Spanning cards, games, movies, comics, and other miscellaneous forms of media, Pokémon is a cross-platform powerhouse that’s made an indelible impact upon pop culture. Hundreds of Pokémon have been released over the decades, and it was quite a challenge quantifying the value of each one. And since we originally created this list in 2017, a few hundred more have come out, pumping the official number up to over 1000. Almost every Pokémon is worthy of love and respect, but obviously some are better than others, and after 2022’s release of Scarlet and Violet it just felt right to boost this list from a top 100 to a top 150. So here are our picks for the best of the Pokédex: our top 150 Pokémon.
Roserade’s ambitions of winning an actual battle are a little suspect, even if I believe any decent trainer could make it work. What really makes Roserade, and what places them on this list, is their inspired Zorro aesthetic here. The mask and cape really just make this one sing.
Cramorant makes the list for one reason and one reason only: have you seen this thing swallow a Pikachu?
There’s a point in time where I began to think, “Oh man, they’ll just turn anything into a Pokémon.” Admittedly, it was around the time Klefki was unveiled. But before then, Pokémon realized the greatest thing ever: a literal trash monster. Best of all is that when they Gigantamax, they basically become The Blob, enveloping airplanes, buildings, and even ships. I hope some future form of them is even more monstrous.
When updating the list in Dec. 2022, my editor’s original ruling was that it was too early to make any judgment on Pokémon from Scarlet and Violet, both because it just came out and because I actually haven’t played it yet. (Sue me, I’m not playing something that busted.) Look at this guy. What a jolly, goofy looking thing. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet may be busted to the moon and back, but at least the monster designs seem like they’re getting fun again. Seriously, look at them!
If you’d have told me that of all the Pokémon in the world, Farfetch’d would get knighted and become this gallant, suave heroic type, I would’ve openly mocked you. For years. You would grow to hate me and curse my bloodline. And then I’d have had to eat Murkrow, because you’d have been so implausibly right. Sirfetch’d is an oddity that simultaneously delights and confuses me to this day, and for that alone, he’s up there.
Ludicolo is that tio that hits the punch a bit too hard and is a little too into the festivities, and I love them for that. They are the life of the party and also the butt of everyone’s jokes. If Ludicolo were a person, their name would be something like Miguel, and they’d be the only family you look forward to seeing at Thanksgiving.
While they aren’t exactly a fan favorite, and they aren’t exactly the most powerful Mythical Pokémon, Darkrai is certainly one of the more outright dangerous ones to exist. Darkrai literally inhabits the nightmares of its victims, prompting them to have unending terrors. Unsurprisingly, its signature move Dark Void can put opponents to sleep, after which Darkrai’s ability Bad Dreams kicks in and does damage to its sleeping opponent. Suffice to say, they match their menacing nature perfectly.
Some Pokémon are distortions of animals that exist in our reality and it’s fun to see how they change things up. Miltank is not that. Miltank is just a cow and they are herded onto farms and produce just a bunch of milk, like cows do. It rules and is cute as hell on top of that. Long live Miltank.
Among Us came out in 2018, but blew up in popularity in 2020, so there’s basically no way that this Pokémon is a meme name based on it. But the fact that it does sound like it would be is doing 99% of the work on this nomination to the list because I just find it unendingly hilarious that Pokémon tripped and made an Among Us joke before anyone else was.
Trevenant has the distinct honor of being the tree Pokémon that people don’t entirely hate, though I’d venture they probably have dedicated fans too. Their dual Ghost/Grass typing gives them a pretty sweet roster of moves. More than anything though, they are just a cool and simple take on the idea of a phantom tree, something I never want to actually entertain should I ever go camping or drive in the middle of the night.
Talonflame’s ability Gale Wings defined the competitive scene for X/Y . It gave all flying type moves extra priority allowing Talonflame to outspeed almost everything with devastating results. It didn’t get to spend too much time in the spotlight though as it was altered heavily in Sun/Moon so that Talonflame had to be at full HP to use the ability, reducing Gale Wings to nothing more than a pretty gimmick.
The most absolute unit of all of them, I’ve always been impressed that Pokémon just said, “Let’s make the biggest whale anyone’s ever seen,” and shipped it. Think Moby Dick, but with soft, sensitive eyes that betray no inner thought whatsoever—just vibes. It’s almost a shame Wailord is a Pokémon you can capture and make fight, since they so clearly just want to swim and be free and chill.
Though they are technically different numbers and thus different Pokémon, I couldn’t bring myself to break these two up, especially since I’ve mostly seen them each as one-half of a duo. They’re like Plusle and Minun, but Legendary. This jet-shaped duo is iconic for their speed and little else, but they were the first Pokémon that tipped off a younger me to how important the stats game really was in this series.
Floatzel is a head-empty Pokémon after my own heart. Complete with its very own floaties, Floatzel radiates pure summertime beach vibes. In battle, Floatzel has a pretty average moveset, but benefits in the early-game by being a decent speedster Pokémon you can get.
Wooloo is effectively the Galar region’s mascot. Hop’s Wooloo (and later Dubwool) are constant opponents players face in Sword and Shield and we see them quite literally all over the place; One of the early gyms has you corralling them. It helps that Wooloo is adorable, something that is not necessarily true of all Pokémon, but is integral to some of the very best of them. Wooloo and their pigtails are absolutely among the upper echelon of ‘em.
Ash was really dumb to barely use Lapras in the anime because Lapras has kind of always owned. Admittedly though, because they were mostly used for ferrying Ash and his friends, I did begin to just associate Lapras with transportation. That’s why even though the outline is not explicitly Lapras, I’ve always imagined you are on one when you use Surf in the games. I also always catch Lapras and teach them Surf when I can to fulfill this fantasy. It’s called manifesting, kids.
This one’s just a little bit of a freak and we need at least one of those on this list. But more importantly, Brock’s Croagunk surprised even themself when they literally punched Dialga’s stray blast that almost took the whole team out. You go, Croagunk.
Torkoal is great because just like an actual tortoise, people don’t expect much of them. But while Torkoal won’t be winning any races anytime soon, they might certainly put another Pokémon down in a heartbeat. An unexpectedly formidable Fire Pokémon when they were first introduced, Torkoal boasts a surprising amount of resistances (to make up for the lack of any immunities) and has fairly good Sp. Attack stats to begin with, meaning that once it learns its full moveset, it’s sure to Fire Blast the crap out of anything that stands in its way.
Scorbunny was not my preferred starter in the Galar region, but its evolutionary line is definitely my favorite and no Pokémon underscores that quite like Cinderace. Galar really emphasized battling as a sport, reflecting European attitudes towards soccer, and I loved how Cinderace—and even its middle evolution, Raboot—embodied that in their design. The athletic fit looks pitch-perfect on Cinderace and to top it all off, their signature move Pyro Ball lets them juggle a pebble until it transforms into a flaming ball they then kick towards their opponent. You definitely want Cinderace on your Olympic soccer team.
Every generation of Pokémon has some Pikachu clone trying to emulate its profound cuteness, but none of them have gone on to win the World’s Championship like this little riveting rodent. Pachirisu was used in a surprising strategy that allowed Se Jun Park, a professional player from Korea, seal the deal and win the Masters division of 2014. It just goes to show that in the right hands any Pokémon can be a valuable teammate.
This giant purple rat may seem like nothing more than an annoyance, but it inspired one of the most ridiculous strategies to ever grace the Pokemon series. The F.E.A.R strategy requires four things: an item called Focus Sash, the moves Endeavor and Quick Attack, and finally Rattata. This extremely silly game plan won’t work long on any human players, but can technically beat any Pokemon in the game. Who ever knew that Joey’s Rattata really could be in the top percentage?
