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Fanfic / Common Sense

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Formerly titled Rocket's Rising, Common Sense is an Alternate Universe fanfic by AeroJester203.

In this retelling of the events of the Pokémon anime, Team Rocket operates with the same level of competence as their so-called "top team" status would imply. Starting after their first defeat at the Viridian Pokémon Center, the first smear on their mission record, Jessie, James and Meowth begin pursuing Ash for his Pikachu.


Unlike the canon story, he's not going to have it so easy...

Now with a Behind the Scenes side-story, found here.

A Spanish (Español) translation of Common Sense is found here.

Tropes in Common Sense:

  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Chapter 15 reveals that Ash's 11th birthday had come and gone without his knowledge.
    • Word of God says that it would've happened sometime around the time that Ash was at Pokémon Tech.
  • Adaptational Badass: The Team Rocket trio is actually competent here. For bonus points, the "twerps" and their Pokémon respond to this pressure by getting stronger than they were in canon.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Team Rocket members Attila and Hun show up to try and capture Ash in Chapter 36. In addition, a few Johto Pokémon start appearing earlier than in canon:
    • Mitchell finds a Sneasel in a Poké Ball buried in the park he's working at, and takes it to the Celadon Pokémon Center.
    • Noah in Chapter 36 is revealed to own a Sneasel, Ursaring and Feraligatr.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: In addition to being more capable combatants than their canon counterparts, the TR trio is also more cunning, coming up with clever schemes that often result in at least partial victory. This can also be seen with James and the Magikarp Salesman: in canon, he bought the scheme hook-line-and-sinker; here, he sees right through it and manages to force the salesman to sell him the fish at a discount.
  • Adult Fear: Ever since finding out the truth about Team Rocket, Delia has been worried that something might happen to Ash that'll make him an Empty Shell of his former self when he returns, if he returns at all.
    • For Koga, when Jessie takes his daughter Janine hostage, he's forced to surrender and let himself be knocked out to ensure her safety.
  • Affably Evil: All three, to a point, but James more than others.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: When James is about to use his newly bought Magikarp to swim away from the sinking St. Anne, the fish touches his whisker to his Trainer's forehead in reassurance. He does it again after evolving into Gyarados to save James from drowning since James didn't recognize him.
  • A Handful for an Eye: When pinned down by Charmander, Meowth takes a bit of dirt in his paw and throws it at the Fire-type's eyes to give him a chance to slip away.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: How Team Rocket sneaks in to steal from Gringey City's factories.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: A recruitment tactic during Gringey City. One person specifically noted that if he refused they would steal his pokemon anyway, which happened earlier on to another person.
  • Advertisement:
  • Anti-Villain: Cortez tries to mug Jessie of her tournament winnings, but only because he needed the money to move his failing business out of Gringey City.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: A non-sexual example in that Ash's Jigglypuff had been faking unconsciousness when they first met in the hopes that he would capture her. She's quite offended when he heals her and decides to leave her to recover.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Brock gives one to Misty in chapter 25, questioning if she would be trying to be nicer to Ash if things had gone differently with Butterfree.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Discussed by James, who sees right through the Magikarp salesman's pitch after he mentions that a Magikarp lays a thousand eggs a year. If it's such a fast multiplier, basic laws of supply and demand state that its real value is nowhere near what the salesman claims.
  • Awesome Backpack: Team Rocket's Vacuum-Packs, standard issue for stealing Poké Balls from Trainers.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: After Pikachu won against Giselle's Cubone at Pokémon Tech in a few moves by simply watching and dodging for a while, Ash started training all of his Pokémon to do that when he gave the command to "analyze".
    • Meowth also gets a moment in his battle against Cortez's Rhydon in the Underground Tournament. By luring it into the proper position and using his newly learned Flash attack, he then used Swift on a rusty water pipe, dousing the Pokémon and weakening it enough for him to take down with Big Bang Blitz and Fury Swipes.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The TR Trio actually has quite a few victories under their belt this time around.
  • Badass Normal: Even if James is out of usable Pokémon, he still carries several explosives, smoke bombs and disguised flash grenades, along with roses of multiple colors that each serve a different function.
  • Beach Episode: Chapter 15, though it manages to avoid being Filler too.
  • Benevolent Boss: Giovanni, to his more successful agents, though both Meowth and James note that his kindness has limits.
  • Berserk Button: By this point, Team Rocket's presence alone is a good way to get Ash in a rage.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: After being crippled by Primeape, Proton's Fearow accepts his offer of poison so as to have a quick painless death than die at the hands of a weaker Pokémon in the wild.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Cal, Frank's ranch raised Machoke, is a friendly easygoing Pokemon who's good at taking care of fellow Pokémon. He's also ridiculously powerful, boasting that he's been dealing with surly Tauros and Rhyhorn since he was a baby Machop.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Pretty much the whole premise of the fic involving Team Rocket.
  • Big Blackout: As in canon, a bunch of Grimer and Muk cause one at the Gringey City Power Plant.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Played straight about as often as it's subverted.
    • While Ash and co. find their way to the Moon Stone with the help of a Clefairy, Team Rocket proves that their presence was irrelevant by forcing them to retreat by collapsing the doorway of the cave they were standing in.
    • Ash succeeds in saving AJ's Sandshrew by having his Pidgeotto and AJ's Beedrill blow holes in Team Rocket's balloon. He even had the foresight to have AJ leave Sandshrew's Poké Ball behind since Team Rocket would be able to send Sandshrew in the confusion if they got it.
    • Bulbasaur pulled one of his own by saving Pikachu after his Power-Strain Blackout. While Team Rocket probably would've caught him given enough time, he only needed to buy a little time since Ash and co. were attracted by the explosion from the earlier overclocked Zap Sapper.
