It’s Ash Ketchum’s tenth birthday, and he’s ready to do what many 10-year-olds in the Kanto region set out to do—become a Pokémon Trainer! Things don’t go exactly the way he planned when he ends up with a Pikachu instead of a standard first Pokémon, and winning Gym Badges turns out to be much tougher than he thought. Luckily he’s got former Gym Leaders Brock and Misty at his side, along with a bevy of new Pokémon friends, including Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander.
After beginning his Pokémon journey, Ash is supposed to meet Professor Oak - a Pokémon researcher who is giving Pokémon to all the 10-year-olds in Pallet Town. Arriving late, Ash finds that all the Pokémon are taken - all except for Pikachu. After a harrowing misadventure together, Pikachu and Ash form an unbreakable bond of friendship.
Finally arrived in Viridian City, Ash is cornered by Officer Jenny who asks why he is carrying Pikachu instead of having it in a Pokéball. He explains that Pikachu doesn't like Pokéballs and shows her his Pokédex proving that he is one of the Pallet Town Trainers. Jenny takes Ash to the Pokémon Center where Nurse Joy begins treatment on the injured Pikachu. Before Pikachu's treatment finishes, however, the Center is attacked by two members of Team Rocket, an evil organization. Ash and Pikachu fend off Team Rocket and head to the Viridian Forest with Misty in tow because of her fried bike.
Ash, Pikachu and Misty have entered the Viridian Forest. Ash has spotted a Caterpie and thrown a Pokéball at it. Capturing it, Ash is overjoyed at his first catch. Misty, however, hates bugs and screams every time it comes near her. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is following them, ready for a fresh attempt at capturing Pikachu. Ash decides to capture another Pokémon, and manages to get a Pidgeotto. Can he, Misty, and his Pokémon, fend off Team Rocket again?
Ash and Misty are now wandering through Viridian Forest. A Samurai challenges Ash to a battle, and it turns out to be Metapod Versus Metapod. After a short time, a swarm of Beedrill attacks, and Ash's Metapod is taken by them. Can Ash get his Pokémon back from them or will it be doomed to live its life without Ash?
Ash meets a strange old man named Flint, who instructs him in the etiquette of Pokémon training and the rules of the Pokémon League. To enter the League, trainers must collect badges from gym leaders, like the gym in Pewter City run by Brock. Ash quickly challenges Brock to a match and loses. After intense and strange training from Flint, Pikachu battles again and wins, earning Ash a Boulder Badge and a new friend - Brock.
Will Team Rocket steal the Moon Stone? Are there other Clefairy lurking about, and do they carry Moon Stones, too? And is the legend of the Moon Stone true?
In his search to collect Trainer Badges, Ash heads for Cerulean City, intending to confront the Cerulean Gym Leader. For some reason, Misty expresses a desire to avoid Cerulean City and disappears somewhere along the way. Without concern for Misty, Ash and Pikachu continue toward the Cerulean City Gym. When they arrive, the exterior of the Gym gives the strange appearance of an aquarium. Upon entering the building, Ash and Pikachu are entranced by a synchronized swimming show being performed by three beautiful sisters. Could this truly be the Cerulean Gym? And what could be the role of the three beautiful swimming sisters? More importantly, will Ash be able to defeat the strangely absent Gym Leader to earn his next badge?
On the way to Vermillion City, Ash meets AJ, a Gym Leader at an unsanctioned Gym who has 98 wins and zero losses. They battle, and Ash is surprised that AJ's Ground-type Sandshrew can easily beat his Flying-type Pokémon.
Our three heroes have lost their way in the depths of a dense wood, shrouded in thick, white mist. Momentarily giving up, they decide to break for a brief rest. As Ash wanders deeper into the wood, searching for firewood, he happens across a young boy being bullied by five classmates gathered around him. Eavesdropping on their conversation, Ash learns that the boys are attending the Pokémon Seminar (or 'Pokémon Zem' for short) - a preparatory school for Pokémon trainers. Graduates from the Pokémon Seminar are automatically qualified to participate in the Pokémon League without undergoing any actual test of skill. Although many children dream of entering the illustrious Seminar (or rather their parents dream of them entering), only the most wealthy children can enter the school. But there must be a reason for the gloom overshadowing the faces of the students of this aristocratic school.
