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Zapdos, Articuno, and Moltres
Legendary birds (Japanese: 伝説の鳥ポケモン Legendary bird Pokémon) is a collective term used to refer to the trio of Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. They are also known as the winged mirages (Japanese: 幻の翼 phantom wings).
Being the first Legendary trio, they set the standards for future trios; that is, they all share similar attributes and—in the case of most of the future trios—are considered equal among themselves. Like the other trios later would, the Legendary birds share a master in Lugia (in the anime and some games, at least), as well as two common traits: their Flying-type and their Ability, Pressure.
In The Crown Tundra, all three Legendary birds received a Galarian form. They all still share the Flying type, but they each have different Abilities and their respective primary type is changed.
In the anime, Professor Oak states that Articuno's and Moltres' combined powers of ice and fire are the source and cradle of the oceans, and that Zapdos' electric energy creates the currents and streams, which is why the three ancient creatures are closely bound to the guardian of the ocean, Lugia.
Base stat comparison
In the core series games
Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow
In Generation I, the Legendary birds are scattered around the Kanto region in different locations according to their type. Articuno is deep within the Seafoam Islands, Zapdos is in the abandoned Power Plant on Route 10, and Moltres is in Victory Road.
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen
In FireRed and LeafGreen, the Legendary birds retain their placement from Generation I, with the exception of Moltres, which has been moved to Mt. Ember in the Sevii Islands from Victory Road.
While it is impossible to capture any of the birds in Pokémon Emerald, if one challenges Pyramid King Brandon for the Gold Brave Symbol, he has them in his possession.
Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness
Greevil's team includes Shadow versions of all three birds.
While it is impossible to capture the Legendary birds in Diamond and Pearl, they can be found roaming the Sinnoh region in Pokémon Platinum. The player may encounter them after visiting Pal Park and then speaking to Professor Oak in Eterna City.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
The Legendary birds appear once more in HeartGold and SoulSilver, and much as before, are in the same locations as before except for Moltres, who has moved once again, to Mt. Silver. Also due to the Power Plant no longer being abandoned, Zapdos is found outside the Power Plant and will only appear once all 16 Badges are acquired.
Pokémon X and Y
In Pokémon X and Y, one bird roams around Kalos while the rest are absent. The bird that appears depends on what starter Pokémon is chosen at the beginning of the game: Articuno will roam if players choose Chespin, Zapdos will roam if Fennekin is chosen, and Moltres will roam if Froakie is chosen. It appears on random routes after the player beats the Pokémon League and cannot be battled, but once it is found ten times, it retreats to the Sea Spirit's Den where it can be battled.
Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon
In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, all three birds can be found in the Ultra Space Wilds by following a red Ultra Wormhole to the Cliff World during the Ultra Warp Ride minigame.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!
In Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, the three Legendary birds appear in the same capacity they do in the Generation I games. Unlike most Pokémon in the game, the player must defeat them in a timed battle before getting the chance to catch them.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
In Pokémon Sword and Shield, the three Legendary birds found in the Crown Tundra all have Regional Forms with different types and different Abilities. Articuno is a Psychic-type instead of an Ice-type with the Ability Competitive, Zapdos is a Fighting-type instead of an Electric-type with the Ability Defiant, and Moltres is a Dark-type instead of a Fire-type with the Ability Berserk. Unlike their Kantonian equivalents, each one also has a signature move, and each of these signature moves has an effect that evokes their original type.
In spin-off games
In Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team and their remake, Rescue Team DX, each of them guard a dungeon: Zapdos has Mt. Thunder, Moltres has Mt. Blaze, and Articuno has Frosty Forest. Each appear on the last floor of their respective upper dungeon sections as bosses, and cannot be recruited until the credits roll. Once the player recruits all three, and Pitfall Valley and Stormy Sea have been cleared, he or she can talk to Alakazam and go to their Friend Area, Legendary Island, which will unlock access to Silver Trench, the domain of their trio master, Lugia.
In Pokémon Rumble, each bird serves as the S-rank boss of a specific stage in Normal Mode: Articuno has Rocky Cave, Moltres has Fiery Furnace, and Zapdos has Eternal Tower.
All three birds have a chance to appear on Stage 5 of the Mountain of Order. Only Articuno is initially available as a boss; however, if the player manages to defeat it in one attack, they then get the chance to fight Zapdos. This also applies to beating Zapdos flawlessly, where Moltres can be fought immediately afterward.
