I think the show is jumping the shark yet again with this. Taking out Ash is like taking out one of the bottom rungs of a ladder, or a the batter out of a cake (which yes, would only be icing), for the show, anyway. Yes, they had the games first, and that was what made Pokemon get out there, but come on: EVERYONE can say that Ash did a lot for it. Half of the fans like him, half of them hate him, but it's all for what he does or doesn't do.
Honestly? The show had problems to begin with. Pokemon has been trying to 'get it right' with the anime for a long while, and Ash is no exception. They snipped out Brock and replaced him, only to bring him back, because the issue as to why he was removed never came up. They shoved Gary out of the show once he'd changed enough into a pansy for them to think he wasn't a decent rival anymore and replaced him over and OVER again with people who were just as flawed, especially Paul, who shouldn't be considered a rival at all, just a cold-hearted kid who happens to like to see everyone under his shoe. People had horrible fits when Misty was taken out, because Misty, (despite my dislike of her), was one of the most layered and detailed characters besides Ash, and replaced her with someone like May and Dawn, who never stood up to the love Misty received. The only characters that have ever stayed constant were Ash, Pikachu, and Team Rocket.
Take away any of those three, and I know and you know that the popularity and the money Pokemon has will drop. Significantly. The games will still sell like gold, but the show's ratings will hit the dirt. The episodes are already cookie-cutter-esque, boring, and filled with a new 'character of the day' that's got the personality of a clod of dirt. The movies are getting desperate, and Ash has literally died so many times or nearly died that, logically, he shouldn't be standing. He shouldn't even be functioning because of the amount of oxygen his brain's been deprived of for long periods. ASH KETCHUM IS PRACTICALLY A ZOMBIE. We get it: the kid takes life or death risks for his friends, but if they keep this up, I seriously expect the poor bastard to start shambling around looking for brains.
I'm sorry for going off like this. Maybe it's because, I don't know, I always liked Ash. He's the kid you know you'd want to be friends with and a guy you can trust. If he disappears from the anime, I think it'd be safe to say that from that point on, Pokemon is a dead horse. It's been going on 20 years, now, which is a long hardy life for a fandom, even immortal, but I just can't get behind what the anime is doing, anymore. I only vaguely see the idea in adding more new Pokemon every new region, because in real life, even, we are always discovering more species. But even then, a couple of the games didn't have certain Pokemon in their coding AT ALL. Which means you couldn't catch them. ISN'T POKEMON ABOUT 'CATCHING THEM ALL'?
People laugh when they say I don't play the new games or watch the new episodes. You know what? All of you that laugh can suck it when they take Ash out, because it's just another reason for me to love and stay loyal to Pokemon's start instead of the absolute bore it's become.