From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
A Gym Leader (Japanese: ジムリーダー Gym Leader) is the highest-ranking member of a Pokémon Gym. The main job of a Gym Leader is to test Trainers and their Pokémon so that they are strong and resourceful enough to compete against the Elite Four in the games or the Pokémon League in the anime. If a Trainer defeats a Gym Leader in battle, then the Trainer earns that Gym's Badge.
A Gym Leader's job is not just to test upcoming Trainers. They must oversee how their respective Gym is run and maintain it. Great care must be taken to make sure that their Gym reflects the best environment for the Pokémon type and playing style of choice, usually an environment that suits that type of Pokémon used there (like pools in a Water-type Gym or flowers and plants in a Grass-type Gym). According to Morty, teaching young people how to battle with Pokémon can also be the job of a Gym Leader.
It has not exactly been made clear how Gym Leaders attain their position, but it appears that it varies for each Gym. Some of them founded their Gym and are self-appointed; others, such as Whitney, are chosen by the other members of the region's Pokémon League. A few appear to be passed on through families: Janine, Falkner, and Flannery all take over their respective Gyms from a close family member. However, Gyms do not necessarily belong to a particular family; Roark and his father Byron are both Gym Leaders at the same time, in different Gyms. Leaders can also choose to vacate their position; examples include Koga, Giovanni, and Wallace.
Although similar in nature, Frontier Brains, Colosseum Leaders, and Club Masters are not considered Gym Leaders.
Nearly all Leaders rely on a single type of Pokémon. For example, Erika uses only Grass-type Pokémon in official Gym battles. Some Leaders, however, stray from this mold, albeit rarely. This is evidenced by the different types used by Blue during his reign as the Gym Leader of the Viridian Gym in Generations II and IV, although he is the only Gym Leader to do so. However, many Gym Leaders have one or two Pokémon that stray from their type theme.
Geography and climate can often be connected to the type of Pokémon the Gym Leader of that area uses. Pastoria Gym Leader, Crasher Wake, uses Water-type Pokémon, a direct allusion to the flooded marsh that surrounds the area and the constant downpour that plagues Pastoria City. Another example of this is the Cinnabar Gym Leader, Blaine, who uses Fire-type Pokémon and lives in a volcanic area.
The character archetype can also reflect the type of Pokémon a Leader uses. For example, Roark and Byron, who are both miners, use the related Rock- and Steel-type Pokémon. Tate and Liza could be based on the archetype of twins who can communicate telepathically, and thus train Psychic-type Pokémon and being twins, they also battle opposing Trainers in Double Battles, being the only Leaders to do so.
In the games
challenges the player
A Leader (Japanese: ジムリーダー Gym Leader) is the Trainer class name given to the Gym Leaders when they are battled in the Pokémon games. Despite Gym Leaders themselves being introduced in Generation I, the name did not appear onscreen until Generation II, and has been incorporated into every game since. Gym Leaders are integral within the Pokémon universe. In order for one to advance in the game, the player must occasionally challenge and defeat the leader of a Gym. Each game is designed in such a way that the player will not be able to move forward until they receive a Gym Badge which will, in turn, either allow them to use an HM to overcome natural obstacles, or trigger a necessary event to continue with the game. It is one of the player's main objectives to collect eight Gym Badges, allowing him or her to challenge the Elite Four.
Leaders do not seem to be required to be in their Gyms at all times. Giovanni, for example, could keep his title as a Gym Leader despite not being at the Viridian Gym during the majority of the events of Generation I, and his successor, Blue, was also absent from the Gym several times. Beginning in Generation IV, Leaders are increasingly encountered outside of their Gyms, evident in the remakes Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, where the Leaders have to be found in different locations at specific times before they can exchange phone numbers with the player for a rematch at the Fighting Dojo. Some Leaders even appear across regions, such as Jasmine appearing in Sunyshore City, Crasher Wake on Route 47, and Maylene in Celadon City. Leaders can even challenge other Gyms and the Elite Four (like Volkner wanted to do). In later games, it is made apparent that Gym Leaders know each other and are acquainted with Gym Leaders from other regions, as well as with members of the Elite Four and Champions. Examples of this are Jasmine being friends with Erika, Volkner being friends with Flint, Brawly training with Bruno, and most Unova Gym Leaders coming together to fight Team Plasma's Seven Sages.
In addition, some Gym Leaders may be required to use Pokémon different then their usual team, such as Cheren in Black 2 and White 2. Due to their higher AI compared to regular trainers, Gym Leaders are also one of the few Trainers to employ the use of Potions when battling.
