Best Pokémon NPCs From All Games: The Ultimate List

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NPCs might be the most important aspect of the Pokémon series, besides the Pokémon themselves.

They have been responsible for creating countless priceless memories, and some of them have cultivated fanfare despite only making minor appearances.

That’s the thing with NPCs.

They don’t get the kind of love from Game Freak that they realistically should.

Now and then, though, the writing team gets an itch. And they deliver a character that is nothing short of outstanding.

We’re talking about these characters here.


20. Move Reminders

Move Reminders in Pokemon SwSh

This isn’t a single NPC, but a series of them scattered through each of Pokémon’s main series games (I count Let’s Go as a main game).

These aren’t exactly the most interesting or charismatic bunch.

But they are incredibly useful.

Once you’re done your Pokémon League endeavors and built yourself a competitive-ready team, being able to teach your Pokémon any of the moves it should have learned throughout its evolutions is incredibly useful.


19. Ace Trainers/Cooltrainers

Ace Trainers from Pokémon anime

The Ace Trainer is an archetype that appears in a handful of games. Again, not an interesting bunch of people, to say the least.

They’re more full of themselves than Gary in the anime.

However, they’re the only trainers in the entirety of their respective regions that pose a threat outside of “boss battles”.

Their Pokemon are usually set at a higher level than the areas they’re found in, meaning you need to put a little bit of thought into how you approach their battles.

That’s not to say I’ve ever actually been lost toe one, but the extra challenge is appreciated.


18. Lt. Surge

Lt. Surge Pokémon anime screenshot

Lt. Surge’s design was based on the Japanese stereotype of Americans. That concept alone is hilarious enough to guarantee a comedic and interesting character.

While more fleshed out in the Anime, and standing at upwards of 7ft tall, it’s still an amusing encounter in the games.

You would think that an army veteran would pose more of a threat as a gym leader. But if you catch a Sandshrew or Diglett down the road from the gym, then the entire fight is a cakewalk.

He is one of the only references to the infamous “Pokemon war” that happened at some point before the games, so the lore scores him some bonus points.


17. Brock

Brock Pokémon anime

Putting one of the OGs this low on the list?

I can almost feel the angry perspiration from here.

Despite being an absolute G in the anime (I base my entire romantic strategies off of his), he plays a depressingly small role in the games he appears in.

The first gym leader should always hold a level of significance in your journey, but Brock really does lack that. You fight him once and never see him again.

It’s a shame, too, because he already has a swooning fanbase salivating at the thought of more in-game content.


16. Black and White Musicians

Black and White Musicians from Pokémon anime

The musicians are an archetype of trainers first introduced in the Gen V games.

Unlike every other generic trainer, though, these guys add some atmosphere to the games.

There are actually soundtracks associated with these trainers, so when you’re near one, you actually hear the instrument being played.

I feel like this is a testament to the effort Gamefreak put into BW/BW2. The world was alive and had so much more depth than anything we had seen before. The musicians were a part of that.


15. Nurse Joy

Nurse Joy Pokémon anime

Nurse Joy, or the Nurse Joys, are the sisters belonging to the family that monopolized the Pokémon healing industry.

If they charged for their services, they would be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

It’s a family of philanthropists, though, and offer their healthcare services free of charge.

That level of charity alone is enough to be considered among the best trainers in Pokémon history.

Plus, they’re always polite when you come to visit. Which is a kind of customer service you don’t get anywhere else (the Pokemart employees don’t get a mention because they asked a 10-year-old to deliver a sensitive package upon first meeting them, and that’s just irresponsible).


14. Koga

Koga in Pokémon anime

Koga holds a special place in my heart because he’s an example of what a working man can achieve.

He started off as a lonely gym leader and worked his way up to the elite four after Lance took over the position of champion (a position that didn’t exist until Blue bet him way back when).

Not only that, but he left his gym to his daughter, creating a legacy that guarantees his family a life of comfort for generations to come.

He’s a much better dad than Norman, in any case.


13. Youngster Joey

Youngster Joey from Pokemon Sun and Moon

Rumor has it that if Ethan hadn’t come along and bet him, Youngster Joey would have become the champion of Johto.

Maybe he wouldn’t have wanted that, though, being content to live out a simple life with his Rattata.

By the way, did you know that it’s in the top percentage of Rattata?


12. Fisherman Ralph

Fisherman Ralph Pokémon

Fisherman Ralph has little fanfare behind him.

He’s a simple man, looking for nothing more in life than a fishing rod and the sea. Once you get his number(which now that I think about it is a bit weird considering you’re 10) he’ll call you every now and again to share his fishing adventures with you.

There’s something surprisingly wholesome about a man that gets his fulfillment from fishing in a world where everyone is so focused on becoming “the very best.”


11. Steven Stone

Steven Stone Pokémon anime

Steven Stone would be the Hugh Hefner of Hoenn, if Hugh Hefner was an even bigger overachiever than he was in life.

Not only is Steven the president of the Devon Corporation, but he’s also the champion. Being able to run one of the biggest companies in the country and being the best trainer in the entire region is a ludicrous type of life to lead simultaneously.

As well as that, Steven somehow finds time to collect expensive stones, which in context I’m content to believe are genuine gemstones.

Steven doesn’t even stick to Hoenn, either. He shows up in Kanto during HG/SS and Unova in the Champions tournament.

He also just gives the player his villa in Pokémon Platinum, which is the cherry on the top of a very expensive pie.


