The End of an Era: Pokémon’s Ash Ketchum Leaves The Series After 26 Years

by Jhanvi Vipin

Many of our first encounters with Pokémon started with Ash Ketchum, the titular character of the animated TV series in the late 1990s. After 25 seasons of the Pokémon television series, and 26 years on screen, Ash has stepped down as the lead character. His last episode aired on Friday, March 24th, 2023.

Ever since his first appearance in 1997, Ash Ketchum has been the epitome of a hero. Characteristically courageous, big-hearted, well-intentioned, and at times a bit snarky, Ash leaves his home of Pallet Town at the ripe age of 10 to achieve his goal of being the world’s greatest ‘Pokémon Master’. He travels with many companions, his most notable one is his loyal partner Pikachu, who goes wherever he does. The many adventures they have together made up the television series, and made Ash Ketchum one of the most widely recognised fictional characters of all time and a pop culture icon.

You may ask what made him so special? Well, as a long-time fan of Pokémon myself, I can say that Ash Ketchum is like an old friend – an immense part of my childhood that cannot be replaced. Watching him grow from a moral, but cocky and inexperienced trainer to a humble, warm-hearted World Champion makes us, the audience, immensely proud. For so long, Ash, Pikachu and his many companions were the comfort in the midst of adolescence. Fans learned life lessons with them, were taught to chase their dreams, and of course, be the very best that no one ever was.

Ash Ketchum leaving the Pokémon series gives us a poignant feeling. Change is undeniable and the newer protagonists will have large shoes to fill. Ultimately, Ash’s departure is the end of an era and feels like the end of many fan’s childhoods. I’m reminded of the warm afternoons at my grandparents’ place where my siblings and I would watch Pokémon for hours on end, witnessing Ash’s journey in bits and pieces. I truly hope that future generations have a similar symbol of genuine moxie to inspire them as they get older.

Farewell, Ash. Keep chasing after those dreams of yours. We’re always rooting for you.