Ash Ketchum turns 10 years old and is able to start on a new journey as a Pokémon trainer. The night before Ash is to meet Professor Oak, he has a dream and breaks his alarm clock. The next day he oversleeps, which causes him to miss his chance at getting one of the three Kanto starter Pokémon: Charmander, Bulbasaur or Squirtle. However, Professor Oak has one last Pokémon at his lab, a Pikachu. Pikachu initially does not get along with Ash, but in the first episode, Ash saves Pikachu from a flock of angry Spearow and they become best friends, developing a special bond. On the way Ash meets Misty, the Cerulean City Gym Leader who loves water Pokémon and wants to join him until he pays her for her bike which was accidentally destroyed by Pikachu; and Brock, the Pewter City Gym Leader who wants to join Ash on his journey so he can become the greatest Pokémon breeder. Ash catches and makes friends with many Pokémon while dealing with opposition from the Team Rocket trio of Jessie, James, and Meowth, and his childhood rival, Gary Oak, Professor Oak's grandson, who is also a Pokémon trainer and always keeps ahead of him.
Episode 1 - I choose You:
Ash Ketchum is finally 10 years old, old enough to become a Pokémon Trainer. He wakes up late on the day he is supposed to receive his first Pokémon at Professor Oak's lab, however, and arrives to discover all the Pokémon are gone. Ash has no choice but to take a naughty Pikachu. Pikachu will not listen to Ash or go inside its Poké Ball, so Ash must drag it along with a rope.
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Episode 2 - Pokemon Emergency:
Finally arriving in Viridian City, Ash is cornered by Officer Jenny who asks why he is carrying Pikachu instead of having it in a Pokéball. After explaining, Jenny takes Ash to the Pokémon Center where Nurse Joy begins treatment on the injured Pikachu. Before Pikachu's treatment finishes, however, Ash is interrupted by Misty, the girl who Ash took the bike from, who vows to stick with Ash until he pays her back for destroying her bike. The Pokémon Center is then attacked by Jessie, James, and their talking Meowth, members of the villainous Team Rocket, seeking to steal all of the infirm Pokémon. Ash's Pikachu and the Pokémon Center's many Pikachu manage to defeat Team Rocket by shocking them, sending them "blasting off" into the sky for the first time.
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Episode 3"Ash Catches a Pokémon" (I Got a Pokémon!):
Ash, Pikachu, and Misty have entered the Viridian Forest. Ash captures his first Pokémon, a Caterpie, and later, a Pidgeotto. Misty, however, is scared of bugs and screams every time Caterpie comes near her. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is following them, ready for a fresh attempt at capturing Pikachu. Ash is successful in driving off Team Rocket once more, and Ash's Caterpie evolves into Metapod.
Episode 4"Challenge of the Samurai" (Challenge of the Samurai Boy!)
While wandering through Viridian Forest, a Samurai challenges Ash to a battle, and it turns out to be Metapod vs. Metapod. After a short time, a swarm of Beedrill attacks, and Ash's Metapod is taken by them. Ash is able to rescue his Metapod and it evolves once more into Butterfree.
Episode 5"Showdown in Pewter City" (Battle of Nibi Gym!):
Ash, Pikachu, and Misty finally reach Pewter City and meet Flint, a mysterious man who sells rocks. Ash is ready to challenge the Pewter City Gym Leader, Brock, for his first Badge, but loses the battle. Flint takes Ash and Pikachu to Brock's home and Ash learns that Brock cares for his many younger brothers and sisters since their dad left them. He then brings Pikachu and Ash to a watermill to make Pikachu stronger. Ash battles Brock again, this time coming closer to winning. A fire breaks out in the gym, however, and the sprinklers go off, weakening Onix. Ash wants to defeat Onix but is held back by the thought of Brock's siblings (when he opens his eyes he finds he was literally held back by them). Ash leaves the Gym but Brock catches up to him and gives Ash the Boulder Badge. Flint turns out to be Brock's father and takes over the Gym and the responsibility of his children for Brock when he decides to join Ash on his journey.
