Image: Nintendo / The Pokémon Company

For as long as we can remember, there's been a popular theory surrounding the Fire-type starter of each Pokémon generation. For the uninitiated or unaware, Pokémon fans have long theorised that each generation's Fire-type starter Pokémon is based on one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.

Ever since the release of Gen 8's Pokémon Sword and Shield, fans have been speculating what the next Fire starter will be.

These are what trainers have matched up with what Zodiac up until this point:

  • Rat - Cyndaquil
  • Tiger - Litten
  • Rabbit - Scorbunny
  • Dragon - Charmander
  • Monkey - Chimchar
  • Rooster - Torchic
  • Dog - Fennekin
  • Pig - Tepig

Of the 12 animals, only four remain without a Pokémon equivalent — Ox, Snake, Horse, and Goat.

With the announcement of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet and our introduction to the three new starters, though, the Chinese zodiac thread looks like it's fraying at the seams.

Fuecoco, the Fire Croc Pokémon and generation 9's Fire-type starter, doesn't fit into the remaining four animals at first glance. He's a goofy, big-mouthed crocodile whose design is based on a chili pepper. And dragon — another "type" of lizard — is already taken. So, what's Fuecoco's business in shattering a hugely popular fan theory?

Honestly, this theory has always been a bit tenuous, and many Pokémon fans have been debating its merits over the years. Starting with generation 2's Cyndaquil, this little guy's Pokédex entry describes it as a Rat Pokémon, but its evolutions Quilava and Typhlosion are closer to badgers. Alternatively, the whole line might be inspired by echidnas.

Cyndaquil Fooom
Unlike Shaymin, I don't chuckle! (Image: Nintendo / The Pokémon Company)

Then there's the Fennekin line, which are all foxes rather than actual domesticated dogs. However, foxes are part of the Canidae family of animals, which makes them canines and closely related to dogs.

Last up is the OG Fire starter, Charmander. Being a fire lizard, Charmander isn't technically a dragon — at least until it evolves into Charizard. It flies and breaths fire, after all! So it's a similar issue with Cyndaquil, except it gets closer to its supposed inspiration rather than further way as it evolves.

However, there is one pretty plausible way the zodiac theory could prove true. Trust the art side of the Pokémon community to really shine through with some truly stunning Fakémon designs. Artist Bromojumbo, for example, has drawn some inspired interpretations as to what he thinks the final evolutions of the starter trio might look like:

All three of these are pretty plausible. Fuecoco's potential final evolution, Picolebre, is based on El Cuelebre, a mythical winged serpent. There's also some obvious Quetzalcoatl — the Aztec Mesoamerican winged serpent deity — inspirations in there, too.

This design would fit the mould for the zodiac starters, and a crocodile evolving into a snake isn't entirely unreasonable. Especially in a franchise where a fish can evolve into an octopus!

The Pokémon Company has never confirmed the zodiac theory, and we don't really ever expect them to. We're not going to definitively know until either Fuecoco's final evolution isn't a snake (or a horse — although the idea of a horse crocodile hybrid is absolutely terrifying), or until generation 12 if it turns out to be true.

What do you think? Is your compatibility with Chimchar because you were born in the Year of the Rat? Or are you convinced the Cyndaquil line are all deceptively evil honey badgers? Have your say down below!

Do you agree with the Chinese Zodiac Pokémon Starter fan theory?
What do you think Fuecoco's final evolution will be?

[source gamerant.com]