The best monkey Pokémon – from Aipom to Zarude

With so many Pokémon based on our simian pals, find the best cheeky chimp and the real king of the swingers with our best monkey Pokémon guide.

Custom image for monkey Pokemon guide with Grookey on a green background

This list of the best monkey Pokémon is here to guide you through some of our favourite banana-loving buddies we’ve encountered over the many different Pokémon generations. Some might play a little bit fast and loose with the term monkey, but nothing is an exact science with Pokémon anyway. Look, if it resembles a bit like a monkey, I’m calling it a monkey.

Before we dive into this barrel of monkeys, be sure to check out some of our other great guides covering all things Pokémon. Such as our best cat Pokémon, dog Pokémon, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet mystery gift codes, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet gym leaders, and Pokémon Go Ultra Beasts guides.

So, let’s swing into our guide to the best monkey Pokémon.

Monkey Pokemon: With a jungle-based Pokemon still in the background, an image shows the monkey Pokemon Mankey and Primeape

Mankey/Primeape

Sometimes you just get something right on the first try. Back in the first generation, the simple days when Game Freak would just change a single letter and call a Pokémon Mankey, or Seel, and then call it a day. This glorious duo of angry apes was introduced to a young generation and has been beloved ever since. If you want to use them, though, you better get your head around our fighting Pokémon weakness guide first.

Honestly, with so many different games featuring jungle-based locations since Kanto, it feels weird to me that we somehow don’t have a regional form of either Mankey or Primeape yet. They’re not anything to write home about competitively, so hopefully, the future shines a light on these two, and maybe we’ll even get a regional evolution like the incredible Obstagoon. If you want to go one step further and get the last in this evolutionary line, check out our guide on how to evolve Primeape.

Monkey Pokemon: With a jungle-based Pokemon still in the background, an image shows the monkey Pokemon Oranguru and Passimion

Oranguru/Passimian

I’m gonna lump these two bad boys together because their games link them anyway, plus it’s a bit hard to argue that Passimian is a monkey, so it’s gonna be easier if I double up. Technically lemurs are not monkeys, but they’re so close, and Passimian is so cute that I didn’t want to leave it out. Plus, it has a little football? This ‘mon is great.

Oranguru, on the other hand, is definitely a great ape, based on the mighty orangutan and giving off wise shaman vibes that I always really liked. A normal/psychic type is an interesting mix, and Oranguru is one of the only Pokémon that can learn the move intrude.

Monkey Pokemon: With a jungle-based Pokemon still in the background, an image shows the monkey Pokemon Aipom

Aipom

Debuting in Pokémon Gold and Silver, Aipom is just a great little guy with so much cheeky charm that it’s hard not to love them. They have a weird hand appendage located on the end of their tail with several fingers, and they use this to grab fruit and other things.

If you teach Aipom Double Slap, it can evolve into the Pokémon Ambipom, but sadly this double-tailed ‘mon is nowhere near as cute. Just keep an eye out for fellow monkey Pokémon Primape, whose fighting moves can exploit the one normal Pokémon weakness.

Monkey Pokemon: With a jungle-based Pokemon still in the background, an image shows the monkey Pokemon Chimchar and Infernape

Chimchar/Infernape

Just look at these guys. Absolute dudes. While not every generation of starter Pokémon can be top-tier, something was in the water when Game Freak made Pokémon Diamond and Pearl because that generation SLAPS. Every starter is a classic, and Chimchar is arguably the best among them (though I adore Piplup).

It’s made even better by the fact that Infernape doesn’t fumble the evolution like so many starter Pokémon, and actually delivers a stunner of a final evolution with great typing and solid stats. Just a great evolution line from top to bottom.

Monkey Pokemon: With a jungle-based Pokemon still in the background, an image shows the monkey Pokemon Darmanitan and Galarian Darmanitan

Darmanitan

This big goofy guy is great. Its pre-evolution Darumaka is based on the Japanese Daruma doll, but when it evolves, it turns into a huge, spherical, lumbering ape that possesses a really interesting ability that allows it to enter ‘zen mode’. This fiery friend is a beast to deal with, and a huge asset to your team when you use it correctly. It also has a huge toothy grin like a Cheshire cat that I love so much.

In Pokémon Sword and Shield, both Darumaka and Darmanitan received a regional form that took the previously fire-type Pokémon and gave them an icy makeover. When Galarian Darmanitan goes into zen mode, it gains the rare dual type of ice and fire, which, coupled with its impressive stats, make this one of the most interesting Pokémon currently in the Pokémon VGC community.

Monkey Pokemon: With a jungle-based Pokemon still in the background, an image shows the monkey Pokemon Grookey

Grookey

I want to make one thing clear. This entry is about Grookey and Grookey only. Sword and Shield are good, but feature a few disappointing elements, and a key one for me personally is starter Pokémon that evolve into awful later forms. Both Grookey and Sobble are great, but the final evolutions leave a bitter taste in my mouth. Why is every Sword and Shield starter bipedal and anthropomorphic? These are meant to be animals right? Anyway… I’ve taken a breath.

Grookey, on the other hand, is great, and I loved him from the initial trailer. Just the idea of a monkey who loves a little drum and uses sticks to do so? Great bit, nice. Plus, it weirdly ties quite well in with the grass type, so this is one time where the theme of the Pokemon and the type work hand in hand. All I’m saying is that Grookey is great.

Monkey Pokemon: With a jungle-based Pokemon still in the background, an image shows the monkey Pokemon Zarude

Zarude

One of the most recent Pokémon in the current Pokedex, Zarude is a mythical creature from Pokémon Sword and Shield that was added after release. It’s a little strange that they decided to add another grass monkey when we not only already have five, but they introduced three of them this very generation.

Still, Zarude has a really cool design and great stats. Plus, they have their own movie which by all accounts is pretty great. Dada Zarude looks particularly fetching with his scarf!

Worst monkey Pokémon (AKA, Bad Monkey Corner)

Monkey Pokemon: With a jungle-based Pokemon still in the background, an image shows the monkey Pokemon Panpour, Pansear, and Pansage, as well as their evolutions Simipour, Simisage, and Simisear

Panpour, Pansear, Pansage, Simipour, Simisear, and Simisage

This list is all about celebrating monkeys, but what is writing if not the expression of the writer’s passions? Well, reader, I have a burning passion, and it’s my hatred for the monkeys from Pokémon Black and White known as Pansear, Pansage, and Panpour. These three elemental monkeys represent fire, grass, and water, respectively, and are also meant to be a nod to the three monkeys from the old adage “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” from Japanese folklore. Well, let me tell you, folks, I DO see evil, and it’s the evil design of these three monkey monstrosities.

Each is awful in its own way. While almost every list of “best (X) Pokémon” invites some healthy discussion within our team, I have never seen us so united as in our disgust at these foul little guys and their useless, basic, and ugly designs. But wait, do you know what is worse? They all evolve into even uglier monkeys. That’s right, six whole precious Pokedex slots are taken up by these knock-off curious George little freaks, and I despise the fact I have to collect them to complete my Pokedex. If I was a Pokémon trainer, I’d hide a grenade in a banana and wipe these atrocities out of this dimension.

Well, that’s more monkeys than you can fit in a barrel and plenty of great new ‘mon for you to find if you wanted a new ape pal. If you just love Pokémon and want to read more of our great guides on the series, be sure to check out our guides to the best gen 1 Pokémongen 2 Pokémongen 3 Pokémongen 4 Pokémon, and gen 5 Pokémon.