The iconic representations of Team Rocket, Jessie and James have been battling the main protagonists of the Pokèmon franchise for decades. The delightfully dressed duo is never seen without their trusty Pokè-pal Meowth, and they always have a sassy—and often rhyming quip—for their opponents.
You may already be familiar with the iconic Jessie (in Japanese: ムサシ Musashi), but do you know more than the basics of her biography? Let’s dive into a list of the top ten interesting things to know about Jessie, the dastardly, magenta-haired leader of the Team Rocket trio.
1. Her First Appearance
Jessie first jumped onto TV screens in the second episode of Pokèmon’s first season “Pokémon Emergency!” The episode saw Ash Ketchum, the lead protagonist, head to Viridian City in the hopes of healing his badly injured Pikachu. Unfortunately for the young Pokè-trainer, it just so happened that the city was under siege by Team Rocket, who were there to steal rare Pokèmon and look good while doing it. Jessie is first introduced when she and Team Rocket ransack the hospital, through the roof no less! Shockingly (pun absolutely intended) they’re beaten back by a group of Pikachus. It was a humiliating defeat of the kind that the group would come to be known for, but was an impactful introduction to some of the show’s most entertaining recurring villains….
2. She Trained in a Classic Pokèmon Region
Like every member of Team Rocket, Jessie trained in the Kanto Region. It was at the Team Rocket training academy that Jessie was teamed up with James and Meowth. Kanto is the oldest region in both the Pokèmon game andis named after the region of real-life Japan. It’s also the home of Ash Ketchum, who lives in Kanto’s Pallet Town. Jessie’s time at the academy is the closest information we have as to where her hometown might be, though in The Bridge Bike Gang (Season 1, Ep. 6), she does say that she and James could almost call Sunnytown their hometown.
3. “Chainer Jess” Was Once Part of a Biker Gang
Speaking of The Bridge Bike Gang, that’s where it’s revealed that Jessie was part of the titular group. The current incarnation of bike punks accost protagonists Ash, Misty, and Brock on a new bridge as they try to cross to Sunnytown. It’s only when Team Rocket shows up that viewers learn more about Jessie’s eventful upbringing. The team arrives on outrageous unicycles, causing the gang’s kids to get googly eyed over “Chainer / Big Jess” and “Little James.” How did she get that name? Well, it’s because she always swung a chain around as she rode her bike. Once a badass, always a badass.
4. She Has a Dark and Snowy Past
One of the more interesting things about Jessie is that she’s actually a legacy member of Team Rocket. Her mother was also a member of the nefarious crew of villains but sadly died while she was on a dangerous mission to try and locate the Mythical Pokèmon, Mew. Her loss in an avalanche led to Jessie ending up in foster care. In the Indigo League Christmas special Snow Way Out! (Season 2, Ep 10), it’s revealed that despite her mother’s death, she loves snow because it reminds her of eating snow sushi as a child in foster care. It’s a very sympathetic take on a tragic past, and only makes Jessie more endearing.
5. Jessie’s Name Might Have an Unexpected Inspiration
According to legend (and several sources), the English character names of Jessie and James are inspired by the famed American outlaw Jesse James. While his reign was far more violent than the Pokèmon-centric shenanigans of Team Rocket, the reference makes sense. Jesse James was a famed train robber, and while our Jessie—and her partners in crime—are pretty terrible at their jobs, they are technically famed Pokè-stealers! This is a great bit of history that establishes the type of person Jessie is without the audience ever actually needing to be told. Really smart stuff.
6. Meet Jessie’s Rival: Team Rocket Continues the Wild Western Theme
During their time at the Team Rocket training academy, Jessie met her rival Cassidy and his partner Butch, along with a Raticate. The pair’s English names continue the western theme of Jessie and James, this time based on Butch Cassidy, another old West outlaw. Like Jesse James he was a train and bank robber. Cassidy was active in the late 19th and early 20th century, and just like Jesse James he became an infamous national figure. Once again, it’s a smart nod to the notion of Team Rocket as modern day bandits and also a really great reflection of the team they were created to rival in both name and criminality.
7. Jessie Really Loves to Sing
Jessie and James are known for their dramatic flair, which even extends to musical numbers. Whenever the beat drops, Jessie is ready to belt out a tune, especially if it’s about catching Pikachu or annoying Pika’s Pokèmon trainer, Ash. In The Song of Jigglypuff (Season 1, Ep. 42), she performs a particularly outrageous one with her teammate in sailor-inspired gear. In it, her classical vanity comes out as she sings that she’s the “gorgeous one.” That’s far from the only ditty she’s performed, though—most well known hit is likely Double Trouble, which featured in many episodes of the English dub of the anime thanks to the Pikachu’s Jukebox segment.
8. Like Most of Our Favorite Anime Characters, She Loves Food
From Sailor Moon’s Usagi to Naruto’s titular character, all the way through Dragon Ball Z’s Goku, one of our favorite anime protagonist traits is a love of food. Despite not being a protagonist herself, Jessie continues that long tradition with a voracious appetite and passion for delicious snacks.
[team rocket, jessie, james]
dining together, like family
— daily team rocket! (@TeamRocketDaily) January 10, 2022
Though their villainous ways are usually more focused on stealing Pokèmon, Team Rocket is often seen searching for food as well, and when they do manage to eat they’re very enthusiastic about it. Of the three, it’s Jessie who definitely channels her hunger the most intensely. It’s easy to imagine her and Usagi chowing down on some snacks together.
9. Jessie Shares a Voice With Other Famous Pokè-Character(s)
While Jessie is certainly unique, she does share one quality with other characters in the series! Her voice actor in the English dub is Rachel Lillis who also voices none other than Misty, one of the protagonists Jessie regularly harasses. That’s not all, though, as the talented voice actor has also brought a ton of Pokèmon to life too. In the movie series she voiced many different Pokèmon, including Jigglypuff, Vulpix, Goldeen among others. It’s pretty wild to imagine Jessie essentially arguing against or trying to catch herself, but that’s the magic of voice acting and talented performers like Lillis.
She’s not only a Pokèmon icon either, with the voice of Jessie also appearing in classic anime like Boogiepop Phantom, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Berserk, and many, many more.
10. She’s the Most Prolific Female Pokèmon Character of All Time
Jessie isn’t just a fashion icon, singing star, survivor, and all-time great Pokèmon character, she’s also broken boundaries for a female character in the franchise. She’s the only female character who’s been in all 23 Pokèmon movies, from 1998’s Pokémon: The First Movie to 2020’s Pokèmon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle. She holds that impressive record in the anime series too, as the only female character appearing in every generation. It’s no surprise that she’s become such an iconic and beloved character, when she’s been on screens causing chaos for decades. She’s still looking good doing it, too. We salute you, Jessie!
Have any fun facts we may have missed here? Let us know in the comments!
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Rosie Knight is an Eisner-winning journalist, author and comics writer. She co-hosts Crooked Media’s X-Ray Vision podcastdiscussing pop culture from superhero movies to prestige television to the best fantasy novels and, of course, comics.