    • Attempted when rescuing the Squirtle Squad. Ash and co. had charged straight into the clearing where Team Rocket had made camp. Unfortunately, they fell into a pitfall trap left by Team Rocket and were unable to do anything before Team Rocket got away with the help of some rocket booster upgrades to their balloon.
    • Delia also gets one when she takes command of Ash's Pokémon while he's sick. She stops James from taking Pikachu and even manages to incapacitate Gyarados with a sneak attack.
  • Big "NO!": Jessie does this both in Viridian Forest as Ash is fleeing and at Porta Vista when Pidgeotto is evolving, the latter following a Little "No".
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: James shows an aversion to the word "kidnapping" when Hart uses it to describe his actions. He doesn't attempt to substitute a different word, though, merely saying that he needed to talk to him and Pearl.
  • Brains and Brawn: While both Jessie and James usually contribute to planning, this shows in their fighting styles when out of Pokémon. James fights mainly with technology, such as the Zap Sapper, bombs and his rose gadgets. Jessie, on the other hand, will charge the opposition herself and has a strong kick even without her steel heels.
  • Break the Haughty: In chapter 20, Ash crushes Misty when she challenges him to a Pokémon Battle after calling him a liar and a cheater. Worse, he does it with a single Pokémon taking on three of hers at once.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The TR trio are just as absurd as in canon, but far more effective.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: An indirect example. Ash lectures Anthony on behalf of his daughter Rebecca for being so focused on his dreams that he's left his family all but forgotten.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Ash can't lie to his mom. When she asks him directly just what happened to make him sick, he only does a Loud Gulp as he realizes that before telling the truth offscreen.
  • Can't Catch Up: Charmander feels that he's in danger of this happening if he doesn't evolve. In his mind, since he can be reliably beaten by any of his teammates (strict swimmers like Tentacool aside), it makes him the weakest link. Considering who his former Trainer was, and the reason he was abandoned last time, his fears are rather understandable.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: While decent enough off the clock, each member of Team Rocket knows that what they're doing is evil, and you know what? They don't care.
  • Catch and Return: The Zap Sapper's main function. Used to be vulnerable to Overclocking Attack, but that weakness was fixed with the 2.0 upgrade, giving it replaceable capacitor cartridges (aptly named Zap Caps) to protect against overloading.
  • Character Development: Team Rocket's constant attacks and legitimate competence have caused a few ripple effects.
    • Ash lets go of his rivalry with Gary, because he's more concerned with Team Rocket.
    • Delia learns about said attacks and asks Professor Oak to resume her training in Pokémon so that she can help.
    • Brock, though hesitantly, begins training his Pokémon after a crushing defeat by Team Rocket nearly results in Pikachu getting captured, had Delia not intervened.
    • Jessie acknowledges (at least to herself) that she has a Hair-Trigger Temper when overhearing Meowth and James' discussion of how she'd never accept that it would probably be best to stop pursuing Pikachu.
    • As of Chapter 25, Misty begins to acknowledge that Ash is a good trainer and realizes that she's hating him for no reason except her own wounded pride.
  • Chekhov's Gun: After they encounter the giant Dragonite, Giovanni sends the Trio a set of Heavy Ballsnote . Several chapters and a couple weeks later, they use one to capture a giant Tentacruel.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Noah, one of the underground tournament contestants, is robbed of his Pokémon by James after he refuses to join Team Rocket. He reappears in Chapter 36, and more than willing to pay him back for it.
  • Clothing Combat: Ash's hat.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Team Rocket as a whole. A few examples:
    • They care little for the "one-on-one" fighting rules of a Pokémon battle, often calling out one each or all at once.
      Jessie: "Well, as we say, all's fair in love, war, and Pokémon battles."
      Ash: "I say that saying's rotten, and so are you!"
    • James took Pikachu out early on during Team Rocket's first encounter with Ash by having Koffing shoot sludge in his eyes.
    • They are not above fleeing if they already have their prize, like the Moon Stone and the Squirtle Squad.
    • Meowth's "Sand Attack" on Charmander to escape the latter's pin.
    • James will oftentimes throw explosives to aid his side, whether by attacking opponent's directly or throwing them at bystanders to make Ash focus on protecting them instead of pursuing the fleeing criminals.
    • Also, during the battle aboard the St. Anne, all of the rank and file grunts, led by Jessie, James and Meowth, put up a good fight against the Trainers on board. They stole any Pokémon that got recalled with their Vacuum-Pack, along with several that didn't with a metal box that had Artificial Limbs extending from the various cages to grab any unaware Pokémon. They likely would've succeeded in overpowering and stealing all of the Pokémon on board, had the ship not got caught in a storm and put in danger of sinking.
    • Jessie will at times don steel stilettos to fight enemy Pokémon directly.
    • During Meowth's battle with Cortez's Rhydon, he uses Flash to stun them before blowing a hole in a damaged water line with Swift to drench him and then attacking before he could recover to finish him off.
  • Combat Stilettos: James fashioned Jessie a pair of steel heels that slip on over her boots to augment her kicks. Oddly enough, James had just made them as a joke.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The ensemble makes Meowth's Mr. Pokémon disguise.
  • Crossdresser: Jessie and James are a downplayed example as upon their Rank Up, they decide to wear the opposite gender's officer uniforms.
  • Cuddle Bug: Ash's Tentacool, usually hitting him with The Glomp upon release as well.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Battles are usually much more even between Ash and Team Rocket. There are a few for each, though.
    • Ash, from his run-ins with Team Rocket, dedicates much more time to training than in the anime, lest the Terrible Trio actually succeed in their endeavors. By the time his most important battles swing around, he manages to win them handily, since he's used to Team Rocket's dirty tactics.
    • He still gets his hat handed to him against Brock the first time around, but he actually manages to legitimately win against Misty at Cerulean Gym without his Flying Pokémon taking any damage by knocking her Water Pokémon out of the pool.
