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Teams for Villain Leaders in the Anime

Ghost Diplocaulus

Detroit SMAAAASH! Eevee style.
Sep 22, 2020
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One thing that’s always stood out to me about the anime is the overall lack of a proper confrontation with the leaders of the various evil teams from the games. Usually this is because the anime has a history of not adapting the games’ villainous plots well (or in the case of Team Rocket, at all), but even in the handful of cases that it has adapted them properly, villain bosses tend to not use more than one or two Pokemon, which I personally find rather strange, as villain bosses in the games usually have teams that are almost full. In fact, the only villain boss to have received a full team in the anime was Lusamine, who ironically was made not a villain, so one could argue that there still isn’t a single villain boss in the anime with a proper team.

So that got me thinking, what if villainous leaders had been allowed to have full teams in the anime to fight against Ash and Company? What Pokemon might have they used? Well, here’s what I would personally give each criminal boss:

  • Persian
  • Honchkrow
  • Tyranitar
  • Nidoqueen
  • Nidoking
  • Rhyperior
I know this team includes Pokemon from beyond Gen 1, but since Giovanni is the only evil boss that is still operational in the anime, there’s a microscopic chance that he’ll battle the main characters properly in the future (and we have even already gotten a taste of that in BW), so I felt that it was okay to give him mons from non-Kanto Gens. Persian is of course self-explanatory; it’s his iconic pet in the anime and BW already confirmed that it’s a surprisingly powerful battler. Honchkrow because it’s based on a mafia don, and Team Rocket is basically the mafia, so I think it’s more than apt for literal Don Giovanni to have one (besides, I do think Honchkrow is generally a better fit for Giovanni than it is for Cyrus or Lysandre). Tyranitar because it symbolizes him being a powerful and ruthless crime boss, and I also think he’d be more than happy to own a powerful pseudo-legendary, and he could even Mega Evolve it. And as for the Nido monarchs and Rhyperior, they’re there because their lines are in my opinion the most iconic members of his game counterpart’s teams, so I can’t really picture any version of Giovanni without them in his possession.

Oh, I should also point out that I don’t imagine that any of the Pokemon Giovanni uses when acting as Team Rocket’s leader are Pokemon that he used for Gym Challengers, so yeah, his Rhyperior would not be that same wimpy Rhydon who got wrecked by Ash’s Pidgeotto of all things XD, ‘cause that would just be embarrassing.

  • Zangoose/Seviper
  • Crobat/Tentacruel
  • Weezing/Muk
  • Cacturne/Crawdaunt
  • Houndoom/Walrein
  • Camerupt/Sharpedo
For the leaders of Teams Magma and Aqua I decided to go for something of a theme of foils/counterparts for their teams, so I’m lumping them together. Zangoose and Seviper are famously mortal enemies, so I think it would have been cool for this to have been referenced via Maxie and Archie respectively having them, and I gave Zangoose to Maxie because I felt it fit him better aesthetically, so Seviper went to Archie by default. Crobat and Tentacruel are the evolved forms of the Pokemon you infamously find everywhere in the land/water routes respectively, so it felt appropriate for the leaders of the pro-land and pro-water teams to have them. Weezing and Muk are there because not only are Poison-types common amongst villains, but the former is a ball of noxious gas which could be likened to volcanic activity, while the latter is basically a living liquid, so they respectively fit into Maxie and Archie’s plans and themes. Crawdaunt is a Gen 3 Water-type described as a dangerous ruffian by Pokedex entries, so it makes sense for Archie to own one, and I gave Maxie a Cacturne to act as its counterpart because Cacturne is a desert Pokemon, so it has strong associations with dry land, it shares a Dark sub-type with Crawdaunt, and being a Grass-type allows Maxie to have at least one proper counter against Team Aqua’s Water-types that generally dominate Magma’s Ground and Fire-types. Houndoom has Team Magma’s overall color scheme, and in the anime Mightyena was the go-to Pokemon of Team Magma’s grunts (despite the fact that in the games themselves the species is abundant in both teams), so it made sense to me that Leader Maxie would have the bigger, stronger, and overall more menacing-looking Dark-type dog that as a bonus is part Fire-type; Archie gets Walrein because it’s a strong fully-evolved Gen 3 Water-type and it was the go-to Pokemon of Team Aqua’s grunts, and in my version of the anime I would have given the Team Aqua grunts Dewgongs or Pelippers instead so that there’d be no species overlap with their boss, since I personally like Walrein too much to keep it as a cannon fodder mon. Camerupt and Sharpedo are self-explanatory: they’re the aces of Maxie and Archie’s game counterparts, so it should have been the same for their anime incarnations.

