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Ash grinned at that and looked at Nidoran. "Do you want to be friends?"

So begins Traveler, by The Straight Elf, a massive Alternate Universe retelling of the Pokémon Anime with significant crossover elements from the games. Traveler is a complex, in-depth Reconstruction of the Pokémon mythos, following a more intelligent and driven Ash into a world where creatures of incredible power are commonplace, and beings of legend wait in the wings. Instead sleeping in and receiving the iconic Pikachu, Ash receives a male Nidoran from Professor Oak. From there the story sharply and rapidly diverges from the Anime, as Ash departs on his journey, becomes embroiled in the schemes of Team Rocket, finds friends and rivals, gains powerful mentors and deadly enemies, confronts the savagery of nature and the evil of humanity, and creates for himself a family and a name as he pursues his dream: Becoming a Pokémon Master.

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Also has a canon supplementary side-story called Traveler: Recollections.


Traveler contains examples of:

  • The Ace:
    • Lance, the strongest trainer in the world who became a Pokémon Master at fourteen. The normally-cool Ash is really excited to train under him.
    • Cynthia likewise became a Pokémon Master at fourteen, which is even more impressive considering that she's a generalist which tend to struggle at high levels. Whereas Lance is acknowledged as the strongest trainer in the world, Cynthia is the most skilled.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • The Legendaries. Rather than Olympus Mons that are powerful but can be beaten and even captured by the right strategy, or even just a strong enough opponent, in Traveler, the Legendaries are just that, legends: uncontrollable forces of nature that can impact whole nations by their mere presence, and whose full power can permanently change the shape of the world.
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    • Bruno is able to use aura to some degree, a skill he lacks in canon.
    • Ace Trainers in the games are merely NPC trainers that are somewhat stronger than most. Here, they're ACE trainers and are essentially the Pokémon Trainer equivalent of special forces like Navy Seals, SAS, and KGB.
    • All Elite Four and League Champions (including former ones like Steven) have access to Mega Evolution.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Possibly due to its opponents all being Adaptaional Badasses, but the Fake Entei puts on a much worse showing than canon, being severely injured by the Elite Four and (temporarily) killed by Ash.
  • Adaptive Ability: After being killed, the Fake Entei regenerates stronger and smarter, even learning to dissolve parts of its body to dodge attacks.
  • Adult Fear: Ash regularly tangles with both hardened criminals and Legendary Pokémon. While Ash himself doesn't see a problem with it, the more responsible authority figures in his life (his mother, Professor Oak, and Steven) are horrified by the events he gets involved with. Eventually, Delia rips into Lance over what he's put Ash through, citing how every time she sees her son, he's quieter and more scarred than the last.
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  • Affably Evil: Jacqueline is quite friendly the entire time she converses with Ash and thinks of Pokémon as a trainer's brothers and sisters rather than pets or minions. She's also a Master level trainer who won't hesitate to kill anyone she views as evil and has a criminal record long enough that when Steven sends Ash her file, he has to send the record separately.
  • The Alcoholic: Corey is a downplayed example after the events of New Island where (among other things) Mewtwo Mind Raped him.
  • Alliterative Name: Cyntha Carolina.
  • Always Save the Girl: Daisy's Gardevoir states that the world is a small price to pay for her trainer's security.
  • Always Someone Better: Sure, you can make it to the Conference - but you'll probably be thrashed by, for instance, a Unovan with a Hydreigon or the Champion of Orre. That's the caliber of Conference-winning trainers... but very few of those even beat one of the Elite Four. Then, of course, the Champions - Lance, Steven and Cynthia - are on another level to the Elite Four. Above the Champions are naturally powerful Pokemon that have been around for centuries; Pokemon like the first champion's Rhydon, the Clefable guarding the Moon Stone, The Matriarch and Patriarch Nidoqueen and Nidoking, and the King Under the Mountain, an absolutely titanic Onix that's over 200 feet long. And, for the suicidal, there are the Legendaries.
  • Amusing Injuries: Averted. Unlike canon, being hit by a Pokémon's attack like flamethrower, thunderbolt, or hydro pump doesn't leave a person mildly injured, but can easily kill them.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Zig-zagged. While most trainers can only carry six Pokémon at once but a member of the Elite Four can temporarily override said limit. Likewise, all members of the Elite Four can carry all their Pokémon with them at once. While training with Lance, Ash has his limit removed until the Indigo Conference. After the Conference the limit stays removed due to Ash becoming an Elite Four trainee.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted. Ash's body armor saves his life twice in one fight, though afterwards it's completely ruined.
  • Asteroids Monster:
    • Muk, unlike any other Pokémon, doesn't die when blown up but instead turns into several Grimer.
    • Metagross reproduce by detaching a leg (it grows back) that turns into a Beldum. If their colony's numbers are dangerously low, a single Metagross can be sacrificed and turned into dozens of Beldum.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Becoming the master of the Unown turns one into a Physical God Reality Warper. However, the Unown will respond to subconscious thoughts and whims before their master can even register them, which is why they were eventually sealed away.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Sneasel functioned as this after his egg hatched. Aron, despite possibly being older, counts as well, as he is less experienced than Sneasel, having not left Granite Cave until he met Ash, and nowhere near as good as a battler.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • A la the first movie, Ash. Though in this version, it's Mew that kills him.
    • Infernus himself has died twice, only to be revived afterwards.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Professor Oak, who is both Kanto's regional Pokémon Professor, and a former Champion of the Indigo League.
    • Blaine as well, who helped create the field of cloning and was a former member of the Elite Four.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't ever threaten or harm Ash or one of his Pokémon where the others can hear it. They will swear unholy vengeance, even if you're a Physical God.
    • Upon seeing the Fake Entei has kidnapped his mother, Ash's sole order to his team is a quietly furious "Kill Entei."
    • The Fake Entei appears to be a huge Berserk Button for all three Legendary Beasts.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Tangela, and later Tangrowth, enjoy playing with the baby Pokémon near Pallet Town, and pass the time by childishly poking his team mates. His cells also grow at a rate so fast that they can regrow severed vines in a day, and can rip several thick walls out of the ground at a time. Not to mention his Effect Spores and draining moves, which were strong enough to completely drain Giovanni's Rhyperior. Eventually he even learns to use Ancient Power to manipulate magma.
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • Dark types are completely immune to psychic powers unless targeted with Miracle Eye. Mewtwo scoffs at such ideas and tosses around Sneasel with ease and even harms Mew transformed into Darkrai. Mewtwo also escapes from a black hole when Mew creates one and throws him into it.
    • The Guardian, the ancient Clefable that protects the Moon Stone, somehow uses the random-by-nature Metronome to perform any move it chooses to.
  • Big Bad: Giovanni and Team Rocket serve as the main antagonists for the Kanto Saga. Once the events of Pokémon: The First Movie occur, they mostly fall to the wayside due to Giovanni's death sparking an Enemy Civil War in the ranks of Team Rocket.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Torrent evolves into a Seadra to save Ash from the wreckage of the S.S. Anne.
  • Big Good:
    • Most of the Gym Leaders (except Giovanni), the Elite Four, Lance, and Steven all share this role to some extent.
    • Moltres, Mew somewhat, see Good Is Not Soft below, and Lugia on a much larger scale.
  • Blessed with Suck: Will's psychic powers leave him more susceptible to The Corruption than the other Elite Four.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Infernus lives to battle. Literally - his entire mindset revolves around strength, and who can make him stronger.
    • George Grey, the Unovan who Ash faces in the semifinals of the Indigo Conference, who is positively gleeful the entire battle, even when Infernus is roasting his Eelektross to a crisp.
  • Boring, but Practical: Trainer Meals are similar to MREs in that they're not that good, but they're healthy and last a very long time before spoiling. Despite having a surplus of money, Ash still uses them while on the road as most food would spoil during the sometimes weeks spent between cities.
  • Broken Pedestal: Giovanni when his association with Team Rocket comes to light.
  • Brought Down to Badass: The literally godly power the legendary birds and Lugia display when going all-out is a fraction of their true power, thanks to Lugia arranging for a mass sealing and weakening of the more dangerous legendaries to keep them from wiping out humanity by accident.
  • Brown Note: Bug type minds are alien enough that they're not only painful for Psychics to try to read but disrupt their powers for a time afterwards.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Early on Infernus picks a fight with a massive Rhydon. Using his entire team, Ash only harms it enough for it to decide they're not worth bothering with. Crosses over with Mugging the Monster as while it was obviously powerful, Ash and Infernus had no idea it was the strongest pokémon used by the First Champion over a millennium ago.
    • Averted much later when a Bug Catcher goes to challenge Ash, only to see his Kingdra following behind him. Said trainer promptly flees.
    • Despite Ash defeating him several months prior, Samurai challenges him again while Ash is touring Kanto to re-challenge all the gyms. Ash irritably has Infernus roast his Pinsir.
  • The Cameo: Jessie, James, and Meowth make a brief appearance.
  • Cain and Abel: Although they're actually cousins, Pierce is the Cain to Steven's Abel.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Bruno doesn't only train incredibly strong Pokémon, he fights them directly. Unlike the other Elite Four (barring Will who borrows his team's psychic power to unleash a Wave Motion Gun), Bruno is the only one who doesn't simply stay back and order his Pokémon in battle against Entei but actually fights the beast personally.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Ash encounters Michael for the first time just before reaching Viridian City. He's Ash's final opponent in the Indigo Conference.
  • The Chosen One: As in the source material, Ash is this. Subverted slightly since Slowking and Lugia say anyone could have taken his place if they were capable enough.
  • Claimed by the Supernatural: Unlike Ash who's been branded by half a dozen Legendaries, Lance has only been marked by Moltres but his is far deeper, with the Champion being able to communicate on a rudimentary scale with Moltres and it's weakening leaving Lance almost dead.
  • Combination Attack: Any trainer worth their salt teaches their Pokémon to combine attacks together for extra effect. Most usually do two attacks such as Surge's Lightning Bolt (Hyper Beam plus Thunderbolt), Giovanni's Super Punch (Sucker Punch combined with Superpower), and Torrent's Ice Storm (Blizzard plus Twister). However, Lance's Dragonite combines five (Extreme Speed, Fly, Tailwind, Earthquake, and Twister) to create the devastatingly powerful Earth Wrecker, which wipes out Ash's entire team. Notably, Twister is used to keep Dragonite from potentially killing itself from slamming into the ground at such high speeds.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted. Even being near particularly powerful fire types can burn a trainer and Ash notes in his battle with Metagross that while it could ignore the flames of Magmortar's attack, it had to worry about the heat from them.
  • The Corruption: The crystals from Pokémon 3 eventually take over any human or pokémon hit by them.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Zigzagged. Among beginner trainers, specializing will leave trainers struggling against opponents who have a type advantage over them. In the higher ranks, such as among Pokémon Masters, specialists know their chosen type in and out, along with all their strengths and weakness and how to counter them, leaving generalists as the ones who can't keep up.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: After defeating him at the Indigo Conference, Ash taunts Jonathan in order to motivate him to grow stronger.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In general, Champions crush anyone other than other Champions, Elite Four members or Legendaries. Legendaries crush any non-legendary.
    • Ash's rematch with Samurai is ridiculously one-sided given that Samurai's barely improved in the past several months while Ash already has all eight badges.
    • Mewtwo vs the Mount Ember Moltres. Moltres is able to stay in the fight for a minute, but Mewtwo is never threatened and doesn't have to devote his full power to fighting Moltres.
    • Fire Sphere Infernus vs the Shamouti Articuno and Zapdos. The birds don't know how to fight, just do flashy territorial displays. Infernus is a very good fighter, and now can match their power. Lugia has to take down Infernus to keep him from killing the Shamouti Birds.
    • The Fake Entei versus the real Legendary Beasts. Even one is shown to be more than a match for it; so when the others show up, it's doomed. Subverted when it keeps regenerating and growing more powerful each time.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Ash's battle against Cynthia. He takes out two of her Pokémon but loses over half his team doing so. Then Ash nearly defeats Princess (her Garchomp) but the latter ultimately takes out his four remaining Pokémon even when fighting all of them at once.
