Who are the starter Pokémon? Look, we all have our personal preferences on who the best might be, but that’s all subjective and there are a lot of starters out there, some stand out in your childhood memories, while some you may have forgotten about, so allow us to refresh your memory as we look at the Pokémon starters by generation.
We love all Pokémon here at Pocket Tactics towers, so be sure to check out some of our other great guides to help you find some new virtual pets with our articles covering the best fish Pokémon, snake Pokémon, flower Pokémon, cat Pokémon, dog Pokémon, spider Pokémon, bunny Pokémon, bear Pokémon, and get ahead of the pack with our Pokémon Scarlet and Violet mystery gift codes.
Here’s our guide to the starter Pokémon. In it, we look at all of starter Pokémon from each gen, offering a bit of insight into what makes them a worthy pick (or not).
The first gen has a solid lineup when it comes to starter Pokémon, as Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander are all solid picks for first-time trainers. Honestly, whoever you choose, you don
The first ever grass Pokémon starter, Bulbasaur, is admittedly the least popular of the three Kanto ‘mon, with many people showing a lot of love to Charmander and its third-stage evolution, Charizard. However, while I never choose Bulbasaur myself when I revisit the OG Pokémon Yellow, Red, and Blue, I can’t help but look at its stage three evolution Venasaur and think of it as one of the best grass-types in the first generation. It stands tall against the likes of Victreebell, Vileplume, and Exeggutor.
Okay, here’s the ‘mon I pick anytime I’m in Kanto. Well, most of the time, I’m known to embrace Squirtle on the odd occasion. Charmander and, ultimately, Charizard are a huge part of my childhood, bringing a wave of precious 90s and early 200os nostalgia with them wherever they may go, and there’s good reason for that. You see, not only is Charmander one of the most adorable creatures in this world, Charmeleon is just as charming in a stroppy teenager way, while Charizard remains one of the best fire Pokémon even after nearly 30 years.
Okay, all Pokémon fans know about the Squirtle squad. It’s that ragtag group of Squirtles (the leader of which joins Ash) that made me fall in love with the water Pokémon. Then I look at Wartortle and Blastoise and realize this evolution line is one the best water-types in Kanto, perhaps across the series as a whole. However, Blastoise has Gyarados, Lapras, and Poliwrath to compete with in generation one, and nobody can deny how powerful those three are, especially Gyarados. Still, Squirtle is oozing with charm and badassery that make it a solid pick for your first-ever Pokémon.
Just like with the gen 1 Pokémon, you may struggle to pick your starter Pokémon in Johto. However, unlike in Kanto, this choice really comes down to just two, in my humble opinion.
Look at this little croc. Why would you not pick him for your team? Totodile has some great base stats when you first start your journey in Johto, and the fact that it has a ferocious evolution line only adds to why you should consider the water starter in generation two. However, Johto is swimming with many great water Pokémon; some return from Kanto (Gyarados, Lapras, and Starmie, to name a few), while the likes of Kingdra and Slowking appear for the first time in this gen, both of which are more than capable of filling the water-type spot on your team. If you choose Totodile, you don’t lose, but if you opt for a different starter, you can still get a solid swimmer later.
Just look at this happy little guy. How could you not choose him? Honestly, I always select Cyndaquil as my second gen starter; I even chose it as my Pokémon Legends: Arceus starter Pokémon. Despite the fact it can win the cutest ‘mon ever contest, its stage three evolution, Typhlosion, is one of the best fire-types in Johto. If you play Gold, Silver, or Crystal, give this guy a chance, you won’t be disappointed.
Chicken Tikka. That’s all I hear when someone mentions this Pokémon’s name. I can safely say I’m not a fan of this one. Perhaps you like the grass-type joining you in Johto, but I’d sooner pass on taking a starter Pokémon if this is what I have to work with. It’s the leaf, like, why? Chikorita, this isn’t a very good fashion statement, and evidently, your entire evolutionary line suffers from a wardrobe malfunction. Not only that, but you can get yourself a Bellossm, Vileplume, Venasaur, or Victreebell. Honestly, there are a fair few good grass-types in Johto, you don’t need Chicken Tikka.
Generation three is another relatively solid line of starters with a simplistic approach to the design of Torchic, Mudkip, and Treeko.
Okay, we love Torchic at Pocket Tactics, and it appears to be the most common pick for us whenever one of us is in Hoenn. Not only is Torchic cute, it’s also a good fire starter that can lay waste to most ‘mon you come across in the early game. Then, it evolves into Combsuken, who eventually becomes Blaziken, a powerful fire-type that doubles as a fighting Pokémon (seriously, you may need our fighting Pokémon weakness guide to beat it).
Admittedly, I forget about Treecko a fair bit, but honestly, I’m not a grass-type kinda gal, so that’s probably why. As far as performance goes, Treeko can get the job done, and I have to admit, it shames me that I forget about Treecko as Sceptile, its stage three evolution, is a fine grass Pokémon that deserves your attention. If somebody wants to skip through Treeko for me and give me Grovyle or Sceptile the next time I dive into Ruby or Sapphire, I’d appreciate it.
