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.


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?

  • 5
    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. 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. 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. 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

There are many theories linked to this, such as theories like Giovanni's Ash's real father and he keeps TRio to let Ash defeat them and gain more experience. But I've compiled some of the best reasons/theories out there:

  1. TRio's members are all actually very valuable.

Jessie's mom is Miyamoto, a high-ranking Class A member of Team Rocket who disappeared while on a mission to look for Mew. Miyamoto is presumed to be dead according to some while possibly still alive according to others, but she is/was close to Madame Boss, Giovanni's mother. It is possible that Miyamoto's influence and power has extended to Jessie especially if her mother died while on a mission for Team Rocket. Giovanni may be keeping her around as a tribute to Miyamoto.

Meanwhile, James as we all know hails from an uber, filthy rich family who owns tons of mansions and there are several theories as well.

Theory A: James' parents, who are all so rich, probably hired a PI to hunt down James. But they saw how their son wanted to have freedom and joined Team Rocket, and hence they struck a deal with Giovanni. They will provide him with a large sum of money each month, some of which will be given to James (and by default TRio) as his "salary" to fund his activities. It makes sense because TRio sometimes don't even have money to eat but can whip up high-tech gadgets and machineries which are probably really expensive.

Theory B: James is from such a rich family that Giovanni wants to keep him around for his family connections. Besides James is too involved in Team Rocket that if he ever leaves, he has the necessary monetary funds to bring down Team Rocket by hiring other Trainers and exposing Team Rocket's secrets such as their base or headquarters and their plans and missions.

And then we have Meowth: a talking Pokemon who can translate between the human language and the "Pokemon" language. When you think about it, Meowth has to be the greatest asset to Team Rocket. With Meowth, they can know exactly what a Pokemon is saying without using Telepathy or counting on Legendaries who use Telepathy! Meowth is the liaison between the Pokemon and humans and serves as TRio's very own translator.

  1. There is no real reason to get rid of TRio

It is highly speculated that TRio doesn't get pay from Giovanni, and that they keep taking odd jobs to get enough money to fund themselves. TRio also seems adept at repairing their machines and it seems that they need little money to build their machines. They are loyal to Giovanni and there is no harm in keeping them around, especially since they have served Giovanni faithfully and even saved his life. They played a huge role in the Unova arc, and were actually competent for once!

Giovanni has nothing to lose in keeping TRio around.

  1. TRio gives good publicity to Team Rocket

Since Team Rocket is primarily based in Kanto, when TRio visit other regions in pursuit of Pikachu, they encounter many who don't know what/who Team Rocket is. TRio indirectly and directly publicices Team Rocket and spreads their influence across the globe such that people will at least have heard of Team Rocket and find them fearsome/evil.

  1. THEORY: Giovanni is... Ash's father.

The ever so popular theory is that Giovanni is Ash's father and that he left Delia years ago to become the leader of Team Rocket. He found out that ten year-old Ash Ketchum had just become a Pokemon Trainer, and assigned the weak and simple-minded TRio to tail Ash around. Through TRio and their constant battles, he indirectly helped Ash gain more experience, evolved his Pokemon and felt a sense of satisfaction and achievement in defeating TRio. And that's why Giovanni keeps them around -- too boost, support and oversee Ash's journey.

Read more about this theory at: https://www.reddit.com/r/FanTheories/comments/1bv2j1/giovanni_is_ashs_real_father_long/

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. There are a lot of theories here, but your answer should provide an answer, along with evidence that it is correct. Even if it's a fan theory, to make a good answer it should include all the evidence that points to it being correct.
    – DavidW
    Jun 23 '21 at 16:03

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