The Pokémon anime's infamous Team Rocket trio of Jessie, James and Meowth make a career out of stealing Pokémon. They'll use robots, pitfall traps and just about anything to ensure they get their hands on their target. The only thing they seem to never try is actually tossing a Pokéball at a wild Pokémon, which works better than one would think. That, or anything that would threaten the beloved anime's TV-Y7 rating.
Despite Team Rocket's insistence on stealing Pokémon, it's not where their true (or any) talents lie. The trio instead excels in various other fields. Here are some examples of areas where Team Rocket does well outside of training, battling, or stealing Pokémon.
Team Rocket's Disguises Actually Work
Team Rocket's tendency to approach Ash and co. incognito garners mixed reactions. Even when they're fully dressed up, viewers find it easy to tell when it's them. All they have to do is look for Jessie's iconic hairstyle, or Meowth stacked on top of Wobbuffet. It's frustrating to watch Ash fall for the same trick all the time, especially when the deception is obvious.
While Team Rocket may be picked out quickly by fans, they are masters of disguise in-universe. They're almost never recognized and can sometimes get off scot-free depending on the circumstances. Every once in a while, some of their disguises are even good enough to throw off unwary viewers. If one isn't actively looking for them, they can be easy to miss.
Team Rocket's James Is a PokéRinger Expert
James shows a surprising talent for PokéRinger competitions in "That's Just Swellow." In PokéRinger, trainers use an airborne Pokémon to retrieve a ring from a hot air balloon and place it on a goalpost. Part of James' childhood involves training with a professional PokéRinger, and his experience shows when he makes it all the way to the finals. It's a moment for fans to go, "Wow! He's actually really good at this!"
Using Jessie's Dustox, James gives Ash an uncharacteristically hard time. This Pokémon generally loses battles against Ash and co. but excels in PokéRinger under James. Ash only wins because his Taillow evolves and outmaneuvers Dustox. Regardless, it's surprising to see James do as well as he did in any sort of competition. He doesn't win, but he does show great knowledge and expertise in something for a change.
Team Rocket's Jessie Is a Talented Pokémon Coordinator
No one would expect Jessie to do as well in Pokémon Contests as she does. In Contests, coordinators must put on a captivating performance with their Pokémon in order to advance. The Pokémon anime also features a battle round, but battles are performance-oriented, so this achievement still counts. When Jessie first enters contests in the Advanced series, she generally cheats to win and ends up either losing anyway or getting disqualified.
However, Jessie makes a massive turnaround in the Diamond and Pearl series. As Jessilina (one of her better disguises which lasts the whole series), she manages to clear both the performance round and the battle round and earn a Ribbon. Five times. That's enough to qualify her for the Sinnoh Grand Festival, the Contest equivalent to the Pokémon League. If she didn't have to contend with Dawn or her rivals, she may have even made it past the semifinals and won the Sinnoh Ribbon Cup.
Team Rocket's Meowth Is a Pokémon That Talks
Meowth can talk. That cannot be emphasized enough. After over 1100 episodes of the anime, many fans have grown numb to the novelty of a talking Pokémon. It doesn't help that the movies regularly feature legendary Pokémon that can communicate telepathically, not to mention the Slowking from The Power of One. Even in-universe, people forget how difficult it is for a Pokémon to learn to speak in full, coherent sentences.
Growing up on the street, Meowth tries to impress a female Meowth by acting more like a human. This includes teaching himself to talk and stand upright. According to "Meowth Rules!," learning to talk comes at the cost of being able to learn new moves. Standing upright becomes the norm for all Meowth as of Pokémon Yellow, but not even Team Rocket's Meowth can talk in the games. Human speech remains exclusive to the anime Team Rocket's Meowth.
Team Rocket Does Good Spy Work
Team Rocket's best work comes at the start of the Pokémon Black and White series. Instead of chasing Pikachu, the refreshed trio does some pretty competent espionage work for their organization. They go undercover, meet regularly with a Team Rocket liaison, and perform stunts à la Mission: Impossible. They have a moment like this in "A Lean Mean Team Rocket Machine!," but it's in full effect in Black and White.
This is Team Rocket at their coolest. New looks, a no-nonsense attitude and an air of professionalism. When they inevitably return to stealing Pokémon, they hardly even blast off, instead getting away with jetpacks. The Team Rocket trio may never steal any Pokémon, but everything they do Black and White is done with style and talent.
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