Still lost, the party continues to wander. Falling from a rope bridge, stumbling into pitfalls, being caught in various traps, they struggle on until reaching a village, not shown on their map, inhabited by Pokemon that have been injured in battle or abandoned by their masters. In this village, a kind-hearted young woman named Melanie cares for these Pokemon. Even as our heroes, touched by Melanie’s kind example, attempt to assist her in caring for the Pokemon, Team Rocket is slowly making its way toward the village. A combined effort of Melanie and Ash’s Pokemon is needed to battle and defeat Team Rocket, and as a result, Ash’s courage earns him a battle between Pikachu and Melanie’s bravest Pokemon, Bulbasaur. Will Pikachu defeat Bulbasaur, thus increasing Ash’s collection of Pokemon?
As our heroes press on toward Vermilion City, they encounter a lone, weak Charmander at a mountain pass. Standing atop a stone, it appears to be waiting for someone. Ash immediately attempts to capture it, but fails. Giving up, Ash and friends head for a nearby Pokemon Center. There they run into Damien—the very boy who had abandoned the Charmander. A storm erupts. Our heroes go out in the middle of the night to rescue the deserted Pokemon. Their timing couldn’t be better for they saved the fiery Pokemon from an attack of vicious Spearow. Upon their return to the Pokemon Center, the Charmander is taken care of immediately, but the next morning he is gone, without a trace. Ash and friends go out to find him only to be side-tracked by the devious Team Rocket. Just when they thought they had captured Pikachu and rendered our heroes temporarily helpless, Charmander comes to the rescue. Will he ultimately become the next Pokemon to join Ash?
A company of Squirtles stand in the path of our heroes' enthusiastic march. To make matters worse, joining forces with Team Rocket, the Squirtles capture Ash and friends. When the Squirtles lock Pikachu, who has been critically injured, in a cage, Ash runs to retrieve a healing Potion. Upon Ash's return, a battle ensues between Team Rocket and our heroes. When it becomes apparent that Team Rocket has deserted the Squirtles, and even endangered them, Ash and his love of Pokémon prevails, and saves a Squirtle from certain doom. Will Ash's kind and brave act go unnoticed by the Squirtle?
The party emerges from the forest onto a beach, where in the distance they see a lighthouse, shining at the tops of a cliff. The lighthouse belongs to Bill, a Pokémon researcher who is awaiting the coming of a one-of-a-kind Pokémon, never before seen by humans. Before long, a tremendously large shadow begins to take form in the sea mists, but this possible discovery could be hindered due to the infamous Team Rocket lurking in the background cooking up another one of their schemes. Could such a legendary Pokémon truly exist?
Our heroes finally reach Vermilion City. They make their way to the Pokémon Center to refill their empty stomachs, but once there, they witness dozens of injured Pokémon being treated. Pikachu and Ash are alarmed to learn that all of these Pokémon were injured in battles with the Vermilion Gym Leader, Lt. Surge. Nonetheless, eager to earn a badge, Ash challenges Lt. Surge. Pikachu reluctantly enters the battle only to discover its opponent to be a Raichu, a fierce Pokémon with tremendous electric power. In order for Pikachu to successfully compete, it must demonstrate a stronger will than ever before displayed in battle. Could Pikachu possibly have a chance against Raichu's overwhelming strength?
Ash and his party arrive at a port where the SS Anne, an international cruise liner, is docked. Receiving free tickets, from a mysterious duo, for a Pokémon Trainer party aboard the Santa Anne, they board the ship filled with anticipation of good food and lots of Pokémon excitement. Aboard the ship, bustling with Pokémon Trainers, Ash meets a distinguished gentleman who suggests they make a Pokémon trade. Ash exchanges his Butterfree for the gentleman's Raticate. Just then, the SS Anne is taken over by Team Rocket who had arranged the party as a ploy to steal Pokémon.
Our heroes are revealed in the middle of a trap concocted by Team Rocket. Luckily the Pokémon Trainers are able to pool their Pokémon resources and successfully battle Team Rocket and their evil crew. In the midst of the confusion on board, however, a tumultuous storm wreaks havoc on the cruise forcing everyone except Ash, Misty, Brock and Pikachu as well as Team Rocket to evacuate the sinking ship. Luckily, Ash was able to exchange Butterfree for Raticate before the ship went down, but now our heroes are forced to team up with their long-standing enemies in order to survive their life or death predicament.
