Only one of the classic starter from previous games made it into the base Pokedex of Pokemon Sword and Shield: Charmander. Which is the best starter, to be fair - but it's also very rare, so you'll need to know how to get one. So... here's where to find a Charmander. Simple.
So, there's good news and there's bad news about this Charmander. The good news is that the Charmander you obtain is one-of-a-kind, and is actually one of the game's Gigantamax Pokemon. You've seen the champion Leon's awesome transforming Charizard - this is one just like that, for you!
The bad news is that you won't actually be able to get it until the Sword and Shield post game, after defeating Leon himself and becoming champion. Doh.
How to get Charmander in Pokemon Sword & Shield and evolve it to Gigantamax Charizard
The guaranteed way to get your hands on Charmander is simply to finish the game, become champion, and then make your way around things in the post game. One stop-off early on in the post game is to visit Hop and Leon's house, outside which you had your very first Pokemon battle.
Head inside to find a Pokeball left for you by Leon, and... well, it's got Charmander in it. Pick it up and Charmander is yours!
This Charmander can't ever be a shiny Pokemon - it's shiny locked - so don't bother rebooting in the hopes after a thousand reboots you might get a shiny. If you want a shiny, get over to the Pokemon daycare and get to Pokemon Breeding by combining this Charmander with a Ditto to make some more of these little guys.
Charmander evolves into Charmeleon at Level 16 and then Charizard at Level 36. Use Dynamax on that Charizard to make it become the awesome Gigantamax form.
Other places to find Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard in Sword & Shield
It'd be remiss not to quickly mention that there are other places you can find Charmander, Charmeleon and Charizard in the game - but they're primarily encounters in the wild area through the game's online multiplayer raid mechanic. Here's where they crop up:
- A den in the Hammerlocke Hills zone near to a small boulder can feature an encounter with Charmander, Charmeleon or Charizard
- The 'central' den in the Lake of Outrage area (in the middle of the stones where you can find the evolution items used to evolve Eevee) can also be home to a Charmander, Charmeleon or a Gigantamax Charizard.
These are random spawns, however, so don't expect it to show up easily - it may be best to grab Leon's gift and get breeding.