  • Darker and Edgier: Much more so than almost any of its source material. People and Pokémon can and do die, and the battles are described in much more violent and brutal imagery.
  • Death Glare: Despite not actually glaring at him, Ash can only hold Cynthia's gaze for a few seconds before looking away, something that surprises him given that he'd already stared down Zapdos
  • Defusing The Tykebomb: Ash gets Molly to help stop the events ocurring in Greenfield by convincing her that she's doing harm to the outside world and that she should give up the power of the Unown and hand it over to him.
  • Demoted to Extra: Brock and Misty only make a couple of appearances each throughout the story while Jessie and James only have a single cameo so far.
  • Determinator:
    • Ash and his team, of course. But Ash and Infernus stand out in particular. It doesn't matter if he's fighting Rockets, standing in front of a living force of nature, or facing a superpower psychic: Ash never gives up. The rest of his team follows his example but only Infernus has always stood by Ash's side.
    • The massive Rhydon Ash faced outside Celadon and again after gaining all eight badges is determined to never evolve. Not only does it have five Everstones implanted in it's chest, but when Dazed accidentally trigger its evolution, Rhydon halts it through sheer force of will. Even Ash is left in awe of the willpower needed for a Pokémon to deny it's most basic instinct: growing stronger. This is because Rhydon is determined to stay in the form his deceased trainer knew him in, even a thousand years after said trainer's death.
    • Cynthia's Garchomp keeps fighting even after Ash's team break several of her ribs and one of her legs.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Ash's plan to get around Metagross' vacuum is to use convection to overheat it. After some prompting by Steven, he remembers that convection is the transfer of heat through fluids (liquids and gases), which don't exist in a vacuum.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Moves like Overheat, Draco Meteor, and Hyper Beam take large amounts of training to use properly, but a Pokémon that's strong enough can spam them without much difficulty. Until then, said moves can take several seconds to charge and leave the user too drained to fight afterwards.
  • Dimensional Traveler: Ghost types effectiveness to Psychic types is explained as this. As they aren't from this plane of existence, being dead and all, the way they disrupt reality messes with the way Psychic types disrupt reality.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Golduck's response to Ash calling him out on being a case of Small Name, Big Ego? Firing a full power water gun at Ash's face, something that would have killed Ash had it landed.
  • The Ditz: Tangrowth. Ash tried to give it a nickname, but it forgot it soon after.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The general rule of thumb for messing with Legendaries is "Don't". Lawrence III is killed for doing so, and Tobias is driven insane by Darkrai.
  • Domain Holder: Molly during the events of Pokémon 3 as the Unown respond entirely to her will, conscious and subconscious. For a brief period, Ash has power over them as well before sealing them away.
  • The Dragon: Pierce and Petrel to Giovanni.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty:
    • Lance, who thinks nothing of having an eleven-year old kid fight his Champion-level team.
    • Steven, who wakes Ash up by dumping buckets of water on Ash after having Metagross drain the heat from the water, then asking him a difficult question about the battle they'd had the previous day.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Averted with Brock's dad. Not only does the gym leader clearly not like his father, but when Surge hears he's around, he tells Brock to punch him in the jaw for him.note 
    • Likewise, Ash doesn't care that Mewtwo is redeemed; after all the destruction he's responsible for, Ash simply wants him to pay.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • An area of land known as the Dark World is completely impossible to access except on foot (satellites stop working and fliers lose all sense of direction) and is said to have impossible geographies such as eternally erupting volcanoes, mile long waterfalls appearing out of nowhere, hail falling in deserts, and night devouring the sun at high noon. Little is truly known except "something is terribly, terribly wrong" with the place.
    • The Hale Mansion after being distorted by the Unown is covered in living crystal that (depending on the person) either sings an earthly chorus or stares with a multitude of eyes. Inside the mansion is a massive field the size of a town, endless voids, and other impossibilities that are all real rather than illusions.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Some Legendaries, such as the Legendary Birds appear to be made out of their given element. Moltres, for example, seems to be pure fire except it's legs that are solidified lava.
  • Enemy Civil War: With no one able to step up to fill the power vacuum left by Giovanni the remnants of Team Rocket have entered one.
  • Enemy Mine: Team Aqua, Magma and the Hoenn League unite against Team Rocket after it tries to set up shop in region.
  • Enemy Within: A strange case. Following the events of New Island, Ash has a fragment of Mewtwo within him - but Mewtwo has no interest in taking over Ash. The only time he did so was to communicate with Lance. Mewtwo has continued to view the world through Ash's eyes, and in a particular case of Nightmare Fuel, once casually stopped Ash's heart for a beat for simply thinking that the Metagross colony was more impressive than Mewtwo.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • It is greatly implied that despite their complicated relationship, Giovanni did love Delia, and some part of him regrets how things ended between them. He also seems to care for Ash once he realizes that Ash is his son, making numerous half-baked excuses for not killing him to Mewtwo.
    • The side-story reveals that Mewtwo had friends in a cloned human and three cloned Kanto starters who died due to the imperfect cloning process.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: While they never fight, the Orange Islands fiasco has Mewtwo as the Evil and the three Birds as Oblivion. Similarly to Team Rocket in the original second movie, their justification is that there needs to be a world for them to rule, which is why Mewtwo saves Ash from dying in Articuno's blizzard.
    He never thought he'd see the day when he actually felt a measure of gratitude for Mewtwo. Strange times invited strange thoughts, he supposed. A pulse of icy fire seemed to agree.
  • Exact Words: For Ash's help on the Sevii Islands, Steven gives him a shard of the Moon Stone. At first, Ash isn't terribly impressed with the gift compared to the Dragon Scale from Lance's Dragonite, until Steven explains that it's not a Moon Stone, but the Moon Stone. Unlike a Moon Stone, the Moon Stone is the meteorite that originally hit Mt. Moon and is worshiped by any Pokémon that evolves via Moon Stone.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Upon meeting Ash, Karen is openly disdainful of him and remarks that her opinion of Team Rocket has plummeted that a kid like him has them "quaking in their boots". Though after he saves Lance, her opinion of Ash vastly improves.
