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When you look at the Pokémon Charizard, the first thing you’ll notice is that he looks like a big dragon. If you add to that the fact that he can learn and use Dragon-type moves, you’ll probably think to yourselves – he must be a dual Fire/Dragon-type Pokémon, right? Well… he isn’t, actually. Charizard is a dual Fire/Flying-type Pokémon and that is one of the strangest facts in the Pokémon franchise. In today’s article, we are going to explain to you why that is.
There are two theories that explain why Charizard is not a Dragon-type Pokémon. The first – the meta-game theory – states that it is because the Starter Pokémon need to be balanced out. The second – the in-universe theory – states that it is because his Dragon-type qualities are dormant until he reaches his Mega Evolution.
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.
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 (Japanese: リザードン).
Let us see Charizard’s evolution line:
With his additional forms being:
|Mega Charizard X |
(w/ Charizardite X)
|Mega Charizard Y|
(w/ Charizardite Y)
(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:
|Stat||Charizard||Mega Charizard X||Mega Charizard Y|
Now that you know everything there is to know about Charizard in general, let us see why this dragon is actually not a Dragon-type.
The meta-game theory
The first and more notable of the two theories is the meta-game theory which states that Charizard is not a Dragon-type Pokémon for balance reasons.
Namely, Charizard is the final evolution stage of Charmander, one of the three Starter Pokémon in Generation I. In all of the generations, Starter Pokémon are always a Grass-, Water- and Fire-type, which means that they balance each other out: Fire beats Grass, which beats Water, which beats Fire. So, each Starter Pokémon is strong against one and weak against the other Starter Pokémon in the generation. They also have roughly the same stats and a very similar weakness/resistance chart.
So, in order to balance things out, Charizard had to remain a Fire-type Pokémon and couldn’t be a Dragon-type, despite looking like one. The addition of being a dual Flying/Fire-type doesn’t change much in that balance.
Dragon-type Pokémon are extremely powerful and have a much higher Defence than regular Starter Pokémon types. So, making Charizard a Dragon-type Pokémon would ultimately make him overpowered when compared to Venusaur and Blastoise, and that was not possible. The developers wanted the Starter Pokémon to be equal in terms of power, meaning that you wouldn’t actually have the option of picking the strongest one, since they are completely balanced out. Had they made Charizard a Dragon-type Pokémon, he would be more powerful than his peers in all aspects, meaning that Charmander would’ve been the best pick and that just wasn’t possible.
Let us see how the defensive chart would look for Charizard had he been a Dragon-type:
|4x: Rock||→||4x: none|
|2x: Water, Electric||→||2x: Ground, Rock, Dragon|
|1/2x: Fire||→||1/2x: Bug, Steel, Electric|
|1/4x: Grass, Bug||→||1/4x: Grass, Fire|
|0x: Ground||→||0x: none|
As you can see, the weakness/resistance chart changes significantly, with a Dragon-type Charizard also losing his base weakness to Water-type moves, which means that a Dragon-type Charizard would still keep his dominance over Venusaur, but would lose his weakness over Blastoise, which would make him more powerful than both of them and that wouldn’t be good balance-wise.
The in-universe theory
The second theory which explains why Charizard is not a Dragon-type Pokémon is the in-universe theory, which uses the anime and the in-game biology to explain this fact. This theory has nothing to do with the meta-game theory related to in-game stats.
The Dragon-type is not specifically defined within the Pokémon universe. Namely, Dragon-type Pokémon are not outwardly elemental types (like Fire- or Grass-type) or types with obvious ”specifications” (like Ghost-type Pokémon), so the logic “if it walks like a dragon and talks like a dragon” cannot be applied here. Charizard does look like a dragon, but that is definitely not among the criteria for being a Dragon-type Pokémon. Just remember that neither Altaria nor Goomy and his evolutions look like dragons, but are Dragon-type Pokémon, while Milotic, Aerodactyl or Gyarados look like dragons (like Charizard), but aren’t Dragon-type Pokémon.
Now that we know that a Pokémon’s physical appearance doesn’t determine its type, let us see what we do know about the Dragon-type Pokémon. Well – very little actually. The only thing we do know is that Dragon-type Pokémon are “overflowing with life energy”, as Lance the Dragon Master, a member of the Elite Four, once said. What that means is not exactly known, but since Charizard is not a Dragon-type Pokémon we can assume that he is not “overflowing with life energy”.
There is also an in-universe biological explanation that states that Charizard’s Dragon-type genes are just dormant until he reaches his Mega Evolution (Mega Charizard X), which is the case with some other Pokémon, like Sceptile.
There you have it. These are the reasons why Charizard is not a Dragon-type Pokémon, although he does look like a dragon.
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!