the pokemon anime has explored a lot of regions and concepts since its inception in 1997. Since then, eight generations have passed and a ninth is incoming. With every new generation comes new Pokémon but also a new adventure for Ash Ketchum and his friends. At the heart of these adventures lies a Gym challenge.
Gyms and Gym Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of difficulty. While Ash ultimately prevails in obtaining the Gym Badges he needs, there are Gyms that are certainly questionable. They could be run by strong and proficient Gym Leaders, but if they lack professionalism, common courtesy, or general quality, then their Gym comes into question.
10 Erika Banned Ash From The Celadon Gym For Insulting Some Perfume
The Kanto Gym Leaders are often criticized for their poor professionalism and general quality. Celadon City’s Erika is one of those to give Ash a Gym Badge without him properly earning it, but it’s the way she’s introduced that paints the Celadon Gym in the worst light.
Erika bans Ash from entering the Gym simply because he insults a special brand of perfume. While it is certainly rude, it is typical brash Ash behavior and not deserving of a ban. Ash has to resort to teaming up with Team Rocket in order to sneak in. Ash and Erika’s eventual battle is fine enough but is ultimately interrupted when a fire breaks out.
9 Sabrina’s Breakdown Tormented Challengers At The Saffron City Gym
Sabrina is one of the most feared Gym Leaders in the entire pokemon franchise, both in the games and the anime, yet the way she runs her Gym and treats challengers is unacceptable. She shrinks Ash and friends down and torments them following Ash forfeiting their first bout.
Sabrina’s creepy and disturbing behavior stems from her psychic powers growing out of control, with her developing two separate personalities. Everything else to do with the Gym’s circumstances falls under pure convenience. This ranges from Sabrina’s Abra being ready to evolve as soon as she battles Ash, to her forfeiting the rematch due to a Haunter making her laugh.
8 Striaton’s Gym Is Better In Theory Than In Practice
Ash’s Unova campaign gets a lot of criticism for its lack of substance, the disappointing performances at the Vertress Conference, and interactions that just don’t connect as intended. The Striaton Gym is the first step for Ash on this long road, and it brings immediate problems.
Chili, Cress, and Cilan are all Gym Leaders here and Ash has to battle them all in 1-on-1 bouts. Hoenn’s Tate and Liza manage to make a two-person Gym work with the double battle stipulation, but the Striaton trio just feels forced. Selecting one Gym Leader to have at least a 2-on-2 battle would be a much better concept, although less ambitious.
7 Wattson’s Mauville City Gym Traps Were His Own Undoing
In the Gen III games, Mauville City’s Wattson is a standard Electric-type Gym Leader. However, the anime makes him look like a novice. Wattson is so focused on placing creative traps in his Gym, that he fails to foresee his own undoing.
One of Wattson’s Raikou robots accidentally supercharges Ash’s Pikachu, allowing it to sweep through the Gym Leader’s Voltorb, Magnemite, and Magneton. Wattson defeats Ash in a rematch later on in the series thanks to his Manetric, but the damage has already been done.
6 Fantina Closed The Hearthome City Gym To Go & Find Herself
Gyms are such an important part of the pokemon universe, making it unforgivable for one to be closed because the Gym Leader wants to travel. In the Sinnoh region, Hearthome City’s Fantina is a kind and ambitious Gym Leader who wants to try her hand at journeying like a normal trainer.
This is all well and good, but appointing an interim Gym Leader would be a more responsible approach to address this prolonged absence. Most Gym Leaders pride themselves on obliging and entertaining any challenge, no matter the challenger’s skill. Ash and friends are lucky enough to run into Fantina on the road, and their trainer battle encourages her to return to the Gym.
5 Clemont Lost Control Of Both Clembot & The Lumiose Gym
Clemont is guilty of similar wrongdoing. Ash’s Kalos traveling companion hides his identity as the Lumiose Gym Leader for as long as he can, through shame and embarrassment. Clemont’s love for inventing had drawn him to create Clembot. Clembot’s purpose was to run the Lumiose Gym so that Clemont could focus on his inventions, but the robot malfunctioned and became violent.
Gym challengers and even Clemont himself were being rejected, shocked, and ejected by Clembot, to the point where the Gym Leader did not know what to do. Clembot’s treatment of trainers is enough reason to stay away, even if Clemont and Ash’s eventual matchup is exciting and well worth the wait.
4 The Cerulean Gym Doesn’t Function At Its Best Without Misty
The Cerulean City Gym gets an incredible makeover between appearances, but its initial state is a sorry sight. With Misty out traveling, care of the Gym falls upon her three sisters. However, they are more interested and invested in performing.
The sisters even try to hand Ash a free Cascade Badge, due to them having recently lost to Gary. Misty intervenes and has a battle with Ash, which is quickly interrupted by Team Rocket. Without Misty’s passion for battling and Water Pokémon, the Gym appears to be lost and on the brink of falling into disarray.
3 Giovanni Left The Incompetent Team Rocket Trio In Charge Of The Viridian Gym
Gary Oak’s challenge at the Viridian City Gym is an entertaining watch. His team sweeps through Giovanni’s initial Pokémon before Giovanni brings out the unknown entity Mewtwo. However, Ash has to challenge Jessie, James, and Meowth instead, due to Giovanni having business to attend to.
The Viridian Gym is a secondary priority to Team Rocket and is shown as such if the Gym Leader is giving responsibility to the Team Rocket trio. They rig up some traps and use their own Pokémon in addition to Giovanni’s, but still lose to a spirited Ash. Team Rocket are sent blasting off, and they drop the Earth Badge.
2 The Pewter Gym Has Had A Rough Time Of It
It was always a tough ask for the first Gym of the entire Pokémon franchise to be a credible threat while looking good in defeat. With Ash and Pikachu barely getting along, they challenge the Pewter City Gym Leader Brock. Brock defeats Ash with ease, but the rematch sees him distracted by his family as his Onix is inadvertently soaked by the Gym’s sprinklers.
Brock’s career goals ultimately lie elsewhere, with him wanting to become a Pokémon Breeder and later a Pokémon Doctor. He leaves the Gym behind, and just like the Cerulean Gym when Misty isn’t there, Pewter City’s Gym suffers in Brock’s absence. It is featured in later episodes but is often seen going through tough times.
1 Mistralton Gym’s Air Battles Spat In The Face Of Friendly Competition
Skyla is easily one of the more controversial Gym Leaders. The Mistralton City Gym Leader specializes in Flying types and initially conducts her duties with Air Battles. These battles take place in her head, with her awarding Gym Badges based on how her Pokémon’s strengths and weaknesses match up against her opponent’s.
It’s revealed that she changed the format because she wanted to spend more time flying her plane. This approach angers both Ash and Cilan, as it takes the spirit out of Pokémon battles. It takes Ash defeating her in a proper battle for her to scrap Air Battles. Regardless, it will still take a lot to repair this Gym’s reputation.
NEXT: Every Avenger And Their Pokémon Counterpart