And then we left allllllllll of them behind save for Pikachu, DIDN’T we, Ash?
Good thing they saved your life back then, huh?
You ungrateful little shit.
HEY HEY HOLD ON A MINUTE.
He left all of them behind, save for Pikachu, because he wanted to let them do what they -wanted- to do! Pidgeotto (Pidgeot, eventually), stayed to protect the rest of his kind in Route 1 so they’d be safe from Spearow and Fearow. Charmander (Charizard, eventually) wanted to continue training so he could be stronger and get to a level Ash couldn’t help him reach at that point in time. Squirtle wanted to join with his old gang again as firefighters to SAVE people. Bulbasaur stayed at Oak’s lab in order to maintain peace and harmony with the other Pokemon at his ranch! All of them found an important purpose and Ash didn’t wanna be selfish and stand in their way by continuing to just use them for his own path in life. Pikachu stuck with him because he feels his own purpose is to stick with Ash and be there for him and help him reach that goal; that doesn’t mean that all of Ash’s other Pokemon that he “released” should be counted as strikes against him because they were all for understandable reasons!
If you’re a coach and your players are all on your team, of course they’re all gonna be loyal to each other and strive to win the game…but if one, or two or twenty of those players find something in their own individual lives that they want to strive for, what should the coach do? Oh, he should be a dick and selfishly keep them on his team so HE can get all the recognition, right? No! He should do what’s RIGHT and allow those players to pursue what -they- want to do with their own lives!
…’sides, gotta make room for them new-fangled Pokeymanz to sell new merch for. Duh.