  • Expy: By the time of the Pokémon League, Ash has taken on some traits of Red, preferring solitude in nature with his team to being around people, as well as becoming more silent and stoic, and a much calmer, more collected battler. Gary lampshades this in conversation after the League, claiming that without his friends making him socialize, Ash would probably disappear into the wild. Jonathan later mentions having his final showdown with Ash atop Mt. Silver, saying it seems like Ash's type of place. When Ash and Gary fought at the Conference, Ash was the Red Trainer while Gary was the Green Trainer.
  • Fan Boy: Max is a very stereotypical fanboy of Ash's. Ash is surprised to learn Max knows all his stats given that Ash himself doesn't know his stats. Max also tends to spout a lot of very uncomfortable questions, such as if it'd hurt if Tangrowth lost an arm and if Sneasel was responsible for Ash's facial scar. Contrast Brendan who's a fan but much calmer and able to converse easily with Ash.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Rocket Executives often start polite, offering strong trainers a chance to join them. But the moment a trainer resists, they go straight for killing them.
  • Five-Man Band: Ash's team fits this, with some fluctuation.
  • Flat "What":
    • Ash's sole reaction to Lance declaring they were going to challenge Moltres.
    • Likewise, this is Gary's response to learning Ash has received an offer to become an Elite Four trainee.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Cynthia's Garchomp is named Princess and apparently chose it herself.
  • Foil: Jonathan and Amelia act as foils to one another. Jonathan is a Boisterous Bruiser with admittedly poor manners and has a team focused on raw power with a couple trained far more than the others. Contrast, Amelia is more thoughtful and well mannered who trains all of her pokémon (leaving them individually weaker) and relies on wearing down enemies over time. Each loses to another trainer who counters their strategies. Jonathan loses to Ash whose team can weather his strongest two pokémon then sweep the rest, while Amelia loses to Grey whose Hydreigon is powerful enough to wipe out her team before it can be worn down.
  • Foreshadowing: Ash being Giovanni's son was heavily foreshadowed prior to its official confirmation. Delia made several attempts to convince Ash not to challenge the Viridian Gym, while Giovanni himself was rather shocked once he met Ash and learned his name, and how he was related to Delia. It was enough for him to give Ash a chance to challenge his real team instead of sicking Mewtwo on him, whose on POV chapter drops several hints.
  • Game Face: Each Legendary Bird can change from "Bird with power over Fire, Ice, Lightning" into "Bird made of Fire, Ice, Lightning".
  • Ghostly Goals: Spiritomb is a Type B, only seeking to inflict as much pain and suffering around everyone else.
  • Gilded Cage: From Ash's perspective, Steven's apartment serves as one after he's injured. While it's incredibly opulent and about as large as a one story house, Ash chafes at not being able to leave until he's healed up. It doesn't help that he's uncomfortable around such wealth and prefers camping outside.
  • God Guise: The Fake Entei. Powerful and incredibly dangerous but much weaker than an actual Legendary. A real Legendary is basically a Physical God who can destroy entire regions by existing, but the Fake Entei not only struggles to beat the Elite Four, it even gets severely injured by them.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Lt. Surge is a respectable man who does his best to keep his territory safe, but can still be a hardass and is condescending to anyone who hasn't proven their strength.
    • Blaine, Karen, Agatha and Chinatsu all have shades of this.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Mew kills Ash to stop Mewtwo. He gets better.
  • Graceful Loser: While the gym leaders are naturally alright with losing, several of them ask Ash to return when he's stronger so they can face him with their real teams.
  • Gradual Grinder: Amelia's team is predominantly geared towards status effects and slowly wearing away at an enemies strength.
  • The Hero: Ash, of course.
  • Hero of Another Story: Michael is stated to be having various adventures and doing work for the League, similar to Ash.
    • He is later revealed to literally be the hero of another story, that being Pokémon XD.
  • Hive Mind: Not only are Metagross a fusion of two Metang (and thus four Beldum), they also share a hive mind with their colony. As such, Steven explains to Ash that the proper way to refer to even a single Metagross is "they".
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Rather than "Cat-and-mouse", Ash uses the phrase "Meowth-and-pikachu".
  • I Will Fight No More Forever: Immediately after becoming the Indigo League Pokemon Champion, Oak stepped down, declaring himself done with battling forever, and dedicated his life to studying pokemon instead.
  • If Only You Knew: At one point, Ash thinks to himself that the black broth he and Bruno eat during his training is made from Grimer. When he mentions it to Surge, the Gym Leader confirms it is, citing that it's the only way to get that texture.
  • Ignored Expert: Three separate people try to warn Lance away from confronting Moltres: Ash (who's met the other two Legendary Birds), Lorelei (who's from the same area as Moltres), and Sabrina (who's felt the power of a Legendary with her psychic powers). Lance ignores them all but admits afterwards that he should have listened. He thought he knew the power of a Legendary because he saw Ho-oh once but hadn't truly comprehended their power.
  • Imagine Spot: While idly wondering if his Nice Hat is why he's survived the things he has, Ash is struck by the idea of Mewtwo and the Legendary Birds stopping their assaults on the world due to being awestruck by his hat.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Steven's Metagross can snipe Plume while the latter is using Super Speed to become nothing but a tan blur.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: When Ash, Surge, and Brock head to the Power Plant to see what's causing a massive storm (over 40 miles in diameter), Brock has to stay behind to guard the exit in case they need to leave quickly, then Surge gets injured by exploding Voltorb and has to be brought back to Brock by his Pokémon, leaving only Ash to reach the generator and (unknown beforehand) confront Zapdos.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When they meet at the Pokémon League and discuss their teams, Jonathan wonders why Ash has a Zubat, remarking how useless they are. Given both Seeker's status as The Woobie and that she'd previously saved his life, Ash coldly tells him to shut up and declares that Seeker's better than Jonathan could imagine.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The vast majority of Ash's friends have a decade or more on him, especially since most are Gym Leaders or Elite Four members. Even ones who aren't full adults are usually in their late teens.
