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Reason: Pokkén Tournament player characters, Art Academy.
A player character (Japanese: 主人公 protagonist) in the world of Pokémon is the main character in the plot of the Pokémon games. Remarkably silent, players are represented by an avatar; it is left up to the real player to "fill in" what they imagine the character is feeling, thinking, and acting, thus immersing them within the world of the game.
In the core series
In the core series games, the player characters are Pokémon Trainers beginning their Pokémon journey. They start their journey in their hometown by getting a starter Pokémon, a Pokémon that appears very early in their native region's Pokédex, and is usually of the Grass-, Fire-, or Water-type. The region's resident Pokémon Professor will always give them this, as well as a Pokédex. Starting in Pokémon Crystal, players can also choose their character's gender. Usually, they have rivals who begin their journey at about the same time. Players take part in several events, and meet a great number of Pokémon and people during their adventure. A common target is to conquer a Pokémon League's eight Gym Leaders and Elite Four, and become the Champion. Several additional side-quests occur during and after each game's main plot.
To date, only one player character has reappeared from an older generation in a role other than that of the player. In Generation II and the Generation IV remakes, when Ethan or Kris/Lyra travels to Mt. Silver and reaches the deepest point of the cave, Red is found, utterly silent as he was under the player's control. At the time of these games' respective releases, Red's Pikachu was the highest-leveled Pokémon owned by an in-game Trainer (Barry's fully evolved starter Pokémon temporarily surpassed the standard set in Gold and Silver until the release of their remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver). Red reappeared in Black 2 and White 2, in the Champions Tournament of the Pokémon World Tournament, and again in the Alola-based Generation VII games, as the leader of the Battle Tree with Blue.
The player character can be named in all core series games at the beginning of the game using the same interface as that for entering nicknames for Pokémon.
In the side series
Three unnamed player characters appear in Pokémon Stadium series. Japanese-only Pokémon Stadium featured one male character, whose design was likely based on Red. However, for the sequel, a brand new male character was created. This player was also in Pokémon Stadium 2, where he was given a female counterpart. She appears when a player uses a Pokémon Crystal Game Pak. Like the core series player characters, these three characters remain silent throughout the games.
Additionally, the Pokémon Stadium series includes various minigames featuring Pokémon as player characters. For instance Pikachu or Voltorb are the player characters in "Thundering Dynamo" from Pokémon Stadium, while Cleffa and Igglybuff are the player characters in "Streaming Stampede" from Pokémon Stadium 2.
Aside from the standard that many of the games' player characters take in their journey, there are also several other ways in which other player characters complete their journey, such as Wes and Michael in Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness who are called to defeat Cipher and free all of their snagged Pokémon from their Shadow state.
In spin-off games
In Pokémon GO, the player character can be chosen and customized at the beginning of the game. They can also be customized at any time from the profile screen starting in version 0.31.0.
The default male player character originally wore the gray weave hat, no glasses, the a shirt that came with fingerless gloves, a green and red backpack, the red and black pants and leggings, and green shoes. After an update the overhaled the trainer's wardrobe, the default male player character wears the gray trainer visor, no glasses, the light blue classic hoodie, a yellow trainer backpack, yellow fingerless gloves, trainer shorts, gray leggings, and yellow running shoes. Both designs feature the character with brunette hair, teal eyes, and light skin.
The default female player character originally wore the white and red cap, no glasses, the maroon shirt that came with a choker and gloves of the same color, a red backpack, an orange ball buckle belt, gray and black pants, and orange shoes. After an update that overhaled the trainer's wardrobe, the default female player character wears the black ball cap, no glasses, the black ribbon choker, the crimson classic longsleeve, a teal urban pack, black fingerless gloves, crimson ball buckle, crimson sprint suit, black long leg warmers, and red running shoes. Both designs feature the character with brunette hair, teal eyes, and light skin.
Pokémon Masters EX
In Pokémon Masters EX, the player character, Scottie or Bettie, is a Pokémon Trainer who travels to the artificial island of Pasio to participate in the Pokémon Masters League tournament.
Pokémon: Magikarp Jump
In Pokémon: Magikarp Jump, the player plays as a person of ambiguous gender always referred to as "you", who fishes and trains Magikarp to jump as high as possible.
- Main article: Player (Quest)
In Pokémon Quest, the player explores the Tumblecube Island and befriends Pokémon.
Game Boy Color
Pokémon Trading Card Game series
In Pokémon Trading Card Game and Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR!, Mark and Mint do not use actual Pokémon themselves, but cards instead.