The legendary birds can be obtained after reaching Platinum Rank in Super Mystery Dungeon, and are challenged consecutively--once one dungeon is beat and the player has connected with the Legendary, they get access to the next, and so on. Articuno is encountered at Blue Point on the Grass Continent, while Moltres is battled at Red Point and Zapdos at Yellow Point, both on the Air Continent. Their trio master, Lugia, is again fought after the legendary birds, in Sea Shrine.
In the anime
In the main series
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- Main article: Legendary birds (M02)
The Legendary birds in the anime
The Legendary birds appeared in The Power of One, where they were central to the movie's plot. In it, they were described as the titans of fire, ice, and lightning, guardians over Fire, Ice, and Lightning Islands. They were sought after by a collector, Lawrence III, who intended to use them to draw out Lugia.
Lawrence III succeeded in capturing Moltres first, using strange, electrified rings to contain it, rather than a Poké Ball. He then subsequently kept it on his ship as he hunted out Zapdos, who used Moltres's absence from Fire Island as a signal that it would be able to expand its territory. Shortly after, Ash and his friends discovered this to be the case. Lawrence III captures Zapdos as well, drawing the group in as well, due to their boat's similar size to the birds. The group escaped, and, using their Pokémon, managed to free Zapdos and Moltres. The Legendary birds have been infuriated, however, and began fighting, destroying Lawrence III's airship just as he attempted to capture Articuno. The three continued their fight outside, and finally, Lugia revealed itself.
The three birds teamed up to take Lugia down, but it recovered and retured to the surface. As Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres continued to fight, Ash was tasked to bring the treasures from their respective islands to Shamouti Island's shrine in order to help Lugia to quell the fighting and prevent the destruction of the world. Though he almost didn't make it, Ash managed to do so, and the birds made peace, returning to their islands.
Another set of Legendary birds appeared in An Electrifying Rage! in a fantasy.
In Pokémon Origins
The Legendary birds appeared in File 4: Charizard, where Red caught them with Ultra Balls.
In the manga
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In the Magical Pokémon Journey manga
Only Articuno has appeared in Magical Pokémon Journey, specifically in The Legendary Articuno!.
In the movie adaptations
The Legendary birds appeared in Mirage Pokémon Lugia's Explosive Birth.
In the Pokémon Adventures manga
- Main article: Legendary birds (Adventures)
The Legendary birds in Pokémon Adventures
The first of the Legendary birds to appear in Pokémon Adventures is Articuno, seen when a group of Team Rocket Grunts invade its abode in the middle of the Seafoam Islands. It first showed its reluctance to fight by encasing itself in a sheath of ice, which the grunts try to exploit by using a Muk to envelop and carry it whole. Red sends out Gyara to attack Muk; however, it is terribly troubled by its past experiences of being experimented on by the same villainous team, and is unable to fight back when the Muk rams itself hard against Gyara's body, accidentally breaking Articuno's ice in the process. With its power, Articuno then freezes the Muk, ignoring Red's disturbing its peaceful tenure. In the process though, it ended up spending much of its strength and was revealed to have been captured.
The next time a Legendary bird was seen was Moltres, also a new capture of Team Rocket's from Victory Road. It was used to track down and capture Blaine, who had recently given up his position as lead scientist on Team Rocket's experiments (which he conducted on Red's Eevee and Gyara before). With its markedly higher speed and power, it made a joke of Blaine's Rapidash's Fire Spin, and even Gyara's Hydro Pump was dodged with ease, leaving things looking pretty hopeless for the duo. With all bets off, Blaine ordered his Rapidash to take Red to his laboratory as he held off the fiery bird, borrowing Gyara, where his revival equipment allowed Red's Old Amber to revive as an Aerodactyl, which then was able to chip off part of Moltres's right wing. Seeing this, the Rocket Grunts took a run for it, and no more Legendary birds would be seen until the three Pallet Town Trainers attacked the organization's secret hideout at Saffron City.
There, Red found himself fighting an old foe when Lt. Surge revealed himself as part of the Rocket Triad and attacked him at full power with all of his Electrode and Voltorb, as well as his Electabuzz and Raichu, dealing grave damage to the boy and Pika, while, due to his insulating underwear, he felt none of the voltage. Gloating about how seemingly limitless his power was with the Rocket equipment, he revealed the source of the ridiculous energy as Zapdos, a Pokémon that they captured in the abandoned Power Plant as the legends foretold. When even Red's Ivysaur, a Grass-type, was badly hurt by a simple Thunder Shock, Red exploited how Surge's electric power device was supplying energy through a set of cords and cut them with Razor Leaf, a move Surge thought was futile with his insulating underwear, though little did he know, Red cut the pompous man's clothes as well as the cords, defeating him with his own power (and taking the rubber gloves that would come in handy later).