    • Daisy is good friend's with Caroline, Norman's wife, who's over twenty years her senior.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Ash is quite insistent that Pokémon should be referred to as "he" or "she" rather than "it" as they're sentient beings, not things.
    • Dazed refers to Sneasel as "It" due to a strong dislike for the dark type.
  • It's All My Fault: Steven is horrified when Ash nearly dies in a confrontation with Team Rocket he brought the younger trainer to. Since Ash is used to such dangers, he doesn't understand the man's concern given that he isn't even crippled from it.
  • Jerkass:
    • Gary, who constantly insults Ash and his team whenever they meet. He eventually mellows out of it, and grows into more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • Ash's Golduck is generally a bully with an over-inflated ego. Unlike Gary, he only becomes worse until Ash is forced to release him.
    • Samurai is noted as deliberately hanging around the end of Viridian Forest to prey upon new trainers who are exhausted from transversing the forest. Ash refers to him as a Camper, the most hated form of trainer and theorizes he's Only in It for the Money given that his Pinsir is rather high level for the area but unskilled and Samurai hasn't improved at all in the several months since Ash last faced him.
    • Robert the Alakazam from the Indigo League spends all his time being as condescending as possible to Ash. Ash returns the favor by calling him Bob, knowing it annoys him.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Chief Jenny rants about Erika spends more time working on her perfume line than dealing with Team Rocket. Given that, according to Jenny, Celadon is the only major city left in Kanto with a Team Rocket presence, she clearly has a point.
  • The Juggernaut:
    • Torrent, Nidoking and Infernus — to various degrees.
    • Michael's Snorlax, which barrels through (an admittedly tired) Infernus and Nidoking, before finally falling to Tangrowth.
    • Steven's Metagross, which manages to tank Ash's entire team.
    • Cynthia's Garchomp (Princess) manages to fight four of Ash's team at once and win, albeit barely.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Jessica's Starmie uses Barrier and Double Team to create a horde of clones in the battle against Ash. Ash directs Nidoking to attack the one hanging back, only to realize it's another clone and Starmie was hidden using Camouflage.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Giovanni is killed by Mewtwo after revealing his intentions to enslave the psychic.
    • Hunter J is killed off by a mercenary trainer.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Chapters with Team Rocket involved are notably darker than the rest of the story. Pierce in particular, who has no qualms about killing children, even for petty reasons.
    • Mewtwo, who in his first appearance sinks a cruise ship, killing hundreds. On New Island, he attempts to wipe out most life on Earth, humiliates and defeats Moltres, and is responsible for Ash's temporary death.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When Ash asks what Lt. Surge would do if Mewtwo attacked Vermillion City, the gym leader doesn't hesitate to admit he'd run and get as many to safety as possible.
  • The Law of Diminishing Defensive Effort: Cynthia's Spiritomb won't bother to defend itself against most attacks due a combination of it's power, ghostly nature, and ability (Pressure). But once Ash starts aiming for it's base, it freaks out and focuses entirely on defending.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • After the Rocket Base in Celadon is taken, Ash notes that it feels like the point a story would fade out.
    • Professor Birch compares reading about Ash's adventures to reading a movie script.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Except for Ash, none of the trainers present on New Island wants to discuss Mewtwo or what happened there ever again.
  • Logical Weakness:
    • Many Water-types can't effective battle on land due to lacking a way to stay upright. As a result, Torrent sees little action until fully evolving.
    • While Fire-types resist Ice attacks, the intense cold can weaken them anyway by lowering their body temperature. Also, if their flames aren't hot enough, Ice attacks melt into water which they don't resist. Naturally, they're also weakened in cold environments such as the Seafoam Caverns.
    • Because Amelia style favors slowly wearing away at her enemy's strength, an enemy with overwhelming power, such as Hydreigon, can sweep her entire team before they have a chance to wear it down.
    • Flying-types, particularly large ones like Plume, can have trouble fighting indoors, even in spacious buildings like gyms, since they don't have enough room to maneuver properly or build up speed.
  • Lonely at the Top: Lance warns Ash about becoming too focused on getting stronger, noting that he didn't know beforehand how lonely it was.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: After several chapters of foreshadowing, it is eventually confirmed that Ash is the biological son of Giovanni.
  • Mama Bear: Delia Ketchum will even chew out Lance, aka the strongest trainer in the world, for endangering her son.
  • Master of All: Cynthia is one of very few Pokémon Masters who doesn't specialize in a specific type. Much like Lance, she became recognized as a Pokémon Master at fourteen, which is even more impressive considering he specialized in the incredibly strong Dragon type.
  • Master of None: Generalists, trainers who don't specialize in specific type, usually struggle in battles with high level trainers with few becoming Pokémon Masters due to how hard it is to master multiple types. Whereas a fire specialist would only need to learn from a single fire type master for advanced training, a generalist would need to find several master trainers to train under.
  • Meaningful Name: Agatha lampshades that as a Professor, Samuel Oak has grown and cast a shadow over the whole world with his accomplishments.
  • Mexican Standoff: Plume ties with Cynthia's Spiritomb by carrying it up into the air. If Plume slammed it to the ground, it'd have plenty of time to attack her on the way down. If it attacked her first, it'd win but get slammed to the ground and faint.
  • Mind Rape: Confuse Ray is made into a weaponized form of this. The move shows enemies the Distortion World, which is apparently so horrific and otherworldly that Pokémon block the memories once the move is finished.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Agatha has one black eye and one blue.
  • Morality Chain:
    • Infernus' Undying Loyalty to Ash is the only thing stopping him from going on a rampage.
    • Ash also acts as this to Sneasel, as he is able to curb Sneasel's more aggressive instincts.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • The Rhydon Infernus picked a fight with soon after joining Ash's team? It's the single most powerful non-Legendary Pokémon in the world. Even Lance admits he'd need the help of at least one or two other Elite Four members to defeat it.