As our heroes and Team Rocket beat the odds by surviving the sinking ship, they are dragged into another potentially deadly situation when they are attacked by the ferocious Pokémon, Gyarados. One Gyarados becomes many and Ash, friends and foe are swept up in a tornado landing them in various locations on an island. Ash loses Pikachu and the Poké Balls containing Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur. Jessie and James from Team Rocket, who land in another remote part of the island, also lose their Pokémon. Thus both Pokémon and their masters are left searching for each other on this strange island, inhabited by gigantic Pokémon. Where could this island be?
Ash and his friends have finally arrived in Porta Vista, a beach-side tourist town. After destroying an old man's ship, they must help in the old man's business. To attempt to pay the man back faster, Misty enters a beauty contest, only to discover she is competing against Jessie and James.
Stuck in Porta Vista because they missed the boat, Ash and friends sit around waiting for the next boat and witness a great explosion. They later discover that it is a group of Tentacool that is attacking the city since construction is destroying their reef. Ash and his friends manage to appease the giant Tentacruel and continue on their journey, with Misty catching a Horsea that was being harassed by the Tentacool.
The boat that Ash and his friends arrive in the port city of Maiden's Peak to attend the Summer's End Festival. Brock and James both fall for a beautiful girl standing by the sea who disappears. Ash, Misty, and Team Rocket learn that she is the ghost of a maiden who waited for her lover to return from a war and eventually turned into stone. While trying to protect Brock and James with some stickers bought from an old woman, the maiden reveals herself as the old woman, who in turn reveals herself to be Gastly, a ghost Pokémon. Ash tries to fight Gastly to release James and Brock from its spell but fails, until the sun rises and Gastly is forced to disappear. It is revealed that the ghost of the maiden actually exists and is a friend of Gastly, and is still waiting for the one she loves to return.
As the group continues on their way, they notice a flock of Butterfree out over the ocean. Brock informs Ash that it is the mating season for all of the Butterfree. Ash decides to release his Butterfree so that it can mate. However, Team Rocket has plans to steal them all. Ash's Butterfree bravely frees all the Butterfree and in the end Ash releases it.
Ash and his friends finally arrive in Saffron City, but before Ash can enter the Saffron Gym he is warned by a strange man not to go in. Ash enters anyway to discover a strange training facility for people with psychic powers. Ash challenges Sabrina, the heartless gym leader and her Abra who evolves into Kadabra, and loses. They are transported into a toy box set and forced to play with a dangerous little girl, the group is rescued by the strange man who gives Ash a tip: He may be able to beat Sabrina with a Ghost Pokémon from Lavender Town.
Team Rocket encounters the Ghost Pokémon in a haunted tower while setting a trap for Ash and his friends, and end up getting frightened away. Ash and Pikachu enter alone since his friends are afraid to go in. Inside, he and Pikachu are the victims of pranks by a Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar looking for playmates. After being crushed under a falling chandelier, Haunter turns Ash and Pikachu into ghosts where they have some fun, though Ash asks them to send him back after seeing Misty and Brock cry over his lifeless body. Ash and Pikachu are brought back to life and Haunter decides to follow Ash as his new Pokémon.
Ash and his friends go back to Saffron City ready to try again for the Marsh Badge in the Gym. Ash asks Haunter for help to defeat Sabrina but Haunter disappears during the match. Brock and Misty get turned into dolls, and Ash is rescued just in time by the mysterious man. The man reveals that Sabrina has two personalities – one of the cold and unfeeling trainer, the other of the repressed little girl, who also turned her mother into a doll. The only way to defeat Sabrina is to make her smile again. During the next match, Haunter suddenly appears in front of Sabrina while Kadabra and Pikachu are battling. Sabrina and her Kadabra become unable to battle after being sent into peals of laughter by Haunter, giving Ash the victory.
