Very surprised this question has not been asked yet.

In almost every single episode, at least from the first season all the way through to the Unova region, Team Rocket is trying to catch Pikachu to give him to Giovanni. Why do they do this? They often cite reasoning that this Pikachu is special somehow, but is that actually true? Nobody else really talks about how awesome Pikachu is, and he certainly doesn't seem to win very often.

I'm looking for any kind of answer, in-universe, out-of-universe, thematic, humourous, etc.

I have a theory I will post below but wonder if this community could come up with a better answer.

  • 5
    The answers below are very creative, but I really think it just comes down to wanting to keep Team Rocket on the show. If they gave up on Pikachu, they'd have no reason to keep following Ash around. And humor, I guess; lots of kids' shows have villains that get defeated in every episode for the laughs.
    – Torisuda
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 23:44
  • 1
    Like HamtaroWarrior said, they could have been ordered to; but a more rational explanation for this is as a distraction. It's obvious that Jessie, James, and Meowth are grossly incompetent and having them constantly trying to steal Pikachu keeps them out of the way and busy. Kind of like in Invader Zim when Zim is tasked to take over Earth since the expectation is he'll never succeed, and not bother anybody.
    – user15790
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 0:52
  • For the life of me I have no idea why they persist after Pickahu, it's not even a strong pokemon. TR (and i can't blame them they didn't write themselves) need to and i have no reason why never bolster their ranks with new improved pokemon (surely they ain't that thoughtless). In later seasons you see a TR quite smart and inventive, (black and white and later). It isn't in my opinion that they are obsessed any Pikachu would do, the writers behind TR have failed to give them any depth, for the good of the hero mentality.
    – user18528
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 12:29
  • Given the right pokemon say a Golurk you can successfully lock out most of Pikachu's moves, focused on the right move set and speed Pikachu is a pokemon of the past. Other than Pikachu's iron tail move, really he has nothing special and for that we have dodge and counter.
    – user18528
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 12:29

5 Answers 5


At the end of the second episode of the anime (Team Rocket's first appearance), Pikachu generates a large explosion which renders Team Rocket flying into outer space. Shocker (pun intended).

The next time we meet Team Rocket (next episode, again, shocker) they tell our friends the following:

The only Pikachu we want is that one.

We're only looking for the rarest, most valuable Pokémon in the world, kid.

And that special Pikachu is just the kind of Pokémon we need.

As portrayed later in the series, this Team Rocket trio does not have a good standing with Giovanni (anymore) so they try to get him the best Pokémon they can find to make up for it, which they believe is Pikachu.

  • Most of that bad standing is I think because they keep wasting time and money with bad plans like pursuing a single pikachu. How many robots were wrecked because of their plans? Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 14:40
  • 1
    It was my understanding this was their own money, not from Team Rocket. In any case, that's a loophole that is not addressed in the series, likewise they have a new Meowth balloon almost every episode, in how many places can you buy them and why does nobody else fly in them if they're so readily available? Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 19:39
  • They plainly say several times that they get money from Team Rocket, at least some of the time
    – Nacht
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 23:12
  • I believe it's implied at one point that they're related or something to Giovanni, and so he can't really punish them, so he just tries to get them out of the way of his real plans. Probably the beginning of Hoenn. Could be completely making this up though
    – Nacht
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 23:18

There are multiple reasons (and theories. People won't give up with Pokémon theories & creepy pasta) of why Team Rocket would like to get Ash's Pikachu.

1) In ep65 "The Battle Of The Badge" in Season One, it revealed that the boss asked them to, by team rocket saying to the Jovani "It's even rarer than the Pikachu you want so much". the question remaining is what makes Ash's Pikachu so rare and special?

In the Season one episode "Ash Catches a Pokémon," when Team Rocket was trying to steal Pikachu, Meowth accidentally says that Ash's Pikachu's power exceeds the power level he would possess as a Raichu (the evolved version of Pikachu).

As said in the wiki, as an example. (I'll try to update the post with a video link).

Which can be interpreted as

Ash's Pikachu has got more power than a regular Raichu

As you can see in the different seasons of Pokémon, Ash's Pikachu is dunking asses. If you compare it to a regular Pikachu from one of the games, the difference in stats is ridiculous. I mean like... really?

What's more, Pikachu is one of the few Pokémon Ash didn't abandon (I mean.. C'mon, he left Charizard, who in the world would be insane enough to do this? What do you mean, Pokémon have feelings too?), so Ash spent many years training him.