    • Daisy's Gardevoir threatens to kill Ash if he ever does anything to threaten her trainer, thinking that the brands he carries from half a dozen Legendaries don't amount to much of anything. Unfortunately for her, not only has Ash fought beings that far outstrip her, he has enough Heroic Willpower to throw off her psychic link.
    • Infernus tries to cheap shot Moltres. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Mundane Utility: Among other examples, Ash has used Dazed's psychic powers to help him sleep and Torrent's water to clean off.
  • My God, You Are Serious: Twice Ash encounters a Legendary by himself (Articuno in the Seafoam Caverns and Zapdos at the Power plant) and gets asked by someone what he found. Both times the person asking laughs at his response until realizing he's serious.
  • Mythology Gag: When Jonathan suggests they have their big match atop Mt. Silver, Ash says he'll be waiting but he might not say much.
    • The first champion's starter Pokemon being a Rhydon may be a nod to the fact that the first Pokemon to be created was a Rhydon
    • The Legendary Beasts appear to fight the Fake Entei in the same order they were created. The lightning that struck the tower, Raikou, the fire that burned it, Entei, and the rain that doused it, Suicune.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Infernus convinces Ash to give up the power of the Unown by explaining that defeating enemies with "stolen power" is worthless. There's no satisfaction to be taken from crushing someone with power you didn't earn.
    • This is a Call-Back to Ash's own argument when he convinced Infernius to surrender the power of the Flame Sphere.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Most Gym leaders go after Team Rocket anywhere they find them in their cities, but Sabrina takes the cake, having left several permanently brain damaged after their raid on Silph Co.
  • No-Sell: Legendary Pokémon can simply ignore attacks from non-legendaries if they feel like it.
    • Moltres generates a shield of fire so potent that even Lance's most powerful Pokémon can't breach it, though it limits his other options somewhat as long as Moltres continues to hold back.
    • Mewtwo, in turn, generates psychic barriers strong enough that even an all-out attack from Moltres is completely ineffective.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Chapter 44 states that Lance had always thought he could protect the entire world, but has recently learned that he was a "minor player in a game of unimaginable scope" due to the legendaries.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Steven has little time for Lance's antics, but still gets the ACE trainer uniform changed to incorporate a cape after hearing Celadon Department Store sells replicas of Lance's own.
    • Oak's Arcanine watches Sneasel tear into some wrapping paper before snagging a piece for itself to play with/eat.
    • After Ash has an Imagine Spot about Mewtwo and the Legendary Birds being so awestruck by his hat that they stop their assaults on the world, Mewtwo levitates Ash's hat out of his reach. Ash is shocked that it was capable of making a joke.
    • Ash generally isn't big on pranks or jokes (beyond being a Deadpan Snarker) but he greatly enjoys watching Sableye troll Daisy.
  • Oh, Crap!: After having trouble with an overpowered Dewgong in Seafoam Cavern, Ash panics upon seeing four massive Dewgongs with pups, marking them as mothers. Rather than fight, he simply runs.
    • His fear at the Dewgongs is nothing compared to when he stumbles across a shrine at the bottom of the cavern that holds the sleeping form of Articuno, whom he accidentally awakens. Despite not recognizing it at the time, Ash knows full well it can and will kill him and his entire team.
  • Olympus Mons: Averted: unlike nearly every other version, official or not, the Legendary Pokémon in Traveler are just that: Legends. They may range from outright homicidal, to indifferent forces of nature, to protective and (mostly) benevolent, but even the strongest trainers in the world don't stand a chance fighting them, let alone commanding them. Ash promptly has an Oh, Crap! moment when he realizes that there is more than one of some legendaries.
  • One Degree of Separation: Aron's best friend in the Granite Caves is the same Sableye that stole Daisy's hat years ago.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Things are truly serious any time Dazed calls Ash by his name rather than Friend-Trainer.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Downplayed. Ash scrubs himself too hard after a battle with Team Rocket, feeling dirty due to a comment by Steven's Claydol that he "had some Ariados on his face".
  • Parrot Pet Position: Plume is fond of perching on Ash's shoulder. But unlike Pikachu in canon, she weighs over sixty pounds so Ash has trouble carrying her if he's not prepared. After she evolves to Pidgeot, she has to perch nearby as she's far too heavy to carry anymore.
  • Physical God:
    • Mew and Mewtwo. Mew actually creates a black hole to attack Mewtwo during their fight, who breaks free after being hit.
    • All legendaries to a lesser extent. The Elemental Birds all create apocalyptic storms unless they choose not to, Lugia can defeat said birds easily, Ho-oh can resurrect the dead.
  • Pokémon Speak: Averted. Nidoking grunts when responding to Ash or roars when upset, Plume chirps and shrieks and Sneasel hisses.
  • The Power of Friendship: Ash is noted as considering his pokémon to be his brothers and sisters and that they all draw strength from their bonds. However, Bruno notes that they have to keep up their training as friendship will do nothing if they spend all day goofing off.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Jacqueline is noted to work within the law when possible to avoid attention. She'll also decapitate helpless prisoners if she decides they have to die.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: By the time he has heads to Fuchsia City, Ash only has five pokémon but has trained all of them extensively (bar Infernus whom he's just received a few days ago). Contrast Gary who has dozens of pokémon but most are only given TMs to learn powerful moves and have little combat practice.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • If a Pokémon is badly injured just before evolving, the sudden growth and overall body change can worsen their condition. Thus, Pokémon that evolve during battle need physicals to make sure they're alright.
    • Modified potions and burn heals are used to heal Ash after a particularly brutal fight against Team Rocket but his rapid healing uses so much energy he's exhausted for a few days afterwards.
    • Pokémon cloned from fossils have to be given enhanced immune systems so they can cope with the vastly different viruses and bacteria compared to when they lived.
    • After challenging Moltres atop Mt. Ember, Ash has breathing problems for a while from all the smoke and gases he inhaled.
    • After a while, growing stronger becomes much more difficult for trainers. Either they have to devote months to nothing but training or they have to find a more experienced trainer willing to teach them.