Magnemite’s final evolution may seem fairly silly with its giant center eye but it’s the perfect bait to trap other Steel types. Magnezone’s ability Magnet Pull makes Steel Pokémon unable to switch out trapping them while its partner deals out damage. It also helps that the unique typing of Electric/Steel gives Magnezone 11 different resistances.
It took me ages to piece together that people simply didn’t like Sudowoodo, but I just think they’re likely misunderstood. They don’t want to get in your way when you’re trying to cut that tree and get past em’. They’re actually just hiding and blending in, so please have a heart. They aren’t all that powerful, this is all that’s keeping them from getting torn up in the wild.
Some Pokédex entries are just too creepy to ignore. The mask that this Pokémon holds is the its face from its past life as a human and it retains all the memories from that past life. Sure there are plenty of Pokédex entries that talk about the grotesque but none of them suggest that little Timmy didn’t just go out and catch Grandma’s soul before making it fight a Charmander so Yamask gets the vote on creepy factor alone.
The original incarnation of this list was not only missing a generation of Pokémon, but a lot of cute lil guys too. With Snom’s inclusion, we’ve mostly righted the ship. Look at ‘em.
Decidueye rightly has a very high spot on this list for being a real metamorphosis of a final evolution, but I’d like to take a moment and show my respect and adoration for the Pokémon they used to be. Rowlet, the adorable bowtie-wearing baby owl, is a fan-favorite starter for a reason, and it’s definitely not their effectiveness.
Entei and his pack of Legendary dogs have one of the most tragic histories in this series for children. When the Brass Tower in Ecruteak City burnt down, three unnamed dog Pokémon died in the fire, only to be resurrected by Ho-Oh as the trio of Entei, Suicune, and Raikou. While the latter two have more or less settled into smaller roles over time, Entei (and his metal mustache) made a huge splash when he debuted in the third Pokémon movie, telepathically communicated with people, and tried to marry Ash’s mom. It’s a whole thing, but the point is Entei is and forever will be top dog.
123. Galarian Rapidash
One of the cooler innovations of the last few generations of Pokémon is the regional variants of existing Pokémon. These variants not only differ in appearance, but quite dramatically change the Pokémon type as well, and few of those changes are as stark as Galarian Rapidash, which becomes a full blown fantastical unicorn. It ditches the flaming mane for a long flowing one of actual pastel-colored hair and completely changes type and natures.
No Pokémon go through such a drastic change as Wishiwashi. Its Solo Form has the weakest stats of all Pokémon while its Schooling Form is in the same league as some of the toughest Pokémon around. This powerful form is fairly threatening “demon of the sea” that frightens even the mighty Gyarados proving that sometimes there’s strength in numbers.
Each starter from Sun/Moon seemed to get a ton of love whether it was the dapper Rowlet, dorky Popplio, or the adorable Litten. The other two didn’t have nearly as much on the line as the fire cat though, as Trainers were afraid that it would mark the return of the Fire/Fighting type-set that made up the fire starters for 3 generations of Pokémon games. Later it was revealed to have a Dark subtype instead, sporting a championship belt that drew comparisons to the Heel cliche from wrestling shows. The first evolution is the most popular though, complimented by the sheer amount of merchandise released for it.
The armor that covers Glalie’s face is proof of its prowess over ice. In fact this Pokémon can freely freeze any moisture in the air, which is how Glalie captures its prey before eating them in a “leisurely fashion.” Unfortunately for Mega Glalie the energy involved breaks its jaw though that doesn’t stop it from hunting.
You know those worms that people are always afraid of biting into when they’re eating an apple? Well what if the worm bit back? More specifically, what if it destroyed the apple from the inside out, used the apple’s skin as wings to fly with and a tail, and became a little baby dragon apple? Need I say more? I don’t think so.
Hatterene fulfilled the role of the typical Psychic powerhouse the generation she was introduced. She also has the somewhat rare distinction of being a Pokémon on this list that is exclusively one gender, so you go girl. What she lacks in key spaces like speed, which she can nullify with a quick use of Trick Room, she makes up for with an exemplary Special Attack stat and a range of Psychic moves that hit with devastating force.
So Pokémon is very unambiguous about how types play into the coloring scheme for most of their critters, and Manectric is no different. Like most Electric types, it heavily features yellow as part of its design, but out of so many of these Pokémon, Manectric is one of the few that actually looks like lightning. True to its nature, Manectric gets into battle very quickly, which becomes especially useful paired with its Static ability, which paralyzes enemy Pokémon on contact. Manectric has the capacity to be a great opener and disruptor in one fell swoop, and does so in immense style.
This metal menace has been a sturdy tank in competitive play for generations of Pokémon games. It’s mostly a support Pokémon that players use to set-up entry hazards that can hound the opponent’s team for the entire match if left alone. Skarmory isn’t without its weaknesses though, with popular picks from Fire and Electric types able to plow through it with ease. Still no one Pokémon is perfect but with Skarmory you’re almost always guaranteed a challenge. If all else fails you can go medieval and use its feathers like swords.
Hydreigon is an inspired bit of nightmare fuel. Boasting three heads, two of which seem to lack actual eyes, this Dark/Dragon pseudo-legendary brings together two intimidating types into one creepy-looking package and then makes it pretty strong to boot. A complete immunity to both Ground and Psychic moves saves it from being destroyed by some pretty powerful Pokémon just long enough for it to unleash some devastating Dragon-type moves that could very well clinch it a number of victories. Just don’t put it up against a Fairy-type and you’ll have a real powerhouse with Hydreigon.
Squirtle has never been my frontrunner as far as Gen I starters go, and I suspect this is actually probably largely the case for most Pokémon players. But settling for third has cast too harsh a light on this adorable turtle Pokémon and they deserve their flowers. If nothing else, they look better in shades than most of us probably do.
When Duraludon Gigantamaxes, they literally grow into a skyscraper, with windows and everything. What else do you need to know about this behemoth of a Steel/Dragon type with nine resistances and one immunity other than the fact it could literally be confused for a municipal building and level one in a heartbeat?
Okay, one more amendment to the Scarlet and Violet rule. I caught wind of a Pokémon who is actually just so freaking funny they deserve to be on this list, and it’s none other than Tinkaton. Why are they so funny to make the list? Because they’re a hater. Tinkaton’s Pokedex entries specifically point to how this Pokémon loves to knock rocks into the sky and take out Corviknights. In other words, if Corviknight has 100 enemies, Tinkaton is one of them. If Corviknight has 10 enemies, Tinkaton is one of them. If Corviknight has one enemy, it’s Tinkaton. If Corviknight has no enemies, it is only because Tinkaton is dead.
Zubat and other Pokémon like it have been a thorn in the side of almost every Trainer on their way to beating the Elite Four. The worst part is that most of these encounters can feel pointless as these Pokémon rarely award much experience and don’t fare well in battle even if they’re on your team. Crobat changed all that by making the obnoxious Zubat evolution line suddenly viable with a fast attacker that can zoom past an opponent’s defences with the right ability. Now if only the other pests could learn to follow suit.
Bears are basically the coolest actual animal in the world, due to their ferocity and how rooted they are in their sense of family. Ursaring is just a mama bear Pokémon, except they somehow are even more lethal since they can shoot beams at you if you mess with their cubs. So, you know, don’t.
There is certainly no shortage of legendary Pokemon on this list, but Heatran is exceptional for other reasons. This molten menace is one of the only legendaries which can have a gender although it still cannot breed. It is also the only Fire/Steel type ever created, giving it a powerful niche to fill. This Pokemon is allowed in most competitive rulesets due to it’s lower stats and 4x weakness to Ground moves. So while this may not be the most epic legendary, it’s probably one you can get the most use out of.
