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Recap / Pokémon S1E11 "Charmander – The Stray Pokémon"

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Japanese Title: Stray Pokémon - Hitokage

Original Airdate: June 10, 1997

US Airdate: September 22, 1998

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Our friends, lost, discover an injured Charmander. Pikachu talks to it and learns that it's been waiting a long time for its trainer to return.

Later, at a Pokémon Center, we overhear a trainer named Damian bragging about abandoning his Charmander. Brock and Ash confront Damian, who challenges them to a battle. Nurse Joy breaks things up and reminds everyone that Pokémon are not to be used for settling personal disputes.

Ash, Misty, and Brock rush to retrieve the Charmander. It's not only threatened by a driving rain that could extinguish its flame, it's also under attack by a flock of Spearow! Fortunately, Pikachu is able to make the Spearow scatter so the Charmander could be saved.

They return to the Pokémon Center, where Nurse Joy says the Charmander requires an overnight stay.

When our friends wake up the next morning, however, the Charmander is gone! Ash, Misty, and Brock head out to find Charmander and fall into one of Team Rocket's pit trap. Team Rocket also traps Pikachu in a balloon to negate its electric attacks. Charmander appears and defeats Team Rocket with a Flamethrower attack. The trio runs off. Ash escapes the pit trap and offers to let Charmander join him, but Damian shows up and having been impressed at Charmander's attack, offers to let Charmander come back "just as promised." Charmander rejects the offer with a Flamethrower and Damian is chased off by Charmander and Pikachu. Charmander willingly goes with Ash, who captures it in a Pokéball.

