The Best 24 Pokémon Starters Across the Generations

Earlier this year, Pokemon celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The iconic video game and entertainment franchise beloved by millions of kids and adults worldwide first introduced timeless characters in 1996.

Picking from the Best Pokémon Starters

pokemon starters

Over the past 25 years, eight generations of three unique Pokémon starters have been a part of Pokémon games.  So whether you're playing the new Pokemon Brillant Diamond or Shining Pearl on Switch, or an old favorite, picking from Pokémon starters will present the first big choice players make in their games.

Every player is expected to select one of the Pokémon starters from a group of three as their very first Pokémon to bring alongside them on their adventures. So whip up a bowl of curry, grab some berries and take a look at these 24 Pokémon starters (excluding Pikachu and Eevee) ranked by a combination of their strength and popularity. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

1. Charmander/Charmeleon/Charizard

megarizard2

 

Aside from Pikachu, Charizard is potentially one of the best-known Pokémon. Whether you are a casual Pokémon fan, a Pokémon master, or a ‘Pokémon Parent,'  you've probably heard of Charizard. The immense popularity of the Charmander/Charmeleon/Charizard evolutionary line, combined with the impressive firepower of Charizard and Mega-Charizard, makes Charmander a fairly obvious choice as one the best Pokémon starters.

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

2. Mudkip/Marshtomp/Swampert

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Mudkip

While the Mudkip/Marshtomp/Swampert evolutionary line may not be as commonly known as Charizard’s line due to Mudkip’s first introduction as a Generation 3 starter rather than a Generation 1 starter, Swampert has taken the Pokémon community by storm over the years.

Even casual Pokémon fans can typically recall starter Pokémon from any of the first three or four generations of Pokémon, which means Mudkip is popular enough to earn its place as a top-tier starter Pokémon, especially in combination with the stellar typing (Water/Ground) and respectable stats of its final evolutionary form, Swampert. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

3. Torchic/Combusken/Blaziken

MegaBlaziken landscape scaled

The Torchic/Combusken/Blaziken evolutionary line provides Pokémon’s Generation 3 games fans with yet another impressive option for their starter Pokémon. Frankly, Blaziken is only outclassed by Charizard as a Fire-Type starter Pokémon due to the overarching popularity of Pokémon’s Generation 1 starters.

As far as stats are concerned, Blaziken features one of the highest Attack stats seen by a Fire-Type Pokémon, excluding legendary Pokémon. However, Blaziken’s Fire/Fighting dual typing results in four distinct weaknesses for Blaziken (Water, Psychic, Flying, Ground), while players using Swampert only face one distinct weakness. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

4. Squirtle/Wartortle/Blastoise

Pokemon starters

Of the 24 Pokémon starters on this list, Squirtle perhaps benefits the most from the consideration of ‘popularity’ as a ranking criterion. While the Squirtle/Wartortle/Blastoise evolutionary line features respectable stats, Blastoise is a surprisingly average final evolutionary form for a Generation 1 starter compared to Charizard.

If it wasn’t apparent from the cannons on its shell, Blastoise is designed to be a tank with its high Defense base stat. Squirtle is easily one of the most beloved Pokémon starters, so this Water-Type starter fairly easily earns a competitive ranking compared to other starters. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

5. Froakie/Frogadier/Greninja

pokemon starters

While Froakie is a fairly late introduction to the pool of Pokémon starters as a Generation 6 starter, Greninja (Froakie’s final evolutionary form) has become exceedingly popular as an offensive Pokémon. Greninja turned quite a few heads with its Water/Dark dual typing and its use of its tongue as a scarf and managed to hang onto that attention with its impressive Speed and Attack stats.

Unfortunately, Froakie, Frogadier, and Greninja are all glass cannons with limited Defense stats. However, Greninja can easily clean out opposing teams so long as its trainer effectively defends against super effective attacks.  

