The best gen 5 Pokémon – a grey area

When it comes to our favourite Pokémon, things aren’t always so black and white. But we’ve done our best and compiled a list of the best gen 5 Pokémon for you

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Krookodile, Volcarona, and Zoroark, but they are obscured by a black overlay

Though some think of it as the black sheep of the Pokémon franchise, I
have a soft spot for generation five, as the Unova region titles herald a fresh approach for the Pokémon series, and offer a white knuckle ride of a story alongside a huge pokedéx with a substantial amount of new ‘mons. Seen as a soft reboot of the Pokémon franchise, Black and White feature more new Pokémon than any other generation, even the originals.

With 156 Unova residents to choose from, there are a lot of candidates for the best gen 5 Pokémon. Well, it’s a tough job, but we’re up to the task. We’ve sifted through, looking at every Pokémon from Archen to Zoroark, and picked the best ‘mon from the batch, alongside a couple of staff favourites, to help you on your journey. So whether you want to beat the Pokémon League again or just uncover the secrets of the mysterious N, these creatures can help you on your journey.

Like our other guides, we won’t include any starter Pokémon, legendary Pokémon, or mythical Pokémon, as they have their own guides, and it gives the unsung heroes a moment in the spotlight. For even more great guides, be sure to read our articles covering the best dog pokémon, cat Pokémon, best gen 1 Pokémon, and the best gen 8 Pokémon.

Enough chat, let’s venture forth on a grand adventure, to explore our guide to the best gen 5 Pokémon. Head on over to our Pokémon Go Eevee evolutionPokémon Go raidsPokémon Go community days, and Pokémon Go events guides too!

Best gen 5 Pokémon

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Chandelure

Chandelure

Be our guest, be our guest, come see why this mon’s the best. Tying for the prize of the best sentient piece of furniture alongside Rotom and its many forms, Chandelure is a fire/ghost-type that looks like an enchanted chandelier. It’s known to use its flames to hypnotise people to lure them in (Chandelure, get it?), before being said to not just burn their victims physically, but to scorch their spirit too.

Chandelure is a fan favourite from Unova, especially thanks to a whopping base special attack stat of 145. Whoever handed out stats for Pokémon Black and White was on a wild one, because this is just one Pokémon in a batch of them that possess some truly impressive stats that forever changed the meta. Chandelure is so popular, in fact, that it even takes up a slot in the Pokémon x Tekken mashup Pokken Tournament DX for Switch. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever slapped around a luchador Pikachu with a sentient chandelier, but I can promise you it’s very, very fun.

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Hydreigon

Hydreigon

The pseudo-legendary line of generation five, following along the lines of Pokémon like Garchomp, Dragonite, and Tyranitar; Hydreigon is known as the brutal Pokémon, and its joint dark/dragon-typing along with its fantastic move pool and stat spread make this one a fearsome threat no matter the generation. Each monster in the evolution line also contains a German number, with Deino, Zweilous, and Hydreigon all counting from ein, zwei, to drei, representing the three heads of this brutal beast.

Its fantastic typing gives it immunity to moves from ground Pokémon and psychic Pokémon, making it a decent threat to ground Pokémon, Garchomps, and earthquake users the land over. Sadly, it does leave it extremely weak to fairy, so the years haven’t been kind to Hydreigon. Still, at least it has an awesome shiny, which turns the previously blue heads of the beast a bright green, and it’s so popular that the shiny even appears in the anime. In fact, I snagged one myself during a Pokémon Go community day.

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Braviary

Braviary

Known as the valiant Pokémon and clearly inspired by an eagle, Braviary cuts an intimidating figure and is easily one of the best bird Pokémon in the franchise. While the first four Pokémon generations take influence from regions in Japan, the United States influences the Unova region, so of course, Game Freak has to include an eagle Pokémon. Its colouring even represents the red, white, and blue of the American flag!

With dual normal/flying-typing, sadly Braviary isn’t quite as cool to use in battle as it is to look at. But it does have a handy dandy new form in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, with the Hisuian Braviary changing to psychic/flying-typing, and sporting a new colour scheme with bright purples and pinks. It certainly gets our vote for one of the best Pokémon Legends: Arceus new Pokémon.

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Krookodile

Krookodile

Just look at this sneaky guy! I’m going to be honest, I absolutely love crocodiles and alligators, so any Pokémon based on them instantly gets shot up the ranks for me, but Krookodile isn’t just a banging member of the Crocodilia familia, it also looks incredible. Known as the intimidation Pokémon, Krookodile’s thick black stripes cover all of its body, but the bands over it’s eyes help to create the look of a robber’s mask. Just top-tier Pokémon design here, incredible work Game Freak.