One of the two legendaries that emblazoned arguably the best Pokémon titles, Lugia is a remarkably gentle but fearsome Psychic/Flying Legendary Pokémon. While they’re most known for their role in Pokémon The Movie 2000, they’re also the mascot of Pokémon Silver, and capturing them is the ultimate goal of that title, save for defeating the Elite Four. Resembling some kind of aquatic dragon/dinosaur, Lugia hits hard, but is arguably strongest as a tank, with Defense and Special Defense out the wazoo and a full suite of moves that span countless types, including Water, Ice, and even Psychic.
Rhyhorn may be a bulky monster but it has nothing on the fearsome Rhydon. This Pokémon is able to ram through uncut diamonds and withstand magma thanks to its thick hide. Rhydon is also technically the first Pokémon as the initial concept drawings featured the monster prominently. Although it can evolve into the mighty Rhyperior, it’s hard to forget just how influential Rhydon was to the series.
Toxtricity is a special Pokémon in so many ways: they are the Punk Pokémon, with a mohawk made of electricity. Their ability Punk Rock is exclusive to them, and grants them resistance to sound-based moves, making Toxtricity the equivalent of a performer with earplugs. They are also the only Poison/Electric dual-type outside of their evolutionary line in the whole series. When Toxel evolves into them, they can also technically evolve into two different forms depending on their nature, either Lowkey form or Amped Up form. The biggest difference in these forms is Toxtricity’s appearance and what final move they learn. In conclusion, Toxtricity freakin’ owns.
Copperajah is both a figurative and literal mammoth. Their list of resistances made them the de facto sturdy tank to bring onto your team as you fought through the Galar region and I’ve never looked back, nor should you. It’s no wonder President Rose’s clincher at the end of Sword and Shield is an incredibly tough Copperajah.
Coalossal is perhaps the closest thing Pokémon has to an actual kaiju. The series definitely has its fair share of destructive, titanic creatures, but few are so…all natural? Coalossal is literally a pile of rubble on legs, and it carries even more heated coal on its back. Not to mention, it can Gigantamax, at which point it basically becomes a very intimidating mountain-sized furnace. In the heat of actual battle, Coalossal is pretty tanky and boasts a fair number of resistances. Best of all, its ability Steam Engine actually makes it quicker if it’s hit by Fire, which it is resistant to, or Water, which is extremely effective against it.
The real baby and star of the Galar starters, Grookey, goes through an awkward teenage phase in their middle evolution before blossoming into a wonderful full blown drummer ape that, in retrospect, totally owns. When Rillaboom Gigantamaxes, they actually get a stadium-sized drum set that it plays with its grass tendrils. What Rillaboom lacks in immunities and resistances, it makes up for in power, gravitas, and chops.
Sometimes the design of a Pokémon can tell you what it is at first glance. Vikavolt is an Electric/Bug type that’s lightning fast (pun intended) that may be based off the ships from Galaga. There are plenty of new Electric Pokémon that outclass it but this little bug that can take out any bird of prey.
Before Sprigatito made everyone go doe-eyed for a kitten starter, there was Litten, who grew up to become the next AEW Heavyweight Champion. But seriously, the glow up from emo little fire cat to a bipedal wrestling champ is downright impressive. The only thing I have a hard time buying is that they’re only 5’11”. Like the best tag team partners, Incineroar is a phenomenal closer, since their ability Blaze lets them do significantly more Fire damage on opponents below 50% of their HP. So if your team ever needs a sub, you know who to call.
The cuddliest Pokémon you ever saw, Altaria is as soft as a pillow to Trainers it’s comfortable with. A Dragon Pokémon with wings made of clouds, it seems like this monster would be the coziest companion to have around. Its Mega Evolution is the only Dragon type immune to other dragon attacks, which makes it a powerful ally in battles against powerful Pokémon like Dragonite.
This poor polygonal Pokémon might’ve gotten famous for all the wrong reasons. First it started out as a prize in a shady casino lead by the evil Team Rocket, then its anime debut was banned when the surging across the screen caused over 700 Japanese people to experience seizure or seizure-like symptoms. Despite that, Porygon and its other forms are fairly versatile in combat, so while they may never get much screentime, they are central to much of the metagame.
If every school needs a delinquent then Pangoro is definitely late for class. This Pokémon has more in common with an anime anti-hero than a pocket monster with moves consisting of punches and taunts. This tough exterior means it won’t put up with bullying but it’s violent temperament means that saving the victim could get messy.
Back when weather effects were fairly new to the Pokemon series, it was more difficult to convey exactly what they did. Castform managed to communicate that quite well with adorable transformations depending on the current weather in-game. This helped players dig deeper to find the strategies that have been prevalent in the games ever since.
Trading has been a giant component of Pokémon since its inception. Many monsters require special conditions to evolve during trading with Escavalier’s being the most specific. A Karrablast must be traded for a Shelmet in order to get this Bug/Steel hybrid. During the process Karrablast steals the shell off its compatriot so while it isn’t the most elegant way, it forces Trainers to work together if they want to catch them all.
Odd type pairings are my thing, which makes me happy that Game Freak has more readily leaned into them over the years. Take Dragapult, the only non-legendary Ghost/Dragon type Pokémon in the whole series, for example. It doesn’t look all that intimidating thanks to its ghastly lizard form, but with a modest Special Attack stat and incredible speed, Dragapult can end a battle before it’s even started properly. And of course, the best thing about Dragapult is its signature move, Dragon Darts, where it launches Dreepy, its first form, like “supersonic missiles” at opponents. What a phenomenal little weirdo you are, Dragapult.
Hariyama, as an ode to sumo wrestlers, always resembled my idea of unadulterated strength. And while fighting Pokémon in the past have certainly communicated their strength in various ways, like Machamp’s muscles on muscles, I always liked that Hariyama was just kind of a big lad. Its hidden ability Sheer Force, which adds 30% more damage to attacks that have additional effects at the cost of those effects, really help Hariyama feel untouchable.
For many Pokémon, the end of the battle is the end of the pain which is what makes Houndoom so scary. Its Pokédex entries state that “if the flames it shoots from its mouth cause a burn, the pain will hurt forever.” This seems strange to point out considering most burns continue to hurt well after they heal, but it’s not a stretch to think that it may be hellfire this Cerberus inspired bone dog is spewing.
Edgy Pokémon trainers, you need look no further than Absol. A quadruped in snow white fur, Absol’s defining feature is its curved horn jutting out from the side of its head and up over its face. Absol is a ridiculously fast Pokémon, which always made it incredibly viable in fights where I needed that extra edge. But what I most love about Absol is that it is widely considered a bad omen, because rumor has it that wherever it’s seen, disaster strikes.
In a world that 10 year olds go on unsupervised adventures around the world, Drifloon is the ultimate predator. It pretends to be a balloon while it waits for a hapless child to try to grab onto one of its hands. As soon as one does, Drifloon snatches them into the afterlife. Just make sure you don’t try to pop Drifloon as it soul will spew out with a screaming sound.
The original strongman of the Pokémon world, Machamp is a monster like no other. Sporting four arms and skin that looks like pants, this Pokémon along helped instill the importance of trading in this series. Recently Machamp took on a much more muted role, acting as the HM Strength in Sun/Moon while cradling the player in its giant hands.
In the hierarchy of fossilized Pokémon, Tyrantrum ruled as king. Its ability Strong Jaw powers up any move that uses the mouth which fits right in with this T-Rex royalty. Tyrantrum might have a pretty great design but unfortunately the role it fills is better met by Garchomp, leaving this dragon to be more of a prince than a king.
Scyther may have giant scythes for hands, but Scizor is the truly terrifying Pokémon. Able to crush any object in its metal pincers, Scizor is a powerfully fast Pokémon that’s only weak to Fire types. Mega Scizor is even scarier as its twin pincers morph into two giant scissors able to rip anything to shreds. Though it has since fallen from grace, Scizor dominated the competitive scene for a while with its unbridled power only outmatched by its blazing speed.
