Team Rocket is undoubtedly the best comic relief trio in the Pokémon series, providing fans with more inappropriate jokes than they can wrap their heads around. Jessie, James, and Meowth’s far-fetched plots and plans for world domination are truly endless, and the crew seems to continually come up with creative ways of trapping Pokémon—with a particular interest in stealing Ash’s beloved Pikachu.
Re-watching the anime series years later and going over some of Team Rocket’s antics in the video games, it is sometimes shocking when we come to understand the things they said and did. Some of their jokes were rather off-color, and their plans often went just a little bit too far. In sum, they were not always the most politically correct crew in terms of children’s television.
But where would we be without our beloved Team Rocket, inappropriate or not? From practicing animal abuse on a daily basis to making several innuendos that were surely not meant for the ears of children, Pokémon’s Team Rocket is truly legendary in both the best and the worst ways.
Although we recognize that Team Rocket is a much larger gang than just Jessie, James, and Meowth, these three make up of the show, and will therefore be the prime focus of this list.
Read on for the 15 Most Inappropriate Things Team Rocket Has Done.
15 Their Plan To Use 'Super Secret Stun Sauce' On Wild Pokémon
In the episode "Tentacool and Tentacruel", the real criminals aren’t actually Team Rocket, but rather Nastina, the business mogul planning on exterminating the local populations of Tentacool and Tentacruel Pokémon in order to build a fancy hotel on the beach.
However, as always, Team Rocket must get involved, and their plan for assisting Nastina is of course inappropriate— and not only because they are willing to facilitate the extermination of an entire population of Pokémon from their natural environment.
In fact, Team Rocket goes further than that by concocting a “Super Secret Stun Sauce,” which they will put on the sea Pokémon, convince everyone they are exterminated, and then sell them in a fish market for money. From extermination of a wildlife population to illegal wild Pokémon trafficking, neither is much better than the other.
14 Their Most Ambitious Mission: Operation Tempest
Mainly inappropriate for the sheer scope of what Team Rocket was trying to achieve, Operation Tempest was most certainly one of the trio’s most far-fetched plans to date. Jessie, James, and Meowth, under the instructions of their boss Giovanni, attempt to steal the rare Pokémon Meloetta, who, under certain circumstances, can manifest incredible power, allowing for the possibility of taking control of the natural environment.
Why is this inappropriate? Well, for one, as always, Team Rocket is stealing Pokémon right, left, and center. But this time, they take it one step further by attempting to use the Pokémon to manipulate the environment as they so please. Despite failing (as always), had they been successful, their selfish plans could have had dire consequences for so much more than just one focal region.
13 When They Held Mr. Fuji Hostage At Pokémon Tower
Although Team Rocket makes less of a mark in the video games, they still manage to act completely inappropriately in Pokémon Yellow, when they hold Mr. Fuji hostage at Pokémon Tower in Lavender Town. While none of what they do in this moment is particularly surprising, it’s the fact that they do so many awful things at once.
First, Team Rocket murders Cubone’s mother in the tower, then they hold Mr. Fuji hostage on top of a tower, and then they decide it is alright to attack a young child.
Indeed, on top of being inappropriate, in this case, Team Rocket just goes too far. It would have been one thing to do just one of those ridiculously inappropriate things, but they went ahead and decided to play every dirty trick in the book.
12 When They Inadvertently Tethered Pikachu And Meowth Together
Although Team Rocket’s plan to capture Pikachu in the anime episode Bound For Trouble was never meant to result in rather harsh animal abuse, the result of their plot (animal abuse against their own pet) still remains rather inappropriate.
In this episode, Team Rocket is once again set on stealing Ash’s beloved Pikachu. Unfortunately, because Pikachu and their own pet, Meowth, are wearing matching belts, the two become stuck together. In the havoc of it all, a wild Pidgeot grabs them and takes them both away.
Although Meowth struggles to get along with Pikachu initially, the two begin to bond. When Team Rocket is finally reunited with Meowth, they continue their usual games, which is to berate him and literally kick him, and Meowth looks back wistfully on his short-lived time where he was treated with love.