In addition to Gym Leaders, there are also Gym Trainers. While not an official Trainer class, they are Trainers that are either a devotee or apprentice to the Gym Leader, who follow the same type theme as the Leader does. It is usually necessary to defeat multiple Gym Trainers before challenging the Gym Leader. Some Gyms in the game require the player to solve a puzzle, and one must often use Gym Trainers as obstacles to reach the solution. They have no direct impact on the overall plot, other than rarely offering the player helpful advice. It is also worth noting that the type of Trainer appearing in a Gym will depend on the Gym itself. For instance, Gardenia employs Aroma Ladies and Beauties, exclusively, while Misty recruits Sailors and Swimmers; these Gym Leaders represent the types Grass and Water, respectively.
In the anime
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In the anime, there are many Badges that do not belong to Gyms shown in other media, suggesting that there are many more Gym Leaders in the anime than in other media. This is also suggested by the existence of 11 Gyms in Unova. Although all 11 were the same as those in the games, this is more than the conventional 8 Gyms for one region.
In the anime, rules are different for each Gym. Generally, Gym Leaders are forbidden from switching their Pokémon and only challengers may make substitutions during Gym matches. Although those that Ash encountered before Blaine did switch, since Ash's match against Blaine in Riddle Me This, only Lenora has switched out a Pokémon. Also, unlike the games, Trainers are only allowed to use the same number of Pokémon as the Gym Leader. There are, however, exceptions to this rule such as in the case of Roxie and Grant.
A notable occurrence in the anime is that one does not necessarily have to defeat the Gym Leader to obtain a Badge. Badges are given out on a case-by-case basis based on whether or not the Gym Leader feels as though the Trainer has earned it. Misty has often berated Ash on several occasions noting that he didn't properly earn all of his Gym Badges.
According to Misty, Ash really only earned 3 Badges and the other 5 Badges were given to him on a technicality:
- Given: In Showdown in Pewter City, Brock gives Ash the Boulder Badge after Pikachu's Electric attack caused a fire, ultimately setting off the Gym's sprinklers and weakening Onix enough to allow Pikachu to fight back with another Electric attack.
- Earned: In Volcanic Panic Ash's Charizard delivered a devastating defeat to Blaine's Magmar by using an aerial Submission followed by a Seismic Toss. Thus Ash leaves Cinnabar Island having earned the Volcano Badge.
- Given: Ash received his eighth and final Gym Badge in The Battle of the Badge after defeating Jessie, James, and Meowth instead of the proper Gym Leader, Giovanni, who had temporarily left the trio in charge in his absence.
There is also an entire league exclusive to the anime where the four Gym Leaders all have special requirements in order to gain their Gym Badges, the Orange League, located on the Orange Islands.
- Ash finds the first Orange Islands Gym in Fit to be Tide. There he challenges Cissy for the Coral Eye Badge. However, they do not participate in a typical Pokémon Battle; instead he and Cissy go head to head in three water-based physical challenges using their Water Pokémon.
- In Navel Maneuvers Ash travels to Navel Island where he runs into Danny, a man who he presumes to be another challenger against the Navel Gym. Danny turns out to be the Gym Leader and offers Ash three challenges, winning a Sea Ruby Badge only if he won two out of three. Ash loses the first one, but manages to accidentally win the second with some help from Charizard, and win the third.
- Ash challenges pompous Rudy in Misty Meets Her Match. Rudy first assigns him an attack challenge in which Ash has to use his Pokémon to knock down all the targets on a tricky water course. Ash technically misses one, but it's not acknowledged in the show and Ash passes this pre-test. Secondly, Ash faces an three-on-three battle with Rudy with Pokémon of the same type battling each other. Ash wins and earns the Spike Shell Badge.
- Double Battles were introduced officially for the first time in Pokémon Double Trouble in Ash's fourth and final Orange Crew Gym battle against Luana, who specializes in them. Here Ash used Pikachu and a newly-obedient Charizard to defeat Luana and earn the Jade Star Badge.
In the Johto region, one needs to earn eight badges in order to participate in the Silver Conference, with the same condition applying for Hoenn's Ever Grande Conference, Sinnoh's Lily of the Valley Conference, Unova's Vertress Conference and Kalos's respective League.
The general rule for the majority of Gym matches in the anime is that the challenger and the Gym Leader use an equal number of Pokémon which engage in one-on-one battles, with only the challenger being allowed to make substitutions. However, there were exceptions, with:
- Juan of Sootopolis Gym also had a unique two round system, with the first round being a Double Battle. Once the challenger wins the first round, they enter the second round, being individual battles against three of his Pokémon. Only the challenger is allowed to substitute between their own five Pokémon. Once Ash cleared both rounds was he only given the Rain Badge.
