Pokemon is one of those series that doesn’t really have a set power hierarchy. Since the core series of Pokemon are the video games, you’d think picking the “strongest” of anything would be pretty straightforward. But it only makes things more difficult.
Theoretically-speaking, here’s how the power-listing goes in the franchise: Average Trainers < Gym Leaders < Elite 4 and Frontier Brains < League Champions < World Champion.
But sometimes we have Leaders who stronger than Elite 4s, and Elite 4s that should be Champions.
There are also other factors to consider, like the Pokemon the Trainers have caught, whether they are Legendary/Mythical, capable of Mega Evolution and Gigantamax.
Then too, it’s tough to decide, because Pokemon strength depends on nature as well as nurture – and it’s their Trainers who make or break them. Here are the top 15 strongest Pokemon Trainers in the anime!
Generation 7 – Alola
Pokemon on hand – Braviary, Litten/Torracat/Incineroar, Lucario, Venusaur, Empoleon
Prof. Kukui aka The Masked Royal, was once famed as the strongest Trainer in the Alola region. But we all know there are a lot of Trainers who are way stronger than him, like Volkner and Wulfric – but they’re not the guys who made it to the list.
Kukui is here for his brain and knowledge, his skill as a Trainer and his role as a teacher. That’s not to say that he isn’t strong – he did defeat Guzma back in Pokemon School. He also battles the Elite 4-member, Lance, who’s also on this list.
But Kukui’s only trump card is Incineroar, who is a level above the rest of his other ‘mons. Regardless, Ash’s Torracat destroys him. Kukui’s temporary Tapu Koko vs. Ash’s Nagandel was pretty cool to witness.
Generation 5 – Unova
Pokemon on hand – Axew/Fraxure/Haxorus, Dragonite, Drillbur/Excadrill, Gible, Emolga
Say what you want about Iris, the girl is the Champion of Unova, as was revealed when she meets Ash in Pokemon Journeys.
Although Ash defeats her in the Pokemon World Coronation match, she did beat him during their previous bout in Nimbasa. She specializes in Dragon type Pokemon, although Ash’s Krookodile manages to take her Dragonite out during the Junior Cup.
I feel like there’s a lack of evidence to back her status – she loses most battles, but yet she takes Drayden place as Opelucid City’s new Gym Leader.
Her Dragonite loses again, to Clair’s Druddigon, at the end of Black and White, but in Journeys, she is on a quest as a Champion to battle other Dragon type Trainers around the world. There’s something about her.
Generation 2 – Johto
Pokemon on hand – Dratini/Dragonaire, Gyarados, Kingdra, Dragonitie, Druddigon
In the core series games, Clair is the strongest Gym Leader to defeat. She’s an incredible Trainer with an incredible Team. She too specializes in Dragons, and this was way before the Fairy type was introduced, making them particularly deadly.
Her team isn’t too affected by Ash’s during the battle in Johto, well, not until Ash whips out his Charizard who finally defeats Clair’s Dragonair.
Clair also becomes Iris’s mentor and inspiration, the reason she become a master of Dragon type Pokemon. Clair’s title in the game counterpart is “The Blessed User of Dragon Pokemon”, so yeah, that makes sense.
Generation 3 – Hoenn
Pokemon on hand – Regirock, Registeel, Dusclops, Ninjask, Solrock, Regice
Pyramid King Brandon is the strongest of the Frontier Brains of Battle Frontier. I don’t doubt this since he has all 3 of the Legendary Titans. He is at least at Elite 4 level, according to Scott, who tells Ash that he should challenge him to up his level.
Ash faces Brandon in a 4v4, where in the last round, our own Pikachu, stands his ground against the mighty Regice. If he had caught Regigigas instead of simply befriending it, Brandon would be a tier higher than what he is.
He has a great storyline and his connection with Paul and Reggie makes the arc significant. When Brandon defeats Paul because of the latter’s raging emotions, we get a glimpse into what’s in store for us with regard to Ash and Paul’s full battle.
Generation 4 – Sinnoh
Pokemon on hand – Chimchar/Monferno/Infernape
Flint is one of the most powerful members of the Elite 4, gutsy enough to have challenged the revered Cynthia. He gave a good fight to Cynthia’s Garchomp but was obviously defeated.
Still, Flint’s Infernape was able to defeat 2 of Cynthia’s Pokemon, which is saying something.