    • Against AJ, the trope is downplayed. Ash still loses, but his Pokémon put up a much better fight. And he's much more graceful about the loss (and his previous wins), but considering what he has to deal with, it's to be expected that he'd be less concerned about his win/loss record.
    • He also wins on his first try against Lt. Surge simply by ordering Pikachu to analyze Raichu's fighting style while focusing on dodging to see if he can spot any flaws. After finding Raichu to be a Mighty Glacier (compared to Pikachu's Lightning Bruiser style, at least), Pikachu rather quickly overwhelms Surge's Pokémon with speed attacks without taking a single hit.
    • In his battle against Canon!Ash/Satoshi, he manages to win without a single one of his Pokémon being knocked out. Though Satoshi manages to come up with a few tricks that keep him on his toes, and Charmander is worn down to where he wouldn't be able to reliably battle for the rest of the match.
    • Team Rocket also gets one where they captured all of the Beedrill in a hive defeating twenty-one of them with just Koffing and Jessie's newly caught Spearow. They're also easily able to blow past Misty and Brock when Ash is sick on Porta Vista. James was able to break their blockade with Gyarados to chase after Pikachu, who'd run to retreat to Ash. Ekans had managed to stall Pikachu long enough for James to catch up and James handily defeated him with his Zap Sapper 2.0 and Gyarados' Dragon Rage. If Ash hadn't seen the electricity being fired and sent his Pokémon with Delia, Team Rocket would've captured Pikachu.
    • Misty demands Ash fight her in a true water battle at Porta Vista. After she pushes him too far, he crushes her Staryu, Starmie, and Goldeen at the same time with Tentacool.
    • In the battle against Gary in Chapter 35, Ash's Rattata defeats Gary's first two Pokémon on her own even evolving in the process. This forces Gary to evolve his Growlithe into Arcanine, and even then Raticate still manages to land a few hits before going down. The battle against Charmeleon goes more even, but Charmeleon clearly has the upper hand and injures Arcanine to the point Gary ultimately forfeits to save face.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Downplayed with Giovanni. Seeing Meowth and his Persian interact usually brings a smile to his face.
  • Dance Battler: Jessie incorporates ballet into her fighting style. Her former master Koga was inspired to include dance moves into his combat style as well after she managed to defeat him in a fight.
  • Death Glare: Jessie is quite prone to delivering these when faced with defeat.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: Pulled by Meowth to lure Spearow back to the Team Rocket trio's camp for Jessie to capture after fleeing with her prey in his mouth. While he probably could've defeated her, it was mainly to get her riled up and guarantee that she wouldn't just fly away.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In chapter 4 when Jessie was stalling Ash and friends, Seymour was actually smart enough to realize that it was just a diversion and headed to save the Moon Stone alone... Unfortunately, he wasn't smart enough to realize that he didn't have a plan to get it back without the help of a Trainer and ends up getting tied up.
    James: "Seriously, how were you intending to get from Point A: Getting back to this chamber, to Point B: Stopping us?"
    • Also, while Jessie, James and Meowth look really cool with doing their The Rest Shall Pass moment, they had forgotten that they needed to flee the listing St. Anne too. They manage the feat with their Pokémon at the last moment, but they probably should've planned their escape better.
  • Didn't See That Coming: In Chapter 32, when Team Rocket makes their move to steal the Pokémon in the P1 Grand Prix, the crowd quickly joins in to help Ash drive them away, foiling their plans.
  • Don't Tell Mama: Discussed by Delia. She asks Ash if he'd tell her about his fights with Team Rocket if she hadn't found out about him being sick from Misty and Brock. He answers through his guilt that he wouldn't want her to worry.
  • Dragon Rider: Ever since James' Magikarp evolved into Gyarados, he usually directs the leviathan from his perch atop the Pokémon's head.
  • Draw Aggro: A fairly standard ploy by Team Rocket against Ash, seeing as the sight of them and their arrogant attitude gets his blood boiling.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Rocket trio, the tournament host and all the spectators of Damian's battle are disgusted with the fact that he abused his Pokémon.
    • Despite knowing Meowth will likely lose his match, James refuses to bet against him because only the lowest of the low would bet against a friend for profit.
    • Mitchel might be a career criminal but he doesn't deal in Pokémon, noting he could never look his Dugtrio in the eyes if he caught Pokémon to sell, or worse, stole them from another trainer.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: On their way to Gringey City, James and Meowth share a conversation about whether or not it's really worth it to continue chasing after Pikachu and how to possibly convince Jessie. They try to do it without waking her, but that was pretty pointless since she was awake and listening in since the conversation started.
    • Brock and Misty also happen to be discussing that Ash is sick from diving into the ocean when his mother is a few souvenir stalls down.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: In Chapter 36, Ash's Kingler aims a Hyper Beam seemingly at Hun's Onix, who dodges it. Turns out that he was actually aiming for Attila's Skarmory, who was fighting Pidgeot behind them.
  • Eye Scream: In Chapter 37, Staryu flies into Gyarados' eye before he can launch an attack, giving some Voltorb the opportunity to take Gyarados down.
  • Face of a Thug: Hart is noted as being instantly branded as a delinquent for how he looks.
  • Fighting from the Inside: When taken over by Gastly at Maiden's Peak, Ash begins fighting back shortly afterward and breaks the control long enough to order Pikachu to use Thunderbolt on both him and the possessor.
  • Fight Off the Kryptonite: Brock's Onix takes to getting splashed with water so it can learn to power through it and better fight off Gyarados.
  • Full-Body Disguise: Petrel's usual method of disguising himself, occasionally layering others underneath.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Charmander, after meeting Canon!Ash's Charizard. What disgusts him even more is that he could've wound up exactly like him if it weren't for his teammates being stronger than him.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Jessie and James, when picking a human alias for Meowth to sign into the underground tournament with. They picked Mr. Pokémon.
