Player with Arven, Miraidon, Penny, and Nemona in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet
Screenshot by GameSkinny

10 Memorable Human Characters Who Make Pokemon More Interesting

We've met plenty of interesting characters throughout our Pokemon journeys, but these 10 have left lasting impressions.

Our Pokemon journeys are largely defined by the Pokemon partners who battle at our sides. However, the ongoing game series from Nintendo and Game Freak is also chock-full of memorable moments with human companions and rivals alike. If not for their influence on story dynamics and the overall gameplay experience, our adventures would be far less interesting. Let’s reminisce about 10 characters who made our Pokemon playthroughs all the more meaningful.

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10 Memorable Human Characters in Pokemon

10. Cheryl

Cheryl and Chansey in Eterna Forest in Pokemon anime
Image via the Pokemon Company

Although Cheryl plays a relatively minor role in Diamond & Pearl and their remakes, she’s left a lasting impression on us all. After greeting you at the entrance to Eterna Forest, she asks that you travel at her side until you’ve made it through. She sweetens the deal by promising to heal your team along the way, too.

This is quite literally an offer that you can’t refuse, and at the time the original titles were released, it was pretty much unheard of. You part ways at the exit but reunite with Cheryl and her Chansey at the Battle Tower later on.

9. The Kimono Girls

The Kimono Girls on stage in Pokemon anime
Image via the Pokemon Company

When you think of Johto, you probably think of the Kimono Girls. Known for their beautiful dancing throughout the region, you meet each of the five members at seemingly every turn in Gold, Silver, and Crystal and their Gen IV remakes.

While their purpose remains unclear for the better part of the story, the pieces fall into place as you work to defeat the region’s gym leaders and Team Rocket. This culminates in a front-row seat to their most riveting performance yet and an unforgettable face-off against the legendary Pokemon, Ho-Oh and Lugia.

8. Hugh

Hugh in Pokemon anime
Image via the Pokemon Company

Hugh is my personal favorite rival throughout the mainline Pokemon games, appearing in the Gen V sequels Black 2 & White 2. From the jump, he’s determined to rescue his little sister’s stolen Purrloin from Team Plasma — a much more dire issue than those faced by other rivals in the series.

Although his objective is simple, it’s far from arbitrary, considering the games’ political climate. We watch Hugh struggle to reach his goal amidst rising tensions with the return of Team Plasma. This ups the ante as you battle against the villainous organization’s grunts, resulting in an intense playthrough. Of course, the killer soundtrack helps to set the mood, too.

7. Steven Stone

Steven and Metagross in Pokemon anime
Image via the Pokemon Company

Just as Ruby & Sapphire broke the mold of the mainline series upon their original release, so too did the Hoenn region’s Champion, Steven. He plays a greater role in the story than the series’ previous Pokemon League Champion, appearing at several points throughout the Gen III entries and their remakes.

Steven offers tips and helpful items more often than not. This adds some meat to the plot as you earn badges and fend off Team Magma and Team Aqua. But perhaps the most memorable moment is your championship battle against the Steel-type specialist, whose Metagross remains a fan-favorite opponent today.

6. Lillie & Gladion

Gladion vs. Lillie in Pokemon anime
Image via the Pokemon Company

Lillie and Gladion are standout characters in their own right, but I’m ranking this brother-and-sister duo together in line with their separate but shared story. Battling a debilitating fear of Pokemon at the start of Sun & Moon and their sequels, Lillie serves as Cosmog’s caretaker throughout the games. She manages to overcome her phobia on your journey, even going on to adventure through Kanto as a trainer herself.

Meanwhile, Gladion (reluctantly) works alongside Gen VII’s enemy force, Team Skull, to become strong enough to protect his sister. He ultimately realizes his goal with the help of his friends and his partner, Silvally. Naturally, the siblings’ arcs come together as you work to solve the mysteries of Ultra Space and the beasts within, making for a narratively rich playthrough.

5. Kieran

Kieran enters the battlefield in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet: The Indigo Disk
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Kieran is among the newest characters introduced in the mainline series, appearing in the Hidden Treasure of Area Zero DLC for Scarlet & Violet. Despite his recent arrival, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the community jump to a character’s defense so quickly.

