Here Comes the Squirtle Squad (Japanese: ゼニガメぐんだんとうじょう！Enter the Zenigame Squad!) is the 12th episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on June 17, 1997 and in the United States on September 23, 1998.
Ash and his friends walk along a path and fall into a hole dug by a batch of mischievous Squirtle. Ash climbs out and tries to battle them, but they scatter when Officer Jenny arrives.
Team Rocket tries to enjoy a picnic, but the Squirtle Squad (as Officer Jenny calls them) shows up, traps them (then ties them to a tree), and eats their food. Meowth makes a deal with the Squirtle to secure its release.
With Meowth in charge, the Squirtle are able to capture Ash, Misty, Brock, and a wounded Pikachu. They tie up the humans in a cave while Pikachu, its health fading, lies in a cage. Ash convinces the Squirtle to let him go to town to get a Super Potion for Pikachu, while Meowth awaits Jessie and James to arrive so they can complete their plan.
Will Ash retrieve Pikachu's medicine in time? What is this sinister Team Rocket plot? And what's the real story behind the Squirtle Squad?
Ash, Misty, and Brock are walking down the road when they fall into a pit. A quintet of Squirtle wearing sunglasses peer into the hole, laughing. Ash angrily climbs out of the hole and checks his Pokédex for details on the Squirtle. He orders Pikachu to use a Thunder Shock on them, but one of the Squirtle takes the hit for the one that seems to be the leader. A battle ensues, but Officer Jenny's arrival scares the Squirtle away.
At the police station, Jenny explains that the group of Squirtle that they met earlier are called the Squirtle Squad. She feels sympathy for them, as they were abandoned by their Trainers, and all they do is run wild and play pranks on everyone. Meanwhile, Team Rocket is accosted by the Squirtle Squad, tied to a tree, and all of their food is stolen and eaten. Taking advantage of the Squirtle's mistrust of humans, Meowth tricks them into helping him with Team Rocket's latest plan to finally steal Pikachu. Elsewhere, Misty is fishing while Ash and Brock lie on the riverbank. One of the Squirtle Squad members pops up and soaks them with a Water Gun. Ash, tired of the Squirtle Squad's antics, confronts the Squirtle when it jumps out of the water. Pikachu charges to attack, but the Squirtle withdraws into its shell and tackles him, knocking Pikachu into the water, where it is attacked by a wild Goldeen.
Ash yells for Pikachu to swim to shore, though he cannot outswim the Goldeen. Pikachu gets hurt by Goldeen's horn and knocked out of the water. Ash runs to his friend's side, but three of the Squirtle quickly tie him up, along with Misty and Brock. Later, the three of them are tied to a rock in a cave, with Pikachu in a cage nearby. Meowth taunts Ash about Team Rocket's plan; Ash tries to appeal to the Squirtle not to believe Meowth, but Meowth retaliates and refutes everything Ash says to keep the Squirtle on Team Rocket's side. Brock realizes that Pikachu in bad shape, and that they need to heal him. The Squirtle reluctantly accept Ash's pleas to retrieve medicine. They release Ash and threaten to dye Misty's hair if he does not return in time. Ash sprints to a nearby rope bridge, but it breaks, causing him to fall into the water below and receive a Horn Attack from a Goldeen.
Ash eventually makes it to the nearest town. There, he is knocked out when Gary slams a shop door into him, and wakes up the next day to overhear Team Rocket holding up the store. Jessie and James make a successful getaway with their stash aboard their Meowth balloon. Before Ash can chase them down, he attempts to get a Super Potion. Though the townspeople pull their guns on Ash, Officer Jenny intervenes. Ash manages to obtain the medicine and gets a ride back to the cave with Officer Jenny.