  • Gladiator Games: The underground tournament in Gringey City.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: In Chapter 14, James throws a lit bomb that Bulbasaur blows back. Rather than risk getting blown up, James catches the explosive and throws it into the ocean.
  • Groin Attack: Anthony's Hitmonchan, while trapped in a bear hug by Cal during the P1 Grand Prix semifinals, is forced to deliver a kick to the crotch to break free.
  • Guns Are Worthless: To Team Rocket, in a Pragmatic Villainy sense.
  • Harmless Electrocution: Downplayed. According to Henry, minor cases of Electrocution, such as taking an electric Pokémon's attack can be rested off, but more severe cases (such as James having shock himself with the Zap Sapper) are quite serious and have to be monitored closely.
  • Headbutting Heroes: Ash and Misty fall into this once their rivalry starts up.
  • Headbutt of Love: A variation. James will often touch his forehead to Gyarados' forehead crest when expressing gratitude. Reminiscent of their former Affectionate Gesture to the Head.
  • Head Pet: Hilariously inverted since James is Gyarados' Trainer and usually rides on his head.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: When Meowth goes into town, usually he'll disguise himself with a collar and act as either Jessie or James's pet.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: James politely asks one of Damian's Pokémon to punch him in the face so he can make it appear that he fought Damian before turning him into the police for Pokémon abuse.
  • Hold the Line: In Team Rocket's plan to steal the Moon Stone, Jessie goes to meet Ash and co. head on and challenges them to a three-on-three battle. Even though she can only half-direct each of her Pokémon, she does her job of keeping them busy long enough for James and Meowth to complete preparations to ensure their getaway.
    • Another more minor one is performed by her Ekans too on Porta Vista. Once Pikachu flees to try returning to Ash, Jessie sends her ahead to intercept him. James follows on Gyarados' back, and Ekans manages to keep Pikachu busy just long enough for him to arrive.
  • Holding the Floor: When they get cornered after stealing a cartload of Pokémon from Pokémon Tech, Jessie and James willingly give them up. After acknowledging that they recognized when a plan was unsalvageable, they bait Ash into a tangent about their past encounters. They keep him occupied until they get a signal from a walkie-talkie in James' pocket. A call from Meowth who said he'd finished his raid on the rest of Pokémon Tech. Jessie and James just stole in front of Ash to get him and his friends to follow them.
  • Hold On to My Hat: Before flying off on Pidgeot to block the Tentacool swarm until the citizens of Hutber Port evacuated, he throws his hat to Brock, asking him to hold it. When asked why, he said he didn't want to lose it.
  • Hope Spot: A subtle one with Seymour. He'd been talking about how The Good Guys Always Win during his captivity until they slapped a piece of tape over his mouth. Even so, he's overjoyed at Ash and co. having arrived with the help of a Clefairy. But James collapses the entrance they used with Wall of Destruction and forces them to retreat from the blast. Seymour is devastated, and it isn't helped by Meowth rubbing it in.
    "What was dat you were sayin' earlier? 'Da villains never win?' Well, look at us, cuz we're escapin' wit' our prize."
  • Hour of Power: After hearing about Ash's situation with Team Rocket, Professor Oak reveals the emergency call function of the Pokédex that brings all of the owner's Pokémon over for half an hour to deal with an emergency. It only has three noncumulative uses per month, though.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: A variation. Shortly before she escapes from the sinking St. Anne, Jessie tells James that she'll never forgive him if he doesn't make it back.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Jessie tells Meowth to get over "his beautiful face" (the balloon) being wrecked as she fixes her hair and reapplies her make-up.
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: Magnemite court one another by releasing a special magnetic signal when they want company and sharing electricity in a cycle. When Pikachu has backed up electricity, he accidentally lures a Magnemite and doesn't realize the significance behind the action when it asks to share electricity with him. The result is that it pulls out all of his blocked electricity, reducing it to a catatonic state for a few moments before it gets up and Pikachu finds himself with an Abhorrent Admirer.
  • Ignored Aesop: Damian took what happened with Charmander and somehow became worse to his Pokémon afterward. Instead of getting rid of "weak" ones, he punished his Pokémon whenever they didn't meet his standards. He gets robbed by James, losing all of his Pokémon after the tournament.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Misty claims Ash "cheated" by using flying Pokémon against her water Pokémon. When they have a rematch weeks later, she uses the exact same strategy against him and insists that it's natural to use any strategy you can. Ash calls her out on her bullshit and declares that she's too petty to be worth battling.
  • Ironic Echo: During their second battle, after Ash has all three of Misty's Pokémon suspended above the water by his Tentacool's Wrap attack, he repeats the line that Misty said to him at Cerulean Gym.
    "'Water Pokémon always have the advantage in the water.'"
  • It Amused Me: The tournament host's given reason for hosting the tournament: battles with nearly no rules for entertainment.
    • Subverted since the host is revealed to be Petrel, running the tournament to evaluate Squad 13.
  • It's All My Fault: Ash has a nasty habit of blaming himself if he fails to stop one of Team Rocket's plans. Also, because they keep getting stronger to capture Pikachu, he's made it his personal mission to not only protect Pikachu, but to stop Team Rocket's plans whenever he can. He feels that he's The Only One that can really stop them on a semi-regular basis.
  • I Was Never Here: Mitchell, the bookmaker running bets in the Underground Tournament, intentionally pays James more than he owed, knowing that James had already taken some in order to pay Dalton, so that he would pretend they never met. James innocently replies that he's already forgotten what he looks like as he walks off.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Damian. He got away with only minor burns after mistreating Charmander, but only got worse after that. But he ran out of luck after James saw the state of his Pokémon and relieved him of them before turning him into the police for Pokémon abuse.
