A Pokémon Trainer (ポケモントレーナー, Pokémon Trainer) is a human from the Pokémon series. The vast majority of human characters in the series are Pokémon Trainers, including the player characters. Pokémon Trainers debuted in the series' first generation, and Red represents them as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and, alongside Leaf, in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate under the name "Pokémon Trainer".
From the very outset of the Pokémon franchise, the world of Pokémon had been established as an Earth-like world populated by humans and a diverse set of creatures called Pokémon. In this world, humans are referred to as Pokémon Trainers if they collect, take care of, and train Pokémon for use in competitive matches with those of other Trainers called Pokémon battles.
While most games focus on the battling aspect, other Pokémon-related hobbies and professions exist in the world, such as Pokémon Breeders, who focus on raising Pokémon; Pokémon Coordinators, who train Pokémon for contests; and Pokémon Professors, who focus on studying various aspects of the Pokémon themselves. Regardless, raising and training a team of Pokémon is the main activity/quest that the main Pokémon RPGs feature, so a player of a Pokémon RPG is considered a Pokémon Trainer themselves.
All main Pokémon games cast the player as a young Pokémon Trainer ready to set out on a Pokémon journey across that game's region of the Pokémon world, on a quest to capture many species of Pokémon and, from there, train a team of Pokémon proficient in the sport of Pokémon battling that they may carry the Trainer to victory against that region's Pokémon League.
The Trainer's traditional tool for capturing Pokémon is the Poké Ball, which is typically purchasable at Poké Marts and comes in many distinctive varieties. New Trainers also receive a piece of high-tech equipment called the Pokédex, which functions as an encyclopedia for the Pokémon in that respective region which the Trainer will fill up via new captures, among other adventuring gear.
Throughout each journey, the Trainer will battle hundreds of other Trainers, encounter countless Pokémon in the wild, and be involved in subplots involving thwarting the schemes of criminal organizations that consist of trainers. While the playable Pokémon Trainers were initially depicted as exclusively male, the option to choose the gender of the playable Trainer has been available as of Pokémon Crystal Version.
Each game's protagonist options are similar, but they are all distinct characters in-universe. Playable Trainers also have one or more rivals, whose motivations and characterizations vary significantly. While Pokémon Trainers have always been an integral part of the Pokémon experience, the mobile game Pokémon Masters makes them a primary focus of the game alongside the Pokémon themselves, allowing the player to recruit Trainers and their partner Pokémon to battle in teams.
The first, and arguably most notable, playable Trainer is the male protagonist of the Kanto games; although he can be named by the player, he has since become a recurring character known as Red. Since his debut, Red has gone on to appear as the final opponent of the Johto games atop Mt. Silver; an opponent in the Pokémon World Tournament in Pokémon Black and White Versions 2; and the co-leader of the Battle Tree in Pokémon Sun and Moon alongside his rival Blue. In all cases, Red's team consists of Pokémon that were caught during major events of his original quest, with his Pikachu serving as his signature Pokémon; however, later appearances (including the Super Smash Bros. series) establish Charizard as another signature Pokémon for him depending on the canon.
As of Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Versions, Red also has a female counterpart, known as Leaf in said games' internal data and her later appearances. Red, Leaf, and their cross-canon counterparts have trained the evolutionary lines of the Kanto starter Pokémon: Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. In the Super Smash Bros. series, the Pokémon Trainer "fights" by sending these starter Pokémon out to battle, with the Bulbasaur line represented by Ivysaur, and the Charmander line represented by Charizard. Befitting their status as iconic Trainers, both Red and Leaf appear as Sync Pairs in Pokémon Masters. While Red has no spoken dialogue (a character quirk based on his appearance as a boss in the Johto games), Charizard is his partner Pokémon, affirming it as one of his signature Pokémon. Conversely, Leaf has fully voiced dialogue, similar to her appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but her partner Pokémon is Eevee - an alternate starter option in some games - rather than one of the traditional Kanto starters.
