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Squirtle doesn’t need sunglasses to be the coolest starter ... but they sure help

The best starter Pokémon was always the roundest one

Squirtle James Bareham/Polygon
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Your starter Pokémon says a lot about you. Are you sad, generally speaking? Well then you probably pick Bulbasaur. Are you one of those people who defaults to the cool dragon because he’s edgy and so are you? Well then you’re a Charmander lover, obviously. But the Squirtle fan has refined taste. We don’t need a tangled mess of weeds or a sad salamander. Give me a turtle with guns any day of the week.

Squirtle is the coolest starter, something we see obviously displayed in the Pokémon show. Charmander’s story revolved around his owner wanting to get rid of him for being too weak, and I honestly can’t even remember what Bulbasaur’s deal is — not a good sign from someone who cried real tears while re-watching the first episode of Pokémon not four years ago.

On the other hand, Squirtle’s plot involves him having too many friends — a Squirtle squad, you could say. The episode ends with Squirtle deciding that it should leave its cool crime turtles to pass on some of his un-ending cool to his new friend Ash — a nerd who desperately needs some coaching.

Squirtle isn’t adorable or fierce like the Charmander line, it doesn’t breed eternal sympathy like Bulbasaur. Instead, Squirtle, Blastoise and even Wartortle are just cool dudes. They’re cool turtles that are just cool together. Have you seen Blastoise smirk? That’s the look of a confident turtle.

But wouldn’t you be confident if you were giant and had cannons sticking out of your shell? I would be, and you would be too. Not everyone could pull of that look, but Blastoise manages to do it while using Hydro Pump, the best move among all the starters. You don’t know true power until you make another Pokémon pass out with sheer volumes of water.

The Pokémon Company

Water Pokémon are beautiful, and have always been the best. When the only thing that can beat you is a Pokémon made of plants, you know you’re in a good place on the power spectrum.

Blastoise and Squirtle are the shining beacons of water Pokémon everywhere. Not all of us have the calm, cool confidence to wear sunglasses while causing trouble around town with our friends; or use our massive, shoulder-mounted cannons to mess up other people’s pets. But over its life, Squirtle manages to do both.

Water Pokémon — and Squirtle especially — may not be the most alluring or edgy Pokémon out there; they don’t get to be dragons, they’re starfish, turtles, and ducks. But water Pokémon are always cool, always smooth, and always worth putting in your team. And if they’re Psyduck, they’re always good for a laugh.

Pokémon is a series about pocket monsters that battle each other for fun and glory. You could be a jerk and try to burn the other Pokémon to death, or poison them so they slowly die in their trainer’s arms, but then who is the real monster? Water Pokémon are playful, and they don’t need to threaten the life of your buddy just to prove they’re the best.

Squirtle and Blastoise don’t need to breathe fire to be the coolest Pokémon around.

The Pokémon Company

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