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Meowth’s voice actor is retiring from the Pokémon anime due to cancer

James Carter Cathcart has retired after 25 years voicing several roles

A side-by-side graphic showing two images. On the right, we see a photo of James Carter Cathcart. On the left, there is an image of the Pokemon Meowth. Graphic: Ana Diaz/Polygon | Source images: OLM/The Pokémon Company, James Carter Cathcart/Facebook
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

James Carter Cathcart, the English-language voice actor for James and Meowth and others in the Pokémon anime series, is retiring from his roles after 25 years due to cancer. His work on the show will conclude at the end of season 25 of the show, called Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series, his wife Martha Jacobi said on Monday.

Cathcart was first diagnosed with cancer in late January. Per his wife’s description, the cancer started at the base of his tongue and later spread to both sides of his tongue and lymph glands in his neck. On April 17, Jacobi said on CaringBridge that his tumors did not respond to the chemotherapy as anticipated and that more aggressive treatment was needed. Additionally, he would be ending his work on the show.

“Jimmy has decided to retire from script adapting and voice dubbing for Pokémon USA, effective at the conclusion of Season 25. He has been with the series since the 1st episode, so it is a timely decision as the series transitions to new characters and story lines,” Jacobi said on CaringBridge.

Cathcart’s voice is a familiar comfort to many who grew up watching the Pokémon series. He has played the recurring roles of two members of Team Rocket, the flamboyant James and the special-speaking Meowth since the series started in addition to characters like Professor Oak and other Pokémon. Although he played the role of two of the series' “bad guys,” both James and Meowth are fixtures of the franchise and have grown into beloved characters as fans watched their antics over the years.

Cathcart’s departure from the show comes at a transitional period for the Pokémon series. In Japan, where the television series continues to progress, its long-running protagonists Ash and Pikachu, have already retired and been replaced by two new protagonists: Liko and Roy. Although Ash hung up his hat, this left the future of Team Rocket to be somewhat uncertain. We saw the Team Rocket blast off for what we thought would be the last time, but then the team made one last return in Ash’s final episode. We don’t have confirmation, but for now, it’s looking like a group called the Explorers could be the next new villains.