    • Due to how powerful it is, Mega Evolution is kept a closely guarded secret by the various Pokémon Leagues to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Naturally, keeping it secret also massively slows down any research done into the subject.
    • After having an entirely new set of memories planted in her head by the Unown, Delia has trouble keeping track of which set are real and which are fake. According to Sabrina, the fake ones will always be there but after a few months Delia should be able to tell the difference.
    • After four disasters involved Legendaries in only a year, people of the world start taking notice, especially since (as the title implies) Legendaries often go decades or more without even being seen.
  • Reality Warper:
    • Top-level Psychics and Ghosts. Really large-scale or potent effects need legendaries or thousands of powerful psychics or ghosts, but enforcing Because Destiny Says So and creating localized non-Euclidean space are within the grasp of massed normal psychics.
    • Legendary Psychics, on the other hand, treat the laws of physics as a price sheet rather than rules. They can break them, but it requires effort.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jonathan to Ash, Gary to Ash, Lance to Steven and Infernus to Torrent (after their respective evolutions).
  • Run or Die: Besides the best strategy when confronting a Legendary, when Oak asks for advice for Gary while he's in the Seafoam Caverns, Ash says to run if he sees any Dewgong.
  • The Runner-Up Takes It All: Although Ash loses in the final of the Indigo Conference, he's still invited to join the Elite Four.
  • Running Gag: Every time Ash leaves Pallet, his mother tries to tell him to make sure he changes his underwear regularly and he always runs out the door before she can finish.
  • Scars Are Forever: Played straight with humans, generally averted with pokémon. The burns Ash suffers after challenging Moltres permanently scar but Nidoking is fine a few days after a Hydro Cannon strips the armor and flesh from it's back. On the other hand, Seeker has a scar on her chest where fur won't grow due to Taking the Bullet for Ash when Golduck attacked him.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: The ultimate fate of the Unown is to be sealed away by Ash in such a way he can release them should he have no other choice to save the world.
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Before Ash, a rookie trainer had never managed to even reach the Top 4 in the Indigo Conference. So the fact he takes second place is considered a huge accomplishment and makes him famous worldwide, especially considering every other member of the Top 4 had over half a decade each of experience.
  • Shout-Out: Lance's second Dragonite is named Dov.
    • His Dragonair is named Saph, which might be a shout-out to Saphira.
    • His Kingdra, Mael, may be named after the Elder God of the Seas. The way Tate describes Phoebe and Sidney is very reminiscent of Padomaic entities in The Elder Scrolls series.
  • Side Bet: After the events of Pokémon 3, Ash sleeps for so long that several of the masters start placing bets on when he'll wake up. Karen wins.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Mewtwo mentions this when it reveals that Giovanni is Ash's father. While his mother assures him that this isn't true, Ash still feels some obligation to take responsibility for his biological father's actions and do good.
  • Skewed Priorities: According to Chief Jenny, Erika is more focused on her perfume line than fighting Team Rocket simply because they don't operate in the open.
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • Ash's Golduck is a rather arrogant bully but doesn't have nearly the power to back up it's attitude unless it's in the Seafoam Caverns during Ice Time when Articuno empowers all the nearby water and ice types.
    • Daisy's Gardevoir insists that she is powerful enough to end Ash and his team if necessary and can easily circumvent the brands left on Ash by various Legendary Pokémon. Not only is Ash somewhat surprised Mewtwo doesn't smite her on the spot for it, noting the Legendary uses more power in an instant than Gardevoir has in it's whole body, but he actually throws off her psychic link himself.
  • So Proud of You:
    • A minor nonverbal one occurs when Ash successfully battles Giovanni's team as Giovanni is noted as looking rather proud (of Ash).
    • After Ash saves to world from the Shamouti Birds, Lance tells Ash how proud he is.
  • The Sociopath: Rocket Executive Pierce, who happily betrays his family for a high rank in Team Rocket and will subject a child to a horrible, suffocating death because he was insulted.
  • Stronger with Age: The massive Rhydon Ash encounters outside Celadon is later revealed to be over a thousand years old and, due to its unusual biology, it's only grown stronger, to the point it moves countless tons of rock with only a gesture. When facing it for real, Ash realizes in a mixture of horror and awe that it treats the mountain they're battling in as an extension of its own body. Lance later declares it to be the strongest (non-legendary) Pokémon in existence. Later chapters reveal many Rock and Steel-types are biologically immortal and only grow stronger (and larger) as they age. The King Under the Mountain is over two hundred feet long and the strongest of Bruno's team.
  • Super Empowering: Each of the Legendary Birds massively boost the power (and aggression) of any Pokémon of the same type by proximity alone.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Spiritomb's presence forces those nearby to relive their worst fears and memories.
  • Sweet Tooth: According to the Gallade assigned to her, most of Cynthia's teleportation requests revolve around ice cream. When she and Ash go get some, her order is a gargantuan mound of ice cream that she devours like a Saiyan.
  • Taking the Bullet: Seeker takes a Water Gun from Golduck meant for Ash and nearly dies because of it. Unlike canon, said attack would have been fatal for Ash.
  • Teens Are Short: Averted. Despite only being 11 years old, Ash is as tall as his mother by the time he goes for his Earth badge.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Suicune impales the Fake Entei upon arrival and impales it again every time it so much as twitches. Then Raikou rips its head off.
  • This Cannot Be!: When Ash throws off Gardevoir's psychic powers on his own, she declares that no mere human could possibly do so.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • While Lance and his Pokémon are excited to challenge Moltres, Ash dreads it to the point of nausea.
    • In the first round of the preliminaries, Torrent faces a Seadra, the latter of whom knows full well it's going to lose terribly.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: According to Ash, the only reason the fake Entei didn't kill anyone was because Molly couldn't understand killing someone and thus wouldn't let it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Anyone who wakes a Legendary Pokémon. Lance almost got him and Ash killed for searching out Moltres, and Lawrence III actually was killed after awaking the Birds of the Orange Islands.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Ash and Lance are each marked by at least one Legendary. Ash has been branded by several but none of them seem particularly strong, though Moltres' feather does respond to his emotions and the others tend to have unusual side effects. Meanwhile, Lance is much more deeply marked by Moltres, to the extent that it's weakening leaves him near death until it's strength is restored.
