Pokémon Scarlet and Violet: The Exceptional Everyman
Welcome to the first edition of Exp. Share, Kotaku’s new Pokémon column in which we dive deep to explore notable characters, urban legends, communities, and just plain weird quirks from throughout the Pokémon franchise. This week we’re taking a look at one of the breakout characters from Pokémon Scarlet and Violet—Larry the working-class king of Paldea Region.
Larry is a working man who is punching his time card from nine to five, and he is the Pokémon embodiment of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”. In the game, when the player meets him in the Medali gym, he greets with a suit and a briefcase, which makes him feel like he was plucked from a completely different series compared to the rest of the Paldea region’s weirdos.
After the fight, Larry thanks the player for their business and gives them the Normal Badge. Notably, he leaves the gym, implying his job lies elsewhere in the Paldea region. That’s a small hint toward a reveal that will come much later, as when you finally do see Larry again, he’s occupying a much higher, more prestigious position within the Pokémon League.
Once you gather the region’s eight badges, you have to face the strongest trainers therein to earn the title of Champion. Reaching the third battle reveals the third of the Elite Four is none other than Larry. Even though you face him twice before, once as a gym leader and again as a member of the Elite Four, the third time you battle Larry in Scarlet and Violet’s postgame he’s reached some level of familiarity with you.
Larry’s story highlights a conversation about work/life balance that is woven throughout Scarlet and Violet. Every gym leader in Paldea has a second job: whether that be a streamer, rapper, or chef, it feels like being a gym leader is everyone’s side gig. Meanwhile, the head honcho just hands off her responsibilities to a child without pay. Larry’s downright disdain for the whole capitalist process has made him analogous to characters like Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants, and fans have taken the comparison and run with it. Between the apparent lack of pay, Larry’s worker’s discontent, and the fact that Geeta seems to just fuck off into the sunset enough for it to be considered a pattern, Larry is a prominent examplar of what’s apparently an ongoing labor issue within the Paldean Pokémon League.
Larry’s disgruntled worker persona has made him a bridge between Pokémon fans young and old. Where the kids find him a silly guy who gives them a challenging fight, adult fans familiar with the soul-crushing weight of the daily grind have found a kindred spirit.