Team Rocket and Meowth have spent almost twenty years trying to catch Ash’s Pikachu. You would think that they would have either been arrested or gotten a real job by now.
Much like when Ash travels to a new region, Team Rocket abandon most of their old Pokémon in order to make way for new ones. All of the classic Team Rocket Pokémon — including the likes of Ekans, Koffing, Victreebel and Lickitung — have all since left the team and gone on to live happy lives. The exception to this is their eternal partner, Meowth, who has been with them since their first appearance in the second episode of the anime, first broadcast in America back in 1998.
After spending such a long time with Meowth, what does anybody really know about him except for the fact that he talks (in an annoying Brooklyn accent) and can stand on his hind legs? We are here today to dust off the Pokédex and learn what is really up with Meowth. From his real life origins to inappropriate behaviour that had to be edited out several episodes of the English dub — here are 15 Facts You Didn’t Know About Meowth.
15. He Is The Only Character In The Pokémon Anime To Have Move Slots
In the Pokémon video games, each Pokémon can have a maximum of four moves to use in battle. If you want to learn a new move, then you have to delete an old one. This rule usually only applies to the games however — Pokémon in other mediums generally know as many moves as the plot demands. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the anime, with Ash’s Pikachu being the worst offender for pulling new moves out nowhere.
There exists one exception to this rule in the anime, with one Pokémon that has limited move slots and seemingly cannot forget unneeded attacks. It is established that Meowth cannot learn the move “Pay Day”, as his ability to talk and walk upright like a human has “used up his move slots”.
Pay Day is a move that can only be learned naturally by Meowth/Persian (although other Pokémon can learn it through a TM or breeding). It not only damages the enemy but scatters coins everywhere, adding to the prize money at the end of the battle. Meowth’s inability to learn Pay Day certainly hasn’t helped the money-lacking Team Rocket.
14. He Is Actually a Wild Pokémon
Given Meowth’s tendency to hang around with Jessie and James, it is assumed by most fans that is he owned by one of the two. His loyalty to Team Rocket has also led to the belief that he is owned by Giovanni. Neither of these are true, however, as Meowth is technically a wild Pokémon, and could be caught by anyone.
Meowth’s wild Pokémon status was brought up in the recent episode “A Frenzied Factory Fiasco”. Whilst visiting the Pokéball factory in Kalos, Ash and his friends were tricked into giving over their Pokéballs to Team Rocket. Pikachu escapes into the factory with Meowth in pursuit, and they land on a conveyor belt filled with Luxury Pokéballs. Pikachu whacks one of the Luxury Balls towards Meowth and it attempts to catch him. Luckily for Meowth, he manages to break free.
This raises the question, what would have happened if Meowth was too tired and he was caught? Would Meowth then become Pikachu’s Pokémon? Can Pokémon become Pokémon trainers? Also, if Meowth is a wild Pokémon, then why doesn’t Ash catch him and then send him off to Professor Oak? That way, Meowth would be out of his way forever.
13. He Is The Only Pokémon To Ever Be A Gym Leader
In the classic episode of the anime called “The Battle of the Bridge”, we see both Gary and Ash challenge the Viridian City Gym. Gary’s Pokémon get absolutely annihilated by Gym Leader Giovanni, who uses the overpowered Pokémon Mewtwo to achieve victory. When Ash shows up, he gets a lucky break. Giovanni has to leave on an emergency assignment, taking Mewtwo with him. So as not to leave the Gym unmanned, Giovanni grants temporary Leader status to Jessie, James and Meowth.
In the ensuing battle, Ash is forced to fight against Giovanni’s powerful team of Pokémon, who are all being controlled by the Team Rocket trio. To top it off, the arena is rigged so that the trainer feels the same pain as their Pokémon.
Ash eventually wins the battle, but Team Rocket refuse to give him a badge. Misty’s Togepi manages to grab hold of a remote that Meowth was using during the battle. He had rigged parts of the Gym with explosives, which Togepi sets off, destroying the building. So not only was Meowth the first Pokémon to become a Gym Leader, he was the first one to blow the place up.
12. He Was The Star Of One Of The GameCube’s First Tech Demos
At the Nintendo Space World 2000 event, several technical demos and promotional videos were shown for the upcoming Nintendo GameCube console. These included videos of games like Metroid Prime, Luigi’s Mansion and Super Smash Bros. Melee. Along with promotional material for all of these upcoming games, there was an unusual demo that starred Meowth.
This technical demo is called Meowth’s Party, and it depicts a guitar-playing Meowth as he hosts a shindig filled with numerous Pokémon from the first two generations of Pokémon games. The purpose of the demo was to demonstrate the GameCube’s ability to have numerous characters on screen who are all acting independently of each other, coupled with showing off the high quality models of the popular Pokémon characters.
While Meowth’s Party was never turned into a full-fledged game, it would go on to be re-purposed into an ending sequence used in the anime. This ending was also included as part of the Pokémon Channel title for the GameCube.
11. He Was A Downloadable Pokémon in Black 2 & White 2
Meowth is one of the few Pokémon from the anime to appear in the games… in certain parts of the world at least.
