A Better Pill to Swallow (Japanese: ツボツボＶＳマダツボミ Shuckle VS Bellsprout) is the 13rd episode of Pokémon: Johto League Champions.
Ash has a tummy ache while he, Misty and Brock were trying to get to Ecruteak City caused by eating twice his body weight in food. They soon meet an elderly man by the name of Old Man Shuckle. After having some Pokémon medicine Ash felt 100% better. As a Breeder and medicine man himself, Brock was fascinated to meet a fellow medicine master. Apparently he is looking for a shiny Shuckle. Can Ash and co. be able to find it, and why do the surrounding Pokémon look like they're in a daze?
The heroes continue their journey, though Ash gets a stomachache. Brock tells he has been overfeeding himself and Misty tells he had a hamburger. Ash denies, as he had five. Ash tells Pikachu he will be fine, but falls down as the pain gets larger. Brock knows he has nothing to get over the pain, but he and Misty hear someone. They turn around and see a small man, mistaking he is an evil little troll. The man is angered, but introduces himself as Old Man Shuckle. He goes away as Brock called him a troll, but Brock apologises. They tell Ash has a stomachache and Old Man Shuckle approaches him and analyzes, then gives him some berries. Ash eats them and feels better, but after he burped and fainted.
Seeing Ash fainted, Misty asks Old Man Shuckle what he gave to Ash. He responds he gives his usual Pokémon Medicine, making Misty outraged he gave Ash medicine meant for Pokémon. Ash wakes up and sees he is all right, but feels hungry. Old Man Shuckle responds he made medicine meant for humans and Pokémon. Brock is amazed by this little man and sees he has a glowing aura, but Misty notices he has a flash light behind him. Old Man Shuckle invites them to see where he works and Brock accepts. He shows them a cabin filled with ingredients and Brock sees that Old Man Shuckle makes a lot of useful potions. He thinks there is a secret behind making them and Old Man Shuckle tells there is and shows them. They find some hard shells and Misty lifts one. Something grabs her hand and she drops it, but Old Man Shuckle clarifies it is a Shuckle. He clarifies he drops the berries into the Shuckle's shell and in time, it will be formed into a juice. It benefits any Pokémon, powering their attacks up. He hopes to get an alternate colored Shuckle, who can generate juice that can tame any Pokémon.
Brock imagines himself having all Pokémon (hugging Pikachu in the reality) and asks Old Man Shuckle to borrow the Shuckle for some juice. The man tells that alt. colored Shuckle is hard to find, but if they were to catch it, he can give the juice away. Brock thanks him, though Old Man Shuckle gives them a condition - they need to use his Bellsprout, Spoopy, to search, as it can find Shuckle and detect in which is the juice produced. Ash asks why does not he capture Shuckle and is told only wild Shuckle produce juice. The man tells them he puts the berries in Shuckle shells and waits a year, then searches for Shuckle and retrieves juice. It can get hard, even with Spoopy to help, to search all the Shuckle. He asked them for help and Brock agrees, since he'd do anything for a potion that tames Pokémon. Team Rocket overheard that and plan to get that juice. Old Man Shuckle warns the heroes Spoopy is hard to follow, though Brock has confidence they can follow it. However, Spoopy runs off, so the heroes follow it. Spoopy searches, but finds nothing. Suddenly, Spoopy finds the Shuckle that have juice and throws them in the sky. Spoopy runs away and Brock follows it, leaving Ash and Misty alone with the Shuckle. Brock trips over a rock and falls in the carriage, then goes downhill.
Ash and Misty find Brock, who couldn't follow Spoopy. Spoopy searches and lifts a giant rock. Brock thinks this was a bad idea, but Ash has hope they will find it. They encoutner Spoopy, who has a talk with the alt. colored Shuckle. They think what they are talking about, but Team Rocket comes. James sends Weezing, whose Smog covers the field, allowing Team Rocket to get away with the purple Shuckle. Brock sees Spoopy, who can find that Shuckle. Team Rocket ran away and are thirsty. Jessie shakes Shuckle and hears there is liquid inside. Meowth gets pushed down, as Jessie and James want to try the juice on him. Jessie pours the liquid and Meowth drinks it, then sees it is tasty. Jessie and James also drink, then argue who should drink it. The heroes followed Spoopy, who is confused where is the purple Shuckle. Suddenly, they see Shuckle coming out and moving away. Brock feels there is trouble and out of nowhere, Old Man Shuckle appears, who confirms Brock's statement. He tells the Shuckle are going to the purple colored one, as its juice is being drunk. Team Rocket feel warm and fuzzy, but James screams as Meowth wants to go near him, being in crush with him. Old Man Shuckle tells if one drinks the purple Shuckle's juice, it will emit pheromons, which cause Pokémon to be attracted to that person for 3 days and 3 nights.
James gets licked by Meowth, while Jessie has a Shuckle on her hand. She tries to get it off, but sees more Shuckle and screams. The heroes encounter Team Rocket, who run away from Shuckle. Jessie gets her bells licked by a Shuckle, so she falls down. Brock clarifies that the juice is used to cure Pokémon and since they have drunken it, Pokémon will be attracted to them for 3 days and 3 nights. Ash goes to fight them, so Jessie sends Wobbuffet and Arbok, both whom are attracted to Jessie. James sends Victreebel, who gnaws on him. Since that did not work, they call their Pokémon back and ask the twerp to blast them off. Pikachu goes to use Thunderbolt, but gets attracted to Jessie and comes to her. Old Man Shuckle spreads a pollen, neutralizing the pheromon, causing the Pokémon not to be attracted to Team Rocket anymore. Jessie goes to get away with Pikachu and Shuckle, but Shuckle licks her, causing her to drop it. Spoopy uses Vine Whip and saves the purple Shuckle. Jessie tells that they still have Pikachu, but Team Rocket forgot the pollen affected Pikachu, who blasts them off using Thunderbolt.
Old Man Shuckle is grateful, as he collected quite a lot of liquid, so gives Brock the taming potion. Brock thanks him, but refuses, since Shuckle were attracted to Team Rocket, since it was artifical. He aims to be the greatest breeder, but wants to do it the natural way - using knowledge and skill. Old Man Shuckle respects his wisdom and wishes him success, while Misty and Ash think Brock is more mature than they think. The heroes bid farewell to him. Team Rocket, however, know that the attractive effects wear off 3 days after and hope the Ursaring and Beedrill will attack them after.
- This episode's English title is a reference to the phrase "a bitter pill to swallow".
- The "Who's that Pokémon?" is Shuckle.