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Pokemon almost had an entirely different ending

The Pokemon anime is still going strong after all of these years. Even after redesigns of the main characters and an animated movie that had Pikachu speaking human words sparking fan outrage, Ash and his friends don't appear to be going anywhere. However, thanks to notes from the anime's former head writer, Takeshi Shudo, fans have been given a fascinating look at a couple of ways the anime could have ended.

Shudo passed away in 2010, but many of his unused concepts for the series live on through his blog. Luckily for us, a translation from Lava Cut Content, a website that has tirelessly documented previously unseen and cut Pokemon content, allows us check out some of those concepts for ourselves.

A few of these concepts involve two potential ending points for the series. One of these feels rather sentimental, albeit very heavy and spiritual. The other sounds like something out of a particularly upsetting Pokemon fan fiction. Both are fascinating, however.

The first of these endings was considered when Shudo believed the franchise was coming to an end. He wanted to find some way for Ash to reflect on his journey. In his blog, Shudo describes the ending as so: "Months and years pass. Ash grows old, then one day suddenly he looks back on his past. He remembers his childhood fondly. The adventures he had with his amazing Pokemon, the friendship, the coexistence. Maybe Ash wasn't able to experience these things later in life ... elderly Ash remembers everything that happened during his adventures as a young boy ... The next morning, he is woken up by his mother. He's a young boy again, leaving his house excited to start a new adventure."

In other words, Shudo's original plan ended with an elderly Ash being given a second chance at life. Being granted this magical opportunity somehow, Ash would leave this time for "a journey not to catch Pokémon or become a Pokémon master, but to discover the meaning of existence, to discover how to coexist with others." 

That's pretty wild, but what's even wilder is that Shudo had actually considered using this idea for the ending of the very first Pokemon movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back. It's a good thing he didn't, since Mewtwo Strikes Back was a massive financial success. 

Another ending Shudo had toyed with concerned what his idea for a final episode of the series proper would entail. The idea sounds like it could have stretched across a multi-episode arc, but it involved Pokemon revolting against their masters when they decided they were being treated like slaves. This would have led Ash into a dramatic conflict against his best friend, Pikachu.

It's worth noting that fans have long suspected darker undertones existed beneath the shiny happy veneer of the Pokemon anime. For instance, a long-standing fan theory posits that Ash has actually been in a coma since the early episodes of the series. This is why Ash is never shown to age over the course of the series. This would also explain how he manages to always be in the right place at the right time and has had world-changing adventures with multiple legendary and rare Pokemon. Ash isn't the Chosen One (which should be obvious from the terrible things he's actually been seen doing in the show); he's just dreaming forever. 

In fact, the second proposed ending involving a Pokemon uprising brings to mind an age-old debate regarding the free will of the titular monsters. PETA has considered Pokemon to be an animated example of animal cruelty. Meanwhile, Detective Pikachu seemed to make some people uncomfortable when live action actors were shown sending these little guys into battle.

According to Shudo, he toyed around with several darker themes during a time when he felt like the higher ups in charge of the franchise were paying less attention to the series' writing staff. After the infamous anime episode "Cyber Soldier Porygon" was responsible for causing seizures in a large number of viewers, Shudo felt like his bosses were far more preoccupied with managing the bad press from that incident. This freed him up to take the franchise into darker territory, which he did with the film Mewtwo Strikes Back

Despite how dark that movie turned out to be — this is, after all, the movie where Ash dies and has to be resurrected by Pokemon tears — it seems we may have originally been in for something much heavier. It's hard to imagine what the Pokemon fandom would be like if Mewtwo Strikes Back had really been the end. It certainly wouldn't exist as it does today, or at least in any form we'd recognize.