"Hey, you little tyke! I have to hand it to you. It may not be very smart to challenge me, but it takes guts! When it comes to electric Pokémon, I'm number one! I've never lost on the battlefield. I'll zap you just like I did my enemies in war!"
Lt. Surge first appeared in the anime episode Electric Shock Showdown, where Ash challenges him to a Gym Battle. The battle ended in disaster for Ash, as he was defeated by Surge's Raichu. With Surge believing that power meant everything, he commented on how Ash should evolve his Pikachu as soon as possible or he would never manage to defeat him.
Ash debated over the statement for quite a while, all the while waiting for Pikachu to recover. Deciding not to evolve Pikachu, Ash once again challenged Lt. Surge, which led to more criticism. Ash, this time, matched Lt. Surge's Raichu with Pikachu's speed instead of power, which is all that Raichu relied on. Pikachu, able to get the best of Raichu, led to Ash's victory, where Lt. Surge gave him a Thunder Badge.
Lt. Surge serves as both a gym leader and a Team Rocket leader. He is first seen in the SS Anne importing stolen Pokémon.
In the manga, he was a member of Team Rocket before it got disbanded, though he was angry at Neo Team Rocket because the new leader was just controlling the old members. Though it was resolved when they defeated the one who was controlling everyone.
Lt. Surge's name is a play on the word "surge", as in an electrical surge, since he is an Electric-type trainer.
There are several references to Lt. Surge being in the military in the video games (possibly the American army or Air Force). It is said he was Gentleman Tucker's commanding officer in the army during an unspecified war, where his life was saved by Electric-type Pokémon. There is also a rumor that he was a pilot, while in America, who used Electric-type Pokémon to power his plane.
Lt. Surge is said to be a member of the United States Army, making him one of the first non-Japanese and -Asian characters in the franchise.
Lt. Surge seems to be proof that the Pokémon series started out in a setting similar to the real world. Seeing as the Kanto region in Pokémon Red and Blue is named and modeled after an actual Japanese prefecture, he too is from a real world location: the United States of America.
Lt. Surge shares many similarities to the Street Fighter character Guile due to the fact that they are both muscular blonde Americans who were part of the military. Also Lt. Surge's attire in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver is incredibly similar in appearance to Guile's main attire in the series.
In the anime and in Pokémon Yellow his Raichu can use Mega Kick, which Raichu cannot learn.
Lt. Surge is the only Gym Leader to have only one Pokemon (in Pokémon Yellow).