Ash Ketchum and Pikachu retire?! Pokémon’s persistent protagonists will throw in the towel in 2023 cover image

Ash Ketchum and Pikachu retire?! Pokémon’s persistent protagonists will throw in the towel in 2023

The Pokémon Company today announced that their iconic protagonist Ash Ketchum and his companion Pikachu will leave the series in 2023.

After over 25 years, Ash Ketchum, the protagonist of the Pokémon’s animated series is hanging up his hat. The announcement of the newly-crowned Pokémon champion and his Pikachu’s retirement was revealed in a trailer for the Pokémon series’ latest season, which will air in January, 2023. 

As per the trailer, the final chapter in Ash and Pikachu’s story will begin on January 13, 2023. The trailer teases a moment of introspection from Ash, who is asked by old rival Gary “Now that you’ve become the Champion, how close are you to becoming a Pokémon Master?” It’s a good question — Ash had always said his goal was to become a Pokémon Master, and arguably, after becoming the Pokémon Champion earlier this year, he has achieved that.

Ash Ketchum retrospective

(Image via TPC)
(Image via TPC)

Pokémon’s TV series, a localization version of the Japanese animated adaptation, first aired in the US in 1998, introducing the world to Ash Ketchum and his stubborn but loyal Pikachu. Over 20+ years, the boy and his iconic red cap would journey around the world of Pokémon, collecting badges, catching Pokémon, and occasionally winning battles. His aim was to become the very best, and after two decades of trying, it seems like Ash has finally reached his goal.

Going forward, the Pokémon series will be headed by two new characters, the protagonists from Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and their three starter Pokémon. It’s unknown if Ash will continue to make cameos in the show, but given the recurring characters of Brock, Misty, and Team Rocket still appearing to this day, it wouldn’t be surprising.

However, whether fans will be as keen to embrace these two new protagonists remains to be seen. Ash holds a special place in many people’s hearts, as does the Pokémon series as a whole. Perhaps this is something of a wiping the slate clean for Pokémon? No longer tied down by an audience now entering the twentieth and thirtieth years of their journey, the series can push on to even greater heights.