Said to bring good luck to whoever sees it, Ho-oh was the first second generation Pokémon revealed, though no one knew what it was at the time. Ho-oh is based on a phoenix and it is indirectly implied in the second generation of Pokémon games that it revived the legendary dogs after they burned to death in a fire. The box art mascot for Pokémon Gold this legendary bird was featured on a ton of promotional material during the mid-2000s.
To the player not thinking outside of the box a Pokémon like Smeargle might seem fairly ordinary. Its signature move Sketch can copy the last move the opponent used permanently which can lead to some devastating combinations when used effectively. Smeargle can use this to learn any move in the game, allowing it to get into some absolutely ridiculous shenanigans though it isn’t powerful enough to last more than a few turns.
The existence of Silvally has some dark implications for the world of Pokémon. Its similarities to Arceus are too blatant to ignore, with both having similar body types and powers. What makes this chilling is that Silvally is man-made while Arceus is a god, though the cloning procedure left it with some flaws. Silvally isn’t nearly as powerful as the creator of the Pokémon world and must evolve before it can change its typing. With Mewtwo and Silvally both being created rather than born, it makes you wonder what other horrors the researchers of the Pokémon world will manufacture.
The most popular Pokémon meme centered around this adorable Water starter. What began as a way to recruit people to a fan-board went viral when it was picked up by Anonymous as a call-sign. The meme eventually peaked in April 2008 but not before becoming a worldwide joke about how “I herd u liek mudkipz.”
Camerupt (and the next Pokémon on our list) continue the series’ fascination with turning absolutely innocent cute little animals into full-blown monsters capable of immense destruction. Numel is an unsuspecting and adorable baby camel, who is just happy to be there. Camerupt, on the other hand, touts not one, but two, volcanoes on their back, and is a sure sign that you’re in the wrong neighborhood, especially since, y’know, they live in volcanic craters. Anything they can’t burn down with Eruption will almost surely fall after an Earthquake.
The Pokémon world is a cruel place where even sandcastles can be deadly predators. Palossand camouflages itself as a normal pile of sand until someone tries to pick up the shovel on its head, which it then uses to control them to get them to build into a bigger castle. If that wasn’t scary enough, it uses the same trick to surprise prey only instead their despair spills onto the sand and becomes the offspring for this terror of the beach.
Role-playing games typically have a treasure mimic that pretends to be an item until the player springs the trap. The Voltorb evolution line duped plenty of players into thinking they were picking up an item rather than an angry orb much to their chagrin. It was a mean trick for Game Freak to pull, but this classic bait-and-switch was one of the first ways that Pokémon felt alive. Electrode has gone on to bring its explosive personality to other games, helping players in Pokémon Snap, Pokkén Tournament and even Super Smash Bros.
80. Tapu Koko
One of the island guardians in Alola has become a powerful part of the meta-game almost overnight. This Pokémon is able to outspeed almost everything in Sun/Moon besides Mega Evolutions, making it a powerful sweeper. While its coverage isn’t that great, Tapu Koko’s dual-typing of Electric/Fairy allows it to fight a large amount of Pokémon and still do respectable damage.
This tiny gem eater went 3 generations of Pokémon games before having any real weakness. Fairy types almost put a stop to this reign of terror, but then Mega Sableye’s ability Magic Bounce made it one of the most reliable support Pokémon to use in the Uber tier. This Sealed Sableye’s fate of always being a cut above regular Pokémon, which is impressive for one that doesn’t even evolve.
The Pokémon battle system is all about checks and balances, though there is one pocket monster that bucks this trend. Eelektross doesn’t technically have a weakness since it’s an Electric-type that can levitate over most Ground-type moves. Sure there are still a few that can hit this menace but they’re specialized and are usually thrown away in favor for Earthquake, a stronger ground move. While not invincible, this electric eel is an unusual footnote that usually has to get taken out by brute force alone.
Some designs are just plain weird. Shuckle is a stringy turtle that for some reason can turn berries into juice, then turn that in a Rare candy if given enough time. If that wasn’t strange enough it has the most varied stats across the board, with sky-high defense marred by the lowest attack, speed, and hit points. Maybe it’s like this because even Shuckle has no idea what it’s doing.
This shellfish Pokémon would be scary to encounter in real life. Kabutops evolved to walk on land in order to follow its prey, which it would first slice up with its giant scythes before draining the body of its fluids. Scary as that may sound, this horror movie monster isn’t terribly powerful in real battle which leaves it lacking in practical use.
Ditto might’ve been the first imitator, but Zoroark turned it into an art form. This clever fox can pretend to be any of the other Pokemon on your team causing so much confusion that the official Pokemon tournament had to add a new rule to stave off the shenanigans. So while players can’t name their Pokemon after any other monster now, at least they don’t have to worry about this tricky monster from taking them completely by surprise.
No one could’ve foreseen just how much the fairy subtype would affect this water mouse from the second generation of Pokémon games. Suddenly this forgettable monster became a powerhouse that could one-hit knock out almost any other Pokémon when combined with its ability Huge Power and a Choice Band. This strategy dominated the competitive scene for X/Y to the point that if you weren’t using it, you were probably fighting someone who did.
Back when Super Smash Bros. Brawl was announced, many people were upset to see this newcomer make the cut over Mewtwo. Both Pokémon played similarly but Lucario turned out to be a more high stakes character. Lucario deals damage based on how much it’s been hurt and whether it’s winning or losing making it the ultimate comeback character. This blue canine was also featured in its own movie as well as on the cover for Pokkén Tournament.
At first glance this cute bear looks fairly normal but it’s actually terrifyingly strong. Bewear doesn’t know its own strength so it constantly snaps the spine of anyone it tries to give a bear hug to. This predicament is one Team Rocket finds themselves in every week now, as Bewear hugs have replaced their trademark exit of blasting off into the sky. If it were any other show, this would make Bewear seem like the crazed serial killer trying to catch its prey, though the anime has conveyed that in the horrific entrances this love starved teddy makes.
Obtaining this creepy Pokemon is tricky but wonderfully unique. The only way you can acquire this dead-eyed ghost bug is by having an empty slot in your party while evolving a Nincada. While the original monster goes on to become a Ninjask, the skin that it molted becomes Shedninja, the only Bug/Ghost Type. Novelty aside, this little critter has the ability Wonder Guard which makes it immune to 13 different Pokemon types. It only has 1 hit point though so it’s not terribly game changing but it’s just kooky enough to make it onto this list.
Just one look at this tiny cat and you can tell that it has seen some things or that’s what the internet believed when this Pokémon leaked before the release of X/Y. It gained a cult following nearly overnight due to its strange eyes and apparent aloofness. It went on to serve as a key plot point in the biggest piece of post-game content in X/Y, cementing it as a fan-favorite.
Typhlosion is the first Pokémon I remember seeing and thinking “Man, that thing looks cool as hell.” They are literally the Volcano Pokémon. The final evolution of Cyndaquil—one of the cutest Pokémon starters ever—Typhlosion is, by comparison, a beast. What other Pokémon do you know that has a literal collar of flames jutting out of their neck at all times and incinerates everything around it when it’s mad? I want them in my corner any and every day. Just don’t talk to me about the Hisuian form…
A sword possessed by a ghost, Aegislash is said to be able to sense who is destined to be king like a Pokémon version of Excalibur. Aegislash is one of the only Pokémon that can cause a match to go on forever since it can learn both King’s Shield and Protect, which nullify all physical damage. It is also resistant or immune to 12 different types of Pokémon, making it a powerful wall even without those two moves. These factors have banned it from everything but the most high tier play, where it faces off against legendaries and other powerful Pokémon.
Players of the original generation of Pokémon games didn’t have a lot of options when it came to knocking out Psychic types. The three ghosts and most of the bugs were dual/type with Poison, meaning the psionic monsters could take them out with ease. The only hope lied on Jolteon since it was fast and could learn the Bug-type move Pin Missile. This unexpected strategy didn’t last long as Dark types were introduced in the next set of games, but it was integral during Pokémon’s formative years, teaching players to think outside the box to create the amazing plays we see to this day.