This episode highlights Team Rocket’s general inappropriate (or terrible) treatment of their pet Pokémon Meowth.
11 When James Flaunted His Inflated Chest At Misty
Yes, James has cross-dressed several times, sometimes tastefully, other times less so. In the episode Beauty and the Beach, however, it is safe to say his cross-dressing was definitely inappropriate—so inappropriate, in fact, that the episode was banned in many countries.
Essentially, Jessie and James feel the need to dress in bikinis and compete against Ash’s tween friend Misty. In one scene, we see James strutting his stuff, sporting inflatable breasts. He goes further than that, though, by grabbing his own, taunting Misty, and shaming her for her smaller cup size.
There are so many problems with this scene that it’s difficult to pinpoint just one issue. Suffice it to say, this was undoubtedly one of Team Rocket’s most inappropriate moments, so much so that it may not have even been funny.
10 When Team Rocket Sang This Rather Graphic Song
Remember how Team Rocket would often turn their plots into song, and sing out exactly what they were planning on doing? Of course, their iconic songs would vary from clever to not so clever, but nothing could ever top this one: “It pays to have protection / The Boss loves something, as long as that thing is the biggest and the best / Sceptile’s shooting bla-aanks! / I love a hard rod and a good tackle / Let’s take our spoils, then make like candles and blow / So size does matter / You two don’t need the opposite sex / ‘Cause you got each other!”
So maybe Team Rocket didn’t mean it in that way, right? Or maybe they did. Whatever their intention, it is still very difficult not to read too much into one of their best— and notorious— songs.
9 When Meowth Wore A Hitler Moustache
The Legend of Dratini anime episode was actually controversial for more than just one reason, but perhaps one of the most notable moments of this banned episode was the moustache that Meowth appeared to be sporting for a part of the episode.
Although he was supposed to be dressed as a cop, many fans and critics perceived the so-called "cop moustache" as resembling a certain unpopular dictator instead.
Although this was the only aspect regarding Team Rocket that was inappropriate, the episode was banned for other reasons as well. In particular, for the rather graphic scenes of guns being held up to people’s heads. And even though this did not explicitly involve Team Rocket, it should come as no surprise that their name would pop up in one of Pokémon’s most controversial anime episodes.
8 The Low-Key Stereotypes Applied To James's Character
Although there should be nothing wrong or strange about a man who possesses feminine qualities, it appears that the Pokémon series would often riff onJessie’s more feminine qualities, making it okay to make fun of those qualities, and his personhood by extension.
Indeed, Team Rocket would often find a certain individual to poke fun of, and this person usually wound up being poor Jesse, who would even wind up making fun of himself.
The problem with this portrayal is that all of Team Rocket appeared to make it alright to make fun of, or joke about, a more feminine type of male. For young kids, this could lead them to believe that it’s weird or different to act that way, and that it something that should be made fun of.
7 Jessie's Verbal Abuse of James
Okay, so Jessie’s treatment of James is kind of hilarious. What would be Team Rocket’s dynamic if not for Jessie’s constant stream of insults being hurled towards James?
Even so, similar to the problem pointed out in the previous post, Jessie’s constant mistreatment of James certainly set a bad example for young viewers out there.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that Jessie treated James badly when we see the way Jessie acted more generally— short tempered, vain, narcissistic. Even so, the way she treated James (and others, for that matter) is just not okay.
Not that James really helped his case. As he most often just accepted his fate as on one of Jessie’s minions, he made Jessie think it was okay to treat him that way. If he were to stand up for himself, perhaps we’d have had different results.
6 When Jessie Slapped James
So maybe Jessie’s verbal abuse towards James could in some way be passed off as forgivable— but physical abuse? That's just beyond the pale.
In the anime, the episode The Ghost of Maiden’s Peak involved Jessie, James, and Meowth hunting down Ash and his friends as they attended the annual Summer Festival. Here, Brock fell in love with a beautiful girl. As Team Rocket followed closely behind, James caught a glimpse of the beautiful girl too, and stopped in shock.
