For more than two decades, potential Pokémon Masters have been traveling through regions of the ever-expanding world to test their skills against powerful trainers atop various themed gyms. Whether you cut your teeth on Red & Blue or you just leapt into the world of Pokémon with Sword & Shield, you likely have a favorite gym leader. While it was difficult to whittle the list of memorable leaders down to 10, these are our favorite gym leaders from across the entire series.
The tough-as-nails fighting-type trainer Maylene may look like a typical little girl, but get on her bad side and you’ll understand why Veilstone City residents respect her power. Battle her and her strong lineup of fighting-type monsters and you’ll likely join them in that regard.
One of the most popular characters in the entire series thanks to her run on the anime, Misty’s role as the step up in competition after Brock should not be understated. She also returns as a gym leader in Gold and Silver as the player journeys through Kanto once more.
In addition to being the first gym leader in the series, Brock also serves as a good litmus test to how your journey is going early on. If you chose Squirtle or Bulbasaur, you likely breezed through his Geodude and Onix, but that doesn’t make this premiere encounter any less memorable.
This water-type leader immediately captured the hearts of fans when she was revealed in the leadup to Sword & Shield. With a drowning lineup that features Goldeen, Arrokuda, and Drednaw, the Hulbury Gym’s leader features a good mix of awesome Pokémon designs and familiar fish.
A social-media star thanks to PR Videos, Korrina is well-liked in the Kalos region. However, her fame isn’t unearned, as she’s also closely tied to the Mega Evolution phenomenon of the region, even helping the player learn how to harness the power in battle.
Though the gym design in Saffron is annoying, psychic-type gym leader Sabrina is one of the coolest leaders in any of the games. Possessing psychic abilities herself, she communicates with her Pokémon telepathically. Oh, and she can bend spoons with her mind.
As a top gym leader in Sinnoh, electric-type specialist Volkner finds himself bored by the lack of worthy challengers. However, after falling at the hands of the player, Volkner is reminded why he loves what he does, providing a compelling and relatable arc.
One of the strongest trainers in the Johto region, Clair and her dragons give you a run for your money late in your Gold or Silver adventure. Confident to the point of rejecting defeat at the hands of the player, Clair is also one of the stronger personalities of the gym leaders.
After serving as your obnoxious rival in the Gen I games, Blue returns as the surprise gym leader of Viridian City in Pokémon Gold and Silver. When you combine his known history with the fact that his team doesn’t consist of one single Pokémon type, it’s a battle to remember.
As the big boss of the devious Team Rocket, Giovanni faces off with you a couple of times over the course of first-generation games. However, near the end, it’s revealed that the Viridian City gym was only vacant earlier because its leader was none other than Giovanni, resulting in a climactic clash.
This article originally appeared in Issue 319 issue of Game Informer. An entry has been added to feature a trainer from the since-released Pokémon Sword & Shield.
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