Ranking all the starter Pokémon in the franchise can be tricky because every starter is someone’s favorite. Some people get mad no matter what order we put all these Pokémon in. 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 series starters from least favorite to most favorite.
Related: Pokémon fans are committed to keeping their Scarlet and Violet party starters going for the entire game – can you?
Who is the best starter Pokémon?
The criteria for a good starter Pokémon comes down to its design, how memorable it is, and where it stands within the larger Pokémon media landscape. Of the 27 starters in the games, not all starter Pokémon are created equal. Some starters are left in the shadows of more popular Pokémon, which often rank as some of the most popular Pokémon in the franchise.
There are worst designed starters in the franchise, but Tepig is at the bottom of this list for being so unique. It’s a cute pig Pokémon, and that’s all you can say about it. It also evolves into Emboar, which absorbs.
Chespin’s greatest crime is less visibility. Still, who could blame him if he was a starter Pokémon alongside Froakie, the latter of which became the famous Greninja.
In the grand scheme of things, Chikorita was one of the forgotten starters in the series. Chikorita has one of the more interesting designs for a starter Pokémon; no other Pokémon looks like Chikorita
Like Tepig, Fennekin is hardly unique in terms of its design and overall stance within the franchise. Fennekin’s design is still cute and harmless, but mostly just a yellow fox.
Grookey is a green monkey who likes to play with a wooden stick, which is all you need to know about this starter. This is not to say that Grookey is terrible, far from it, but he doesn’t have much style to stand out.
Popplio gets a lot of hate, which he doesn’t deserve. Popplio is a cute Pokémon with more personality than many other starters in the franchise.
Scorbunny and its evolution have divided the Pokémon fandom over how the Pokémon became humanoid. However, Scorbunny has a lot of personality, making it a likable Pokémon.
Oshawott is a simple looking Pokémon, but it gets the job done. Oshawott is too cute to be lovable, and its evolutions are strong.
When the rest of the starters on this list are nothing but solid Pokémon, it can be hard to tell why some are lower than others. Litten has a nice design but is lower on this list because it’s simple, and its evolutions hold it back.
Let’s be honest and admit that Froakie only ranks high among fans because it turns into Greninja. Froakie itself isn’t one of the best designed franchise starts. It’s enough that it ranks higher than many other starters but fails to keep up with all the greats in the series.
While the players argued over who was better between Sprigatito and Fuecoco, Quaxly stood quietly on the sidelines, enjoying his small section of fans. We’ve seen a lot of duck Pokémon before. However, Quaxly brings its own unique charm that makes it stand out. Its final evolution is a little too humanoid for some fans’ tastes, but Quaxly himself is still a solid design.
Many fans find Snivy’s legs and arms off-putting, but for us, that’s what makes this starter Pokémon so durable and appealing. Snivy is the standout starter from the fifth generation of Pokémon games with the coolest looking evolutions.
Sobble is the clear standout starter in Pokémon Sword and Shield. People rely on Pokémon’s nervous nature and attractive design. Unfortunately, Sobble suffers from truly terrible evolutions, with Inteleon being one of the worst late-stage evolutions for a starter.
Like Sobble, Sprigatitio has a beautiful design, which is destroyed by its evolutions. Its big head and big eyes make this grass cat Pokémon irresistible, and it’s one of the knock-out designs from Scarlet and Violet.
Torchic is the starter Pokémon that resembles its real-life counterpart. The Torchic is, basically, a baby chicken, and while we’re critical of starters with basic designs, simplicity is the best of the Torchic.
While Blaziken and Sceptile are often listed as two of the most popular Pokémon, Mudkip and its evolutions are left to wallow in obscurity. Mudkip deserves more love; he is cute and has a beautiful design that looks like no other creature in the games.
While Eevee has always been one of the more recognizable Pokémon from the first generation of Pokémon games, its popularity has increased in recent games where developers have put Eevee on a pedestal equal to Pikachu. Today Eevee is one of the main mascots of the franchise, and it deserves recognition.
Chimchar is more cool than cute, having a prominent role in the anime that made Pokémon a fan favorite. With other starter Pokémon, you get the sense that you can play them like pets, but with Chimchar, you feel like he can take care of himself.
Piplup is one of the most charming starters in the franchise. Its round head and body help make Piplup look so adorable, making it the ideal Pokémon to get as a plushie. Piplup also plays an important role in the anime series, making it one of the most recognizable Pokémon from the fourth generation of Pokémon games.
Totodile is the goofball starter Pokémon. Totodile has a crazy face and a wacky personality. He is a blue alligator that you want to hug; Totodile has always been one of the most iconic Pokémon from Johto.
Cyndaquil doesn’t have the same lasting personality that Totodile has, but it does so through evolution and a very different design. Its shy nature also makes Cyndaquil a beloved Pokémon among fans.
If there’s only one Pokémon that everyone knows, it’s Pikachu. People all over the world know about Pikachu’s bright yellow fur and red cheeks; its unique design perfectly reflects the general aesthetics of Pokémon. People say Pikachu is overrated, but we can’t get enough of the electric mouse.
Charizard is, in many ways, as big a mascot of the Pokémon franchise as Pikachu. Charizard’s popularity makes Charmander a popular starter, even though we all know Charmander is pretty boring. He was just an orange lizard, but the simplicity of his design made Charmander endure.
Squirtle is the cutest of the original three that started back in Pokémon Red and Blue. Turtles have always been popular animals for kids, so naturally many players latched onto Squirtle when the game first launched. We love the original turtle Pokémon in the franchise.
Bulbasaur is often overshadowed by Charmander and Squirtle, which is a shame. After all, Bulbasaur is unique. Bulbasaur has one of the most inventive designs in the franchise, with a mix of reptilian and mammalian animals.
Turtles and tortoises are always a competitive winner when it comes to Pokémon. Squirtle proved such an icon that it was only natural for the Pokémon Company to replicate the same success with the tortoise Pokémon Turtwig. Turtwig’s design is very powerful and unlike other turtle/turtle Pokémon in the franchise.
Treecko and its evolutions are the definitive “cool” starters in the Pokémon series. The Treecko has a slick and sleek design, which contrasts with the softer and rounder aesthetics seen on other starters. Treecko isn’t a cute and cuddly Pokémon, he’s the bad boy of beginners, and we love him for that.
Fans fell in love with Fuecoco when the first trailer for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet was released. Fans adore Fuecoco for his chunky appearance and crazy expressions. Fuecoco is the breakout star of the ninth generation of Pokémon games, and we can’t get enough of him. Its final evolution, Skeledirge, is one of the best Pokémon introduced in Scarlet and Violet.
Rowlet feels like the starting Pokémon that led Game Freak all this time. Rowlet checks all the necessary boxes to be a fantastic starter, while being attractive and marketable. Rowlet’s design is unique and the best in the series, easily surpassing all starters. Rowlet shows what makes the Pokémon games great and why so many people love these little pocket monsters.