Which is better, Pokémon or Digimon? It’s an argument that has raged in fan circles since both shows debuted, but we all know the real answer: Digimon is better. It's a simple, scientific fact.
Pokémon may have been running nonstop since its debut, but Digimon has done way more with fewer titles. Though Seasons 1-4, Data Squad, Fusion, and the spectacular Digimon Adventure tri., Digimon has stood the test of time, and its earliest plot lines hold up nearly 20 years later.
Also, before you run off to the comments section, the topics on these lists will focus on the English dubs of both Digimon and Pokémon, even though both Pokémon and Digimon had censored moments in the American dubs. Thankfully, both shows made it through the translation process mostly unscathed, and Digimon especially didn’t take the opportunity to talk down to kids.
The closest Pokémon ever got to death was (sort of) turning Ash to stone in the first movie, then having Pokemon’s tears cure him. Digimon not only killed off some of their beloved monsters, but human characters as well.
“Genesis of Evil” in Season 2 shows Ken relive his brother Sam's death from a car accident. Ken’s parents, who clearly loved Sam more than Ken, forced Ken into living out their dream of a “perfect son,” and completely screwed up his head in the process. In that same season, Cody’s father died, creating the catalyst for Owikawa to implant the children with the dark spores.
In Pokémon, Ash never grows up. He’s been on his journey to be a Pokémon master for two decades now, and has yet to age a day. What could be a chance for long form character development is thrown out the window, as he’s basically the same person he’s always been.
Digimon, on the other hand, has shown its main characters grow up twice now. First in Season 2, when the original kids aged up several years and changed schools. Matt and Tai grew apart, Mimi moved to America, and Joe was studying endlessly to get into college. In Digimon Adventure tri., the original team is about to graduate high school, and Tai has no idea what to do with his life without the constant Digimon battles. Pokémon can only dream about that kind of character development.
The Ash and Misty “romance” was always a sticking point for Pokémon fans, but the show only acknowledges it one or two times. And when it is, it’s far too subtle and never really goes anywhere.
Digimon had several long-running romances, that echoed seasons down the line. The Tai/Matt/Sora love triangle continued throughout Seasons 1, 2, and Adventure tri. Tai and Sora broke up, Sora and Matt got together, and now they’re all single. The relationships were never simple, but that’s what made them all the more resonant.
Ash and his band of friends exist in a fantasy world that, while it shares some similarities with our own, is very different. Digimon, in every iteration, at least partially takes place in the real world. This not only increases the excitement of traveling to the DigiWorld, but also makes the characters seem more like actual kids you might meet.
Their human problems are reflected in the fantastical setting of the DigiWorld. Sora doesn't trust Biyomon to fight on her own in battle, because she is working through her own issues she with her mother not trusting her. In Season 3, in fact, the first two seasons are shown to be a TV show, making the new main characters fans of Digimon, just like the audience.