empoleon (a Steel type!) with a Slash. There was a bit of a Moment Killer afterwards, but he made his mark concerning which side he was on.
He defeated a Persian for the sake of his love Meowzie in "Go West, Young Meowth". Sure, he didn't get her in the end, but he'd been awesome all episode.
"For The Love Of Meowth!": When Meowth falls in love with a Glameow, through his feelings for her,allowed him to take on Ash's Infernape and Jessie's Seviper at the same time, and WIN. Then he faced Ash's Staraptor, Dawn's Togekiss, and Jessie's Yanmega...and took out the trio with one Scratch attack. The background and everything only added to the awesomeness of the scene. Yet again there was a Moment Killer following it, but it was still cool.
His defeat of the Dream Thief in Best Wishes. The whole episode, poor Meowth just wanted to sleep but the thief's antics made it impossible for him. Finally he's had enough, so when the thief offers him a chance to join him, Meowth slashes the guy to the point where his pants are torn off and he falls over. It's a comical moment, but Meowth makes it look Bad Ass.
"AFTER EVERYTHING YOU DID TO ME, I WOULDN'T SIGN YOUR REPORT CARD!"
Also from BW, the fact that he was able to trick the gang that he had been fired from TR in order to begin executing the Pokémon-stealing plan at Nimbasa four episodes later.
Meowth in general: he is a very common, normal type Pokemon that, through The Power of Love, taught himself how to talk and walk on his hindlegs like a human. The only other Pokemon in the series that can truly talk is Slowking, with the Legendary Pokemon only being able to talk through psychic powers and puppets.
Meowth battling Onix...and winning.
In "A Conspiracy To Conquer" there's a Malamar that is controlling the minds of both pokemon and humans alike. When Team Rocket are cornered by it, Meowth stops himself from being controlled by scratching up his own face.
In "Battle Aboard The St. Anne!" when Team Rocket undergoes a massive operation to steal all of the Pokémon aboard. Ash and the others fighting back instead of just panicking inspires the rest of the trainers, causing them all to bring out their Pokémon and all work together to take down Team Rocket.
One from "Memories Are Made of Bliss", which is mostly a Tear Jerker. After Team Rocket decides to be a Moment Killer and captures Togekiss, Piplup, and Pikachu, Ash, Dawn, and Brock come on the scene. While Team Rocket are in the middle of taunting them, Ash gives them a Shut Up, Hannibal! moment via destroying their balloon with Staraptor's Brave Bird. What follows can only be described as a complete beatdown, as Team Rocket doesn't land a single successful hit. The battle ends with Pikachu using Volt Tackle combined with Piplup's Hydro Pump, sending Team Rocket flying into the air.
The 3 part final showdown with Team Galactic has several, including J's defeat at the hands of Mesprit and Uxie, Croagunk getting revenge on Saturn's Toxicroak, and the heroes taking advantage of the qualities they share with the Lake Trio to calm Dialga and Palkia.
J may have died, considering her ship filled up with water and EXPLODED. Let's repeat that. Cute pixies may have killed a human.
In "Movie Time! Zorua in The Legend of the Pokémon Knight!" the main characters are trying to film a movie. Just as they're acting out the climax, Team Rocket interrupts. Cilan immediately ad libs (by "magically" casting off his previous role as an evil pirate and turning into a superhero-like character) and leads everyone else on a climatic showdown with Team Rocket, adding several plot twists and an awesome climax to the originally standard and cliched plot that was first planned for the film. Even with their new competence that in past episodes have made fights with them rather difficult, Team Rocket didn't stand a chance, their only saving grace being that they were able to retreat using their jetpacks before they got thoroughly thrashed.
BW050 has several highlights for the stolen Pokémon, especially Pikachu, who was masterminding the breakout and the subsequent disruption of Team Rocket's latest attempt at grand theft Pokémon.
Aiming an Electro Ball at Snivy's ball was the start, as it allowed for Snivy to covertly release any Pokémon Pikachu needed to conduct the breakout.
Excadrill destroying Pikachu and Axew's cages was next, allowing for full movement.
Pikachu remembered that Dwebble's corrosive acid (usually used for molding and repairing its rock shell) could eat through the metal of the train door, and let Dwebble go to town.
The captive Pokémon severing the train and shifting their car down a different track, forcing Team Rocket to back up and give chase.
Their subsequent staving off of Dr. Zager's crane arm, stalling for time so Ash and co. could board.
When the twerps finally board, they use several attacks as a makeshift booster to further throw off Zager's aim. Tepig gets bonus points for upgrading from Ember to Flamethrower in the process.
Finally, a Leaf Storm to the chopper blades and an Electro Ball to the crane arm, demolishing the entire plot. The only way the twerps could have scored a more thorough victory was to ground the chopper and force Zager onto the Party Train.