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

6. Cyndaquil/Quilava/Typhlosion

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Cyndaquil

Cyndaquil’s evolutionary line is a particularly interesting starter lineup to examine. Cyndaquil’s final evolutionary form, Typhlosion, boasts base stats identical to Charizard’s base stats. However, the Cyndaquil/Quilava/Typhlosion line is often tossed aside when compared to Charizard’s evolutionary line. This can be partly explained by the vastly different movesets featured by these two fire starters.

However, Charizard’s far-reaching popularity is one of the main reasons Cyndaquil is often forgotten when looking at the Pokemon starters. Fortunately for the Fire Mouse Pokémon from Generation 2, Cyndaquil is still loved enough to earn a competitive ranking when combined with Typhlosion’s strength. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

7. Bulbasaur/Ivysaur/Venusaur

pokemon starters

Bulbasaur is a shockingly unpopular starter choice for Pokémon fans, especially considering he is a Generation 1 starter and even listed as #001 in the Pokédex.  Bulbasaur is a great choice for battling against early Generation 1 gyms thanks to its typing and is, therefore, an easygoing introduction to the world of Pokémon as a whole.

However, Charizard and Blastoise offer more specialized gameplay, resulting in more devoted fanbases. Ultimately, Bulbasaur is a strong, popular starter but just does not rank as high as its Generation 1 peers. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

8. Totodile/Croconaw/Feraligatr

pokemon starters

Much like the Squirtle/Wartortle/Blastoise evolutionary line from Generation 1, the Totodile/Croconaw/Feraligatr evolutionary line from Generation 2 provides players with a solid defensive starter Pokémon. However, the two lines differ substantially as they evolve.

Feraligatr is perfectly capable of tanking a few attacks compared to many other Pokémon but is far from a defensive specialist like Blastoise. It’s tough to say whether Totodile would rank so highly compared to other starter Pokémon without its adorable appearance and status as one of the Generation 2 Pokemon starters, but its stats and moveset definitely usable. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

9. Chimchar/Monferno/Infernape

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Chimchar

While Fire-Type starters, in general, are not known to be great defensive Pokémon, the Chimchar/Monferno/Infernape line is a particularly prominent example of a Fire-Type starter specializing in offense. Chimchar’s evolutionary line consists of exciting glass cannons. Players confident that their Infernape is strong and fast enough to knock out their opponents without receiving significant damage will breeze through plenty of opponents.

However, Chimchar’s evolutionary line generally requires over leveling and a solid support team. With both of these things in mind, a strong Infernape is very intimidating. Unfortunately, those two things rarely go hand in hand. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

10. Piplup/Prinplup/Empoleon

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Piplup

Comparing Piplup and Chimchar can be a real challenge due to their similarities in popularity and strength. Piplup has just barely edged out Chimchar as the most popular Generation 4 starter Pokémon but can’t quite compete with Chimchar’s evolutionary line when it comes to effectiveness in battle.

The slight difference in battle-readiness between the two may not have been quite enough to rank the Piplup/Prinplup/Empoleon line below Chimchar. However, Generation 4 also offers players many more options for Water-type Pokémon than for Fire-Type Pokémon. This ultimately renders Piplup redundant while making Chimchar nearly essential for a balanced team. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

11. Rowlet/Dartrix/Decidueye

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Rowlet 1

Rowlet’s evolutionary line is potentially one of the most unique thus far due to the typing switch that occurs after evolving into Decidueye. Both Rowlet and Dartrix do feature a Grass/Flying dual typing, which is rather unique on its own.

However, Decidueye has become the only Pokémon starter thus far, which features the Ghost-Type as a dual Grass/Ghost-Type. Much like Blaziken, Decidueye faces a handful of Type weaknesses. However, Rowlet is still one of the most popular Generation 7 Pokémon, and the entire evolutionary line manages to hold its own in battle.

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

12. Turtwig/Grotle/Torterra

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Turtwig

At the end of the day, Turtwig is easily the least popular of the Generation 4 Pokémon starters. However, all of Generation 4’s Pokémon starters are generally more popular than the average ones from later generations. Also, Turtwig’s evolutionary line is actually much more viable in battle than it tends to get credit for.