10. Bea

Bea from Pokémon anime

I’m trying to keep this list PG, so I’ll keep it brief.

If you understand why Bea is on this list, then you get it.

If you don’t, then don’t worry about it. Trust me; it’s better that you don’t know.


9. Misty

Misty Pokémon anime screenshot

Unlike Brock, Misty actually had a role to play outside of her gym battle.

It was a miniscule role, but one all the less.

The design change from her anime version was nice to see, and the fact that the Misty in the games is actually “Anime Misty” after the events of the show is a great bit of continuity between two aspects of Pokémon.

Two areas which, supposedly, don’t share the same canon.


8. Cynthia

Cynthia in Pokémon anime

Cynthia is the first time in the franchise that the leader of the region was actually… well, a leader.

She didn’t sit up in the Pokémon League 24 hours a day, waiting for challengers to come to her. She was out in the world, uncovering the mysteries of Sinnoh and actively playing a part in the game’s story.

This was a narrative device that would be repeated in almost every game afterward. And we have Cynthia to thank for that.

Plus, her team was an absolute hurdle to get through.

Spiritomb kicked my ass more times than I care to recount, and just when I thought I had overcome that, she sent out a Garchomp.


7. Lance

Lance in Pokémon anime

Lance is the OG champion, and I mean that literally.

It’s suggested that before Blue, the Pokémon league didn’t have a champion. This is reinforced by him suggesting you would have been champion if Blue hadn’t gotten there first.

After that initial generation, he returned as the actual champion of the Indigo league (both Kanto and Johto), which is an aspect of the game I would like to see expanded.

His initial Dragonites were a nightmare to get through prior to fairy types. And his design was memorable enough for me to remember him all these years later.


6. Professor Oak

Professor Oak in Pokémon anime

It physically hurts me to only put Oak at number six, but it has to be done.

Oak is the Einstein of the Pokemon world.

His research is recognized and respected throughout the world, and he shows up to assist research being carried out by other professors around the world.

Plus, the man is an absolute vibe. His time spent in Alola is my ideal retirement plan. Old, respected, esteemed, and chilling with trainer’s moms on the beach adorned in Hawaiian shorts and shirts.


5. Heartbreaker Charles

Heartbreaker Charles in Pokémon

“I’m a heartbreaker… My name… Charles.”

Do I need to say anything else about this heartthrob?

Who could have imagined he’d have such an impact on us.


4. Blue

Blue Pokémon anime screenshot

Blue was the first trainer to defeat the Indigo League. And that deserves some recognition.

In truth, I pity Blue.

For all the love I give Oak, he is a terrible Grandfather. Not only does he forget his Grandson’s name, but the abuse he gives him after losing to you at the League warrants a call to CPS.

You would think that he would be proud of the boy, second place in the entire region is by no means a small feat, but no.

The fact that Blue battles through that kind of neglect and loneliness to get to where he did is nothing short of inspirational.

It’s just a shame that his ambition stemmed from the fact that he’s deemed worthless by what is, according to the games, his only paternal guardian. He does have a sister, Daisy, but she’s a surprisingly forgettable NPC.


3. Cheren

Cheren from Pokémon anime

I went into Black and White 2 blind. So when I say that Cheren was after getting his own gym, I was dumbfounded. Not only that he returned, but that he returned in such capacity.

It was a kind of continuity that had never been seen until that point and has never been seen since (We’re ignoring Bianca).

I wouldn’t be surprised to see us get a revisit to Gen V, where Cheren is a member of the Elite Four.

Seeing a character that played such a major role in the previous game actually advance in the professional world of Pokémon is something that I wish Game Freak done more of.

It’s a simple choice that adds so much more depth to the franchise.


2. Red

Red in Pokémon anime

Okay, okay. I’m sorry.

If this wasn’t my own personal list, Red would be number one.

A literal living legend in the Pokémon world, Red is potentially the greatest trainer that has ever graced the League. He also single-handedly took down the entire mafia, which is cool.

He’s so powerful that he got bored of being the champion and went to travel the world.

Given that he was the original player character, everyone knew who he was. Gamefreak cashed in on that recognition and fandom when he resurfaced in Gen II; it was earthshattering.

Not only was it a substantial return, but it was the return of a character that you played.

He eventually heads to Unova to work as the Boss of the battle tree alongside Blue. This is where he is at this point, as far as we know. It’s doubtless that we’ll see him in a new generation at some point in the future, though.

He also makes an appearance in the Let’s Go games, which is a nice surprise for longstanding fans of the series.


1. N

N Pokémon anime screenshot

If you dislike N and dislike me even more for putting him above Red, then I totally get it. Objectively, Red is probably the better character.

But screw objectivity! I love N, and nothing you say can get me to change my mind.

N was the most involved “champion” out of any generation, as well as serving as the pseudo-boss of the big bad evil guys.

That’s the thing about N, though. He isn’t evil.

In fact, he is one of the most morally complex characters that the franchise has ever seen. He doesn’t believe that Pokemon should be battled, and he has a point. The fact that he has to battle, and hates that fact, to achieve his idealistic goals is a testament to how well written he was.

His backstory is tragic and highlights how badly he was manipulated by Ghetsis.

I could write an essay on why I believe he is the pinnacle of Pokemon NPCs. BW/BW2 aimed to bring about a level of maturity to the series, and N is proof that they succeeded with flying colors.

I really wish that Game Freak continued with this decision instead of regressing into the kindergarten playground that is Sword and Shield.

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