They seem to actually be generally good people, but with some major terminology confusion*. Is it ever explained why they want to "denounce the evils of truth and love", or what drove them to join Team Rocket?

Do they even have an in-story justification, or are they just incompetent* for the sake of humor, without an actual backstory?

I read a fanfiction story that describe James being raised by an abusive family that kept insisting he "be good", until he rebelled and ran away - leaving him with a mental association between "being good" and (what we would call) "horrible cruelty". I don't know if that's canon though?

* Warning: TvTropes link

  • There is, in fact, an episode that explains their backstories (or at least, James' and Meowth's - I presume Jessie's was explained as well). I'll look it up when I can.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 27, 2018 at 14:49
  • 3
    By definitiion, fan-fiction is non-canon
    – Paulie_D
    Apr 27, 2018 at 14:50
  • @Paulie_D Fanfiction, by definition, involves re-use of canon characters or events. Just because something is in a fanfic, doesn't mean it wasn't also in canon - the author might well have been trying to write a novelisation of something of from a film or tv show.
    – Benubird
    Apr 30, 2018 at 10:19

1 Answer 1


The backstory in that fanfic is not canon. James comes from a rich family, but in order to receive his inheritance, he would have to marry his parents' choice of bride, a woman named Jessebelle. James hates Jessebelle, and for good reason: she is extremely obsessive and controlling towards him, to the point of abuse. James ran away from home and joined Team Rocket, where he is free to do as he pleases.1

Jessie's backstory is more convoluted. She was the daughter of a high-ranking Team Rocket member who disappeared when she was five2. After a lonely, impoverished upbringing, Jessie at first attempted to become a Pokémon Nurse, but failed to graduate3. After that, she turned to crime and eventually joined Team Rocket, where she enjoys the company of her teammates and the extravagance of their missions:

Life before Team Rocket wasn't much fun. She didn't have any toys to play with as a little girl. Not even a tiny Pokémon doll. And to make things worse, she had no friends.

Then she met James, and she wasn't lonely any more. When they met Meowth, their life of evil really began. Being a high-profile Pokémon poacher was full of glamour and excitement. It was a lot more fun than longing for stupid Pokémon dolls.4

1Revealed in Episode 48, "Holy Matrimony!"
2Revealed in "The Birth of Mewtwo", an audio CD released in Japan along with the first movie
3Revealed in Episode 129, "Ignorance is Blissey"
4Taken from the Scholastic book "Team Rocket Blasts Off!", which recounts Team Rocket's backstories, among other scenes from the anime

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .