The Pokémon anime belongs to one of the most beloved franchises ever to grace the screen. The show is full of interesting characters and compelling narratives that continue to thrill fans to this day. It’s a timeless example of master storytelling.

While every fan is sure to remember all of the fantastical Pokémon encounters and battles from the anime, many are unlikely to reminisce on some of the stranger relationships that emerged in the series. These strange relationships leave viewers scratching their heads in confusion, wondering what they just witnessed, and how those liaisons could have possibly started in the first place.

10 Entei & Molly

A legendary Pokémon acting as a father to a young girl is a strange narrative choice to make to demonstrate the point that children need boundaries, but it’s the choice Pokémon 3, The Movie makes nonetheless. Entei’s and Molly’s entire relationship is based on Molly’s playing house with a powerful Pokémon, who assumes the role of Molly’s absent father.

At the whim of a spoiled, albeit lonely, little girl, Enti gifts Molly with powerful, trained Pokémon, transforms the town of Greenfield into a crystal fortress, and kidnaps Ash’s mom for some reason. Letting a child call all the shots isn’t the wisest parenting choice, and also maybe Pokémon aren’t meant to raise human children.

9 Brock & Nurse Joy

Every video game, manga, and anime arc in Pokémon features the bubbly Nurse Joy and her many relatives with the same name. Without fail, whenever the trio of Ash, Misty, and Brock stop at one of the Pokémon centers where Nurse Joy works, Brock loses his cool and falls in love with each and every Nurse Joy.

What is meant as a running gag ends up feeling weird and creepy. It’s never explained how the Nurse Joys feel about Brock’s affections, or if they all discuss his infatuation with them. Also, despite being continuously turned down, Brock never seems to give up on the chase and doesn’t get the hint that the Nurse Joys simply aren’t interested. Brock’s and Nurse Joy’s relationship is just a cycle of puppy love that inevitably crashes and burns in glorious flames.

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8 People & Pokémon

One of the strangest relationships in Pokémon lies in the entire concept of the franchise. From the very first episode of the anime the viewer is introduced to Pokémon as creatures that humans catch, train, and then use against each other in battle. As the show goes on, we see that some humans use Pokémon as domestic servants, while others keep them as pets.

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There are regions that worship ancient or mythical Pokémon as part of their religion, and there are even some people who don’t shy away from eating the creatures, too. Considering that Pokémon are sentient beings who can understand human language, scenes of Pokémon exploitation become exceedingly dark and unsettling. Thankfully, the show is centered around human compassion toward Pokémon, but at times the relationship between Pokémon and humans can still raise eyebrows.

7 Jesse & James

The franchise’s adored goofy antagonists are often at the center of fan relationship theories. The ambiguity of their relationship leaves the viewer wondering whether they are just colleagues or something more. The Team Rocket partners spend episode after episode plotting against Ash, most often to their own detriment.

Instead of splitting up as a duo after hundreds of failed attempts, they seem to grow closer each season. It’s not every day you see co-workers who consistently fail at their goal become a tighter unit. Maybe behind the scenes are also impeccable communicators, but that is highly speculative, to say the least.

6 Pikachu & Ash

The relationship between Ash and Pikachu gets off to a rocky start, as the amateur trainer struggles with the uncontrollable and temperamental Pokémon throughout the first season of the anime. Ash, who in the first few episodes of the show doesn’t have much going for him as the world’s best trainer, is actually incredibly disappointed about getting stuck with Pikachu as his first Pokémon.

To add insult to injury, Ash spends a good amount of time trying to force Pikachu inside a Poké Ball without first properly communicating with Pikachu about its needs. Later in the season, Ash puts pressure on Pikachu to evolve in order to be a stronger Pokémon. In return, Pikachu spends the majority of season one rebelling against, but this is hardly surprising given Ash’s poor behavior.

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5 Ash & Gary

Anime fans love an opposites-attract couple, but Ash and Gary, despite being part of countless fan theories, do not make for a great romance. The bitter rivals of the franchise act as foils for each other, with Ash acting as the scrappy underdog with a positive attitude, and Gary serving as the cocksure kid who is constantly trying to put down Ash and show off his accomplishments.

Their relationship consists of a litany of power imbalances, from their skill discrepancy to the amount of Pokémon they’ve caught. Not to mention, Gary is a bully who doesn’t shy away from insulting the main protagonist. Despite what some fans want, Gary and Ash would make a pretty toxic couple and are better off as competitors.

4 Seviper & Zangoose

Introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver, the breeding mechanic was an exciting addition to the franchise. Through breeding, if two Pokémon share an egg group they are technically able to mate and create powerful hybrids. However, sometimes this process delivers quite odd Pokémon combinations, such as Seviper and Zangoose.

According to every Pokédex since the days of Ruby and Sapphire, Zangoose and Seviper share a generational rivalry. Though they belong to the same egg group the Pokémon will deliberately attack each other in the wild and battle each other even without their trainers’ commands. Let’s hope that researchers in the Pokémon world aren’t cruel enough to carry on with this experiment.

3 Ash & Latias

As the main protagonist, Ash is the lucky character who gets shipped with pretty much every other character, including Pokémon. Alto-shipping is the term for the romance between Latias and Ash, a strange relationship choice that was introduced in Pokémon Heroes: Latios and Latias.

For whatever reason, Latias is pulled toward Ash and disguises herself as Bianca in order to get closer to him. The movie spends a good amount of time developing their friendship until Latias comes to Ash for help when Annie and Oakley, the antagonists of the film, have Latios trapped. For many fans, it would have been preferable if their relationship was just a friendship, but at the end of the movie, Bianca gives Ash a goodbye kiss, giving fans yet more excuses to imagine romances between Pokémon and humans.

2 Flint & Lola

One reason that makes the relationship between Brock’s parents strange is their story’s lack of continuity in the American version of the series. In “Showdown at Pewter City,” Flint mentions that Brock’s mother passed away after Flint abandoned his family to pursue Pokémon training.

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However, to fans’ surprise, Lola is resurrected in the Pokémon Chronicles. Meanwhile, in “A Family That Battles Together Stays Together”, Lola is shown as an ambitious, uncaring woman who is just as obsessed with the title of a Gym Leader as her husband. As it turns out, 4Kids took some translation liberties and killed Lola off in the first season, without realizing that the Japanese creators planned a family reunion between these two deadbeat parents.

1 Pearl & Platinum

Haughty-shipping is the term used by fans who envision Pearl and Platinum as a couple. The main characters from Pokémon Adventures, Pearl and Platinum are both haughty and often act with a superior attitude toward others. While reading the manga, one could interpret the two as having romantic potential, but the evidence points more toward a growing if reluctant friendship.

The Pokémon franchise, in general, seems to enjoy confrontational friendships, and Pearl and Platinum are no exception. Throughout the series, Pearl is either nervous about Platinum or secretive about his motivations, all while trying to keep an aloof attitude. Once again, Pokémon leaves it up to the interpretation of the fans.

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