Charizard. A Pokémon that everyone knows and has grown to love.
This dual type fire and flying Pocket Monster who’s known to start forest fires accidentally has been a fan favorite since the ’90s, and in true Charizard form, isn’t going anywhere. From the cards to plushes, figures, and clothing, Charizard is everywhere in the Pokémon World. I wanted to know: why is Charizard so appealing? Why is he still one of the most popular Pokémon? What keeps Poké-Fans coming back for Charizard, and what will carry this “not Dragon” into the future?
“His cards are powerful,” my husband Sean said to me as I grilled him about the TCG back in the ’90s. He looked at my beloved WCT Charizard Plush and added, “he’s popular still today because he’s from the first gen, and he’s a three-evolution stage. You get to see him through to the end.”
I thought for a minute. In the anime, Ash has a few Pokémon that are better developed than others. One of them is Sean’s number one favorite, Greninja. Ash’s Greninja is the only Pokémon known to be able to merge with its trainer, becoming Ash-Greninja. Certainly, that must give Charizard a run for his top spot, right?
“Nope,” Sean said, glancing at me sideways. “You can’t compare Greninja and Charizard. They are completely different. Their relationships with Ash are different. Their moves are different. One is water, and one is fire. They’re equally strong.”
Charizard is popular in our house. He’s in our top 5 favorite Pokémon, and we have random Charizard marathons because there’s nothing like a Charizard battle. Our favorite is Charizard vs. Articuno in the Battle Frontier. Charizard uses my favorite move, Seismic Toss, on Articuno. From the Charizard Mega Construx to that plush, the cards, figures, clothing and more, this Pokémon is everywhere!
That’s us. What about other Charizard fans? I went to the Gemr Family to find out more. I asked, “why do you like Charizard?” and was led on a journey about memories, fun and the unique attitude that makes Charizard…well, Charizard.
John, known as john_rambo, when asked why he loves Charizard, said, “how Charizard starts as lil ol’ defenseless Charmander with Ash way back, and now Charizard is one of, if not the strongest Pokémon, and he and Ash got there together!”
Britt, known as Pointzetta, and I had an in-depth conversation over email about Charizard, and I could read the smile in her words as she wrote about him. Charizard is her favorite Pokémon, and for her, it all started with the anime, which she watched in the beginning.
“How Charizard acts in the anime,” she said, adding, “Ash tried to get Charizard to listen to him, and Charizard wouldn’t obey.”
This iconic scene happened during the Indigo League. Charizard refused to battle against trainer Ritchie’s Pikachu, Sparky, and instead decided to take a nap. This disqualified Ash, and Ritchie went on to the next round.
Charizard’s attitude is a selling point for many fans and collectors. Ash’s Charizard is stubborn and strong-willed like no other, and it carries through the entire anime. John gave Charizard props and said, “Charizard is awesome for his attitude!”
Charizard’s attitude evolves over time. Ash leaves him in the Charicific Valley to train (and with Charizard’s girlfriend, Charla). Charizard spends his days training with other Charizard, learning new moves and perfecting what he already knew.
When Charizard returns to Ash, Charizard listens to Ash and defends him. When Ash is traveling in the Unova Region, he tells his companions the story about his Charizard. They want to meet this Charizard, partly not believing his story. Ash being Ash, he had already made one of his signature phone calls, and Charizard was flying in as he spoke. They fist-bumped, Charizard blew fire at Ash like he always does, and the journey together through Unova began.
Charizard cards remain exceedingly popular to collect. Many of the “ ‘Zard” collectors are value collectors – collecting Charizard cards to make a profit in the future. Indeed, there are some very valuable Charizard cards out there, one of them being a Holy Grail card for many collectors. The Base Set Shadowless 1st Edition, Holo Charizard card, graded a 10 from PSA, is at the top of many collectors’ wish lists.
Britt had a different opinion about value and Charizard cards.
“I agree that he is valuable,” she said, “but so are a few other well-known Pokémon.” The value that comes with Charizard doesn’t matter to her, as she’s in it for her love of the Pokémon itself.
“I do love the Charizard cards, and I’d love to have them some time, but I want them because I love Charizard, not because of how much the cards are worth!”
Indeed, through my Charizard investigation, I found that there are more non-value Charizard collectors than I initially thought. Sean and I fall into the non-value category. Like Britt, Charizard and the value that comes with him isn’t a factor in our collecting. Charizard goes back over 20 years for us, so nostalgia is a big part of it. It’s the feeling that Britt, John, Sean and I get when we see Charizard battle or pull one of his antics.
“He’s so adorable! Honestly, even if he wasn’t so popular, I think I’d still love him! He is amazing for so many reasons!” Britt said.
“I 100% agree that Charizard is badass!” She summed it up for Charizard collectors as a whole – no matter what our reasons are for collecting Charizard, we can all agree: Charizard is, indeed, badass.