Rival (ライバル Raibaru) is a Trainer Class in the game that battles the player often throughout the main storyline. A rival in the game can be a childhood friend of the player (in the case of Cheren, Bianca, Barry, and Hugh) or a bully (in the case of Blue and Silver). When the player is choosing a starter Pokémon, the rival will usually get the type that is strong against the player's Pokémon. For example, if the player chooses a Grass-type Pokémon, then the player's rival will pick up a Fire-type Pokémon. The exceptions are Dawn, Lucas, Bianca, Shauna and Hau, who all choose the Pokémon with a type disadvantage. Wally starts out with a Ralts, rather than a conventional Hoenn starter.
In the game
Having a rival as the player's opponent was introduced in Generation I with the popular rivalry between Blue/Green* and Red. A rival usually appears in the main game series throughout the game challenging the player to Pokémon battles. Rivals mostly appear early in the main story line. Their starter Pokémon are usually the one that has a type advantage against the Pokémon that the player has chosen, for example: If the player chose Charmander, the rival will choose Squirtle, because Water is strong against Fire. Some exceptions are Bianca, Hau and Shauna who choose the starter that is weak against the player's. Most of the player rivals depend more on strength than strategy.
Semi-rival (半ライバル hanraibaru) is a rival who is more than a Pseudo-Rival but less than a Rival. They will battle the player, but much less frequently than a full Rival.
Pseudo-rival (擬似ライバル Giji Raibaru) is one of the main protagonists from the main Pokémon video game series. They are seen as a helping hand in bringing useful information, giving useful items and helping during tag battles. They are seen as rivals in being more in a competitive manner in completing the Pokédex instead of participating in Pokémon battles.
In the anime series, many rivals for the main characters has been appeared. The rivals in the anime can be compared to that in the video games. The main characters also learns a lot from their rivals during their competitions. Known rivalries in the series:
- Known is that Ash has a lot of rivals during his travels, but his major rivals were: Gary Oak, Paul and Trip — all of which were once unfriendly to Ash. Gary was a rival during Kanto and Johto, Paul during Sinnoh Trip during Unova, Alain during Kalos and Gladion during Alola.
- Ash also had a lot of minor rivals in the anime series. However, they are mostly more in collecting badges and holding friendly battles, which some of them achieved in competing with each other in the Pokémon League. Prominent minor rivals include Ritchie in Kanto, Harrison in Johto, Morrison and Tyson in Hoenn, along with Barry, Conway, Nando and Tobias in Sinnoh, and Bianca; Stephan; Cameron and Virgil in Unova. Tierno and Trevor in Kalos.
- Jessie and James both have a rivalry with Butch and Cassidy. Jessie has a major rivalry with Cassidy since childhood, the rivalry between James and Butch can be because of the times that they were assign to capture a red Snorlax, as James was chosen as Jessie's last-chance partner due to a history of not getting along with the preceding ones while Butch (whose name is always mispronounced to his annoyance) got along with Cassidy easily. Butch and Cassidy are both popular and Mid-Class Agents, while Jessie and James are both losers and Low-Class Agents.
- May has a rivalry with her fellow coordinator Drew, Harley and Solidad.
- Dawn has a rivalry with her fellow coordinators Zoey, Nando, Kenny and Ursula.
- Iris has a rivalry with Georgia.
- Cilan has a rivalry with Burgundy. Both of them are Pokémon Connoisseurs, Cilan is an A-class, while Burgundy is only a C-class (which is the beginner and an assistant to A-class and S-class).
- Serena has a rivalry with Miette, Shauna and Nini.
- Ash's Pikachu has a rivalry with its evolve form Raichu, because of its first fight against Lt. Surge's Raichu. Unlike Team Rocket's Meowth, Pikachu is willing to work with a Raichu, as seen during the Summer Camp arc of the DP anime.
- Ash's Pikachu has a rivalry with Paul's Electivire (even when it was an Elekid, and Electabuzz), both of them are Electric types.
- Ash's Pikachu has a rivalry with a Sunglasses Krokorok (even when it was a Sandile). Krokorok believe he is superior to Pikachu due to type advantage. It always had been following Ash and the others to battle Pikachu. After it lost to Pikachu for the last time, It ended their rivalry and agree to joined Ash.
- Meowth has a rivalry with its evolve form Persian (including Giovanni's), mostly because of the fact that the Persian is Giovanni's favorite (which Meowth dislikes because, according to his stories, he was the former favorite of Giovanni).
- Tyson's Meowth has rivalry with its evolve form Persian, because its story of battling a Persian in a snowing forest and lost the battle.
- Tyson's Meowth has an unfriendly rivalry with Team Rocket's Meowth, Tyson's Meowth called Team Rocket's Meowth a pathetic and embarrassment to other Meowth. Both of them shared the pain for their hatred toward their evolve form Persian.