Characters from the Pokémon anime that people feel could have had more appearances or development.
- Any of the regional Evil Teams are always going to get the short shrift in terms of appearances, pushed to the backburner in favor of the usual Terrible Trio from Team Rocket. In the original series, this even extended to Giovanni and the greater Team Rocket syndicate.
- Pokémon that could/should have been captured by one of the main characters because they were either likable Pokémon by the fanbase or because their development with a certain character made it look like they would fit together with that trainer perfectly. Some examples being:
- Haunter, Houndour, Larvitar, Hippopotas, Riolu, Scatterbug, Litleo, a shiny Phantump, and Wimpod for Ash. Eventually fixed for Riolu, who was caught in Journeys Ep. 21.
- Stantler and Sharpedo for Brock.
- Swablu for May — this example is especially mean-spirited on the part of the writers, who had May care for the injured bird for an entire episode. When they finally tried to rendezvous with Swablu's flock, the flock was completely absent, causing May to offer to allow Swablu to join her team. The flock suddenly appears out of nowhere to prevent this.
- Mightyena and Ralts for Max.
- Grimer for Dawn. Another honorable mention for Dawn is that some feel it was a missed opportunity to not have her go after that one-off highly memorable evil Togepi. That way, the writers could build it up to eventually becoming a Togekiss rather than just outright handing Dawn a Togekiss a couple episodes out from the Grand Festival.
- Deino for Iris, particularly because the owner of said Deino returned at the last possible minute.
- Flabébé and a stinkin' Tyrantrum for Bonnie.
- Dewpider for Lana, doubly so given that the Pokemon's evolved form is her signature in the games.
- While the female protagonists are usually lucky enough to get plenty of focus, the male protagonists of their respective games tend to get screwed in that regard due to the show's strict focus on Ash. If they're lucky, they might get a cameo in a movie, but many viewers who view Ash as The Artifact are dismayed with the anime's refusal to replace him.
- In terms of which game protagonists have any significance to the anime: Obviously, Ash is Red's counterpart, and May, Dawn and Serena are all main characters. Ethan has his own anime counterpart named Jimmy, and Kris having Marina, while Lyra appears a few times in DP. Brendan makes cameos in a few of the movies, and would logically be Birch's son since May is Norman's daughter, but Birch never mentions having a son to our heroes. Lucas also has some movie cameos, but nothing else. Leaf, Hilbert, Hilda, Nate, Rosa, Calem, Elio, Selene, Victor and Gloria all have nothing so far.
- And if we expand to include the rivals: Gary is obviously based on Blue, and Barry, Bianca, Shauna, Tierno, Trevor, and Hau appear as themselves. Silver makes one brief unnamed cameo in one of the openings, while Cheren is merely a Gym Leader with no connection to Bianca. Wally and Hugh don't even seem to exist at all. The Galar rivals' treatment remains to be seen.
- There is a view among fans, particularly on episodes such as Bulbagarden, that starters not captured by Ash tend to be squandered by the anime. While this is not a universal opinion (you will not see it with, for example, May's Blaziken or Dawn's Piplup), the view is fairly prominent in regards to the Mudkip and Chespin lines in particular whom are seen to have been underused and thus underappreciated.
Related to Ash
- Pick a Pokémon from Ash's roster that is believed to have gotten the shaft and watch it get ugly. Primeape, Kingler (after the Indigo League), Totodile, Torkoal, Torterra (after evolving), and Palpitoad are some prime examples due to their extreme lack of characterization and screen-time. Some better explained examples amongst Ash's Pokémon include the following:
- His regional birds had it rough during Kanto and Johto. Pidgeot and Noctowl were given just small doses of limelight, such as Pidgeot's evolution/release episode, or Noctowl being the star of the Morty gym battle. Outside of that, they were basically relegated to being just glorified scouts to search the surrounding area from the air if the group needs to find something, or they're simply called out to pop Team Rocket's balloon when they try to get away. It's not until Hoenn that Ash's regional birds finally started getting as much focus as the rest of his team with Swellow being one of his best Pokémon of that generation.
- The way Ash's Heracross was handled during Johto will definitely leave some people scratching their heads in confusion. Ash swaps out Heracross for Tauros to take part in a Tauros vs. Tauros competition, but when it was time to send Tauros back to Oak's lab once said event was done with, Heracross ends up not returning. What you're left with is Heracross not actually doing much since it was stashed away before the 3rd Johto gym battle, and doesn't actually appear again under Ash's command all the way until the league match against Gary.
- Ash finally catches a member of a pseudo-legendary line (Gible), but the capture happened so late into the saga that very little was ever done about it. Most of the time Gible did have was spent on a particularly long arc mastering Draco Meteor.
- Ash's Charizard, of all characters, became this during Black & White. He's added to Ash's Unova team (sending away Unfezant in the process) and rarely, if ever, has any interaction with any of the Unova Pokémon outside of Iris' Dragonite, whose rivalry with him ends as soon it is introduced, and Ash's Pignite, who N states they already have a good friendship but otherwise show the same concern for each other as they would with other Pokémon. They may has well have had Ash send Charizard back to regain Unfezant.