To celebrate Meowth’s involvement in the Best Wishes: Episode N series of the anime, he was offered as a free download in Pokémon Black 2 & White 2. If you lived in certain parts of the world and had the capacity to connect your DS to the Internet (which was actually pretty tricky with modems of the day), you could download Team Rocket’s Meowth to your game. He knows Sing, Fury Swipes, Nasty Plot and Snatch (and true to his anime self, he still doesn’t know Pay Day.)
Team Rocket’s Meowth was only available as a download in Japan and Korea, though he was also distributed at an amusement park event in Italy. Even if you happen to be from one of those territories, you still can’t download him. Not only were the download events for a limited time only, but the DS WiFi network has long since been shut down by Nintendo. The only way to get a Team Rocket’s Meowth now is through trade or hacking.
10. Meowth Is Based On The Legend Of The Maneki-Neko
Pokémon can be based on a lot of things, from regular household items, to real life animals and legends (some of which are not so friendly). One popular source of inspiration for Pokémon are Japanese myths, a category Meowth falls into.
Meowth is based upon the legend of the Maneki-Neko (beckoning cat). According to folklore, a priest found a stray cat and kept him well fed, but once the food ran out, he yelled at the cat for being ungrateful. Later on, the lord of the land was seeking shelter from a storm when he passed the temple. He saw the cat sitting outside the temple and it started beckoning towards him. As the lord approached the cat, a bolt of lightning struck the tree he had been resting under. The lord recognized the cat as lucky, and took the temple for his own, meaning both the cat and the priest would never go hungry again.
The legend of the Maneki-Neko is so ubiquitous in Japan that statuettes of the creature are everywhere. They are generally small, ceramic depictions of a white cat with a waving hand (which, in Japanese culture is the “come over here” gesture), that wears a golden coin around its neck.
9. He Has Appeared In Every Super Smash Bros. Game
Meowth holds the distinction of being one of the few characters to appear in every game in the Super Smash Bros. series.
In the first game of the series, Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64, Meowth could be summoned into battle through the use of the Pokéball item. He was one of 13 different Pokémon in the game (not counting the playable ones like Pikachu and Jigglypuff). When Meowth appears from the Pokéball, he uses Pay Day, which showers the field with gold coins that damage the enemy.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Meowth appears as a trophy. He is seen holding a guitar, which is a reference to the Meowth’s Party technical demo. He’d later return as a Pokéball summon in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS. His Pay Day attack now targets opponents directly, rather than being scattered everywhere.
There have been persistent rumors over the years that Meowth was intended to be playable in the original Super Smash Bros. but they have yet to be verified by game designer Masahiro Sakurai or his staff.
8. He Got Drunk With Bulbasaur
The “Island of Giant Pokémon” episode of the anime was one that received a lot of attention. A lot of clips from this episode were used for the Pokérap, and there was also a novel based around the events of this episode.
During the events of this episode, Ash and Team Rocket’s Pokémon are separated from them on a desert island. When Meowth orders Ekans and Koffing to attack Ash’s team, they refuse, revealing that Pokémon aren’t inherently bad… they are just ordered to do bad things by cruel masters. Both Ash and Team Rocket’s Pokémon end up hanging out together as they search the island for their lost masters.
They encounter a Slowpoke on the island, who for some reason owns a bar & grill catering only to Pokémon. In the original dub of the episode, Slowpoke is referred to as a “barkeep”, and both Bulbasaur and Meowth appear to get visibly drunk and violent, with the red cheeks that usually appear in anime when a character is inebriated.
7. His Backstory Connects The Pokémon World To Ours
There were several tidbits of information in the original Pokémon games that hinted they were set in the real world. In many of Mew’s Pokédex entries, they says that the creature comes from South America. The Kanto Gym Leader Lt. Surge is also described as coming from America.
In the English dub of the anime, further clues were added to this connection. In the episode “Go West Young Meowth”, we finally learn Meowth’s backstory. He was abandoned as a child and ended up travelling to Hollywood, as he believed from watching movies that it was full of food. The reason he had learned how to walk and talk like a human was so he could impress a female Meowth named Meowzie, who he had met in Hollywood.
The original Japanese version of the episode referred to the town as Hollywood, but established that it was still in the Kanto region. In the English version, the Hollywood that Ash & Team Rocket travel to is established as being in California.
6. An Episode Had To Be Heavily Censored Due To Meowth
During the Pokémon: Johto League Champions season of the anime, an episode had to have almost a minute of content removed due to a scene involving Meowth and a Miltank.
In the episode “Got Miltank?”, Meowth and Ash’s Cyndaquil are wounded in the desert. They are brought to a secret oasis, where it is said that Pokémon go when they need healing. When they arrive at the oasis, they are greeted by a Miltank, who heals the two Pokémon’s wounds. The full extent of this healing was not seen in the English dub.
The original Japanese version of this episode contained a lengthy scene where Meowth and Cyndaquil suck milk from Miltank’s udders, which is a reference to Miltank’s signature move from the games – Milk Drink. When a Pokémon uses Milk Drink, they are healed by 50% of their current HP.