Ash's Monferno gets a joint CMOA with Dawn's Cyndaquil in "Bagged then Tagged" with their finishing moves against Lyra's Chikorita and Khoury's Croconaw. Firstly, Cyndaquill launches a Flame Wheel which is then propelled by Monferno's Flamethrower against Chikorita, then Monferno smashes Croconaw in the face with a brutal Mach Punch that sends him flying across the arena. Both feature perhaps the best animation seen in the anime outside of the movies.
Blaziken vs. Sceptile. Great way to end Advanced Generation and send off May.
Dragonite, Pansage, Cynthia's Garchomp, and Larry's Golurk holding off the Kami trio. Despite being visibly battered they hang on for about half the episode and remain standing through it all.
The first two episodes of the XY saga has something for everybody. Let's just say that all in all, Ash and Pikachu are actually Badass from the very start of this season, and does not undergo Badass Decay at all, unlike all previous arc introductions!
First of all, there's the battle between Pikachu and Clemont's Bunnelby. Most battles at the beginning of various sagas tend to "reset" Pikachu's power level so to speak, but this makes up for it by making it clear that Ash and Clemont are both experienced trainers and having Bunnelby be powerful in his own right. The battle receives a notable Animation Bump and hits its climax when Bunnelby catches Pikachu's Iron Tail with its ears...only for Ash and Pikachu to reveal they were ready for that and use Electro Ball.
Then Team Rocket shows up, and we get the return of Wobbuffet. Though usually played up as Plucky Comic Relief, Wobbuffet marks his return in spectacular fashion by handily tanking Pikachu's Thunderbolt and reflecting it back with Mirror Coat. However, this is zig-zagged when Ash and Pikachu get right back in the game despite the latter's serious wounds.
Finally, we get the end of the battle, after Froakie makes his appearance and, despite Taking the Bullet from a second Mirror Coat reflection, turns the tide by using the foam from his cape to disable Wobbuffet and helps Bunnelby and Pikachu to give Team Rocket one of their most spectacular blast offs yet.
Froakie being one of the few protagonists to ever recognize Team Rocket in one of their disguises, even though he had only run into them once.
Ash, Pikachu, and Froakie breaking Garchomp free from the malfunctioning control device around its neck. And keep in mind, we're talking about a pseudo/semi-legendary which created headaches for game players since Pokémon Diamond and Pearl.
A Mega Blaziken showing up out of nowhere to save Ash and Pikachu from a devastating fall.
XY007 unexpectedly subverts the usual formula - instead of Ash doing most of the heroics and his friends being in more of a supporting role, his traveling companions are the ones to save the day. That includes Clemont (normally shown to be physically inept) being the first to arrive on the scene and smashing Team Rocket's remote with a rock, Bunnelby singlehandedly stopping Team Rocket in their tracks, and Serena commanding Fennekin in battle for the first time. Even Bonnie gets to help out by untying Ash, who had been rendered helpless prior.
The Gastly from The Ghost Of Maiden's Peak. It fools everybody with its illusions, spellbinds Brock and James, and in its debut battle, after shrugging off a blast from a bazooka, he ownseveryone at the same time - defeating Pikachu by creating a giant, living, mouse trap; defeating Meowth by giving him a ball to play with; defeating Ekans by creating a giant (real world) mongoose; defeating Koffing by having a gas-mask wearing anteater stomping on him; defeating Charmander by turning into a fire extinguisher, and the cherry on top of the cake? Gastly defeated Bulbasaur and Squirtle simultaneously by creating a Blastoise and a Venusaur, and then, just for kicks, combining them together, creating "Venustoise". Epic.
Do you know why he did it? Because he wanted to make sure people remember a 2000 year old legend. Badass all the way.
Saturn's (a member of Team Galactic) Toxicroak got its CMOA in "Losing Its Lustrous". Sending Brock's Croagunk crashing through a glass ceiling straight to the floor is awesome enough...but then (in one of the most spectacularly animated parts of the entire anime), it dives down through the aformentioned ceiling and delivers a forceful and extremely painful-looking Poison Jab straight to Croagunk's gut...awesome. Hell, Croagunk's even out cold for most of the following episode!
Hey, there's a HUMAN CMOA in "A Chansey Operation". The ER Doc (Dr. Proctor) awakens after being drugged and he proceeds to scold Team Rocket. The CMOA comes when Jesse throws a glass bottle at him and he knocks the bottle aside with a surgical tool without skipping a beat and opens his labcoat to reveal a shitload of other tools, prompting this response...
James: That's quite an arsenal.
In the episode Clefairy Tales, a bunch of Clefairy angered Jigglypuff by stealing its marker microphone. Later, when Jigglypuff caught up with the band of Clefairy, it single-handedly Doubleslapped all of them down with righteous fury.
