Bulbasaur isn’t cool.
He doesn’t have the cocky aloofness of Squirtle or the literally-on-fire of Charmander. He isn’t a risk taker. Picking Bulbasaur allows you to barrel through the first two gyms in Red/Blue/Yellow. When Professor Oak asks you to pick one of three Pokemon, your options are:
2) Squirtle, if you’re a wildcard.
3) Bulbasaur, if you want to get through the beginning of the game easier.
That’s no fun. It doesn’t help that the first move that Bulbasaur learns is Leech Seed, a move that doesn’t even directly damage anything. Leech Seed is a move that you have to think about. On the other hand, Charmander and Squirtle learn Ember and Bubble, respectively. Instant gratification moves. Moves that you can party to. Moves that remind you that you are young and you are free and that the world is your oyster.
Even in the anime, Bulbasaur was the designated driver of the team. Charmander had all of this youthful angst, and Squirtle was pouring Everclear into the punch bowl at the dance. Meanwhile, Bulbasaur was just someone’s grumpy Dad. The kind of Pokemon that would tell you that you should put some of your check into savings. The kind of Pokemon that tells you the speed limit every twenty minutes. The kind of Pokemon that reminds you to call your Mom every once in a while.
I didn’t like Bulbasaur as a kid. Charmander and Squirtle were blonde tips and sandals. Bulbasaur was a bowl cut and loafers. Now, I adore Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur is stable. Bulbasaur listens to your problems, even if he doesn’t exactly know how to help. Bulbasaur is a shoulder to cry on. Bulbasaur is cool.