Pokémon has no shortage of evil teams who want to take over the world -- but the most notable of all is Team Rocket. Contrary to their evil organization status, Jessie, James and Meowth possess more virtues than just persistence. Team Rocket never mistreats their Pokémon, and always tries to act in their best interests, like when James leaves his Chimecho with relatives who can care for the sick Pokémon, or when Jessie forcibly released her Dustox -- all so it wouldn't make the same mistake of missing out on love, like she had.
Their loyalty, bravery and oddly self-sacrificing nature makes the trio incredibly likable and easy to root for. Here are seven times Team Rocket were really the good guys (however briefly,) in chronological order.
"A World Turned to Ash Means Nothing To Steal" (Pokémon the Movie 2000)
The second Pokémon movie sees an ancient warning and prophecy come to fruition that implies that the world will be destroyed -- and Team Rocket can't help but stay true to their motto and "protect the world from devastation." When Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres' battle makes it impossible for Ash to get to the final orb he needs to set the world right, Team Rocket uses their mech skills to jerry-rig a lifeboat into an airboat by attaching a broken helicopter propeller.
Couple this with them helping free the Legendary Birds earlier in the movie, and their sacrifice when they let go of Lugia so that they won't slow it down (only surviving the fall because they happened to hit one of the few patches of un-iced sea) and it's easy to see how Team Rocket could easily become truly heroic figures. They even contemplate this at the end of the movie, deciding to be good before quickly returning to their evil ways.
Saving Ash's Life (Pokémon 3: The Movie - Spell of the Unown)
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it act of heroism, Team Rocket saves Ash's life. When Ash is blasted out of a wall by Entei, they, along with everyone else, are shocked until Charizard brings him back -- only for him to nearly fall again when Entei's attack sends Charizard careening into him! Fortunately, the slowness of the danger allows Brock, Misty, Pikachu and Team Rocket the time they need to jump in.
It takes everyone to pull Ash back from the brink, and the uncharacteristically good act causes the main cast to ask why Team Rocket helped. In what is probably an incomprehensible answer to Ash and co., Team Rocket breaks the fourth wall and gives a simple explanation -- if anything happens to Ash, they'll be "outta show biz."
"We're No Angels!" Proves That Team Rocket Can Be Exactly That (Pokémon Chronicle)
While Pokémon Chronicles was notable for putting the spotlight on characters other than Ash, he did appear in one episode: Team Rocket's. Episode 7, "We're No Angels!," reveals what happens after Team Rocket blasts off, showing them landing in a small village, where they are immediately -- much to their dismay -- lauded as heroes. Not helping is that, while trying to prove their villainy, they accidentally save the town from a rampaging robot!
They quickly begin hatching a plan to use their status as heroes for their benefit -- but it's a plan that never quite comes to fruition, as Kate, their biggest supporter, clearly has some sort of feelings for James, which he also clearly reciprocates. Ever loyal, Jessie and Meowth are willing to stay and even change their villain tune as James requests -- until an accidental button press sends them flying back to Ash.
"A Poached Ego" Lays Bare Team Rocket's True Loyalties (Pokémon Advanced)
When Team Rocket encounters an unscrupulous poacher in Season 6, Episode 6, "A Poached Ego," they are appalled, even going so far as to call the scene of the caged, heavily injured Ekans "sickening." They have standards and don't injure the Pokémon they pilfer, which is part of why so many escape. Couple this disgust with Arbok and Weezing's empathy for their pre-evolved forms, and there's no way they weren't about to set them free.
While initially fantasizing about creating an army, the moment they realize that they're no match for the poacher, Meowth, Jessie and James all jump in to fight themselves, and order Arbok and Weezing to take the released Pokémon to safety, releasing the companions who had been with them since Episode 2 in the process.
"What Lies Beyond Truth and Ideals!" Turns Team Rocket From Crooks to Cops (Black & White)
Team Rocket's good guy tendencies get noticed every now and again in-universe, and Looker of the international police is no exception. Rather than trying to arrest the evil organization's agents, he's come to respect them as valued allies from their meetings across the regions. Originally growing loyal to Looker in the Sinnoh region when he gave them a free lunch, the trio used their disguises to help him infiltrate and defeat Team Galactic.
The culmination of this loyalty, however, is in the penultimate episode of the Unova arc, "What Lies Beyond Truth and Ideals!," when Colress uses his mind-control machine. While Team Rocket initially plans to steal the machine, upon being asked for help by Looker, they immediately abandon their scheme to help the good guys. They end up being instrumental in turning the tide of battle, with even Meowth managing to take down some of Team Plasma's Pokémon and prevent Pikachu from getting mind-controlled.
Team Rocket Saves the World Again in "Facing the Grand Design!" (X&Y)
Pokémon XY: Kalos Quest's "Facing the Grand Design!" is the culmination of one of Pokémon's strangest plotlines, wherein a group of Malamar attempt to remake the planet into an entirely different environment to better suit themselves -- despite the fact that doing so would make the world uninhabitable for anyone else.
Thus, Team Rocket once again allies themselves with the Twerps in order to save the world, with James' Inkay playing a key role. James even proves Team Rocket's love for their Pokémon again at the episode's end, offering to release Inkay so it can stay with the good Malamar of the forest, who clearly like it. Inkay staunchly refuses, showing that the bond between trainer and Pokémon is no one-way street.
Makes "A Little Rocket R & R!" Anything BUT Restful and Relaxing (Journeys)
When Team Rocket is sent on a forced vacation by Giovanni's secretary, Matori, only to encounter Ash and Goh anyway, they are uncomfortable -- but when they find out the reason they were sent to Sinnoh was so they'd be out of the way of Matori's Pokémon stealing operation, they quickly go from reluctant acquaintances to full-blown allies.
They not only orchestrate a breakout just to spite Matori, but use their evil skills for good, with James' lockpicking abilities being invaluable. In the end, Officer Jenny even thanks them for their assistance, cementing them as heroes in the region's eyes.