Pokémon Puzzle Challenge
In the Challenge mode of Pokémon Puzzle Challenge, the player character is Ethan. In this mode, he challenges the Gym Leaders and the Elite Four of Johto, as well as some other characters, in puzzle games.
In Pokémon Conquest, the player character is the Warlord of Ransei's kingdom of Aurora. Their objective is to unite the seventeen kingdoms of the region, stop Nobunaga, and meet the legendary Pokémon that created Ransei. As more stories are unlocked, more characters become playable.
Pokémon Ranger series
In the Pokémon Ranger series, Lunick, Solana, Kellyn, Kate, Ben and Summer are not Pokémon Trainers, but instead Pokémon Rangers. They use the Pokémon they have captured with the Capture Styler to help them along the way. They also have partner Pokémon that follow them wherever they go.
In Pokémon Trozei!, the main protagonist is Lucy Fleetfoot, who must release all the Pokémon stolen by Phobos Battalion.
In Pokémon Dash, the player character is Pikachu.
Learn with Pokémon: Typing Adventure
In Learn with Pokémon: Typing Adventure, the player can choose from four preset outfits, two for each gender, at the beginning of the game.
In Detective Pikachu, the protagonist is Tim Goodman, who teams up with Detective Pikachu to solve several mysteries and to find his missing father.
In Pokémon Snap, Todd Snap must strive for something different from Trainers. He must capture all the Pokémon on Pokémon Island—on film.
Hey You, Pikachu!
- Main article: Player (Hey You, Pikachu!)
In Hey You, Pikachu!, the player uses the PokéHelper to talk to Pikachu. The player is shown as a silhouette.
Pokémon Puzzle League
Pokémon Puzzle League is an anime-based game. The player characters come from the anime, instead of their core series counterparts. In the 1P Stadium mode, the player character is Ash Ketchum. In the 2P Stadium mode, there are 15 player characters to choose: Ash Ketchum, Gary Oak, the Team Rocket trio, Tracey, Ritchie, Brock, Misty, Lt. Surge, Erika, Koga, Sabrina, Blaine, Giovanni, Lorelei, and Bruno.
In PokéPark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure, the player character is a Pikachu. In PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond, the player characters are Pikachu, Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott.
In Pokémon Ga-Olé, the main protagonist can be played in the arcade game as either a male or a female.
In Pokkén Tournament, the player took control of a character who wishes to rise to the top of the Ferrum League. The player avatar can be customized at the beginning of the game, with more customization options available to purchase in the shop as the game progresses.
- Main article: Avatar (Battrio)
Players with Memory Keys have the ability to create an avatar (Japanese: アバター) that will serve as their profile for all activity while playing Pokémon Battrio. Players can select either a male or female avatar of varying types, and give their profile a nickname of up to four characters.
Pokémon Play It! series
In Pokémon Play It! and Pokémon Play It! Version 2, Julie talks directly with the unseen player character. In the introduction of both games, Julie says that she and the player character are Pokémon Trainers. However, they play the Trading Card Game rather than train Pokémon.
In Pokémon Team Rocket Blast Off, Pokémon Poké Ball Launcher, and Pokémon Seek & Find, the player characters are Ash Ketchum and May.
Pokémon Team Turbo
In Pokémon Team Turbo, there are 20 racers available: Bulbasaur, Venusaur, Charmander, Charmeleon, Squirtle, Blastoise, Pikachu, Treecko, Torchic, Blaziken, Mudkip, Skitty, Plusle, Spheal, Metagross, Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza, Deoxys, and Munchlax.
Pokémon Rumble series
In Pokémon Rumble, the player starts as a Toy Rattata. In Pokémon Rumble Blast, the player starts as a Toy Pikachu. In Pokémon Rumble World, the player starts as their Mii character.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series
In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, players play as actual Pokémon. Unlike most other Pokémon games, the player actually talks, but is given preset responses to say to questions. In Explorers of Time, Explorers of Darkness, and Explorers of Sky, after defeating Dialga on the top of the Temporal Tower, on the way back to Wigglytuff's Guild, the player speaks in full sentences instead of silently thinking to themselves or having answer choices. This type of dialogue is used by the player on rare occasions, in small amounts, throughout the story of Gates to Infinity.
Super Smash Bros. series
The Super Smash Bros. series of fighting games includes characters from multiple franchises other than Pokémon. The playable characters from the Pokémon franchise found in Smash Bros. games are: Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Pichu, Mewtwo, Lucario, Squirtle, Ivysaur, Charizard, Greninja, and Incineroar. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Squirtle, Ivysaur and Charizard are playable under the control of the Pokémon Trainer, who is based on the player character versions of Red and Leaf and represents the concept of player characters in the Pokémon games.
