Our Favorite Pokémon Gym Leaders

by Ana Lopez

Ah, Pokémon Gym Leaders. With over fifty appearing in the series now, these fights we all come for, with the characters we meet along the way are some of the most interesting from the entire franchise. So we’ve picked our favorite leaders from over the years, including some familiar faces from the anime, some legendary fighters, and a few we think are really neat.

For more guides to help you on your quest to be the best there ever was, check out our Rabbit Pokémon, Cutest Pokémon, Monkey Pokémon, Dog Pokémon, and Cat Pokémon guides. Or, if you’re looking for a different kind of monster, check out our guides to breeding My Singing Monsters, My Singing Monsters mods, and My Singing Monsters friend codes.

With that out of the way, grab your appetizer and let’s get to our list of our favorites Pokémon Gym Leaders.

Custom image of Brock for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Brock

The first gym leader in the series’ history, and famous for his inclusion in the original anime, battling Brock in Pewter City gym is the stuff of legend (even if all you need is a Squirtle to get past the old Onix) . It’s the true beginning of thousands, if not millions, of shared Pokémon journeys and marks the moment when so many of us started to fall in love with the franchise.

Custom image of Misty drying off for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Misty

I can’t mention Brock and leave out Misty, Ash’s second companion and the host of Cerulean City’s gym challenge. Misty is so gutted at the prospect of battling you that she doesn’t even stop paddling to pay attention to the battle, frustrating her trusty Starmie into submission with his deluge of supersonic attacks. Of course, like Brock, Misty isn’t much of a challenge, but that doesn’t make her any less important in the series’ history.

Blaine

Blaine is on our Pokémon gym leader’s list because of his interesting switch between the first and second games. In the short time between the two generations, Blaine’s gym burns to the ground during a volcanic eruption, forcing the fire-type user to take up a new office in the caverns of Seafoam Island. However, a new home means no dousing for Blaine’s team, with the challenge stepped up in gold and silver compared to the original fight.

Custom image of Giovanni with Persian for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Giovanni

Okay, this is the last first-generation gym leader, I swear. I can’t discount Giovanni, the original final challenge of the eight gym gloves in Kanto, the leader of Team Rocket, and the guy who’s going to use slit to make you hate, and I mean hate, one-off KO attacks. Like the other two Cantonians we’ve included, Giovanni is pretty easy to work with a water type on the side, but that doesn’t make him any less intimidating the first time he walks around.

Custom image of Whitney skipping for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Whitney

Of all my Pokémon memories, the most prominent is endlessly trying to take down Whitney’s Miltank to no avail. Really this entry shouldn’t even be Whitney it should be Miltank, Miltank is the real boss here, with high HP to keep it alive and a rollout that never seems to miss where you continuously take out your entire group until you the whole again. Admittedly, taking on Whitney is a bit easier these days when I get back to Johto, but that doesn’t mean this battle isn’t infamous for making kids wonder how much they really want to be the champion of them all.

Custom image of Norman for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Norman

Norman is remarkable for two reasons. First, he’s your dad, so that makes for the first and only gym leader to fight against your own flesh and blood, though your in-game old man isn’t too keen on giving you an easy time. The second reason we love Norman is that he’s bold enough to make Slaking, a Pokémon that does nothing half the time, his star player, giving us all a free turn to use some much-needed max potions . To make this battle even more special, I like to play Father and Son by Cat Stevens and picture Norman with a tear in his eye as I leave his gym with a badge in hand.

Custom image of the twins Tate and Liza for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Tate and Lisa

The first of many dual battle gym leader challenges, the showdown with Tate and Liza in Mossdeep City is one of my favorite battles to go back to. Sure, it’s a walk in the park if you’ve got a water type at your disposal to carve out Solrock and Lunatone, but if you’re not prepared, these two are ready to use their cosmic rocks to frustrate you to no end. It’s also worth noting that Mossdeep Gym is one of the most intelligently designed in the early generations, with a puzzle that takes concepts from Giovanni’s gym in the first game and reinvents them for the GBA generation.

Custom image of Fantina wearing her purple dress for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Fantina

If this were a list of the most glamorous Pokémon gym leaders, Fantina would be at the top of the pile, but she still makes the cut for our favorites. With her team of ghost types, Fantina is by far the most memorable gym battle in Diamond and Pearl, with her ghosts wreaking havoc on any team unprepared with dark type attacks. She also uses her style and grace to win numerous Pokémon contests, using her majestic spirits again and again to win the prize.

Custom image of Elesa for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Elesa

Elesa from Pokémon Black and White owns what I’d say is the most fun gym in the history of the series, with a real rollercoaster ride it takes to get you to the gym’s leader. Once you arrive, the fight isn’t particularly difficult, but Elesa’s Emolga can pull some surprises out of his cute little cheeks, making for a fight where you can’t take anything for granted.

Custom image of Piers with his black and white hair for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Piers

Punk Rock Piers is our favorite of the Pokémon gym leaders from Galar. Equipped with a tricky team of dark types, this battle is made more fun by the back and forth between Marnie, who made the list of our favorites Pokémon characters and Piers, who happens to be her brother. We also love Piers for not being afraid to go against the herd, being the only Galarian gym leader who doesn’t indulge in dynamaxing. Everyone loves a purist.

Custom image of Larry the salaryman for our favorite Pokemon gym leader guide

Larry

Larry the salary man is our favorite of the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet gym leaders, with the petulant normal-type user clearly more dejected than the rest of Paldea’s top trainers. He’s almost like the Eeyore of the Pokémon universe, who wanders in the background and comes out with cynical one-liners that make us wish we could spend more time with Larry. Fortunately, our prayers are answered in the battle of the elite four, where you once again take on the salaryman, but this time with a team of flying types.

There you have it, our favorite Pokémon gym leaders. For more tips and tricks on how to catch them all, check out our Pokémon Go event, Pokémon Go raids, and Pokémon Go Community Day guides, as well as our complete Pokedex.

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