How many Pokémon did Ash really catch in Season 1?

Most Trainers need to catch their Pokémon to add them to their team. This often means going into battle, damaging them to weaken them, then throwing a Pokéball at them. Ash, on the other hand, is a different story.

In the first season of pokemon, Ash didn’t have to be such a good fighter to fill his team. While most trainers had to catch Pokémon in a hard-fought battle, Ash’s team consisted mainly of Pokémon he had been given or befriended. Even the Pokémon he traditionally caught weren’t always that hard to get into the ball. To prove this, here’s a breakdown of all the Pokémon Ash owned at the end of the Indigo League.

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Ash’s total number of correctly caught Pokémon is four. The number of Pokémon he has received or befriended is three; since Ash never had a final sixth Pokémon in Season 1, this means that more than half of his team was made up of Pokémon he never caught. The number of Pokémon he has caught without damaging them in battle is 32; even if all Tauros only count for one catch, that still brings the total to three. Therefore, only four of the 10 different types of Pokémon Ash captured in Season 1 showed Ash’s fighting power.

Ash’s first Pokémon ever was Pikachu. Like most Trainers, he got this Electric Mouse Pokémon from Professor Oak so he could begin his journey. Since this is how most trainers start out, he shouldn’t be blamed for not catching Pikachu. The first Pokémon he ever caught, Caterpie, was technically caught the normal way. Ash went into battle with the Worm Pokémon, but before he bothered to damage it, he just threw his Pokéball at it and it went in. There was no real fighting.

The nature of this type of capture is debatable. On the one hand, it’s entirely possible to catch a Pokemon at full health with a Pokéball; it’s the whole premise of the Safari Zone, pokemon go, and the Pokemon: Let’s Go spell. Even the core series games allow this to happen. The problem is, it’s a bad test of Ash’s fighting skills. If the goal is to see how many Pokémon he’s caught fighting and damaging them, then this shouldn’t matter.

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The same goes for any other Pokémon he’s caught this way. In Season 1, this would include his Krabby and the 30 Tauros he caught in the Safari Zone. Again, since the Safari Zone is based on catching Pokémon without fighting them, the Tauros should not be held against him.

A stronger point against Ash, however, is how he caught his Charmander and Squirtle. Instead of fighting them, he spent an episode with each of them, bonding with them and getting to know them. Once this was done, these two Pokémon happily jumped into Ash’s Pokéball.

In all fairness, Ash’s ways of getting Charmander and Squirtle were arguably much harder than just fighting them. With Charmander, it was quite an ordeal where he had to help get him back to health and accept that his old Trainer had abandoned him. In Squirtle’s case, he raced against time to ensure the safety of his friends and his Pikachu; he was also nearly bombed by Team Rocket. While these aren’t examples of Ash’s fighting skills, they are examples of the efforts he will put into becoming a Pokemon Master.

The only Pokémon Ash caught fighting them were Pidgeotto, Bulbasaur, Primeape, and Muk. He caught these Pokémon by engaging them in battle, damaging them, and throwing a Poké Ball at them once they were properly weakened. These are the only Pokémon Ash can claim to have rightfully caught.

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