A Gym Leader (ジムリーダー, Jimu Rīdā) is the highest ranking member of a Pokémon Gym. The main job of a Gym Leader is to test Trainers and their Pokémon so that they are strong and resourceful enough to compete against the Pokémon Elite or the Pokémon League. If a Trainer defeats a Gym Leader in battle, then the Trainer earns that Gym's Badge.
A Gym Leader's job is not just to test upcoming Trainers. They must oversee how their respective Gym is run and to maintain it. Great care must be taken to make sure that their Gym reflects the best environment for the Pokémon type and playing style of choice, usually an environment that suits that type of Pokémon used there (like pools in a Water-type Gym or flowers and plants in a Grass-type Gym). According to Morty, teaching young people how to battle with Pokémon can also be the job of a Gym Leader.
It has not exactly been made clear how Gym Leaders attain their position, but it appears that it varies for each Gym. Some of them founded their Gym and are self-appointed; others, such as Whitney, are chosen by the other members of the region's Pokémon League. A few appear to be passed on through families: Janine, Falkner, and Flannery all take over their respective Gyms from a close family member. However, Gyms do not necessarily belong to a particular family; Roark and his father Byron are both Gym Leaders at the same time, in different Gyms. Leaders can also choose to vacate their position; examples include Brock, Koga, Giovanni, and Wallace.
A notable occurrence is that one does not necessarily have to defeat the Gym Leader to obtain a Badge. Badges are given out on a case by case basis based on whether the Gym Leader feels that the Trainer has earned it. Examples include Ash winning his early Gym Badges, not by defeating the Gym Leader, but with other selfless acts such as rescuing Erika's Pokémon from a burning Gym.
There is also an entire league exclusive where the Gym Leaders all have special requirements in order to gain their Gym badges, the Orange League.
Since there seem to be many more Gyms, as evidenced by many badges that do not belong to Gyms shown, it follows that there would be many more Gym Leaders. Although similar in nature, Frontier Brains are not considered Gym Leaders.
Almost all Leaders rely on a single type of Pokémon. For example, Erika uses only Grass-type Pokémon in official Gym battles. Some Leaders, however, stray from this mold, albeit rarely. However, many Gym Leaders have one or two Pokémon that stray from their type theme.
Geography and climate can often be connected to the type of Pokémon the Gym Leader of that area uses. Pastoria Gym Leader, Crasher Wake, uses Water-type Pokémon, a direct allusion to the flooded marsh that surrounds the area and the constant downpour that plagues Pastoria City. Another example of this is the Cinnabar Gym Leader, Blaine, who uses Fire-type Pokémon and lives in a volcanic area. The character archetype can also reflect the type of Pokémon a Leader uses. For example, Roark and Byron are both miners, who use the related Rock-type and Steel-type Pokémon. Tate and Liza could be based on the archetype of twins who can communicate telepathically, and thus train Psychic-type Pokémon and being twins, they also battle opposing trainers in double battles, being the only leaders to do so.
Gym Leaders seem to be forbidden from switching their Pokémon. Those that Ash encountered before Blaine did switch; however, since Ash's match against Blaine in Riddle Me This, only Lenora has switched out a Pokémon.
List of Gym LeadersEdit
- Brock, Flint, Lola, and Forrest - Pewter City Gym, expert in Rock-type Pokémon, Boulder Badge; Brock left his post to become a Pokémon.
- Giovanni - Viridian City Gym, expert in Ground-type Pokémon, Earth Badge; left his post as leader of Team Rocket.
- Clair - Blackthorn City Gym, expert in Dragon-type Pokémon, Rising Badge. Clair is the younger cousin of Pokémon Elite member and Champion, Lance.
- Cilan, Chili, and Cress - Striaton City Gym, experts in Grass-type, Fire-type, and Water-type Pokémon, Trio Badge
- Lenora & Cheren - Nacrene City Gym (Lenora); Aspertia City Gym (Cheren), experts in Normal-type Pokémon, Basic Badge
- Danny - Navel Island, Mountain climbing (qualification), Freeze geyser racing, Toboggan building, and Toboggan racing challenges, Sea Ruby Badge