In the show, Ash Ketchum hasn't caught any legendary Pokémon and he loses a lot of battles and people say that he is a pathetic trainer. Why does he not catch legendary Pokémon to expand his arsenal?

  • he gets enough of an annoyance from Jessie, James and Meouth, if he caught a Legendary like one of the ones Team Aqua/Magma/Galactic etc. just imagine how much more he would go though, then there's Team Rocket who would come after him with more competent members if he caught others like the Bird Trio
    – Memor-X
    Nov 7, 2013 at 2:43
  • 3
    Ash is typically saving the legionaries from someone trying to capture them. It would be kinda hypocritical to go capture them himself. Nov 8, 2013 at 1:21
  • Well, not every legendary is all that, and he wouldn't have to catch Dialga, Palkia, Arceus and other gen 4 legendaries that are like gods (speaking of Arceus). He could get like Latias/os or something like Virizion or Entei. There is even Cresselia who would prove a good Phsyc. But, the show probably will never do it becaus it just wants Ash to be weak. Or just extremely noble.
    – user7584
    Jul 13, 2014 at 13:31
  • 2
    Well it is obvious, Ash's PokéDex identifies Pokemons with simple encounters. Considering this, he doesn't have to "catch" them all because he is already "catching" information about all the Pokemons (his original mission given by Oak). What about the games? In the games, no information will be provided unless you catch them (Pokemons). Also, the above-mentioned explanations/comments are logical enough.
    – shin
    Oct 14, 2015 at 23:53
  • I remember saying that the tv series stopped saying "gotta catch 'em all" after the first season since there are pokemon that can't be obtainable, but I don't remember the reason.
    – USerNAme
    Jan 22, 2020 at 1:12

4 Answers 4


There are several reasons to that:

  • It's a TV show, you wouldn't watch a TV show where the hero is absolutely the strongest and no one has a chance of defeating him, right? Think of what would happen should Ash have caught Dialga, Palkia or Arceus.
  • It disrupts "the balance", it was portrayed in the anime that most legendary pokemon serve a role as some sort of "god" of a force of nature, (Kyogre of the Rain, Palkia of space, etc). If you capture them, you might disrupt the balance by "not letting them do their jobs".

Those are the two excuses I know.

  • 20
    Just for the record, ash is a pathetic trainer, his level 4359348543 pikachu lost to a level 5 snivy. Nov 7, 2013 at 13:08
  • 10
    Please, Pikachu could've beat him using splash only considering his level! Nov 7, 2013 at 18:53
  • 2
    then he can never fulfill his dream to catch em all? @MadaraUchiha May 19, 2014 at 5:17
  • 2
    @AsshO.Le: It's a bit different. Animes where the MC is strongest tend to be short, because there's only so much you can do with a MC which has nowhere to advance. Pokemon is running for years. May 19, 2014 at 7:50
  • 2
    @AsshO.Le: Let's continue this discussion in chat. May 19, 2014 at 8:28

Moral quandries aside,

He has yet to get a lasting grip on a master ball, and except in the Safari zone, you'll notice he's never been good at capturing pokemon (his pokemon-per-badge ratio is pretty low). He also very rarely buys or gets anything better than the most basic pokeballs if you notice. And if you've ever played the games, you'll know how important those better balls are for better captures.

So, in short... shoddy equipment.

Also, second reason... if you notice, he rarely captures, period (again, with the exception of the safari zone). He's more like the coach that focuses on training his team rather than the coach who trades for better players. (Also, remember his experience with Charizard... he knows too powerful pokemon types can be hard for him to handle, and later on he just kept in the habit as far as I can tell. I mean, think how often he had to get skin grafts.


I'm going to answer this question with a bit more respect for the show and Ash as a character than most people give it credit for. I think there are some reasons Ash doesn't catch legendary pokemon.

Ash only obtains a pokemon when it is natural - it's never forced

Ash's pokemon are not an "arsenal". Ash's stated goal is indeed to become the best pokemon trainer of all time. There is an implication that this means catching "them all", but in the context of the show, and Ash's character, this is considered to a long-term goal. There is no panic of missed opportunity when an encounter with a legendary pokemon does not lead to a capture.

To Ash, being a "master Pokemon trainer" means, first and foremost, treating his captured pokemon with respect and maintaining a friendship with them. He always does what he thinks is best for them. As such, any time he obtains a pokemon, it it's a natural thing; not forced. If it doesn't happen, then it doesn't happen.

Lastly, the anime often contrasts Ash's personality against those who would weigh and measure a pokemon's stats. Ash is no scientist - I think we would all agree he isn't very smart. He bases almost all his decisions on instinct - he cares not for statistics and min/maxing, which would realistically be required to become a Pokemon Master. The show does this on purpose - it considers getting out there to experience life a superior way of learning than sitting at home reading stats (this is probably most exemplified by May's brother Max). For this reason, Ash will never freak out about the potential lost by failing to capture a legendary pokemon.

  • What do you mean by "natural" and "never forced"? Ash does capture Pokemon against their will, especially in the first seasons and in Black and White. Mar 21, 2017 at 0:37
  • Maybe what you're trying to get at is something being "natural" to the plot. A capture of a legendary by Ash may indeed seem "forced" if it was put at the end of an arc where the whole goal was to keep it from being captured from an evil team and it would seem more natural to allow the legendary to go back to the wild. Mar 21, 2017 at 0:45

Look what happens in the movies when a legendary leaves its post. Mass chaos and destruction would happen (though I suppose that is debatable. I've counted two legend trainers that I can remember, so it might just be the ORIGINAL legends and their young are safe to catch).

Though I do agree somewhat: it would be nice if Ash could at least capture them and call on their aid while generally leaving them alone.

  • So what's the reason Ash doesn't catch legendary Pokemon? Is it that would cause mass chaos and destruction?
    – Jon Lin
    May 16, 2014 at 22:40

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