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- For the Elite Four Champion in Pokémon Stadium, see Blue (game).
- For the Japanese opening theme, see The Rivals.
's first battle against his rival Blue
A rival (Japanese: ライバル rival) is one of the main characters in the Pokémon games that is well known to the protagonist and has similar skills, goals, and achievements. Rival characters appear frequently during the hero's quest, having a role in several of the games' events and often challenges him or her in battles. Defeating a rival may be a primary or necessary goal of said character.
In the games
In the main series, a rival is a recurring opponent to the player throughout the game. This character class appeared beginning in Generation I and in every main series game since. Typically, rivals will be met by the player early in the game, usually around the time the player receives their starter Pokémon. In most games, the rival will also obtain a starter Pokémon and will usually participate in the player's first Pokémon battle against a Trainer. From then on, rivals will appear frequently throughout the player's journey, often being one step ahead of the player as the player moves through the region, meeting and battling the player at various points in the game with a progressively stronger and diversified party. Usually they must be defeated in order to continue the game; the most important of these battles happening either right before or during the player's challenge to the Elite Four.
After the defeat of the Elite Four and the Pokémon Champion, the rival can usually be battled at the player's leisure, but only at certain times with increasingly powerful Pokémon. More often than not, they will have the starter Pokémon of their home region that weakens the one the player chose at the beginning of the game, though Wally, Bianca, Shauna, and Blue in Pokémon Yellow are exceptions.
Like the player character, some rivals have the option to be named by the player.
The following are the characters considered to be rivals in the games. It should be noted, though, that only Blue and Silver have ever received the Rival Trainer class; all others have been referred to as PKMN Trainers. Additionally, for one battle in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, Blue is referred to as "Champion Blue".
In the anime
Ash and his main Unova
Various rivals for the main characters have also appeared in the anime.
- Ash's main Kanto and Johto rival was Gary Oak. They were close when they were younger, but their friendship ended when they argued over a Poké Ball and broke it. Eventually, Gary gained some respect for Ash, and after losing to him in the Johto League, they became friends again altogether.
- Paul is Ash's main Sinnoh rival. When they met, they despised each other, and they constantly insulted each other every time they crossed paths. They eventually became friends after Ash's victory against Paul in the Sinnoh League.
- Barry is Ash's secondary Sinnoh rival. Unlike Ash's other major rivals, the two have a friendly rivalry.
- Trip is Ash's only unfriendly Unova rival. The rivalry formed when Trip found out that Ash was from Kanto, a region Trip thinks very little of. Trip believed Ash to be a redneck from the boonies who needed to go back to the basics of Pokémon, causing a heated rivalry. However, they were shown to respect each other to some extent in various episodes. The two became friends when Ash beat Trip for the first time, at the Unova League.
- Ash's minor rivals include Nando and Conway who, while they battled Ash more than once across an entire saga, have a smaller role than the other four. Many other characters also collect Badges and may be counted as rivals in the future. He also has friendly rivalries with Stephan, Bianca, Virgil, and Cameron.
- May has rivalries with Drew, Harley, and Solidad.
- Dawn has unfriendly rivalries with Ursula and Jessilina. She has friendly rivalries with Zoey and Kenny. A minor rival included Nando.
- Johanna had a childhood rivalry with Lila.
- Brock had a friendly (and short-lived) rivalry with Suzy.
- Jessie and James have a rivalry with Cassidy and Butch, respectively.
- Iris has a unfriendly rivalry with Georgia. Iris despises Georgia for her reputation as a "Dragon Buster" and for her attitude.
- Cilan has a unfriendly rivalry with Burgundy. This rivalry comes from when Cilan defeated Burgundy at the Striaton Gym, and from Cilan's better Connoisseur reputation (he is an A-class, while Burgundy is a C-class).
- Ash's Krookodile saw Pikachu as a rival until becoming allies following his capture in Battling the Bully!.
- Stephan's Sawk engaged a rivalry with Montgomery's Throh.
- Dawn's Piplup had a rivalry with Ash's Oshawott over the affections of a Meloetta during his stay in the Unova region.
In the manga
In the Phantom Thief Pokémon 7 manga
In the Pocket Monsters Zensho manga
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
Several of the characters in Pokémon Adventures have been rivals to each other.
In the Pokémon Diamond & Pearl Adventure! manga
Hareta and his rival, Koya
Several characters have rivals in this series.
In the Pokémon Get Da Ze! manga
In the Pokémon Gold & Silver: The Golden Boys manga
In the Pokémon Pocket Monsters manga
In the Pokémon RéBURST manga