Right upstairs, Koga was about to finish Blue off with his Golbat when Red arrived and tried to stop him using Poli, only to have the Tadpole Pokémon defeated in an instant. Taking Red as hostage in his schemes instead, Koga then tried to deliver the final blow before Blue revealed his Reflector pendant saved him from Koga's Razor Wind before, and had his Pidgeot take him by surprise. Taking Articuno out at last, Koga slowly froze bits of the two young Trainers before freezing the entire room with a full-power Blizzard which seemingly won him the battle, that is, before Blue and Red thawed themselves out by using Charizard's flames to douse the entire building in fire, and defeated him soon after.
Afterwards, when Red and Green were caught by Sabrina, who had the last remaining bird, Green was tricked into stealing the Badge Amplifier from Red and used his stolen Badges to complete the seven-Badge circle, which resulted in the three birds, two of them called upon by her Kadabra, being merged into a single, three-headed bird, a sight upon which Green (due to her fear of birds) faints upon seeing. When Blue arrives after rescuing Professor Oak and the rest of the Pallet Town residents they kidnapped, the three were seemingly killed when Sabrina sent them plummeting towards the ground before Saur used its vines to form a web, holding them in place. Once it evolved, and after attacking the bird with the other two starters, the three birds were freed and flew away to Red's notice.
After three years of not being heard from, Green revealed she had caught the three birds both to overcome her ornithophobia and use them in the upcoming battle against the Masked Man, where the other two besides Moltres, Articuno and Zapdos, were lent to Red and Blue, respectively, and together they managed to hold their own against Ho-Oh and Lugia, and shortly thereafter the two titanic birds were freed from the evil mastermind's control, so Red and Blue returned the borrowed birds as Red also gave Blasty and Charizard back to his fellow Trainers. They have not been heard from since, so it has been speculated they may have been released or simply deposited in the Box.
In the Pokémon Battrio: Aim to be Battrio Master! manga
Kanto Nankai used the Legendary birds during his match against Ryū Tendō in ABM01.
In the Pokémon Pocket Monsters manga
Articuno appeared in Will You Risk Your Life To Play The Magic Game?!. It was caught by Red using a Master Ball in The Legendary Pokémon Appears!!.
Zapdos appeared in Regain the Deserted Power Plant!. Another one appeared in PMDP11.
Moltres appeared in The Legendary Moltres Appears!!.
All of the Legendary birds appeared in Get Lugia!.
In the Pokémon Zensho manga
All of the Legendary birds appeared as a silhouette in PZ07.
- In the English dub of The Power of One, these Pokémon are referred to as "titans".
- In Generation I, the Legendary birds all had different base stat totals—Articuno's was 485, Zapdos's was 490, and Moltres's was 495. Since Generation II, when the Special split occurred, all three Legendary birds have had an equal base stat total of 580.
- Although legends are said to be incapable of breeding, Pokémon Snap shows all three birds being born from eggs, which means they were bred in some way.
- The last part of each of the members' names is a number in the Spanish language—one (Articuno), two (Zapdos), and three (Moltres)—and it reflects their National Pokédex order.
- Starting with Platinum, they are the only Legendary trio to be both fully stationary and roaming as wild Pokémon in the various games they appear in. In comparison, the lake guardians have one of their trio who roams, while Suicune of the Legendary beasts roams in Pokémon Gold and Silver, but is stationary in Pokémon Crystal, as well as in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
- Since there were only four tracks of battle music in the Generation I games (wild, Trainer, Gym Leader/Elite Four, and Champion), normal wild battle music is played when the Legendary birds and Mewtwo are encountered. In FireRed and LeafGreen, a special remix of the normal wild battle theme is used for the Legendary birds, Mewtwo, and the Legendary beasts when encountered. However, the Legendary birds have never had a battle theme composed specifically for them, unlike other Legendary trios.
- All of the Legendary birds are capable of learning Agility naturally; however, they are able to learn this move at different levels.
- Excluding roaming, Moltres is the only one of the trio to change location, and it does so twice.
- The Legendary birds can be caught in more games than any other Legendary Pokémon, as they can be caught in thirteen core series games in Japan (twelve internationally, seven in Korea).
- In its Kantonian form, Zapdos is the only one of the trio not to have a double weakness to Rock (or, for that matter, any double weakness).
- Zapdos is also the only one of the trio to have a weakness to Ice, though Moltres was weak to Ice as well in Generation I.
- The Legendary birds are the first Legendary Pokémon group to have Regional form counterparts.
In other languages