Krookodile sports a useful typing of dual ground/dark, making it immune to electric and psychic moves. It does still have quite a few common weaknesses though, such as water, grass, ice, and fairy; perhaps explaining why Krookodile hasn’t risen up into common use like other ground-type Pokémon such as Garchomp. Still, it will always have a place in my heart.

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Excadrill

Excadrill

Remember earlier when I was talking about the impressive stats of some of the Unova region Pokémon? Meet Excadrill, who, with a whopping base 135 attack, is ahead of Zacian, Urshifu, Terrakion, Kyurem, and many others in the attacking department. You can just find this guy walking around. It’s just a regular ‘mon! I wouldn’t want to bump into one in the sewers of Unova, I tell you that.

Excadrill is a joint ground/steel-type, making it immune to moves from poison Pokémon and electric Pokémon (and a nightmare for Gen 8 Pokémon Toxtricity), but it’s let down by weakness to fire, water, and even ground. If nothing else, it looks awesome, using its claws on both its arms and head to form a gigantic drill that it uses to burrow through the ground at high speeds. It also has the hidden ability mold breaker, which can allow ground-type moves to hit Pokémon with the levitate ability, so if you use it properly, Excadrill can be an incredible addition to a team.

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Volcarona

Volcarona

It’s a giant fire moth. What else do I have to say? Another recipient of a monster stat boost, Volcarona is a bug/fire-type that sports a stats of 135 in special attack. This beast packs a punch, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of its flamethrower. Sadly it doesn’t have immunities, and it even has a 4x weakness to rock, meaning that a stealth rock does some serious damage to this creature.

Evolved from Larvesta, Volcarona has something of a majestic look to it, clearly inspired by Mothra, and just the big/fire-typing is a unique and interesting combination. It also usually sports the ability flame body, so while it’s weaker to physical attacks than special, there’s a good chance you can burn opponents if they make physical contact with the beast. My Volcarona is the crown jewel of my team in Pokémon Black and White, and thanks to its enduring design and interesting type combination, I’m always eager to keep one in my team no matter the generation.

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Cofagrigus

Cofagrigus

Otherwise known as the coffin Pokémon, Cofagrigus clearly takes inspiration from the cursed sarcophagus of Egyptian pharaohs, and with its spooky black tendril-like arms and a dark grin emanating from the head of the coffin, it’s one of the creepiest Pokémon in the franchise. This mon is all about defence, sporting a whopping 145 physical defence and 105 special defence, which alongside its single ghost-typing means it has immunity to normal and fighting attacks.

Essentially, this is a really effective wall Pokémon, able to use status effects and other annoying moves like curse to needle away at opponents slowly, instead of an offensive approach. However, just being a ghost-type does leave it open to attacks from other ghost Pokémon and dark Pokémon, and if gen 5 does anything, it introduces a lot of fantastic new dark Pokémon, which brings us nicely onto…

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Zoroark

Zoroark

While gen four introduced a bipedal pseudo-legendary in Lucario, who is so popular they appear in the flagship Pokémon movies, gen five introduced the illusion fox known as Zoroark, who has a very unique ability. Zoroark is the only Pokémon with the ability illusion, which means that when it enters battle, your Zoroark takes on the appearance of a different Pokémon from your team, confusing your opponent and possibly causing them to waste an ineffective move on the dark-type.

It backs this up with a respectable 120 special attack stat, and a decent speed of 105, but while its ability seems designed to let Zoroark take a couple of punches, its awful physical and special defence stats of a measly 60 mean that Zoroark isn’t standing there for long. If you want to see the definition of a glass cannon, this is probably it. Still, the single dark-type gives it immunity to psychic moves, if nothing else. Meanwhile, the incredible Hisuian Zoroark not only sports a ghostly figure and flowing white fur, but its normal/ghost-typing gives it immunity to normal, fighting, and ghost-type moves. Look out for this one in the future!

Gen 5 Pokemon, key art for the game Pokemon Black and White shows the Pokemon Joltik

Joltik

Finally, last but by no means least, it’s just a little spider baby. There’s a category of Pokémon in my head that I like to define as “they’re just a sweet little guy” Pokémon. Notable entries in this category include Bellsprout, Snom, Azurill, and of course, the bug/electric-type known as Joltik. With its striking bright yellow colour and its adorable little eyes, how can you not love this guy?

Joltik is also one of the smallest Pokémon in the game, designed to be a mere 0.1m. It sadly doesnt pack much of a punch, and its evolution Galvantula doesn’t do much to change that either. But, not every pokemon has to be competitively viable to be loved, and Joltik sure isn’t viable. You’ll always be the winner in our hearts Joltik, keep doing you.

Alright trainers, that’s it from us today, and we hope you found some great gen 5 Pokémon to fill out your team. For even more great recommendations, be sure to read our guide on the best gen 3 Pokémon next.