- When Ash challenged Whitney of the Goldenrod Gym in Johto to a rematch, he fought three-on-one in his favour, with Whitney only utilising her Miltank.
There were also noticeable exceptions to the general rule during several of the the Unova League Gym battles:
- For the Striaton Gym's Tri Badge, the challenger is initially given a choice between one of three gym leaders. However, Ash challenged all three triplets, making the battle a best-two-out-of-three tournament, with Ash only earning a badge after defeating at least two of the Gym Leaders.
- For the Nacrene Gym's Basic Badge, both the challenger and the Gym Leader are using the same number of Pokémon, with both being allowed to make substitutions.
- For the Mistralton Gym's Jet Badge, the challenger and the Gym Leader used to engage in "Air Battles". In these, the Gym Leader first displays her three chosen Pokémon, followed with the challenger revealing their own three, then the Gym Leader decides the outcome of the battle using her own experience without even physically battling.
- For the Virbank Gym's Toxic Badge, the battle was teams were three-on-six in Ash's favour, with only him being allowed to make substitutions.
Some of the Gym's also required the challenger to undergo a trial or a test before they are able to battle:
- The Fuchsia Gym in Kanto was set up like a ninja house and riddled with traps, with the trainers had to make their way through before they were allowed to challenge the Gym Leader.
- The Cinnabar Gym (again in Kanto) was hidden, and required challengers to find it by solving the riddles given by the disguised Gym leader, Blaine.
- The Nacrene Gym in Unova could only be accessed if the trainer picks the right book in an entire library.
- The Lumiose Gym in Kalos, when under the charge of the Clembot, used to first require trainers to have four badges before they could challenge the Gym.
Incidentally, Ash has not won a badge in the same episode as his first encounter with its respective Gym Leader since earning the Dynamo Badge from Wattson in Watts with Wattson?.
In the manga
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Reason: Needs other manga, more info for Adventures after DP chapter.
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
In the Pokémon Adventures manga, Gym Leaders have the same jobs as in the games and anime, but are also shown to throw away their role as Leader and pursue other goals. Some Gym Leaders even become evil, such as Koga, Lt. Surge, Sabrina, and Pryce. In order to become a Gym Leader in Adventures, one needs to fight a Trainer chosen by the Pokémon Association and win in front of them without letting one of their own Pokémon faint. The one exception to this rule seen so far has been by Blue when he defended the building where Red took his exam, since Red had to decline becoming a Gym Leader due to an injury, despite having passed the exam. Some Gym Leaders have jobs outside of their Gyms, but some of them focus solely on training their skills.
Gym Leaders are highly respected in their respective home regions and usually in other regions as well. When crises emerge, it is highly probable for Gym Leaders to gather to discuss about the situation that has befallen the region and what to do with it, with the most well-known example being the Hoenn Gym Leaders gathering at Fortree City during the Ruby & Sapphire chapter to decide which team—Team Magma or Team Aqua—they should support. They also tend to help Pokédex holders to fight the villains who are usually behind different crises, a great example being the Sinnoh Gym Leaders fighting Team Galactic at Spear Pillar near the end of the Diamond & Pearl chapter.
All of the Kanto and Johto Gym Leaders were called up for a tournament held at Indigo Plateau (which was interrupted by the Masked Man) to fight as teams to see which region had stronger Gym Leaders. The Kanto team won with four wins, three losses and one draw.
In the Pokémon Gold & Silver: The Golden Boys manga
The Kanto Gym Leaders in Pocket Monsters HGSS Jō's Big Adventure
In Pokémon Gold & Silver: The Golden Boys, Gold meets many Gym Leaders in his travels, as it is his goal to collect all eight Gym Badges. The first Gym Leader challenged by Gold was Falkner, who he defeated in Falkner The Bird Keeper's Challenge!!. He defeats Bugsy in Get up Again, Bayleef. He meets Whitney in For Pikachu's Sake!! The Search For The Missing Farfetch'd and loses to her in battle, so she takes away his Pikachu temporarily. Whitney travels with Gold for a while, arriving at the Pokémon Summit, a conference for Gym Leaders and Pokémon researchers, in Gold and Black VS Team Rocket. Gold finally defeats Whitney in A Promise Given to Miltank, earning his Pikachu back as well as the Plain Badge.