  • Kid Hero: Deconstructed. Ash does everything that he can to stop Team Rocket, but he doesn't always win. He feels these losses harshly, which is why he always trains as hard as he can to fight them. Still, he's only ten. He can't predict every play the nefarious Team Rocket will make.
  • Kill Us Both: A non-lethal variant. When possessed by a ghost, Ash breaks free long enough to order Pikachu to use Thunderbolt on both of them. Justified since Ash had earlier noted that he was building up a resistance to electricity from all the times he'd been shocked.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Team Rocket shifts between this and Affably Evil.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • Realizing his Arcanine is so badly injured it won't stand a chance against Ash's last Pokémon, Gary forfeits their battle.
    • When battling Noah in Chapter 36, James realizes that he's no match for him when his Feraligatr overpowers Gyarados, so he wisely chooses to retreat.
  • Large Ham: Naturally, Jessie, James and Meowth.
  • Laughably Evil: Being more competent hasn't made the TR trio any less funny. However, the humor involving them tends to lean in a different direction; being less focused on them suffering and being ineffectual, and more about the way they play off one another.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: Jessie and James are allowed to wear white versions of the standard Team Rocket uniform due to their status as the organization's best agents.
  • Leave Him to Me: A few examples:
    • Charmander refuses Ash sending in help when he's fighting all of Team Rocket's Pokémon, and resolves to defeat all of them. With a Rage-powered Flamethrower, he wins.
    • In the next chapter, it appears to be a Hold the Line moment at first when Koffing is stopping Squirtle from bursting Team Rocket's balloon, but it turns out to be this when Koffing protest's James sending Mankey in as well. From his resolve to win, Koffing evolves into Weezing.
    • At Vermilion City Gym, Pikachu does this like in canon. The difference being that he succeeds the first time.
  • Leitmotif: Discussed by Jessie, James and Meowth in Chapter 6.
    • Later used in Chapter 26, but cut off when Ash throws off their rhythm by trying to bust out of the cell under their feet.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Meowth does this early on when looking for a Pokémon to bring back for Jessie. He hears two Pokémon fighting it out and decides to take his time getting there, intending to take on whoever wins the battle while they're weakened.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: The fact that James and Meowth felt the need to do this to Jessie regarding how they shouldn't go after Pikachu anymore, makes her stop and think before ultimately deciding that while she won't fixate on Pikachu anymore that she'll find another way to get revenge on Ash, someday.
  • Logical Weakness: Smoke dazes bees, so Jessie and James managed to defeat and capture a hive of twenty-one Beedrill with just Koffing's Smokescreen and attacks from him and Jessie's newly caught Spearow.
    • Because Heavy Balls are more effective the more a Pokémon weighs, giant Pokémon are far more susceptible to them. As a result, Jessie and James capture a giant Tentacruel after weakening it with an electric trap.
    • Vaporeon can dissolve into water and is basically a sentient body of water. Thus, a move like Surf which controls bodies of water can control a Vaporeon.
  • Loophole Abuse: When it's revealed that Mr. Pokémon is actually Meowth, the organizer of the tournament lets him continue anyway, stating there weren't any rules saying a trainer couldn't also be a Pokémon.
  • Lost Food Grievance: The reason that Spearow fell for Meowth's Defensive Feint Trap.
  • Lured into a Trap: When Ash and co. charge into their camp to save the Squirtle Squad, Team Rocket hardly looks up from their picnic and dismiss them to finish eating, which riles them up even further. So much that Ash neglects to use his walking stick and doesn't spot the pitfall trap that Team Rocket had waiting for them.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: Team Rocket's stables. They're for the well-behaved Pokémon that they plan to sell and come with actual plants, trees and soil, along with a large pond for Water-types and skylights that allow natural light in. But, as nice as the accommodations are, the metal walls make it abundantly clear that it's meant to confine them.
  • Mad Bomber: Averted with James. He uses bombs, but doesn't have the temperament.
  • Mama Bear: Delia gets to show her protective side in Chapter 14 when she commands Ash's Pokémon while he's too sick to battle.
  • Mercy Kill: The Fearow that tried to kill Ash is revealed to belong to Proton who offers it a painless death after it's crippled in respect for it's long service to Team Rocket.
  • Mirror Match: Between Ash and Canon!Ash with eight badges. Though "match" might be stretching it a bit...
  • More Expendable Than You: Burton volunteers to battle Sabrina to get Meowth back from her since he's the least valuable member of the team.
  • Mugging the Monster: Cortez tries to mug Jessie of her winnings after the Tournament Arc. She kicks his knife out of his hand and promptly kicks his ass as not only is she an elite member of Team Rocket, but she's also a former ninja.
  • Mythology Gag: Professor Oak mentions Gary entering his cheerleaders into a Beauty Contest.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Team Rocket has nearly succeed at catching Pikachu in Viridian Forest, the hidden village and Porta Vista. Only fleeing for the first, Bulbasaur's intervention in the second, and both for the third (Pikachu running and Delia arriving) prevented them from winning.
  • Never My Fault: Damian always blamed his Pokémon for his losses instead of him for not training them and weakening them with punishments for their failure to meet his standards.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: While Jessie's also aggressive about getting her face hit, nothing ticks her off more than getting her hair damaged.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted. Jessie, James and Meowth kept blueprints of all their major inventions, copies of which were also sent to Giovanni. In addition, when robbing a particular factory in Gringey City, James recommends taking two of the particular gun they need as a base for one of their newest gadgets, that way they have a back-up and breathing room to look for a replacement gun if one gets wrecked.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: How James usually conceals items (and probably his roses too).
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Only really in effect for their first two encounters (including Viridian City's Pokémon Center), but Ash didn't start taking Team Rocket as a serious threat until his Wake-Up Call Boss fight with them in Viridian Forest.
