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Web Animation / Starter Squad

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Come on kid, pick me, I breathe fire.
Charmander, "Choose a Starter!"

Starter Squad is an affectionate animated parody of the original Pokémon game series (Red and Blue). Created by the Youtuber Shippidge, the series follows the adventures of the first three starter Pokemon: Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur as they explore the Pokemon world.

Starter Squad provides example of:

  • Adaptational Dumbass: Red is regarded as a well-thoughtout battle strategist in the games. Here he seems to be unable to find the Pokemon Center Door.
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  • Adaptational Wimp: Due to being killed by Charmander, Red never became Kanto Champion to begin with.
  • Admiring the Abomination: In Episode 8, when he first sees MissingNo., Haunter calls it "beautiful."
  • Ambiguous Gender: Caterpie, as Squirtle points out.
  • Anti-Climax: In Episode 8, Haunter is building tension in order to scare Charmander by casting an illusion of a room with no way out and a silhouette of Red behind him, then Gastly ruins the moment.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Oh, that poor Hitmonchan.
    • In Episode 8, Haunter suffers the same fate as Hitmonchan.
    • This is also the fate that the Caterpie intend to bestow upon Bulbasaur when taking revenge on Charmander—they want to kill Charmander, but keep Bulbasaur alive so that they can use the plant on his back as a food source. Thankfully, this doesn't happen.
  • Big Bad Wannabe:
    • The Caterpie is the closest thing the series has to a major antagonist, and his/her squad... and he/she royally sucks at it.
    • Haunter boasts to be the embodiment of fear itself, only to meet something far more frightening and dangerous than he is.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mewtwo teleports in to fight MissingNo., which had assimilated Haunter moments before, and would have taken Charmander too if not for his intervention.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Downplayed, since there isn't actually any blood or gore. However, this series does take the staple of Pokemon battles, which typically revolve around light friendly sparring that end in a Non-Lethal K.O., and ramps it up to the point where Pokemon (specifically, Charmander) can kill other Pokemon and humans through impalement, dismemberment, beheading, and other methods that would be extremely graphic in real life.
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  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: At the end of Episode 9, the Caterpie leader stabs Charmander when he's at his last bit of health. The episode cuts to black before it is revealed whether Charmander actually died.
  • Brains and Brawn: Squirtle and Charmander respectively. The latter is inclined to use force to solve all the issues at hand while the former prefers non-violent, strategic methods.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Charmander. It's one of the key components of his character.
  • Confusion Fu: Bulbasaur's "attack", which consists of him dancing while waving his vines, only succeeds in confusing Hitmonchan... who, following the game mechanics, proceeds to hurt himself in his confusion.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Charmander suffers one in Episode 9 at the fists of a Geodude, which thrashes him in metal song mode.
  • Crying Wolf: Episode 8 contains two instances of this trope.
    • Pidgeotto builds up a reputation for being a jerkass who pulls mean pranks for his own amusement. When he agrees to help Charmander find Squirtle and points in the right direction to Viridian Forest, Charmander naturally assumes that Pidgeotto is lying again and therefore chooses to go in the opposite direction. Charmander and Bulbasaur get lost in Lavender Town as a result.
      Pidgeotto: Wait! No! I was being serious this time!
      Charmander: Don't care, you suck!
    • After enduring numerous illusions created by Haunter in an attempt to scare him, Charmander is convinced that MissingNo. is just another illusion, even after it assimilates Haunter. This nearly costs Charmander his life.
  • Death by Adaptation: Charmander kills Red by the end of Episode 3.
  • Deconstruction Fic: The series deconstructs elements of the Pokemon game and anime universe, such as:
    • The game mechanics. Charmander ignores turn based attacking, stating that there are no rules in a fight. He becomes annoyed when Squirtle keeps wanting to fight by the rules the humans use to control them.
    • Wild Pokemon being harmonious creatures. The series portrays Pokemon as an actual species in an ecosystem resulting in them needing to eat...each other. Wild Pokemon also don't take lightly to battling trainers as Charmander kills the trainer who didn't choose him after defeating the latter in battle. This is akin to wild animals killing humans.
    • The efficiency of certain attacks. Squirtle uses bubble against Geodude and Charmander; the former is unfazed by it and the latter simply moves out of the attack's way.
    • A human's ability to communicate with Pokemon. Pokemon only hear humans saying "Human!" over and over again.
    • In the Gen 1 games (and their Gen 3 remakes), players must navigate a maze of tombstones in Lavender Town's Pokemon Tower. In Episode 8, when Bulbasaur points out that the tombstones are arranged in a maze-like pattern, Charmander decides to simply walk between the tombstones.
  • Determinator: Charmander. One way or another, he'll find a way to win.
  • Eldritch Abomination: MissingNo., which Hitmonchan encounters after Charmander breaks his Pokeball. It reduces Hitmonchan to a horrifying distorted glitchy mess that blinks in and out of existence.
  • Every One Is Jesus In Purgatory: In-Universe. Haunter marvels at the terrifying appearance of MissingNo. and the assimilated Hitmonchan, claiming that it's a statement on the inherent meaninglessness of a Pokémon's life.
  • Fake Aristocrat: The Weepinbell claiming to be "The Forest King" doesn't actually rule anything.
  • Feathered Fiend: Pidgeotto knew where some berries that could cure poison were and instead sent Charmander and Squirtle on a hunt that drove both of them mad. He also attempts to trick Bulbasaur into putting a boot in his mouth.
    Sandshrew: I wouldn't listen to him. He's um... He has... Nobody likes him.
  • Foreshadowing: In Episode 9 when the main characters discover the room with cave drawings of how the Caterpies want to kill Charmander, one of the drawings depicts Charmander being punched by a Geodude. Guess what happens later in the episode?
    • Another drawing depicted them crushing him with a bolder. Which they try and fail to do later in the episode.
  • Fun with Subtitles: in Episode 8 when MissingNo. appears the subtitles read out in Binary "so much pain" after absorbing Haunter they say "Acquired" "We are" "I am" "Missing"
  • G-Rated Drug: Being poisoned doesn't harm Bulbasaur, due to his Grass/Poison typing, but it somehow makes him act like he's stoned out of his mind.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Charmander repeatedly gets pissed off at Squirtle enough to injure him for even the most trivial reasons.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Hitmonchan gets turned into one by MissingNo.
  • Ironic Echo: "Challenge failed!" Spoken by the Forest King and Charmander after killing him.
  • The Insomniac: Mewtwo, apparently.
    Mewtwo: Do you enjoy sleeping? I know I used to!
  • Jerkass:
    • Charmander. Much of the show's charm is seeing what horrors Charmander will get away with.
    • In Episode 8, it's revealed that Pidgeotto sent Charmander and Squirtle on a wild goose chase for poison-hunting berries instead of telling them the actual location, all for his amusement. Sandshrew implies this isn't the first time he played tricks on others.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Charmander may be a violent jerk, but much of his complaints with the Pokemon universe are justified. Many trainers are either incompetent or abusive to their Pokemon, and the turn-based convention of battles is also unrealistic.
  • Jump Scare: The MO of the Gastly in Pokémon Tower. It's the only scare tactic they know, much to Haunter's exasperation.
    Haunter: [indicates Gastly] By the way, this is what you turn into after you die. That thought alone should existentially cripple you.
  • Mook Commander: A variant. Some Pokémon are shown using other Pokémon in the same way a trainer would (i.e. Charmander, Butterfree and the Caterpie Leader).
  • Mythology Gag: Squirtle, when questioning Caterpie's gender, directly quotes Professor Oak's famous "Are you a boy or a girl?"
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Haunter of Pokémon Tower is a big fan of this tactic, and to his credit, he does a reasonably good job of pulling it off. Even Charmander gets legitimately scared by him when Haunter exploits Charmander's fear of being captured by a human, but unfortunately, a lot of his attempts come across either as not-so-scary or are interrupted by a Jump Scare by one of the Tower's Gastly, much to his intense frustration.
    Charmander: Well, congratulations, you scared me, or whatever!
    Haunter: [indignant] First of all, that wasn't me. I was setting up tension before SOMEONE [shoots a Death Glare at Gastly] decided to be RUDE.
    Gastly: Bleh!
  • Not So Above It All: In Episode 8, Pidgeotto correctly guesses that a Caterpie swore vengeance against Charmander and trained a Nidoran to poison him, he claims he figured it out because he's smart and actually pays attention to what happens around him. Sandshrew then reveals that he only knows because it happens to him on a regular basis, which is why he keeps coming to the berry field. Pidgeotto quickly tells Sandshrew to shut up.
  • Not Worth Killing: In episode 7, after his trainer abandons him, Flareon begs Charmander not to kill him when he's at his mercy. Charmander, disgusted by Flareon's grovelling, sets him free and orders him not to fight with him again unless he learns to battle without a human partner.
  • Prematurely Marked Grave: Geodude throws Charmander into one in episode 9. Fittingly marked "LIZARD", the name the Caterpie call him.
  • Pokémon Speak: While Pokémon speak normally, humans only say "Human!" over and over again.
  • Power Trio: Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur:
    • The Leader: Charmander. It's a point of contention with Squirtle who doesn't feel he's qualified to lead the trio and that they should have a real trainer instead. The other two don't have much choice as Charmander is technically their trainer.