As Ash is on his way towards Celadon City, he encounters a Mankey. The Mankey starts chasing him and steals Ash's hat. Ash tries to get it back and fails. Team Rocket arrives to get Pikachu and when Mankey walks by, James kicks it away and in its anger, evolves into Primeape. After remembering the poem Professor Oak said, Ash captures it.
When Ash reaches the Celadon Gym, he is kicked out because he is a boy. He soon discovers that it is only for girls, so with the help of Team Rocket, Ash sneaks into the gym disguised as a girl. In the gym, his disguise is ruined by Misty, Brock, and Pikachu, but the Gym Leader, Erika grants him a battle. During the battle, Team Rocket interrupts and sets the gym on fire. After rescuing Erika's Gloom, Ash is presented with the Rainbow Badge.
Ash and his friends arrive at a town where many of the town's children are disappearing. They discover that a Hypno, a hypnotic Pokémon is responsible. Adults in the town have come to help their insomnia by being put to sleep by Hypno. However there is a side effect, making the children think they are different Pokémon and run away and put real Pokémon to sleep. Ash stops Team Rocket from stealing Hypno and uses the Pokémon, Drowzee to bring all the children and Pokémon back to normal. A useless Psyduck follows Misty around, and after she drops a PokéBall, Psyduck activates it and captures itself, much to Misty's dismay.
Team Rocket plans a scheme to steal many Pokémon by opening a grooming shop. Ash and his friends meet Susie, a famous Pokémon breeder. In the end, Brock gains a Vulpix when Susie tells him to look after it as she goes off to learn more about Pokémon breeding.
After meeting a girl whose father is more concerned about training his fighting Pokémon Hitmonchan at the gym instead of his daughter, Ash enters a Fighting Pokémon-only tournament with his Primeape. Team Rocket also enters and resorts to cheating, stealing another man's Hitmonlee, in order to win. After learning how much his daughter means to him and winning, the man promises to train Primeape to make him stronger, so Ash gives it away and promises to return.
The group arrives in Gringy City where everything is dark and gloomy. A Magnemite follows Pikachu everywhere ever since it caught a peculiar illness, but it is the Grimers and Muk that are causing trouble in a local Power Plant. Ash captures Muk and Pikachu is cured of his cold.
Ash finds himself among a group of Pokémon Trainers hired to protect a construction site from the interfering ground Pokémon, Diglett. The construction is shut down after it is revealed that the Digletts and Dugtrio are trying to protect their home. Jessie's Ekans and James' Koffing evolve into Arbok and Weezing respectively.
The group finds a strange-looking ninja-style mansion. They explore it and encounter various traps. Soon, they discover that this is the Fuchsia Gym and Ash battles Koga, the Gym Leader, for the Soul Badge. When Team Rocket disrupts their battle, Misty discovers how powerful her Psyduck really is.
The group arrive at the Laramie Ranch where a family of ranchers, with their daughter, Lara and her Ponyta, prepares for an annual Pokémon race. Ash takes over as Ponyta's rider when Lara gets hurt due to Team Rocket's interference. Then, Team Rocket helps a rival competitor to win the race by setting up traps for other participants. As the race continues, however, Ponyta evolves into Rapidash and wins the race.
Ash and his friends arrive at the Safari Zone, unaware that the part they have entered is a protected preserve when an Officer Jenny disguised as Chansey nearly arrests them for poaching. They come across a wild boy named Tommy that leads a herd of Kangaskhan and eventually find Tommy's parents, who were searching for him since he was only three. Unfortunately, Tommy thinks that the Kangaskhan are his family. After battling Team Rocket, Tommy's parents also become part of the Kangaskhan family.
Ash and his friends get challenged by Team Rocket in seeing who can capture the most Pokémon within the Safari Zone, with Ash catching a whole herd of Tauros. As soon as Ash and his friends head out Pokémon hunting, Team Rocket manages to get the drop on the game warden (Mr. Kaiza) and forces him into giving up the location on where Dratini is (the Dragon Valley). In the end, Ash, his friends, Team Rocket, and Kaiza end up seeing the legendary Dratini and Dragonair, with the heroes saving the day.