To bring him back, Jessie slapped him. Hard. As usual, Jessie shows us she is not to be tested, especially when it comes to vanity. To be fair to Jessie, the shocking move worked, and Team Rocket continued on their mission in stalking their prey.
5 Jessie’s Choice of Clothing
Who doesn't love female empowerment and the right of women to wear what they wish? But Jessie’s oversexualized self never quite came off that way, did it? And in juxtaposition to not-yet-even-teenagers, it came off even less so.
But maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Jessie was just a sexy person who was not afraid to flaunt it. Instead, her attitude tells viewers that being sexy is all that matters. And just go on YouTube, and you’ll find several fan compilations showing us that it is all that matters to some fans.
To add to that, it’s not as though they have depicted Jessie as having a normal, real-life body. No, instead she has a very typical Barbie-type body, possibly telling young girls that that is what’s normal.
4 Their Many Deadly Pitfall Traps
As one of Team Rocket’s most effective and hilarious tricks, the Team Rocket Pitfall Traps are truly iconic. However, have we ever stopped to think just how dangerous they really are? Under any normal circumstance, the trio would likely be charged with first degree murder, considering the holes were usually several feet deep and also quite well-hidden.
Most notably, the pitfall traps from the episodes The Stolen Stones, Here’s Looking at You, and Right on, Rhydon could have easily killed someone, or at least severely injured them.
But maybe that’s the beauty of the traps. While effective, they never actually killed anyone, despite that being a feat of gravity. The intention was still to stop Ash and friends in any way possible, though, which means Team Rocket may have in some ways hoped that someone would die falling through. Either way, the attempt was rather inappropriate on their part.
3 Just The Fact That They Were Constantly Stalking A Bunch Of 12-Year Olds
Jessie and James are clearly older than Ash and his not even yet teenaged friends. But despite this, they have for some reason made it their life mission to stalk the very young Ash, Misty, and Brock. Similar to the above post, in real life, this would not be deemed an acceptable practice!
A group of 20-something criminals religiously following and trying to harm a group of pre-pubescent kids, and steal their pets, would at any other time, or in any other universe, lead to a substantial amount of jail time for the perpetrators.
Yet somehow this creepy fact gets swept under the table, and we are simply accustomed to Team Rocket’s extremely inappropriate stalking and torturing of children much younger than them by this time.
2 Their Treatment Of Pokémon
Although Team Rocket’s overarching mission always seemed to be some kind of abstract form of world domination, their method for achieving this always seemed to somehow surround the use of Pokémon. In doing so, Pokémon would often wind up abused and mistreated, being used by Team Rocket in the most wretched ways.
And it’s not even just other Pokémon that they would treat badly—indeed, arguably the Pokémon most psychologically and physically abused by Team Rocket was their own pet, Meowth.
As inappropriate as this behaviour was, the theme of the show was actually meant to highlight that this was not okay. Because Team Rocket would constantly fail, a theme that kids could pull from this is that being evil and treating animals badly is not beneficial in the long run.
1 Their Many Splendored Outfits
On top of James' infamous inflatable bikini top costume, Team Rocket have dressed in so many different far-fetched costumes to match their far-fetched plans that it’s hard to keep up. Although their costumes weren’t always inappropriate, they always took their plots much further than necessary.
For instance, when Jessie and James dress as old men (who coincidentally look identical to Gandalf the Grey) in an attempt to foil the plans of Ash and friends. While the costume still doesn’t compete with James in his chest-enhancing bikini, it could very well have been accused of breaching copyright laws, if the producers weren’t careful.
And as entertaining as Team Rocket’s various disguises always were and always will be, the fact that their intention was always to ruin Ash and his friends and steal their Pokémon was perhaps most inappropriate of all.
Did we miss out on a real inappropriate move by Team Rocket from Pokémon? Let us know in the comments!