You become fast friends with the timid Blueberry Academy trainer in Part 1: The Teal Mask. However, your budding friendship sours as you grow closer with his sister, Carmine, and eventually capture the legendary Pokemon, Ogerpon. Tensions peak in Part 2: The Indigo Disk, in which Kieran has become a hardened foe. He comes around once you prove yourself a better trainer, but I’ve never felt so sorry for defeating a rival.

4. Arven

Penny and Arven in Mossui Town in Hidden Treasure of Area Zero DLC for Pokemon Scarlet & Violet
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Like Kieran, Arven was introduced in Scarlet & Violet. However, he played a more central role in the games, guiding you through battles against Titan Pokemon in an effort to obtain enough Herba Mystica to heal his severely weakened Mabosstiff. The plan is a success, but this doesn’t mark the end of Arven’s story.

It’s revealed that he’s the son of the professor — either Sada or Turo, depending on your version of the game. Their relationship is strained, to say the least, but things get even more complicated when you venture to Area Zero. In what’s perhaps the series’ most shocking plot twist, you discover Arven’s parent passed long ago, and their current likeness is merely an AI program. The resulting battle was bittersweet and tough to forget.

3. Cynthia

Cynthia and Garchomp in Pokemon anime
Image via the Pokemon Company

We all know and love Cynthia as Sinnoh’s reigning Pokemon League Champion in Diamond & Pearl and their remakes. Compared to her predecessors — and even the champs who’ve followed — she’s widely regarded as the toughest we’ve faced throughout the ongoing mainline series.

This fact alone has been enough for die-hard fans to idolize Cynthia and her tough-as-nails team, but she’s much more than a fierce combatant. Like Steven, she also acts as a mentor of sorts, offering insight, useful items, and a good bit of humor throughout your journey. In the end, it’s encouraging to know someone so skilled is rooting for you at the top.

2. AZ

AZ stares into the sky in Pokemon X & Y
Image via Game Freak

AZ was the former king of the Kalos region in X & Y. His reign ended in tragedy when a war devastated the land, and he lost his beloved Floette in the crossfire. As you unravel the region’s history in present-day Kalos, AZ reveals he built a machine to bring his fallen partner back to life. Though successful, he sought revenge, ending the war and the lives of many with the same machine — which is now in Team Flare’s possession. His Floette abandoned him as a result, only to return once the disgraced king was able to forgive himself.

For years, fans speculated that we would see AZ’s story explored further in a potential third entry, colloquially referred to as Z. While these theories never panned out, it’s now possible that we could see AZ’s long-awaited return in Legends Z-A next year.

1. N

N and Reshiram in Pokemon anime
Image via the Pokemon Company

Though not a traditional Pokemon villain, N is easily the most sympathetic antagonist throughout the series and is beloved by avid players. Orphaned as a baby, he was raised by Team Plasma’s leader, Ghetsis, and serves as the order’s king. For the bulk of your Black & White playthrough, N is essentially another rival character.

However, his unique ability to communicate with Pokemon and his aims to liberate them from trainers set him apart from friends and foes of the past. Joined by his mysterious Zoroark, he makes a complicated and truly interesting opponent. Who could forget that fateful Ferris wheel ride? Luckily, it’s N who’s liberated from Team Plasma in the end.

These 10 characters have done a lot to drive our Pokemon journeys forward. Of course, there are plenty more fan favorites whose contributions can’t be discounted. As our current adventure continues, visit our Pokemon Scarlet & Violet guides hub to stay up-to-date with raids and other events.


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Author
Olivia Rolls
Olivia Rolls earned her degree in English from the College of Central Florida in 2021, and began her career as a freelance writer at Screen Rant the following year. She currently directs her creative efforts toward offering tips and insight on a wide variety of game titles at GameSkinny and N4G Unlocked, a passion she's held close to her heart since adventuring alongside Chikorita in the Johto region of Pokémon Crystal Version as a child. Olivia's all-time favorite franchises are Pokémon and Animal Crossing, but she's generally fond of fantasy RPGs. She's also a budding animanga enthusiast, her personal big three being Jujutsu Kaisen, Fruits Basket, and InuYasha.