Continuing their journey, the group came across a bridge which could be used as a shortcut to the next town. They soon discover that the bridge is too long to walk and they would need bicycles to cross. They go to the Pokémon Center where Nurse Joy asks them to take some medicine to a sick Pokémon across the bridge. On their way, a bicycle gang appears to cause trouble and Team Rocket is helping them. When Ash and his friends decide to cross the bridge during a storm, the bicyclists realize that they are acting selflessly, and help them.
During a storm, Ash and his friends arrive at a mysterious Mansion. While there, Ash meets Duplica, a girl who is an expert at impersonation, and she happens to own Ditto, a Pokémon that can transform into any Pokémon. However, Ditto cannot seem to figure out how to change its face, a fact that stopped Duplica's variety show. As they all try to help Ditto perfect its transformation, Team Rocket tries to steal the Ditto so it can transform into a Dratini which they can give to the boss.
Ash and his friends arrive at Pokémon Center where the PokéBall transfer machine has been causing problems, as the transferred Pokémon never end up at the other side. Ash and his friends decide to accompany Porygon, a computerized Pokémon, used by Professor Akihabara to investigate the problem, only to discover Team Rocket and another Porygon are to blame.
The group come into a forest where it is quiet and peaceful. They notice a large group of Pikachu that Ash's Pikachu tries to make friends with. After saving a young Pikachu from drowning and rescuing the herd from Team Rocket, Ash's Pikachu is welcomed among the other Pikachu as one of their own. Saddened by this sudden distance, Ash tries to leave Pikachu behind (to Misty and Brock's shock and dismay), thinking that in the long run, it is going to be better off with its own kind. As they attempt to leave the forest with Ash still standing his ground on leaving Pikachu, the three friends are surprised when Pikachu returns to them, flanked by the other wild Pikachu including the younger Pikachu it risked its life to save earlier. The episode ends with Ash and Pikachu having an emotional reunion and hugging one another while the rest of the wild Pikachu cheer for the two of them as Brock and Misty look on.
While traveling through the woods, the group encounters an Eevee that was apparently abandoned near a tree. They take it to its address in Stone Town and find it belongs to a little boy named Mikey. His three brothers are pressuring him into evolving his Eevee into one of three forms — Jolteon, Vaporeon, or Flareon — at an Evolution Party, where everyone uses Evolution Stones to evolve their Pokémon. However, the Evolution Party is disrupted by Team Rocket, and Mikey manages to use Eevee on its own to show his brothers that he does not need to evolve his beloved Eevee.
Ash and his friends arrive at a town which is having problems with their water source. It seems that a Snorlax is blocking the water path. Team Rocket plans to capture the Snorlax, but Ash and his friends find help from an unexpected source.
Upon entering Dark City, Ash and his friends discover that Pokémon Trainers aren't liked due to two rival Gyms who involve Ash and the gang as well as Team Rocket in their feuds to become the city's legitimate Pokémon Gym.
When at a carnival, Ash and his friends meet a magician who is really losing his touch and fails in his own magic show. In his effort to get better, he decides to hypnotize Ash and uses his Pokémon Exeggcute to capture loads of Exeggutor. But the Exeggutor end up hypnotizing themselves and Team Rocket and almost destroy the entire carnival. Luckily, they are saved by Charmander, who evolves into a disobedient Charmeleon.
Having run out of medicine, Ash and his friends go to a local shop to get some Potions. However, they don't have much due to the owner's Paras being weak. Ash and his friends decide to help out the owner by training her Paras, hoping that it can evolve into Parasect.
Entering Neon Town, a bustling Metropolis where everyone is tired and rude, Ash and his friends find a Jigglypuff who is too shy to sing its hypnotic song. Realizing they can kill two birds with one stone, Misty tries to teach the Jigglypuff to sing while Team Rocket attempts to record the song so they can use it against Ash. Everyone falls asleep, including Ash and his friends and Team Rocket, and a miffed Jigglypuff uses the marker hidden in her microphone to draw on everyone's sleeping faces. From this point on, Jigglypuff follows Ash around trying to sing her song to a crowd that will not fall asleep in almost every episode.
