Watching Ash Ketchum battle rivals, collect Pokémon and explore new regions is only part of the Pokémon anime's total package. Ash, his friends and Team Rocket, of course, have a fun dynamic that adds important flare to their adventures. That dynamic reaches its peak in the pun-filled back-and-forth banter that fills the space between battles. Pokémon's puns not only give the anime tons of character, but the best of them have evolved into unforgettable memes.
While some of the great jokes are written into the story, others were introduced or interpreted by 4Kids Entertainment, the company responsible for dubbing the series in English. 4Kids hasn’t always done the best job, but they nailed it with some of the hilarious lines that made the first few seasons of the Pokémon anime so classic. The cheesy humor has been an integral part of the show from the beginning, and it continues to put a smile on fans’ faces years later.
When recounting bad puns in the Pokémon anime, Team Rocket certainly stands out as an unstoppable comedic trio. They may be evil Pokémon snatchers, but their silliness thoroughly undermines any intimidation factor they might've had. Before (or while) they’re sent flying away, they always manage to throw out some awful-but-fantastic jokes or break the fourth wall in some way, once quipping the iconic line “it’s a Tentacruel world.”
However, Team Rocket isn’t the only fountain of bad puns in Pokémon. One mustn’t forget about when Ash Ketchum dressed up as an apple and suddenly had nothing but apple jokes on the brain: “I think I broke my core” and “I’m an apple for a day and I need a doctor right away.” The pun skill at work is truly impressive.
The best part of the anime's puns is that they're often contextualized within the Pokémon universe. For example, Misty shouts to Team Rocket with the common pun: “Why don't you just pretend you're a tree and leave?” to which James chides, “Oh funny! Who taught you that one, Professor Oak?” It's a nice touch that makes the world feel somehow self-aware and lived-in all at once.
Perhaps one of the most iconic moments of Pokémon pun genius is when the beloved Brock is running through the rain and utters the incredibly meme-worthy joke, “I’ll use my trusty frying pan as a drying pan.” Brock continually gives watchers a laugh with his flirty antics, but 4Kids really makes his character shine with outrageous puns like this. One also mustn't forget how the dub calls his rice balls “jelly donuts” in a hilarious localization attempt.
Pokémon’s bad puns are one of the best parts of the show because they detract from the repetitive catch and battle formula and keep it lighthearted for both kids and adult watchers in need of a chuckle during their morning cartoon specials.