  • Oh, Crap!: Mitchell, the bookie who tries to skimp out on paying what he owes James panics when he learns that James works for Team Rocket. He planned to disappear into the criminal underworld but in Kanto, Team Rocket is the criminal underworld.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: After meeting Ash in person for the first time since Pallet Town, Gary is angry when he learns that Ash beat him while holding back, but grows shocked when Ash brushes off their rivalry by saying that he needed to be ready in case Team Rocket attacked and wouldn't have been bothered by losing if it meant he could save his more powerful fighters to head off the ambush. This grows into genuine concern when Ash tries to smile and reassure him that he's looking forward battling him at the League and that it was like "old times".
    Gary: Love of Mew, Ash. What happened to you? You're talking about last year like it was a lifetime ago.
  • Original Character: Several Pokémon the characters catch don't have canon counterparts, like Ash's Rattata, Tentacool and Jigglypuff, James' Mankey, and Jessie's Spearow/Fearow and Beedrill.
  • Out of Character: Averted by the author. Team Rocket still retains their good humor most of the time, but get serious whenever there's a mission to do. They even can't resist gloating every once and a while, but do it from much safer positions. If victory isn't already assured, they make sure to be ready to battle, stall or flee.
    • Same with Misty. While she might come across as rather petty and immature, in canon she was only slightly more mature than Ash. Her pride and temper stand out more here due to the fact that Ash matures and becomes more serious and skilled than her at a faster rate.
  • Overclocking Attack: Pikachu's last move when caught by a Poké-Plucker with an attached Zap Sapper by Team Rocket. While it does cause the device to burst in a violent electrical explosion, he passes out shortly afterward. If Bulbasaur hadn't followed them...
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Averted for the most part, but particularly evident whenever Meowth disguises himself as a human, despite only being around two feet tall on his hind legs. Then again, other than his height, he always makes sure to cover up his feline attributes (charm, whiskers, tail, etc).
  • Physical God: If Sabrina isn't already there, she's extremely close. Not only does she have the standard psychic powers of telepathy, telekinesis, and seeing the future, she also doesn't need to sleep, can create impenetrable barriers, has Healing Hands, and can teleport through both space and time note .
  • Power-Strain Blackout:
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Giovanni avoids having too many people eliminated as it'd make the police crack down harder on Team Rocket.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: During Ash and Misty's second battle, after Ash has hit his Rage Breaking Point, both he and Misty wind up giving one.
    Ash: So you're ready to battle? Just checking so that there's no question about it.
    Misty: I'm ready to win.
  • Professional Gambler: James portrays himself as this while sitting in the stands of the underground tournament.
  • Professional Killer: Proton, though Giovanni rarely uses him since doing so too often would put the police on high alert and make the rest of Team Rocket's operations that much harder. When Proton does have a target, though, he'll usually Make It Look Like an Accident.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Jeryl, one of Sabrina's students, got one from the strain of preventing Sabrina's Psychic Strangle from asphyxiating Ash. Considering he was holding back a far larger force than he was used to dealing with, it's fairly justified.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Ash finally hits his limit with Misty in Chapter 20 when she calls him a liar and cheater due to her inability to recognize him as a skilled trainer. He gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and crushes her team with a single Pokémon.
  • Rage Quit: Misty accuses Ash of this during their rematch, but Ash quickly points out that it's better to quit than trying to righ the battle and copy his opponent's strategies (after calling them cheating, no less).
  • Read the Freaking Manual: The Novice's Guide to Type Advantage, gifted to Ash by Samurai. He only reads a bit on the day he receives it, at Misty's insistence, but refers to it before his rematch with Brock to find out his Pokémon's weakness.
  • Reality Ensues: After James has to shock himself with the Zap Sapper to combat a sudden weakness after Team Rocket lands in a den of Primeape, Henry has to give James a muscle relaxant and hook him up to a heart monitor to combat muscle spasms and check for arrhythmia respectively.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ash gives one to Misty in Chapter 20 for not only using the exact same strategy she declared was "cheating" when he used it, but also because he knows full well that when he wins, she'll just chalk it up to luck or cheating again. He finishes it off by declaring she's not worth his time and he'd be better off training instead.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: When the Tentacool and Tentacruel are attacking Hutber Port, Ash monitors them from the top of a building with binoculars as half of his Pokémon try to hold them off long enough for the citizens to evacuate to higher ground. Afterwards, he narrowly avoids grievous injury at best several times to try talking down the giant Tentacruel. When Nastina is revealed to have survived and opens fire on Tentacruel, after expressing disgust that she hasn't learned when enough is enough, he refuses to lift a finger to save her. Fairly justified considering her refusal to stop construction on top of the reef the Tentacool called home caused the entire disaster.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: A rare non-Ax-Crazy example. The Rocket trio values each and every victory they earn against Ash and co.
  • Removing the Rival: Giovanni has a standing order with his agents Officer rank and above (and Squad 13) to have other Pokémon poachers either recruited or turned over to the police. Though in his mind, it's merely a bonus, since his final goal involves stamping out crime once his rule is firmly established.
  • The Rest Shall Pass: A villainous example with Jessie, James and Meowth. During the St. Anne operation, when the agents need to flee the cruise ship before it sinks in a storm, Jessie and James stay behind and keep the Trainers on board from pursuing the grunts fleeing to the life boats with just Weezing, Beedrill and Fearow flying around.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Subverted. Jessie, in light of repeated defeats by Ash and co. (and even by Delia using Ash's Pokémon), swears to get revenge by taking Pikachu despite all of their luck seeming to vanish the instant they target him. Both James talking her down and a timely assignment from Giovanni to compete in a tournament in Gringey City get her to at least postpone her thoughts on vengeance.
  • Robotic Assembly Lines: In Gringey City's factories, since all of the workers and civilians deserted the city because of the excessive pollution.
  • Running Away to Cry: Ash doesn't run, but he goes swimming in the ocean with his rebreather so that none of his Pokémon see him cry, thinking that he needs to keep up a strong front for them.