Arriving at a canyon to find an old fashioned fossil hunt, Ash, Gary and the gang decide to join in. But Team Rocket arrives and intends to blow the canyon up. Ash, Pikachu, and Team Rocket fall into a pit which is full of awakened ancient Pokémon. Their only hope may rest in Ash's disobedient Charmeleon, which evolves into a powerful, yet still disobedient Charizard to defeat a raging Aerodactyl. In the end, the ancient Pokémon are sealed away once more (along with a terrified Team Rocket) and Officer Jenny dismisses the entire event as a side effect caused by Jigglypuff's singing. Ash, however, finds a rare Pokémon egg in the chaos and keeps it.
After Pikachu gets an apple stuck in its throat, Ash and his friends rush it to a Pokémon Center. After being treated, they hear of a traffic accident (caused by Team Rocket) that has left many Pokémon injured so Ash and the gang are recruited to help treat the Pokémon.
After finding a missing person sign featuring James, Ash and his friends decide to find James and inform him of his parents' death. However James' parents turn out to be alive, and their death was only a decoy to get him to return home to the rich Jessebell, a girl James was arranged to marry from when he was a little chid. James has left because Jessebell is terrifying, so everyone tries to save James from this fate, including James' old pet Growlithe, Growlie.
When Misty's PokéBalls are stolen by Farfetch'd, Ash and the gang investigate to try to find the thief and get all the stolen things back.
When the egg Ash found hatches into a brand new Pokémon, Togepi, everyone wants to own it. They decide to have a small Pokémon Tournament. Ash, who found it, claims he should be the one to keep it. In the end, Ash wins the tournament, but since Misty was the first person Togepi saw when he hatched, he thinks she is his mother and stays with her.
When Bulbasaur gets injured in a battle, it starts to feel and act different. Ash takes Bulbasaur to a Pokémon Center and is informed that Bulbasaur is just ready to evolve. After hearing this Ash gets totally excited that he didn't even think if Bulbasaur even wanted to evolve. Not knowing that it is time for the Bulbasaur festival when all Bulbasaur in the region evolve. Bulbasaur gets kidnapped by a group of Bulbasaur led by a nasty Venusaur and taken to the festival against its will.
It is the Queen of the Princess Festival and Misty and Jessie are going all out for it. After hours of shopping, they both decide to enter the Queen of the Princess Festival Battle Tournament to win the dolls they both coveted when they were children.
Ash and his friends arrive at a small school on Kids' Day and let the children play with their Pokémon. One of the children only wants to meet Meowth after being saved by a wild one from a Beedrill. Team Rocket's Meowth pretends to be his hero, but is soon caught by Misty. Later, Timmy is saved again by the wild Meowth.
When Ash and his friends see a group of Growlithe training against a Policeman posing as a robber, Ash decides for him and Pikachu to do the same training to become the best they can be. However, when Team Rocket comes to steal them, Officer Jenny, Ash, and the gang's voice gets changed, causing the Growlithe to think that Team Rocket are the Officers as they use their ears to follow command.
While eating Brock's riceballs, Ash hears a shutter which he thinks is a gun. It's really a camera belonging to a photographer named Todd. Todd was hired by Team Rocket to capture Pikachu, but he thinks they want him to capture a picture of him. After the confusion, Todd joins the group.
While traveling, Ash notes it has been a long time since his last Badge, so Todd suggests he takes the Pokémon League exam. Passing the exam would get him an immediate entry into the competition. But Ash being over confident of himself of passing the exam he totally fails in the first and second tests. In the third test, Team Rocket interferes the match and uses their given Pokémon to take revenge on the examinator for giving them a hard time on the first and second tests. In the end the examinator commands their given Pokémon to attack Team Rocket instead of himself, which sends them blasting off again.
After putting Psyduck in a breeding center, Misty learns that she needs it to get some food from a generous chef. But when she goes to get it, Ash and the gang discover a diabolical plot by two other Team Rocket members, Cassidy and Butch, who are trying to steal Pokémon, and in doing so, Ash and the gang get framed, captured, and arrested by Officer Jenny.