In "The Kangaskhan Kid", when Team Rocket's Kangaskhan mecha (which is now on fire) starts chasing Ash and his friends, the parents of Tommy (the eponymous Kangaskhan Kid) crash their helicopter into the mecha, destroying both vehicles in a big explosion. It seems like they pulled off a Heroic Sacrifice, but his parents survive and join their son.
Gary's Umbreon gets one in its first post-evolution appearance. Ash and friends arrive just in time to watch its battle with an Alakazam - or, rather, said Alakazam gets its ass kicked. Keep in mind that at this point in the anime, Psychic-types were still depicted to be nigh-unstoppable to the point of near-omnipotence — but then Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors kicks in, making Umbreon completely immune to Psychic.
Most people use the Jhoto League Silver Conference fight as a CMOA for Ash, but Gary earned a ton of credit too. Starting the match by having Nidoqueen catch Tauros by the horns mid-charge and then beating him with a point blank hyper beam is a very good example. There's a reason that Gary still had half his team left when Ash was down to one (though it was unfortunate that that one was Charizard).
Much of Saikou Everyday counts, especially the parts with the legendary Pokémon.
The end of the Zoey vs. Nando match in the Sinnoh Grand Festival. Mismagius' Psywave created HUGE BATTLE WINGS for Leafeon to assist the battle with a winning Aerial Ace. That episode alone defined Zoey and Nando as two of the best Coordinators the anime has ever seen.
Even if Zoey won, it should be noted that this is one of the only battles where it's a CMoA for both Trainers, not just the winner. Even Fantina acknowledged it.
As far as rivals are concerned, Zoey winning the Grand Festival is an awesome moment, as she's as of now the only major rival to ever win a major competition.
At the end of Barry's losing battle with Paul, his Empoleon takes Electivire's Thunder directly and faints standing up.
The fact that he was able to actually give Paul a challenge (Curb-Stomp Battle or not), and he even gets Paul to compliment him on a good battle. Considering that until then, Paul has had nothing but contempt for people that lost to him, that's BIG.
A Bibarel gets one in Bibarel Gnaws Best by breaking free from a cage made out of material shown capable of withstanding the combined attacks of Chimchar, Buizel, Turtwig, and Sudowoodo (a combination that previously broke and carved up rock) with ONLY ITS TEETH. It also attacks a Rhydon, standing up to it as well as a Magmar, Aggron, and Metang all at once. Considering the situation, it didn't do too badly, either. Granted, it still needed Ash and co's Pokémon to help it out of that jam, but that beaver's got guts.
Surge's Raichu utterly destroying Pikachu, who up until that point had won nearly every battle it was in. Five words: "Give 'em the big finale!"
Let's give Paul's Pokémon some credit. They thoroughly destroyed Ash in their first full battle, with his Ursaring taking out three of his Pokémon single-handedly. Also, despite Paul's brutal training methods, they were visibly upset when he lost to Ash.
Club Battle arc character Luke gets one when he uses a Larvesta to handily beat Cilan's Stunfisk.
In the early episodes in Kanto, there was a gym leader named Sabrina. Ash fought her, and he was beaten without a thought by a Kadabra who had evolved at the start of the match. Then, Ash and co were shrunken and left at the mercy of said gym leader. So Ash tries getting a Ghost Pokémon, but that didn't keep Sabrina from turning Misty and Brock into dolls, and terrifying Ash and all his Pokémon so horribly that only Pikachu was crazy enough to fight her. And, naturally, not only did Pikachu lose, but literally nothing Ash or Pikachu did left even a small scratch on Kadabra. Ash only won because Sabrina started laughing, and so only bringing Haunter to Saffron City prevented the entire ordeal from being a Shaggy Dog Story (ending the anime itself on a Downer Ending). Say what you will about her, but Sabrina IS a crowning moment of awesome.
In "Ash versus The Champion", Alder stops a charging Gigalith, then picks it up and throws it. Keep in mind Gigalith weigh roughly 600 pounds.
In the World Tournament Junior Cup, Trip makes it to the finals, where he can battle his former hero, the Unova League Champion Alder. Confident he can win due to Alder's apparent lack of focus, he uses his Serperior, who had swept the competition beforehand. Serperior blasts Alder's Bouffalant with everything it has...to nearly no effect. Alder tells Trip that his strategy is impressive, but not enough to defeat a Champion. His Bouffalant then K Os Serperior in a single hit.
The Clubsplosion arc has two — Trip being Hoist by His Own Petard by Bianca of all trainers, and Stephan winning the whole tournament by beating Montgomery's Throh with his Sawk.
The Ash vs. Drake battle is a CMOA for Dragonite. It had ten attacks just to make it seem unstoppable, and defeated three of Ash's Pokemon (including Charizard) before going down.