Flint is rivals with Volkner, who as you’ll notice, is not on the list but is mentioned quite often. Flint is stronger than Volkner as he’s won against him. But he does have Volkner’s best interests at heart, and is quite happy when Ash battles Volkner and inspires him to start training again.
Flint is great, but in his own words, he lacks willpower. That’s what came in his way while battling Cynthia. We also don’t know the rest of his Pokemon, but Infernape honestly makes up for it.
Generation 2 – Johto
Pokemon on hand – Clefairy, Nidorina, Miltank
Ah, Whitney and her Miltank. She could easily be an Elite 4 member with her skills. Game-players are aware of how challenging she can be in Gold and Silver. But Whitney in the anime is no joke either.
Miltank and its Rollout move wrecks Ash’s Pikachu, Totodile, and Cyndaquil like it’s nothing. She invites Ash to approach her whenever he’s ready for a rematch.
When Ash does, it’s for the Plain Badge, even though the battle is not in the Gym. Pikachu manages to stop Miltank’s Rollout and Whitney good-naturedly gives Ash the badge.
What gives Whitney a better spot on this list – higher than stronger Trainers and even Elite 4-members, is the fact that she is an amazing Trainer in terms of her attitude with her Pokemon.
She is kind and loving to them much like Ash, and this, as we know, is one of the most important traits for a Pokemon Trainer, and the reason Paul isn’t on my list.
Generation 6 – Kalos
Pokemon on hand – Ralts/Kirlia/Gardevoir
Diantha is the Champion of the Kalos region and is strong enough to give most other Trainers a run for their money. What’s more, she’s also a famous movie actress.
When Ash and Diantha’s battle is interrupted by Team Rocket, it is Diantha who asks Ash for a rematch. This is because she is intrigued by Ash’s Greninja and its mystical power (the Ash-Greninja form).
She is also capable of Mega Evolving her Gardevoir whom she uses along with Hoenn Champion Steven’s Mega Metagross, new Kalos Champion Alain and his Mega Charizard, Olympia, and Ash and the gang, to stop the Giant Rock in Pokemon XYZ.
Generation 4 – Sinnoh
Pokemon on hand – Darkrai, Latios
Tobias is the first Trainer to have a Legendary Pokemon – Darkrai, as well as a Mythical Pokemon – Latios. The rest of his team is unconfirmed and this is the only reason he’s not in the top 5 of this list.
Tobias blazes through Sinnoh with his overpowered team, until he faces Ash’s Sceptile, who against all odds, defeats the all-powerful Darkrai.
If Pokemon were a fair and logical world, Tobias would at least be part of Sinnoh’s Elite 4 (although he did beat them in Lily of the Valley), if not the Champion (he’d have to beat Cynthia for that). But either way, Tobias is one of my fave Trainers because of the enigma he is.
Generation 8 – Galar
Pokemon on hand – Duraludon
Raihan is awesome. I mean anyone with Leon as their rival has to be pretty amazing, right? We see his Gigantamax Duraludon go up against Leon’s Gigantamax Charizard during the World Coronation Series in Wyndon. Although he loses, his battle-skills are pretty evident.
In the core series, he doesn’t really have a type specialty, but in the anime, Raihan specializes in Dragon types. He is also part of the Masters Eight, which is a group that consists of the 8 strongest Trainers in the world.
The only others who have been confirmed as Masters are Cynthia, Lance, and Leon himself.
Raihan currently has a rank 7 in the World Coronation Series ranking.
Generation 3 – Hoenn
Pokemon on hand – Aron, Aggron, Metagross
I know a lot of people who have completely forgotten about the existence of Steven Stone. He’s the Champion of Hoenn, and his Mega Metagross has literally fought against Rayquaza, Primal Groudon, and Primal Kyogre.
I admit the guy isn’t that into battling – he’d rather hunt for shiny stones and rocks around the world. But given his battle prowess and knowledge, he’d likely be part of Masters Eight if he wanted.
The reason he’s lower than Alain, despite landing more punches on Kyogre (while Alain went down within Groudon’s first hit) and fighting Alain’s Mega Charizard without damage, is because of his happy-go-lucky personality. The guy would much rather be a Professor than a Trainer.
Generation 1-8 – Kanto-Galar
Pokemon on hand – Pikachu, Riolu/Lucario, Dragonite, Farfetch’d/Sirfetch’d, Gengar, Dracovish
I wanted to put Ash in my top 3, I really did. He’s shown so much progress not just as our protagonist, but as a Trainer. Kanto-Ash compared to Galar-Ash seems like an infant now. The amount of feats Ash’s Pikachu alone has bagged is more than I can list.