Nonetheless, the Pokémon Trainer in the Super Smash Bros. series can also represent the concept of Pokémon Trainer protagonists in general. This is indicated by their dialogue being based upon the menu text that appears during Pokémon battles in the main series, and in the case of Ultimate, both versions of the Pokémon Trainer having alternate costumes based on other protagonists in the series, such as Hilda from Pokémon Black and White Versions (one half of the first pair of core series protagonists to be teenagers instead of preteens) and Calem from Pokémon X and Y (whose games are the first to feature full customization).
In Super Smash Bros., a human, potentially a Pokémon Trainer, can be seen walking in the background during Pikachu's portion of the opening movie.
As a playable character
Main article: Pokémon Trainer (SSBB)
A Pokémon Trainer makes an official appearance as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The Trainer in Brawl is Red, the protagonist of Pokémon Red, Green, Blue and Yellow Versions, and the male protagonist of Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Versions. However, he is simply referred to as "Pokémon Trainer" to reflect how players can name the playable Trainers within each of the Pokémon games. Instead of using his original design from Generation I, he uses his redesign from Generation III.
It should be noted that it would be rather inaccurate to call the Trainer himself a playable fighter, as selecting him is akin to selecting a Zelda/Sheik-style character with three interchangeable forms; in the Trainer's case, these are the three Pokémon he has in his collection: Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard. The Trainer visually issues commands in the background of the stage to the Pokémon in the foreground, corresponding with the actions input by the player to the current Pokémon as the real fighter. Conversely, one can say that the player controls the Trainer, who in turn commands the Pokémon.
Pokémon Trainer is currently ranked 29th out of 38 on the tier list, placing him in the E tier. Pokémon Trainer's team possesses an overall strong grab game, although Squirtle in particular is widely agreed upon as being his most effective Pokémon, thanks to its respectable damage racking potential and potent air game.
However, the Trainer's team is heavily burdened by unique mechanics: Pokémon Change is laggy to the point of being very punishable, while his team's defensive and especially offensive potentials are very inconsistent because of stamina and type effectiveness. Outside of these issues, Ivysaur's abysmal air game, poor recovery, unimpressive range, and heightened susceptibility to the very common flame effect collectively render it among players as not only the Trainer's least effective Pokémon, but also one of the worst characters in the entire game.
Due to his team's weaknesses noticeably outweighing their strengths, Pokémon Trainer's representation has been almost nonexistent throughout Brawl's lifespan. Although TheReflexWonder achieved success with Pokémon Trainer at the national level on several occasions, he has been Pokémon Trainer's only representative to find any sort of success past the local level.
Due to the limitations of the Nintendo 3DS' processing power, transformation-type characters were split apart and became standalone characters for Super Smash Bros. 4. In Pokémon Trainer's case, only Charizard returned as a playable character. However, Red (under the name "Pokémon Trainer"), Squirtle and Ivysaur make cameos as collectible trophies. On a related note, Calem and Serena, the playable Trainers from Pokémon X and Y, also appear together as a singular trophy under the name "Pokémon Trainer (Pokémon X & Y)".
Main article: List of SSB4 trophies (Pokémon series)
As a playable character
Main article: Pokémon Trainer (SSBU)
Pokémon Trainer returns as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, albeit as an unlockable character instead of a starter character. As a result, Squirtle and Ivysaur also returned by default, while Charizard was reintegrated into the team. In addition to Red reappearing as the default Pokémon Trainer, his female counterpart, Leaf, makes her Super Smash Bros. series debut as an alternate character.
Pokémon Trainer has been noticeably reworked in order to streamline the character's unique playstyle. The removal of both stamina and type effectiveness significantly improves the team's overall consistency. In addition, Pokémon Change's drastically faster speed and newfound usability in the air collectively make it much less committal, as well as allow the Trainer to rotate between Pokémon to the point of using their unique attributes to adapt to different situations at a much better pace.