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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 protagonist's quest, having a role in several of the games' events and often challenges them in battles. Defeating a rival may be a primary or necessary goal of said character.
In the games
From left to right: Hugh, Silver, and Wally
In the core series, a rival is a recurring opponent to the player throughout the game. This character class appeared beginning in Generation I and in every core 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 is strong against the one the player chose at the beginning of the game.
Players are able to choose a different name for Blue, Silver, Barry, Hugh, and Trace. In Hoenn- and Kalos-based games, the player character not chosen will serve as a rival.
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 (Generations III-V) or Pokémon Trainers (Generation VI onward).
Additionally, in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen, Blue is referred to as "Champion Blue" during the Champion battle and rematch. In Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, Trace will also use the "Champion" Trainer class during the Champion battle, but, unlike Blue, does not use it in the rematch.
Pokémon Card GB series
In the Card GB series, Ronald does not use actual Pokémon themselves, but cards instead.
In Pokémon Masters, Paulo serves as the player's rival.
In the anime
In the main series
Various rivals for the main characters have also appeared in the anime.
- Ash's rivals
- Ash's main rival in the original series was Gary. They were close when they were younger, but their friendship ended when they argued over an old Poké Ball and broke it. Eventually, Gary gained some respect for Ash, and after losing to him in the Silver Conference, they became friends again altogether.
- Paul was Ash's main rival for the duration of the Diamond & Pearl series. When they met, Paul despised Ash due to his approach to Pokémon training and friendship, constantly insulting him every time they crossed paths. However, he eventually grew to respect Ash after losing to him in the Lily of the Valley Conference.
- Barry was Ash's secondary Sinnoh rival. Unlike Ash's other major rivals, the two have a friendly rivalry, though Barry would frequently comment that he believed he was much stronger than Ash would ever be.
- 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 rivals.
- Trip was Ash's only unfriendly rival in the Best Wishes series. 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. Like with Gary and Paul, the two became friends when Ash beat Trip at the Vertress Conference.
- Tierno was Ash's primary rival for the first part of the XY series, with Trevor serving as a minor secondary rival. During the second part of his Kalos journey, however, Ash struck up serious rivalries with Alain and Sawyer. Alain wished to test the unique power of Ash and his Greninja, while Sawyer looked up to Ash and made it his goal to surpass him.
- Gladion is Ash's main rival in the Sun & Moon series. Ash and Gladion's rivalry was mutually respectful from the start, with Gladion recognizing Ash's strength almost immediately. Gladion eventually became more dedicated to surpassing Ash after witnessing his and his Pikachu's aptitude for Z-Moves, leading him to undertake the island challenge. Though Gladion is much calmer than Ash, he and Ash both share a deep, internal passion for intense battling.
- Ash also has friendly rivalries with Ritchie, Harrison, Morrison, Tyson, Tobias, Stephan, Bianca, Virgil, Cameron, Kiawe, and Hau.
- Other characters' rivals
- Dawn has friendly rivalries with Zoey and Kenny, and unfriendly rivalries with Ursula and Jessilina. She also has Nando as a minor rival.
- Johanna had a friendly rivalry with Lila when they were younger. Lila was the first person to defeat Johanna in a Contest Battle, but she eventually gave up coordinating and became a Stylist.
- Iris has an unfriendly rivalry with Georgia, which comes from the fact that Iris wants to become a Dragon Master while Georgia focuses on defeating Dragon-type Pokémon.
- Cilan has an unfriendly rivalry with Burgundy, which comes from when he defeated her at the Striaton Gym, and also from Cilan's better reputation as a Connoisseur, though Cilan frequently comments on how he looks forward to seeing Burgundy's growth the next time they meet.
- Stephan engaged in an unfriendly rivalry with Montgomery during the Clubsplosion.
- Serena has friendly rivalries with Shauna, Miette, Nini, and Aria.
- Sophocles has a rivalry with Horacio. While they were initially unfriendly, they became more respectful towards each other after an encounter in the Vast Poni Canyon.
Cross could be said to be Ash's rival in the alternate storyline depicted in I Choose You!. In a similar manner to Paul, Cross abandoned his Charizard, deeming it to be too weak, and allowing Ash to catch it. Their relationship could even be said to be antagonistic, with Cross being even more aggressive than Paul. Cross's aggressiveness and thirst for power is derived from an inferiority complex, from being able to see Ho-Oh, but not being chosen as the Rainbow Hero. In the end, despite losing to Ash and his former Charmander, who by that point had evolved into Charizard, he still attempted to steal the Rainbow Wing in order to battle Ho-Oh and prove himself as the strongest Trainer.
In Pokémon Origins
Blue appears as Red's rival in Pokémon Origins, fulfilling his traditional role in the games.
In Pokémon Generations
Red's rival Blue appears in The Challenger, becoming the Pokémon League Champion shortly before Red challenges him to a battle over the title.
Ethan's rival Silver appears in The Legacy, although the two are never shown encountering each other.
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 Gotta Catch 'Em All! manga
In the Pokémon Gold & Silver: The Golden Boys manga
In the Pokémon Pocket Monsters manga
In the Pokémon RéBURST manga
In the Magical Pokémon Journey manga
- Ash has at least one species of Pokémon from the same evolutionary line as each of his major rivals. Gary captured a Krabby and uses a Blastoise, Paul uses a Torterra and Gliscor, Barry uses a Staraptor and Heracross, Trip uses a Serperior and Tranquill, Bianca uses an Emboar, Sawyer uses a Sceptile, Alain uses a Charizard and an Unfezant, Gladion uses a Lycanroc, and Hau uses a Decidueye.
- Powerful enemies in the Battle Royales of Pokémon Rumble and Pokémon Rumble Blast—chosen from Miis—are called rivals as well.
- In every generation, at least one of the player's rivals can be battled at the Pokémon League and/or Victory Road.
- According to an interview with Junichi Masuda, the rivals have become less antagonistic due to the following reason: "I think the biggest reason that rivals were more of a jerk in the early days is that we were just limited in what we could express with the pixel graphics. There's not much that you can do with that kind of little sprite on the screen, so we worked harder to characterize them through dialogue and give them certain personalities. Also, because it's just dialogue and there's not a whole lot going on on the screen, it doesn't give as harsh of an impression even if they're jerks, I think. Now we have HD graphics and the visuals are much more impressive. If you also made him a jerk, the impression would be a lot stronger on players. Another thing, just my own personal take, is that it feels that people with those kinds of personalities these days are just not as accepted by players as they were back then."
In other languages