Episode 6"Clefairy and the Moon Stone" (Pippi and the Moon Stone):
Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu arrive at Mt. Moon to find Team Rocket interfering with the local wildlife in hopes of finding the rare Moon Stone. With the help of Seymour the Scientist, the gang saves the Moon Stone and the Clefairies that guard it. Also, Brock catches a Zubat.
Episode 7"The Water Flowers of Cerulean City" (The Underwater Flowers of Hanada City)
In his quest to collect Gym Badges, Ash heads for Cerulean City, intending to confront the Cerulean Gym Leader. For some reason, Misty expresses a desire to avoid Cerulean City and disappears along the way. Upon entering the gym, Ash and Pikachu are entranced by a synchronized swimming show being performed by three beautiful sisters, unsure if he has really found another Gym. The three reveal that they are the Gym Leaders but have since converted the Gym into an aquarium and water show, and offer to just give Ash the badge, but Misty appears once more, revealing that she is also one of the Gym Leaders and will battle Ash in lieu of her three older sisters. However, Team Rocket disrupts the battle in an attempt to steal all of the Gym's Pokémon, and Misty's sisters decide to award Ash the Cascade Badge for helping save everyone.
Episode 8"The Path to the Pokémon League" (The Road to the Pokémon League)
After receiving his second badge, Ash sets off triumphantly for Vermilion City. Along the way, they hear of a trainer named A.J., a fierce Pokémon trainer who has never lost a match. Full of self-confidence from his own record of ten victories in a row, Ash heads directly for the gym to find his new opponent. When they arrive, a huge bulletin is in front of the gym with a neon sign declaring "98 Consecutive Victories", which appeals to Ash's over-confidence. A.J. is on the brink of achieving his goal of 100 straight victories, after which he will embark on a journey to gather badges, and Ash discovers A.J.'s odd training style.
Episode 9"The School of Hard Knocks" (Pokémon Certain Victory Manual)
Our three heroes have lost their way in the depths of a dense wooden forest, shrouded in thick, white mist. Momentarily giving uTp, they decide to break for a brief rest. As Ash wanders deeper into the wood, searching for firewood, he happens across a young boy being bullied by five classmates gathered around him. Eavesdropping on their conversation, Ash learns that the boys are attending a preparatory school for Pokémon trainers. Graduates from the school are automatically qualified to participate in the Pokémon League without travelling around and collecting any badges. Ash, Misty, and Brock head to the school and do not agree with some of their ideas of training, something their "leader" does not take well.
Episode 10"Bulbasaur and the Hidden Village" (Fushigidane of the Hidden Village)
Ash and friends are still on their way to Vermilion City and still lost. They stop by a pond for a break when they see an Oddish taking a drink. Ash and Misty try to catch it but they are stopped by a mysterious Bulbasaur who rescues the Oddish. They continue on their journey and keep getting caught in traps, until the Bulbasaur's owner, Melanie, finds them, saves them and brings them back to her cabin. It turns out that she helps injured, sick, and abandoned Pokémon, and they decide to help. Meanwhile, Team Rocket decides to steal all the Pokémon, while Brock wonders if he should stay with Melanie. In the end, Melanie gives Bulbasaur to Ash, but not until Bulbasaur challenges Ash and Pikachu to a battle.
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Episode 13 "Mystery at the Lighthouse" (Masaki's Lighthouse)
Episode 11"Charmander – The Stray Pokémon" (The Stray Pokémon – Hitokage)
While on the road to Vermilion City, Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu come across a Charmander sitting on a rock. Ash tries to catch it, but it turns out it has a trainer and cannot be captured, so they head to the Pokémon Center. At the Pokémon Center, a hotshot trainer named Damian is bragging about how he left his Charmander behind, promising to come back for it when he means to abandon it for being weak in his eyes. After hearing this, they head back out to get the poor Pokémon as a rainstorm threatens its very life. After a battle with Team Rocket, where Damian witnesses Charmander defeating them, he tries to get Charmander to come back to him, but the Pokémon's loyalty now belongs to Ash. Ash captures Charmander, gaining a new friend and Pokémon.
Episode 12"Here Comes the Squirtle Squad" (The Zenigame Squad Appears!)
Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu become the victims of pranks played by a gang of Squirtle known as the Squirtle Squad. They end up falling down a hole, and are even eventually captured by them. It turns out that they are working together with Team Rocket. When Pikachu is severely injured, the Squirtle lets Ash out to get medicine from town, but must return soon or his friends will be trapped by the Squirtle Squad forever. In the end, the Squirtle Squad saves the town from a fire started by Team Rocket and Squirtle joins Ash on his further adventures.
Episode 13 "Mystery at the Lighthouse" (Masaki's Lighthouse)
When a Krabby that Ash catches disappears, he goes to a nearby lighthouse to see if it reached Professor Oak's lab. The keeper of the lighthouse is Bill, a Pokémon Watcher who is searching for a mysterious Pokémon that sometimes appears by his lighthouse. Just as this mysterious Pokémon answers Bill's call and approaches the lighthouse, Team Rocket appears and tries to capture it. Injured, the Pokémon loses its trust of Bill and vanishes forever, though Bill intends to keep an eye out in case it ever appears again.
Episode 14 "Electric Shock Showdown" (Electric Shock Showdown! Kuchiba Gym)
Ash finally arrives in Vermilion City and is ready to prove that he can defeat its Gym Leader Lt. Surge. However, Lt. Surge and his powerful Raichu easily defeat Ash, and he discovers that many trainers fail to defeat Lt. Surge. After contemplating evolving Pikachu into Raichu as well, Ash decides to use Pikachu's speed to his advantage in his next battle, defeating Lt. Surge and winning the Thunder Badge.
Episode 15"Battle Aboard the St. Anne" (The St. Anne Battle!)
Ash wins a ticket to take a trip on a luxury cruise ship, the St. Anne. Ash enjoys the journey, even trading Butterfree for a Raticate, but feels guilty afterwards and asks for Butterfree back. However, the whole cruise is a scheme devised by Team Rocket, who plans to steal the Pokémon of all the trainers on board. During the confusion, James purchases a Magikarp from a devious salesman, under the impression it will make him rich, unaware of Magikarp's true nature. After Team Rocket's plans fail, the St. Anne is hit by a powerful storm. Ash loses his Butterfree's PokéBall in the confusion and goes to get it, just as James tries to retrieve Magikarp's PokéBall, and both groups are knocked unconscious while the rest of the passengers escape safely.
Episode 16"Pokémon Shipwreck" (Pokémon Adrift)
Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu wake up aboard the St. Anne, discovering it has capsized and sunk. Elsewhere, Jessie, James, and Meowth wake up as well, and in an attempt to escape only flood the area that they are in. When Ash and his friends find Team Rocket, the group decides to put their differences aside to escape safely, after an attempted battle nearly causes the ship to sink farther. After traversing the ship, they find a weak part of the hull to escape from, using Misty and Ash's water Pokémon to escape, while Team Rocket uses James' Magikarp, unaware that it cannot swim. After making it to the surface on some debris, the group discovers Team Rocket, once more, and after a day stranded, decide to eat Magikarp, only discovering that it has no meat on it. In anger, James kicks Magikarp off the raft and it evolves into Gyarados. It calls a group of other Gyarados to attack the group, and everyone is stranded once more.
Episode 17"Island of the Giant Pokémon" (Island of the Gigantic Pokémon!?)
After being hit by a Dragon Rage attack from James' newly evolved Gyarados while at sea, the humans are separated from their Pokémon on an island that is inhabited by gigantic Pokémon. Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Meowth, Ekans, and Koffing try to make their way back to their trainers, while they escape the giant Pokémon, unaware that they have all landed on an island owned by Team Rocket to house a theme park dedicated to a giant robotic Pokémon.
Episode 18"Beauty and the Beach" (Holiday at Aopulco)
Ash and his friends have finally arrived in Porta Vista, a beachside tourist town. After destroying an old man's ship, they must help in the old man's business. To attempt to pay the man back faster, Misty enters a beauty contest, only to discover she is competing against Jessie and James (with fake breasts - All scenes with this in were cut in the U.S. airing, when it was finally aired). Before being broadcast in the U.S. as a "lost episode", this episode was deemed controversial, due to James having inflatable breasts.