In Let's Fight! The Mini Pokémon Tournament, Morty offers Gold the Fog Badge for free, as he is unable to battle him at the time due to other commitments and he believes that Gold has already demonstrated his fighting skills by defending the Pokémon Summit against Team Rocket. However, Gold refuses, insisting that he must battle Morty another time and earn the Badge properly. He meets Jasmine in A Spectacular Battle To Save Ampharos and Chuck in The Secret Of The Fighting Type Pokémon. As the manga ended abruptly, Pryce and Clair never appeared, nor did the Pokémon League.
In the Pocket Monsters HGSS Jō's Big Adventure manga
Throughout the journey, Jō faced many Gym Leaders of Kanto and Johto. All of them except for Falkner appeared as silhouettes.
List of Gym Leaders
Black and White
Black 2 and White 2
- Every Gym Leader that specializes in Ghost- and Steel-type Pokémon uses Gengar and Steelix respectively in battle.
- Even though there are 51 known Gyms in the games, with 58 Gym Leaders among them, there has not yet been a Gym specializing in Dark-type Pokémon, although there have been three Elite Four members; Karen, Sidney, and Grimsley. All the other seventeen types have at least one Gym associated with them. Electric-type specialist Gyms appear in five of the six regions.
- The only Gym Leaders so far whose parents have been seen in the anime are Brock, Sabrina, Tate and Liza, Roark, and Clemont.
- Janine, Roark, Maylene, Cheren and Roxie are the only ones who have a parent the player can encounter in the games. Koga, Giovanni, Norman, and Byron are the only Gym Leaders whose children can be encountered, or in Norman's case, played as, in the games.
- Other in-game relatives of Gym Leaders include Clair's cousin, Blue's grandfather and sister, Viola's sister, Korrina's grandfather and Clemont's sister. Additionally, Tate and Liza are brother and sister, while Cilan, Chili, and Cress are brothers.
- For Setting the World on Its Buneary, Professor Oak's Big Pokémon Encyclopedia is about Gym Leaders. He writes this senryū about them: 「ジムリーダー いのちをかけて かかってこい」 "Gym Leader, put your life on the line and challenge me."
- In the Johto saga of the anime, none of the Gym Leaders had exactly the same lineups as they do in the games.
- In the games, every Gym Leader has at least one Pokémon in his or her party that knows the TM move he or she gives out upon defeat. Former Gym Leaders do not count in this, as Wallace when he is faced as Champion and Giovanni when he is faced in Generation IV do not have Pokémon that know the move they gave out as TMs when they were faced as Gym Leaders in previous games. Koga, despite not being a Gym Leader in Generation IV, has several Pokémon that know Toxic, the move he last gave out as a TM.
- From Generations I-V (not counting remakes), every move that was in a TM given out by a Gym Leader was a new move for that generation, and many of them were rarely (if ever) seen on any other Pokemon in the generation they were introduced. This trend has been broken in Generation VI, where only three Gym Leaders—Viola, Korrina, and Valerie—hand out TMs with moves new to the generation.
- In Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, the player can continue the game without defeating Winona of Fortree City until attempting to battle the Elite Four.
- The Orange League is the only one so far in which Ash has successfully defeated all the Gym Leaders without a rematch.
- In Pocket Monsters: The Animation, it was mentioned that the position of Gym Leaders was very unforgiving, as it had a three-strike rule stating that if a Gym Leader lost three times in a row, the Gym will be disqualified. It also revealed that being a Gym Leader was costly, leaving little pay, and the government can't provide for them. It also revealed that the rather brutal nature of Gym leading was one of the reasons why Misty's and Brock's parents ended up abandoning them to Gym duties.
In other languages
|| 道館掌門人 Dougún Jéungmùhnyàhn
|| 道館訓練家 / 道馆训练家 Dàoguǎn Xùnliànjiā (anime, Adventures)|
練功場首領 Liàngōngcháng Shǒulǐng (Adventures)
訓練館首領 / 训练馆首领 Xùnliànguǎn Shǒulǐng (Adventures, Zensho)
道馆首领 Dàoguǎn Shǒulǐng (Adventures)
|| Styrkecenterleder / Salleder
|| Gym Leider
|| Salipäällikkö / Salijohtaja / Salivalmentaja (anime)|
Salinjohtaja (Pokémon Adventures)
|| Arenaleiter (♂)|
|| Αρχηγός Σταδίου
|| מנהיג מכון Manhig MaHon
|| Gym Leader
|| 체육관 관장 Cheyukgwan Gwanjang
|| Lider Sali
|| Líder de Ginásio
|| Șef de Arenă
|| Гим-лидер Gim-lider|
Лидер Спортзала Lider Sportzala
|| Líder de gimnasio
|| Salon Lideri