Back before the second generation was revealed, Togepi was used as a literal Easter egg. What started as a mysterious egg in the anime turned out to be this cute little monster. After it hatched it would almost always do one of two things: use Metronome or cry. Togepi was also one of the main stars of Pikachu’s Vacation, a short film shown before the first Pokémon movie.
If life’s a stage than Yveltal is going to make the grandest exit. When it dies, this omen of the end will steal the lifeforce from every living thing around it before sheltering up in a cocoon for a millennium. This would be the end of all life in the world of Pokémon, making Yveltal the deadliest pocket monster to ever exist.
The ugly duckling story gets a unique twist in the world of Pokemon. Milotic starts off as the uglier than dirt Feebas but if you manage to max out its beauty stat, it becomes a “breath-takingly beautiful” water type with fairly decent stats. While the way that Feebas has evolved has changed over the years, this original gimmick managed to both explain a new game mechanic and create a unique critter.
THEY’RE A STEEL BIRD, THEY DEFY ALL KNOWN LAWS OF AVIATION AND LOOK GREAT THE WHOLE TIME.
One of the first Steel types, Steelix made quite the entrance as the evolution of Onix. Its design feels like a natural evolution for the rock snake, turning into an metal giant from the accumulation of iron in its stomach. While it may not be great for competitive play, Mega Steelix looks even cooler, with large chunks of metal floating around it and giant diamond spikes jutting from its sides.
Poor Slowpoke here has gotten the short end of the stick, being referred to as the “dopey” Pokémon and being the constant butt of jokes. Many of its Pokédex entries refer to how long it takes to feel pain or most recently in Moon, it is talked about how Slowpoke tail is a delicacy. This was referenced in Gold/Silver when Team (rocket had a plan to sell off the tails as food, but it turns out the problem was they were stealing rather than the cruelty to this animal. It also starred in a extremely unsettling official music video where it munches on other Slowpoke tails and turns its head slowly toward the camera.
Plenty of Pokémon seem to be able to summon a cataclysmic event, but Tyranitar’s Pokédex entries make it sound like rampaging kaiju. It is said that anytime this Pokémon goes on a rampage it physically changes the surroundings, forcing scientists to redraw maps as it topples mountains and buries rivers. This is akin to most natural disasters making this pseudo-legendary the closest thing the Pokémon world has to Godzilla.
One of the most popular picks for a tank in the competitive Pokémon metagame, Ferrothorn is one of the best at throwing out entry-hazards. Moves like Spikes and Stealth Rock force an opponent to think about the Pokémon they switch in. Ferrothorn is fairly bulky too and is able to take hits from almost everything except fire moves.
Pokémon has been a worldwide phenomenon but it was never reflected in the games. Game Freak changed that by introducing this butterfly in X/Y, which is a different pattern depending on which geographical region your 3DS is set to. There are 20 different variants to catch of Vivillon, requiring player to work together around the world if they truly want to catch them all.
No other starter is quite as versatile as Empoleon. The unique typing of Water/Steel give it 10 different type resistances and it was able to learn almost every HM when they mattered. This monster is usually set-up as a defensive wall since it checks many Water and Fairy types with its impressive bulk. Its name sounds like it should evolve from an Eevee though a better explanation might be that Empoleon could be based on Napoleon Bonaparte.
Usually tanky Pokémon try to avoid any status ailments they can but Gliscor actually benefits from it. One of its abilities is Poison Heal which allows it to recoup health when other Pokémon would lose it. A 4x weakness to ice moves keeps this from being too overpowered but otherwise this solid tank can stall for as long as it needs to.
Everyone I knew growing up loved Umbreon and for good reason: they were a spooky, magical black cat. I always loved their simple design, especially their yellow rings and piercing red eyes, such a stark difference compared to Eevee’s warm browns. While most Eeveelutions felt like some natural step from Eevee’s composition, Umbreon always felt cooler and different. Occult, even. I suspect Umbreon’s mysterious nature still draws new players in all the time.
Sometime in 2014 a social experiment on Twitch had thousands of people all trying to play a single version of Pokémon Red at the same time. In this unbridled chaos a joke arose from the amount of times everyone would accidentally go into the inventory and check the Helix Fossil. This joke evolved from a meme into a religion in the 16 days it took an estimated 1.16 million people to beat the game, complete with “Lord Helix” as their god and Pigeot as a euphemism for Jesus. You can still find people making jokes and selling merchandise featuring this explosive event, even three years later.
Back in the days of Red/Blue this tri-tailed bull was giving everyone a hard time. A diverse movepool made Tauros mildly useful but the big gain came from the insane damage it would get from using Hyper Beam. A glitch in the original trilogy made it so Pokémon didn’t have to recharge after knocking out another one with this move, making Tauros a frightful powerhouse to be reckoned with.
Ghost Pokémon never disappoint when it comes to creepy Pokédex entries. Chandelure’s fire runs on the souls it consumes, which are then forced to wander the world forever with no idea where they’re going. It’s a frightful way to meet your end, which is shown off spectacularly in Pokkén Tournament. In this spin-off game Chandelure is a potent threat, hitting foes from afar with debuffs before absorbing their souls with its finishing move Final Flicker.
Legendary Pokémon tend to lie in dungeons or are easily attainable by playing the story but Zygarde is an actual quest that takes you across the Alola region. Originally this Ground/Dragon appeared in X/Y though it was later revealed that this was its 50% form. In Sun/Moon players must literally travel across the land, searching far and wide for the various cells that make up Zygarde in order to obtain this legendary beast.
Masked wrestlers have an air of mystery and bravado that was past down to this Pokémon that may take the flying press a little too literally. The only Fighting/Flying type ever made, Hawlucha could cover a lot of ground if its stats were just a little better. Nevertheless it has become a fan-favorite due to its origins in lucha libre and its bravery even in the face of giants like Machamp or Hariyama.
This giant dragon seems like the standard fare for a ghost-type legendary until the Pokédex brings to light its devilish backstory. Giratina was apparently banished from our world into a “reverse world” for its violence, yet other Pokédex entries talk about sucking out the insides of your prey like a smoothie like it’s no big deal. It’s here that this monster took on an Altered form and began to rule its new domain. With it being referred to as the “Renegade Pokémon,” it’s difficult to divorce it from a similar mythical story.
Many of the Pokémon on this list have fairly grounded reasons for being here, but this fire snail hinges on the bizarre. Magcargo’s internal temperature is supposed to be almost twice as hot as the sun, so it should burn literally anything that touches it. Flames erupt from any holes in its shell, turning anywhere that Magcargo inhabits into a flash fire zone. This tremendously scary process is just one of the reasons moving to the Pokémon world might not be the best idea.
Hercules beetles are known for their strength, so it’s no surprise that Heracross can become one of the strongest Pokémon available. Mega Heracross has the highest attack stat of any normal Pokémon, coming just behind Mega Mewtwo X in raw power. Combine this with its ability Skill Link and Mega Heracross can turn a couple tiny attacks into massive onslaughts that can overwhelm opponents.
No one can forget the legendary bird trio with their Spanish influenced names. They appeared in the second Pokémon movie that tied properly introduced the second generation and appeared in numerous side games. Still only one of them is still used to this day, with Zapdos able to take on a powerful role on any team thanks to its Electric typing which is also the reason it can technically beat the other two in a fight. It can also create thunderstorms with a beat of its wings, turning it into an almost literal representation of the Butterfly Effect.
One of the most regal of starters, this king snake was popular before it was even shown thanks to its pre-evolution being dubbed “Smugleaf” before its name was revealed. After this ridiculous start, it was revealed that Serperior can have the hidden ability known as “Contrary,” which makes things that normally lower its stats to raise them instead. So not only can this regal reptilian laugh in the face of any opponent that tries to lower it stats, Serperior can also use powerful moves that normally weaken the user like Leaf Storm with reckless abandon.
