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.
In Galar, Zapdos has a different appearance. The main body is red-orange with black plumage. Its head features yellow eyes with more pronounced, mask-like black coloration around them, a shorter black beak, and a longer, more visible neck. Its legs are black, longer, and more muscular, its thigh feathers are also black, and its talons are yellow with red rings at their bases. Its red-orange wings are smaller, with small black markings that appear to be remnants of its Kantonian counterpart's black plumage. Finally, it has a row of spiky feathers along its chest, and a similar row of black feathers on its back.
Belligerent by nature and ever thirsting for battle, Galarian Zapdos seeks out opponents stronger than itself so it could test its might. Its powerful legs allow it to perform devastating kicks capable of destroying a dump truck, and it can run across mountains at up to 180 mph. Its wings have atrophied to the point that it can barely fly, but its movements are so swift that they have been compared to a lightning strike. This Pokémon earned the name of its Kantonian counterpart due to the electric-like crackling sounds that come from its feathers rubbing together. It is migratory and appears in the Crown Tundra once every few decades at Dyna Tree Hill.
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 a Zapdos showed up. As a result, they changed their objective to capture Zapdos instead.
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.
Zapdos trophy in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS
Zapdos also appears as a trophy in the 3DS 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.
Along with returning in the background of Prism Tower, Zapdos appears as a Spirit alongside Articuno and Moltres.
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.
Zapdos seems to be based on the Native American legend of the thunderbird, a spirit of thunder, lightning, and rain that took 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 be based on hummingbirds, due to the long beak, the rather simple wings, and described violent behavior.
Galarian Zapdos appears to be based on ratites, with kiwis in particular matching its brown feathers and long beak. Due to its speed, it may also be based on a roadrunner.