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The 10 Best Starter Pokemon

Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

It’s undeniable that Pokemon’s popularity is unwavering. Despite a couple of rocky moments in recent entries in the last few years, there is little slowing the series down. Ranking Pokemon is always fun, but ranking the best starter Pokemon seems like a great place to start.

Almost every mainline entry begins with you choosing a Pokemon that will be your very first companion on your journey. Many times, they’ll be with you until the very end.

Because of the very nature of picking your starter Pokemon, a lot of love is felt for most of these creatures. Even some of the least popular have their own diehard fans. You don’t wanna cross a passionate Chikorita stan. When attempting to choose the best starter Pokemon, it can come down to a few factors. 

Some people have preferences because of what they evolve into down the line. Torchic, for example, evolves into the powerful and speedy Blaziken. Others are favorites because of how iconic they are – namely the three starters from Pokemon Red and Blue. Many favor strength and a great moveset. Regardless, there’s love out there for all the starter Pokemon, but some stand out more than others.

Here’s our ranking of the top ten best starter Pokémon starting with number ten. 

Litten

Litten is the tenth best starter Pokemon
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Litten is pretty damn cute. Who knew it would grow up to become a fearsome fighting beast that looks like a Fire and Fighting-type but isn’t. That’s right, Litten’s final form, ​​Incineroar is Fire and Dark – a deadly combo.

Over time, Litten’s line has struggled to find love, but it’s hard to deny its power. 

It has a wide range of moves and can learn Fake Out, a move that can give you an edge at the beginning of a battle. Its Intimidate ability also helps even the odds a bit right from the beginning. It’s also one of just a few Pokemon that have also earned a spot in the Super Smash Bros. game roster.

Popplio

Popplio jumping in the Pokemon anime
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Popplio is arguably the least popular of the starters from Pokemon Sun and Moon. The design is too on the nose and silly, but underneath its underwhelming exterior lies some surprising power. Its final form, Primarina, is a Water and Fairy-type which is a nice change of pace for the starter series.

Popplio’s evolution line also boasts an incredibly high Special Attack and Special Defense. On the flip side, of that, however, is her downfall. Her defense is low and she can be taken out by a stronger attacker. She’s also really slow.

If you’re looking for a Special Attack Sweeper with a decent move pool, though, she’s your girl.

Bulbasaur

Bulbasaur smiling in the Pokemon anime
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Remember when secondary types were introduced with starter Pokemon and how over everyone was with the dreaded Fire/Fighting combo? Bulbasaur’s evolution line made dual typing for starters cool before it was even a thing with its Grass/Poison combo.

Bulbasaur is easily the least popular of the three Kanto starters, but he’s still one of the best starter Pokemon because of his evolution line’s poison abilities.

Bulbasaur was also designed last in his evolution line, which is a fun fact. Artist Atsuko Nishida designed Venasaur first and worked backward.

Torchic

Torchic spewing flames.
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Torchic is an adorable bird type that’s final form falls into the sometimes dreaded Fire/Fighting type. As overdone as that is with Fire-type starters, it works extremely well for Torchic’s final form Blaziken.

Blaziken’s speed and raw power become even more deadly thanks to its hidden ability Speed Boost. This boosts its speed each turn. 

It has access to some great Fire and Fighting-type moves, but its coverage isn’t the best outside of that. It does rank in the Uber Tier of competitive Pokemon, but that doesn’t necessarily equate with being the best starter Pokemon.

Mudkip

Mudkip in the Pokemon anime
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Water Pokemon have always hated the Electric-type. That is until little Mudkip came along. While Mudkip is weak to electricity, his next two evolutions are Water and Ground-type. While that makes him super weak to Grass moves, that becomes his only weakness. 

Mudkip’s final form, Swampert, is a bulky beast capable of taking a number of hits. Its Torrent ability can leave it doing some high damage attacks if it isn’t taken out quickly.

Besides being strong, Mudkip and his evolution line are well-designed. It’s one of the lines where the three Pokemon look very believably related. 