Ultra Beasts were a type of Pokemon introduced in Sun/Moon. These may not look like the kinds of Pokemon you know but there’s a reason: they’re from another dimension. Without spoiling too many plot details, these creatures are quite powerful, both in the lore and combat. Each one has an ability known as Beast Boost, which raises whichever stat is strongest. Any one of them can tear through a team, but Xurkitree gets the spot for not only the most diverse movepool, but also just how terribly unsettling it looks.
This bucktooth beavis gets the award for dorkiest Pokémon of all time. Just one look at this beaver and you can tell that it probably won’t stay on your team for long. While many trainers threw away their first Bidoof, others grew attached and started a small following praising this clear underdog proving that it isn’t always about having the strongest Pokémon if you’re still having fun.
Behind every pro player is a Ditto who worked tirelessly to help churn out their winning team. It may not be the most graceful job but since this blob has the ability to breed with any other Pokémon, it’s become one of the most important ways to make a tournament ready team. Not to mention that Ditto can imitate anything it comes into contact with, though it keeps those dopey looking eyes for added cuteness.
Pretty much designed with 10 year olds in mind, Sharpedo is what you get when you combine a shark and a torpedo. It evolves from a piranha and the Pokédex refers to it as “the bully of the sea” but this Pokémon isn’t just a design reminiscent of the 90s. Sharpedo has the ability Speed Boost which when combined with its Mega Evolution can turn it into a blazingly fast glass cannon. It is also the fastest way to use surf which allows players to ride the waves in record time though you can’t fish for other Pokémon when doing this. It’s probably for the best given that a recent Pokédex entry states that Sharpedo were once on the brink of extinction from overfishing, adding a tragic backstory to this gaping maw of teeth.
Ninetales always had this aura about them, as if they were magical. Similar to Umbreon’s mystique, Ninetales resonated with this great spiritual energy that made it equally impressive and somewhat terrifying. Especially early on in Pokémon, Ninetales stood out for being a Fire-type Pokémon that defied expectations, and showed a certain level of mastery over a select bunch of Ghost and Psychic moves that made it a threat to face off against if you couldn’t be prepared. As if they weren’t enough of a problem as is, Alolan Ninetales actually becomes an Ice/Fairy dual-type, and while that first half leaves it susceptible to quite a bit of damage, Fairy-types’ advantages throughout their introduction made it a threat.
Countless Electric-type Pokémon evolutions are just plain cool and edgy, and few exemplify that as well as Luxray, who’s functionally an electric lion. Covered in a mane that makes it a stark contrast to the warmth and cuteness of its early evolutions, Luxray always looks like it absolutely means business, which is apt considering it can have Intimidate, which lowers an opposing Pokémon’s attack, as an ability. Funnily enough it can also have Rivalry, which boosts their own attack against Pokémon of the same gender, so no matter what, Luxray is just always marking its territory, exactly like a big cat.
The ancestor of all Pokémon, Mew is an adorably playful cat-like creature with amazing psychic powers. It was so sought after in the Pokémon world that scientists attempted to clone it, resulting in the creation of Mewtwo. Mew is said to contain the genetic composition of all Pokémon so it is able to learn almost every move available. It has been incredibly rare, only distributed by Nintendo a few times during the series existence. Mew costarred with its clone in the first Pokémon movie and fans who waited in line were given a special Ancient Mew card to mark the occasion. It also served as the “boss” in Pokémon Snap, using a force field to keep the camera from catching it. While it is uncertain whether Mew was the ancestor Pokémon, it was the first trademark that Game Freak ever filed.
Salamence has been a powerful pseudo-legendary since its introduction in Ruby/Sapphire. Mega Evolutions kicked it up a notch, making this dragon even more powerful but making it look ridiculous in the process. Its wings turn into a crescent and it’s personality gets lost to the anger in its heart, so even the Trainer in charge of it is in danger of losing their life.
Beauty and grace hit your face with this Psychic/Fairy hybrid. Many people have fallen in love with this Pokémon, though it might not be safe to Google it. While it has seen fallen to the wayside in the original games, Gardevoir is a powerful contender in Pokkén Tournament. In this other world Pokémon brawler Gardevoir is able to hit opponents from afar using its psychic powers like Foresight. In Super Smash Bros. these abilities are used to create a shield that neutralizes energy blasts. No matter what the game is, Gardevoir has managed to enthrall players with its powers.
35. Alolan Marowak
Nothing cemented the deviousness of Team Rocket like when you hear that they killed Marowak while trying to capture it. This tragic story defines is made even worse by the fact that every Cubone wears it’s departed mother’s skull to still be close to her. This is all terribly sad until Alolan Marowak comes onto the scene because of it’s new ghost sub-type. Cubone can finally stay with its mom, creating a happy ending to an otherwise orphaned monster.
This inconspicuous ghost is the only one where possessing objects affects how it battles. Household appliances that Rotom spirits into give it access to new attacks and even change its type. This has caused it to explode in the competitive scene, particularly Rotom-Wash whose electric/water typing is a formidable combination. More recently this Pokémon played a key role in Sun/Moon, where it possessed the Pokédex, helping out the player and dishing out some of the darkest entries to date.
I love Pokémon’s generational tendencies, but none more than the bipedal absolute unit. Nidoking and Nidoqueen began this tradition back in Gen I, Tyranitar shored up Gen II, but the one that has always had my heart is Gen III’s Aggron. Maybe it’s that they didn’t look as goofy as some other dinosaur-ish Pokémon, maybe it’s the two horns, or maybe it’s the monochrome color scheme, but Aggron just spoke to me in a way few other Pokémon ever do. Though their incredible weakness to Ground-types is a bummer, they kind of make up for it by being immune or resistant to literally half the types in the games.
If Mew is the ancestor of all Pokémon, then Arceus is the one who started it all in the first place. The Pokédex states that this mythical horse “shaped the universe with its 1,000 arms” and that it “was born before the universe even existed,” although in recent games these are prefaced with that this is according to Sinnoh mythology. Outside of the lore, it’s possible for Arceus to be any type of Pokémon depending on the item it is holding and its signature move Judgement also reflects this change. While it’s debatable which came first, the Arceus or the Mew, it’s a terrifying thought that this creator god can be caught by a 10 year old.
Fast sweepers can be fairly important in a game like Pokémon. Weavile is best used as a “revenge killer,” taking out other Pokémon after the opponent’s have already been damaged. This tactic is important as competitive fights can become drawn out as each team slowly gets chipped away. Weavile’s agility is also on display in Pokkén Tournament, where it can jump around the field before attacking the opponent with a deadly Night Slash.
This adorable Totoro impersonator was the original roadblock that blocked players progress. Rotund and lazy, Snorlax was the heaviest Pokémon for years until it was rolled off its throne in Ruby/Sapphire. Despite this it has been a fan favorite since its debut, with various merchandise and a return to the role of obstacle in X/Y. In Sun/Moon Snorlax got its own hilarious Z-Move called Pulverizing Pancake. With all this in-game love it’s no wonder why this sloth-like monster has been a fan-favorite, even if it took almost 20 years for its sprite to get up.
My sweet sweet tree turtle, Torterra, both captures the magnitude and tenderness of nature and Pokémon. A giant tortoise with a tree and stone spikes atop their shell, Torterra are known for their incredible strength, as well as their quiet and caring demeanors. Pokémon have mistaken its shell, and the tree on it, for homes, and they are so synonymous with the earth that ancient societies thought a giant one was underneath them, making land masses that formed the planet. Practically, Torterra is a force to be reckoned with, and puts up a strong defense against almost anything that comes their way. Just pull them out of a fight against an Ice-type Pokémon and you should be more than fine.