Anytime I visit the region of Hoenn I’m faced with a tough choice – Torchic or Mudkip? This is the generation that I tend to split who I pick as my starter Pokémon quite evenly, for Mudkip eventually evolves into Swampert, a water and ground Pokémon that makes for a unique combination. It can cause a lot of trouble, thanks to being a dual-type, which makes choosing Mudkip at the beginning of the game more than worth it. Plus, look at that face. Mudkip looks unbothered, and I need that energy.
Is it just me, or are the first few generations really solid when it comes to starter Pokémon? Look at these guys. It’s a tough choice, though, for me, there is a clear winner.
The starter Pokémon I always choose in Diamond and Pearl is Piplup. Just look at it; this is one sassy creature that sashays onto the battlefield. It has an adorable appearance while coming across as the quiet but confident type with a touch of arrogance that comes with being a regal animal. Yes, regal. Its stage three evolution, Empoleon, is a force of nature, doubling as a water and steel Pokémon (if you want to stand any chance against it, read our steel Pokémon weakness guide), giving it a unique position in battle. Plus, it has a trident on its head, and its name is a combination of Emperor and Napoleon. It’s on of the best bird Pokémon, enough said.
This monkey Pokémon is a ball of energy and I’m here for it. Chimchar is a solid pick if you’re after a fun and vibrant companion. It picks you up when you’re down, makes you laugh, smile, and maybe cry with joy. Plus, in a similar vein to Torchic and Blaziken, its stage three evolution, Infernape, is a badass that can throw punches with Mike Tyson. Furthermore, if you put aside cuteness and joy, Chimchar is very agile, meaning you have a good shot at striking first in battle with this starter Pokémon.
Though grass-types aren’t for me, there’s something charming about Turtwig that makes me understand why some choose it as their starter Pokémon in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. Not only that, but its stage three evolution, Torterra, has a fierce design that can strike fear into the hearts of your enemies. It also happens to be a grass-ground-type hybrid, giving it a good arsenal of attacks.
While the gen 5 starter Pokémon may mark a slight drop in quality for some, I maintain the Black and White starters are still pretty solid. In fact, this is the first of two generations where I consider the grass-type to be the best pick at the start of the game.
It took five generations, but Snivy did what even Bulbasaur couldn’t do: get me to pick it numerous times. Yes, I personally consider Snivy to be the best starter Pokémon in Black and White. Tepig’s design bores me, and Oshwatt looks a bit too needy. Snivy gives a ‘hmm, yes, I know I’m superior’ kind of vibe, and I dig it. That and its entire evolution line give off a regal feel, with Servine boasting one of the most elegant designs in the series so far.
It’s a pig. Look, I like a simplistic design, but Tepig is too simplistic. I’m a huge lover of the fire-type; alongside dark Pokémon, ghost Pokémon, and psychic Pokémon, it’s one of my favorites, which is why it’s so surprising that I have no love for Tepig. Plus, it follows the trend of a fire starter’s third stage becoming a fighting-type, too, and you know what? Blaziken and Infernape do it so much better than Emboar. However, the stage three ‘mon at least looks more interesting than Tepig.
Too needy for me. Don’t get me wrong, Oshawott is cute, and I have chosen it as my starter in the Black and White line of games a couple of times, but it doesn’t fill me with the same confidence that Snivy does. Oshawott, buddy, you’re a good water Pokémon; believe in yourself, please. You turn into Samurott at the end, a badass water-type that’s arguably the best swimmer generation five has to offer. Samurott also boasts a great design that’s nearly on par with Servine for how unique it looks.
Okay, this is the first generation where I consider the starter Pokémon to be mediocre at best. I’m going to look at these ‘mon in the order of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good. Froakie is the best starter Pokémon in X and Y by a mile, to me, at least. This frog Pokémon looks deep into my soul with those huge eyes; it’s almost hypnotic. Also, it feels as though this creature knows what it is. There’s no confusion. However, my biggest reason for loving Froakie, aside from it being cute, is its third-stage evolution, Greninja. In generation five, Greninja is one of the best water-types you can get thanks to being agile with a good damage output. Better still, it becomes a dark Pokémon, too, meaning it’s wise to read our dark Pokémon weakness to overcome this unique combo.
The bad. This is such a bland design for a starter Pokémon, and its subsequent evolutions do nothing to change my mind. Honestly, this generation confuses me; I’d rather pet the frog than the fox. Its stage three evolution, Delphox, gives off witchy vibes, which is explained by its fire and psychic Pokémon dual typing. To see what your future holds with this starter, check out our psychic Pokémon weakness guide.
