What’s a good story without an equally compelling villain? Well…just fine in the history of Pokémon, where even the games with nonsensical, more-annoying-than-evil antagonists still manage to sell millions of copies. But Pokémon isn’t about the villains- it’s about building a crew of your favorite Mons to battle and adventure alongside!
Nonetheless, I want to dive in an take a look at these nefarious Teams that plagued the various regions of the Pokémon World and judge the quality and worthiness of their cause. Shenanigans inbound!!
7. Team Yell
Team Yell didn’t holler loud enough to earn much of a spot on this list. While almost every team on this list has some sort of higher goal in mind, these cacophonic crazies want nothing more than to rig that Galarian Pokémon Competition in favor of Marnie- their leader’s younger sister. Team Yell isn’t as much of a “team” as it is a group of very loud cheerleaders with a fancy for Dark-type Pokémon and who enjoy getting in the player’s way. Team Yell poses less of a threat to Galar than a strong wind, and that’s why they’re starting off this list in the bottom spot.
6. Team Flare
Okay, now we come to a Team with actual goals in mind! Team Flare operates with the intention of making Kalos a beautiful, more stylish place for people and Pokémon. And to do that, their leader Lysandre goes about enacting the… second apocalypse of the Pokémon World by firing the Ultimate Weapon? Okay, I’m a bit lost on this one, I have to admit. They might have both purpose and organization, but logic is clearly not very high on Team Flare’s list of priorities.
5. Team Skull
Moving higher up our list, we come to the Asinine Alolans themselves, Team Skull. These cranial curmudgeons with a penchant for rapping only aim to improve their own lot in life by stealing Pokémon from others. In pursuit of this goal, they partner with Lusamine of the Aether Foundation, who ends up using a legendary Pokémon to tear open a dimensional rift and merges herself with an Ultra Beast. Thankfully, Team Skull eventually sees the error of this partnership and calls it off entirely. For perhaps the first time, we have a team on this list with a bit of rationality!
4. Team Galactic
Alright, now on to the fearsome Gen 4 menace- Team Galactic. These laser-brains spend their time tracking down the legendary Pokémon of the Sinnoh region, either Dialga or Palkia depending on the version you play. What is their aim, you might ask? Well, it’s nothing major- only to destroy and remake the ENTIRE Pokémon Universe as they see fit! The previous teams might have had aims of various effectiveness and extremity, but Team Galactic ups the ante to cosmic proportions!
3. Team Plasma
Coming in at number 3 is Team Plasma. Unlike the previous teams bent on greed or destruction, Team Plasma’s goal is to liberate all Pokémon from their trainers and set them free. Now…this sounds good in theory, and almost comes off as a direct parallel for animal rights in the real world. But these knightly nincompoops USE POKéMON TO BATTLE YOU. They actively go against their own creed in their attempt to perpetuate it! Their overall goal might sound noble, but both the television show and other media discuss that Pokémon truly thrive and grow when they partner with a good trainer. Their hearts are in the right place, but Team Plasma needs to re-examine their ethics.
2. Team Rocket
Are you surprised that Team Rocket ranked this highly? With an army of grunts and executives that reached into two entire regions of the Pokémon World, Giovanni fashioned his group into one of cold calculation and ruthless scheming for the sole sake of profit. Team Rocket steals items, Pokémon, took an entire company hostage, masqueraded as a Pokémon Gym in Viridian City, and that’s just the first generation of games! They went on to Johto a few years later without their leader Giovanni (who had a change of heart after his defeat) and poached Slowpoke for their tails, enraged a Red Gyarados into a frenzy with radio waves, and took over a radio station in an attempt to find their reformed leader and convince him to return. While they might have failed in the end, Team Rocket showed that they were an organization that had the will to push on even when their leader was dethroned.
1. Teams Aqua and Magma
And we have reached the top of the list. They might be polar opposite in type preferences, but Teams Aqua and Magma each push forward with a powerfully-frightening goal in mind- the destruction of humanity so that Pokémon might live better lives. Uh…WOW. Wrap your head around that for a second. Depending on if you play Ruby or Sapphire (or their remakes), one team will spearhead this catastrophe by awakening a legendary Pokémon while the other works with the player to stop it. Ultimately, the antagonists succeed in beginning an apocalypse with Groudon or Kyogre (drying up the oceans or expanding them, with each respective Mon), then immediately realize the destruction they’ve wrought and repent. Either way it is up to the player to quell the catastrophe. Team Aqua and Magma show the most humanity in their actions, intent, and behavior, and that is why I have chosen them at the best Villainous Team in the Pokémon series.
But those are just my opinions on the matter! Which team of Poké Villains do you think are the “best” villains of the series? Let me know with a comment below or on my Twitter (@brinkofgaming)! And check again next week for yet another Pokémon 25th Anniversary Celebration post! Smell ya later!