- After evolving up from Goomy, Ash's Goodra was only around for 15 episodes, and only appearing in a few of them, though it did a lot in those episodes. Its departure is a punch in the face to fans who were hyped about Ash finally getting a fully evolved pseudo-legendary. Though in the last case, he returned for the League.
- There are some who feel that Ash's Incineroar got the short end of the stick by the end of Sun and Moon. While many appreciated the symbolism of it evolving after beating Kukui's Incineroar to an extent, the fact that there were only a few episodes left gave it little time to show off in battle, especially since it faints immediately after the act. Ash leaving it with Kukui along with the rest of his team only added to this sentiment.
- While on the topic of Ash's Pokémon, most fans will agree on a certain level of disappointment towards Ash never calling back any of his Pokémon at Oak's Lab for the Hoenn League or any League Conference after Sinnoh. To many it's frustrating when Ash loses when he's just sitting on a bunch of powerful Pokémon he refuses to use for little to no reason. For others it runs the risk of making his older teams seem obsolete if he does better with his current regional team than he did previously. Then there are missed opportunities in Regions like Kalos where several of Ash's rivals have Pokémon that Ash himself owns (Sawyer with Sceptile and Alain & Trevor with Charizard) and they aren't given the chance to meet and see how they stack up.
- Gary Oak. Ash's rival didn't even show up for that many episodes during the course of their rivalry, having more impact on the plot after the rivalry was over. And now, he hasnt made a real in-person appearance since the Team Galactic arc ended, which comprises of the ~40 episodes of DP that remained, the new series so far, and three whole series inbetween.
- It's odd that Bill, the guy who made the Pokémon transfer system, was a main character in many manga, yet has only appeared in one episode to date.
- The two Pallet Town trainers that went off on a journey alongside Gary and Ash are only given a couple brief mentions of their unknown journey, and are confirmed by the end of Ash's Kanto journey to have decided to just give up on their goal completely. Why these two were never seen before to interact with Ash, or act as a roadblock for Ash to eventually overcome to become a better trainer, is anyone's guess.
- It was never revealed (nor has it ever been revealed) who won the Indigo Plateau Conference. In fact, none of the Top 3 were characters that had been introduced previously and they're only seen as shadowed figures when they're declared the winners. This is the only case in the entire anime where the eventual Conference winner is never shown. The fact any of Top 3 could've been used as characters for Ash to one day challenge never seemed to cross the minds of the writers.
- The eventual winner of the Silver Conference is a character who wasn't introduced until he is shown beating Harrison. He only appeared in the one episode he wins the Conference and is never shown or mentioned again.
- Domino, a noteworthy Team Rocket member that appeared in Mewtwo Returns. There are many unanswered questions left about her that are still unresolved to this day. Domino initially appears to be a cute and slightly ditzy college student and assistant to Cullen Calix, but eventually, she reveals herself to be a Team Rocket elite working directly under the big boss Giovanni himself and the second-in-command in his plan to recapture Mewtwo. Shes also shown being able to do things that few other Team Rocket members would be allowed to get away with, such as being able to question Giovanni or talk back at him without getting punished for it. Unfortunately, despite her competence and her being one of Team Rockets elite, she hasnt been heard from since. A shame too, because considering her level of competence, youd think that Giovanni would make more use of her, but nope.
- Steven Stone, the champion of most Hoenn games, used to be this, having only appeared in one episode of Hoenn with no reference to being anything beyond a typical hiker. However, he would end up appearing in the XY Mega Evolution specials, and was involved in the climax of the XY series.
Diamond and Pearl Series
- Compared to how much mileage the anime has gotten out of Darkrai over the years, Cresselia received the short end of the stick. She only gets one episode, and even then she doesn't get to appear until the second half due to the first half being dominated by Team Rocket. And then Team Rocket comes back to hijack the plot again, and she spends the majority of her screentime as a Distressed Damsel who doesn't even aid in her own escape. The only thing she actually gets to do is confront Darkrai at the end of the episode, and the sequence takes fewer than thirty seconds. This would be weak representation for any Pokémon in the series, but giving this treatment to a legendary, and especially one that never gets a movie, not even appearing in the one starring Darkrai...
- During Diamond & Pearl, the writers made the mistake of trying to cram too many rivals into Dawn's Contest arc. As a result, Ursula's conflict with Dawn, as well as Nando's decision to pursue both Gym Battles and Contests, were never explored in depth because of their lack of screen time (and many opportunities to do so were wasted in favor of irrelevant filler).
- Connected to Dawn's Contest arc was Lila, a Pokémon Coordinator that served as Dawn's main opponent for winning her third ribbon. Lila was someone who already had four ribbons, and has a major connection to Dawn's family being her mother's primary rival in the past. If her match against Dawn was used as a means to reignite her passion for Contests, all Lila had to do was win one more ribbon at some point, and could have made further appearances as a competitor in the Sinnoh Grand Festival. However, in the end, Lila stayed as a One-Shot Character.
Best Wishes Series
- Trip. Ironically, fans preemptively hated him because he showed early signs of being a second Paul. But then the writers started to expand his character. Half way through the arc though, it became apparent that the writers lost complete interest in him and focused more on all of the other rivals. Come time for the league, Trip became a total Anti-Climax Boss and got eliminated by Ash in the very first round.
- Another misstep of the Black & White era was how cast aside Burgundy and Georgia were late in the series despite being the primary rivals of Cilan and Iris respectively. It can come off a bit surprising that their last true appearances in the series outside of later cameos was during the Pokémon World Tournament Junior Cup as it leaves off feeling like there was never any true finality to these rivalries.
- For the Episode N arc, Zekrom not being involved in any way has irked a lot of people. Mostly out of disappointment that Zekrom is now nothing more than a plot-device to restart Pikachu at the start of the Unova journey.
- The Evil Malamar. A group of genuinely evil Pokémon trying to take over the world? Hell ya! Too bad you only get them for two episodes. Only one of which contained multiple Malamar, and the plotline remaining somewhat unresolved.
Sun and Moon Series
- Sun & Moon sees Ash having his largest group of friends yet with, including him, a group of six. However, it seems clear that the writers either have their favorites or simply can't handle that many characters at once. As a result, some of them tend to be Out of Focus. One of the worst offenders is Mallow who, besides her Bounsweet fully evolving into Tsareena and her backstory development with her mother and Shaymin, seemed to have been left aside, remaining fairly stagnant as a trainer, and only getting her Z-Ring very shortly before the Alola league at the end of the series, as the Grass Trial was taken by Ash so that his Rowlet could have a Grassium Z first. While Sophocles, Lana and Kiawe fare relatively better, they're both outshined by Lillie, who is the only one to receive a fair amount of presence to the story as the Deuteragonist.
- It takes awhile for Team Skull to show off any real importance other than being just a mere nuisance to the main cast. While many in the games saw the Team as such, the anime almost makes them look like total pushovers who were Demoted to Extra compared to their game counterparts, with most of the stuff they would be expected to do done by Team Rocket instead. It doesn't help that, even after two years of the Sun & Moon series and both Motherbeast Lusamine and Necrozma received arcs in the series (the former of which happened without their involvement), it took until episode 115 for Guzma to finally appear. The fact that Plumeria's long awaited debut only happened in episode 104 of the series and consisted of only appearing for a few seconds without being named or doing anything only fanned the flames further for some fans. And when Plumeria finally does battle in the Alola League, she is quickly eliminated by Ilima in the preliminary round.
- Hau, the main rival of the Sun & Moon games, is another example of Demoted to Extra, with Gladion instead being Ash's main rival. Like Guzma and Plumeria, Hau was introduced really late into the anime (episode 97), and ends up with a total of just one episode to build up his character before the start of the Alola League, which is when he finally reappears again. What you're left with is Hau coming off as just an unimportant One-Shot Character that was lucky enough to make a comeback for the league.
- Mallow's Shaymin. Even considering Mallow herself is already an arguable qualifier (see above), her mythical Pokemon was left incredibly underplayed through its run in Sun and Moon. It only got one proper limelight episode to develop, and only battled once its entire run offscreen, only getting to utilize its Aromatherapy a couple of times otherwise. Even its release was done rather quickly at the very end of the series finale. Its lack of story relevance is especially jarring given the implications that Shaymin is in fact Mallow's mother reincarnated.
- Sandy, the Eevee that wound up on the Alolan Islands. Eevee had a lot of hype surrounding it at first due to how it had its own little six clip mini-series that showed off Eevee's arrival on the Alolan Islands. Many figured that Eevee was possibly going to be caught by Ash to take up an empty spot of his party, but it ended up going to Lana instead. At first, people were willing to let go of this to see how Eevee develops under Lana, but as it turned out, nothing was done with it. Apart from Lana giving it a nickname and haircut moments after capturing it, Sandy simply remained Out of Focus for the rest of the series to the point that it didn't have a single notable battle under Lana's command besides the aforementioned mostly offscreen battle royal alongside Shaymin, which left people feeling that Sandy was completely wasted as a part of Lana's team instead of going to Ash. Many were even theorizing that Sandy was probably going to evolve into Vaporeon at some point given how Lana is a trainer that specializes in water-types, but the series didn't even do that.
- Lana appeared to be the owner of a Ride Lapras in early points of the Alola series. Unlike even the other Ride Pokémon the students use however, Lapras never really gets any proper limelight and largely disappears altogether by the second half. It is notably the only Pokémon of the students that doesn't take part in the Alola League. It's also particularly odd when you consider that they had no issue with expanding on the Charizard that Kiawe was using as his Ride Pokémon to it eventually becoming a Pokémon that Kiawe uses for battle, yet the same wasn't done for Lana's Ride Lapras.