  • Running on All Fours: Both Pikachu and Meowth, whenever they need a speed boost.
  • Run or Die: While his life isn't at stake, Ash has no hope of defeating Team Rocket in their second battle in Viridian Forest. So, swallowing his pride, he runs away using an injured Pidgeotto's Sand-Attack for cover.
    • Also done by Pikachu, who's in real danger of capture when Team Rocket attacks at Porta Vista. Some point after the battle started, he decided that it was too big a risk to rely on Misty and Brock to protect him against Team Rocket, especially with James' new Gyarados, and ran away to retreat to Ash.
  • Sadistic Choice: Ash's Squirtle has to choose between saving his Trainer, who's sure to freeze to death if they sink much further into the ocean, or the cage full of Pokémon that they were trying to retrieve in the first place. He chooses Ash and ignores his orders to go back for the cage. Luckily, Krabby's timely evolution into Kingler managed to help him save the Pokémon
  • Samaritan Syndrome: As bad as Ash's habits are in how much pressure he puts on himself to save those in danger around him, he manages to narrowly avert this:
    • He later realizes that the Pokémon in the cage on the St. Anne were meant to draw him away from the agents escaping over the water, but decided that Pidgeotto and Squirtle wouldn't have been guaranteed to catch them, so that he made the right call.
    • During his Heroic BSoD following the loss of Butterfree's would-be mate, he's brought out of his depression by a baby Seel with its family, realizing that all of the Butterfree he'd saved would be able to have their families in peace.
    • Butterfree is also revealed to be going through similar turmoil, but Ash calmly tells him that he can't afford to fixate on the past and what he could've done differently, and to focus on those that they were able to save.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Roughly half of Damian's Pokémon break their pokeballs and flee into the wilderness after James rescues them.
    • Team Rocket also takes this attitude when the ghost of Maiden's Peak is after them, figuring that if she's been waiting around the town for 2,000 years, she wouldn't leave just to chase them.
  • Scrub: invoked According to Misty, using a flying type against a water type is cheating. Unless of course, she's the one doing it; then it's strategy.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Misty absolutely refuses to acknowledge that Ash has become stronger than her. Even when faced with direct evidence, she just denies it. She also tends to attribute her loses to the fact she wasn't in a "real water battle", even when facing James' Gyarados.
    • Worse, when Misty finds Ash and Brock training together, she decides Ash has been secretly receiving help from Brock the entire time and ignores Brock pointing out that 1) Ash has always trained in front of them, and 2) Brock is the one getting help from Ash.
  • Shamu Fu: Meowth mentions it as the best possible use for Magikarp when James mentions training him. Magikarp evolves into Gyarados before James can make good on that promise, though.
    James: Then I'll make it the best club it can be!
  • Shout-Out: The aforementioned use of Magikarp for Shamu Fu is an homage to Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, where protagonist Jared evolved his Magikarp into a Gyarados by using it as a club to beat other Pokémon senseless.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Seymour's insistence that the Clefairy need the Moon Stone earns him an eyeroll and a comment that all they use it for is a centerpiece for their dancing.
  • Smug Snake: Team Rocket just can't resist sometimes. They try to keep it brief, though, if their prize is on the line.
  • Sneeze Cut: Played with. Shortly after Giovanni mentions Ash, the latter sneezes. Then again, it might just be coincidence, since he has a cold.
  • Something About a Rose: James with his ever-present red rose. Taken to even further lengths with his color-coded rose gadgets. The different functions are as follows.
    • Blue rose: the petals light up with blue fire and can be thrown to ignite James' Wall of Destruction technique or any other flammable materials.
    • White rose: releases a glue-like substance from the petals to tangle the target up. The substance also doubles fairly well as a muzzle.
    • Pink rose: spritzes a sleeping gas that can knock out the target in seconds for up to six hours. Also contains enough for multiple uses.
    • Purple rose: extends into a staff for close combat with the flower on top being weighted.
  • Spiteful Spit: Meowth does this when his opponent, Cortez, tells him to surrender, saying he had no chance to win.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: James correctly deduces that Pearl and Hart are lovers who ran away from home due to being from different sides of the tracks and uses it to recruit them into Team Rocket.
  • Static Stun Gun: Team Rocket's Zap Caps seem to double as these individually. To use them, a tab on the side is slid up to raise the points and then pressed in once the points are touching the target. It discharges all of the electricity it's currently holding into the target. In Chapter 36, Noah manages to snatch one of them, which he gives to Ash.
  • Straight for the Commander: While against convention, targeting the human Trainers is usually the smarter move to prevent them from commanding their Pokémon. Although Pokémon trained to a certain level can battle proficiently even without orders.
    • Jessie notes that the Squirtle Squad battles primarily at their leader's direction and has Ekans separate and catch him to use as a hostage.
    • Jessie's Fearow tried using a copied Sleep Powder to knock out Delia, but Pidgeotto guarded her and blew the powder back into Fearow's face, taking her out of the fight.
    • James successfully pulls this off with his pink rose against Damian.
  • Stupid Evil: Damian abuses and starves his Pokémon for failing to meet his standards, blissfully ignoring that doing so makes them even weaker.
  • Surpassed the Teacher: Sometime before the story began, Jessie managed to defeat her former master Koga in a fight. Koga learned from this experience, incorporating Jessie's fighting style into his own (and then some). When they clash again in Chapter 37, Koga emerges victorious, and Jessie has to take his daughter Janine hostage to escape.
  • Taking the Bullet: Exploited by Fearow when battling Pidgeot. She uses Mirror Move to copy his Razor Wind and forces him to take the hit by aiming at Ash and co.'s hot air balloon.
  • Tame His Anger: James starts teaching Mankey to do this via meditation sessions and instructing Mankey to envision his most peaceful memory. Mankey puzzles over it for a bit before using the day James found him as his most peaceful memory.