  • Magnezone
  • Porygon-Z or Bronzong
  • Starmie
  • Dusknoir
  • Drapion
  • Weavile
Cyrus’s team is probably the most divergent from his game counterpart’s due to me giving several Pokemon that his game counterpart uses to other Team Leaders, and because I wanted to avoid species overlaps between Evil Team Leaders so that they’d stand out from each other, I went a bit crazy with Cyrus’s anime team. For starters, I gave Cyrus a Magnezone because according to what little backstory he gets in the games, he was generally an asocial kid who preferred the company of machines over living creatures, and Magnezone is a very machine-like Pokemon that debuted in Gen 4, so I think it’s perfect for him (plus, his Adventures counterpart used one). Porygon-Z is here too for similar reasons, as it’s an outright purely artificial Pokemon, and the Porygon line in general was also created to travel between dimensions, so it fits with Cyrus’s literally cosmic-scale plans… of course, the Porygon family is banned from having prominent anime presence (which I think is dumb, since even back in the DP era I think enough time had passed since the seizure incident that wasn’t even Porygon’s fault, and with a then brand-new evolution it would have been a perfect time to lift it), so I put Bronzong as an alternative option, since it’s another very artificial-looking Pokemon. Next up is Starmie, who I gave to Cyrus for various reasons: firstly, because there’s some implications that its line originates from outer space (or at the very least has some odd connection to it), so it fits with the cosmic theme perfectly; secondly, because Cyrus’s name means “Sun”, and the sun is a star (yes, I know Solrock exists, but I wanted Cyrus to have something more powerful). Dusknoir because it’s said to ferry souls to the underworld, so it has some of that “dimensional travel” theme. Drapion because it completes a trio of “mean Gen 4 Poison-types” with Saturn’s Toxicroak and Jupiter’s Skuntank. And lastly Weavile because it’s Cyrus’s ace in the games.

  • Cofagrigus
  • Scolipede
  • Bisharp
  • Seismitoad
  • Eelektross
  • Hydreigon
In stark contrast to Cyrus, Ghetsis’s team is the least changed from his game counterpart’s, with the only change being that I swapped Bouffalant for a Scolipede, something I did because the anime made Bouffalant Alder’s main Pokemon, so it’d be kinda strange for BW’s main villain to have one too. I know I could have given Ghetsis a Drapion or a Toxicroak (two Pokemon his game counterpart uses in B2W2), but I already gave Cyrus a Drapion whereas Toxicroak I just… don’t think fits him, so instead I decided to go for the largest and most imposing-looking Poison-type in the Gen 5 games. Sidenote, to this day I still find it massively insulting that the Hydreigon species’ biggest anime role in the BW saga came in the form of being used by the single dumbest trainer to have ever been introduced and not as one of the coolest game villains’ ace mon that completely wrecks everything. Hydreigon deserved better, just sayan…

  • Pyroar
  • Haxorus
  • Toxicroak
  • Mandibuzz
  • Shiny Aegislash
  • Shiny Mega Gyarados
Okay, confession time: Lysandre is the main reason I made this thread. I just think it would have been really cool for him to use a full team of six against Ash and Alain instead of just two Pokemon, especially since Ash did use his entire team against Lysandre, and with the devastating Kalos League loss still fresh, having Ash’s Pokemon each get to beat one of Lysandre’s would have served as something of a “consolation win” for all of them (especially Noivern and Goodra, who had by far the worst performances), plus it would help make Mega Gyarados wrecking them all in quick succession more believable. Pyroar and Shiny Mega Gyarados need no explanation, as they were already in the anime itself. Haxorus is there because it’s a powerful Dragon-type and would have served as the main opponent of Ash’s Noivern. Toxicroak is a Fighting-type so obviously it would’ve fought Ash’s Hawlucha (sidenote: I was originally going to give Lysandre a Mienshao like in the games, but then I remembered how Fairy-weak his game team is and how annoying I found that, so I decided to give him a Fighting-type with an advantage over Fairies). Mandibuzz is there because it’s an alternative to game Lysandre’s Honchkrow (a Pokemon which I already gave to Giovanni and like I said before I didn’t want species overlaps) and would’ve fought Ash’s Talonflame. Finally, there’s Aegislash, which I gave to Lysandre because it’s heavily implied that the man is descended from royalty and is also the Leader of Team Flare, and Aegislash is said to serve people destined to be powerful leaders, so I thought it fit Lysandre; Aegislash is also Shiny both because the Shiny coloration’s bloodstained appearance reflects Lysandre’s genocidal tendencies and also to distinguish it from Sawyer’s Aegislash. Aegislash would have been fought by Ash’s Goodra.

Oh, and Pikachu fights Pyroar while Ash-Greninja fights Mega Gyarados alongside Alain’s Megazard X.

  • Pinsir
  • Ariados
  • Armaldo
  • Scizor
  • Masquerain
  • Golisopod
I know that Guzma technically wasn’t a villain so much as he was just a jaded jerk, but he was still technically the main antagonist for the League Arc, and because it’s a rather popular opinion that there should have been proper full battles in the Alola League prior to Ash’s and Kukui’s match, I thought it’d be fun to give Guzma a full team for that “what if” universe. Scizor and Golisopod are the Pokemon his anime incarnation already had (and the latter is the overall character’s signature mon), so they obviously stay. Pinsir, Ariados, and Masquerain are lifted from the various teams of Guzma’s game counterpart. Armaldo just rounds things out, serving as a reference to the Armaldo that game!Olivia uses, plus its secondary Rock-type helps it neutralize several of Bug’s weaknesses, giving Guzma’s team more overall combat prowess.

Chairman Rose
  • Klinklang
  • Escavalier
  • Perrserker
  • Empoleon
  • Ferrothorn
  • Copperajah
Similarly to Lysandre, I think Ash and Rose should’ve had a full battle (granted, Ash didn’t have a full team yet, but let’s pretend that either the Darkest Day arc takes place later in Journeys or Ash’s Dracovish is caught earlier) instead of a double battle. Ash’s Journeys Team is generally really underfocused compared to past teams, so it would have been nice for them to get some action in this arc. Most of Rose’s team is directly lifted from the games, with Empoleon being the only new addition. I know it’s not obtainable in SWSH, but the anime doesn’t have Pokedex restrictions (nor does it really make sense for it to have said restrictions in place either), so I thought it was fair. There’s several reasons I chose Empoleon for Rose: one, it’s part-Steel, the type Rose specializes in; two, being a Water-type gives Rose’s team something to counter that massive Fire weakness; three, it’s based on an emperor and has the appearance of wearing a stylish tuxedo, which ties into Rose being the Chairman of the Galar League and the stylish clothes he wears while he’s on professional mode; four, Empoleon is said to be extremely proud and haughty, which fits Rose’s own egotistical personality; and five, it would have been neat foreshadowing for the Sinnoh-centric games.

So that about wraps it up for my choices! What about the rest of you? Do you also find it weird that Evil Team Leaders seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to their Pokemon, and would you also like for them to have full teams more often? If so, what teams of Pokemon would you have given each Villain Leader and why?


'Chu can dance if you want to
Sep 27, 2007
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Do you also find it weird that Evil Team Leaders seem to get the short end of the stick when it comes to their Pokemon, and would you also like for them to have full teams more often?
I find it weird; in general they do not seem to want Ash battling and beating the Team Leaders; I don't think he was allowed to until XY, and not allowed to beat one alone until Alola (if you count Guzma) or JN (if you don't).

