Ranking the Pokemon Rivals – Part Two

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Continuing last week’s post, this is the second half of my personal ranking of the Pokemon rivals from the video games. Having been so focused on Pokemon Sword and Shield lately, I’ve been really thinking about all the characters that we meet as the avatar player. The rivals are always some of the most important characters in the games, after all, so it helps when they’re well-developed.
Like on my previous post, please remember that this is all my personal opinion of these characters, and I did not include Serena and May since… I never played the games when they were considered my rivals considering I play as the female avatar. There also may be small spoilers regarding Sword and Shield rivals.
09. Barry (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum)
This kid amused me to no end. Honestly, his boundless energy reminded me of Rachel and after having a couple of generations of more serious and dedicated rivals, Barry’s enthusiasm was refreshing. True, at times it was a touch annoying, but it was still nice to see a rival character act like the kid he actually is (despite, you know, these children training beasts who breathe literal fire and create tsunamis while saving the world because the adults are incompetent).
08. Gladion (Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon)
Having a rival who, once again, was a little snarky towards you and claiming to the better trainer was a great motivation to strengthen your own team so you could always kick his butt. His story was decently interesting as well, and I probably would have been more invested in him if I was more interested in the Alola games. He honestly seemed to be one of the sanest members of his family, and cared for his Pokemon.
07. Cheren (Black/White)
Despite the Unova region not being my favorite, I did enjoy the rival characters. Cheren being a studious rival, always wanting to better himself, and then eventually becoming a gym leader in the sequel games showed his character development. He was also one of the better rivals battle-wise, if I remember correctly.
06. Hau (Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon)
I laughed out loud when Hau showed up at my character’s house and said, “Meow to you, too!” at the mother’s Meowth! As a character, Hau spoke to me at that moment. Because, come on, who doesn’t meow back at cats? He’s another enthusiastic and supportive rival, yes, and completely endearing in a region that I didn’t find to be the best. He was a bright spot during the trials that I found tedious and the convoluted so-called story line.
05. Brendan (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald/Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire)
Brendan is here probably more so for nostalgic purposes than anything. Being the first “helpful” rival, it was interesting having him give you a hand once in a while despite always pushing you to grow more as a trainer with battles. With Emerald being one of my favorite games in the franchise, Brendan will have a special place in my heart as a solid character in the game.
04. Bianca (Black/White)
At first she seemed to be a typical, somewhat-ditzy female character, but Bianca did grow on me during the time I played Black and White. Her reason for going on a journey was to grow and figure out who she was rather than just wanting to be the best battler. Getting out from under her father’s thumb, Bianca had the courage to go and live her own life, eventually becoming the professor’s assistant in the sequel games. As someone else who is continuously trying to figure out her own path in life, I can respect Bianca’s character.
03. Hop (Sword/Shield)
This poor child needs someone to tell him that he is perfect the way he is and to help him get rid of his inferiority complex. He reminded me of Barry and Hau when he first appeared to us in the Sword and Shield games, but Hop grew into his own character as the game went on. His character development did seem to grow rather quickly, but that could also be due to the speed at which I went through the game. Still, Hop was endearing to me, and I admire the growth he’s shown throughout the main game and the post-game events.
02. Blue (Red/Blue/Yellow/FireRed/LeafGreen)
The first original rival, Blue is a classic character. Snarky and defensive, Blue helped eight-year-old me learn how to develop my own team so I could always defeat him and wipe the smirk I’m sure was on his pixelated face. I failed in my first Yellow runthrough because I didn’t understand how to have a balanced team back then. I focused on training Pikachu over the rest of my team, and it was one of the later battles you have with Blue that made me rethink how I was playing the game and start over completely. Blue’s character throughout the series has always been a fun throwback as well, to seeing him as a gym leader in the later Kanto games and vacationing in Alola with Red.
01. Silver (Gold/Silver/Crystal/HeardGold/SoulSilver)
Silver was a little punk when you first meet him, the kid having the audacity to steal a starter from the professor’s lab in the Johto region. He’s always on par with you throughout the game, citing how much he hates weaker trainers, but is an anti-hero in that he wants to get rid of Team Rocket. You can see his character development throughout the game, his defeats against your avatar and other NPCs making him think about his actions. The change in the way he treats his team of Pokemon during his own journey is evident when his Golbat eventually evolves into Crobat.

What do you think of these Pokemon rival characters? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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