Zapdos is a large, avian Pokémon with predominantly yellow plumage. It has small, triangular eyes with black around them and a long, thin, light orange beak. Its wings and tail are a mass of spiky feathers and there are black feathers covering the back of its wings and inner tail feathers. A large crest of spiked feathers surrounds its head. Its thighs are tan, and it has thin, light orange legs. It has feet with three forward facing toes and one backward facing toe; each toe has a short talon.
When Zapdos flaps its glittering wings, it releases electricity that can potentially cause thunderstorms. It produces massive crackling and snapping sounds when it flies; these are attributed to the lightning bolts it sheds when airborne. Zapdos reportedly appears only during thunderstorms and gains power when struck by lightning. It is said to live among thunderclouds, but it is rarely seen.
Zapdos made its main series debut in As Clear As Crystal. When Team Rocket made an attempt to steal a crystal that gave a lake the ability to heal Electric-type Pokémon, they were sidetracked when Zapdos showed up and they changed their objective to capture Zapdos instead.
Having captured this Legendary bird in the abandoned Power Plant in Holy Moltres as in the games, Lt. Surge appears with Zapdos in his team during the events of Volume 3, using it as a never-ending power source for his Electric types, allowing them to continually shock Red at full force, a strategy that turns against him when Red uses Saur's Razor Leaf to cut the supply cords and his insulating underwear with them. After having been merged with Articuno and Moltres into an undiscovered Pokémon, the three Pallet Town Trainers are able to defeat the combined monster, so it leaves his team, and Team Rocket afterwards to go back to the wild.
Green later captures Zapdos before the Gold, Silver & Crystal chapter and uses it against Will and Karen, having caught it and its Legendary bird companions on her personal training journey to overcome her fear of birds. During this battle, it is lent to Blue when things get rough. Once returned, it is put back in its Poké Ball and isn't seen again, meaning it has either been deposited into her box or released.
When released from a Poké Ball, Zapdos uses a powerful Thunder Shock that hits opponents several times to produce a substantial amount of damage.
Zapdos flaps its wings, and summer storms appear, throwing lightning every which way. It's said that you can hear this legendary Pokémon coming, as its wings make a very distinctive popping sound as it flies. In addition to electrical moves like the dreaded Thunder, it also wields a vicious move called Drill Peck.
Zapdos appears in the background of the Prism Tower stage in the 3DS version of the game.
NA: Gazing up at dark storm clouds gathering in the sky, many children must have once wondered if the Pokémon they saw in the second Pokémon movie was in the clouds. An innocent and childish dream, perhaps... but even today as adults, the sound of thunder might just bring back memories of this Legendary bird Pokémon.
PAL: Gazing up at dark storm clouds gathering in the sky, many children must once have wondered if the Pokémon they just saw in the latest movie was lurking somewhere in their depths. An innocent and childish dream, perhaps...but even today as adults, the sound of thunder might just bring back memories of this Legendary Bird Pokémon.
Zapdos is the first Legendary Pokémon encountered in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. After it kidnaps Shiftry, the player must fight it at the top of Mt. Thunder. It is possible to recruit Zapdos by returning for another fight after the credits.
Of all Legendary Pokémon with fixed in-game locations, Zapdos can be obtained with the fewest number of Badges: 2. The player can catch Zapdos with only the Boulder Badge and either the Cascade BadgePE or the Soul BadgeRBY.
Zapdos may be based on the Native American legend of the thunderbird. The thunderbird was known for being the spirit of thunder, lightning, and rain in the form of a giant bird. The beating of the wings was said to create thunder. It may also have been based on the lightning bird, a bird created from wherever lightning hits the earth. Aesthetically it may also be based on hummingbirds, due to the long beak, the rather simple wings and described violent behaviour.