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Jessie and James are pretty lousy members of Team Rocket. They have tried to capture Ash's Pikachu for over 900 episodes and failed every time. They never seem to accomplish Team Rocket's other goals, and they even failed to defend Giovanni's gym in Viridian City when they were put in charge of it (Mewtwo just broke out and Giovanni gave it to them as an afterthought).

So why doesn't Giovanni just fire them?

Aside from the fact that they are such an integral part of the show.

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In Diamond & Pearl episode 2 (episode 468 overall), "Two Degrees of Separation", there is a scene that pretty well summarizes the situation with Giovanni, Jessie, and James:

Jessie: Greetings from the Sinnoh region! Now that we've conquered Hoenn for you and yours, we thought we'd do the same right here!

James: Don't you mean Hoenn conquered us?

Jessie: [Grabs James] I'll conquer you!

Meowth: I've got a plan that'll put the best Pokémon Sinnoh's got right into your deep pockets!

Giovanni: Though your plans won't buy me a cup of coffee, I have wanted to set up shop there. Do your best.

Jessie: Don't we always?

Giovanni: That's what I'm afraid of. [hangs up]

Jessie: Hear that? The boss is counting on us to give Sinnoh the Team Rocket mojo!

Meowth: We'll blind the guy with tons of top-shelf science!

James: Then we can afford a summer cottage of our own!

[They say a few things in celebration, then we cut to Giovanni]

Giovanni: [to Persian] Remind me who those three buffoons were, will you?

So the reason he doesn't fire them is:

  • He doesn't even care enough about them to even learn their names
  • They go to regions where Team Rocket doesn't have a presence. This has the double benefit of spreading awareness of Team Rocket and keeping them away from his operations in other regions (which they have messed up multiple times)
  • There is a very small chance that they'll actually succeed, and he has nothing to lose

I also speculate that Giovanni doesn't pay Jessie and James, or if he does it is as a reward for a job well done (which they of course would never receive). In episode 4 of Diamond and Pearl, one of their traps fails and Meowth says "Let's see what you build with two bucks." True, they use a lot of tech, but they are never shown to get a paycheck and when they have gotten money, it's been through odd jobs or James's family fortune. It seems they are just really good at repairing things on a shoestring budget.

And hey, if they are so absurdly loyal to Team Rocket and Giovanni doesn't pay them, then why not keep them around?

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    In episode 15 (Battle Aboard the St. Anne) James actually uses the advance on his and Jessie's salary to buy a Magikarp. So I assume this is the salary he gets from being in Team Rocket. – Ivo Beckers Sep 26 '16 at 13:05
  • @IvoBeckers Been a while since I saw that one. Was it all that much money? If it's pocket change to Giovanni, I could understand him not caring. – Thunderforge Sep 26 '16 at 14:53
  • James family is absurdly wealthy. This both explains where they get money, and why Giovanni may want to keep James in his employ. – Andrey Jul 5 '18 at 17:00
  • @Andrey It doesn’t seem that Jessie and James contribute to general Team Rocket finds. The few times James has mentioned using his family’s wealth, it’s been for their latest scheme to capture Pikachu. – Thunderforge Jul 5 '18 at 17:58
  • @Thunderforge would you fire one of Bill Gate's kids if you could possibly help it even if you were not seeing any money from it? – Andrey Jul 5 '18 at 18:10

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