  • Tempting Fate: One Team Rocket agent captaining a submarine tells her copilot that there's no way Ash could break the glass. Almost immediately afterwards, his Krabby manages to break it with a "double Crabhammer".
  • This Is Reality: When Seymour declares that villains never win, Meowth laughs at him and asks if he thinks they're in some kiddie show.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Standard bombs, disguised flash grenades, smoke bombs, James has got tons of them.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Usually averted. Of all the Pokémon that have evolved, only Fearow and Kingler weren't under attack during the process. The former because of shock from both parties and the latter because he was alone.
  • Trauma Swing: Gengar is sitting on one in the Pokémon Tower after Team Rocket has captured Gastly, controlling the tower and keeping everyone out by warping the surroundings and presumably worse if any approached.
  • Undying Loyalty: Seems to be a trait shared by all Pokémon owned by a Trainer, but particularly noteworthy examples are Ash's Pidgeot and Jessie's Arbok.
  • Unluckily Lucky: Ash has an impressive knack for stumbling into rare Pokémon and hidden locations. If only Team Rocket wasn't following him too.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Giovanni's end goal is a new world order with crime, poverty and discrimination eliminated from the earth, and he'll resort to even illegal actions if it'll bring about change faster.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Jessie kept the shrunken Poké Ball containing the pink Butterfree there for safekeeping.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Between their balloon, Ekans' digging ability, Koffing's Smokescreen and a bevy of explosives, Team Rocket will just about always get away.
  • Villain Has a Point: Once the leader of the Squirtle Squad encounters Team Rocket again, wanting revenge for them taking his team, Meowth points out that while they did the deed, he was the one that led them into their camp. He's not necessarily wrong. If the Squirtle Squad had fled, laid low and stayed hidden, then Team Rocket likely would've moved on, either to chase Pikachu or arrive at Vermillion City to prepare the St. Anne operation.
    Meowth: Face it, kingpin; ya crossed da wrong team an' your own paid da price.
  • Villainous Friendship: Between Meowth and Giovanni's Persian.
  • Villainous Valor: Despite being heavily outmatched, Meowth refuses to surrender when he has to fight a Rhydon and Kangaskhan back-to-back.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Ash's battle with Team Rocket in Viridian Forest. They managed to steal an entire Beedrill hive, Ash saved none of them from being transferred by Meowth, who snuck away with the bag of Poke Balls, and all of his and Samurai's Pokémon were defeated except for Pikachu and Metapod while Misty's Pokémon were captured by James (who wasn't even interested in stealing them too), and Team Rocket still had four Pokémon left. After swallowing his pride and running away with an injured Pidgeotto's Sand Attack for cover, Ash began dedicating himself to training his Pokémon.
    • Happens again for Brock when Team Rocket attacks at Porta Vista when Ash is sick. It's a Curb-Stomp Battle against his Pokémon before they move on to Misty's. After the fact, he gets chewed out by Delia for his and Misty's inability to protect Pikachu without relying on Ash. After that, despite the fact that he still doesn't like the idea of making his Pokémon battle, he begins training them for battle.
    • From what he said following their rematch, it's possible that Ash was invoking this with Misty. Helped along with a letter essentially challenging her to prove him wrong about her not being worth battling, she does start training after declaring them to be rivals.
    • Gary, of all people, is hit with this when he challenges Ash to a battle in Chapter 35.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: James mentions that festivals always seemed more fun in his youth, from a distance. But once he's there in person at the Summer's End festival, he and Jessie get bored rather quickly and decide to resupply and leave early to scout ahead.
  • Weaponized Headgear: Ash has used his Pokémon League Expo hat for a few different tasks, from extending his reach a bit to let his Rattata escape a tree-hung net and cut the rope to catching and throwing a bomb of Team Rocket's into the air to save some Pokémon.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Delia calls out Brock and Misty for not only leaving Ash alone when he was sick (even if he had medicine and he said he'd be all right, she retorted that he doesn't pay enough attention to his own health), but for their inability to keep him safe from Team Rocket if that day's events were any indication. Despite the fact that they're older than Ash, apparently he's the main one that protects the group from or otherwise foils Team Rocket's plans. She also hates that he's put so much responsibility on himself that he blames himself for getting sick as the reason Team Rocket nearly won. In no uncertain terms, she tells them to shape up, or she'll never forgive them if Ash comes home to her as an Empty Shell.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: The standard method of Rocket agents, including Jessie, James and Meowth, disguising themselves.
  • Worthy Opponent: James sees Ash as one after seeing how dramatically his Pokémon tipped the scales against them during Team Rocket's attack at Porta Vista. He still doesn't like him, but he admits that Ash knows what he's doing in regards to training his Pokémon.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Downplayed and then subverted. James politely asks Delia for Pikachu because he'd "rather not" drag a civilian into the battle. When she refuses, he acknowledges that he tried and attacks.
  • You Are Not Alone: Charmander realizes this in the second BtS chapter after seeing Canon!Charizard. Unfortunately, the chapter is non-canon to the main story.
    • Ash also uses this appeal to get through to Sabrina during their battle.
    • In Chapter 30, Vincent, a student of the Pokémon Tech, tells Ash that he's inspired others to stand up to Team Rocket, and they even uncovered an operation in the Celadon Game Corner.
  • You Are Too Late: Team Rocket had captured the pink Butterfree at the warehouse and replaced her with a transformed Ditto before Ash and co. had even arrived.
  • You Just Told Me: Ash uses this trick to find out that the bearded man outside Saffron Gym is Sabrina's father.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Petrel tells Matori as much.
    "Matori, you need a hobby or a sordid affair."
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Ash's Pokémon pull this against the swarm of Tentacool by blocking off the three major roads into Porta Vista while the citizens evacuate to higher ground.


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