'Pokémon' final episode will see return of Ash's original rival from pilot


After 25 years, Ash Ketchum’s original rival from the “Pokémon” anime’s pilot is set to make an appearance as the show comes to a close with a series of farewell episodes.

Titled “Rainbow and the Pokémon Master!” the final episode of the long-running anime sees Ash and Pikachu returning to Pallet Town, where they will cross paths with a Pokémon trainer named Gary Oak.

Gary was first seen in the pilot episode back in 1997 embarking on a similar journey with Ash to become the best Pokémon trainer.

Throughout the series, Gary has appeared a few times in cameos but never as a mainstay character. One of his memorable appearances was in 2002 via the Season 5 episode “Can’t Beat the Heat!”, in which Ash defeated Gary in a Pokémon battle.

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The character’s return in the final episode is expected to mark a significant moment for fans who have been following the show since its inception.

According to a synopsis shared through a Japanese TV guide, Gary will ask Ash about his journey after finally becoming the greatest Pokémon trainer earlier in the season:

When Ash and Pikachu return to Pallet Town, they reunite with Gary who asks Ash the question: How much closer to becoming the Pokémon Master are you now that you’ve become the Champion? Becoming a Pokémon Master has been Ash’s dream ever since he set off on his journey with Pikachu. Will Ash be able to find the answer to this question?

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The episode will air in Japan on March 24, with an English dub expected to arrive in the latter half of 2023.

In addition to Gary’s return, the farewell episodes will also see the reappearance of other characters from the early seasons.

Misty and Brock, who were Ash and Pikachu’s traveling companions back in the day, are expected to show up in at least one episode.

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As Ash and Pikachu both retire from the show, a new set of characters will take their place, including Captain Pikachu, a pokémon who will join trainers Liko and Roy on future adventures.

The new characters were teased in a trailer for the upcoming new animated Pokémon series earlier this week. Watch the trailer below: