Everyone has had at least one big Pokémon crush.
Now, I don’t mean a crush on a Pokémon – though that happens too – but on a trainer.
More specifically, people always have a favorite Gym Leader that makes their hands sweaty for reasons beyond a challenging Pokémon battle.
Rivalry and combat have a way of promoting romance, so if your love for any Gym Leader grows every time they wipe the floor with your team, you’re not alone.
In the spirit of teen magazines ranking the hottest celebrities every teen is raving about, we’ll look at the most popular and attractive female Gym Leaders everyone wants to call their waifu.
The leader of Goldenrod City’s gym in Johto is famous among old-school Pokémon fans because of how tough she was to beat.
Her Miltank is a titan, able to tank one attack after the other and wreck your poor baby Pokémon by rolling over them like grass on a prairie.
For this reason, she’s one of the Gym Leaders we spent most of our time with – and, if only because of familiarity bias, a popular waifu.
The people of Goldenrod also know this Normal-type specialist for her stunning looks, though her personality doesn’t quite match her outward appearance. She’ll even throw a tantrum if you beat her!
Many Pokémon fans grew up to become major Japanophiles – giving Celadon’s Gym Leader Erika a steadily-growing cult following.
This Kanto beauty is calm and collected, with a serene aura that follows her anywhere she goes. She also looks stunning in a kimono – and the redesign for Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee! took her visual appeal to the next level.
As a nature-loving maiden, she specializes in Grass-types she considers “attractive,” though not in the traditional sense of the word.
Victreebel, Vileplume, and Tangela can all attract Pokémon through smell – even though they’re visually repellent.
If you’re going after Gym Leaders, you’re not intimidated by power – but, in the case of Sabrina, maybe you should be.
The mystical Gym Leader of Kanto’s Saffron City is one of the few characters in the Pokémon series that could win a Pokémon battle by herself, without her own Pokémon.
This sharp-looking femme fatale is famous for her psychic powers, which rival her formidable Alakazam.
As a baby, she was already able to bend spoons. By the time we meet her, these powers have progressed to the point where she can turn people into dolls – at least in the anime.
Admittedly, Mallow isn’t a Gym Leader – instead, she’s one of the Trial Captains in Gen VII’s Alola.
Still, since that generation has no Gym Leaders, I’ll let it slide.
Mallow is a Grass-type specialist who’s about as good at cooking as she is at training Pokémon – and she’s fantastic at both.
She’s able to cook up a stew with an aroma so delicious, it summons the Totem Pokémon of Akala Island’s Lush Jungle – Lurantis.
They say the road to a man’s heart is through the stomach – and this waifu makes my mouth water.
Roxie is a young bad-ass from Vidbank City who balances her career as a punk-rock star with her duties as the leader of the city’s Poison-type Gym in Pokémon Black & White 2.
She might look a bit juvenile, but she’s got grit and tenacity, which comes through in her music and Pokémon battles.
The ace of her team the first time you meet her is Whirlipede, which isn’t too impressive by itself. By the time the Pokémon World Tournament rolls around, it has evolved into Scolipede – one of the coolest Pokémon in the series’ history.
As someone who spends most of the day typing in front of a screen, I dream of nature getaways where I can connect with the soil, the trees, the flowers, and hopefully someone like Gardenia.
This Grass-type specialist serves as the Gym Leader of Sinnoh’s Eterna City. She’s surprisingly tough – unless, of course, you grabbed Chimchar as your starter.
We don’t get to learn much about Gardenia other than her fear of ghosts – which is adorable – but her visual design is easily among the best in the entire series.
The star of her team the first time you battle her is Roserade, but come the rematch, she has a friggin’ Torterra, making her a force to be reckoned with.
Few things are more heartwarming and rewarding than feeling that your SO’s soft side is reserved just for you.
Perhaps that accounts for Bea’s massive popularity.
This Galarian karate prodigy trained all her life to uphold the family legacy, becoming as stoic as she is strong. This has led the public to believe she has lost all ability to feel emotion – but that’s an exaggeration, as her love for her Pokémon can attest.
Bea trains with her Pokémon one-on-one, which fits a Fighting-type specialist like a ring. This has made the Stow-on-Side Stadium one of Galar’s greatest challenges.
In terms of popularity alone, it’s hard to hold a candle to Marnie – both in-game and in real life.
For most of Pokémon Sword & Shield, Marnie is one of the player’s rivals. Eventually, she becomes the Gym Leader or Spikemuth Stadium, which qualifies her for this ranking.
Marnie is known as a “kuudere,” meaning she’s a cool and aloof character that only shows tender emotions on rare occasions. This duality is well-represented by her beloved Morpeko.
As you can probably tell at a glance, Marnie specializes in Dark-type Pokémon. She’s a baddie who seems unstoppable in her rise to the top.
During my childhood, I was flabbergasted by the unbearable cool-factor of the Elite Four leader Lance.
As an adult, I gravitate more to his cousin, the Blackthorn Gym Leader Clair.
Like Lance, Clair is descended from a long line of Johto-based Dragon tamers, making her an exceptional Dragon-type trainer.
Looking at her, I can’t help but think she looks ready to lead an army. She embodies the power and authority of the dragon in her outfit and character. She even wears a cape!
If you like beautiful and extremely competent women, Clair is the perfect Pokémon waifu.
If you want someone who’ll make your heart soar sky-high, Skyla is options one, two, and three.
This somewhat underrated Gym Leader operates in Unova region’s Mistralton City, where she works as a pilot. Her love for flying high led her to specialize in Flying-type Pokémon who share her passion.
She’s bubbly and confident, and her unparalleled pilot skills make her an inspiring figure. She looks like the kind of girl that makes you have fun just by being in her vicinity.
Her team of Swoobat, Unfezant, and Swanna isn’t the most impressive – but the addition of Archeops and Braviary for the Pokémon World Tournament in B&W2 takes it to the next level.
Most female Gym Leaders and Pokémon characters generally have slim and athletic physiques.
If you’re into the thicker ladies, there’s only one way to go.
Nicknamed the Ice-Cold Professional, Melony is the Ice-type specialist who presides over Circhester Stadium in Pokémon Shield – and the mother of Gordie, who fulfills this role in Pokémon Sword.
According to the in-game lore, she has been a Gym Leader since her twenties, making her one of the most experienced trainers in the franchise. We can only assume her experience in love is comparable.
There are many beautiful ladies in this ranking, but none can make your jaw hit the floor faster than Elesa.
The Electric-type expert in charge of Nimbasa Gym in Unova shines for her beauty and superb fashion sense.
She works as a top-tier supermodel when she’s not wiping the floor with gym challengers. She balances these two demanding occupations perfectly, and still finds the time to get together with friends, like Skyla.
Thanks to a sophisticated Volt Switch strategy involving her two Emolga and powerful Zebstrika, she’s a formidable opponent on your way to the top.
If you still haven’t had enough high-fashion models with hidden depths, it’s time you meet Nessa from the Galar region.
The star of Hulbury Stadium in Pokémon Sword & Shield is in equal parts fierce and beautiful.
Like the sea, Nessa can be calm and collected one moment, then rage and give into her competitive heart the next. This extraordinary personality has made the Pokémon fanbase grow attached to this Water-type master from the very first moment.
She’s also a force to be reckoned with in battle.
As only the second Gym Leader you face, her initial team isn’t all that impressive, but her Golisopod and G-maxing Drednaw will make you sweat during the rematch.
Whether it’s Ms. Kawakami in Persona 5 or Quistis Trepe in Final Fantasy VIII, I’m a sucker for women in teaching positions.
In the words of Van Halen, I’m “hot for teacher.”
That’s why I can’t get enough of Roxanne, the leader of the Rock-type Rustboro Gym in Hoenn.
After graduating from the Pokémon Trainer’s School, Roxanne became a Pokémon scholar who develops rock-solid strategies and teaches them to her students.
She’s also an expert in Pokémon fossils. Her highest-level team in Pokémon Emerald features Aerodactyl, Kabutops, and Lord Helix himself – AKA Omastar.
It’s no secret that Misty is the apex waifu of the Pokémon franchise.
Not only is she a beautiful and charming girl with a fun personality, but most of us old-school fans have had a thing for this redhead since the anime first came out.
It’s said that humans love what is familiar, and Misty has been a star of the Pokémon franchise since the early days. Both as the leader of Cerulean Gym and Ash’s loyal friend and travel companion, Misty has left an indelible mark on our hearts.
Her prowess as a trainer cannot be understated, either.
If someone can make Psyduck useful in battle, imagine what they can do with a more conventional Pokémon.