Squirtle

The Squirtle Squad in the anime
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Squirtle Squad, unite! The very first water starter Pokemon is easily one of the most popular and best starter Pokemon for a number of reasons. What makes Squirtle so damn loveable has as much to do with his game persona as it does with his anime appearance. The Squirtle Squad is an iconic team that is hard to forget.

Besides that, Blastoise is such a powerhouse Pokemon. While it’s Attack and Special Attack are fine, it really excels on defense.

It can easily hold its own against heavy hitters – especially if you can bolster your defense with Iron Defense. It also can learn Rest, and healing yourself is never a bad idea.

Totodile

Totodile looking happy in a battle.
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Totodile is just pure love, man. He’s always so dang cheerful-looking! And we can’t fault him for that. While his middle evolution is kinda lame, it’s hard not to love Feraligatr, his fearsome final form. 

When Totodile first waddled onto the scene in Gen 2, all water-type moves were Special Attacks, but that changed later in Gen 4.

This would give a huge boost to Totodile and his evolution line whose attack is quite high. Despite that, he does suffer from quite a low-speed stat but it doesn’t stop him from being a formidable opponent. 

Cyndaquil

Cyndaquil standing by a fire
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

If we’re looking at stats, Cyndaquil and his evolution line come in very close to Charmander’s. Cyndaquil fits the bill as the cute but deadly fire starter that started with Charmander.

He also continues the trend of having a fearsome, badass final evolution with his final form, Typhlosion. 

Cyndaquil and his line have a great balance between physical and special attacks which opens him to a much wider move pool than some other fire starters. He is also featured in the newest Pokémon game, Legends Arceus. This time, though, his final evolution is a Fire and Ghost-type 

Froakie

Froakie sitting and looking up
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Froakie’s popularity was a huge surprise to many. His design as the “Bubble Frog” is unassuming and cute. There’s definitely a sense of his martial art skills bubbling in this first evolution, but who knew this baby-faced Pokemon would also be one of the best starter Pokemon.

Greninja, Froakie’s final evolution, is easily one of the most powerful and speedy Pokemon around.

Greninja’s popularity grew so high that he even featured as his own character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His staple speed and ninja-based attacks feature in the game. Gen 6’s starters are very loved except for Froakie, so it’s partially due to this that Froakie’s popularity is so high.

Charmander

Charmander looking happy as can be.
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Charmander is easily one of the most popular Pokémon. He’s also, hands down, one of the best starter Pokemon. His popularity is bolstered by his first anime appearance. In it, an abandoned Charmander is found by Ash and friends, and the storyline following is very sad and touching.

But that isn’t the only reason this Kanto starter is number one. There’s also the nostalgia associated with him. 

It also helps that his final evolution, Charizard, is immensely popular and powerful. This is one of the biggest factors for Charmander’s placement. Fire types also tend to feature some of the best design elements, too and it’s hard to argue with the cuteness of the very first fire type. He’s badass and cute – a deadly combo.

Bonus: Pikachu 

Pikachu in a battle arena.
Photo Credit: The Pokemon Company

Pikachu had to come in as a surprise addition to our list. Not only is Pikachu the most iconic Pokémon but also one of the best starter Pokémon. This little guy has been the mascot of the franchise since the very beginning. While most don’t immediately think of him as a starter Pokémon, Pikachu is, of course, the only option in Pokémon Yellow. He’s also available in Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu.

In Pokémon Yellow, the only choice is Pikachu. This is in part because Yellow is heavily inspired by the Pokemon anime and its Indigo League storyline. Unlike most starters, he stays in his first evolution in the game. He can’t evolve into Raichu.

If you need more Pokemon content, be sure to check out our list of the most popular Pokemon video games ranked from worst to best. Who’s your favorite starter Pokemon? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Casey David

Written by Casey David Muir-Taylor

Casey grew up in the deep south but now resides in the Midwest. He is a fan of JRPGs, survival horror, and story-driven games and believes video games offer the best form of escapism. He is a freelance writer and social media manager.

3 Comments

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  1. The bias that there in the article like wtf. It doesn’t matter if Charmander is popular, it can easily die in the first two gyms in the first games. Do a better job next time and leave the bias behind

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