For more than two decades, the Pokémon world’s most famous Trainer of all has been trotting the globe in the quest to Catch ‘Em All and yet, somehow, remains the same age now as he did all the way back in 1997.
As a work of fiction, of course, it makes perfect sense that Ash Ketchum is still the wide-eyed 10-year-old he was when first starting out on his adventure from Pallet Town more than 20 years ago, but that hasn’t stopped scores of fans over the years from attempting to justify his apparent immortality with an in-universe explanation. Not dissimilar to the popular theory that Pokémon takes place in a world recovering from a disastrous war – therefore explaining the strange absence of adult males in the original games – this particular proposition presents a dark scenario, to say the least.
In the original anime’s first-ever episode, Ash, having partnered up with a reluctant Pikachu, starts out on his journey to collect all 8 Gym Badges for a spot in the upcoming League tournament. During their trek to Viridian City, however, the pair are ambushed by a flock of irritable Spearow, injuring Pikachu and knocking Ash from his bike.
From this moment forward, it’s hypothesized, Ash actually falls into a deep coma due to his injuries and never recovers, with all of the events depicted in each subsequent episode simply a dream. That reality would certainly account for Ash having not aged a day since the late 90s, though such a seemingly mild mishap resulting in a fit and healthy child falling into a coma undoubtedly requires the suspension of disbelief.