Then & Now: Gyms and Leaders

Hey all, I’m back with another “Then and Now”! My last article focused more on characters, but the articles in this series address all sorts of development in the games. So this article talks about the development when it comes to gym leaders and their gyms. I’ll just cover Black and White for now, then when the new games come out elsewhere I’ll cover the handful of new gyms then. The gyms from Black and White are no secret, but it can be an extensive article so it’s in tags.


So first off, let me clarify what I mean when I say development of gym leaders and their gyms. In all of the games until now, leading a gym seemed to be all they were capable of doing. And why would they do anything else? They are a gym leader after all. But Black and White are trying to bring a whole new depth to the Pokémon series, and with that comes making characters more than what they used to be. They’re making the gym leaders useful in more sense than one, and I really appreciate that. This article doesn’t address any new information, but it points out the little things that may have been overlooked by some people and finds a new appreciation for them.

The first gym leader you face will be one of the three brothers. Cilan uses Grass-types, Chili uses Fire-types, and Cress specializes in Water-types. What about when you’re not battling them? They aren’t just standing around lifelessly waiting for a battle, but they are waiting. These brothers are waiters at their gym, because it also doubles as a restaurant. They have a life outside of gym battles, see what I mean?

She doesn’t just master the Normal-type when it comes to battles, Lenora is also a very studious archeologist and is very serious about her work. This is clear when you battle her while she is still wearing her apron she uses when looking at fossils. This woman is dedicated and capable of putting that towards more than just gym battles.

And now we have Burgh, a specialist of Bug-type Pokémon. While his gym is very… sticky, and filled with clowns for whatever reason, this man doesn’t just stand around in his fashionable outfit. Burgh is an artist, who is always painting and probably does so until a new trainer challenges him to a battle. Battling is also considered an art, so it looks like Burgh is an artist two times over!

A personal favorite of mine is Elesa. She’s a fashion model, so it makes sense for her gym to be bright with neon lights, just like lights on a runway. This gym leader is very fashion forward, but she doesn’t set any battle aside in the name of fashion.

I was never too fond of Clay, but that doesn’t change the fact that this man does a lot more than battles. He runs this whole mining business beneath his gym’s entrance. He’s a businessman, and is more than meets they eye. But then again, so is every gym leader we’ve seen so far!

While she seems to be a little underdressed for being a pilot in addition to a gym leader, Skyla is another one of my favorites. Her gym seems a bit eccentric, but it’s a hangar located on a runway in Mistralton City. So it’s clear that when she’s not battling trainers seeking the Jet Badge, she’s high in the skies flying those planes.

This one’s a bit different. Brycen used to be an actor, so by the time we get to him in Black and White he is just a gym leader. He seems to really have an interest in getting back into acting though, so he’s still got more on his agenda than a gym leader from a different region.

These two are kind of like a packaged deal. Separately, they are gym leaders and that’s all they really do. But together they are a master and his protégée. Drayden is a master of the Dragon-type trainer, and he’s taken Iris under his wing to teach her to be one as well. So when Drayden isn’t battling trainers in Black, and Iris isn’t battling them in White, Drayden is teaching Iris the ways of the dragon.


I hope you enjoyed this installment of “Then and Now”, and if there’s a gym leader you really like, whether it’s because of their type specialty or their career on the side, let me know in the comments!