As March is Women’s History Month, I thought I’d write about some of the most interesting female characters in the Pokémon games and how their stories are told in unique ways. Whether they are Champions like Cynthia, Gym Leaders like Sabrina, or even bad guys like Oleana, these NPCs have been shown in many different ways over the past 20+ years. Since I haven’t fully played Scarlet and Violet yet, they couldn’t be on this list. However, I already have more than enough good things to say about Pokémon, so hold on tight and get ready to learn about the history of women in Pokémon with me.
In the first age of games, Psychic was without a doubt one of the strongest types, so Sabrina has a reputation for being a hard boss to beat as its Gym Leader. But she isn’t just strong; she also has a very interesting past. She not only has psychic skills that let her talk to her Pokémon telepathically, but she also beat the other Gym in her home city so badly that it was no longer recognized as an official gym. In Gold, Silver, and Crystal, it was shown that she can see into the future even more. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, The Master of Psychic Pokémon has so much more to offer. When every Gym Leader up to that point is brought back for Black 2 and White 2’s Pokémon World competition, Sabrina beats them all by appearing in an exclusive, downloadable competition with Mew Two, and she can also be found in the Pokéstar Studios. This is really surprising because we have another character who is said to be a well-known actor, but she doesn’t show up in a side game like this one. So, can you tell me what Sabrina can’t do?
In Sword and Shield’s story, there really isn’t much about Oleana. She is Chairman Rose’s secretary, and she mostly does what is expected of someone in that position, even though it is clear that she has questionable values. The way her story is told, however, is what makes it so interesting. Her team does a great job of telling it. There is a strong theme going through her collection, which includes Froslass, Tsareena, Salazzle, and Milotic. However, the fact that her team ends with a Gigantamax Garbodor tells us everything we need to know about who she is. From that point of view, watching everything happen on top of the Rose Tower was one of the most satisfying fights in the history of the series.
Whitney is a great example of how a non-player character’s team can help build their identity. With her Miltank’s amazing move set, Whitney is often seen as the first real challenge in Gold, Silver, and Crystal. She completely changed how the Normal type is seen while keeping things cute. Whitney is known for putting up a hard fight, but she also has many memorable moments. Not only is she not there when you finish her Clefairy-shaped gym puzzle in HeartGold and SoulSilver, but she also won’t give you the Plain Badge when you find her and beat her, so she pretty much plays by her own rules.
I’m also very interested in how the fairy type would affect her. Since her gym’s mascot no longer represents her type, I often wonder how her gym and team would change if they went back to Johto. Jigglypuff would be easy to switch out for, but I’d also love to see her with a shiny Aipom because it would fit in with her signature pink style.
Klara is another character who stands out because she is both cute and tough and wears a lot of pink. Fans started talking a lot about her hair bow and whether or not it was a sign of a Galarian Dustox as soon as she was revealed. Even though that didn’t happen, I still think this queen of trouble is one of the best rivals ever written because she has some of the funniest lines and does a lot of bad things. The funny quest that starts when her Dojo uniform is stolen by fast Galarian Slowpokes is my favorite.
In addition to her devilish presence on the Isle of Amor, her normal League Card tells a funny story about how she became a Gym Leader after her first record only sold 8 copies. But the story isn’t just about words! Notice how funny and messed up Slowbro is? She tried to be an underground pop star, but maybe it didn’t work out because she can also bend space and time, and most people don’t like that. What makes this even better is how different it is from her Rare League Card, which shows her growing as a character by showing her working out in secret with her Galarian Slowbro. Klara went from being the Pokéworld’s version of a “Love Island” candidate to a “minor division Poison Gym Leader” by the time of the Galarian Star Tournament. This shows how much she had grown as a person in a short period of time.
6. Professor Burnet
In Sun and Moon, Professor Burnet is best known as the wife of Professor Kukui and as a researcher in her own right. However, she is extra special because she has been a part of the series for a much longer time. Even though Sun and Moon are the first major games, she first appeared in Pokémon Dream Radar, a side game for Black 2 and White 2. So, before she became an expert on ultrawormholes, she studied dreams. The series doesn’t go into more detail about the connection between the two since Pokémon can show up in other dimensions, but it is still amazing to see a character grow over the course of the series. I think it would be a shame if she didn’t come back with the Ultra Beasts in The Crown Tundra and maybe have some kind of link with Peony. On top of that, I think she should also be related to Darkrai and Cresselia in some way. So, I guess it’s time for me to write some fan fiction.
Fantina is a Gym Leader and a Coordinator in the Diamond and Pearl games, but what makes her extra special is the way her character plays with words. She is clearly foreign, as shown by the fact that she speaks broken Japanese in the original, but where is she from? In the English games, she speaks with bits of French in it, but in the French games, she speaks with bits of English. When I read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, I always got the feeling that Fantina was Creole. Even though her ancestors may have come from Europe, she was raised in the colonies, so she speaks a mix of languages. This would explain her strange past since she doesn’t show up at all in Kalos, even though she is a very important character in Sinnoh.
Fantina is interesting not just because of her words, but also because of how she plays with form. In Diamond and Pearl, you can see her gym, but you can’t fight her. In Platinum, you can choose to fight her much earlier with a slightly easier team, but you won’t have her ace Drifblim, who is the model for her dress.
As the first female Champion, she has a huge role in the games and in the series as a whole. She helps the player throughout Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, and she also shows up in the Unova and Alola games. But her cameo in HeartGold and SoulSilver as part of a special effort with Arceus is the coolest thing about her.
On top of that, she has an amazing team with the most different types of any Champion, which fits in well with her job as an explorer. So why, after all of that, is she only number four? Well, there are a lot of interesting female figures in the Pokéworld besides the most powerful trainer. Don’t get me wrong, Cynthia is pretty cool, but besides being the most powerful trainer in the game, I often feel like she could do more. People say that she comes from a secret place, but we never found out where that might be. I was hoping that we would learn something about her in Galar, like if the colleges in the Pokéworld were rebuilt to show how smart she was, but that never happened. In Legends: Arceus’s Volo, they did give her a relative, but we’re here to talk about Cynthia.
I’ve never really cared much about Pokémon bad guys, but Lusamine is the first woman to play a bad guy, and she does a great job. She is not only very smart for having a fake team do all the dirty work for her, but she is also a very complex person. She has very good reasons for getting involved in her evil plans. At the end of the day, she is just a confused mother who is having trouble adjusting to her new role after losing the love of her life in strange, unknown ways.
But what she does at the end of the game is what really blows people’s minds. SHE MERGES WITH AN ULTRA BEAST! With her speech about how she doesn’t care if things aren’t beautiful, whether it’s her daughter or a rare Pokémon, she really makes us think about what it means to be a master and also a person. So, all things considered, this is definitely the best boss fight ever.
Now, she’s not a very well-known character, but I fell in love with her because her side quest (X & Y’s Looker Bureau after the game) was what made me realize how powerful and emotional Pokémon’s stories can be. It’s hard to talk about her without giving away too much (she starts out as an illiterate orphan, becomes Looker’s helper, and then gets her mind taken over), but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and sobbing at the end. If there was a third version or remake of X and Y, I wanted her story to be more important to the main plot so that her character wouldn’t get lost. Even though that doesn’t seem likely, all I can do is hope or write more fan fiction so everyone knows what I’ll be doing next.
If it isn’t clear, I really like characters who change over the course of a game and who like to wear pink. So who else but Caitlin could be number one? As the boss of the Battle Castle in the post-game Battle Frontier of Platinum, HeartGold, and SoulSilver, it’s easy to miss her first appearance in the series, but if you do, she makes quite an impression. She is said to be the most important person there. In a way, she is like the princess of that place. She not only doesn’t fight, but her butler, Darach, fights for her. The fact that Darach can control the famous beast Entei shows how strong she is as a trainer.
Aside from that, most people know Caitlin from her role in Black and White as one of Unova’s Elite Four. What I love about her being in Unova is that her story gives us more information about her past, which makes me want to play the games she was in before. She is also shown to be psychic, just like Sabrina. People say that if she ever lost a fight, she would do a lot of damage. This probably explains why Darach fought in her place in the Battle Castle, but the fact that she went to Unova alone to improve her skills shows that she has grown up and become more mature. Like this list, Caitlin loves putting together groups of strong female characters. In Black and White, Cynthia can be found at the villa. It belongs to Caitlin, though. Aside from Sinnoh’s Champion, there are also other female Gym Leaders and members of the Elite Four in there. She must be the one person in the Pokémon world who is all about Girl Power.
So, there you have it: ten of the most interesting female characters in the world of Pokémon, though I’m sure we can talk about a lot more. Even though I can’t name them all, I do want to give a special shout-out to Beauty Nova from X and Y, who, surprise, was just a Black Belt a half year ago. Black Belts are a type of character class that only guys can have, so this is a really big deal. Trans women are also women, so she would have made the list at Nic and His Anti-Hegemonic Thoughts if there had been more to talk about. She might come back in a future game as a Gym Leader or some other NPC. She might be able to use Iron Valiant as her ace.