    • The Heart: Bulbasaur. While he's not an adorable monster like Charmander or outspoken like Squirtle, he is a nice counterpoint to the shenanigans of the other two as well as an eternal optimist, who's always trying to make the most out of whatever circumstance he, or the team, is in. He's so far been the only person on the team disinclined towards doing anything horrible.
    • The Smart Guy: Squirtle. He's aware of the type advantages and disadvantages between the various Pokemon and the one coming up with strategies to deal with the circumstances the group gets in. He also helps come up with a plan to free Bulbasaur after Bulbasaur is caught by a trainer and Charmander (the strongest team member) is clearly no match for the trainer's Hitmonchan.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Bulbasaur almost always acts kind, cheerful, and innocent, but he isn't above wearing Caterpie heads or Butterfree wings as accessories.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Caterpie towards Charmander for the latter killing the former's brother, Pablo. This is despite the very obvious power and type advantage of the latter over the former.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Charmander receives one from Squirtle after the team loses Bulbasaur to a trainer.
    Squirtle: What makes you think you're qualified to train us? Huh?! You have no idea what you're doing!
    Charmander: Excuse me?! I am the-
    Squirtle: The WHAT?! Strongest? Most "experienced"?! It takes more than that to lead, Fire Face! All you do is use force to get your way! And you don't know ANYTHING ELSE! Bulbasaur's with a REAL trainer now! And I'm happy for him because he's on a TEAM! Not a dictatorship!
    *Beat. Charmander breathes fire in Squirtle's face, which does nothing.*
    Squirtle: (unimpressed) Yeah, that's not very effective. Jeez, at least learn the basics! (walks away)
  • Room Full of Crazy: The room of cave drawings depicting ways of killing Charmander in Episode 9.
  • Shout-Out: Hitmonchan's trainer is seen consulting the Helix Fossil.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Charmander is always the main focus of each episode. Squirtle comes in second, but his role typically consists of trying to reel Charmander in and he doesn't do much on his own. Bulbasaur, meanwhile, has little involvement in the plot since the first couple episodes, besides sometimes being the catalyst for something Charmander and Squirtle have to deal with. Funny enough, in real life, the Charmander line is considered the most popular of the Kanto starters (mostly thanks to Charizard) while the Bulbasaur line is neglected due to the objective weakness of Grass-types back then, putting the Squirtle line in the middle.
  • Surreal Horror: Haunter attempts this trope in some of his illusions. One room is occupied by three tombstones crying over a fourth tombstone labeled "ALIVE," two eyeless Charmanders walking circles around a big rock, and a burning tree saying, "Eert a ton ma I." Then, Haunter makes a big deal out of a laughing stool, only to concede that he is overthinking it when Bulbasaur thinks that the stool is funny.
    Charmander: That stool over there is laughing at me. Why would that scare me?
    Haunter: But why is the stool laughing at you? You're not very funny. Why would it be laughing at you? [Evil Laughter]
  • Teleportation: Mewtwo is capable of this. Unlike in the games, teleportation is not limited to fleeing random encounters or teleporting to Pokemon Centers.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In Episode 5, Charmander learns Empathy. It's treated as though he learned a new move. He's still pretty abrasive and bossy, however. In Episode 6, he shows some patience with the Forest King (until Squirtle loses it too) and in Episode 7 he actually spares and releases a Flareon from a neglectful trainer.
  • The Unfettered: Charmander is willing to become stronger at any cost.
  • Violence Really Is the Answer: The Aesop of "The Forest King".
  • Vocal Dissonance: Several Pokémon have rather unfitting voices, such as the Pidgeotto from "The Forest King" and the Flareon from "Fight Fire With Fire". The main trio, plus any Caterpie, are exceptions.
  • We Really Do Care: Despite clashing frequently after the team formed, Charmander and Squirtle have never left an endangered team member behind, often going against strong odds to help the individual(s) in danger. The team looks out for each other and, though they don't say it, hate to be separated. note 
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 7: Squirtle gets kidnapped by the Caterpie army, while Charmander is poisoned and unable to do anything about it.
    • Chapter 9: Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Sandshrew storm the caves to save Squirtle from the Caterpies. However, Bulbasaur gets kidnapped and used as food, Sandshrew evolves into Sandslash only to leave, and upon being found, Squirtle starts attacking Charmander for killing so many innocent Caterpies. With Charmander down to his last bit of health, the episode ends with the Caterpie leader stabbing him in the chest.


Video Example(s):


Dirtle Evolves

Technically speaking, Dirtle did have the type advantage over both the terrain and Nidorina. It's just that Dirtle has priorities.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

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