Pokemon is the best anime for kids because it not only taught a generation about courage and perseverance, but also about heartbreak. The series arguably broke down boundaries for just how sad a children's show could actually be. Don't remember? You've probably managed to successfully block all the tragic moments in the Pokemon anime from your memory. For the rest of us, just seeing Butterfree gives us pangs of residual sorrow.
From the very first episode, Pokemon was heartbreaking. Do you remember watching in agony over whether or not Ash would be able to save his dying Pikachu? This sorrow was a constant theme throughout the series, which forced us to say goodbye to a number of integral characters throughout. Though the show always managed to wrap up the heartwrenching threads in a neat little bow (it's a kid's show, after all), the sad Pokemon moments stuck with us through adulthood. We all remember crying when Pikachu tried to shock Ash back to life after he was turned into stone during the first film.
The saddest episodes of Pokemon don't just feature goodbyes - they feature death, abandonment, and the idea that you have to change everything about who you are to be accepted. These are deep, complicated emotions a small child should never be forced to navigate, yet you did nearly every morning before school when new episodes aired. Here are some of the most depressing moments in Pokemon - vote up the gut-wrenching scenes that seriously gave you the feels.
Charmander Is Abandoned By His Trainer
Our childhood hearts were in no way prepared to witness the sheer emotional turmoil Charmander put us through in "The Stray Pokemon" (episode 11). In the episode, Charmander's trainer tells him to wait on a rock until he returns. Ash and the gang stumble upon the little lizard, who refuses to leave with them because he's absolutely sure his trainer will return.
After hours and hours, it gets pretty clear that his trainer isn't coming back. Worse yet, it starts to rain. Ash and his gang get worried, and run out into the storm to check on the little Pokemon. What they find is traumatizing for any 10-year-old viewer - Charmander is still hopefully waiting for his trainer to return, getting attacked by Spearows and shielding himself with a leaf while the light on his tale is burning out. Basically, Charmander is dying and would rather die than admit his trainer abandoned him. Thankfully, the episode has a happy ending and Charmander finds friendship and real, unconditional love in Ash and his friends.
Ash Is Turned To Stone And Brought Back By Pikachu's Tears
This is the single moment that taught thousands of children what it feels like to truly have their heart broken. In this gut-wrenching scene from Mewtwo Strikes Back, Ash is turned to stone during an epic Pokemon battle. Pikachu desperately tries to shock Ash back to life, but he doesn't move. Pikachu starts to sob over the body of his dead best friend.
As if this wasn't enough, every single Pokemon starts crying, too (and subsequently, so did the thousands of kids and their parents watching the film in theaters). Pikachu's tears ended up saving Ash because if Pokemon taught us anything, it's that love and friendship conquer all.
Pikachu Chooses Ash Over Freedom
Straight-up, this moment could have totally been avoided by proper communication between Ash and his little yellow BFF. Instead, every kid who saw this episode got to cry the entire way to school, being unable to shake the emotional trauma they just endured.
In the gut-wrenching episode, "Pikachu's Goodbye" (episode 39), Ash realizes that Pikachu seems a whole lot happier being free in the forest with his brand new Pikachu friends. Ash decides he's going to release Pikachu into the wild for his own good. However, Pikachu doesn't completely want to leave Ash behind, either.
Cue the life-shattering, tear-filled montage of Pikachu and Ash's most emotional moments throughout the series. After our guts are dragged out of our bodies through our tear ducts, Ash walks away from Pikachu in tears, but Pikachu runs after him. Pikachu chooses a life with Ash over being happy and free. Ash sobs as Pikachu embraces him, triggering a mountain of tears from every single elementary-aged kid in America and Japan.
Ash Sends Butterfree Off With His Mate
In "Bye Bye Buterfree" (episode 21), Ash says goodbye to the beloved Butterfree he has raised since it was a little Caterpie. The saddest part was that this farewell, no matter how painful, was for the good of the Pokemon. Butterfree needed to go off and find his mate to truly be happy, and Ash knew he had to let him go.
Of course, it can't just be a happy moment. This tear-filled goodbye has to rip out our heartstrings with a sad montage of Ash's happiest memories with his bug-type BFF. Most of us have been trying to forget about this tear-inducing moment for the better part of two decades, but it's proven to be impossible.