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, does Charizard still belongs to Ash, and why did Ash release his Charizard in the first place.
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.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic in more detail.
How did Ash get 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.
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 occasion, he continued his disobedience.
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 on 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 into 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.
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.
Does Charizard Still belong to Ash?
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.
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.