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Tropes

  • Ash Face: Happens to both Team Rocket and Damian when Charmander uses Flamethrower on them.
  • Berserk Button: Naturally, the gang is outraged by Damian's abandonment of Charmander, but it's Brock who's pissed off the most as he shows his distaste of Damian's actions by grabbing him by the collar and calls him out for lying to his Pokémon and leaving it to die in the rain.
    Brock: GO AND GET IT!
    Damian: Huh?
    Brock: That Charmander is still waiting for you! GO AND GET IT NOW!
    Damian: Why should I?
    Brock: You lied to your Pokémon and said you’d be back! Now it’s waiting out there in the rain for you! (brief cut to Charmander still on the rock, desperately trying to protect his weakening tail flame with a leaf from the heavy rain) And if its tail flame goes out, it'll die!
    Damian: (shoves Brock's grasp off his collar) Oy! What I do is none of your business!
    Ash: DO WHAT HE SAYS!
    Damian: What'd you say, nerd?
    Ash: You heard what I said! And you wanna be a Pokémon trainer!
    Misty: You're disgusting!
    Pikachu: (fuming) Pika! Pika!
  • Big Damn Heroes:
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    • Ash and company act like this with Charmander. When Charmander is being attacked by Spearow, Ash throws a rock at it and gets Pikachu to use Thundershock to scare them away.
    • Charmander returns the favor later in the episode. Just when it seems like Team Rocket finally gets away with Pikachu in an electric-proof bag, Charmander suddenly appears and demands that they release Pikachu. It then unleashes a powerful Flamethrower on them, causing Team Rocket to drop Pikachu and run away in fear.
  • Call-Back: Meowth complains about Jessie and James' plan of trapping the twerps in another pitfall, since the last time they did that, they forgot where the trap was until they accidentally fell into it. Jessie and James assures him that this time they would remember where the hole is.
  • Debut Queue: The second of three episodes back to back where Ash gets the three starters in Pokédex order. Charmander will notably go on to be his "canon" Kanto starter in situations like the first movie, and his rival battle against Gary's Blastoise later, with Pikachu becoming a signature overall starter that follows him from region to region.
  • Dirty Coward: Damian runs away crying after Charmander and Pikachu fry him.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Realizing that Damian doesn't care about him, Charmander swats Damian's Poké Ball back into his face, and then blows flames at him for good measure.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In the original Japanese version, Damian states that Charmander is so weak that it couldn't even defeat a Poliwag, to which Brock muses about type-advantages in Pokémon battles. Damian's line was changed into ''it couldn't defeat the weakest opponents" in the English dub, which makes Brock's Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors dialogue confusing since Damian no longer mentions Poliwag or any Water-type Pokémon for the matter.
  • Dub Name Change: Damian is Daisuke in the original.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • One that can be chalked up to semantics. This episode implies that if Charmander's tail flame goes out it dies. Later in this series and other continuities, members of the Charmander line are able to survive being completely submerged in water, perhaps retconning this to mean that if it dies it's tail flame goes out, not the other way around. Still, they are shown to dislike their tails getting wet.
    • Damian is shown to have upwards of roughly 30 Pokémon on his person at any given time. Contrast this to only a few episodes later, when it's established that a trainer may only carry six at a time (as is the case in the video game), with each subsequent catch immediately being sent to a computerized storage system.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: This episode continues to explain the system of elemental strengths and weakness present in the Pokémon universe. In addition to fire Pokémon being weak to Water-type attack, a Charmander might be killed by something like sitting out in a rainstorm.
  • Evil Brit: Damian is given a British accent in the dub.
  • Feathered Fiend: A flock of Spearow attack Charmander during the stormy night, and if it weren't for Ash and his friends, they would have most likely killed the poor thing.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Ash and the gang meet Charmander near the beginning of this episode, Misty says that it has an attitude problem (it doesn't yet), but just 31-33 episodes later it gains an attitude problem that lasts for 63 episodes.
    • For that matter, when Ash and the others first encounter Charmander, they mistaken it for a huge Pokémon and a close up on its eye makes it look ferocious. Once again, 33 episodes later...
  • Hate Sink: Even Team Rocket are at least Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains. Damian however is written to be as loathsome as possible.
  • I Want My Mommy!: Damian in the dub, when Charmander burns him to a crisp at the end. It's as pathetically cathartic as it sounds.
    Damian: (in a whiny voice) BOO-HOO HOO HOO HOO! MUMMY!!!!
  • Jerkass: Out of the many trainers Ash and company meet, Damian was one of the worst. He is shown as caring nothing about Pokémon on a personal level, and only caring about their strength. He is completely unconcerned that his Charmander might die due to his actions, and to top it off he believes that raising Pokémon is the most boring part of the job. Seriously, compared to him, AJ's a saint.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Damian comes back for Charmander...but only when he sees how it can be useful for him.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: Meowth's reaction to his teammates using another pitfall plan is Oh, No... Not Again!. This is the only time that response is used, as digging holes ends up becoming the trio's go to strategy.
  • No-Sell: Team Rocket wears rubber suits and trap Pikachu in a balloon to block his electric attacks. They didn't count on Charmander showing up, though.
  • Obviously Evil: With a name like Damian, do you honestly expect Charmander's trainer to be a nice guy?
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The usually stoic Brock loses his temper over Damian's cruelty towards Charmander.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Damian's whole character. The only reason he's even a trainer at all is just so he can win battles and blow his own trumpet, while not even being motivated to work hard in raising Pokémon himself.
    Damian: Charmander is mine. I'm the one who caught it, remember?
    Ash: Damian, you bragged about how you abandoned it!
    Damian: Good thing I did! That toughened it up! Besides, what's wrong with dumping off a weak Pokémon? I wasn't gonna come back for it, but now that I've seen what it can do, I'm real glad I ran into you guys! The best thing is I didn't have to raise it myself!
    Misty: That's terrible!
    Brock: Raising a Pokémon is the best part of being a trainer!
    Damian: You wish! It's the most boring part of the job!
    Brock: (outraged) How dare you call yourself a Pokémon trainer!
    Misty: (to Charmander) You see? He doesn't care about you. He just wants to use you to win matches!
    Ash: Charmander...
    Brock: Charmander!
  • The Sociopath: Damian is manipulative and materialistic to the extreme, and the value he sees in Pokemon is proportionate to how strong they are. He has little to no empathy for Charmander's plight, and is not only startlingly okay with abandoning him to die, but brags about doing so.
  • Tranquil Fury: In the dub, Brock confronts Damian the same, though his delivery sounds far more controlled and stoic. Considering his usual personality, this actually makes him sound more on edge.
  • Undying Loyalty: This was poor Charmander's undoing as it faithfully waited for its abusive trainer to return for it, even as the flame on its tail was slowly going out and Damian had no intention of coming back for it.
  • Very Special Episode: Could be seen as one—this is the first episode to actually show Pokémon being abused and/or abandoned by their trainer (not counting "The Path to the Pokémon League," which is generally agreed to have handled the subject poorly) and depicts the abuse in an eerily realistic manner.
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