Why Did Ash Release His Charizard?

In the first episode of the Pokémon anime series, the protagonist Ash Ketchum sleeps in and is late to get his Starter Pokémon from Professor Oak. Being late, he was unable to obtain a Bulbasaur, Squirtle or Charmander, but instead got an untamed Pikachu, which turned out for the best. Still, Ash Ketchum ended up getting all three starter Pokémon from Generation I, with his Charmander ultimately evolving into a Charizard. In this article, we are going to talk about the relationship Ash had with his Charizard, and why did Ash release his Charizard.

Ash Ketchum decided to leave his Charizard in the Charicific Valley because he thought it would be better for him to stay there and train. He did not actually release him as he did with some other Pokémon, he just allowed him to be with his own species.

Pokémon, which is short for Pocket Monsters, is a media franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori back in 1995. It is a fantasy franchise set in a world where humans live together with creatures called Pokémon, who take on different shapes and sizes. It started off as a series of video games for the Game Boy console, but soon expanded to other media. The video games and the anime (including the connected films) are the most popular brands today, although the franchise has expanded to even live-action movies like Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic in more detail.

Who is Ash Ketchum?

Ash Ketchum, known in Japan as Satoshi (Japanese: サトシ), is the main character and protagonist of the Pokémon anime. He lives in Pallet Town with his mother and on the first day of his adventure, he sleeps in and arrives late to Professor Oak’s laboratory so he does not receive his starter Pokémon. Seeing how desperate he was, Oak offered him a wild and untamed Pikachu he had in his lab and Ash gladly accepted.

Although Pikachu did not like Ash in the beginning and hurt him intentionally after Ash risked his own life to save Pikachu’s they became the best of friends and started their journey together through the different regions of the world of Pokémon.

Ash and his main partner, Pikachu

Although he has seemingly not aged a day since his first day, Ash has changed a lot while travelling with Pikachu and his other friends; his companions changed as the seasons went by. He caught a lot of different Pokémon, he fought a lot of hard battles, he helped save the world on several occasions and he has appeared in all episodes of the anime and all the related anime movies.

He can be described as a brave and sincere, sometimes gullible, and high-spirited boy. He knows the meaning of true friendship and is willing to sacrifice himself for the well-being of his friends and his Pokémon. He has proven this on several occasions as the anime developed and there is no doubt that our interpretation of the character is correct.


Charizard is a dual Fire/Flying-type Pokémon first introduced in Generation I. He is the final evolution of Charmander, evolving from Charmeleon starting at level 36. Since Charmander is a Starter Pokémon, Charizard is actually the final evolution form of one of the first three Starter Pokémon in the whole franchise.

Although he looks like a dragon, Charizard is actually not a Dragon-type Pokémon. One of his Mega Evolutions, Mega Charizard X, is a dual Fire/Dragon-type Pokémon, but the main Pokémon is not one. The Pokémon can only be obtained once in the game, by selecting Charmander as your starter Pokémon and evolving it to its highest level.

Charizard is a very powerful Pokémon and is one of the strongest Fire-type Pokémon in the whole series. If you add his Mega Evolutions and his Gigantamax Form, he is stronger than most Legendary Fire-type Pokémon, which is pretty impressive. In the original Japanese games and anime, he is called Lizardon.

Let us see Charizard’s evolution line:

level 16
level 36

With his additional forms being:

File:006Charizard-Mega X.png File:006Charizard-Mega Y.pngFile:006Charizard-Gigantamax.png
Mega Charizard X
(w/ Charizardite X)
Mega Charizard Y
(w/ Charizardite Y)
Gigantamax Charizard
(w/ Dynamax Band)

Like most final evolutions of Starter Pokémon, Charizard is very strong and can be a good pick for a starting Pokémon in the video games. He has the ability to learn Fire-, Flying- and Dragon-based moves, along with a lot of other types of moves via TM’s and HM’s. His base stat total is very high for a Pokémon that doesn’t belong to any special group, with the numbers additionally increasing through Mega Evolution. Let us see the numbers for Charizard and his Mega Evolutions:

StatCharizardMega Charizard XMega Charizard Y
Special Attack:109130159
Special Defence:8585115

Now that you know everything there is to know about Charizard in general, let us talk a bit about Ash’s Charizard.

Ash’s Charizard

Ash caught his Charmander in the episode “Charmander – The Stray Pokémon”. It was his fifth Pokémon overall and the fourth Pokémon he caught in the Kanto region. In the episode, Ash and his friends met a Charmander on a rock next to the road they were taking. The Charmander was very weak, but it still managed to resist Ash’s Poké Ball twice, later explaining to Pikachu that it was waiting for its trainer, Damian.

Damian was a boastful trainer who grew tired of Charmander and abandoned it because it was weak, telling it to wait for him on the rock until he comes back; later, when Ash met Damian, he found out that it was all a lie, so Ash and his friends rushed to save Charmander from the rain (namely, had its tail flame gone out, Charmander would’ve died).