So we can assume that, even if Ash was one of the most incompetent trainers, Pikachu should be around level 100, giving the Team Rocket another good reason to try to catch him.

2) Another way to see it (not proven at all, just my personal opinion) is that, more than being stupid, Team Rocket is incredibly stubborn, as proven by the hundreds of tries of catching Pikachu. They spent years trying to catch Pikachu, what would be the sense of all this time of their lives if they stopped now? They prefer to keep spending their time trying to catch this Pikachu rather than admitting they lost years of their lives for nothing.

TL;DR : Pikachu OP & Team Rocket stupid

  • If Pikachu started in clean state, by now it would have very bad EV (more physical stats than special? Ugh, Ash should have his license revoked). Even with godly IV it will be weak, making it useful only for breeding more pikas. Considering how each season seems to reset its level (and wipes Ash memory) it would max at about lvl 50 (when it learns Thunder) and then starts again (poor Ditto).
    – PTwr
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 9:37
  • Maybe Pikachu grinded in secret when Ash was sleeping in order to get good EV? But you raise a good point here.
    – Ikaros
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 9:40
  • 4
    I don't like it when people compare the anime to the games. The anime obviously isn't a level-based RPG. There are so many differences we should treat them as two different universes. Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 14:00
  • 2
    Unless I'm wrong, Pikachu loses way more often than he wins. It is all completely based on whatever the plot demands at any given time. There is no concept at all of Pikachu being a "high level" in fact I only remember this being mentioned of other pokemon, very few times. Are EVs mentioned? I feel like maybe they are... Good point though about Giovanni telling them to catch Pikachu
    – Nacht
    Commented Jul 20, 2015 at 23:09
  • 1
    @Nacht In 8th episode (1998) there is trainer doing what seems like EV training using Macho Brace, although that item appeared in game later (2002, third generation, together with current form of EV). Anime creators had insight in future of game series (eg. Ho-oh appearing in anime before its game was released) so it could be intended as sneak-peak. (Thankfully to all remakes gen I-II can be left alone in its cave of imbalanced gameplay ;p)
    – PTwr
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 6:46

Short answer: This is Team Rocket's version of "following your dreams"

The only answer I've been able to come up with is a thematic one. The Pokemon anime, as with much Bishōnen anime is all about the idea of fulfilling your dreams and never giving up (being the most important part of Japanese Spirit). Ash has his dream of being the best Pokemon Trainer, Misty her dream of being a great Water-type trainer, Brock his dream about being a great breeder. None of these characters could give up on this dream or it would break the theme of the series.

If you had to pick a "dream" for Jesse, James and Meowth I think it would be to catch Ash's Pikachu. It kind of made sense in the first episode because Pikachu happened to win, but over the series as a whole, Pikachu doesn't seem especially powerful. But it doesn't really matter - Team Rocket could not give up on this dream of catching Pikachu, even though they are the antagonists, because it would break one of the central themes of the show: not giving up on your dreams.

I can't think of any satisfying in-universe logical reason for Team Rocket to continue pursuing Pikachu. There's not really any need to manufacture one, but I'm looking forward to other possible answers that might have thought of something I haven't.


This is answered in the very first episode that Team Rocket shows up in (the second episode in the series). In it, Team Rocket (Jessie, James and Meowth) arrive at the Pokémon center that Ash and Misty are at - Pikachu is recovering from the events of the previous episode.

At first, Team Rocket has no interest whatsoever in Ash's Pikachu, and are only really interested in taking all of the infirmed pokemon, disregarding his one ordinary Pikachu completely.

However, when Pikachu recovers, and with the help of several other Pikachu at the Pokémon Center, Pikachu manages to defeat Team Rocket in a single attack.

After this catastrophic failure, Team Rocket (Jessie, James and Meowth, not the group as a whole) determines that Ash's Pikachu must be "special", and resolve to catch it for their boss.

So to sum up, the reasons that Jessie, James, and Meowth want Ash's Pikachu so badly are:

1: It beat them badly with a seemingly impossible level of power. 2: They want to give that "special" Pikachu to their boss.


I think that team rocket is always trying to catch ash's pikachu, because team rocket, as long as ash and his pals, haven't aged for just about 20 darn years, for the sake of the franchise. They've been with ash in the anime the most, so they've also then seen ash's pikachu countless times, and often times, getting into the 'were blasting off again!' phrase. It's only natural that they'd want to capture pikachu, because they want pikachu's amazing power for themselves. How ever, they always fail to capture pika, and I'd like to sorta see a episode where rocket finally catches pikachu.

Hope this helps - Matt

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