  • Training from Hell:
    • Whenever Ash gets a chance to train with a truly elite trainer like Bruno or Lance, at least part of it includes fighting their team, which horribly outclasses his own.
    • Bruno also trained Ash by having his Machamp use Earthquake to disturb nesting Onix and having Ash flee from them.
    • While Ash is training under Lance, since Pidgeot can't climb Mt. Ember to build stamina, she instead has to spend hours being chased by Dragonite. Meanwhile Ash and his Pokémon climb the volcano while dodging weak hyper beams from Lance's other Dragonite.
  • True Companions: Ash has this with all of this Pokémon and plans on ensuring that all of his Pokémon feel that way about each other.
  • [[invoked]Uncanny Valley: The fake Ash created by the Unown during the events of Pokémon 3 is noted as being simultaneously too clean and too rough around the edges of his form. Contrast the real Ash who usually has at least a bit of grime on him (and is currently filthy), obvious worn clothes, and a hat with a folded bill from Plume nipping it so much.
  • Underestimating Badassery: While far less common after Ash attends the Indigo Conference, someone occasionally still thinks they can take the rookie who not only came in second place, but also has faced nine separate Legendary Pokémon and lived. Sorta. One of the worst examples is Daisy's Gardevoir who not only underestimates Ash, but even declares that she doesn't fear Mewtwo's power. Before breaking her psychic link through pure willpower, Ash is somewhat surprised Mewtwo didn't smite her for such a declaration.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Infernus will do anything for Ash, up to and including surrendering Moltres' own Fire Sphere. Exemplified at the Indigo Conference. Grey offers to trade his monstrous Hydreigon, as well as one or two others, if Ash will give him Infernus. Infernus responds by firing a Flamethrower at Grey for even suggesting it. Mid-battle, with the entire world watching. It's implied that the only thing stopping Grey from being incinerated was the stadium's psychic barriers.
    • All of Ash's Pokémon share this trait.
  • Unskilled, but Strong:
    • The Shamouti Birds. It normally doesn't matter because they are Legendaries, and thus able to simply ignore any attack from non-legendaries. Faced with Infernus powered by Moltres's Fire Sphere, it gets them curb stomped.
  • Verbal Tic: Dazed hardly ever uses a person's actual name. For instance, Ash is "Trainer-Friend", while Lance is "Champion-Mentor". Also, being a Hypno, a Pokémon that has no mouth, she refers to mouths as "Face Gashes".
    • Might extend to all powerful Psychic Pokémon. Pierce's Metagross calls Ash "Conqueror", while Mr. Stone's Metagross called Pierce "Traitor-Thief-False Kin" and his Metagross "Betrayer".
  • Villain Takes an Interest: Giovanni takes an immediate interest in Ash once he learns his full name before the start of their gym battle. Ash was one of the few challengers that faced Giovanni's actual team instead of Mewtwo. Later chapters heavily imply, and eventually confirm the reason why: he had realized Ash was his biological son.
  • Villainous Rescue: After Articuno's blizzard overwhelms Ash, Plume and Dazed in the Orange Islands, sending them free-falling towards their doom, Mewtwo interferes, telekinetically dragging Ash - and his unconscious Pokémon - through the storm.
  • War Memorial: A memorial is erected in Vermilion City for the thousands who died aboard the S.S. Anne when Mewtwo sank it.
  • Water Wake-up: Steven subjects Ash to one every morning, making sure to have Metagross psychically drain all the heat out of the water first.
  • Wham Line: After Ash speaks with Tobias, who's implied to have gotten on Darkrai's bad side.
    Ash heard the Songnote  gently crooning in his ears. ... Ash hadn't even noticed the Song had stopped.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Lance is furious that Drake (a cousin of his) not only didn't inform them of the Shamouti Birds, but let people occupy an island only miles away from the trio of Legendary Birds.
    • Delia rips Lance a new one for deliberately endangering her son, a twelve year old boy, by having him fight terrorists and legendaries, having effectively turned him into a Shell-Shocked Veteran.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Jonathan is noted as being terrified of bird Pokémon.
  • World's Best Warrior: Word of God states that while Lance is the strongest trainer in the world, Cynthia is the most skilled.
  • World's Strongest Man:
    • The First's Rhydon is considered the strongest non Legendary pokémon in the world. According to Lance, it would take himself and at least two Elite Four members to truly defeat it, and even then he'd fear for their teams.
    • Other examples include the Guardian, the Matriarch, and the Patriarch, the ancient Clefable, Nidoqueen, and Nidoking who guard the Moon Stone.
    • Lance is recognized as the strongest pokémon trainer in the world.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Despite being one of, if not the, strongest trainers in the world, Lance is defeated twice, by Mewtwo and Moltres, to show just how overwhelmingly powerful Legendary Pokemon are.
    • Moltres is crushed in battle by Mewtwo to demonstrate how powerful it is.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Ash does well against Petrel only because the Rocket Executive's real team was still at headquarters and he was holding back on top of that.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Word of God states Tobias believed he was in the Lighter and Softer world of canon where Defeat Means Friendship even when it comes to the Legendaries. Unfortunately for him, he's in the Darker and Edgier world of Traveler where Legendary Pokemon are Physical Gods that don't take kindly to someone provoking them.
  • You Are Not Alone: After the events at Greenfield, Professor Oak makes clear to Ash that if he ever needs anything, he can call him any time. And that Ash shouldn't try to shoulder his burdens alone; he has friends and family willing to help him bear the weight.
  • You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me: Ash's first opponent at the Indigo Conference sends out a Seadra against his Kingdra. Upon seeing it's opponent, Seadra gives its trainer an incredulous look at the idea of fighting it's fully evolved (and dragon type) form.
  • Zerg Rush: Team Rocket grunts are universally weak on their own or even with a partner if facing a skilled trainer. They instead rely on large numbers to intimidate people into backing down or simply swarming them with dozens of enemies at once.

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