Pokémon: 10 Things About Gym Leaders That Make No Sense

Not only did Pokémon help anime establish a stronghold in the Western world, but it remains one of the strongest pillars of Japanese pop-culture. You take an average '90s kid, they will be able to tell you the basics of Pokémon and rightly so. Putting aside the games, the anime all began in Kanto as the tale of Ash Ketchum, a Pokémon lover who turned into a globe-trotting Pokémaster, along with his loyal pet/ Pokémon Pikachu and his friends.

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Of the important aspects of Pokémon are Gym Leaders. These are the leaders based in specific cities, who head the gyms where Pokémon are trained and tested according to their capabilities. Here are some of the things about Gym Leaders that have continued to baffle fans all this while.


Whilst Gym Leaders are the toughest entities in the Pokémon universe, more often than not they are not a real challenge to Ash or anyone. The weirdest thing in the Pokémon universe is that Gym Leaders aren't subject to the same set of rules, dos, and don'ts that Pokémon trainers or players are subject to.

Although there is a tough nebulous criterion in place to be a Gym Leader, the fact is, not every Gym Leader is super strong. Some of them are old Gramps in PJs.


One could argue that in a game, Gym Leaders are designed weak to give the players an advantage. But in the series, they have a specific and very important role to play. Gym Leaders are always outsmarted by trainers.

In most cases, the ones who are meant to strengthen you and test your abilities are the ones who end up losing badly to you. If it all boils down to capabilities, shouldn't trainers be Gym Leaders instead?


One of the counter-arguments with regards to qualifying for the role is passion. They say, being a Gym Leader isn't everyone's cup of tea. But the theme in the show always lays down the obvious, being a Gym Leader is more about passion than qualification.

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When it comes to the clause of "passion," it isn't about dos and don'ts, but wants. Being a Gym Leader isn't something that anyone would want to be, it is about passion and consistency on the job. Training and testing Pokémon consistently requires hard work, not some exceptional skills.  Remember the old phrase, hard work trumps talent? Applies well.


In which case, the term Gym Leader is a misnomer in itself. If your job as a Gym Leader is just to train less experienced trainers, you have a dirty job. In the sense that it is low ranking amongst many other high-profile jobs that we have seen people undertake.

Shouldn't you be just called managers at the gym? And why should a Gym Leader be placed over-all in charge of a Gym, after all? Are Gym Leaders equipped with enough in case of a contingency? The whole business of "work is devotion" fits well in there. Not ruthlessly pragmatic for a show like Pokémon, to say the least.


Pryce of Mahogany Gym, Burgh of the Castelia Gym, and Marlon of Humilau Gym are some of the weakest Gym Leaders in the anime. Marlon, for example, appears too laid back to be a Gym Leader. Viola for example, from Pokémon X/Y, is an easy Gym Leader to beat.

In general, if Gym Leaders are supposed to get progressively harder as the battles level-up, why do they end up being forgettable pushovers?


Of all the Gym Leaders that are shown, there is no consistency in the age factor. You'd think, after a certain age, the Gym Leaders would want to retire. Take Pryce for example, the man has been training Pokémon for over 50 years now. Granted he has seen and suffered, but here's the trivia. Despite being Johto's 7th Gym Leader, his Pokémon team is generally at a lower level than the 6th Gym Leader, Jasmine's Pokémon. He is in a wheelchair in the manga, FYI.

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All of this leads to one simple question, does experience matter? After all, managing a gym would require a lot of energy and devotion. Oh and, Pryce refused to battle Ash thinking of him as a weak trainer. Talk about devotion!


This one pertains to the set up of Gyms in general but is totally correlative with their Leaders. Now, there are numerous examples of Gym Leaders who are weak, mean, pushovers, etc. All of this pertains to one big question, what is the method of picking a Gym Leader?

The Gym Leaders are apparently not picked up in a democratic fashion. Just arbitrarily. It is not always that the absolute best is picked to do the job. Although there are some rules of how the order of business is to be conducted in gyms. It, however, seems like the gyms take it upon themselves to conduct their affairs.


Talking about democracy, one thing to consider is autonomy. Just how autonomous are Gym Leaders? So far, it has been made clear that Gyms are autonomous structures. But it appears that Gym Leaders can turn into unilateral dictators.

Like for example, the defame Giovanni of the Viridian City Gym. In both games and the anime, Gym Leaders (Giovanni, Blue) have been so blinded by powers that they have denied a trainer the right of challenge. The same goes for Pryce, who refused to battle Ash after believing him to be too weak. Complete autonomy over who gets to battle you, very shabby for a Gym Leader.


With great power comes great responsibility. But is that really it? Let's analyze. The Pokémon Adventures manga, which by the way is the groundwork for Pokémon (anime), most of the Kanto Gym Leaders are the high command of Team Rocket.

The same trinity of villains who are always trying to thug Ash and his mates. Not only that, Giovanni the head of the Kanto Gym, is the leader of Team Rocket. From time to time, various Gym Leaders - Lt. Surge, Koga, Sabrina, and Blaine - have been members of Team Rocket.


It is funny how Brock is one of the most touted Gym Leader. Both Brock and Misty traveled with Ash throughout. It is appalling how Brock was given a spot in the limelight in Pokémon. What's more appalling is how the makers got away with it. Always revered, always loved, it is high time that Brock should come off the moral high horse.

In Pokémon Red & Blue, Brock uses an illegal Pokémon. For those who ask, illegal Pokémons are the ones with the know-how of a move but not the permission. In this case, Onix uses the move Bind at level 14, when he should have learned the move at level 15. Onix was still at an evolutionary stage, too soon to be using Bind.

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