Now that Ash has had so many companions in the anime, it's kinda surprising when you stop to realize how short-lived Misty's character in the show really was. The anime started in Japan in 1997 and by 2002 she was already leaving, she was only around about 5 years. I still remember how some people tried to make such a big deal out of Misty leaving the anime, like they used to troll Pokemon forums for years and decades in the early 2000's about her leaving, and in the end none of it mattered since she really did stay gone permanently for the rest of the series.
I'm not really one of those people who cared much when she left since I already lost interest in the anime in the middle of the Johto arc like most original fans, and only got into it again after all the other females like May, etc. were introduced. But it's pretty funny now millions of kids grew up watching the anime long after she was gone over the last 20 years, and that she's only relevant to like 20% of the fanbase now. Oh well