Pokemon: Jessie And James' Most Hilarious Failures As Team Rocket Throughout The Anime Series

Jessie, James and Meowth in Pokemon.
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Prepare for trouble – and make it double! 

For those who don’t know me, I’m a pretty big fan of anime. I’d say that it started as a kid with shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, which isn’t really an anime but has a lot of the same styles in it, and that led into me doing full articles on shows like Attack on Titan now. But as I’ve gotten older, I realized that one anime actually surpassed all the others, one I was a fan of before I even realized I liked anime – and that was Pokemon. 

Ah, yes, the simple tale of Ash and Pikachu -- who is being replaced as the protagonist after twenty-five years -- captivated me as a child. That was my first anime, and in that anime, I encountered my first ever anime villains – Jessie and James of the villainous Team Rocket, with their talking Pokemon, Meowth. For those who know the show, you’ll know they aren’t so good at their job, and have failed hilariously in their dastardly deeds. 

If you’re in need of a laugh like I am today, check out these six times where Jessie and James failed hilariously and in the best way possible. 

Jessie and James and Meowth being blasted off in Pokemon.

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

When They Were “Blasted Off” EIGHT Times On Screen (Malice in Wonderland!)

The Diamond and Pearl seasons of the Pokemon anime series were some of my favorite, but as I’ve gotten older, I realized that a good reason as to why is because we were given more screen time with Team Rocket overall. We were given more of their story and personality – which makes this failure so funny. 

In the episode. “Malice in Wonderland,” Team Rocket (along with the rest of the crew) find themselves hypnotized by a Mismagius and are all in a dream-like state, but in this world, they are blasted off eight times on screen – and even more off screen. 

Blasted off, in Pokemon terms, is when the team is literally blasted off into the sky, usually at the hands of Pokemon or at their own inventions, and they say their signature “we’re blasting off again!” as they do so. But this moment still makes me laugh to this day because it’s just over and over and over by different Pokemon in this dream-like state, so much so that I still have tears running down my cheeks at the end of it. 

Jessie, James and Meowth dressed up as Kakunas in Pokemon.

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

And When They Dressed Up As Kakuna’s – And It Hilariously Backfired (Challenge of the Samurai)

Team Rocket has had some pretty interesting disguises over the years, but one of my personal favorites was in the episode, “Challenge of the Samurai.”  Jessie thought that dressing up as Kakunas would be an effective way for them to not get stung by Beedrills that were around them. 

However, this ends up falling short on their end – all because of an argument that James started because he didn’t believe in her effectiveness of the disguise. But it’s because they were talking that the Kakunas and the Beedrill realized they were human. And it wasn’t long before they were swarmed and stung repeatedly. 

I mean, if they had just run away they could have avoided this all together – or, at the very least, stayed quiet. But nope. They had to start an argument, ending it in hilarious fashion. 

Wobbuffet countering the other Pokemon in Pokemon.

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

When Their Own Pokemon Harmed Their Teammates (Grooming Furfrou!)

There have been plenty of instances in anime where protagonists in some of the best anime movies or television shows end up doing something dumb that hurts their own friends or allies. But with Team Rocket, it happens pretty regularly – with this one being one of my favorites. 

In the episode, “Grooming Furfrou!” Team Rocket is off fighting against Pikachu and the gang once again – for what exact reason, I can’t be sure, but it’s always something involving that little electric-type from the original 151 Pokemon. And in this episode, Jessie uses Wobbuffet, a Pokemon that has been in the show for a long time. 

Wobbuffet is hands down one of the most incompetent Pokemon there is for Team Rocket, which makes them a perfect fit. And while the Pokemon has had his moments, using him in battle usually ends in despair, specifically here where Wobbuffet was used to counter Pikachu’s attack. 

However, Wobbuffet ends up sending the attack right into his own teammate, shocking them while Pikachu avoids the counter, practically ending the battle before it began. I know that Jessie and James aren’t known for their battling skills but man, they should have seen that coming. 

James failing to recite the motto in Pokemon.

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

And When James Couldn’t Even Recite Their Own Motto (The Punchy Pokémon)

You have to feel bad after not even being able to recite your own motto

For fans of the anime series, the line “Prepare for trouble and make it double” is something they all know. Heck, I have their whole motto memorized at this point. But there was one episode where James couldn’t remember his part of the motto and it was pretty embarrassing. 

In the episode, “The Punchy Pokemon,” Team Rocket is yet again using a disguise to sneak into something, this time a boxing competition, with Jessie sitting on James’ shoulders in order to compete. However, this proves to be too tough for James because at the point, he can barely hold Jessie up and falls to the ground, unable to recite their motto due to having to carry her around all day under a large coat to hide them both. 

It’s a classic disguise and one that makes me snicker every time I watch it, because of course they would do the good ol’ hide in a giant coat. 

Jessie in Pokemon.

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

When They Literally Became As Big As A Snorlax (A Lean Mean Team Rocket Machine!)

In the episode “A Lean Mean Team Rocket Machine!” Team Rocket dares to do something that I’ve never seen before – gorge on a feast. When they attended the Pokemon Summer Academy, they took advantage of all the food that was there and, quite literally, became so big they were almost comparable to a tiny Snorlax.

Arguably, it’s not the most ridiculous way they’ve failed, but it’s certainly funny because it’s such a human thing to do. I can imagine myself getting so into the food at a place I put on a few pounds and have to work it off in order to do my job, but the way in which they ate was just funny. You can’t help but chuckle. 

James kicking the Magikarp in Pokemon.

(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

And When James Kicked His Magikarp – And In Turn Evolved It Into A Very Angry Gyarados (Pokémon Shipwreck)

For this last one, we’re going all the way back to the Indigo League Pokemon series, with Ash, Brock and Misty. This was one of the earliest Pokemon episodes and his companions were great, but the storyline was even greater. 

In “Pokemon Shipwreck,” James obtains a Magikarp and believes it could be useful in saving him and Team Rocket as their boat is sinking, but finds out that the only movie the Pokemon knows at the time is Splash. James, frustrated, kicks Magikarp – and of course, this spawns his evolution into a very angry Gyarados. 

Gyarados wasn’t ready to let go of his owner’s mistreatment and ended up blasting him and the rest of Team Rocket into the sky with his Dragon Rage, effectively getting payback at James and making me laugh my butt of. 

Pokemon has been a huge piece of my childhood and while I don’t watch it nearly as much as I do now (since I’ve discovered other anime like Spy X Family or 2022’s soccer anime Blue Lock), it certainly holds a special place in my heart – and I for one can’t wait to see if these two are going to get into any more shenanigans in the future. 

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!