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Iconic duo Ash Ketchum and Pikachu leaving Pokémon anime

After more than two decades, the famous Pokémon trainer and his best friend, Pikachu, will no longer be the lead roles in the Pokémon anime.
Ash and Pikachu

TOKYO, Japan — After over 1,000 episodes across 25 years, the popular protagonists of the Pokémon anime are retiring in 2023.

Ash Ketchum and his trusty Pokémon Pikachu first came to American TV in 1998 and they've been the face of the franchise ever since.

The two have met countless friends and Pokémon season after season on one of the most popular animes of all time.

Ash completed a major milestone back in November, when he became the World Pokémon Champion, an accomplishment that was the character's goal since the very first episode.

Rumors swirled about the possible departure of Ash and Pikachu after finally completing their goal, but it wasn't until now that it was confirmed.

The Pokémon Company International announced Friday that Ash and Pikachu would not be the protagonists of the next Pokémon series.

The new series, which premieres in 2023, will star two protagonists named Liko and Roy.

Credit: The Pokémon Company International

Nothing is set in stone about what Ash and Pikachu's ultimate fate will be, but it is clear that the Pokémon Company has other plans for at least its next iteration of the show.

Ash and Pikachu can still be seen on the Pokémon Ultimate Journeys series, which still has many episodes left to be translated to English and aired in North America. But, the final episode of the series is set to air in Japan on Dec. 23.

Ash and Pikachu will also receive a special collection of episodes send-off in 2023. It is set to air in Japan in January, but has no date set yet for the United States.

You can watch the very first episode of Pokémon, where Ash first meets Pikachu here:

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