Charmander was healed in the Pokémon Center, but it returned to the rock, waiting for Damian. He later helped Ash and Pikachu fight Team Rocket, after which Damian came and wanted to take it back, lying again that he had left it there to toughen it up. Charmander refused and sent Damian away, after which it joined Ash’s team.

Damian’s Charmander in the anime, before joining Ash

Charmander and Ash quickly became good friends and Ash often used Charmander in battle, increasing its experience. This culminated in the episode “March of the Exeggutor Squad”, when Charmander evolved to Charmeleon. But at that moment – their relationship changed!

Charmeleon stopped being loyal to Ash and was often a disobedient maverick who would ignore and annoy Ash on purpose. In the episode “The Problem with Paras”, Cassandra’s grandmother explained that by evolving, Charmeleon’s experience exceeded Ash’s, which resulted in Charmeleon not wanting to obey a weak trainer. Their relationship developed in the shadow of this fact, with Ash’s opting not to use Charmeleon due to its disobedience.

Charmeleon reappeared in the episode “Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon”, when Ash called it out to fight the wild Fossil Pokémon. Charmeleon was knocked over by an Aerodactyl, which made it upset. Hurt and embarrassed, Charmeleon wanted to fight and evolved into Charizard in the process. Although Charizard saved Ash on that occacion, he continued his disobedience.

Why Did Ash Release His Charizard
Ash’s Charizard moments after his Evolution

Charizard’s behavior caused Ash some serious problems in some very important battles, since Charizard generally refused to fight against what he perceived to be weaker opponents. On the other hand, he enjoyed a fight against a strong opponent, which is why Ash – despite his behavior – still kept him in his main roster.

Charizard was with Ash during his Orange Islands adventures, although Ash tended not to use him if not necessary. He helped during some of the challenges and eventually fought with Ash against Drake. He defeated Drake’s Electabuzz and had a spectacular fight against his Dragonite; although Dragonite won, the fight wore him down so much that Ash’s Pikachu was able to beat him. Charizard was later inducted in the Orange League Hall of Fame, along with Ash’s other Pokémon.

Ash continued using Charizard during his Johto adventures, when the two actually bonded a bit and their relationship improved. Yet, Ash kept using Charizard – his then-strongest Pokémon – constantly in battles against weak(er) trainers, which is why Misty accused him of not battling fairly. Things ultimately changed when they reached Charicific Valley.

Why Did Ash Release His Charizard?

In the Johto saga episode “Charizard’s Burning Ambitions”, Ash and the group meet a female trainer called Liza, who teaches Ash how to fly together with his Charizard. The two of them soon hear about Charicific Valley, a natural sanctuary for wild Charizard, so they decide to visit it. There, Ash’s Charizard is humiliated by Liza and tries to show its worth by battling, but is easily defeated by the wild Charizard in the Valley.

After constantly fighting and losing, Ash and Charizard are ultimately kicked out of the Valley by Liza, who also forbade them to come back. When Charizard later helped defeat Team Rocket, Liza acknowledged his power and let it join her group. At that moment, Ash was faced with an emotional decision – he would either have to leave his Charizard with his friends and let it become stronger, or take it with him and make it unhappy.

Remembering everything they experienced together, Ash decided that it was for the best that Charizard stayed in the Valley. He could not face his friend, so he just lied that he doesn’t want to train weak Pokémon and ran away crying, knowing that he would not be able to let his friend go had he actually faced it. You can check out the scene for yourselves:


So, there you have it – Ash actually decided to leave his Charizard in Charicific Valley, believing that his friend would become stronger and would learn a lot more there than with him. Although their relationship “ended” at this point, this decision actually deepened their bond, as Charizard started valuing its trainer more after this.

Charizard’s release is very specific within the anime because Charizard wasn’t actually released, like some other Ash’s Pokémon (Butterfree, Lapras, etc.). Charizard was left in Liza’s care, but he actually remained a part of Ash’s team, which was proven on several occasions during the anime, when Charizard appeared to help Ash in his battles, stronger than he ever was.

During the adventures in Johto, Charizard helped Ash win his final Johto League badge by defeating Clair’s Dragonair. He was also present during the Silver Conference championship, where he single-handedly defeated three of Gary’s Pokémon and had an amazing battle against Harrison’s Blaziken, losing because he was too exhausted to continue fighting, while Blaziken managed to stand up. Charizard continued making sporadic appearances during Ash’s adventures in Hoenn and Unova, usually by helping Ash out in some battles.

After fighting Brandon in Hoenn, Charizard returned to Charicific Valley, but at an unknown point in the series he would return to Professor Oak’s laboratory, as was shown in the Unova-episode “The Fires of a Red-Hot Reunion!”, when Ash sent his Unfezant to Oak in exchange for Charizard; it remains unclear when and why Charizard quit training in the Valley and returned to Oak.

A photograph of Ash with almost all of his Pokémon at the time (Squirtle, Primeape and Mr. Mime are missing) from the episode “The Dream Continues!”

After helping Ash out on several adventures in the Unova region, the episode “The Dream Continues!” shows him staying in Oak’s laboratory with Ash’s other Pokémon.

And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!