Episode 19 "Tentacool & Tentacruel" (Menokurage, Dokukurage)
Stuck in Porta Vista because they missed the boat, Ash and friends sit around waiting for the next boat and witness a great explosion. They later discover that it is a group of Tentacool that is attacking the city since construction is destroying their reef. Ash and his friends manage to appease the giant Tentacruel and continue on their journey, with Misty catching a Horsea that was being harassed by the Tentacool.
Episode 20 "The Ghost of Maiden's Peak" (Ghost Pokémon and the Summer Festival)
The boat that Ash and his friends arrive in the port city of Maiden's Peak to attend the Summer's End Festival. Brock and James both fall for a beautiful girl standing by the sea who disappears. Ash, Misty, and Team Rocket learn that she is the ghost of a maiden who waited for her lover to return from an acient war and eventually turned into stone. While trying to protect Brock and James with some stickers bought from an old woman, the maiden reveals herself as the old woman, who in turn reveals herself to be Gastly, a ghost Pokémon. Ash tries to fight Gastly to release James and Brock from its spell but fails, until the sun rises and Gastly is forced to disappear. It is revealed that the ghost of the maiden actually exists and is a friend of Gastly, and is still waiting for the one she loves to return.
Episode 21 "Bye, Bye Butterfree" (Bye Bye Butterfree)
As the group continues on their way to Saffron City, they notice a flock of Butterfree out over the ocean. Brock informs Ash that it is the mating season for all of the Butterfree. Ash decides to release his Butterfree so that it can mate. However, Team Rocket has plans to steal them all. Ash's Butterfree bravely frees all the Butterfree and in the end, Ash releases it.
Episode 22"Abra and the Psychic Showdown" (Casey! Psychic Showdown!)
Ash and his friends finally arrive in Saffron City, but before Ash can enter the Saffron Gym he is warned by a strange man not to go in. Ash enters anyway to discover a strange training facility for people with psychic powers. Ash challenges Sabrina, the Saffron City Gym Leader and her Abra who evolves into Kadabra, and loses. They are transported into a toy box set and forced to play with a dangerous little girl, the group is rescued by the strange man who gives Ash a tip: He may be able to beat Sabrina with a Ghost Pokémon from Lavender Town.
Episode 23 "The Tower of Terror" (Got It at the Pokémon Tower!)
Team Rocket encounters the Ghost Pokémon in a haunted tower while setting a trap for Ash and his friends, and end up getting frightened away. Ash and Pikachu enter alone since his friends are afraid to go in. Inside, he and Pikachu are the victims of pranks by a Gastly, Haunter, and Gengar looking for playmates. After being crushed under a falling chandelier, Haunter turns Ash and Pikachu into ghosts where they have some fun, though Ash asks them to send him back after seeing Misty and Brock cry over his lifeless body. Ash and Pikachu are brought back to life and Haunter decides to follow Ash as his new Pokémon.
Episode 24 "Haunter vs. Kadabra" (Ghost vs. Esper!)
Ash and his friends go back to Saffron City ready to try again for the Marsh Badge in the Gym. Ash asks Haunter for help to defeat Sabrina but Haunter disappears during the match. Brock and Misty get turned into dolls, and Ash is rescued just in time by the mysterious man. The man (who is really Sabrina's father) reveals that Sabrina has two personalities – one of the cold and unfeeling trainer, the other of the repressed little girl, who also turned her mother into a doll. The only way to defeat Sabrina is to make her smile again. During the next match, Haunter suddenly appears in front of Sabrina while Kadabra and Pikachu are battling. Sabrina and her Kadabra become unable to battle after being sent into peals of laughter by Haunter, giving Ash the victory. Haunter chooses to stay with Sabrina and her reunited family.
Episode 25"Primeape Goes Bananas" (Don't Get Angry, Okorizaru!)
As Ash is on his way towards Celadon City, he encounters a Mankey. The Mankey starts chasing him and steals Ash's hat. Ash tries to get it back and fails. Team Rocket arrives to get Pikachu and when Mankey walks by, James kicks it away and in its anger, evolves into Primeape. After remembering the poem Professor Oak said, Ash captures it.