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.
No matter how much Pokémon preaches that its adorable little monsters are friends with their masters, they are functionally free animal labor. With rare exception, Pokémon trainers keep Pokémon locked up, and only bring them out for battles or to get work done.
Digimon, however, are often true partners to their human companions. Also, if the partnership goes sour, they have the choice to leave. In Season 3, Impmon leaves his original tamers when they won’t stop fighting over which one gets to play with him. He only returns when they learn to work together, and it’s all of his own volition.
Most Pokémon episodes are stand alone entries. The series doesn't really have many long-running plot arcs. When Ash and company disrupt the inner workings of the Pokémon Academy, it’s never mentioned again.
Digimon never let you forget its plots. When Gotsumon and Pumpkinmon die in order to help Matt and TK, their sacrifice is remembered. Even a season later, the events reverberate throughout the show and inform the motives of the DigiDestined.
Unlike Ash’s mom – who seems totally fine letting her very young son travel alone across the world – the parents of the DigiDestined freaked out (understandably) when their children went off to fight in world shattering battles. Parents in Digimon were complex, layered people.
Jeri’s father in Season 3 despised his daughter. After she's lost in the DigiWorld for much of the season, he refuses to pick her up and bring her home. Matt and TK’s parents were divorced, yet cordial to each other. Matt stayed with his father, remember, and TK stayed with his mother. These family dynamics helped ground the more fantastical elements of the series, and made them far more relatable than Ash’s wacky mother in Pokémon.
Pokémon doesn’t seem to remember huge events, especially when Legendary Pokémon threaten the planet, but Digimon actually keeps its internal continuity straight. Even with multiple separate universes, Digmon managed to tie several of these seasons together. In Season 2, Ryo shows up in a cameo that not only united the first two season’s universes, but also the Digimon video games.
In Season 3, Ryo becomes a main character, able to jump between realities. In Data Squad, it’s even implied Izzy (a character from Season 1) might have created the Data Squad universe. If Digmon can have this level of interconnectivity between seasons set in different universes, what’s Pokémon’s excuse?