With the bridge to town broken, Jenny and Ash find another way into the cave, but it is too narrow for an adult, so Ash has to go through it alone. However, he finds that everyone is gone, and he quickly races out of the cave to find Misty, Brock, and Pikachu completely unhurt. Apparently, the Squirtle were bluffing earlier; they may play tricks, but they would never do anything nasty. Pikachu is then promptly healed by Misty. Suddenly, Team Rocket announces their arrival with several explosions and their motto. They throw down a few more flash bombs, and drop a ladder for Meowth to climb up with Pikachu, whom he nabbed while everyone else was distracted by the bombs. As everyone runs for cover, Ash looks back and sees that the Squirtle Squad leader has fallen on its back and is unable to move. Ash quickly races back and dives on top of the Squirtle, protecting it from the ensuing explosions. Another pair of bombs are dropped, and Ash tells the Squirtle to save itself. The Squirtle, however, lifts Ash up over its head and runs for the cave, saving them both.
Team Rocket starts celebrating early, but Ash interrupts them. Ash orders Squirtle to use its Water Gun, which blows a hole in Team Rocket's balloon, sending them blasting off, and Pikachu is saved. However, Team Rocket's attack started a fire that could burn down the whole town. Fortunately, with Ash's command, the Squirtle Squad steps in and puts out the fire with their Water-type attacks. Their heroism is commended and Officer Jenny gifts the Squirtle Squad with a certificate and the title of local firefighters, complete with a uniform. Soon, as Ash and his friends prepare to resume their journey, Misty realizes that the Squirtle Squad boss is following them. Ash offers the Squirtle the opportunity to join his team. Squirtle happily accepts, removing its black glasses to reveal its eyes in the process, and it jumps into Ash's arms.
When the group falls into the hole that the Squirtle dug, there is a skeleton of an unknown animal that may or may not be an unknown Pokémon.
This is the third straight episode where the main characters falls into a pit trap. These three episodes are the ones where Ash obtains a starter Pokémon, and that in each one the trap was set by a different character. In Bulbasaur and the Hidden Village, Melanie set the traps, though only Misty and Team Rocket fell into them. In Charmander - The Stray Pokémon, Team Rocket set the trap and in this episode the Squirtle Squad set the traps.
When Jenny tells the group about the Squirtle Squad, one of the activities the Squirtle are shown doing is stealing fruit from a fruit seller. This man closely resembles the Magikarp salesman, who appears three episodes later.
This is the first episode that shows a town not featured in the games.
This is the first time Ash has ever deliberately hurt a Pokémon, biting Meowth on the tail.
During the scene when an exhausted Ash enters town to get the Super Potion, there is a sign hanging from a store awning that says "BEER".
This is one of the few episodes where a gun is seen.
This is the first episode where a Potion is used in the anime. In this case, the Potion in question is a Super Potion, which would end up being the most commonly used Potion in future episodes. It is also depicted as a spray bottle, which later became its sprite in Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen since then, with even the same colors.
In this episode, Squirtle chose to join Ash's team, though its Poké Ball capture occurred off-screen.
This episode marks the earliest point in a series when Ash has had a full party of six Pokémon on hand.
Ash was humming an entirely different tune from the background music in the original version.
Ash mentioning that with his very own Squirtle, he can beat Gary was added to the dub.
The dub makes it seem as though the Squirtle Squad called themselves the Squirtle Squad, whereas the original implied that it was the townspeople who gave them the name. Also, Ash seemed surprised that they were abandoned, when in the original, he states "not again", because he already rescued a Pokémon just an episode prior.
The rice balls and sandwiches Team Rocket is eating are called doughnuts and éclairs in the dub.
Ash tells the Squirtle Squad that Pikachu will be in big trouble if he doesn't go to town to get the Super Potion, while in the original, he says that Pikachu would actually die if he doesn't.
In the dub, the Squirtle Squad threatens to dye Misty's hair purple, while in the original, they threaten to execute her.
In that same scene, Misty's reaction to the threat was changed to her threatening Meowth in regards to dying her hair purple. In the original she said that she would get the Super Potion for Pikachu herself.
The bazooka Team Rocket used had cherry blossom petals as ammunition, but in the dub, James said that it was filled with ice instead.
While Jessie states that they are like the supervillains in the comic books except "better looking", in the Spanish Latin American dub she explicitly says that they are much more sexy.