Prepare for trouble, or maybe not? By now, everyone who knows the Pokémon anime knows what the Team Rocket scheme is. They are the incompetent baddies who arrive once per episode to try to steal Pikachu or the « Pokémon of the Day », only to be easily defeated and sent flying. At least that’s how things usually play out.
Despite spending most of the series causing mischief and trying to prove their worth as villains, there are times when Team Rocket has put aside their mission to help Ash and his friends, be it for personal reasons or even to save the world itself.
10 They formed a truce when the SS Anne sank
Although the Rocket bonding is quite rare compared to all the times they try to do evil, there is one instance where Ash’s gang and Team Rocket work together quite early in the series. After the sinking of the SS Anne, Ash and his friends decide to join forces with the Rocket trio to work for their survival.
Pokemon: 10 times Ash helped Team Rocket
10 times the power of friendship helped save the day in anime
Although their truce is short, and mistakes were certainly made along the way (such as James having his Magikarp turn into an angry Gyarados), they had to put their differences aside in order to escape the ship.
9 they got Ash into Erika’s gym in her clever costumes
Ash is often easily fooled by Team Rocket costumes, but there are times when he is able to don one himself. And on one occasion, this allowed for a strange alliance between him and Team Rocket. Unable to enter Erika’s grass-type gym, Ash and Team Rocket work together to enter. While Ash wants to fight the gym, Team Rocket is back at it.
His plan was to pass Ash off as a girl, giving him one of the best-made Rocket costumes ever invented. Although both parties end up being discovered, they get Ash to enter the gym, which leads him to fight Erika.
8 They cheered for Pikachu against Lt. Surge’s Raichu
From time to time, Team Rocket can be both Ash’s fan and his enemy. After Pikachu is defeated by Lieutenant Surge’s Raichu, Ash and Pikachu decide to try again, only to be greeted by a disguised Team Rocket. As they prepare to do their usual antics, they stop to cheer on the little electric mouse.
It’s brief and probably wasn’t a contributing factor to their eventual victory, but to give the Rockets some credit, they manage to keep supporting Pikachu in this episode rather than trying to steal him for once.
7 They tried to displace a Snorlax that was blocking the way
It’s weird, but sometimes Team Rocket’s goals coincide with those of Ash and his friends. In the episode « Wake Up, Snorlax! », The gang attempts to move a sleeping Snorlax who is blocking the water and causing a drought. Hoping to steal the Snorlax for them, Team Rocket decides to help out.
Sure their intentions weren’t very noble and almost all of their attempts ended as badly as any other Team Rocket plan, but the fact remains that they still allied with Ash’s group, which would have helped the local city as well.
6 they helped Orville fulfill his dream
There are a few times when one or more members of Team Rocket end up sympathizing with the Pokémon on duty and end up helping it instead of trying to steal it. During Ash’s trip to Johto, the gang goes to « Chubby Pidgey Island », where a Pidgey named Orville (who is not chubby) dreams of flying higher than any Pidgey before him.
Meowth ends up finding a kindred spirit in Orville and decides to support him along with Ash and company. With the help of Team Rocket, Orville manages to fly into the outer atmosphere, achieving his dream and reaching higher than any other flying-type Pokémon would dare to reach.
5 They lured Claydol and succeeded with the help of Wobbuffet
Team Rocket isn’t the best at being bad, but they are good at making a mess, and sometimes have to team up with Ash and his friends to clean it up, or for other related reasons. In the episode « Big and Tall Claydol », Team Rocket accidentally unleashes a giant-sized Claydol that threatens to destroy everything in its path. To stop this Pokémon (and thus be able to steal it), the Rockets allied with Ash’s group.
The group combines their efforts to lure the Claydol into a giant Poké Ball, which involves Jessie, May, Meowth and Wobbuffet from Team Rocket disguising themselves as « maidens. » While the others fail miserably, it is actually Wobbuffet who succeeds, causing the Claydol to be recaptured.
4 They helped the injured Pokémon in a hospital
Surprisingly, one of the many things Jessie tried before joining Team Rocket was trying to be a Pokémon nurse. Although it takes time to reveal this, there were hints of Jessie and the rest of Team Rocket’s ability to heal rather than wound in the episode « A Chansey Operation ».
After a botched Pokémon theft, many Pokémon (including Meowth and Jessie’s Arbok) are injured and sent for treatment to a hospital (in particular, not a Pokémon Center). Although they are suspicious at first, Team Rocket ends up collaborating with Ash and company to help injured Pokémon in need.
3 They teamed up to stop Malamar and save the world
Despite being the villains of the series, Team Rocket has done things for the greater good and has even helped save the world at times. One of these times is the X and Y episode « Facing the Grand Design! », In which they fought alongside Ash and his friends against a group of evil Malamar.
The Malamar plan to terraform the Earth at will, which would make the planet inhospitable to anyone or anything. Although most of the group is captured, it is James, Meowth and Clement who end up getting ahead and also gathering some reinforcements.
2 They released the legendary birds and transported the ash in their speedboat
In the movie, the Rockets do more than one good deed to help Ash and his friends, such as releasing the Legendary Birds from Lawrence’s ship and helping Ash get the final orb with his launch. Not even Team Rocket would want to admit how much they helped here.
1 They thwarted their own organization’s mission to steal Pokémon
It’s hard sometimes to remember that the Rocket trio are nothing more than a clumsy cog in Team Rocket’s much larger machine. The funny thing is, they once helped stop their own team from carrying out a massive operation. At Pokémon Days « A Little R & R Rocket! », The Rockets go on vacation and accidentally run into Ash and Goh (who can’t recognize them in their costumes).
During this episode, a much larger group of Team Rocket stages a big raid and steals tons of Pokémon. The Rocket trio, seeking revenge for being left out of the mission, help Ash and Goh thwart the plans of their own allies. This has to be one of Team Rocket’s biggest hits, and they can’t even take the credit.