Ampharos is a slept-on powerhouse and an incredibly caring Pokémon by nature. The orb on its tail can be lit up as a beacon and they literally shepherd people who are lost with their luminescence. Ampharos is also just insanely cute for a final evolution, since those tend to stray towards being bigger and more menacing. Of course this cute and caring Electric-type Pokémon also had a huge advantage on many other second-gen monsters, and let me tell you, it laid waste to them all in an instant. Ampharos also boasts a wide range of Electric attacks it can learn, whether by leveling or TMs, that make it a deceptive threat when encountered.
Evolution is one of the defining aspects of the Pokémon series. Changing a Pokémon’s form in order to make it stronger is tantamount to becoming a Pokémon master. Eevee best represents this idea with 8 different evolutions to choose from ranging a variety of types. Each of these “Eeveelutions” has garnered its own fan base, making Eevee a fairly sought after Pokémon. It served as the starter Pokémon both for Gary Oak in the anime, Blue in Pokémon Yellow, and the main characters of the spin-off title Pokémon Conquest. The 8 evolutions might already seem a bit excessive, but it definitely seems like Game Freak will give Eevee even more in the future.
Psychic types were ridiculously overpowered in the original trilogy of games, with Alakazam reigning as royalty for the two years before the second generation released. It certainly is no slouch on it’s own though, with a high special attack stat and a slight rarity from having to be traded in order to evolve. That didn’t stop many trainers from wanting one after seeing the gym leader Sabrina use it in battle. Alakazam is still a force to be reckoned with even in the most recent generations thanks to its new-found Mega Evolution.
At the time, Flygon and its previous evolutionary stage (Vibrava) were the only Ground/Dragon Dual-type Pokémon in the series, which remains an incredibly unique pairing. It is especially weird because at first glance, they obviously look like Bug Pokémon rather than either of the things they actually are. But Flygon is also a great example of how environments shape a Pokémon and their legacy. Their eyes have these covers, almost like pilot goggles, that protect them from sand since they primarily live in deserts, and their wings are so powerful that they’re largely responsible for sandstorms that plague the deserts of the Pokémon world. Often confused for a pseudo-legendary Pokémon, Flygon is still an absolute beast when applied properly, thanks in no small part to its Levitate ability that nullifies Ground-type moves, as well as its natural Ground/Dragon resistances and immunities.
This big doofus Dragon was one of the biggest powerhouses of the first generation of Pokémon games. The fully evolved form of Dratini, Dragonite can circle the globe in just 16 hours meaning it can go as fast as Mach 2. Dragonite was the strongest available monster in Pokémon Go’s initial release with a Combat Point maximum of 3581. It was also featured prominently in the first movie, handing out the invitations from Mewtwo to lure Trainers to its island lair. WHile Dragonite hasn’t been featured in many games since, it managed to strike a cool pose in Pokémon Snap and assist players in Pokkén Tournament with a powerful Draco Meteor.
Having strength is one thing, but this monster can poison its enemies too, which makes for a terrifying predator. Besides the myriad of Pokedex entries that point out the sheer power Nidoking can muster from it’s tail alone, this Pokemon was also a favorite of Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket and the final gym leader players would face on their first journey. It is also one of the first to have an assigned gender along with Nidoqueen, as this mechanic wasn’t implemented until the next generation of games.
The Pokémon of Alola certainly made a splash, but none as surprisingly as the rare Toxapex. This shy Pokémon can only be caught in an S.O.S battle against Corsola, which makes encountering happen as little as 1% of 1% of the time. Still it’s worth it for a Pokemon that is quickly becoming one of the best defensive teammates in the game. Superb defense and only a few weaknesses means this monster can withstand plenty of attacks and with the ability to poison means it’ll outlast many opponents. We’ll be seeing plenty more of this Pokémon in the competitive scene as well as the anime since it’s pre-evolution has taken a liking to Team Rocket’s very own James.
Time is a powerful enough force in our lives that we refer to it as a fourth dimension that we cannot transcend. Pokemon lore dictates that time didn’t even start until Dialga was born and that it has complete control over it. While Palkia the controller of space deserves an honorary mention, Dialga has a whomping 10 types that it is resistant to making it a far more formidable opponent in actual play.
The first starter Pokémon many people chose is surprising viable after all this time. Poison Pokémon types felt a new resurgence after it was revealed that they were a main weakness for Fairy types. Venusaur’s bulk made it a shoe in to defend against powerhouses like Azumarill, but its Mega Evolution was an even bigger wall. Mega Venusaur also gains the ability Thick Fat, which lessens the damage from some moves that would normally be super-effective. This continued viability makes it easy to fall in love with Venusaur over and over again.
The origin story for Deoxys is a strange one. It started off as an alien virus on a meteorite that mutated when exposed to a laser beam. It isn’t just a mindless drone though, as it’s hyper intelligent and able to switch between four different forms. Each of these transformations has a different boosted stat which Deoxys needs in its eternal battle with Rayquaza. This cataclysmic clash is one of the most riveting in the series with plenty of renditions both animated and in-game.
Dog lovers everywhere flocked to Arcanine, a loyal fire type that’s big enough to ride on. Arcanine’s Pokédex entries are one of the only ones to reference a real place, saying that it appears to be a legendary Pokémon in China. When Pokémon Go first released Arcanine was one of the strongest obtainable Pokémon with a higher potential for Combat Points, the way the mobile game determines power. While many people were sad to see it not get an Alolan form, Arcanine continues to be a fan favorite.
No Pokémon exemplifies power through perseverance than the mighty Gyarados. Starting off as a pathetic Magikarp, only the most persistent trainer can pull the potential out of that floppy fish and turn it into a terror of the deep. Gyarados also has the honor of being the first shiny Pokémon most people encounter, when a Team Rocket plan forces a Magikarp to evolve early, turning it into a giant red powerhouse in the Lake of Rage.
Each party member on a team has a role to fulfill, helping the Trainer achieve victory through a variety of strategies. Blissey’s contribution has been a tank since its debut in 1999 and it’s been one of the strongest contenders ever since. This Pokémon has the highest possible Hit Points of the entire series, beating out legendaries and deities in its ability to stand its ground against almost every attack. While Chansey is seeing a bit more use thanks to the Evolite item, Blissey is still a contender for one of the toughest tanks around.
One look at this awkward blue blob and you can tell something is just a little…off. Wobbuffet is the only Pokémon that can’t learn an offensive move. Instead it sits and waits for the opponent to hit it, before trying to dish the damage back out. A strange byproduct of this design is when two Wobbuffet fighting can go on forever, with neither landing a killing blow, even when using Struggle. Its role in the anime was wonderfully comedic, always coming out at the worst time to say its name or to get Team Rocket in even more trouble. For an extra bit of weirdness, there’s a theory that its black tail is the actual Pokémon, as Wobbuffet will act violently if it is ever touched.
The Pokémon equivalent of a supercomputer, Metagross has four different brains that it uses to process information. It is still a brutal monster known for pinning down prey with its four arms while it eats its victim with the mouth on its stomach. Mega Metagross is even more violent as eight brains decide to achieve victory by any means necessary. In Super Smash Bros Metagross is far less violent, only using Earthquake to knock enemies off their feet.
This pouty puff put Ash and friends to sleep on more than one occasion but its shining moments have come from Smash Bros. of all places. In a game where spacing and air control are important, Jigglypuff is a powerful contender that deals out great damage even if it can’t handle much in return. This is most exemplified in its move Rest, a double-edged sword that can instantly K.O the opponent but leaves Jigglypuff vulnerable afterward.
It’s strange for a Pokémon to change its typing so drastically after an evolution. The Rowlet line starts off as Grass Flying but as soon as it evolves into Decidueye it changes its subtype to ghost. This is because Decidueye is based on a species of bird that went extinct in Hawaii, adding a real world connection to Pokémon. Its signature move Spirit Shackle is amazingy useful as it can either keep enemies from running away or be powered up to Sinister Arrow Raid to do massive damage. The added Robin hood motif only makes this monster more endearing.