After reaching Cinnabar Island, Ash, Brock, and Misty are dismayed to find that the Gym has closed due to crowds of tourists coming to the island and lack of serious trainers. Desperate for his seventh badge, Ash goes around and meets a riddle master who gives him clues about the real Gym's secret location. After finding the Gym in the island's volcano, the riddle master appears and reveals that he is actually Blaine, the Gym Leader Ash has been searching for. Ash begins his battle against Blaine with his first Pokémon, Squirtle who loses to Blaine's Ninetales and Charizard simply refusing to battle Blaine's Rhydon. Eventually, Pikachu wins against Rhydon but Blaine has a secret weapon up his sleeve in the form of the Fire Pokémon, Magmar. With Pikachu's electric attacks rendered useless, Magmar pushes Pikachu closer and closer to the edge of the battlefield. The episode ends in a cliffhanger as it shows Pikachu standing, determined as Magmar's Fire Blast, the most powerful attack that Fire Pokémon have edges ever closer to the Electric Mouse.
Pikachu successfully dodges Magmar's Fire Blast but is left hanging over the edge and is left injured. Upon realizing that no Gym Badge is worth losing Pikachu and that he would be disqualified if he continues, Ash forfeits the match but vows not to leave Cinnabar Island until he has beaten both Blaine and Magmar in a rematch and gotten the Volcano Badge. But when the Gym and island come under threat after Team Rocket's interference, Ash's Charizard, Pikachu, Squirtle, Blaine's Magmar, Misty's Staryu, Brock's Geodude, and Onix work together and eventually triumph in preventing the volcano from blowing which would destroy the island. As thanks, Blaine agrees to have a rematch with Ash. With the battlefield damaged beyond repair, the trainers settle for the top of the volcano. Blaine determines that the match will be one on one where only one Pokémon can be used and puts forward his Magmar. Ash's Pikachu volunteers itself but in a surprise twist, Ash's Charizard selects itself to battle much to the surprise of Ash and the group. After an intense battle where Ash looks set to lose, Charizard manages to turn things around by using its Seismic Toss which results in Magmar being knocked out and finally granting Ash his Volcano Badge.
On their way back to the mainland, Ash accidentally knocks into a Blastoise, a ruler of a small island that will not awake from its slumber. Squirtle dons his old persona as head of the Squirtle Squad to solve the case. It turns out Jigglypuff is stuck in one of Blastoise's blasters.
Upon returning to Cerulean City, Misty is asked by her sisters to help out with a new underwater show. She decides to help for this underwater play with her Pokémon, but Team Rocket arrives and try to ruin things. At the end of the episode, Misty leaves her Starmie and Horsea with her sisters to assist in further shows.
In Viridian City, Ash and his friends are victims to several thefts by some Clefairy. While investigating with Mr. Oswald, they discover the Clefairy are building a spaceship.
Ash goes to the Gym in Viridian City, but Gary gets in there before him and challenges the Gym Leader for his own satisfaction, as he has already won ten Gym Badges. The Gym Leader, Team Rocket's commander Giovanni, agrees to the fight, eventually using a never before seen Pokémon (Mewtwo), which the Pokédex cannot identify, to easily defeat Gary. Team Rocket kidnaps and tries to give Togepi to Giovanni, but Giovanni thinks it is useless. Giovanni leaves the Gym and puts Jessie, James, and Meowth in charge. Ash challenges them and after losing three of Giovanni's Pokémon, Jessie and James use their own. Togepi sends them blasting off with a Metronome attack, without Ash and his friends even realizing it, and Ash wins the Earth Badge, his eighth and final badge.
Upon heading back to Pallet Town, Ash and his friends see Mr. Mime trying to escape from a trainer who runs a circus. Unable to get the circus' overweight Mr. Mime to act, Ash and the gang have to find another one to take its place. The gang choose to dress up Ash so he can look like a Mr. Mime. Meanwhile, the Mr. Mime from earlier comes to the Ketchum residence and is mistaken by Mrs. Ketchum for Ash.
Ash, Misty, Brock, and their Pokémon must return a lost Jynx to Santa before Christmas, with the help of a Lapras. Meanwhile, Jessie attempts to take revenge on Santa for stealing her favorite doll when she was young.
Ash and his friends are trapped in a snowstorm. Brock suggests that the group uses his Onix to create a bivouac. They are about to start when a strong gust of wind blows Pikachu away, and Ash tries to save him. After saving Pikachu who is about to fall off a cliff, Ash finds himself separated from the rest of the group. He and his other Pokémon must brave out the rest of the storm together in a cave.