Super Smash Bros. series
In the anime
In the main series
In the Pokémon anime, six of the player characters have been given major roles, four of them in the main series. Ash represents Red (his game counterpart), being based on him in appearance as well as basic history (Ritchie, by extension of resembling Ash, also resembles Red, although his basic history is unknown).
At the beginning of Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire, May was introduced in order to better represent Generation III, as both Misty and Brock are characters who originated in Generation I. Likewise, at the beginning of Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl, Dawn joined Ash. In Pokémon the Series: XY, Serena joined Ash in order to represent Generation VI.
Jimmy and Marina appeared in The Legend of Thunder! special, taking a similar role to Ash and his companions, fighting Team Rocket members to protect Legendary Pokémon. While the protagonists of Generation II did not join Ash's company, these two filled the roles as the anime counterparts to Ethan and Kris.
Lyra appeared in An Egg Scramble!, and joined the group for a brief time until Bagged Then Tagged!.
Ash and his friends have also encountered several player characters from the side games. Todd Snap was the first, and a special case, as he originated in the anime before appearing in Pokémon Snap. He joins the group for a few episodes at two points in the anime: once during the Indigo League and once during Johto League Champions. The others, Solana, Kellyn, and Ben are all Pokémon Rangers that Ash and friends assisted in rescuing and protecting Pokémon.
So far, Brendan has only made a few select cameo appearances at the beginning of some of the movies, while Lucas made a cameo at the beginning of Giratina and the Sky Warrior, where he was battling Brendan. Ethan also appears with a second counterpart at the beginning of Zoroark: Master of Illusions.
None of the Generation V, Generation VII, and Generation VIII player characters have yet been seen in the main anime.
Calem in Pokémon Generations
In Pokémon Origins
Red has a direct counterpart as the main character in Pokémon Origins.
In Pokémon Generations
Direct counterparts of Red, Ethan, Brendan, Hilbert, and Calem appeared in Pokémon Generations.
Much like Red, none of the other player characters depicted in the miniseries have any lines of dialogue.
Nate in the Black 2 and White 2 Animated Trailer
May and Brendan in the Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire Animated Trailer
In the Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 Animated Trailer
Nate and Rosa both appeared in the animated trailer for Pokémon Black and White Versions 2.
In the Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Animated Trailer
Brendan and May both appeared in the animated trailer for Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
In the manga
Many of the characters appearing in various Pokémon manga are based on player and rival characters from the core series games. These characters usually play a major role within the series.
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
, one of Brendan's manga counterparts
Pokémon Adventures features many cross-canon counterparts for most of the player and rival characters in the games, with Red being based on his game counterpart. This is also the case for his two fellow Kanto Pokédex holders. The same applies for nearly all other main characters in the series; Gold, for example, is based on the then-unnamed player character Ethan. However, because the Yellow version, the fourth installment to the first generation, gave no additional protagonists, Yellow was created, revealed to have been the girl Red rescued in Viridian Forest before his battle with Giovanni. Emerald is another cognate case, as in the entirety of Generation III, only two player characters were given. Wally, the closest thing to a third main character, was dropped in favor of this new character designed entirely from scratch. As of the Diamond & Pearl and Platinum chapters, only the first ten main characters have met each other, as none of the Sinnoh Dex Holders have ventured out of their region.
Additionally, though Lyra is usually accepted as a different character from Kris, Crystal has appeared wearing her clothes to serve as a counterpart, rather than introducing a second Johto female protagonist for the HeartGold & SoulSilver chapter.
In other manga
In addition to the Pokémon Adventures characters, there are many characters that have very similar character designs as player or rival characters from the games. These include Red from Pokémon Pocket Monsters, Rald from Pokémon Battle Frontier, Hareta and Mitsumi from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure!, and Black from Golden Boys.
- Most of the male characters that Ash, the main character from the Pokémon anime, has encountered have been from side games, like Pokémon Ranger. The only counterpart of a male player character who has met Ash is Ethan, in the thirteenth movie.
- Red's dialogue during his appearance as an NPC reflects the games' player characters' status as silent protagonists.
- The list of default names per gender generally repeats from game to game, starting in Pokémon Crystal. Exceptions to this are character-specific names, which are names unique to a character and are usually references to the title or aspects of the game.
- Until Generation V, the given Japanese names of the male player characters in the core series games (as NPCs) all end in ki (キ). This excludes Red's appearance in Generations II and IV, as he is not a player character during the games when he is an NPC. Inclusively, Lunick's Japanese name also ends in ki.