Many players shy away from using this Grass starter due to its line’s low-Speed stats. However, each member of the Turtwig/Grotle/Torterra line can withstand substantially more damage than other Generation 4 starter Pokémon, rendering the low-Speed stat nearly irrelevant.

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

13. Litten/Torracat/Incineroar

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Litten

Litten is an intriguing Fire-Type starter for a few different reasons. First, while Litten is a classic glass cannon when compared to the other Generation 7 Pokémon starters, its final evolution (Incineroar) has surprisingly high base stats for both HP and Defense.

Unfortunately, Litten’s originally impressive base Speed stat actually decreases as it progresses through its evolutionary form. By the end of this process, Incineroar features the lowest Speed stat of the three Generation 7 starters. Typically, Fire-Type Pokemon starters are more popular than their peers. However, Generation 7 may be a few exceptions to this rule. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

14. Popplio/Brionne/Primarina

Elio_Popplio_3

Much like Chimchar and Piplup, Generation 7’s Litten and Popplio are nearly interchangeable regarding popularity. Both the Fire-Type and Water-Type starters are popular choices for fans of the Generation 7 Pokémon games. However, Popplio’s evolutions really struggle to compete with their Generation 7 peers in battle.

As far as physical attacks are concerned, Popplio’s line is relatively hopeless. However, players who enjoy battles centered more around Special Attack and Special Defense Stats may prefer Primarina over Incineroar or even Decidueye. Popplio’s main drawback is simply the specificity required to set up advantageous situations for this line. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

15. Scorbunny/Raboot/Cinderace

pokemon starters

Realistically, Scorbunny only ranks above Grookey and Sobble (the other two Generation 8 Pokémon starters) thanks to this Rabbit Pokémon’s popularity. It is far from uncommon for starter Pokémon to be overwhelmingly adorable, but Scorbunny stands out as an excitable bunny with a marking resembling a bandage across its nose.

Fortunately, Scorbunny also sets players up for an easy start to the Generation 8 Pokémon games as a Fire-Type Pokémon, since the first gym battle is against Grass-Type Pokémon. However, Cinderace is ultimately a bit more challenging to utilize effectively due to generally lower base stats than Rillaboom or Inteleon. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

16. Grookey/Thwackey/Rillaboom

pokemon starters

While Scorbunny’s evolutionary line may pack a punch, Grookey’s evolutionary line is specifically designed to take that punch and return two more. Grookey’s evolutionary line is full of incredible defensive Pokémon with high HP and respectable Attack stats. Neither Grookey nor Scorbunny’s evolutionary lines are particularly well-equipped to deal with Special Attackers. Still, Grookey’s final evolution, Rillaboom, provides the best stats out of Generation 8’s Pokémon starters when facing off against Physical Attackers.  

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

17. Fennekin/Braixen/Delphox

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Fennekin

Aside from Froakie, Generation 6’s Pokémon starters are generally underwhelming in both popularity and strength in battle. However, Fennekin is still substantially better equipped as a starter Pokémon than Chespin. Fennekin’s main drawbacks are the same things that could be regarded as its strengths.

Fennekin is clearly designed to be a fearsome Special Attacker with higher Special Attack and Special Defense stats than Froakie and Chespin, as well as the second-highest Speed stat. Delphox also becomes a Fire/Psychic dual-type Pokémon, further emphasizing this line’s usefulness for players who enjoy using Special moves rather than Physical moves. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

18. Treecko/Grovyle/Sceptile

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Treecko

Treecko was really set up to fail as a starter Pokémon in the Generation 2 Pokémon games. Treecko is still a Generation 2 starter Pokémon and is, therefore, more popular than a number of other Pokémon starters. However, Treecko is both the least popular and least viable Generation 2 starter.