That said I can sort of guess why; realistically these criminals would not be willing to risk their plans having a normal and fair match with someone, and a huge brawl between Ash's whole party and the whole part of the villain would be very tricky to write and animate without it taking attention away from everyone and everything else; I'd guess that's why most of his XY party got taken out so fast by Mega Gyarados.
Of course if the ALola league didn't have teeny battles Guzma would have been a great opportunity for a normal full battle with one. Rose could fit too since the games made him sort of genial despite being a villain and I could find him having a normal battle very believable.

I've mentioned before I really like the idea of Giovanni being one of Ash's PWC opponents--possibly the end of hyper or even the first in Master class--since he has a "respected" front as a Gym Leader and at least in the games he had a lot of pride in his skill as a trainer so I could see him entering it).

One thing I'll note for your Cyrus roster is that between Hunter J and Paul that would be a lot of prominent antagonists with Drapion in DP, which may or may not be an issue. Other than that I really like all the team ideas!

Ghost Diplocaulus

Detroit SMAAAASH! Eevee style.
Sep 22, 2020
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One thing I'll note for your Cyrus roster is that between Hunter J and Paul that would be a lot of prominent antagonists with Drapion in DP, which may or may not be an issue. Other than that I really like all the team ideas!
Hmm, true, that might be kind of a problem, actually. Granted, the anime does have a bit of a history of depicting certain species as inherently "mean and nasty" by default (Beedrill, Spearow/Fearow, the Electabuzz line, and Ursaring in particular being species that the anime seems to adore demonizing), so this would arguably be par for the course, but it is a genuinely annoying trend, so yeah, I do agree that having three antagonists with Drapion in the same saga would be overkill. So to mitigate that a bit I think I'd just give Hunter J something else in place of Drapion. Maybe a Metagross, since J already had fellow Gen 3 pseudo-legend Salamence, so her having the other one too would have been pretty cool. Maybe a bit overkill, but with how ruthless Hunter J generally was, I think she'd have no qualms over sicking two extremely powerful pseudo-legendary Pokemon on her adversaries.


Well-Known Member
May 13, 2014
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Good idea for a thread. However I don't mind villains not having full battles with the heroes as it's hard to buy everyone would stop what they are doing just for that. So I'll take this chance to fix Guzma and Rose's monotype teams which I don't like (I know Guzma's was made that way so he'd fit the role of Bug specialist, whereas Rose's just for making the game easier) as well as to give Giovanni more Pokemon.

Probably an assortment of Pokemon that Ash has owned or could own, to show that anyone could be a villain under the right circumstances.
  • Persian
  • Krookodile
  • Dusk Lycanroc
  • Corviknight
  • Primeape/Gliscor/Kingler
  • Typhlosion

  • Golisopod
  • Crabrawler: Unevolved to show he never became a champion, many live nearby his house and it's know to be always looking for fights. It's perfect!
  • Alolan Muk: Po Town is filled with trash so I assume some A-Grimer could've show up to eat it.
  • Smeargle: Graffitis, and a Pokemon known for being very unpredictable.
  • Sudowoodo: Do I need to say it? A well-known faker that surprises recent players.
  • Basculin: Well, it's inspired by gangs.
  • Toxapex/Scrafty/Araquanid/Basculin/Pangoro/Granbull: Other options. I kinda liked Pangoro because of its boss-like appearance and could have provided the hidden meaning that Guzma was just someone who met the wrong people, but it's slightly type-redundant.
  • Copperajah
  • Coalossal/Excadrill/Conkeldurr: See Journeys episode 44.
  • Mr. Rime: Eternatus counter and entertainer.
  • Orbeetle: Smart but evil, like Rose.
  • Thievul: Suave but evil, like Rose.
  • Boltund/Ninjask/Hawlucha/Passimian: I wanted something that represented his interest in sports, and these came up.
  • Mudsdale: Represents his interest in sports, and also the mining aspect, and it's also chubby. :wynaut:
  • Duraludon: Even without the Gigantamax, it's a futuristic state-of-the-art strong Pokemon. (btw this mon doesn't fit Raihan at all)
I'd also give Solrock to Cyrus, it's baffling that Team Galactic doesn't have any space-themed Pokemon at all.