The Pokémon series has always focused on the adventures of Ash as he strives to become “the very best” trainer. Ash cannot achieve his dreams on his own. Whether his male or female companions help him through another Pokémon Championship or defeat Team Rocket, he always has some help. That help may not always come from a close friend. The lesser known background characters support Ash and his friends.
Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny may seem like a running gag character, but their roles are vital to keeping the world of Pokémon afloat. Officer Jenny helps to keep the humans and their friends safe. She often puts herself in dangerous situations to fight off thieves and chase enemies on her motorbike.
Nurse Joy’s role as a caretaker for all Pokémon is essential to keeping them alive. Without her medical expertise and the safety of the Pokémon center, Pokémon would likely die from their injuries. The Pokémons’ owners would also be forced to stay out and survive in the wilderness alone. Though many Pokémon trainers, like Ash, know how handle themselves in battle, they’re still young children living away from home.
Our list compiles some facts about Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny that you may still find shocking, decades after the Pokémon anime was originally released. We’ve used the North American English translations of character names to make it more accessible for everyone.
15. Brock Knows Them Better Than Anyone
To the normal human eye, every Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny look the same. They all share the same physical characteristics: hairstyle, uniform, and voice. Most characters in the Pokémon universe have accepted the fact that all of their nurses and police officers are essentially replicas.
There is only one person who can tell Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny apart. Brock, a Rock-Type Pokémon user, is not only in love with both women but can tell them all apart. He can differentiate the women by the length of their eyelashes. It may seem like a useless skill, but it came in handy in “The Ribbon Cup Caper.” Brodie tried to disguise himself as Officer Jenny to escape with the Ribbon Cup. Luckily, Brock was able to uncover Brodie’s true identity.
14. But If You’re Not Brock, You Can Rely On Badges
If you’ve mistaken Nurse Joy from Kanto as the Nurse Joy from Johto, you’re not alone. They all share the same physical characteristics and are usually accompanied by a Chancey Pokémon. They also share the same sweet, caring personality and voice actress. Unless you’re Brock and close enough to measure their eyelash length, there is another way for normal people to tell the Nurse Joys apart.
All Nurse Joys wear a standard nurse cap. Within the regions of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and Unova, the way to tell the difference between each Joy is the color of the cross on their cap. In Kalos, the color of the badges on their lapels differ. It’s a small detail only on one part of their uniforms but easily missed.
13. Originally had a Different Hair Color
When the Pokémon series first debuted in 1997, cel animation was still being used to create Ash’s adventures. The characters all had a slightly different appearance since they were being drawn by hand. Officer Jenny had blue hair in the early episodes, which was different from the character designs by Ken Sugimori, illustrator of the original Pokémon games, trading card game, and merchandise.
The first digital animated episode “Here’s Lookin’ at You, Elekid” debuted in 2002. Digital animation saved time and labor for animators and episodes could be released faster and more efficiently. Digital animators were now able to match the original character designs by Sugimori. Officer Jenny’s blue hair became a green-blue to match her original artwork. She still retains the same green-blue hair color today.
12. Are They Giving Brock A Chance?
If you don’t recognize Brock for his permanently closed eyes or skills as the Gym Leader of Pewter City, you’ll know him by his creepy love of women. He’s quick to flirt with any female and is often immediately rejected, though usually violently.
Nurse Joy is the only woman in the Pokémon series who does not immediately reject Brock. Though Brock is blunt with his romantic intents, Nurse Joy will usually act confused and not respond. He will flirt with any Nurse Joy he notices.
All of the Nurse Joys remain oblivious to his advances. She spends her time caring for Pokémon and not dealing with humans, so she is unfamiliar with his flirtatious ways. Even after Brock’s friends drag him away from her, Nurse Joy remains clueless that he was flirting with her.
11. Familial Ties
When we see Nurse Joy or Officer Jenny on screen, they’re usually doing their jobs alone. Officer Jenny may have a human officer assisting her, but normally she is very serious about her job.
The episode “The Water Flowers of Cerulean City” brought about many firsts for the series. Brock’s running gag of falling for every woman begins here when he tries to flirt with Misty’s sisters and Officer Jenny. We also learn more about the personal lives of one of the Officer Jennys. When Jenny arrives to help fight off Team Rocket, she states that the Officer Jenny in Cerulean City is her sister-in-law. One of the Officer Jennys is married. Though we never learn who, at least we know they’re all related by blood or law.
10. At Least One Of Them Has Been Brainwashed
The Nurse Joys in Pokémon have exceptional expertise in their line of work. When a Pokémon is hurt, trainers trust these nurses to heal them. Her medical training does not go unnoticed. In Pokémon the First Movie, the Nurse Joy of Old Shore Wharf was kidnapped by Mewtwo. He brainwashed her so she would believe that she always lived on New Island as a maid for Mewtwo. Her trademark pink dress was swapped out for red, and her nurse’s cap was replaced with a white veil.
It wasn’t until Brock caught her from fainting, did everyone discovers her true identity. Her clothing may have been different, but she still retained the Nurse Joy signature hairstyle and color. Mewtwo released her from his control, and she returned to the Pokémon Center in Old Short Wharf with Ash, Brock, and Misty.
9. A Dog Is A Girl’s Best Friend
Officer Jennys may all look similar, but they also use the same type of Pokémon. Growlithe has acted as Officer Jenny’s faithful companion since “The Case of the K-9 Caper!”. Officer Jenny not only works with Growlithe on the road but also trains from puppies to their adult versions. Where we might think of German Shepherds as the standard K-9 police dog, Growlithe acts like a typical police dog in the series.
