Editors Note: I realize that many of you reading this will be Pokemon fans. This post is mainly written for people who did not board the Pokemon Hype Train until well after the series' humble Gameboy beginnings, so for you Poke-Veterans out there, this post will contain a lot of information you already know. Please understand.
Pikachu is the face of Pokemon. People who don't know the name of any other monster, or even the basic plot of the games or TV show know who Pikachu is. It's easy to see why; he's cute, he's powerful and he's happy.
The original games let players choose Bulbasaur, Squirtle or Charmander as their starter Pokemon, the cute, yellow...er I guess then it was more monochromatic green, mouse was nowhere to be seen. In fact, the game did not let players catch Pikachu until the reached Viridian Forest, about twenty to thirty minutes in to the game.
Pikachu became the face of Pokemon because of the anime based on the games. The creators of the anime wanted the main character, Ash to have a Pokemon that would appeal to girls as well as boys. Interestingly, Pikachu was not the first choice for Ash's starter. Clefairy was the first choice.
The idea was that Clefairy would appeal to female viewers of the show. The creators eventually decided that such a choice would alienate male viewers and so they settle on the more broadly appealing Pikachu. Thank heavens they did, because if Clefairy had been chosen there is no way I ever would have started watching the show, which means I wouldn't have gotten into the games, which means that I wouldn't have gotten into the cards, which means I would have had more focus as a student and an athlete, and would most likely have finished college sooner, landing a better job and being much richer than I am now. You know what? Screw you Pikachu!