Ash is the Champion of Alola (and also Orange League and the Kanto Battle Frontier). He has at least one Pokemon of every type and has a Pseudo and Semi-Pseudo Legendary, an Ultra Beast, and a Mythical Pokemon. He also has a Mega Lucario and a Pikachu that can Gigantamax.
Ash might be immortal but he ain’t infallible; our boy has been outright dumb during many episodes, but he has also beaten Legendaries, Mythicals, Elite 4s, and Champions. Above everything, Ash’s bond with Pokemon is incomparable.
He’s the perfect Trainer in my eyes – he is strong, skilled, loving, kind, and ambitious. If Red is anything to go by, Ash is destined to be #1 one day.
Generation 6 – Kalos
Pokemon on hand – Charizard, Weavile, Metagross, Bisharp, Tyranitar, Unfezant
Alain is an awesome Trainer and a great rival to Ash. He is the Champion of Kalos and has fought some ridiculously strong ‘mons in his time.
His Mega Charizard went up against Zygarde (50%), Siebold’s Mega Blastoise, and Ash’s Ash-Greninja among others. His Charizard single-handedly defeated 10 Mega Evolved Pokemon as part of Lysandre’s challenge.
Alain is another likely contender for the Masters Eight. He’s won every match we’ve seen him participate in, including against Elite 4-member, Malva. I’d kill for his appearance in Journeys; we so deserve a rematch with Alain vs. Ash.
Generation 1 – Kanto
Pokemon on hand – Dragonite, Gyarado
Lance is the winner of the Elite Four Cup and the Pokemon World Tournament. He also emerged as the runner-up for the World Coronation Series against Leon. Lance is part of the Masters Eight, and has a rank of #2.
Lance is a tough dude, who also investigates illegal activities and arrests bad guys. He’s consequently an honorable, heroic figure, unlike his game counterpart who pretty much cheats using moves that cannot be learned by the player.
He is also the only one to have caught and trained a red Shiny Gyarados. This same Gyarados puts up quite a fight against Leon’s Charizard. Lance is implied to be Ash’s future opponent. Wonder how that match will turn out.
Generation 4 – Sinnoh
Pokemon on hand – Garchomp, Gastrodon, Glaceon, Kommo-o
At number #2 is everyone’s favorite, Cynthia, the Champion of Sinnoh, widely regarded as the strongest Champion ever (barring Leon, of course). Cynthia isn’t just strong – she’s also one of the best Trainers in the franchise because of her love for Pokemon.
There aren’t any Pokemon I can think of who can defeat Cynthia’s Garchomp. That guy alone has slammed multiple Trainers, including Elite 4s and future Champions. But even apart from her ace, Cynthia is famed for having an incredibly well-structured, diverse team.
With her recent Pseudo Legendary Kommo-o, Cynthia is seriously going to be a force to be reckoned with, even for Leon. Although I can’t wait for Ash to face Cynthia in some way or the other, Cynthia vs. Leon is the battle that’s going to be truly epic.
Generation 8 – Galar
Pokemon – Charmander/Charmeleon/Charizard, Dragapult
Leon is canonically the strongest Pokemon Trainer in the world. He is the undefeated World Champion, with a team of stacked ‘mons that are pretty much invincible. Leon holds the top rank of Monarch in the Masters Eight, and has never lost a match in any region.
I admit, Leon does tend to rely on the Gigantamax feature – Lance and Raihan were both doing well against him until Leon G-maxes Charizard. But so what? One of the things that make him so powerful as a Trainer is the fact that he’s learned to master the Dynamax ability of Pokemon.
He’s also pretty versatile during battle and easily counters his opponents, no matter who they are or what their team comprises of.
The fact remains that Leon is the most powerful Trainer the Poke-verse has seen. Well, hopefully only until the finale of Pokemon Journeys!
Mewtwo claims himself to be the strongest Pokemon Trainer in the world, as well as the world’s strongest Pokemon. Well, neither is true, but you gotta give it to Mewtwo for being sucha boss.
Pokémon was first released in 1996 and is set up in a world where humans catch monsters and store them in pocket-sized poke-balls.
They are creatures with an affinity to certain elements and some superhuman abilities related to that element.
Revolving around a teenage boy Ash Ketchum, Pokémon takes us through his journey to becoming the most accomplished Pokémon trainer the world has ever seen.