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| Friends to the End
Pokémon League! Final Battle!
|| January 21, 1999
| United States
|| November 27, 1999
|| Team Ota
|| 藤田伸三 Shinzō Fujita
|| 浅田裕二 Yūji Asada
| Assistant director
|| 大町繁 Shigeru Ōmachi
| Animation director
|| たけだゆうさく Yūsaku Takeda
| Additional credits
Friends to the End (Japanese: ポケモンリーグ！さいごのたたかい！ Pokémon League! Final Battle!) is the 80th episode of the Pokémon anime and the final episode of the Indigo League arc. It was first broadcast in Japan on January 21, 1999 and in the United States on November 27, 1999.
It's the sixth round match at the Pokémon League Competition, and Ash, Misty and Brock are in the stands cheering for their new friend, Richie. When an unfortunate turn of events happens, Ash learns a valuable lesson that he will take with him on the rest of his journey as a Pokémon trainer. Finally, Ash and Richie get to march with the athletes for the closing ceremonies of the Competition where they add a Pokémon League Badge to their cherished collection.
Ash is still upset that he lost his last match. He's been lying in his bed ever since, and his friends, mother, and Professor Oak are getting worried. Misty comments that he should be happy that he made it as far as he did and goes in to try to cheer him up. She offers to get him something to eat or take a walk, but he refuses. She tells him that she's only trying to help. They start to argue about how good a Trainer Ash really is when Professor Oak comes in. He tells Ash that he should have trained Charizard better. Misty and Ash start an argument again. Pikachu, however, is having none of it, and he ThunderShocks everyone in the room.
Ritchie's next battle is about to begin. He sits in a locker room and talks to his Pokémon. The door opens and in walk Ash, Misty, and Brock. They wish him luck and the battle begins. Brief battles are shown where Zippo battles against Rhydon, Happy against Venomoth and a Spearow against a Tentacool.
Both Trainers are fairly equally matched and they are soon both down to their last Pokémon. Ritchie's opponent, Assunta, sends out Ivysaur and Ritchie sends out Sparky. As soon as he pops out, Sparky gets a beating by Ivysaur. None of his Thunder Shocks are connecting. Ivysaur jumps into the air and unleashes a Solar Beam, hurling Sparky to the ground. Just as he gets up, he is hit by Ivysaur's Tackle. He struggles to get up again, but it is no use. Assunta wins. Ritchie runs up to his Pikachu and makes sure he's OK. In the stands, Ash and his friends are disappointed.
Later, Ash joins Ritchie near a lake. As their Pikachu play, they talk about their losses. Ritchie says that he would've trained harder if he'd known how tough the competition would be. He then comments on how losing is good for Trainers, and Ash realizes how much of a baby he was. He and Ritchie promise to become Pokémon Masters no matter what.
Suddenly, both Pikachu fall into a hole. Ritchie and Ash run over to see what happened, and they too fall into a hole. Team Rocket appears at the surface and laughs at them. Ash tries to climb up the side, but slips down. When he lands, the bottom falls out and he and Ritchie plummet another few feet. Team Rocket uses a cage at the end of a fishing pole and pulls both of their Pikachu out of the hole. They try to shock them, but James tells them that the bars absorb electricity. They start to make their getaway when Ash and Ritchie rise out of the other hole, clinging to their Pidgeotto and Butterfree respectively.
Ash sends out Bulbasaur, who tries to grab the cage with his vines. James sends Weezing for a Smog attack. Pidgeotto blows the gas back at Team Rocket with Gust and Ritchie sends out Zippo. After Bulbasaur frees Pikachu and Sparky with a Razor Leaf, Zippo ignites the gas with a Flamethrower.
As Team Rocket run around in pain, Ash has Pikachu and Sparky recharge the cage, he sends out Squirtle who extinguishes Team Rocket with Water Gun. Then Ash tosses the cage into their hands where it explodes, blasting Team Rocket into the air.
As the sun sets, Ash and Ritchie congratulate each other. Brock and Misty run up and invite him and Ritchie to dinner, after which they'll go to the closing ceremonies. Later that night, the closing ceremonies begin. Everyone marches back in, waving. Mr. Goodshow gives each and every one of them a special Pokémon League Badge for competing in the league. As this is going on, however, Team Rocket is digging a hole outside. They aim to dig under the field and steal the Pokémon.
Back inside, the top three Trainers (who are shadowed) wave from the stage amid the cheers of the crowd. Team Rocket continues to dig as fireworks go off in the sky. Meowth listens at the ground above and tells Jessie and James to dig up. Unfortunately for them, a huge bomb falls through. It goes off and Team Rocket is blasted off again.
The next morning, all is quiet. Ash and Ritchie sit in the stands talking. Their Pikachu come running up to them and are warmly greeted. After Ash reminds him of their promise, Ritchie sets off. Ash remembers the highlights of the League games, all from when he saw Moltres at the opening ceremonies to when he lost to Ritchie. He gazes at the sky then he looks over and sees his friends, mom, and Professor Oak. Smiling he asks Pikachu if he's ready to go back to Pallet Town. He runs over to his friends. His first adventure has now ended, but his next one is just about to begin.
- For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the timeline of events.
Who's That Pokémon?: Fearow (U.S. and international), Spearow (Japan)
- Professor Oak's Pokémon Lecture: Indigo Plateau Conference memories
- Pokémon senryū summary: The battles of the strong are over, it is unbearable.
- The music that plays during the closing ceremony is shown to be actually playing in the stadium, as when the scene changes to Team Rocket temporarily, the music fades but is still heard, muffled, from the stadium.
- This is the first English dubbed episode to be skipped in the Finnish dub (and the only one in the first season).
- The Tentacool seen during Ritchie and Assunta's match used Bubble, even though Tentacool was unable to learn Bubble until Generation V.
Sparky's missing back stripes
- During the flashback of Ash's battle with Ritchie in the Pokémon League, the narrator states that Ash took a chance on Charizard when they each only had one Pokémon left, however Ritchie still had two when Ash sent out Charizard.
- Also during the flashback, when Ritchie is declared the winner, the scoreboard displays that Ritchie has two Pokémon left, when in actuality, he only has one.
- Right after Team Rocket is blasted off, Ritchie, Ash, and their Pokémon celebrate. While the rest of the Pokémon are standing with their Trainers, Pikachu and Sparky are reversed.
- When Ritchie turns to Ash at the lake, the stripes on Sparky's back are missing.
- During the battle between Ritchie and Assunta in the dub, Tentacool is heard saying Tentacruel.
- When Team Rocket captures the two Pikachu, the bars on the cage are the same color as the Pikachu's bodies.
In other languages