Ash Ketchum of Pokémon has encountered many rare Pokémon during his travels, from the god of Pokémon to alien Pokémon from another universe. He caught far fewer of them, of course, but one of the rarest Pokémon Ash has ever owned is also one of his oldest.
Despite the Pokémon anime’s motto of “gotta catch’em all!”, Ash is respectful of Legendary and Mythical Pokémon, which are often shown to be capable of speech in the anime, and rarely tries to capture one. The one exception to this is Meltan, which despite being a Mythical was but one of many. Many would say that Meltan’s evolution Melmetal is the absolute rarest Pokémon he’s captured and battled with, as it’s still a Mythical Pokémon, and that’s a fair point. Even his Poipole, which he owned relatively briefly, was pretty rare since it came from another world, but it’s said that Poipole is a starter Pokémon of its world in the games, suggesting they are relatively attainable in their homeworld. Instead, the rarest Pokémon Ash has ever caught is one that goes all the way back to Johto: Noctowl.
Shiny Pokémon in the Anime Are Even Rarer Than Legendaries
In the episode “Fowl Play!” Ash encountered a very rare Pokémon, a shiny Noctowl. Shiny Pokémon are Pokémon with rare mutations that cause them to look different from others of their species; that difference can be very significant (many shinies are hot pink) or barely noticeable (several shinies only vary their eye colors). Noctowl is on the more noticeable side, and when Ash sees it, he discovers another person is already trying to capture it. As it turns out, this Noctowl is quite clever and has been outsmarting the man trying to catch it, so he decides to let Ash have a go. Ash uses Pikachu, who gets hypnotized by Noctowl’s Hypnosis and fires bolts of electricity at random until finally snapping out of it. Pikachu dodges the hypnosis by closing its eyes and listening for Noctowl’s wings, attacking where the sound came from and defeating Noctowl, allowing Ash to capture it.
Shiny Pokémon are extremely rare, with the odds at the time being around 1:8,000, and as such they don’t show up often in the anime. Shinies were a new mechanic in the Johto-based Gold and Silver games, so it made sense to include that new feature in the anime as well, and doing so prominently by making it Ash’s Pokémon was sure to excite kids. Ash’s Noctowl was also unique because of its size, as it was quite a bit smaller than other Noctowl in the area. The latest games, Scarlet and Violet, include a size variation feature, and getting a very small Pokémon is quite difficult as well, so a shiny, tiny Pokémon like Ash’s Noctowl is actually even rarer than an ordinary shiny would be. Ash still owns his Noctowl, and keeps it at Professor Oak’s Lab along with most of his other Pokémon. The fact that it’s shiny is not often called attention to these days, so many newer fans might not even know that Ash has owned a shiny Pokémon all this time!
Ash’s Rarest Pokémon
Aside from this shiny Noctowl, Ash has captured a variety of rare Pokémon over the years. Ash encountered many rare Pokémon in the Alola region, such as the aforementioned Meltan, which is a Mythical Pokémon, considered the rarest classification a species can have. That Meltan eventually evolved into Melmetal, which made it extremely unique; no other Melmetal has ever been seen in the series. As a Pokémon not native to his world, Poipole was of course very rare, and it too evolved into Naganadel, making it even rarer. Naganadel, however, eventually returned to its home dimension, while Melmetal remains in Ash’s possession. Ash also had his Rockruff evolve into a unique form of Lycanroc, the Dusk form, which seems to be very rare. In Journeys, Ash used Dracovish, a fossil Pokémon made from combining two fossils, which was also one-of-a-kind. Ash’s Greninja is capable of a unique transformation, making it quite rare as well. It’s also worth noting that among Ash’s traveling companions, only one has ever captured a shiny Pokémon, and that was Goh, who caught a shiny Voltorb.
In Ash’s final episodes, he encounters a Latias which had been injured. By earning the creature’s trust, Ash was eventually able to command it in battle, although he never formally captured it. This is the closest Ash has ever gotten to catching a Legendary, and many fans had hoped it would be his first, especially since Ash has a special connection with Latias dating back to the fifth movie. As a result, in over 1200 episodes of the series, Ash never captured a Legendary. The same cannot be said of his traveling companions, however; Goh captured Suicune, which chose to remain his Pokémon so long as he allowed it to continue roaming the world and purifying lakes of contamination. Goh also captured, albeit temporarily, several other Legendaries, such as Eternatus and Regieleki, though these were turned over to other parties after their capture.
With Ash’s journey now done, it seems Ash Ketchum may never own a Legendary Pokémon, but he’s had much rarer Pokémon, including the rarest of all–his shiny Noctowl.
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