The ugly. What is this thing? Seriously, Chespin, why are you wearing a hat? I wish I could say the design gets better further down the line, but Chestnaught is in a permanent state of looking like it wants a hug but also giving off a ‘come near me and I’ll rip your head off’ vibe. It’s a bizarre evolution line that I’m not hurry to pick. However, Chestnaught does have a unique grass and fighting Pokémon dual-type, so you might want to choose it for that unique combo.
Generation seven takes to Alola, the region heavily inspired by Hawaii, and luckily, the starter Pokémon are an improvement on the previous generation.
Rowlet is possibly the cutest bird Pokémon in the entire series. Just look at its leafy bowtie and tell me you don’t love it. Then there’s those eyes, it just looks so happy all the time. Admittedly, out of personal preference, I don’t often pick Rowlet, but I can certainly see why many of you do. If you throw Decidueye into the mix, forget about it; this is one of the best evolution lines so far. My one bit of advice is to consult our ghost Pokémon weakness guide should come across the archery-loving stage three Pokémon.
I like fire and I like cats, what more do I need? Litten goes back to basics, offering a simplistic design done right. It’s so full of mischief, and just like a real cat, it can throw some fast punches in battle. Speaking of which, its stage three evolution, Incineroar, is no slouch either, combining two of my favorite types – fire and dark.
Okay, so while I like Popplio, I don’t think it matches up to Litten and Rowlet in terms of cuteness, though it’s a good water-type with a strong evolution line. However, while I appreciate the design of Decidueye and Incineroar, I can’t say the same for Primarina – I don’t like the look of this Pokémon at all. Still, I can’t deny that its dual-type as a water and fairy Pokémon does make it quite formidable in battle. Perhaps you should read our fairy Pokémon weakness guide for tips on how to beat it.
It was going so well, then we head to Galar in generation eight. Now, I think Sword and Shield are a lot better than people give them credit for, but the starter Pokémon could be better.
Grookey is very cute, I have no problem saying that. However, its evolution line took a turn I simply wasn’t ready for. Look, I’m English. I know Britain is known for its love of rock and roll, but I don’t need to see strange monkeys running around smacking things with sticks. Then, when you reach the final evolution, Rillaboom, it’s just a gorilla playing drums, essentially. No, just no. Mind you, this isn’t the worst of the bunch in the generation eight starters.
Scorbunny is an adorable bunny Pokémon that represents the energy the youth of Britain have through their love of football. With a solid design and a good evolution line, I have no problem saying Scorbunny is my number one pick in Sword and Shield, especially since Cinderace doesn’t look into my soul and give nightmares (more on that in a moment). Rather, Cinderace is my buddy, my pal. I feel comradery and love with the fire-type. In the late game, Cinderace can cause some serious damage if used right, making Scorbunny a solid choice as a starter Pokémon.
At first, that crying Pokémon held my heart. I nearly chose Sobble, but I ultimately went with Cinderace, and boy, am I glad I did. Don’t get me wrong, Sobble can give you a good water Pokémon in the early go while on your journey in Galar, but when I reached that fight with Leon, boy, was I happy to have Cinderace by my side. In front of me was Inteleon, Sobble’s final evolution, and the gangly thing gave me nightmares. Look, I understand the ties to espionage, and that’s great and all, but no.
Here we are, the most recent generation. One I love, one I like, and one I hate.
What is with the hair? I don’t get it. There’s Sprigatito and Fuecoco looking all cute, full of hope and promise for the future, and then there’s Quaxly. This duck fills me with dread whenever I look at it. The first time I saw it, something felt off, and when I finally set foot in Paldea for the first time I understood why. Its final stage, Quaquaval, is god-awful. I have nothing nice to say about it, and as my mother said, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
This sweet little dino is a great starter Pokémon, one that’s bound to make the lives of many trainers easier in the early going of the game. Plus, not only is it cute, but its first evolution, Crocalor, wears a sombrero, and that might just be the best thing I’ve seen in a Pokémon game in years. However, it loses the hat when it ascends to Skeledirge, which upsets me greatly. It does have ghost-type moves at its disposal, though, which is always great to see.
Sprigatito is the second-ever grass-type to hold my heart. I chose my darling Sprigs without hesitation and never looked back. I admit to being a bit disappointed that Meowscarda stands on two feet, but I learned to love the stage-three ‘mon over time, too. Mainly because it causes an obscene amount of damage against most creatures it comes across, thanks to being a grass and dark-type hybrid.
Well, that’s it, Pokémon trainers! All of the current starter Pokémon. If you’re somehow not frothing with hatred at my picks, why not check out more Pokémon content with our rock Pokémon, normal Pokémon, dragon Pokémon, ice Pokémon, and poison Pokémon guides?
We can even tell you how to beat them with our dragon Pokémon weakness, normal Pokémon weakness, ground Pokémon weakness, electric Pokémon weakness, bug Pokémon weakness, flying Pokémon weakness, rock Pokémon weakness, ice Pokémon weakness, and poison Pokémon weakness articles.