Admittedly, Pokémon fans who are willing to help their Treecko eventually evolve into Sceptile will be rewarded with an incredibly speedy Pokémon. However, even then, Sceptile’s stats are generally lacking, and its moveset makes it difficult for players to effectively capitalize on the Pokémon’s impressive Speed stat. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

19. Sobble/Drizzile/Inteleon

intelian

While Sobble certainly isn’t a ‘bad’ starter Pokémon, the emotional water lizard Pokémon can’t quite compare to similar Water-Type Pokémon starters like Mudkip or Froakie in popularity or strength. While both Inteleon and Greninja offer impressive Special Attack and Speed Stats, Sobble’s evolutionary line is much harder to utilize in Generation 8’s Pokémon games than Froakie’s evolutionary line is to use in Generation 6.

Additionally, Sobble maintains a single Water-Type throughout the entirety of its evolutionary line, while many other Water-Type starters eventually take on a dual typing that comes with various advantages. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

20. Chikorita/Bayleef/Meganium

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Chikorita crop

Chikorita arguably has one of the worst reputations compared to any other Pokémon starters. This is rather devastating for Generation 2’s Grass-type starter Pokémon, especially seeing as the stats seen throughout Chikorita’s evolutionary line really aren’t all that bad.

Chikorita’s poor reputation seems to stem from the general setup of the gym challenge in the original Generation 2 Pokémon games, which is difficult to conquer if players rely on Chikorita’s single Grass-Type typing. Seeing as Generation 2 was such an early chapter in Pokémon’s history, players who were initially soured by Chikorita’s utility in 1999 are far less likely to adjust their opinions of this evolutionary line compared to later Pokémon starters.

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

21. Snivy/Servine/Serperior

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Snivy

Unfortunately for Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott, Pokémon’s Generation 5 games are known to feature some of the worst Pokémon starters to date. However, Snivy is often regarded as the best of the bunch. Snivy’s entire evolutionary line demonstrates solid Defense and Special Defense stats, as well as impressive Speed stats.

Therefore, Snivy’s evolutionary line is fairly well-suited to defensive play. However, this line’s single Grass-Type typing leaves every member weak to five different Pokémon types and resistant to none. This, combined with the unfortunate reputation of all Unova starters, leaves Snivy out to dry. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

22. Tepig/Pignite/Emboar

Pignite and Emboar, Tepig’s evolutions, suffer quite a bit from the redundancy of their Fire/Fighting dual typing as far as popularity is concerned. With the release of Pokémon’s Generation 5 games, players had seen a total of three separate starter lines featuring the Fire/Fighting dual typing. Combined with the disappointing stat totals demonstrated by all of the Generation 5 Pokemon starters and Emboar’s paltry Defense, Special Defense, and Speed stats, Tepig really can’t be placed high on any list when compared to other Pokémon starters.

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

23. Oshawott/Dewott/Samurott

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Oshawatt

While Oshawott’s evolutionary line features lower Attack and Special Attack stats than Tepig’s evolutionary line, one could argue that Oshawott’s overall stat distribution is superior to Tepig’s thanks to the minor increase in Defense, Special Defense, and Speed stats. However, Oshawott’s evolutionary line is known to have one of the worst movesets players have seen. While none of Generation 5’s Pokémon starters are very popular, Oshawott is just a bit worse than Tepig or Snivy when it comes to actual usability. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

24. Chespin/Quilladin/Chesnaught

Pokemon TCG First Partner Pack OS Chespin

To reiterate, any starter Pokémon can be used by trainers capable of identifying their strengths. However, Chespin is a difficult Pokémon to raise effectively and evolves into unpopular Pokémon down the line. Chespin’s evolutionary line is slow and ill-equipped for battles with Pokémon boasting strong Special Attacks.

This evolutionary line’s biggest weakness comes from Chesnaught’s Grass/Fighting dual typing. Casual Pokémon fans may have been intrigued by introducing a Grass/Fighting-Type starter Pokémon rather than the more common Fire/Fighting-Type starter Pokémon. However, the Grass/Fighting dual typing fails to reduce any of the evolutionary line’s weaknesses and actually creates a new problem in the form of a 4x weakness to Flying-Type moves. 

Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: The Pokemon Company.


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