Officer Jenny has used Growlithe from the Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh series. She later uses the evolved form, Arcanine, in the Diamond & Pearl series. This series also marks when Officer Jenny uses different Pokémon to assist her. So far, she has used a variety of Pokémon such as Swanna, Wobbuffet, and the Squirtle Squad.
8. People Change, But Nurse Joy And Officer Jenny Don’t
Though the main characters of the Pokémon games change, some characters always appear. Nurse Joy has had a long career running Pokémon Centers in the series. She is an expert in her field and can restore any Pokémon to full health. These centers are also where tired trainers come to rest or to socialize with others.
Nurse Joy first made her debut in the Generation I series of Pokémon games. Though she has more of a personality in the anime, in the game, she always stands behind the counter. She will greet the player, heal their Pokémon, then give them back. Though her role is limited, players know what to expect when they see her.
7. The Criminal Underbelly Of The Pokémon World
Officer Jenny does her best to stop crime and help others. There have been times when she finds herself in trouble. In the Pokémon XY series episode “A Conspiracy to Conquer!”, Officer Jenny heads to an observatory to investigate strange occurrences. She’s hypnotized by Malamar into helping him revive the Ultimate Weapon. The character working for the good of the city becomes the evil Madame X. The evil character wears a long hooded cloak over her police uniform and antagonizes others. She goes so far as to control Jessie and James of Team Rocket, along with Ash’s faithful Pikachu. Ash and his friends are also able to break Malamar’s control of Jenny. By distracting Malamar with Clemont’s Automatic Pikachu Retrieving Device, Ash was able to break the mind control over both Jenny and Pikachu.
6. An Unexpected Side Job
Nurse Joy may be known for her medical skills, but she also has a different job. Along with Raoul Contesta and Mr. Sukizo, Nurse Joy is a judge for both the Pokémon Contests and Grand Festival.
During the Pokémon Contests, she watches Coordinators work with their Pokémon to show off its moves in the most captivating style. The Coordinators who score highest will proceed to the next battle competition. Pokémon must face each other in combat but in the most graceful way possible.
Only in the anime series, the Grand Festival is the final competition. Only taking place once a year, it is a difficult competition that the judges take seriously. They are more critical of mistakes, and only one winner will be granted the Ribbon Cup.
5. Not Really All That Tough
When first meeting Officer Jenny, she appears as a tough-as-nails policewoman who does whatever it takes to get the job done. Unfortunately, she is not an expert at her job. In “An EGG-sighting Adventure!”, Officer Jenny arrives to help Ash find his missing Phanpy egg. Jenny claimed she was an expert at solving cases, but when confronting suspects, she accused the wrong people.
Officer Jenny has also been brainwashed, failed to capture Team Rocket, and often relies on Ash and his friends for help. Without Ash to loan her his Squirtle to help fight fires, rescue her from being controlled by deceptive Pokémon, or to help her stop criminals from escaping, Officer Jenny would be much less successful as a policewoman.
4. Wait… That’s A Last Name??
There are several Nurse Joys within the Pokémon series. It may be difficult to tell them apart, especially when they share the same name. In the Diamond & Pearl series episode “Drifloon on the Wind” it is revealed that their common name “Joy” is a surname or last name. The Nurse Joy near Eterna City is married to a worker at the Valley Windworks Power Plant. For the first time, we meet the children of Nurse Joy: Marnie and Page. Both Marnie and Paige share the same signature Nurse Joy hairstyle and color.
All three Joys care deeply for the Pokémon under their care. Marnie and Page are young children, yet learn how to care for Pokémon and how to command them to help others. Marnie uses Drifloon to bring her father lunch, and Paige contributes to the Joy profession by feeding the forest Pokémon treats.
3. Suspicious Business
Though you wouldn’t expect it now, Pikachu and Ash had a rough start at the beginning of the series. Pikachu refused to stay in his Pokéball, which caused Ash almost to get arrested.
In “Pokémon Emergency!”, Officer Jenny makes her anime debut. She’s working hard to warn the residents of Viridian City of a thief and to report any suspicious activity. On that day, Ash arrives with Pikachu in his arms. Used to seeing Pokémon in their Pokéballs and walking beside their trainers, Officer Jenny immediately assumed Ash stole Pikachu. It didn’t help Ash that Team Rocket, who often tries to steal Pokémon, were in the area breaking into the Pokémon Center. Only once she saw Ash’s Pokédex did she trust that he was a Trainer and not a thief.
2. Does This Make Her The Best?
Nurse Joy has a kind personality and always tries to help trainers and their Pokémon. Nurse Joy doesn’t have any other Joy co-workers and primarily works alongside Chancey.
The Nurse Joy from the Pokémon Inspection Agency is not only a medical professional but also a trainer. In an untranslated episode of the anime “Nibi Gym – The Greatest Crisis Ever,” it is revealed Nurse Joy has another side job… inspecting Pokémon gyms. Any gym that was “unsafe, unclean, or uncool” would be shut down within a month.
To test if Forrest was worthy to become Pewter City’s Gym Leader, she challenges him. She has a true Legendary Pokémon, Latias. This Nurse Joy is the only trainer in the series to have a Legendary Pokémon under her command.
1. There’s A Reason Why They All Look The Same…
In both the Pokémon games and anime, the Nurse Joys and Officer Jennys of their respective regions are always duplicates. Though fans have speculated the women are actually a type of Pokémon, this remains unconfirmed. The reason why they all look the same is easily explained.
It’s much more efficient to reuse Nurse Joy and Officer Jenny instead of designing brand new character designs for each episode. Saving time is also why characters usually wear a single outfit for a season. They may only change their clothing for a special event. It’s also cheaper to hire a single voice actor or actress for the character instead of a new person each time. Many video games often reuse content to save development time. The same happens in most animated shows, including Pokémon.