Back in Pallet Town, Ash finds Gary, already there, waiting to partake in the Pokémon League. Always having a bitter rivalry with Gary, Professor Oak tells them both the meaning of Pokémon. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is trying to get inside the lab to steal the Pokémon.
Ash goes to Seafoam Island to help Professor Oak to discover the mystery of how Slowpoke evolves into Slowbro. There, Professor Westwood V is also trying to solve the mystery. Jessie captures Shellder, and tries to rush a Slowpoke's evolution, forcing Psyduck to stall the evolution.
Ash and the gang take some time off to go surfing. While surfing, however, Ash passes out, but is thankfully rescued by a surfer named Victor and his blue-eyed Pikachu, Puka. Victor then reveals his plans to surf a tsunami called Humungadunga and become a surfing legend.
Ash goes to a flower garden to get some fertilizer for his mother, but Bulbasaur sniffs the flowers and becomes paralyzed.
When the gang discovers there is a movie with an all Pokemon cast being made nearby, Ash and his friends put their Pokémon in for an audition. Misty's Psyduck gets the main role while the others get minor roles.
Ash and his friends go to Hollywood (although only a small nearby town) to see the premiere of the movie their Pokémon were cast in. Team Rocket follows them to find out that Meowth has history in this town; It is here where he was a member of a gang of street Meowths led by the Persian. He learned to speak and walk upright to win the heart of a female Meowth who was abandoned by her owner. Upon returning, he challenges Persian who was once his mentor for the female Meowth he thought he lost years before.
After watching Elite Four member Bruno on TV, Ash and his friends decide to do training in the mountains to be as strong as Bruno. However, they meet Bruno and he manipulates them to do some menial tasks for him. Meanwhile, a giant Onix is on a rampage.
While training, Ash and his friends accidentally uncover the ruins of Pokémopolis, an ancient city. After a bit of research, they find a giant Gengar and a giant Alakazam starting to fight. Then, a giant Jigglypuff appears to put them to sleep.
Ash and his friends offer to help a trainer that is heading for the Pokémon League to retrieve his stolen gym badges from Team Rocket.
Ash finally reaches the Indigo Plateau, home of the Pokémon League conference. Before the tournament begins, they plan on lighting a ceremonial cauldron with the flame of the legendary Pokémon, Moltres. Ash, as a participant, is free to carry the flame but when Team Rocket steals it, the tournament may be cancelled.
Ash enters his first match of the tournament on the water field against Mandi the Astounding. During the battle against Mandi's Exeggutor, Ash's Krabby evolves into Kingler, who he then uses against Mandy's remaining Seadra and Golbat, winning the match and moving onto the next preliminary round.
For the second round Ash battles in the rock arena. Ash's last Pokémon, Squirtle, defeats his foe's last Pokémon, Nidorino, and he, victorious, moves on to Round 3. In the third round Ash faces a trainer named Pete in the ice arena. Both trainers are left with 2 Pokémon each. Pete uses Cloyster and Arcanine. In the end, Ash is victorious and he moves on to Round 4.
In the 4th round, Ash faces a trainer named Jeanette, who uses a Beedrill, a Scyther, and a Bellsprout. The match ends with Ash victorious, and he moves on to the 5th round, becoming one of the final sixteen members of the tournament.
Ash meets a new trainer named Richie, who is eerily similar to Ash, including owning a Pikachu. However, Team Rocket makes another attempt to steal Ash's and Richie's Pokémon. Ash and Richie prevent Team Rocket from stealing their Pokémon. Ash discovers his next battle is against Richie. Will Ash manage to reach the quarterfinals?
After making a promise with Richie that he will have the best battle of his life, Ash is kidnapped by Team Rocket, who scheme to prevent him from participating in his fifth round match against Richie, let alone steal Pikachu. Ash is not about to let Team Rocket make him break the promise he made with Richie, so he is able to eventually escape. However, he loses due to his Charizard refusing his orders in the final stretch of his battle against Richie. Richie moves on to the quarterfinals.
After losing to Richie in the fifth round, Ash is moping around, annoyed that he lost. He is convinced by Misty that he should support Richie who is now in the quarterfinals. However, when Richie loses, they both have to look inside themselves to see if they are good trainers.