There are a ton of cute Pokemon out there, for sure. However, plenty of the more memorable Pokemon designs solidify themselves as such because of how unique they are. They aren’t just animals with an elemental coat of paint but creatures with behaviors and hierarchies. Ones you can see walking, swimming, or flopping about in the big wide world.
Pokemon designers tend to create creatures so that they look built not only to fight but to be a friend. Every Pokemon is someone’s favorite, so in this article, we’ll be counting off some of the most unique Pokemon designed in the series, ranked.
If you played Silver, Soul Silver, or other versions that you find make their home in the Johto region, you’ll know that Murkrow is the perfect Big Bad Guy Pokemon. Who can blame that assumption? They gave a crow a little hat that he wears all the time and made the evolution a bigger, more boisterous version of that concept. Murkrow is the ultimate raven-lover’s Pokemon, one with just the cartoony twist that cements itself in the minds of players. If I ever need a Flying type on my team, campaign or otherwise, I always consider Murkrow.
If you want a Pokemon that’s truly unique among others within type and shape, consider the pancake-looking Stunfisk. You’ll never find a Pokemon that looks quite like this one unless you go looking around Galar, in which case you’ll find its Steel-type cousin. Stunfisk is surprisingly efficient in battle. It may not look it, but this type-deceiving flatfish can take out legends with the right move set. Hidden battle potential and silly design make Stunfisk a favorite for more than a few people.
If you want a classic example of a mighty Water-type Pokemon, Gyarados is one of the first choices a stranger might come up with. The design for Gyarados is so iconic that it persists even outside of the community, being one of the most recognizable Pokemon to date. The dragon features that it has without being a Dragon type are fantastic for design possibilities, the Mega even taking it a step further. Gyarados has access to Dragon moves, giving all the benefits of a Dragon without any of the Fairy-related weaknesses. It’s hard to find anything to dislike about Gyarados, which is why it so triumphantly makes our list.
There are only a few Pokemon that can be classified as a crowd, and none of them are as unique as Falinks. This Fighting type army of a few is an iconic Galar resident, always marching in a line and having all the charm of a Kirby enemy transplanted to Pokemon. Falinks breaks the formula of all Pokemon being animals with an elemental twist, being its own creature with no clear biological similarities to anything else.
There’s only one Elektross. No other Pokemon quite captures the same vibe that Elektross does, being an electric eel with teeth that doesn’t quite match any eel depicted in real life. While it doesn’t look as nice in the more modern generations, Elektross’s breakout depiction in Gen 5 was awesome looking, pixel art and all. It truly looks like something that would come out of a deep underwater cave, an actual monster-looking pocket monster that makes this list easily.
Mawile is a one-of-a-kind Pokemon with both cute and fierce design choices rolled into one. On one hand you have a cute, girl-coded Pokemon that appeals as a fighter with a wide move set. On the other hand, you get a freakish but incredibly cool-looking jaw, the main feature of the Pokemon that gives Mawile a lightly intimidating appearance. The perfect mixture of cute and menacing cements Mawile into just the right niche between its own Fairy and Steel typing.
Flygon is more than just your average dragon Pokemon. The lenses over its eyes suggest that their functional, and it actually makes a lot of sense with its Ground typing. Considering that it can learn moves like Sandstorm, these little aviator built-in lenses actually make sense, being functional as well as an iconic monster design detail. The Bug-like features otherwise help Flygon stand out in addition to its unique color palette.
This starter is a fantastic example of the animal + element = awesome formula done right. While some may have made a fire rodent something akin to a rat with a flame tail, this takes the idea a unique step further and adds explosions to the equation. The fire on Cyndaquil’s back is designed so that it subtly looks like spikes rather than an actual flame, further contributing to the iconic look that the Pokemon has, whether in the overworld or otherwise.
Yamper gets plenty of points for looking like what vanilla, or perhaps lemon pudding would turn into if commanded to transform into an animal. Just about every part of this delightful little beast is round, from the paws to the body, to the tuft of fur around the chest to the ears and face. Whoever designed this little guy clearly took the idea that circles are friendly to heart, because every inch of them looks huggable and squishy. The shiny form of Yamper is even more adorable and iconic, being pink instead of yellow.
Zebstrika gets points for uniqueness not because of the zebra features that it has, but because of the subtle extra details that come along with it. Every feature on Zebstrika is characteristically striking, from the white lines that look like thunderbolts, to the wild mane that is jagged and rough. The added detail of having two horns on its head only makes Zebstrika look even cooler, which is why it no doubt solidified its place in thousands of minds as the Electric Type Gym Leader’s ace in Unova.
Anyone who likes getting nice and cozy can understand why Swadloon is on this list. When it comes to mid-evolution designs, it’s either a complete hit or miss. Since the final evolution is often the final destination for many Trainers, some designs are simply meant to be passed over on the way to the Pokemon’s final form. However, that’s not true in Swadloon’s case. Swadloon is a delightfully comfy-looking Pokemon, with a built-in blanket that can help it shield itself from the cold. It even has the design detail right down to its face, one that looks disinterested in the world and is just ready to take a nap.
While no one can truly replace the great design that is Quagsire, Clodsire comes pretty close. In Paldea, having a Clodsire on your team means two things: one, that you have a wall that is hard to overcome for your enemy. And two, you successfully have what looks to be an inflatable pool toy on your team. Clodsire is rubbery looking, almost as if it was meant to be thrown into a pool and lounged on. The added detail of the spikes that emerge only when battling helps make this Pokemon a knockout, both competitively and in terms of design philosophy.
While Blastoise is the optimal water turtle Pokemon, Dreadnaw is a more monstrous take on the exact same concept. On all fours like a proper turtle should be, Dreadnaw looks like a Gen 1 Pokemon, so much so that it looks as if it wasn’t just introduced in Gen 8. Even right down to the stereotypical angry eyes that a lot of first-generation Pokemon have, this Pokemon sticks out by making a throwback to other design concepts of that day.
Before Garganacl was released officially, leakers hinted to fans that this Pokemon has similarities to Minecraft. They were definitely not wrong, Garganacl looks like a Minecraft mob transplanted over into the Pokemon world. With layers like sand and salt as hard as rocks, this big sturdy Pokemon makes for an interesting and unique team member based on design alone. It sticks out among rock-type Pokemon, not adhering to any real-life object or animal, but instead just being a design that stands on its own.
Pokemon that look like they have occupations often end up looking the most unique. This Pokemon looks like Scrafty’s more risk-taking cousin, looking more like a Pokemon with a hobby rather than a job. Everything from the eyes that look like protective lenses, to the punk hairdo, to what looks like paint on the edges of Grafaiai’s hands all screams ‘graffiti artist’ more than the entirety of Team Skull’s membership in Alola. If there ever was a perfect Pokemon for Team Skull, it would be Grafaiai, since they’re both unique, stylish, and overall, punk with a capital P.