Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

The Fire Starters in Pokémon are NOT based on the animals in the Chinese Zodiac

With the coming release of Pokémon Sun and Moon at the end of the year, speculation about what Pokémon will be in it have become common place in the Pokémon fandom. However, there is a certain constantly retold fan theory that has been spread around for years that I feel has to be address because even though it doesn’t actually work, it is believed by tons of fans.

To put it simply, the “fire starters are based on the animals of the Chinese Zodiac” myth doesn’t work.


It seems to have originally stem from the comedy website Dorkly, Nintendo has never confirmed it or even acknowledged the theory, it actively insults people’s beliefs and needs to stretch and make vague connections to make itself even work.

I wouldn’t mind it if it wasn’t for how many Pokémon fans treat it as fact and use it as an excuse to be smug arses. Shooting down peoples suggestions because “it doesn’t fit” and smugly going on about how smarter they are for knowing the theory, despite the fact that it’s incredibly flimsy.

Let’s point out all the flaws:

1. Charmander is based off the mythical versions of Salamanders that were common in Medieval to Renaissance European folklore. The only time it resembles a Dragon is in its final form and it looks like a western dragon, not a Chinese Dragon that appears in the Zodiac. And saying “All dragons are the same” is insulting to Chinese people and their folklore and mythology, but ignores the fact that Chinese Dragons are VERY different to Western Dragons.


2. Cyndaquil is based off an Echidna and not a rat. The idea comes from the fact that in the Pokédex, Cyndaquil is stated to be a fire mouse (note mouse not rat). However, ignoring the fact that the Pokédex is notorious for being wrong and nonsensical, this was actually caused by the letter limit restrictions the first two gens of the game. It’s the same reason why Sandshrew is called mouse Pokémon instead of shrew or armadillo and why Victreebel only has one L.

Also, Cyndaquil’s evolutions are based on the honey badger, a Mustelidae and again not a rat or even a rodent.


3. Even Torchic is a stretch because it’s based off a chicken not a rooster and more likely than not, based on the Basan from Japanese folklore:

4. Then we go onto to Fennekin which should have end this whole false fan theory once and for all. As the name implies, Fennekin is based off the Fennec Fox and not a dog. Also, Foxes are very different to dogs in Chinese and it many different eastern mythologies, folklore and religions. Again, treating Foxes and dogs as the same in this connect is insulting and silly.


5. Even if the next Fire starter is an animal from the Chinese Zodiac, it doesn’t prove anything. Those animals are incredibly common to many mythologies and folklore and again, given that only 2 to 3 out of 6 fit into the Chinese Zodiac fan theory, it’s not likely going to prove anything.

UPDATE: With the release of Litten, it still doesn’t prove anything. Fire cats are not uncommon in myths around the world (Bastet comes instantly to mind) and Tigers are common as well.


6. Think about it logically, if Nintendo was really was basing them off the Chinese Zodiac, why wouldn’t they use an actual Chinese Dragon, rat, rooster and dog based Pokémon? The fact that you have to stretch it so much to make it work maybe proves that people are seeing something that isn’t there?


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