One of the most well-known videogame glitches was a catchable Pokémon that became a playground legend. Players could trick the original games into thinking a small strip of land on Cinnabar Island is a patch of grass which allowed for all kinds of exploits. Pokémon from the Safari Zone could be caught this way and items could be duplicated infinitely but the one thing that stood out is the infamous MissingNo. This sprite block could be above level 100 and when it was caught it would completely rewrite your Hall of Fame data. That didn’t stop a ton of Trainers catching it, with rumors as to what it was spreading like wildfire. People had an even harder time figuring it out because MissingNo could have 5 different sprites depending on what you had named your Trainer. This sense of mystery has since become a part of the Pokémon series with the recent Pokémon Go flooding the internet with theories from players the world over.
Out of the many pseudo-legendaries Garchomp is one of the most versatile. This dragon is able to tank almost anything besides super-effective moves. This combined with its diverse movepool makes it an easy pick for any team. While Mega Garchomp brings this to the next level, it isn’t needed in most cases due to the shear strength of its normal form.
While all the starters are near and dear to someone, not all of them get the kind of love that Greninja has. Its hidden ability Protean allowed it to change its typing to whatever move it was using, making the frog exceptionally versatile in competitive play. Then in the anime it got a transformation called Ash-Greninja from its bond with Ketchum. This power boost eventually made its way to the games in Sun/Moon, giving this ridiculous ninja frog two different paths to kick butt with. Its no wonder why it won a popularity contest in Japan during a promotional event during 2016.
It’s easy to understand why any Pokémon would be jealous of the attention Pikachu gets, especially a ghost with a visage said to curse anyone who sees it. Mimikyu might as well be called the cosplay Pokémon with its desperate attempt to emulate Pikachu for acceptance. It seems that the plan worked, with people the world over falling in love with it. It isn’t a slouch in combat either, with its Disguise ability allowing it a free turn without taking any damage. This opens up a plethora of possibilities that competitive players are still wrestling with but it’s all wonderfully promising.
This fire/fighting fowl debuted as one of the three starters for Hoenn, but it wasn’t until the introduction of Mega Evolution that this bird got to spread its wings. Coupled with the ability Speed Boost, this monster can outspeed every Pokémon in just a few turns, catapulting it into the same tier shared by legendaries and other Pokémon gods.
Anyone who turned on a Gameboy to start playing the original Pokémon knows of Gengar’s might as it slashed at Nidorino during the intro. From there this original Ghost-type became a fan-favorite, first as a spooky spirit before becoming a squishy but powerful companion. Gengar’s diverse movepool allows it to cover a ton of Pokémon types while dealing out punishing hits. Its defences are fairly weak to make up for this, making Gengar a Pokémon that players must think critically about before using. This same process was used in Pokkén Tournament where it uses various tricks to keep the opponent guessing. Mega Gengar is extremely powerful in both games, with heightened speed making it even harder to pin down. While there are many reasons to fear this thrall of the night, Gengar has remained popular years and is a staple in all Pokémon Halloween festivities.
There are plenty of powerful Pokémon but this divine dragon gets bragging rights for being the absolute strongest. Already quite a contender in its regular form, Rayquaza can Mega Evolve from knowing a certain move, allowing it to still hold an item to boost it even further. This unbelieveable power and the ability to completely negate weather effects solidified Mega-Rayquaza as the first Pokémon considered “above Uber,” outclassing every other monster currently in existence.
The cover mascot for Pokémon Red, Charizard was one of the most prolific Pokémon during the original trilogy. Ash’s Charizard was featured heavily in the anime, its defiant attitude used as an example of what happens if you don’t have enough gym badges to earn the respect of your Pokémon. Charizard is one of the only Pokémon to have two Mega Evolutions, one that keeps its same typing while the other turns into a Fire/Dragon. It is the only Pokémon to transition from a Pokéball summon to a complete character in Super Smash Bros. , where it uses moves like Rock Smash and Mega Evolves to decimate opponents. It relies on similar tactics in Pokkén Tournament though it can use even more powerful moves in its Mega Evolution. Charizard may seem like a giant scary dragon, but for many people this was the first Pokémon they ever fell in love with.
The cover mascot for Pokémon Crystal, Suicune added some of the biggest story elements to one of the longest Pokémon games ever made. The chase after Suicune makes it feel like an adventure in itself as it races off several times before finding the player worthy of confrontation. It’s no slouch in combat being considered viable even now and one of the most hotly contested characters in Pokkén Tournament. Suicune has also seen plenty of animated appearances including an episode of Pokémon Generations dedicated to its origin. It may not be the most powerful legendary on this list but Suicune opened up the Pokémon games to a larger narrative structure than just “stop the bad guys from stealing the Pokémon” that saddled the releases before Crystal.
It’s hard to find a soul on this Earth who doesn’t know who Pikachu is. It is by far the most famous Pokémon, appearing in every game and multiple pieces of merchandise including 109 different trading cards. It is the only Pokémon to have its anime voice used as its in-game cry and has the most event-exclusive moves of any Pokémon. In Pokkén Tournament there is the option to pick between two Pikachu, a normal one and a female masked wrestler that takes its look from the special Cosplay Pikachu given out in Omega Ruby/ Alpha Sapphire. It’s impossible to fully state the impact of Pikachu on the Pokémon franchise, but it is possibly the most influential in the success of the entire series.
Pikachu may be the mascot for Pokémon, but Mewtwo has been important to the series in ways that little rodent could only dream of. Mewtwo was the first penultimate boss, proving the toughest challenge in the original games. Its power was then brought to another level with the release of Mega Evolutions. Both of Mewtwo’s Megas have the highest stat for the type of attack they use and are tied with Mega Rayquaza for stat totals. This dominance isn’t limited to the mainline games either, with Mewtwo serving as a boss in everything from Pokémon Pinball to Pokkén Tournament. If that wasn’t impressive enough, this psychic cat is the star of the first Pokémon movie and technically the first monster revealed in the anime since it glides across the screen for the intro. Mewtwo has managed to stay relevant for over 20 years without the same exposure as Pikachu, which itself is a testament to its amazing staying power as one of the most powerful Pokémon.
Paste commissioned this list with one condition: that Psyduck be featured prominently. We know that Psyduck isn’t the most popular among diehard Pokémon fans, but we also know that the most passionate followers of something can often be so deeply entrenched in fan culture that they lose sight of the larger cultural implications of the thing they love. Loving Pokémon doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re too rooted in that culture to truly see the grace, beauty and wisdom of Psyduck, but it does happen, so we’ve been vigilant to prevent our own list from succumbing to that fate.
As we talked about this, though, we realized something: Psyduck is too important to be confined by a list. Psyduck truly transcends the world of Pokémon. Utterly adorable and yet subject to constant psychic anguish, Psyduck is like a Charles Schulz cartoon in Pokémon form. Psyduck is the Charlie Brown of games, lovable and yet constantly unloved, a symbol of the pain and depression of life, but also of its perseverance. Like Charlie Brown, Psyduck doesn’t win in the end, but Psyduck also never gives up. Psyduck is too oblivious to give up. Psyduck waddles about life vacillating between confusion and indifference, mustering up every bit of gumption in its tiny little body solely to keep going in the face of an uncaring universe. Psyduck is every one of us, and a potent reminder that art, including games (and, just this one time, anime, we guess), can sometimes say something far more enlightened and enlightening than it ever intended to.—Ed.
Kevin Slackie likes to play videogames and ride motorcycles though not at the same time. He’s been playing Pokémon for far too long and can’t wait for his next trip to Japan so he can finally buy that life-sized Bulbasaur.