10. Oshawott – Black and White
Oshawott’s final evolution, Samurott, really looks weird when compared to the pre-evolutions, but that doesn’t stop him from being pretty awesome with very high defense. As a rare instance of not gaining a second type, the sole Water type means they don’t gain any extra weaknesses, but also no additional advantages.
9. Treecko – Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald
Treecko is easily the best of the Grass starter options, which admittedly isn’t saying much. Grass type is very weak compared to Fire and Water, but even though Treecko doesn’t get the advantage of being a dual type, his incredible speed and solid stable of offensive moves make him a decent option in generation three. Plus, all three evolutions look cool and can learn Dragon, Fighting, and even Ice moves.
8. Pikachu – Yellow
Take the popularity out of consideration and consider the facts. Yes, it’s cool that Pokemon Yellow let you start with a Pikachu and still get all three other starters, but she couldn’t evolve, was useless in three of the first four badges, and in the late game was completely overshadowed by Pokemon like Zapdos and Jolteon. Pikachu helped put Pokemon on the map, but as a starter, there are a lot of better options out there.
7. Totodile – Gold, Silver, and Crystal
Totodile is a rare exception to the cute starter rule, but his later evolutions certainly look badass. As a Water Pokemon, he isn’t actually all that awesome compared to some others from his generation, but he’s a decent choice to start Gold, Silver, or Crystal. Thankfully, final evolution Feraligatr has very high defense, in addition to a killer name.
6. Cyndaquil – Gold, Silver, and Crystal
Cyndaquil is one of my personal favorite starters, and was my go-to dude when starting my very first game of Pokemon Gold. He reminded me a lot of Charmander, but had an even cooler stable of moves as he evolved. His final evolution, Typhlosion, can also learn Thunder Punch, which helps when you’re facing Water Pokemon, the bane of the Fire type. He’s slow to learn great moves, but it’s worth the wait.
5. Froakie – X and Y
A lot of people know Froakie’s final evolution, Greninja, from Super Smash Bros., and he was included in that game for good reason. I mean, he’s a ninja frog, after all. He isn’t the most powerful Pokemon all things considered, but has decent attack stats and tremendous speed. Greninja is also a dual Water/Dark type, which is highly unique and fits his design well.
4. Fennekin – X and Y
For being arguably the worst generation in the series, Pokemon X and Y gave us some pretty cool starters (Chespin notwithstanding). Fennekin finally broke the Fire type cycle of adding a secondary Fighting type, and instead added Psychic, which is pretty unique. The fire fox design is uninspired, but the final evolution, Delphox, is an offensive minded, special attack beast.
3. Mudkip – Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald
I’m not in love with Mudkip’s look, but he is a freaking badass. He’s a dual Water/Ground type, which is notable because most of the weaknesses balance out. That makes him very sturdy, especially in his final form, Swampert. He’s also surprisingly fast for his size. And Mudkip starts learning Ground moves pretty early on, which only makes him even more useful from the get-go.
2. Squirtle – Red and Blue
Everyone always talks about Charmander and Charizard, and yes, they’re awesome. But Squirtle is super underrated as a Pokemon. He can win you your first gym badge single-handedly, evolves into one of the strongest Pokemon in the game, and can learn most of the best Water and Ice type moves to boot. The name may sound vaguely pornographic, but he’s still awesome.
1. Charmander – Red and Blue
How could it be anyone else? Not only is Charmander one of the cutest starters available, he evolves into what I have scientifically proven to be the greatest Pokemon from the original 151. As is typical of most Fire type starters, Charmander and his evolutions are offensive minded Pokemon, learning powerful moves like Fire Blast and Flamethrower. Charizard stupidly couldn’t learn Fly in Red or Blue, but that’s a small gripe for what is otherwise an awesome Pokemon.
So there you have it, my personal ranking of all nineteen starters! What do you think? Are Squirtle and Charizard really that awesome, or do you prefer some of the more recent options? And who are you choosing in Pokemon Sun/Moon? Popplio, Litten, or Rowlett? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out my ranking of the Pokemon generations!