5. His Voice Actor Was The Only Anime Cast Member To Appear in Pokémon Live
At the height of Pokémon‘s popularity, there existed a live musical show based on the property. It was called Pokémon Live! and it had an original story based around Ash & his friends battling Team Rocket, who have built a robot Pokémon called MechaMew2 that is said to be unbeatable.
Pokémon Live! ran from 2000 to 2001 in the United States only. Due to there being no official recordings, the show was believed to have been lost (outside of some song recordings that made their way on to various Pokémon albums). In 2012, the show’s original stage manager created an account on YouTube and uploaded a recording of one of the performances, rescuing the show from obscurity and allowing a new audience to enjoy it.
The stage show used an all new cast, with one exception. Meowth’s voice actor, Maddie Blaustein, recorded dialogue just for this show (although Meowth’s body was played by someone in a costume). This made her the only English dub member to appear in both the stage and show ( but if you included the original Japanese voice actors, then Pikachu’s voice actor also appears).
4. He Once Fantasized About Team Rocket’s Boss In A Swimsuit
Throughout the run of Pokémon, Meowth would often have daydreams about Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket. These dreams have become known by the fans as a “Boss Fantasy”. When Meowth daydreams about Giovanni, he is usually thinking about how useful the Pokémon that Team Rocket are about to steal are going to be to him. Giovanni is often portrayed in a positive and cartoonish way, at least in comparison to how he normally appears.
In the episode “Just Add Water”, Team Rocket are planning on stealing several trained water Pokémon from an unofficial Gym Leader named Dorian. After witnessing the incredible synchronized swimming ability of the Pokémon, Meowth begins to imagine how useful they would be to Giovanni.
We get to see inside Meowth’s fantasy as he imagines Giovanni waking up early in the morning, then stripping off down to his speedo. With the stolen water Pokémon cheering him on, Giovanni gets to have a great morning swim…thanks to Team Rocket. Meowth’s fantasy ends with an almost naked Giovanni hanging out in the pool with his new Pokémon. For some reason.
3. He’s Not The Only Pokémon That Can Talk
While some Pokémon can communicate telepathically with humans (such as Mewtwo), Meowth has the ability to verbally speak to people. He also retains the ability to communicate with Pokémon in their own language, meaning he is one of the few creatures in the Pokémon world who can bridge the gap between the two species.
Contrary to popular belief, Meowth is not the only Pokémon with that ability. In the episode “The Ghost of Maiden’s Peak”, Ash & friends encounter a Gastly who can also talk. This Gastly pretends to be the ghost of a woman who had waited her whole life for her love to return from battle. This Gastly enjoys playing tricks on people using his voice.
Along with Meowth and Gastly, there is another Pokémon that can talk – Slowking. The second Poké movie Pokémon the Movie 2000: The Power of One originally had two animated shorts shown before the film. Only one of these was shown outside of Japan (Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure). The Japanese version of the film had another short called Slowking’s Day, which depicted a talking Slowking as he goes about his daily business.
2. His Original Voice Actor Has Passed Away
Meowth was voiced by Maddie Blaustein from the original episode in 1998 until 2006. She never actually wanted to leave the role, but was forced out, along with all of the original Pokémon cast members (minus Carter Cathcart – the voice of Gary Oak). The Pokémon anime’s popularity had been waning, and Pokémon USA was looking for a new production company to dub the episodes for a cheaper price. When a replacement was found, the original dubbing company, 4Kids Entertainment, lost the contract.
Blaustein continued to work for 4Kids Entertainment, doing voices for shows like Yu-Gi-Oh, One Piece and Kirby: Right Back At Ya! Along with cartoons, she also did extensive voice work on video games (such as Sonic The Hedgehog and Valkyrie Profile) and was a noted content creator for Second Life. She was also a writer for Milestone Comics, and even did pencil work for Marvel (under the name Adam Blaustein).
1. It Took Meowth Over 850 Episodes To Land A Hit On Pikachu
As of this writing, there are currently 935 episodes of the Pokémon anime. By the time the show is finished with the inevitable series based on Pokémon Sun & Moon, it will likely have surpassed 1000 episodes. In all that time however, very little has changed. Ash still hasn’t become a Pokémon Master, or found his dad… or turned eleven. At the same time, Team Rocket has yet to capture Pikachu.
A few things have progressed in the latest season, however. While Ash hasn’t won a league, he came very close to taking the finals during the latest season in Kalos. Along with this near-victory, another big first happened in Pokémon the Series: XY Kalos Quest.
In the episode “A Frenzied Factory Fiasco” (the same episode where Pikachu almost caught Meowth), something amazing happened. Meowth finally landed a legitimate hit on Pikachu in battle!
Despite Team Rocket’s many attempts at catching Pikachu, Meowth has very rarely had any Pokémon battles. It took him nearly twenty years and over 850 episodes, but he finally hit Pikachu with a “Fury Swipes” attack. Good for you Meowth! If we wait another twenty years, you might actually catch him!
Did we miss any of your favorite fun facts surrounding Meowth? Let us know in the comments.