The Breloom leader in "A Shroomish Skirmish" gets a moment. After seeing what Combusken can do (being sent into the wall of the canyon they're in by a Peck attack, then being smashed in the face with a Sky Uppercut), it proposes that they settle it hand-to-hand. One of the few instances on the show where an evolution doesn't mean a Curb-Stomp Battle. This Breloom is faced with an evolved Pokémon and it doesn't back down or suddenly undergo Badass Decay, it fights and fights well, managing to Cross Counter with Combusken to draw their fight.
The battle on TV between Cynthia and Flint in "Memories Are Made of Bliss". Flint actually puts up an impressive fight, hitting Cynthia's Garchomp multiple times with Close Combat and Mach Punch.
While it wasn't Misty's Psyduck (much to everyone's disappointment), a wild Golduck shows its value during "Bye Bye Psyduck", using Psychic on Team Rocket with a single claw, and then letting off with one hell of a Hyper Beam...
We finally see Giovanni's Persian fight. It overpowers Pikachu with ease.
Giovanni taking a oversized Electro Ball by Pikachu at close distance and not having a scratch on him despite said attack disintegrating the spot he was standing on.
Ash may have won his gym battle with Roxie, but Roxie earned a few of these in that match, nearly winning in spite of her team being outnumbered two to one. In particular, showing how a competent Koffing fights, Garbodor defeating Pignite (who had been freshly cured of being poisoned moments ago) using only non-poison moves, and dealing a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Pikachu, only being defeated after the activation of Static.
Character of the day Pietra manages her own in "Right on Rhydon". After spending an entire episode chasing a surfing Rhydon around the countryside, having it divert the attacks of four water types at once, and saving it from Team Rocket, Pietra continues to demand it let her battle it. When it goes to swim off again, Pietra grabs on to the giant pokemon and doesn't let go even after it dives into the lake, only giving up when it reaches shore after attempting to buck her out of the water a few times. After that, it relents and gives her a battle.
After suffering a Curb-Stomp Battle against Iris' Dragonite, Georgia does the sensible thing and calls her out on her cheap win, saying she didn't lose to Iris, but only to Dragonite.
Absolutely everything about one-time character Orville the Pidgey. The episode is all about Orville achieving his lifelong dream, which just so happens to involve flying into space. The premise is every bit as ridiculous and scientifically impossible as it sounds, but its so Crazy Awesome that it's hard to hold a grudge.
The English opening to the X and Y season is a love letter to the fans from the very beginning.
Professor Cozmo helping Ash foil Team Magma's plans at Mt. Chimmney. Considering how utterly helpless he is in the games, this was a nice change. Sadly, it also comes with a minor tear jerker since the only way he could foil Team Magma was to throw their laser into the volcano, also getting rid of the meteorite with it, deciding the meteor was better off in no hands than the wrong hands.
Butch and Cassidy's second scheme involved using a Drowzee to mind control Pokémon. When amplified via a machine, it gave them complete control of every Pokémon on the island, and they used all of them against Jessie, James, and Ash and friends. Ash destroyed the machine powering Drowzee, but Butch ordered it to bounce its Hypnosis off of a satellite dish and control everyone again. Only Togepi's Metronome saved the day.
Despite his extremely limited screentime, Nando managed two small ones: getting eight badges and five ribbons in time to qualify for both the Grand Festival AND the Sinnoh League, and staying completely calm under false arrest and interrogation in "A Secret Sphere of Influence". When Ash and friends expressed shock at seeing him as a suspect in the theft of the Adamant Orb, he cheerfully greeted them like it was nothing, even expressing that he was innocent in his typical sing song voice.
The DP: Galactic Battles episode "Stealing The Conversation" had a blind Officer Jenny take down criminals using only her Chatot and bowling balls.
Real Life example: Ray Rizzo, an American Pokémon video game player who won the Pokémon Video Game World Championships (in the Master Divisionnote Originally was the champion in the Senior Division for 2010 before the adult-oriented Master Division was made as a third tier to the kid-oriented Junior and teen-oriented Senior Divisions.) three years straight. This guy is such a freakin' juggernaut in the competitive Pokémon video gaming space.
Unfortunately, it appears he wasn't able to bring a repeat performance as he wasn't able to win the 2013 Championships. On the upside, it seems 2013 is the first time someone from Europe won, and it was in a division usually won by either someone from the United States or Japan.
Remember this parody game PETA made not too long after Black 2 and White 2's North American release? PETA called it a parody. What was the most of the fandom's reaction? RAGE. Nearly every Pokemon fan out there leapt to the defense of their favourite franchise. Now those are some dedicated fans.
Which gets into some fridge humour if you remember the stated plot of Team Plasma in the first game. So I guess Team PETA = Team Plasma?
In the manga Surf's Up Pikachu, Pikachu takes its victory against Drake's Dragonite a step further and crawls down into Dragonite's mouth, delivering the attack internally. Even the announcer declares Pikachu to be scary at that point.