Gym leaders are seen almost as superheroes in the Pokemon world. They are some of the strongest trainers in the region and in each of their respective cities. Being the paragons of the region somehow enables others to overlook their horrible natures.

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Some gym leaders commit sometimes atrocious acts as though they have no accountability. Lying underneath the surface layer of Pokemon trainers is something sinister. Sometimes, it is disinterest that harms others or actions for the sole purpose of benefitting the leader.

Updated by Juliet Childers on November 21st, 2020: Villainous teams like Team Rocket or Team Galactic aren't the only ones in Pokemon that wreak some havoc. Most fans know about Giovanni's less than role-model-like endeavors. But many gym leaders commit acts just as bad if not worse than some of the villains in the series. How do gym leaders get away with being evil?

14 Sabrina Trapped Her Mom In A Doll

image of Pokemon gym leader Sabrina with her creepy doll next to a family photo

Fans of the original Pokemon TV series fondly look back on the unique gym leaders. They'll remember Lieutenant Surge's arrogance and Blaine's quirkiness. But they might also vaguely remember how creepy Sabrina was. But there's a reason behind that feeling that most fans might have forgotten.

When Sabrina was a child, she still had monumentally powerful psychic abilities. Her parents tried to stop her from playing with a set of golf clubs one day. So, Sabrina imprisoned her mom in a doll and her dad ran away in fear.


13 Gym Leaders Force Gym Trainers To Gamble

Considering an average trainer's perspective instead of a player character, it is a gamble to take on a gym. A Pokemon battle is, after all, a risk because trainers don't know what the other trainer is going to send out. Not to mention the fact that there is all that money on the line.

Going against a gym leader is a part of a system where trainers must pony up funding to qualify for a league. Then, they have to put even more money up in order to get to the title championship. This is all swell for those who win but remember: gym leaders are making bank on the other 90% who lose.

12 They Knowingly Cause Blackouts Around Their City

image of Sunyshore city gym next to Volkner the gym leader

Gym leaders not acknowledging their own issues is the norm in Pokemon. After all, Surge's PTSD might contribute to his attitude and treatment of others. Misty's issues with abandonment might influence how she forms personal relationships. But Volkner? He just causes massive blackouts in his city due to his "boredom."

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Volkner can't seem to find any joy in life apart from Pokemon training, So he decided to revamp his gym's electrical grid for funsies. He somehow managed to cause those aforementioned blackouts in a city with solar panels. Maybe he should get a therapist instead.

11 They Create Dangerous Traps In Their Puzzles

Avoiding health hazards seems to be a lost cause in the Pokemon world. Think about it. The player, as a 10-year-old, catches the local sentient nuclear bomb and forces it to fight for sport. Some gym leaders relish their part in this evil act of purposefully endangering trainers.

Pitfalls seem to be a favorite for gym leaders who love to break trainers' body parts and spirits. Not much is said about whether healthcare is free for humans in the Pokemon world. But the lack of people hospitals suggests that it probably isn't.

Consider that the Pokemon multiple universe theory is canon lore. Every time the screen goes black, the player character is reset to the previous position. It can then only be estimated that they got severely hurt in that dimension. Why would gym leaders oversee and enable this?

10 Gym Leaders Can Create Mafias

Giovanni is the Pokemon League's best-kept secret. It's an almost perfect gambit: setting one's self in a position of power, respect, and status to conceal misdeeds. And Giovanni maintains that facade very well.

While in his gym, he may not steal business or Pokemon. But his secret life may ruin everything about one's life and business with his grunts stealing Pokemon and bursting through people's houses to escape the law.

Somehow, everyone in the Pokemon world overlooks the fact that Giovanni is a crime boss, a Pokemon abuser, and a corrupt CEO of a major oligarchical company.

9 They Take More Than 50% Of A Trainer's Money

Anyone who has experienced a loss to the gym leaders in the early generations of Pokemon knows this pain. As mentioned earlier, gym leaders aren't cheap fights. Running a gym is not a cheap thing and requires many zealous fighting addicts to contribute tons of payments to the cause to keep it running with huge pipes dumping gallons of water on their heads.

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For trainers with big dreams and little skill, this can be highly devastating. The gyms would be taking most of their money and leave them possibly with no food money. Also, consider the fact that most of the time trainers are sleeping on the ground or in tents.

That extra step is just cruel and risks these trainers starving to death.

8 Some Severely Injure Pokémon

As we see from Lt. Surge in the Pokemon anime, he has no trouble beating your Pokemon half to death and landing them in the emergency room. While that episode showed many injured Pokemon with poor traumatized trainers, it didn't show the Pokemon that he sent to the cemetery.

It isn't as simple as making them faint, but adding further insult to injury and enjoying itas he seems to. No trainer seemed to know of this reputation beforehand, and many were weak Rattata trainers. In tandem with other abusive trainers like Giovanni, surely someone had to have pointed out the abuse.

7 They Tend To Abandon Children

There's only one gym leader that comes to mind that has actually done that to his own son, and that gym leader is Giovanni. As the player finds out in HeartGold & SoulSilver, the player character's rival was Giovanni's abandoned son all along.

Giovanni is evil in its most mundane, but still soul-crushing in the Pokemon world. And this was an act that was done while Giovanni was a gym leader. That means that the Pokemon League allowed it to happen. Perhaps the issue runs deeper than individual gym leaders.

6 Some Give Badges To Cheaters

In the original season of the anime, Ash would get some of his badges through not actually beating the Gym Leader head-to-head. One of the best examples is Ash's very first gym battle with Brock.

He couldn't beat Brock so he purposefully artificially supercharged his Pikachu by creating a bike generator. In the end, Ash won through Pikachu attacking after he had surrendered when his plan didn't work. This overall wasn't good sportsmanship that he showed but was still being praised by Brock and got the badge anyway.

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This behavior from gym leaders only encourages horribly behaved trainers to succeed. Had Ash not have gotten the badge, he would have trained the proper way to succeed. Without that, he was completely robbed of skill and his career by being guided wrongly by gym leaders who make bad judgments.

5 Sabrina Kidnapped Rival Trainers

Another example from the anime, Sabrina just can't keep herself out of trouble. Fans already knew that she was a dangerous psychic who terrified and/or imprisoned her own parents. But she even kidnaps gym challengers who lose and/or turn them into dolls with the intent of eternity.

It can only be imagined how many trainers were not lucky enough to escape her. Like fellow Kanto gym leader Koga, Sabrina has also previously worked for Team Rocket. Despite all of this, she never seems to be held accountable for her actions.

4 Blaine Experimented On And Genetically Engineered Pokemon

image of Blaine in sunglasses and a wig next to a Pokemon Manga clip where Blaine works for Team Rocket

Speaking of problematic gym leaders with ties to Team Rocket, we need to talk about Blaine. The Cinnabar Island fire-type gym leader likes to play himself off as a cooky trivia fanatic. But he has made and continues to make some horrible decisions.

Fans who have read the manga learned of Blaine's relationship with Team Rocket. Not only was he a scientist there, but he was one of the people who helped create Mewtwo. He claims to have had a change of heart and feel bad for his actions.

However, as a gym leader, Blaine uses the heat of Cinnabar's active volcano to exhaust rival trainers and Pokemon.

3 Gym Leaders Give No Thought To Saftey Or Regulation

There are countless psycho puzzles gym leaders make trainers go through. So much so, in fact, that working hazards are commonplace in the Pokemon world. Broken ribs, having tons of water crush them, pit traps, or even pools without the appropriate safety signs all occur under the observation of gym leaders.

RELATED: Pokemon: 10 Oldest Gym Leaders, Ranked By Age

Every single aspect is unregulated for safety and could risk injury. Furthermore, it seems like the gym leaders aren't at all concerned if someone gets hurt. If lawyers were smart enough, they could completely destroy the very world of Pokemon due to lack of safety. In the same category as the question about people hospitals, fans wonder if there is a Pokemon OSHA.

2 The Elite 4 Tried To Destroy The Region

This entry is another that concentrates on the lore from the manga -- specifically the Pokémon Adventures manga series. In this version of the events, high-ranking gym leaders like Koga work with Team Rocket. But the Elite 4's work might be worse than even what Blaine did.

They were focused on completely annihilating the entire region. The Elite 4 were even prepared to go as far as to destroy an entire city. There is no way to spin this as anything but totally and utterly evil.

1 Team Rocket Created And Exploited Gambling Addicts

images of the casino in Pokemon Blue and Giovanni in a suit

Every fan knows that Giovanni is a bad dude; no question. But there are just so many ways he infiltrates society in the Pokemon world. Using Team Rocket as thugs, he is able to squeeze Game Corner goers in Celadon City.

It is unclear whether or not the place is strictly a casino. But the majority of the "games" there are gambling focused in nature. Suspicious Team Rocket members prowl around and even players say things like "I can't seem to win." The coincidence that kids also spent a bunch of money on randomized packs of Pokemon cards is entirely unrelated.

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