All Pokémon starters, ranked worst to best

The best of the starters.

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Ranking all the starter Pokémon in the franchise can be dangerous because every starter is someone’s favorite. Some people will get upset no matter what order we place all these Pokémon. If you’ve played one of the Pokémon games, you have an opinion on which starter is the best. However, we’re willing to take the risk and rank all the starters in the series from least favorite to most favorite.

Related: Pokémon fans commit to keeping their Scarlet and Violet starter in the party for the whole game — will you?

Who are the best starter Pokémon?

The criteria of a great starter Pokémon come down to its design, how memorable it is, and where it stands within the greater Pokémon media landscape. With 27 starters in the games, not all starter Pokémon are created equal. Some starters are left in the shadows of far more popular Pokémon, who are often ranked as some of the most popular Pokémon in the franchise.


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There are worse-designed starters in the franchise, but Tepig is at the bottom of this list for being uniquely unremarkable. It’s a cute pig Pokémon, and that’s all you can say about it. It also evolves into Emboar, who sucks.


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Chespin’s biggest crime is not standing out as much. However, who can blame it when it’s a starter Pokémon alongside Froakie, the latter of which evolves into the ludicrously popular Greninja?


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In the grand scheme of things, Chikorita is one of the forgotten starters in the series. Chikorita does have one of the more fascinating designs for a starter Pokémon; there are no other Pokémon that look like Chikorita


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Like Tepig, Fennekin is almost unremarkable in terms of its design and overall stance within the franchise. Fennekin’s design is still slick and inoffensive, yet it’s mostly just a yellow fox.


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Grookey is a green monkey who likes playing with a wooden stick, which is everything you need to know about this starter. This is not to say Grookey is terrible, far from it, but it doesn’t have much of a style to stand out.


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Popplio gets a lot of hate, which it doesn’t deserve. Popplio is a cute Pokémon that has more personality than plenty of the other starters in the franchise.


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Scorbunny and its evolution are divisive among the Pokémon fandom for how humanoid the Pokémon ends up becoming. However, Scorbunny has a lot of personality, making it a likable Pokémon.


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Oshawott is a plain-looking Pokémon, but it gets the job done. Oshawott is cute enough to be lovable, and its evolutions are pretty solid.


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When the rest of the starters in this list are nothing but solid Pokémon, it becomes difficult to articulate why some are lower than others. Litten has a great design but is lower on this list because it is simple, and its evolutions really hold it back.


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Let us be honest and recognize that Froakie only ranks so highly among fans because it evolves into Greninja. Froakie itself isn’t one of the best-designed starters in the franchise. It’s good enough that it still ranks higher than many other starters yet fails to live up to the all-time greats in the series.


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While gamers argued who was better between Sprigatito and Fuecoco, Quaxly stood quietly on the sideline, enjoying its small section of fans. We’ve seen plenty of duck Pokémon beforehand. Nonetheless, Quaxly brings in its own unique charm that makes it stand out. Its final evolution is a little bit too humanoid for some fans’ taste, but Quaxly itself is still a solid design.


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Many fans find Snivy’s legs and arms off-putting, yet to us, that is what makes this starter Pokémon enduring and charming. Snivy is the standout starter from the fifth generation of Pokémon games with the coolest-looking evolutions.


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Sobble was the clear standout starter of Pokémon Sword and Shield. People latched onto the Pokémon’s nervous attitude and appealing design. Unfortunately, Sobble suffers from truly horrendous evolutions, with Inteleon being one of the worst final-stage evolutions for a starter.


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Similarly to Sobble, Sprigatitio has a cute design, ruined by its evolutions. Its large head and big eyes make this grass cat Pokémon irresistible, and it is one of the knock-out designs from Scarlet and Violet.


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Torchic is the starter Pokémon that looks the most like its real-life counterpart. Torchic is, essentially, a baby chicken, and while we’ve been critical of starters with basic designs, the simplicity works best in Torchic.


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Whereas Blaziken and Sceptile are constantly listed as two of the most popular Pokémon, Mudkip and its evolutions are left to wallow in obscurity. Mudkip deserves more love; it is cute and has a good design that makes it look like no other creature in the games.


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While Eevee has always been one of the more recognizable Pokémon from the first generation of Pokémon games, its notoriety has risen in recent games where the developers have placed Eevee on a pedestal equal to Pikachu. Now Eevee is one of the main mascots of the franchise, and it deserves recognition.


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Chimchar is more cool than cute, with a prominent role in the anime that made the Pokémon a fan favorite. With the other starter Pokémon, you get the sense you can play with them like pets, but with Chimchar, you feel like it can take care of itself.


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Piplup is one of the most adorable starters in the franchise. Its round head and body help make Piplup appear very cuddly, making it the ideal Pokémon to have as a plushie. Piplup also had a vital role in the anime series, making it one of the most recognizable Pokémon from the fourth generation of Pokémon games.


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Totodile is the goofball starter Pokémon. Totodile has a silly face and a wacky personality. It is a blue crocodile that you just want to hug; Totodile has always been one of the most iconic Pokémon from Johto.


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Cyndaquil doesn’t share the same enduring personality that Totodile has, but it makes up for it through its evolution and more distinctive design. Its shy nature has also made Cyndaquil a beloved Pokémon by fans.


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If there’s only one Pokémon that everyone can recognize, it will be Pikachu. People all over the globe know about Pikachu’s bright yellow fur and red cheeks; its distinctive design perfectly reflects the overall aesthetics of Pokémon. People say Pikachu is overrated, but we can’t get enough of the electric mouse.


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Charizard is, in many ways, just as big of a mascot of the Pokémon franchise as Pikachu. Charizard’s popularity makes Charmander a popular starter, even though we all know Charmander is a little bit boring. It’s only an orange lizard, but the simplicity in its design has oddly made Charmander enduring.


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Squirtle was the cute one among the original three starters from way back in Pokémon Red and Blue. Turtles are always popular animals for kids, so it was natural that many players latched onto Squirtle when the game first launched. We love the original turtle Pokémon of the franchise.


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Bulbasaur is constantly overshadowed by Charmander and Squirtle, which is a shame. After all, Bulbasaur is awesome. Bulbasaur has one of the franchise’s most inventive designs, with a mixture of reptilian and mammalian animals. 


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Turtles and tortoises are always a winning competition when it comes to Pokémon. Squirtle has proven such an icon that it was natural for the Pokémon Company to replicate that same success with the tortoise Pokémon Turtwig. Turtwig’s design is very strong and isn’t like any other turtle/tortoise Pokémon in the franchise.


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Treecko and its evolutions are the definitive “cool” starters in the Pokémon series. Treecko has a slick and slender design, contrasting the more soft and round aesthetics as seen in other starters. Treecko is not a cute and cuddly Pokémon, it is the bad boy of the starters, and we love it for that.


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Fans fell in love with Fuecoco as soon as the first trailer for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet was released. Fans adore Fuecoco for its chunky appearance and goofy expressions. Fuecoco was the breakout star of the ninth generation of Pokémon games, and we can’t get enough of it. Its final evolution, Skeledirge, is one of the best Pokémon introduced in Scarlet and Violet.


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Rowlet feels like the starter Pokémon that Game Freak was leading to all this time. Rowlet checks off all the necessary boxes to be an amazing starter, while still being cute and marketable. Rowlet’s design is fantastic and the best in the series, outshining every other starter easily. Rowlet exemplifies what makes the Pokémon games work and why so many people love these little pocket monsters.